Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/817

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799
THE PROGRESS OF AMERICAN MINERALOGY.

This journal contained several important papers by Dr. Bruce; among them, the investigation and description of two new mineral species, the native magnesia of Hoboken and the red zinc oxide of Sussex County, New Jersey. These are the first American species described by an American mineralogist. So thoroughly was the work done by Bruce, that these species remain to-day essentially as he described them, and his papers may well be studied by mineralogists now as models of accuracy and clearness of statement. . . .

I have mentioned that the importation and exhibition of collections of minerals from Europe had contributed much to excite an interest in the study of mineralogy. It was necessary to have known minerals for study and comparison in order properly to determine those obtained by exploration here. In 1805 Colonel George Gibbs, of Rhode Island, for many years a resident in Europe, returned from his travels with a collection of minerals, the most extensive and valuable ever brought to America. Colonel Gibbs was a zealous cultivator of mineralogy, and, fortunately for science, a young man of wealth. He used his money freely for the purchase of whole cabinets, as well as in personal explorations in search for minerals.

The larger part of his collection was made by the purchase of two famous European cabinets: one from the heirs of Gigot d'Orcy, a noted French collector, and said to have been the result of forty years' labor; the other from Count Gregoire de Razamowsky, a Russian nobleman, long resident in Switzerland. D'Orcy's cabinet numbered over four thousand specimens, chiefly from France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain; Razamowsky's contained about six thousand specimens from the Russian Empire, and the remainder principally from Germany and Switzerland; in all, with the other collections made by Colonel Gibbs, it is said that more than twenty thousand specimens were brought by him to this country.

In 1807 a portion of this collection was opened in Newport, and many interested in mineralogy made pilgrimages there, to view the treasures it contained. Among others was Professor Silliman, who states, in his diary, that he spent many weeks in studying the minerals with Colonel Gibbs, finding in the latter "a scientific friend and a professional instructor and guide." That Colonel Gibbs reciprocated Professor. Silliman's feelings of friendship there can be no doubt, for, after various offers to deposit his collection for exhibition in Boston, New York, and elsewhere, to the great surprise of Professor Silliman, he proposed to open the cabinet at Yale College, provided rooms should be fitted up for its reception.

The proposition was promptly responded to by the authorities of the college, and in 1810, 1811, and 1812, under the personal supervision of Colonel Gibbs, it was opened and arranged, and generously placed at the disposition of the institution and the public. The opening of this collection in New Haven formed an important epoch in the history