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John C. Trautwine

John Cresson Trautwine was born March 30, 1810. At the age of 18 he entered the employ of William Strickland, an architect. Between 1831 and 1836 he was an engineer on several railways and in 1836-1842 was chief engineer of the Hiawassee Railway, connecting Georgia and Tennessee. He executed surveys (1850) for the Panama Railway, for the Lackawanna and Lanesborough Railway (1856) inennsylvania, and for a railway route across Honduras (1857). He was a consultant on numerous canal projects in North and South America. His most remembered statement was that he reported in 1852 that a canal through Panama would be impossible.

He died in Philadelphia on September 14, 1883. According to Canfield (1923), he had a large mineral collection of good specimens which was sold by his heirs in 1883 to an unnamed Philadelphia dealer. The dealer was Warren Foote of the A. E. Foote company, and the purchase was made in 1899, not 1883, as indicated by an ad in the January 1899 issue of The Mineral Collector:

"Retailing of the famous Trautwine Collection. We have just purchased entire one of the first among great American collections, in point of species, sub-species and varieties represented in excellent type specimens. It shows few efforts at display, but is a gathering of over 6,000 specimens, including hundreds of rare numbered species not found in the average collection, and nearly a dozen of which are to be seen on the desiderata lists of the most complete American and European collections. John C. Trautwine, civil engineer and mineralogist, was born in Philadelphia in 1810. He began the collecting of minerals about 1835, and continued until his death in 1883. The collection was built up through exchange, purchase and extensive foreign travel. It may justly be said to cover the period 1840-1870, illustrating with wonderful completeness the mineralogical discoveries of the time -- so well, in fact, that the collection was studied by nearly all of his mineralogical contemporaries in America. Much of this discovery is recorded today only in the nomenclature of the science; good examples are largely foreign to recent collections. Types and localities are shown in great variety under all important and many obscure species. Labels are models of scientific accuracy and neat penmanship, being small and attached to specimens. There are many duplicates, otherwise it would be useless to publish a list, as specimens will sell at sight. The short list of more important things will be mailed on application. Prices vary from about 50c to $5.00 more or less. We know of no minerals so universally desired as the old historical ones, and they are here by the thousand. Familiar minerals from the original localities from which they take their name are frequent, South American and European localities fully represented. The above is an opportunity which is not offered collectors once in ten years."

CANFIELD, F. A. (1923) The disposition of some American collections of minerals. Privately printed.
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