In 1992 the Russell Society celebrated its 20th anniversary. Since its creation from the mineralogical night classes of Bob King and Roger Harker, the society, named after that doyen of British mineral collectors Sir Arthur Russell (1878-1964), had risen to become the premier British society for the mineralogical amateur. The original Leicester-based society had spawned several semi-autonomous regional branches, each of which in turn would host the Annual General Meeting and Dinner weekend. On the 20th such occasion it was felt proper that the weekend be sponsored by the original Central Branch, and plans were made to keep the delegates happy. It is traditional for the host branch to arrange field trips to fruitful collecting sites but, these being few and far between in central England, and the majority of local members being well acquainted with those within easy distance, a novelty was sought that would stimulate wider interest. The weekend's theme being "Collecting Minerals," a visit to a local collection was in order, and visiting the mineral collection of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth House was suggested by Franz Werner. No committee member had seen it, nor knew of its scope, but rumor had it that the collection was both extensive and historic. Past Dukes of Devonshire were well known as mine owners and supporters of the local mining and lapidary industries, and the present Duke was known to have purchased minerals at Sotheby's auctions in the 1970's.
Overtures were made to Chatsworth House and a positive, though guarded, response was quick to return. The author and society members Philip Jackson and Roy Starkey were sent to reconnoiter the collection and discuss the logistics of a mass visit. Phil arrived first; when we joined him he was holding a large prism of Russian aquamarine which he had just removed from a cardboard box of specimens, and he was looking, frankly, rather shell-shocked. We began opening a few more boxes. We were all astonished by what we found: first, another superb old-time Russian aquamarine crystal about 15 cm long, then a series of old Cornish specimens. A suite of superb Derbyshire galenas was to follow, along with many other local and foreign classics among a mass of rocks and ore samples. But our excitement was tempered with regret, as this was far from an organized collection. Specimens were stored in a basement cupboard in piles of cardboard boxes, others were jumbled in two late-18th-century glass-fronted cabinets on the floor above, and hundreds more filled a row of wall cases running the length of a nearby corridor (the "Cavendish Passage"). Decay and dilapidation were everywhere apparent. Dust and dirt and the ravages of pyrite disease had taken their toll; the bottoms of boxes were found-too late-to be home to loose number labels which could no longer be even tentatively assigned to the specimens from which they had fallen. Some pieces had labels held to them with perished rubber bands, notable mostly for their inaccuracy: one water-rolled galena pebble (probably from a Derbyshire cave deposit) was labeled "matlockite." Specimens crumbled between our fingers, and brittle labels fell away as specimens were lifted from their yellowed newspaper wrapping.
Here was a fascinating and historic collection on the verge of extinction. Among Chatsworth's wonderful heritage overall, a few rocks (no matter how exciting to us) had long been considered to be of little importance. One can hardly regard their lowly treatment as a failure of intent; it's a matter of priorities. And yet despite the collection's condition there was a feeling that it was somehow nearly all here, that little had actually been lost. Within the great house of Chatsworth little is ever actually thrown away-items may fade from view or pass from the memory of owners and staff, but somewhere they await eventual rediscovery. In a centuries-old house containing 175 rooms, 21 kitchens, 17 staircases and an infinity of nooks and crannies (see Duchess of Devonshire, 1982; 2002), there is plenty of space for a few rocks to hide.
The original catalogs of the collection, long unseen, had been rediscovered some years previously in an old box in the Estate Office and were produced for our inspection. The author's name sprang from the title pages of these two volumes and an accompanying manuscript book inscribed Catalogue of the External Characters of Fossils. By White Watson F.L.S. Bakewell, Derbyshire. 1798. Watson was a pioneer of local geology, and a gifted lapidary; he was one of the most interesting figures in late 18th century Derbyshire geology. We were quickly able to match numbered specimens to entries in these 200-year-old handwritten volumes. Our excitement was palpable, and the receptive interest of Chatsworth staff in our enthusiasm was reassuring.
On subsequent visits, specimens were selected and cleaned for display to the membership. On the day of the "field trip" in April, a large table in a small basement library was covered with interesting and spectacular specimens: Derbyshire galena and fluorite, Watson's inlaid "tablets," French axinite and prehnite, Russian gem crystals and copper minerals. For the occasion the "Duke's Emerald"-a huge Brazilian crystal, once the largest known-and two amazing silver specimens in small glass cases were produced from the strongroom. Eyes popped. These last priceless pieces were new to us all.
The AGM weekend and visit to Chatsworth House was a great success. The table of specimens glittered temptingly and everyone found something to interest them; even luminaries such as Bob Symes of the British Museum (Natural History), French collector Eric Asselborn, and gemologist Bob Howie were impressed. After the event, the specimens were left on the table for the Duke and Duchess to see, since no one in modern Chatsworth had seen these things cleaned and laid out like this.
It was with deep concern that we went home that day. Having seen what was to hand, having noted the precarious state of the labeling and the decay, and now having drawn the attention of fingers untutored in the handling of delicate minerals to such a range of historically important material, we were worried it would not last much longer without intervention. A need to ensure the preservation of the collection began to be generally felt. Over the next weeks a plan of action was drawn up and a proposal made to Chatsworth to inventory the collection, store it properly and restore it as far as possible to its original arrangement. Well, to cut the story short, the Chatsworth curatorial staff were supportive, the Duke and Duchess enthusiastic, and work began. At the time we had no idea that we would still be doing it 10 years later, or that the discovery of so many fascinating stories was in store for us.
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
The Devonshire Mineral Collection was begun by one of the most remarkable women ever to grace English high society. Georgiana1 Spencer was born on the 7th of June 1757, daughter of John Spencer (1st Earl Spencer), and Georgiana Poyntz, in the Spencers' great and ancient house of Althorp. The family was one of the most powerful in the country, yet Georgiana was destined for even greater things. When she was but a child she was introduced to the adolescent William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, head of the most powerful family in the land outside of Royalty, who quickly fell for her youthful charms. William Cavendish was descended from Bess of Hardwick (1518-1608), who survived four husbands to become so immensely wealthy that she could devote her entire life to "building great houses with a passion that bordered on the obsessive" (Masters, 1981). It has been said that only Elizabeth I of England had greater personal wealth. Bess's second husband was Sir William Cavendish, a close advisor to Henry VIII and the only one of her husbands by whom Bess had children. Sir William began building Chatsworth House in 1551, but did not live to see it completed. After his death in 1577 Bess continued the work which was finally finished in the 158Os. She bequeathed Chatsworth to her son Henry Cavendish, who sold it to his younger brother, William, who became 1st Earl of Devonshire in 1618. Wealth, property, power and title continued to accumulate in the family. The Devonshire Dukedom was bestowed upon the 4th Earl by a grateful William III in 1694. Between 1686 and 1707 he remodeled Chatsworth, leaving the form of the main house essentially as it is today. His great-grandson, the 4th Duke, married a daughter of the Earl of Burlington, thereby adding to the family estates Lismore Castle in Ireland, Chiswick House, and Burlington House in London's Piccadilly, the last now the home of a galaxy of learned societies including the Linnaean Society, the Royal Academy, the Royal Astronomical Society and, appropriately here, the Geological Society.
