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Henry G. Hanks

Henry Garber Hanks was an American chemist, assayer and geologist, and the first State Mineralogist of California. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 12, 1826, the son of Charlotte Garber and Jarvis Frary Hanks, a portrait painter.

In 1842 Hanks traveled to Boston where he signed on as a seaman on a ship bound for Calcutta. He remained in India for about a year, then worked his way back to the US as a seaman on a ship to New York. From there he engaged in scientific studies and extensive travel throughout the US. By 1850 he was living in Cleveland and working as a house, sign, banner, transparency and ornamental painter (probably working with his father). In 1852-1856, he worked in various mines in California, and engaged in several business activities in Sacramento. The 1860 census finds him living in San Francisco where his occupation is given as "paint dealer." He married Ellen Francis Barker in 1867, and together they had five children.

Hanks established his own assaying company, the Pacific Chemical Works, in San Francisco in 1866, in which he was joined by his son Abbott Hanks, also an assayer. He headed the California State Mining Bureau in San Francisco, serving as the State Mineralogist for California, from its establishment in 1880 to 1886 (at a salary of $3000 per year). The Bureau received the entire collection and property of the California State Geological Society, and established a museum and library open to the public. In 1878, Hanks was sent from California as mineral commissioner to the Paris Exposition, and was also made superintendent of the mineral department of the United States Exhibition there. In 1885, he went in the same capacity to the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition at New Orleans, and in 1893 to the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago.

Hanks was a founder of the Microscopical Society of San Francisco and was considered to have the finest collection of mineral specimens in that city. He is credited with many important geological and chemical investigations for the U.S. Government. The mineral hanksite (from Searles Lake, California) was named in his honor by William E. Hidden in 1885.

Henry Garber Hanks died June 19, 1907, in Alameda County, California.

US Federal Census, 1850-1900.
BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN SCIENCE, The Seventeenth Through the Nineteenth Centuries”, by Clark A. Elliott:, pg. 116.
1850-51 Cleveland Directory.
Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900, A Biographical Dictionary, pg. 372 A.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
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The Mineralogical Record - Henry G. Hanks Henry Hanks' Pacific Chemical Works and assaying company in San Francisco, 1868.
The Mineralogical Record - Henry G. Hanks 55 x 81 cm,
The Mineralogical Record - Henry G. Hanks 68 x 95 mm,
The Mineralogical Record - Henry G. Hanks 56 x 79 mm,
Label for a specimen from Hanks' private collection.
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