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Ferdinand Georg von Mitis
(1742-1812)

In 1785 Franz Güssmann (born 30 September 1741 in Wolkersdorf; died 28 January 1806 in Seitenstetten), a Jesuit physician in Lemburg and a Professor of Natural History at the University of Vienna, described the mineral collection of the Viennese nobleman Ferdinand Georg von Mitis (1742-1812), president of the Austrian Royal Imperial Hofkammer numismatic and mining-related collections. The title of the collection catalog was Lithophylacium Mitisianum. Dissertatione Praeuia, et Obseruationibus Perpetuis Physico Mineralogicus Explicatum a Francisco Güssmann. (It was published in Vienna by Joseph Nobilis de Kurzbeck, as two volumes in one totalling 817 pages plus one folding plate with 15 figures of specimens.) Mitis was born in Kuttenberg, Austria, the son of Johann Wenzel Mitis, and married Franziska von Kaschnitz-Weinsberg (1751-1815).

Güssmann had been the first to suggest (in 1785) that meteorites actually fell from the sky. He was supported in this hypothesis by the German scientist Franz Chladni (1756-1827), but it was nevertheless well over 100 years before the theory was finally accepted, following the impact of the Tunguska metorite in 1908.

The first volume is divided into six chapters dealing with (1) alterations and weathering in minerals, (2) minerals that are resistant to alteration, (3) the diverse nature of unalterable minerals, (4) granite, (5) the characteristics of minerals, and (6) the Mitis collection of minerals.

The second, much larger volume is a catalog of over 3,600 specimens arranged according to the classification of Ignaz von Born, beginning with gold -- eluvial (superficiale) gold from Boicza, Transylvania, wire (capillare) gold from Transylvania and Kapnik, "toothy" gold (dentatum) from Eula, Bohemia and Salzburg, leaf gold (bracteatum), alluvial gold nuggets (granulare, fluviatile) from Iglavia in Moravia and Abruthbanya, Transylvania, and Eula, Bohemia, gold in combination (lapidibus inhaerens) with other minerals such as quartz and pyrite, from Transylvania, Zillerthal, Cremnitz and the Berezovsk mine near Ekaterinburg, and crystallized (cristallisatum) gold from Transylvania.

His native silvers came from localities such as Kongsberg, Norway; Rudolphstadt in Bohemia; Triesch in Moravia; Freiberg and Johanngeorgenstadt, in Saxony; Pribram; Schemnitz; Felsobanya; Annaberg; Ratiborzice, Bohemia; and Joachimsthal, Bohemia. Specific mines are commonly cited, such as the Pacherstolln and the Theresia Shaft in Hungary (now Slovakia). And many specimens carry fairly extensive descriptions. Most specimens came from well-known mining areas in the countries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, though a few specimens from farther afield (Idria in Spain, Egypt, the Faeroe Islands, Switzerland, ) appear occasionally. Dognaczka in Hungary was a particular favorite.

Reference:
WILSON, W.E. (2006) Fifty-five early mineral collection catalogs--Part III. Axis, vol. 2, no. 1.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Ferdinand Georg von Mitis
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