Two days before her 17th birthday Georgiana was awakened with the surprising news that she was to wed the Duke that very day. The couple's courtship had been the subject of much fascinated gossip, but the conclusion had been a carefully guarded secret for fear of the attention a public event would arouse. The quiet ceremony was attended by her grandmother, Lady Cowper, the Duke's sister the Duchess of Portland (herself a great collector), and his brother, Lord Richard Cavendish. This deliberately low-key event was the beginning of a life that was to be lived in the full glare of private and public speculation and scrutiny, to survive infidelity, tragedy and scandal, and to end prematurely in agony. Parallels with the tragic life of a more recent member of the Spencer family are unavoidable.
Georgiana was an extraordinary woman. As the new Duchess of Devonshire she was guaranteed celebrity, but her intelligence and sense of style, her personal magnetism and enthusiasm, made her a very real force in 18th-century society. She was loved-often passionately and sometimes improperly-by almost everyone who knew her. Her fascination and delight in the interwoven worlds of high society and politics quickly became more than mere enjoyment of fashion, frivolity and the trappings and personalities of her powerful milieu; Georgiana wanted to contribute, and was well able to do so, although as a woman she was expected to play supporting roles. Her abilities were soon recognized and her opinions and patronage eagerly sought and freely given. Politicians, writers, and aristocrats fell under her spell, and the common people loved her and delighted in the gossip, scurrilous or otherwise, that followed her every move. Under her influence, her circle of family, friends and acquaintances drove the absurdities of the fashionable world (known as the ton) to new heights and was the inspiration for Sheridan's 1777 hit play School for Scandal.
But Georgiana's innocent abilities had a fatal flaw: an addiction to gambling. Her debts reached such enormous proportions that she hid their true size from everyone. Terrified that her husband would discover her financial problems, she turned to friends and relatives for support, but even their frequent contributions and the indulgence of her banker, Thomas Courts2 (she owed him
Georgiana's marriage was not an unqualified success. The Duke's notoriously dull character was unlocked only by his mistress Elizabeth "Bess" Foster, leaving him with little passion and favor for his wife. Bess shared the Devonshires' homes and holidays for many years, bearing the Duke's children (though their father's identity was kept from them to the last) while at the same time being one of Georgiana's closest friends. This unusual menage à trois caused little stir, but when Georgiana became pregnant by her lover it was a scandal. This event was to help precipitate Georgiana's active interest in mineralogy, and so we will abruptly leave much of the remainder of Georgiana's remarkable life unsaid. Some of the tale is hinted at in the current work, which concentrates on one of the less sensational, if personally important, aspects of her life. The rest of her story, and that of the Devonshire circle in general-"this vale of tears and laughter"-has been told many times. The finest biographies are those of Leveson Gower (1944), Brian Masters (1981) and Amanda Foreman (1998); and the lives of the Cavendishes in general can be found in Pearson (1983), to which the interested reader is urged to turn.
Georgiana began collecting minerals in the closing years of the 18th century, not long before illness and infirmity were to restrict her social activities. At the time she was exiled in Europe, banished from her husband's house as a result of her absurd gambling debts and the discovery of her affair with the politician Charles Grey. In Montpelier she gave birth to Grey's daughter, melodramatically writing a farewell note to her son in her own blood on the night before her confinement in case she should not survive the ordeal. The child was taken from her immediately to be raised by Grey's family in Northumberland. The loss blighted Georgiana's life; though she supported her daughter as an elder friend, she never told her the truth of her birth.
While in France, Georgiana began to study natural science, partly as a means of supporting and contributing to her children's education, and almost certainly as an escape from her sad state. Quite apart from any innate interest in the subject (she already professed a fascination with geology) she may have been influenced not only by the considerable vogue for natural history collecting at the time, but also by the eminent mineralogists among her many acquaintances abroad. The earliest references to the subject are in letters home to her 9-year-old daughter Georgiana or "Little G." and in her Exile Journal (J/18/67/2, Castle Howard, Carlisle). "I am beginning to . . . study mineralogy that I may be able to go to Lever's with you," she wrote from Nice in April 1792. (The museum, or Holophusikon, of Sir Ashton Lever in London was one of the wonders of the age.) Her first lessons in natural history and mineralogy came from an unidentified Dr. Dreux or Drew.3 "He will not come to one," she wrote, "as he is busy with his sick people-the day we saw him at a cabinet of natural history we were delighted with him." While sailing from Nice to Genoa her boat was forced by bad weather to put in at Monaco, where Georgiana went for long walks on which she collected mineral specimens (Leveson Gower, 1944). She had become fascinated by the study of mineralogy for its own sake.
