SCHMEISSER, Johann Gottfried.
(1767 – 1837)
Schmeisser was born the son of a poor parish rector. At an early age, he was apprenticed to an apothecary in Braunsweig. From this experience, he received a basic foundation in classical physics, chemistry, anatomy, mineralogy and botany that would serve him well later in life. Schmeisser traveled a great deal, including a very extended excursion to London. There he was introduced into the scientific circles by his English friend, Joseph Banks [1743-1820]. This lead to his selection as companion and guide to Baron von Voght [1752-1839] on his journey through England and Scotland. When Voght was about to return to Germany, he offered Schmeisser the possibility of setting up his own chemical laboratory for studies in agriculture. Schmeisser accepted and returned to Germany. However, there was a falling out between the two, and no laboratory was established. Subsequently, Schmeisser moved to Helmstadt where he received an M.D. from the University. Later he settled in Alton, establishing a successful apothecary shop. Throughout the remainder of his life, Schmeisser continued to travel extensively, most notably to the Scandinavian countries. Schmeisser was elected a Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh.
Biographical references: ADB: 31, 633. DBA: I 1112, 212-224; II 1157, 42-43. Deutsche Apotheker Biographie: 2, ??. Hamberger & Meusel, Gelehrte Teutschland, 1796-1834. Poggendorff: 2, col. 811. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 3, 2062-3. Wahl, Naturforschung im alten Hamburg, 1928: 66-8. WBI.
1. English, 1794.
Syllabus | Of | Lectures | On | Mineralogy. | [double rule] | By | G. Schmeisser. | [double rule] | London: | Printed For The Author. | [tapered rule] | M.DCC.XCIV.
8°: [i]-vii, , -148 p. Usually, copies are interleaved with blank pages upon which students would write their own manuscript notes.
Contents: [i-ii], Title page, verso blank.; [iii]-vii, "Advertisement."-dated 3 February 1794.; [1 pg], Blank.; -148, Text.
Very rare. During the author's travels to London, he was sponsored by the Linnean Society to give a series of public lectures on mineralogy and chemistry. The guide to these lectures is the present work. Topics covered include an explanantion of mineralogy, a history of the science, recounting principally the systems of classifications, and the use of chemistry in mineralogy.
Bibliographical references: BL [B.548.(4.)]. LKG: XII 139. NUC: 527, 29 [NS 0228269]. Wahl, Naturforschung im alten Hamburg, 1928: 64-5.
2. English, 1795.
A | System | Of | Mineralogy, | Formed Chiefly | On The | Plan of Cronstedt. | [double rule] | Vol. I. [-II.] | [double rule] | By J.G. Schmeisser, | F.R.S. &c. | [double rule] | London: | Printed for C. Dilly in the Poultry. | [tapered rule] | 1795.
2 vols. [Vol 1] 8°: π8 χ1 b8 c4 B-Z8; 197l.; [i]-xvi, , xvii-xxxviii, , [i]-xix, , 21-344 p. [Vol 2] 8°: 1a6 2a8 B-Z8 2A8 2B2; 200l.; [i]-xi, , [i]-xvi, 1-374 p., 4 plates (numbered Tab.I-IV). Some bibliographies date the first volume as 1794. However, no copy bearing this date has been examined. Page size: 205 x 115 mm.
Contents: [Vol. 1] [i-ii], Blanks.; [iii-iv], Title page, verso blank.; [v]-vi, Dedication to Charles Grenville and Joseph Banks.; vii-xv, "Preface."; [xvi], Blank.; [2 pgs], "Errata," verso blank.; xvii-xxxviii, "Table, | Exhibiting The | Systematical Arrangement | Of The | Contents | Of The First Volume."; [2 pgs], Blanks.; [i]-xix, "Introduction."; , Blank.; 21-344, Text.;
[Vol. 2] [i-ii], Title page, verso blank.; iii-xi, "Preface."; [xii], Blank.; [i]-xvi, "Index | To The | Contents | Of The | Two Volumes."; 1-277, Text.; 278-288, "Reflections | On The Examination | And Manner Of Describing | Minerals."; 289-332, "Essay, | Of A | Method For Examining Minerals, | ..."; 333-351, "Of | Analysis | Of | Mineral Substances | In General."; 352-354, "Example | Of The | Analysis Of An Ore."; 355-359, "Explanation | Of | Table I."; 360-374, "Explanation | Of The | Different Apparatus, | Exhibited Upon | The Different Annexed Plates, | Tab. II, III, IV, | As may be required for examining and analy- | sing Mineral Substances."; [At end], 4 plates.
Plates: At the end of volume two there are four unsigned, engraved plates, numbered Tab. I-IV. Tab. I shows a contact goniometer and 42 figures of crystals. Tab. II picture 22 figuers of vessels and distillation apparatus, while Tab. III & Tab. IV show several furnaces and their components.
Very scarce. A System of Mineralogy is a derivative work written to provide the student with a good and acurate text. It relies principally upon the theories of Axel Fredrich Cronstedt to develop a portrait of the science, and includes a great amount of practical advise on the chemical anaysis and description of minerals. Schmeisser dedicates the work to his great friends, Charles Grenville and Joseph Banks, who both sponsered him for membership in the Royal Society of London. The preface acknowledges the author's debt to Wallerius, Cronstedt, Bergman and Delamétherie for the chemical analyses, to Urban Friedrich Benedict Brückmann [1723-1812] for the description of the gems, to Romé de l'Isle for the crystallography and to Werner and D.L.G. Karsten for the descriptions of the external characters. However, Schmeisser emphasises that this work is original in its presentation. The preface continues by introducing Werner's concept of external characters with the addition of some rules of chemistry so as to acquaint the reader with the methods used to examine and analysis minerals. Schmeisser also mentions that he intends to publish a supplement to this work that will classify minerals according to his system of his own invention. This supplement never appeared, however.
A brief introduction describes differences between homogenous and heterogenous substances and the purpose of analytic analysis with an example. Included is a table listing the quantities of substances that dissolve in sulphuric, nitric and muriatic acids. The introduction concludes with a sketch of the history of mineralogy. Next come tables comparing the external characters and another describing mineral forms. A long descriptive mineralogy dividing the individuals into Classes, Genera, Species and Varieties is then presented. A typical description includes the mineral's name, references to other literature and discussions of the physical qualities, the reaction with various acids and the behavior before the blowpipe. Following the descriptive mineralogy is a philosophical discussion centering on how minerals should be described and examined. Practical instructions for describing minerals and descriptions of laboratory techniques follow.
Bibliographical references: BL. BMC: 4, 1843 [date their copy, 1794-5]. Cole, Chemical Literature, 1988: no. 1182. Dana's 7th (Bibliography): 80. Ferchl: 480. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 479. Hoover Collection: no. 726. LKG: XII 140a. NUC: 527, 29 [NS 0228270]. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 5816. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 1978..