The Mineralogical Record
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Johann von Kurr
(1798-1870)

Johann Gottlob von Kurr was born in Sulzbach on the Murr, Württemberg, Germany in 1798. After earning his doctorate in Medicine and Surgery, he was first an Instructor in Natural History, then Professor of Botany at the Polytechnic Institute in Stuttgart, and later Professor of Mineralogy. His first mineralogical work was a textbook of economic mineralogy (Grundzüge der Ökonomisch-Technischen Mineralogy) in 1836. By 1858 he had been made Professor of Natural History, and had been appointed a Knight (Ritter) of the Order of the Royal Württembergian Crown. By 1869 he had been promoted to Oberstudienrath (Senior Assistant Master) of the school. His fame today rests with his book on the Mineral Kingdom, the text for which he prepared for the publisher, J. F. Schreiber in Esslingen. Schreiber also arranged for the preparation of 23 color plates depicting a total of 225 mineral specimens, plus various accompanying idealized crystal drawings. The names of the artist and engraver are not given, nor is the source of the specimens illustrated, many of which are extremely fine—which is unfortunate inasmuch as the fame of the work derives from its illustrations and not its rather undistinguished text. It was an early example of what we would today call a "coffee-table book."

Kurr's The Mineral Kingdom (1859), first issued in German as Das Mineralreich in Bildern (1858), initially appeared with hand-colored plates (except for the metallic inks, which were always printed). However, by the time of the second German edition in 1869, Schreiber had adopted the new and presumably less expensive technology of chromolithography, and was issuing all plates with printed colors. For the most part this resulted in a decrease in the artistic quality, as the nuances of color shading and brushwork gave way to the flattened and simplified colors of the press. The examples pictured here, from a copy in the Mineralogical Record Library, are all from the 1859 English edition, with hand-colored plates.

W.E.W.

Reference:
Schuh, C. (2005) Mineralogy and Crystallography: An Annotated Biobibliography of Books Published 1469 through 1919. Privately published, Tucson, 1203 pages.

Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of artworks found: 63 | Artworks being viewed: 33 to 40

The Mineralogical Record: Johann von Kurr - Liroconite on Quartz from Cornwall, England Liroconite on Quartz from Cornwall, England
Hand-colored copper-plate engraving (1858), by an unnamed artist and engraver, depicting (presumably actual-size) a 1.7-inch specimen from an unnamed collection. Published as Plate 16, Figure 19 of Kurr's Mineral Kingdom, Edinburgh edition of 1859.
The Mineralogical Record: Johann von Kurr - Dioptase from Altyn-Tube, Siberia, Russia Dioptase from Altyn-Tube, Siberia, Russia
Hand-colored copper-plate engraving (1858), by an unnamed artist and engraver, depicting (presumably actual-size) a 1.8-inch specimen from an unnamed collection. Published as Plate 16, Figure 16 of Kurr's Mineral Kingdom, Edinburgh edition of 1859.
The Mineralogical Record: Johann von Kurr - Libethenite on Quartz from Libethen, Hungary Libethenite on Quartz from Libethen, Hungary
Hand-colored copper-plate engraving (1858), by an unnamed artist and engraver, depicting (presumably actual-size) a 1.8-inch specimen from an unnamed collection. Published as Plate 16, Figure 14 of Kurr's Mineral Kingdom, Edinburgh edition of 1859.
The Mineralogical Record: Johann von Kurr - Euchroite on Quartz from Libethen, Hungary Euchroite on Quartz from Libethen, Hungary
Hand-colored copper-plate engraving (1858), by an unnamed artist and engraver, depicting (presumably actual-size) a 2.1-inch specimen from an unnamed collection. Published as Plate 16, Figure 18 of Kurr's Mineral Kingdom, Edinburgh edition of 1859.
The Mineralogical Record: Johann von Kurr - Cobaltite from Muessen, Nassau, Germany Cobaltite from Muessen, Nassau, Germany
Hand-colored copper-plate engraving heightened with metallic silver ink (1858), by an unnamed artist and engraver, depicting (presumably actual-size) a 1.8-inch specimen from an unnamed collection. Published as Plate 17, Figure 5 of Kurr's Mineral Kingdom, Edinburgh edition of 1859.
The Mineralogical Record: Johann von Kurr - Chloanthite (=Nickelskutterudite) from Schneeberg, Saxony Chloanthite (=Nickelskutterudite) from Schneeberg, Saxony
Hand-colored copper-plate engraving heightened with metallic silver ink (1858), by an unnamed artist and engraver, depicting (presumably actual-size) a 3-inch specimen from an unnamed collection. Published as Plate 17, Figure 3 of Kurr's Mineral Kingdom, Edinburgh edition of 1859.
The Mineralogical Record: Johann von Kurr - Smaltite (=Skutterudite) from Tunaberg, Sweden (?) Smaltite (=Skutterudite) from Tunaberg, Sweden (?)
Hand-colored copper-plate engraving heightened with matallic silver ink (1858), by an unnamed artist and engraver, depicting (presumably actual-size) a 2.3-inch specimen from an unnamed collection. Published as Plate 17, Figure 11 of Kurr's Mineral Kingdom, Edinburgh edition of 1859.
The Mineralogical Record: Johann von Kurr - Erythrite from Schneeberg, Saxony Erythrite from Schneeberg, Saxony
Hand-colored copper-plate engraving (1858), by an unnamed artist and engraver, depicting (presumably actual-size) a 2.4-inch specimen from an unnamed collection. Published as Plate 17, Figure 12 of Kurr's Mineral Kingdom, Edinburgh edition of 1859.
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