Her band of English travelers attracted more and more friends as they crossed Europe and made a party of their separation from home. Reaching Geneva in May 1792, Georgiana met with the Swiss botanist and geologist Horace Benedict de Saussure (1740-1799): "a great Philosopher . . . a most interesting and amiable man-much attached to his wife and has two sons & a beautiful daughter." He gave her "two bits of Granite he picked up from the summit of Mont Blance [sic], which I shall preserve as great treasures" (Georgiana to her daughter Georgiana 5 June 1792, quoted by Leveson Gower, 1944). In Lausanne, Georgiana and her sister Harriet took private lessons in mineralogy and chemistry with Henri Struve (1751-1826), Professor of Chemistry at the Academy (de Beer, 1951), accompanied on occasion by the historian Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), possibly more from his devotion to Georgiana than to mineralogy. Another associate was Henry Pelham, who remarked of his companions in September 1792: "Chemistry and mineralogy in the morning and drawing all the evening; in short nothing can be more instructive or pleasant than their society" (Foreman, 1998). Other members of the group included Lord and Lady Palmerston, who observed that Georgiana had "taken extremely to mineralogy" (Connell, 1957). It was through Palmerston that Georgiana was introduced to the scientist Sir Charles Blagden (1748-1820), the secretary of the Royal Society. Georgiana and Blagden became life-long friends and he did much to encourage her interests in chemistry and mineralogy. While at Lake Geneva in 1792 he also accompanied her to Struve's lectures, but was not impressed: "[he] seems a dull Swiss, who knows well enough the objects of his attention, but without any imagination; he speaks not amiss in conversation, but in lecturing hesitates excessively." In discussion with Gibbon, Blagden and others about experiments in chemistry and the nervous system of animals, Georgiana revealed "she was quite wild with studies of that nature," and that "now she came to towns with very different ideas from her former ones, to see the men of science & eminence" (de Beer, 1950). She had come to the right place. While at Lake Geneva in the few weeks mid-August to mid-September 1792 Blagden met no fewer than eight Fellows of the Royal Society along with several other notable continental scientists. And Gibbon ("very clever but remarkably ugly" according to Georgiana) had lived in Lausanne on and off since being withdrawn from Oxford following his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1753. Here he completed his masterwork The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Despite her enthusiasm for science in general "my favourite of all favourites is mineralogy" she said in June 1792, "and I have already a pretty Collection of my own collecting" (Leveson Gower, 1944). An undated letter to her banker, Thomas Coutts, which must have followed shortly after her experiences in Lausanne, shows Georgiana's growing devotion to her new hobby:
From the necessity of [finding?] some occupation thus separated from my Dear Children & family-I amused myself last summer in studying natural history-not only as an object for the moment but as one likely of being productive of advantage & amusement to my Dear Children & to me in the country. But as I do not allow myself to purchase any specimens I contented myself with a little collection of minerals which I left to a professor at Lausanne to write me this catalogue & which I had collected myself. I did not propose sending them to England till Spring-But he has sent them to your Direction-they are two cases . . . will you let them stand in your strong room till I return-for I prize them far above their value. . . . I am quite anxious & uneasy least any thing should have happened to my poor Cabinet by its being sent too soon for it is grown a great amusement to me . . . my reason for wishing them to stay at yr house is the fear of their being deranged at Devonshire house; as I wish to put them in order myself. (Coutts Archive, no. 9918)
En route to Rome and Naples in April 1793, Georgiana described her hotel room as "full of great pieces of Spar which I have picked up." In Naples she described in a letter to Little G. her continuing fascination with mineralogy:
I have made great additions here to my collection of minerals-I shall have a most complete collection to study. I don't allow myself to buy-as I am not rich enough, but people have been very good to me & have given me many specimens-indeed ever so small a piece satisfies me-& when I say I don't allow myself to buy I mean I don't allow myself to lay out above 3 or 4£ in a place. I bought a collection of Marble at Florence for half a guinea [10s 6d] & here the productions of Vesuvius for 2 ½; but as I don't mind scrambling I pick up a great deal myself. You wd. laugh to see me climbing up hills with a hammer in my hand-& seeing me with 3 or 4 Natural Philosophers ev'ry morning. I have some great curiositys, but when I return you shall help me arrange my Cabinet.
In Earths I have ye following curiositys-some fine specimens of Rock Christal-one piece with a substance in it that looks like gold thread-call'd les cheveux de Venus [Venus's Hair]. I have some marble with a shell that looks like fire [Lumachella marble]. I have some spar that looks like mother of pearl-and I have one little christal that looks like a cluster of beautiful pearls-these I carry with me, but my larger boxes are to go to England by Sea & I fear will never arrive safe." (quoted by Leveson Gower, 1944)
Georgiana was invited to meetings between Blagden, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir William Hamilton and others who gathered to study Vesuvius and other natural and artificial wonders of the area. Hamilton (1730-1803) was Ambassador to Naples, a noted early vulcanologist and art collector, and uncle of the renowned mineral collector Charles Greville (1749-1809). This was one of the happiest periods of her life. Freed of the urge to gamble, she preferred to spend her days at the house of Father Gian Vincenzo Petrini (1725-1814), professor, curator of the mineral collection and later Director of "Collegio Nazareno" in Rome. His house was a home to visiting scientists, and there she continued her discussions with Charles Blagden. Surrounded by an eminent and friendly company, Georgiana nurtured her fascination with geology and mineralogy, and climbed to the summit of Vesuvius to watch the vapors rising from the crater. Another associate on her continental tour was the scientist, statesman and sometime spy Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753-1814), who on August 2, 1793 broke a specimen of rock from the "very top of the highest point of Mount St. Gothard" and presented it to the Duchess at Bern, Switzerland on August 21, 1793, shortly before Georgiana's long-awaited return to England and reunion with her family.
Georgiana had been much affected by her long exile. Gone was the star of the haut monde, the notorious gambler with the reckless nature. In its place was a more studious and humble personality, devoted to her children, reconciled to some degree to the Duke, and spending long hours studying chemistry and mineralogy in a back room of Devonshire House. Blagden was a frequent companion and was sufficiently excited by her acquisition of a specimen of "elastic marble" from Italy to report it to Sir Joseph Banks in August 1794 (Foreman, 1998: 292). [Two specimens of "elastic sandstone" remain in the collection (F-50 and F-51), but specimen G-10a "Elastic Marble (on a board)" has not yet been found.] In 1793, with Lady Elizabeth Webster (1771-1845, formerly Vassall; later Lady Holland), herself an assiduous collector of minerals, she was attending Dr. Bryan Higgins' lectures at his School of Chemistry in Greek St., Soho (Wright, 1989). The chemist and physician Thomas Beddoes, after a visit from the Duchess in 1793, wrote to Erasmus Darwin that she "manifested . . . a knowledge of modern chemistry superior to that he should have supposed 'any duchess, or any lady in England was possessed of" (Stock 1811). Her mother, Georgiana's sternest critic, noted:
she has a genius for it [mineralogy]. Padre Patrini [sic], one of the first men in that line in Italy, and Sir Ch. Blagden have both assured me . . . that the degree of knowledge the Dss has acquired and her observations were very extraordinary. Mr Cavendish too I find is delighted with her. He calls upon her frequently. (Foreman, 1998: 292).
This was the noted chemist and physicist Henry Cavendish (1713-1810), a second cousin of the Duke's, and the intellectual star of the line. But Georgiana's new-found stability and happiness were not to last. She had long been a victim of fearsome migraines, and in early 1796 the condition forced her to take to her bed where the pain behind her eyes was soon to be revealed as the symptom of a far worse malady. In a few days her right eye swelled "to the size of an apricot" and a galaxy of medical talent was quickly called to her bedside. Although she was numbed by opium, and bolstered by past survival of painful childbirth and miscarriage, the ensuing treatment was horrific for patient and onlookers alike: at one time a tourniquet around her neck was used to force the blood into her head and leeches were applied to her eyeball. Her children were dispatched to Chiswick to be out of earshot of their mother's screams. A telling comment from her sister Harriet sums up the situation: "After hearing what I did tonight I can bear anything" (Foreman, 1998).
