Schuh’s Annotated Bio-Bibliography

Return to main Biobliography page

GELLERT, Christlieb Ehregott.

(1713 – 1795)

(Born: Haynichen near Freiberg, Germany, 11 August 1713; Died: Freiberg, Germany, 18 May 1795) German chemist & metallurgist.

Brother of a famous German poet. Gellert studied at Meissen and Leipzig. From 1736 through 1737, he worked as an instructor at the Gymnasium in Petersburg, then he became adjunct at the Akademie der Wissenschaften until 1746. In 1747 he settled in the mining town of Freiberg he held several positions related to the mining and metallurgical industry. At the founding of the BergAkademie in 1765, he was appointed professor of metallurgy and chemistry. Gellert introduced the process of cold extraction of precious metals by the use of mercury, a works (the largest of the time) being built in at Halsbruck in 1790.

Biographical references: ADB: 8, 548. Baur, Allgemeines historisches Handwörterbuch, 1803. DBA: I 378, 92-104; 1429, 55-56; II 436, 334-337. Meusel, Verstorbenen Teutschen Schrifsteller, 1802-16. NDB. Poggendorff: 1, col. 870. WBI.

1. French, 1758.
Chimie metallurgique dans laquelle on trouvera la theorie & la pratique de cet art avec des experiences sur la densite des alliages des metaux, & des demi-metaux, & un abrege de docimastique ... par C.E. Gellert ... Ouvrages traduits de l'Allemand. Paris, Chez Briasson, 1758.

2 vols.

Very scarce. Mineralogy, Determinative.Chemistry, Metallurgic.

Anfangsgründe, 1776

2. German, 1772-6 [2nd edition].
Anfangsgründe | zur | metallurgischen | Chymie, | in einem | theoretischen und practischen Theile | nach einer | in der Natur gegründeten Ordnung | von | C.E. Gellert, | [...3 lines of titles and memberships...] | Mit Kupfern. | [rule] | Zweyte, vermehrte und verbesserte Ausgabe. | [rule] | Leipzig, | bey Caspar Fritsch, 1776.

[Title page to volume 2 reads:]

Anfangsgründe | zur | Probierkunst. | [ornate rule] | Als der Zweyte Theil | der practischen | Metallurgischen Chymie, | worinnen | verschiedene neue Arten zuverläßig | zu probieren, gezeiget werden, | abgefasset von | C.E. Gellert, | [...3 lines of titles and memberships...] | [rule] | Neue mit einigen Zusätzen von dem Verfasser | vermehrte Auflage. | [rule] | Leipzig, | bey Caspar Fritsch, 1772.

2 parts in one volume. [Part 1: 1772] 8°: *7 **7 A-Hh8 Ii6; 263l.; [28], [1]-498 p., frontispiece, 5 folding plates. [Part 2]: 1776] 8°: )(7 A-L8; 95l.; [14], [1]-168, [8] p., 3 folding plates. Page size: 176 x 106 mm.

Contents: [Vol 1] [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [4 pgs], "Vorrede | zur ersten Auflage."-dated October 1750.; [2 pgs], "Vorrede | zum zweyten Theile."; [8 pgs], "Vorrede | zur zweyten Ausgabe."; [12 pgs], "Innhalt | des ersten theoretishen Theils."; [1], Sectional title page, "Der | Metallurgischen Chymie | Erster theoretischer Theil."; [2], Blank.; [3]-470, Text.; [471]-498, "Register."

[Vol 2] [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [8 pgs], "Vorbericht."; [6 pgs], "Inhalt."; [1]-168, Text.; [6 pgs], "Register."; [2 pgs], "Erklärungen derer Figuren."

Very scarce. Second greatly enlarged edition of this very popular work on metallurgical and mineralogical chemistry. It includes the addition of a second volume titled Anfangsgründe zur Probierkunst, which provides an introduction to assaying techniques. In this work he modified Geoffrey's affinity table by having a table of 28 columns of symbols in which substances having the least affinity with the substance at the head of the column ar put on top, i.e. the reverse of Geoffrey's order. In this work on the density of alloys he showed that this may be greater or less than the calculated by the mixture rule; it was mostly greater. Gellert attributes this to the exisitance of pores in the metals. He also experimented the magnetism of alloys of iron.

