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Lewis Feuchtwanger

Lewis Feuchtwanger, prominent New York chemist and mineral collector, was born in Furth, Bavaria on January 11, 1805, the son of a mineralogist. He inherited his father's taste for the natural sciences, and devoted special attention to them during his medical studies at the University of Jena. He received his doctor's degree there in 1827, and emigrated to the United States in 1829, settling in New York, where he opened the first German pharmacy. He also practiced medicine, and was particularly active during the cholera epidemic of 1832. Thereafter he devoted most of his attention to chemistry and especially to mineralogy, while engaging in the manufacture and sale of rare chemicals. In 1829 he introduced a silver-like alloy called German silver, and was the first to recommend nickel as a metal for small coins. In 1837 he issued (with Government by permission) a large quantity of one-cent pieces made of nickel, and in 1864 he prepared a number of three-cent pieces in the same metal, but they were never issued to the public.

It can be difficult to distinguish between the collector or scientist who sells his collection when he is through with it, from the dealer who makes up a collection specifically to sell it, but the first mineral dealer of the latter sort in America was probably Lewis Feuchtwanger. He exhibited his collection of "American Minerals, Fresh-Water Shells, Fossils, Coals, Ores, Indian Relics, Etc." at Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851; nothing in his 1851 exhibition catalog suggests that it was for sale, but an 1862 catalog prepared for the Industrial Exhibition in London shows that he had made the transition to dealer, offering a series of twelve suites of American minerals for sale at a variety of prices, with most specimens originating from the eastern United States, but also including some gold specimens from distant California. The catalog was published by Lewis's partner in the chemical business, Joseph W. Feuchtwanger "of New York, Exhibitor And Proprietor." In the January 1870 issue of Scientific American they advertised "Mineral Collections--50 selected specimens, including gold and silver ores, $15. Orders executed on receipt of the amount. L. & J[oseph W.] Feuchtwanger, Chemists, 55 Cedar st., New York."

Feuchtwanger's personal mineral collection was bequeathed to his daughters, and for a time it was on exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History. He contributed papers to the American Journal of Science and to the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He published a Popular Treatise on Gems (New York, 1838) and Elements of Mineralogy (1839. Feuchtwanger died in New York City on June 25, 1876.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia (2001) VirtualologyTM
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The Mineralogical Record - Lewis Feuchtwanger
The Mineralogical Record - Lewis Feuchtwanger 33 x 56 mm,
Label dated 1866
The Mineralogical Record - Lewis Feuchtwanger 36 X 56 mm (Carmegie
Museum collection)
The Mineralogical Record - Lewis Feuchtwanger The so-called "Feuchtwanger Cent," designed and minted by Lewis Feuchtwanger
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