She was to recover, and although her eye was lost and her appearance disfigured, her resolve and fortitude were increased. Her old interest in politics was rekindled, and her passion for mineralogy continued, though we have only fragmentary evidence of it. White Watson was employed for nine weeks, April to June 1799, to catalog her now substantial collections at Chiswick. On the same trip to London he also arranged the mineral collection of Lady Henrietta Bessborough (Georgiana's sister) in Cavendish Square (Watson's Commonplace Book, Hugh Torrens, pers. comm.). Five years later he performed the same task on Georgiana's specimens at Chatsworth. In the late 18th century J. M. Hedinger dedicated A Short Description of Castleton . . . its natural curiosities and mineral productions to Georgiana, noting her "very peculiar Attention . . . long shown to the Mineral Kingdom" and her "wish of promoting the Science of Chemistry, connected with Mineralogy." (The book ran from its 5th to its 26th editions between ca. 1800 and 1839; the earlier editions I have been unable to find.) In 1799, when the collector William Day was hoping to sell his mineral collection, which the Count de Bournon had recommended as a fine basis for "a person of fortune to form a Cabinet of English Minerals," Day expressed the hope that Charles Greville would recommend it to the Duchess of Devonshire (W. Day to Philip Rashleigh, 1799, Rashleigh Papers R5757/1/93, Cornwall Record Office, Truro), but this evidently came to nothing and his collection was acquired by author and collector James Sowerby after his death.
Other than the scattered fragments assembled above, and her collection itself, there is, unfortunately, little contemporary evidence of her collecting habits or the depth of her involvement in the hobby or science. Nothing purely mineralogical is known to survive in her own papers and very little reference to her from any of the other important figures involved with the Chatsworth mineral collections has been found. The 18th century mineralogy texts now in the Chatsworth library were probably part of the great library of Henry Cavendish (Harvey, 1980), which Henry's heir Lord Cavendish gave to the 6th Duke (e.g. Johann Gesner's Tractatus Physicus de Petrificatis, 1758 and Torbern Bergman's Sciagraphia Regni Mineralis Secundum Principia Proximo Digesti, 1783).
Many of Georgiana's specimens are rather dull and unattractive to the modern collector; typical of a systematic collection rather than a display of the exceptional; obviously acquired with more regard for their place within some mineralogical scheme than for their aesthetic qualities. This may seem unexpected in a society hostess whose early involvement with fashion and frivolity was so often satirized and censured, whose homes were filled with the marvels of art, whose husband was one of the richest men in the country, well able to afford the premium that rarity and beauty acquire. It supports the idea that she had a genuine interest in the systematics of the subject, though it may equally demonstrate a lack of sophistication.
Towards the end of the 18th century Georgiana finally confessed to the Duke the full magnitude of her debts and he determined to settle them. Once word of this got out yet more creditors emerged with claims, and even poor Georgiana was hard-pressed to separate the genuine from the opportunist liars hoping for some easy money. She died in agony on 30 March 1806 after a dreadful final illness, aged only 49. After her death the Duke married his mistress Bess, to the disgust of the family, but a few years later he also died and Bess was banished by Georgiana's son, who, antagonized by her unreasonable claims to house and property, paid off his stepmother to remove herself from the household. Despite this rift he determined to support her and her children, and was true to his word; she was, after all, his mother's closest friend and the love of his father's life.4
"Hart," The 6th Duke
When Georgiana returned to England after her long exile her 3 ½-year-old son William, known as Hart from his courtesy title of the Marquess of Hartington, was a stranger to her. He was a strikingly good-looking and attentive boy, yet fiercely independent and prone to passions and sulks. To Georgiana's great relief, in time the two were reconciled, though only a few years together were left to them. He was born in Paris in 1790-a quite remarkable place for his mother to be in such troubled times, and an episode that stimulated an enormous amount of speculative gossip.5 Little more than two months after Hart came of age his father died, and he inherited title, estates, great houses, possessions and wealth almost beyond belief. With this vast fortune came much responsibility, and the necessity to settle his parents' affairs. Georgiana's gambling debts still stood at over £100,000, and mismanagement of his father's estates by the aged family solicitor had resulted in further encumbrances. Hart had to arrange settlement of the debts as well as an annuity for his step-mother and her children. Hart became Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire within weeks of his father's death and made his maiden speech in the House of Lords in January 1812.
His passion for collecting was quick to surface, as was the almost genetic tendency for extending and refurbishing his remarkable portfolio of real estate: Chatsworth and the semi-derelict Lismore attracted much of this attention. Immediately after his succession he spent £50,000 on coins and medals, but soon tired of them, finding them insufficiently rewarding as collectibles. In 1844 he sold them at a huge loss for £7,056 to finance maintenance on his properties. He did, however, remain true to his love of books, though claiming that a lack of learning made him unworthy of his own collection. This too was a family trait: his father had been a great bibliophile and reader, Georgiana delighted in books, and her brother the 2nd Earl Spencer has been described as "the greatest collector of incunabula and early printed books who has ever lived" (Lees-Milne, 1991). Hart bought expansively at many of the greatest book sales of the 19th century. When he brought his books together at Chatsworth he found the existing library too small to accommodate them and had the 1st Duke's Long Gallery gutted to take bookshelves, incidentally weakening the structure of the house through the injudicious modifications. This architectural disaster aside, the present library is a fine space and makes a lasting impression on today's visitor, being opulent and grand, yet still attractively domestic. The Chatsworth Library now contains over 50,000 volumes.
In London in 1816 Hart met the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, destined to become the Tsar of All the Russias. The two young men struck up an immediate, deep and lasting friendship. The Duke invited Nicholas to Chatsworth and the invitation was immediately accepted. For a few days they toured, shot, and talked together into the night, enjoying a care-free relationship that was often to be recalled but never to be repeated as the constraints of state and status tightened around them both with the passing of the years. Nicholas returned to London, and the Duke followed his new friend in early 1817. They did the social round and dined together frequently. When Nicholas left England to return home to his bride-to-be, he invited Hart along. The two traveled separately, but met up often en route. Hart stayed for several weeks in St. Petersburg and was much struck by the beauty of the city. He dined with the Emperor Alexander I and was feted by the Russian nobility. After the royal wedding he traveled back to England via Italy and France and thence to Chatsworth. In 1818 he was setting to at Chatsworth with great determination. The architect Jeffry Wyatt (later Sir Jeffry Wyatville), fresh from his successes at Longleat, was called in, and together they planned a formidable extension to the house to accommodate Hart's collections and his intentions for grand entertainments. Wyatt also compensated for the architectural failings of the library. He was wholly unimpressed with the window the Duke had made from slabs of "Blue John" fluorite, as the Duke relates in his Handbook (1844-45):
The Derbyshire spar in the window is made of beautiful specimens: it shows how fine a thing might be made of the material. The stones were intended for a cabinet of minerals, and from their shape could only be arranged in a formal and not graceful pattern; and much did Sir Jeffry condemn the whole thing, which he pronounced to be the exact resemblance of his grandmother's counterpane.