Bibliographical references: Cole, Chemical Literature, 1988: no. 513. Darmstädter, Berg-Büchlein, 1926: no. 106. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 203. Hoover Collection: no. 341.

Metallurgic Chymistry, 1776

3. English, 1776 [English transl.].
Metallurgic chymistry. | Being A System Of | Mineralogy in General, | and of all the | Arts arising from this Science. | To the great Improvement of Manufactures, | And the most capital Branches of | Trade and Commerce. | Theoretical and Practical. | In Two Parts. | Translated From The Original German | Of C.E. Gellert, | By I.S. | [double rule] | London: | Printed for T. Becket, Adelphi, Strand, Bookseller to their | Royal Highnesses the Prince or Wales, Bishop of Ofnabrugh, | Prince William, and Prince Edward. | M DCC LXXVI.

8°: π4 B-C4 2B8 2C8 D-Z8 Aa-Ee8 Ff4; 220l.; [4], [i]-iii, [1], [i]-xv, [1], [1]-416 p., 4 plates (folding; numbered Tab. I-IV), one large folding table (facing page 184). Page size: 210 x 130 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Half title page, "Metallurgic | Chymistry. | In Two Parts," verso blank.; [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [i]-iii, Dedictation to the Royal Society signed John Seiferth, 20 August 1766.; [1 pg], Blank.; [i]-iv, "To The | Reader."-dated 4 June 1776.; v-viii, "The | Author's Preface, | To The | Theoretical and Practical Part."; [ix]-xv, "Contents | Of | Metallurgical Chymistry."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1]-381, Text.; [382], "Errata."; [383]-416, "The | Index."; [At end], Plates.

Plates: The title of the large folding table is: "A Table which shews how different bodies dissolve one another." It along with the four folding plates are all signed "Jn.° Lodge sculp." The plates consist of Tab. I showing various chemical apparatus, and Tabs. II-IV, illustrating cross-sections of various furnaces. John Lodge (\died London(?), England, 4 April 1796) English copper engraver. Produced many portraits. Ref: Thieme, U. & Becker, F. (1907-50): 23, 311.

Very scarce. Translation by John Seiferth [fl. 1775] from the first volume only of Anfangsgründe zur metallurgischen Chymie (Leipzig, 1751-5). This remarkable and highly valued work is one of the most comprehensive textbooks written in the 18th century. It provides interesting details on many theoretical and practical subjects related to mineralogy and chemistry. Gellert wrote it partially as a duty of his office as assayer in Freiberg and partially because no other treatise sufficiently covered its subject. The text is divided into 2 parts. The first concerns theoretical matters and includes what is essentially a textbook of mineralogy, including discussions of minerals in general, and the classification of species into Earths, Stones, Salts, Phlogiston, Metals, Semi-Metals, Ores and Mineral Earths and Waters. Other theoretical sections describe chemical agents such as fire, air, water and earth, chemical apparatus, and chemical manipulation derived from numerous previous authors. Practical considerations are covered in the second part of the text. Here 97 experiments are described in detail, and events such as the extraction of salts and solutions from vegetables, manufacture of nitre, salt ammoniac, vitriol, alum and various acids are covered. Throughout the entire work, Gellert has infused the text with practical observations based on his own experience.

Bibliographical references: Bolton, Bibliography of Chemistry, 1893: 1, 473. Cole, Chemical Literature, 1988: no. 516. Duveen, Bibliotheca Alchemica et Chemica, 1965: p. 242. Ferchl: 178. NUC [NG 0106663]. Partington, History of Chemistry, 1961-70: 2, 710. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 451.

4. German, 1795 [Sale catalog].
Verzeichniß der Foßilien des Mineralienkabinets des verstorbenen Herrn Bergraths und Oberhüttenverwalters Gellert welche den 23. November dieses Jahrs und folgende Tage ... einzeln gegen baare Zahlung in dem ehemaligem Gellertschen Hause auf dem Peterskirchhofe allhier öffentlich verauktionirt werden sollen. Freyberg, Gerlach, 1795.

8°: [2], 98 p.

Rare. Sale catalog of Gellert's mineral and fossil collections.

Bibliographical references: Freiesleben, Sächsische Mineralien-Verzeichnisse, 1828: no. 55. Weber, W., "The geoscience collections of the Freiberg Mining Academy", Mineralogical Record, 23, (1992), 255-60. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 212.