Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Report on Thomas Cooper’s Collection of Minerals, 9 July 1819


Report on Thomas Cooper’s Collection of Minerals

At the request of Professor Cooper, we have examined a Collection of Minerals, selected for the College of Charlottsville, and find them to consist of—

1st. Specimens of all the Rocks constituting the Primitive, Transition, Secondary and Flötz Formations. The specimens are large, and chiefly American. They fully illustrate the Geology of the United States, as far as it is at present known.

2d. Specimens of Earthy, Metallic and Saline Minerals. The Series to each genus and family, we believe to be as complete, as is contained in any cabinet in our country. Many of the Specimens are of great value for their size and rarity. In examining them we did not recollect any mineral found in America, which was not included.

3d. Extraneous Fossils. This series we believe to be as complete as any could be formed at present in this country.

4th. A miscellaneous Collection, consisting of models for illustrating Haüys theory of1 crystallisation, and of minerals which could not properly be arranged in the preceding Series.

When we consider the prices at which single minerals are now sold by Mr. LeSueur, in this city, and the price which has been given for collections here and at New York,—when we consider, moreover, the great difficulty of forming so complete a collection of Minerals in our country, and that it includes the entire cabinet of Mr. Godon,—we have no hesitation in declaring our opinion that the price of fifty cents per specimen, at which we understand it is offered, is not only very moderate, but even below the real value.

William Hembel Junr
R. M. Patterson.
Jos Cloud
Jn Vaughan
Philadelphia }
 July 9th., 1819.

I add further, that M Godon Valued his Collection at Two thousand Dollars, & refused to take less for it, to my knowledge, as I had applied for it for a person who wanted to purchase it

Jn Vaughan

M Godon Valued his Collection at Two thousand Dollars


M. Godon’s collection, does not constitute one half of the present Collection, either in number or value.

Thomas Cooper.

MS (ViU: Evaluation of a Collection of Minerals selected for the University of Virginia); body and dateline in Patterson’s hand, signed by Hembel, Patterson, Cloud, and Vaughan, with signed postscripts by Vaughan and Cooper; first postscript inserted between first set of signatures and dateline.

William Hembel (1764–1851), merchant and physician, was a lifelong resident of Philadelphia. He studied medicine but chose not to take a degree due to his impaired hearing. Hembel worked as a shopkeeper by 1791 and retired from the import business around 1839 with an estate estimated six years later to be worth $50,000. He retained an interest in medicine with special emphasis on chemistry, and he advised and cared for the city’s poor at no charge. Elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1813, Hembel served as curator, 1814–15, and councillor, 1817 and 1823–51. He was also elected to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in 1824, serving as vice president, 1831–40, and president, 1840–49 (William S. W. Ruschenberger, A Notice of the Origin, Progress, and Present Condition of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia [1852], 59–60, 76; Henry Simpson, The Lives of Eminent Philadelphians [1859], 515; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 16 Oct. 1813 [MS in PPAmP]; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings 73 [1934]: 381, 387–90; Members and Correspondents of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia [1877], 8, 41; Clement Biddle, The Philadelphia Directory [Philadelphia, 1791], 56; S. Harris, Harris’s Commercial Directory, and Merchants’ Guide, for Philadelphia, 1838 [1838], 29; Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of Philadelphia [2d ed., 1845], 11; Philadelphia North American and United States Gazette, 14 June 1851).

Joseph Cloud (1770–1845), chemist and agriculturist, was living in Delaware in 1796 when President George Washington appointed him melter and refiner at the United States Mint at Philadelphia, a position he held from 1797 until he resigned in 1835. In 1806 Cloud was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society, which he served as secretary, 1812, and curator, 1814–22. He died on his farm in Delaware County, Pennsylvania (Historical Collections of the Joseph Habersham Chapter, Daughters American Revolution [1902], 2:427; Edgar F. Smith, Chemistry in Old Philadelphia [1919], 86–90; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:219, 4:489 [30 Dec. 1796, 2 Jan. 1797, 22 Dec. 1835]; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 17 Jan. 1806 [MS in PPAmP]; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings 73 [1934]: 377, 381; Philadelphia Public Ledger, 2 Aug. 1845; Farmers’ Cabinet, and American Herd-Book 10 [1845]: 92).

flÖtz, German for “stratum” or “layer,” was the name given by Abraham Gottlob Werner to one of the periods in his theory of the Earth’s geological development and to the sedimentary rocks formed during that period by the erosive action of water on primitive rocks (DSB description begins Charles C. Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1970–80, 16 vols. description ends ; William MacLure, Observations on the Geology of the United States of America; with Some Remarks on the effect produced on the nature and fertility of Soils, by the decomposition of the different Classes of Rocks [Philadelphia, 1817; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 (no. 173)], esp. pp. 19–21).

1Manuscript: “or.”

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • Cloud, Joseph; and T. Cooper’s scientific collections search
  • Cloud, Joseph; identified search
  • Cooper, Thomas (1759–1839); and mineralogy search
  • fossils; T. Cooper’s collection of search
  • Godon, Silvain; mineral collection of search
  • Haüy, René Just; mineralogical theories of search
  • Hembel, William; and T. Cooper’s mineral collection search
  • Hembel, William; identified search
  • Lesueur, Charles Alexandre; French naturalist search
  • mineralogy; and S. Godon search
  • mineralogy; and T. Cooper search
  • Patterson, Robert Maskell; and T. Cooper’s scientific collections search
  • United States; geology search
  • Vaughan, John (1756–1841); and T. Cooper search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; T. Cooper as proposed professor search
  • Werner, Abraham Gottlob; geological theories of search