This window was moved by the late Duke from the Theatre to the "West Sub-Corridor."
Hart's appetite for foreign travel and culture whetted by his trip to Russia, tours of Italy soon followed, in search of Italian art, especially marble sculpture to which the Duke devoted a fortune and much effort. His fascination with Italian decorative stone led him to the Italian lawyer Faustino Corsi (1771-1845), who, in his Catalogo ragionato . . . of 1825, notes that the Duke of Devonshire had "honored his collection with a visit, and also enriched it with precious gifts." Corsi, in addition to having judicial responsibility for the Vatican police, was an expert on the decorative stones of antiquity (Cooke and Price, in press: 87-88). His collection of 1000 slabs was purchased by Stephen Jarrett and presented to the University of Oxford in 1827, and is now in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Currently the subject of intensive research, it contains 16 polished slabs of Derbyshire stones, including "Duke's Red," Ashford Black Marble, Rosewood Marble, various fossil limestones, and fluorites including Blue John. The "Duke's Red" is a beautiful hematitic limestone found in a limited deposit at Youlgreave in Derbyshire in the 1820s. The Duke used it extensively in table tops and other lapidary work for Chatsworth, where the remaining world's supply of this unique stone lies piled in a basement corridor.
Hart's influence on the Derbyshire "petrifaction" industry was enormous, especially through the use of local stone and workmanship in the fitting out of the Wyatt extensions to Chatsworth (Brighton, 1995), where the results of Hart's artistic collecting and patronage adorn the Sculpture Gallery. The noted and fashionable sculptor Francis Chantrey (1781-1841) was a friend and a frequent visitor to Chatsworth. As owner of one of the finest private collections of minerals in the country, Chantrey may have fired the Duke's enthusiasm for a subject which youthful lessons from White Watson had failed to kindle.
The rest of the Duke's full and fascinating life need not concern us here (see Lees-Milne, 1981), save for his appointment as Britain's Ambassador Extraordinary to Russia on Nicholas's succession to the throne in 1826. In itself an important step in Hart's life, the event is also remarkable in another way. On the very day he left for Russia his new head gardener arrived at Chatsworth. At 4:30 in the morning Joseph Paxton, then 23 years old, arrived at the House, having traveled overnight from London. As related by Lees-Milne (1981), before the end of the day, having scaled a gate to get into the estate, he had walked all around the grounds, examined the house, set the men to work at 6 o'clock, and fallen in love with the housekeeper's niece (whom he married within 8 months). He was to remain in the Duke's employ for the rest of his life, becoming one of his most trusted friends, manager of his vast estates and his financial advisor-as well as one of the most celebrated architects of the age and a knight of the realm. His was the deciding hand in the refurbishment of Lismore Castle, but his most lasting contribution to British culture was the design of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was a remarkably adventurous building, all prefabricated glass and cast iron inspired by the leaf structure of a huge water-lily which Paxton had been the first to encourage to flower in England in his Chatsworth greenhouse. Like the latter-day Millennium Dome the Crystal Palace was not to everyone's taste-John Ruskin likened it to a row of monstrous cucumber frames-but unlike the Dome almost everyone else was delighted with it, and the Exhibition was a huge success, setting in train a plethora of Great International Exhibitions around the world (Leapman, 2001; Greenhalgh, 1988). Of interest to us here is the array of minerals on display, either on the stands of mineral dealers or in large national and international contributions from government bodies, private collectors and mining companies anxious to prove the value and novelty of their properties. Specimens from the Duke's collection were included.
Hart died in his sleep 7 years later in 1858, having made a lasting mark. His books, his beloved sculpture and objects d'art adorn the house still-reminders of the last of Chatsworth's great collectors to enjoy such freedom to indulge his personal passions.
The Duke's Minerals
We have little other than the specimens themselves to give us an insight into the Duke's interest in mineralogy. No catalog of the collection from the Duke's time exists, though there are a few short lists of items acquired ca. 1817-1827. None of his specimens are systematically cataloged, though many bear handwritten or printed labels of one sort or another. Although there are thus relatively few that can be definitely assigned to him, many of these are quite superb. The earliest record of his collecting is that of Hart buying specimens from White Watson in 1809: Watson's cashbooks record a "Tablet of Ironstones and coals" purchased by the Marquis of Hartington for £6.0.0. Unfortunately this cannot be found today-perhaps it was a gift for another. We know too that he bought from Henry Heuland (1778-1856), the leading dealer of the day, in 1820 and 1833 (Duke's private account book, Chatsworth archives), and attended a Heuland sale in May 1834, as shown in an annotated auction catalog in the library of the Natural History Museum in London. Lecturer and mineral dealer Prof. James Tennant (1808-1881) is known to have stayed at Chatsworth working on the collection, though we do not know what he did and only one specimen can be attributed to him (it bears his label and must date from after 1840).6 The Duke had sufficient confidence in him to entrust him with the "Duke's Emerald," to exhibit at his stand in the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851, along with the Simplon Tunnel quartz crystals still on display in the Chatsworth Sculpture Gallery (Anon, 1852). Whether these were acquired during the building of the tunnel in the early 1800s no one knows. They had pride of place in one of the main avenues of the exhibition.
Other than the Heuland specimens described below, Hart's most inspired purchases were from the sale of the collection of Sir Alexander Crichton FRS, MD, FRCS, FLS, FGS (1763-1856). The polymathic Crichton was physician to Emperor Alexander of Russia from 1803 to 1814, and was well respected for his work on insanity. Fuller details of his life are given in an anonymous obituary in the Geological Magazine (1857), by Tansey (1984), Appleby (1999), and in the Dictionary of National Biography; his contributions to geology comprise papers on fossils and geology in the Annals of Philosophy and Geological Transactions. The rare mineral crichtonite, from Bourg D'Oisans, Isère, France, was named in his honor by de Bournon in 1813. Although subsequently long believed to be merely a variety of the much commoner ilmenite, its species status was reaffirmed by work in the 20th century. Crichton's collection contained several fine specimens of the mineral.
