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BRISSON, Mathurin Jacques.

(1723 – 1806)

(Born: Fontenay-le-Comte, France, 30 April 1723; Died: Broissi near Versailles, France, 23 June 1806) French chemist & physicist.

Brisson was professor of physics in the Collège de Navarre, the École Centrale, ant the Lycée Bonaparte in Paris. He authored textbooks in zoology, ornithology, physics and other scientists.

Biographical references: ABF: I 156, 223-232. Beauchamp, Biographie Moderne, 1816. DBF: 7, 366-7 [by R. D'Amat]. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. Feller, Biographie Universelle, 1851. Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Hoefer). Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 3, 99. Poggendorff: 1, cols. 301-2. WBI.

Pesanteur Spécifique des Corps, 1787

1. French, 1787.
Pesanteur | Spécifique | Des Corps. | Ouvrage utile à l'Histoire Naturelle, à la | Physique, aux Arts & au Commerce. | Par M. Brission, de l'Académie Royale des Sciences, | [...3 lines of titles and memberships...] | [ornament] | A Paris, | De L'Imprimerie Royale. | [double rule] | M. DCCLXXXVII.

4°: π1 a-c4 A-Nnn4 Ooo2; 251l.; [2], j-xxiv, [1]-453, [1], j-xx, [2] p., 2 plates, engraved title. Page size: 260 x 184 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; j-xix, "Discours Préliminaire."; xx-xxij, "Tableau Méthodique | Du Règne Minéral."; xxiij-xxiv, "Table Méthodique | Des Fluides."; [1]-453, Text.; [1], Blank.; j-xx, "Table Des Matières."; [2 pgs], "Additions Et Corrections."

Very scarce. Brisson, an experimental physicist of great skill, prepared this work, considered "The first major tables of specific gravity." Inaccuracies in previous compilations of specific gravities, including the widely used and extensive tables of P. Van Musschenbroek [1692-1761], led Brisson to determine the specific gravity values of a large number of metal, mineral, fluid, animal, and vegetable substances, using clean water at a standard temperature. As Sinkankas notes, Brisson was accurate enough to be able to distinguish between authentic and fake precious stones through the means of specific gravity. Brisson urged that this method of identification together with other commonly used features like color and hardness could be a reliable diagnostic tool. Through his role as a teacher and his writings, Brisson had considerable influence in spreading scientific knowledge.

Bibliographical references: BL [716.g.3.]. Cole, Chemical Literature, 1988: no. 204. DSB: 2, 473-5. LKG: X 5. Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 3, 99. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 167. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 932.

2. German, 1795 [German transl.].
Die | spezisischen Gewichte | der | Körper. | Aus dem Französischen | des Herrn Brisson, | [...3 lines of titles and memberships...] | übersetzt, | und mit Anmerkungen, besonders die Litteratur | betreffend, vermehrt | von | Johann Georg Ludolph Blumhof, | der Mathematik und ökonom. Wissensch. Befl. | [tapered rule] | Mit Zusätzen vom Herrn Hofrath | Kästner. | [rule] | Mit zwei Kupfertafeln. | [rule] | Leipzig, | in der Schäferischen Buchhandlung. | 1795.

8°: *8 **8 A-Aa8 Bb4; 212l.; [i]-xxxii, [1]-392 p., 2 folding plates (crystal drawings). Page size: 198 x 110 mm.

Contents: [i-ii], Title page, verso 4 lines of quotation signed Lucret.; [iii]-[viii], Dedication.; [ix]-x, "Vorbericht des Uebersetzers."-signed J.G.L. Blumhof, April 1795.; [xi]-xxix, "Vorrede des Verfassers."; xxx-xxxii, "Systematische Tafel des Mineralreiches."; [1]-380, Text.; 381-392, "Abrah. Gotthelf Kästner's | Nachricht | von Ghetaldi Buche: | Promotus Archimedes."

Very scarce. Translation by Johann Georg Ludolph Blumhof of Pesanteur Spécifique des Corps (Paris, 1787).

Bibliographical references: BL.

3. English, 1800 [English transl.].
Elements | Of | The Natural History | And Chymical Analysis | Of | Mineral Substances, | For The | Use of the Central Schools. | [ornate rule] | Translated From The French | Of | Mathurin James Brisson, | [...3 lines of titles and memberships...] | [ornate rule] | London: | Printed By M. Ritchie, Middle Street, Cloth Faik; | For I. Walker, 44, Paternoster Row; And Vrenor And Hood, | In The Poultry. | [rule] | 1800.

8°: π4 B-K8 L3; 79l.; [i]-viii, [1]-149, [1] p.

Contents: [i-ii], Title page, verso blank.; iii-viii, "Preface."; [1]-149, Text.; [1 pg], Blank.

Rare. Partial translation of of Brisson's Pesanteur Spécifique des Corps (Paris, 1787) describing the chemical analysis of simple mineral substances. This appears to be the first independent work in English describing chemical analysis of minerals and may have been used in the schools of England as a textbook prior to the introduction of Accum's works. It appears to represent a translation of only the first sections of Brisson's work.

Bibliographical references: BL [Cup.502.l.14.]. LKG: XII 218b.

4. French, 1797.
Princies élémentaires de l'Histoire naturelle et chymique des substances minérales; ouvrage utile aux écoles centrales. Paris, F. Didot, 1797.

8°: 245 p. Very scarce.

Bibliographical references: LKG: XII 216. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 316.

5. German, 1798 [German transl.].
Anfangsgrunde der Naturgeschichte und Chemie der Mineralien zum Gebrauche der Zentralschulen von M.J. Brisson. Aus dem Französisch übersetzt von F.C. Drechsler und mit Anmerkungen versheen von J.B. Trommsdorff. Mainz, 1798.


Rare. Translation by F.C. Drechsler of Princies Élémentaires de l'Histoire Naturelle (Paris, 1797).

Bibliographical references: LKG: XII 217a.