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Levi Bartlett

(1763-1828) Levi Bartlett, early American physician and mineral collector, was born in Kingston, New Hampshire on September 15, 1763, the son of Josiah Bartlett, a physician, Governor of New Hampshire and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Levi attended the Drummer School in Drummer, New Hampshire, apprenticed as a physician under his distinguished father, and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1785 (his diploma was engraved by Paul Revere!). He married Sarah Hook in 1791. Later in life he also served as a Judge of the Circuit Court (from 1816 to 1820).

Bartlett owned a Wollaston-type goniometer made by Cary in London, which he kept in a custom-made hardwood box similar to a microscope case. The box also contains drawers holding hundreds of small single crystals affixed to small pedestals that could be mounted for measurement with the goniometer. The goniometer, crystal collection and an inventory list in Bartlett's own hand survives today in the collection of New Jersey mineral dealer Herbert Obodda.

Levi's younger brother, the Honorable Ezra Bartlett (1770-1848), apparently collected minerals as well, and occasionally sent Levi specimens for identification. In a letter of June 24, 1811 Levi discusses the difficulty of identifying one of Ezra's specimens, and then describes his own collection as follows:

"I have every species of quartz, several of the gems and half-precious stones, all the tourmalines and several specimens of schorl. I find a great plenty of the different kinds of spaths & calcareous stones—the barytic stones are considerable common—[of] the magnesian and argillaceous I have most of their genera & varieties. The zircon or jargon I think are frequently here. I have samples of many of the compound stones [such] as amygdaloids, breccias, granites, some porphyries, traps, etc. etc. I have not any asbestos, and but one sample of that species of stones. I have found rock crystals in decayed quartz, small but as pure as those we got at Salisbury [New Hampshire]. I have one sample of crystallized mica [which is] beautiful, also a small red crystal found in a garnet stone, clear and crystallized, and among my gems I have a small opaque octahedral crystal being like of tetrahedral prisms joined together [and] so exceedingly hard that it will cut glass."

Dr. Levi Bartlett died in Kingston, New Hampshire on January 30, 1828.

CONKLIN, L.H. (1991) From the editor's library. Matrix, 2 (4), 60-62.
GOODRICH, A. (2001) The Josiah Bartlett family, a register of its papers in the Library of Congress.
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The Mineralogical Record - Levi Bartlett Levi Bartlett's goniometer and thumbnail collection (Herb Obodda collection and photo)
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