In 1818, Crichton's mineral collection was described by Joseph F. Wagner as the finest in Russia:
without doubt the magnificent and rich collection of Sr. Excellenz des wirklichen Etats-Rathes und Ritters und K. Leibartzes, [his Excellency States Counsellor, Knight and Royal Physician], Herren von Crichton, takes precedence. Not just because it contains the significant quantity of more than 4000 specimens, but also because all it contains is valuable and rare. One finds nothing therein that cannot claim to be unusual; all is carefully chosen with the purest taste and finest delicacy. The most beautiful and sumptuous blooms of the mineral kingdom are gathered here in a single whole. The collection is still being increased whereby it gains in classical completeness along with the value of its treasures. One can say of the collection that it is in step with the times and the science. (Wagner, 1818)
Wagner tells us that the Duke of Devonshire gave Crichton specimens for his collection. An "extraordinarily beautiful" tourmaline with apatite in Crichton's collection, from the then-new occurrence at Bovey Tracey in Devon, is described as a gift from the Duke (Wagner, 1818: 7). A pocket book of the Duke's dating from shortly before 1817 lists "Minerals given me by Doctor Creighton [sic] in exchange for Cornish and Derbyshire ones." There are 18 specimens listed, many of which seem to be of good quality. Though we have been unable so far to reconcile them with extant specimens, a recently discovered loose label repeats the same description as one entry on this list so presumably the specimens returned to England with the Duke. Whether the two men first met in England or Russia we can't tell, but in his Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick (1844: 45-46) the Duke mentions the existence in the Devonshire Collection of "specimens I added, and some that Dr. Creighton assisted me in procuring at St. Petersburg, where I gave some Derbyshire and Cornwall ores in exchange."
Crichton retired from his post in Russia on health grounds in 1819 and returned to London. He received many Russian and other honors and in 1821 was knighted by George IV. His marvelous mineral collection was auctioned in London by George Brettingham Sowerby (1788-1854) in 2721 lots over a period of 16 days from April 20, 1827. Embrey (1976) suspected, from similarities of style, that Sowerby's catalog was influenced by the dealer Henry Heuland-that Heuland had assisted either with the sale descriptions or with Crichton's own cataloging. From long experience of Heuland's descriptive style in letters to Philip Rashleigh and in his sale catalogs I can strongly agree with this view (Cooper 2001). Certainly Heuland was an important source of specimens for Crichton-a list of recent acquisitions from "Herr Heyland" is given on p. 73 of Wagner's work as a service to other collectors unfamiliar with the dealer's material. Whether Crichton acquired pieces directly from Heuland in London or via his partnership with mineral dealers Sitnikoff and Co. in St. Petersburg is not recorded. Among the most recently discovered specimens is a fine stibnite with a label we suspect indicates it is part of the Crichton collection. This label overlays an earlier one (numbered "10.") which strongly resembles Heuland's typical number labels.
As a result of the sale of his collection, some of Crichton's specimens ended up in the collection of Isaac Walker (1794-1853) (Embrey, 1976; Embrey and Symes, 1987), which was later acquired by dealer James Gregory and sold piecemeal. F. N. A. Fleischmann purchased many of them and presented them to the BM(NH) along with a copy (perhaps Walker's own) of the Crichton sale catalog. Other buyers included one Diana Maria Dondeswell (as noted in the part of the catalog of her collection in an annotated copy of Mawe's A New descriptive catalogue of minerals ... (1818) in the collection of Nick Carruth) and Sir George Tuthill (1722-1835), a graduate of the Freiberg Mining Academy. Tuthill's large collection was bought by Francis Chantrey after Tuthill's death. When Chantrey died a few years later, Heuland bought it from his widow and attempted to sell it entire to Prince Albert, but Queen Victoria intervened and prevented the purchase (Allingham, 1924). Heuland then sold it at auction, netting some 4 times the asking price for the whole collection. As a result, much of the collection then left the country. Many specimens ended up in Gerard Troost's collection in America (Goldstein, 1984). Others appear to have been offered for sale in New York in 1846 "during the session of the American Naturalists the first week in September." The specimens had been "purchased by a gentleman in London, long distinguished for his devotion to Mineralogy, by whom they were sent to a friend in this country" (Nick Carruth Collection). A further 250 specimens from the Crichton sale were acquired by the Leeds Literary and Philosophical Society, according to the Society's Annual Report for 1826-27. One "Tourmaline on quartz with cleavelandite" from Catherineberg, Siberia was singled out for special mention. Some or all of these specimens may survive in Leeds Museum (Hancock et al., 1987), though only the tourmaline has been identified with certainty.
The Duke attended the Crichton sale, choosing the lots himself on the 4th and 7th of May (6th Duke's diary for 1827, Chatsworth Archives). His choice may have been influenced by a fondness for things Russian, though it was not confined to Russian specimens. A manuscript list of the purchased lots survives at Chatsworth (see below). To identify them, the entries in the sale catalog were carefully cut out and pasted onto the specimens. Two weeks after the sale, on the 19th of May, Hart records a visit to Heuland, though no mention is made of further purchases.
By the mid-19th century the Devonshire mineral collections seem to have been long neglected. As early as 1844 the Duke comments in his Handbook: "All these minerals [i.e. his mother's and his own] are in a disgraceful state of neglect and want of classification. Those collected by my Mother ought to be replaced in their former order, as they were in the days of White Watson of Bakewell, who in vain endeavored to hammer mineralogy into our youthful heads." The present Dowager Duchess relates: "The cases of Georgiana's minerals were [in the Mineral Room] when I first knew the house, and had to be passed when calling on Mr Thompson [the curator] in his lair. It was on one of these visits that Mr Thompson showed my sister Nancy the 'diseased' stones which had destroyed the paper they rested on and were beginning to eat into the wooden shelf. She was so struck by the idea of ill stones that she described them in one of her books."
After breakfast we all flocked to the north passage, where there were hundreds of stones in glass-fronted cupboards. Petrified this and fossilized that, blue-John and lapis were the most exciting, large flints which looked as if they had been picked up by the side of the road, the least. Valuable, unique, they were a family legend. 'The minerals in the north passage are good enough for a museum.' We children revered them. Davey looked at them carefully, taking some over to the window and peering into them. Finally he heaved a great sigh and said: 'What a beautiful collection. I suppose you know they're all diseased?' 'Diseased?' 'Badly, and too far gone for treatment. In a year or two they'll all be dead-you might as well throw the whole lot away.' (Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love, 1945)
Thankfully this fictional advice was not followed in fact. Nevertheless much of the collection certainly passed from view at times during its long life. After several years working on what was helieved to be the whole of the surviving collection the house is still revealing further treasures to us. In January 2002, as the draft of this article was going through the final stages of editing by Wendell Wilson and Tom Moore, an e-mail from Chatsworth revealed that some 15 large boxes of specimens had turned up in a clear-out of one of the many attic rooms. Wendell rather reluctantly, but sympathetically, paused the editorial process until these new specimens had been examined. It was two long months before we could get to see this hoard as everywhere at Chatsworth was in turmoil to clean and refurbish the public rooms in time for the new public season. Eventually we were allowed back. The 15 boxes contained some 200 mineral specimens and about the same number of slabbed samples of decorative stones. Some of the slabs were Georgiana's, but the majority of the specimens were most certainly the 6th Duke's. They were wrapped in newspaper from the Summer of 1964 and almost certainly had not been seen in almost 40 years. To our delight, many bore labels from the Crichton collection, others had cut outs from other auction catalogues. There were Cornish and Russian specimens aplenty: chalcophyllite, torbernite, liroconite crystals to 1 cm, chalcocite crystals to 2 cm, olivenite, copper, crocoite, cerussite, feldspar crystals, etc. Many were filthy with fine-grained black dust. (I could not resist there and then washing a fine 15 cm Sicilian celestine to reveal a mass of flawless undamaged prisms to 2 cm on a mottled mass of gray rock and yellow sulfur.) Even though these specimens are fascinating, they were overshadowed somewhat by the most surprising find of all, a diorama of geological time in a glazed gilt-framed showcase about a meter long and 20 cm square standing on turned wooden feet. The diorama is composed of actual rock samples arranged in a numbered series of vertical strata, like a cross-section of a bizarre Earth, the landscape above dotted with small cast metal reptiles, en cabochon and facetted stones, and tiny trees, with a painted backdrop. Suddenly there is a lot more work to be done cleaning, cataloguing and researching in this increasingly remarkable collection!
Georgiana's "fossil" collections were originally stored at Chiswick and Chatsworth, and were arranged and cataloged there in 1799 and 1804 respectively by the mineral dealer and Derbyshire geologist, White Watson (1760-1835). Watson was born at Whiteley Wood Hall, near Sheffield, the son of Samuel Watson, a millstone manufacturer of Baslow, Derbyshire. His first name derived from the maiden name of his mother, Martha White. He left school at the age of 14 and went to live with his uncle Henry Watson, whose father Samuel was the master wood carver whose best work still adorns the rooms at Chatsworth House. He has been favorably compared with Grinling Gibbons. Henry was the founder of the Derbyshire stone-turning industry. Using water-powered machinery of his own making, which he patented in 1751, he established marble works on the outskirts of Ashford village in 1748. There, his novel machinery became one of the contemporary "Wonders of the Peak," an early marvel of the Industrial Revolution (Brighton, 1995; Tomlinson, 1996; Ford, 2000). The famous black and white marble flooring installed in the Great Hall at Chatsworth in 1779 was a product of this ingenuity. White Watson grew to become a true provincial polymath, an interesting and intelligent man whose "conversational powers made him a welcome guest"; a stone mason and carver in the family tradition, artist, writer, geologist, mineralogist, mineral and fossil dealer, teacher and gardener. His expertise with plants earned him a Fellowship of the Linnaean Society in 1795. He was a member of several other learned societies, including the Derby Philosophical Society (his application in 1800 was supported by Georgiana) and the short-lived British Mineralogical Society. His plagiarism of the work of John Farey (1766-1826) (Torrens, 1992; Ford and Torrens, 2001) and the unacknowledged use of his own work by William Martin (Watson, 1811) suggests a degree of contention with his peers and must temper the eulogy piled on him elsewhere. At the Duke of Rutland's Bath House in Bakewell, where he lived with his Uncle, he not only revolutionized the town's bathing facilities but also laid out the Bath grounds in an attempt to form a botanical garden. He married Ann Thorpe of Buckminster, Leicestershire, who was related to Sir Isaac Newton, in 1808. Despite his undoubted scientific and artistic talents Watson was often in financial trouble. At one time he borrowed £100 from the Duke of Devonshire and as late as 1833 he was desperate for money and trying to sell his "fossil" collection to ward off the threat of arrest (Riley and Torrens, 1980). Much has been written about his life: see Ford, I960, 1995, 1996; Challenger, 1981; Brighton, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1994. He was the author of The Strata of Derbyshire (1811), which he dedicated to his patron the Duke of Devonshire.
In 1798 Watson was called upon by the Duchess to convert an earlier grotto at Chatsworth into a representation of a crystal-lined cavern. This he duly did, at a cost of £110 19s, including labor and specimens at £66 18s 9d (Watson's Commonplace Book, Hugh Torrens, pers. comm.). Watson lined the interior with "Derbyshire fossils . . . stalactite, calcareous crystallizations etc." Watson's grotto was dismantled in the 1830s by the 6th Duke and rebuilt with large calcite crystals and other specimens from the Duke's fabulously rich copper mines at Ecton Hill, Staffordshire.
From Watson's original handwritten catalogs it is apparent that many of Georgiana's specimens, especially those from Derbyshire, were supplied by him, but it is obvious from certain catalog entries and omissions that several collections were already in existence when he began his cataloging work. However, no trace has been found of any earlier catalogs. Watson also instructed the Duchess in mineralogy, and an interesting hand-written Catalogue of External Characters of Fossils by White Watson F.L.S. Bakewell, Derbyshire. 1798 survives at Chatsworth. The first 29 pages of this book classify minerals according to certain characteristic physical properties: form, color, luster, density, etc. Pages 30-62 list "fossils" (minerals and rocks) by the classification used in Georgiana's catalogs. The book may also have been used to teach Georgiana's children mineralogy.
According to White Watson's cash books, he sold several interesting items to Chatsworth in addition to those known from the mineral collection catalogs, including:
* Tablet etc., Duke of Devonshire, £10.10.0, 7 Feb. 1808
* Tablet of a Section of the Strata of Derbyshire, Duke of D, £8.10.0, 6 March 1809
* Tablet of Ironstones and coals, Marquis of Hartington, £6.0.0, 7 Mar. 1809
* an Orthoceratite in black marble, Duke of D, £2, 7 Feb. 1818
Watson's inlaid "tablets" are his most famous relics. The best are geological cross sections of Derbyshire strata composed from the actual rocks in question, with lead veins carefully inlayed with lustrous strips of galena (Moyes, 1990; Ford, 1995, 1996). The "Section of the Strata of Derbyshire" is the largest and most impressive; examples reach 96 cm long. Of the three tablets above there is no trace of the "section" or the "Ironstone and coals," and the only contender for the 1808 tablet is one composed of "eighteen varieties of loadstone" [a Derbyshire name for basalt] which we have but is not mentioned in any of the catalogs. The "Orthoceratite" is probably the unlabeled 26 × 11-cm cut and polished slab that we found with Georgiana's collection showing an Orthocerus section some 20 cm long in black limestone.
ARRANGEMENT AND CATALOGS
Watson listed Georgiana's minerals as ten separate collections, some of which may have been arranged by Watson, others of which appear already to have been arranged, and presumably cataloged, when he started his work. His catalogs survive in two hardbound notebooks, with five collections in each, registered as As/1757 and As/1758 in the Devonshire archive at Chats worth. Each catalog (with one or two exceptions) is titled according to the arrangement of the collection described, and each specimen is assigned an individual serial number, starting at "1" in almost every separately headed list. This means that there are many repeat numbers in the collections. To assign a unique number to every item, the Russell Society project assigned the letters A-J to the Watson catalogs and the Watson catalog numbers have been prefixed by these letters to give the specimens unique identifiers. A related manuscript item (Catalog K), a loose gathering of a few pages, appears to be a draft of Catalog F though it contains a number of useful variant entries with extra information which didn't make it into the final work. Only the short catalogs B and E contain a complete series of entries, and A and C are particularly prone to gaps. The Russell Society project grouped all the remaining (non-Watson) labeled specimens according to the style of the labels they bore, and assigned them to nominal "catalogs," lettered from "L" onwards, for those that did not correlate to Watson's numbers. To our surprise we have identified 26 separate series of specimens and live in hope there will not be more. These later "catalogs" may represent suites of specimens acquired as a group from the same source, either as a discrete set of specimens or as a selection from a larger group, perhaps by purchase at an auction.
The Watson catalogs are classified internally according to certain characteristics of the specimens: catalogs A to E are arranged broadly by source (e.g. Derbyshire, Cornwall) and within each catalog in a mineralogical classification into "argillaceous" minerals, "siliceous" minerals, "metals," etc. This "natural historical" system seems to have been invented by Watson. Several of the remaining catalogs lack an overall heading, although they are mineralogically arranged (sometimes rather irregularly) within each catalog. There are several stand-alone collections of similar style, i.e. mixtures of essentially the same types of minerals (e.g. catalogs F, G and H)-further support for the idea that Georgiana acquired them as separate collections already arranged.
Most of Watson's catalogs are little more than basic inventories. Typical entries rarely contain any specimen description beyond an identification of the species present (in itself often vague). Locality information is highly variable and often scanty or missing. However, the catalog of Derbyshire Fossils (Catalog A), the most important of the ten collections, gives detailed specimen descriptions in most cases, sometimes pointing out almost insignificant properties of the specimens which have been extremely useful in reconciling specimens with the catalogs. Watson was not only on home ground with this catalog, but may have been the source of many of the specimens. However, yet again, locality information is often rudimentary.
Watson's catalogs reflect the arrangement of specimens in Georgiana's display cabinets as described by him in 1811:
At Chatsworth, is an excellent Collection of Fossils, which were collected by the late Duchess of Devonshire and arranged in two Cabinets; one containing the various productions of Derbyshire; amongst the nodules of Ironstone containing petrifactions, &c. No. 56, contains a perfect Compound radiated Flower, resembling a small Sunflower; and in No. 60, is the appearance of an insect, resembling an Apis.
The other Cabinet contains choice specimens from Cornwall and other Counties in this Kingdom, a select collection from Scotland, and a specimen of Shell-Limestone from Schallpenstadt in the Duchy of Brunswick, containing the head of an Enchrynus, of the fragments of which species of Petrifaction the Entrochal [crinoidal] "Marble of this County is formed" (Watson, 1811).
Watson's description correlates to Catalog A (the productions of Derbyshire); Catalog D (the Productions of Cornwall); Catalog C (Systematic collection of British Fossils); and Catalog E (Fossils from Scotland). These are the collections (plus a very small collection constituting Catalog B) listed in Watson's 1804 book of catalogs of the collections at Chatsworth. The 6th Duke's 1844 Handbook describes two cabinets in the "Mineral Room" at Chatsworth, "The right hand case contains her [Georgiana's] Derbyshire minerals . . . the other . . . foreign ones" (Cavendish, 1844) which suggests that by this time the Chatsworth and Chiswick collections had been brought together.
Georgiana's cabinets survive: a pair of matching bow-fronted glazed cabinets, each 155 cm wide by 265 cm high, but the confused assortment of minerals found in them at the beginning of the Russell Society project did not reflect the original arrangement. Their construction (by one James Frost) appears to have been organized by White Watson in 1797 and 1798 at a cost of about £24 each, and he completed the arrangement of their contents in 1799 (Watson's Commonplace Book, Hugh Torrens, pers. comm.). These cabinets have closely spaced, steeply sloping shelves each fitted with narrow horizontal strips of wood to support the specimens. Watson's Commonplace Book mentions expenses for "cloth" which suggests they were at one time lined, though they are now just plain white-painted wood. The collection must have been very crowded in this limited space (a rough calculation suggests that at most two-thirds of the British collection could have been crammed in), and specimens in the back rows or on the higher shelves would have been very difficult to see. Consequently, there would have been little space for display labels, and it was perhaps to facilitate reference to a separate catalog that many specimen number labels were attached to the display surface of the pieces. In 1998 Georgiana's cabinets were refurbished and placed in the Coffee Room of the new conference center in the Chatsworth Stable Block. A selection of specimens from the Devonshire Collections is displayed within them.
Of the Duke's collection no overall catalog survives, though there are several separate listings: the Crichton and Heuland purchases discussed below, a small notebook entitled Catalogue of minerals Dec. 1817 (none of which we have yet been able to identify), a numbered list of 24 "Derbyshire mineral specimens" signed "W.J.P. Burton F.G.S." which have also evaded identification, and the scribbled list of 18 specimens exchanged with Crichton mentioned above.
According to Watson's Commonplace Book, the Chiswick Collection contained 1076 specimens in 1799, and the Chatsworth Collection about 1000 in 1804. Confirming these estimates is complicated by several factors: some specimens are not numbered, there are several bis-numbered entries (i.e. having the same number distinguished by the addition of letters, a, b, c and so on) and some catalogs contain gaps in the sequence which may or may not indicate missing specimens. Our analysis shows that Catalogs F-J (Chiswick Collection) account for 1076 entries, and 1036 specimens were indicated as extant when Watson did his work. Catalogs A-E (the Chatsworth Collection) have 1032 potential entries but only 858 specimens were described. Watson, therefore, found 1894 specimens from a potential total of 2137, and noted that the specimens at Chiswick also included "a large collection of lavas, etc. collected by Her Grace in Italy that were not cataloged or described" (Watson's Commonplace Book, Hugh Torrens, pers. comm.). Of the Duke's collection, the Crichton list numbers 75 pieces, there are 10 pieces in the 1820 Heuland purchase, and some 50 pieces in the other Russell Society catalogs which we assume to have been his. This gives a potential grand total of about 2250 known to have been in the collections at one time or another since 1799. In addition there is a considerable number of unlabeled and so far unreconciled specimens remaining at Chatsworth.
THE RESTORATION OF THE COLLECTION
The Russell Society's project plan committed Chatsworth to supply all required resources, including space to work and store the collection. Chatsworth also agreed to do all they could to maintain the collection long-term and promised to keep an eye open for anything pertaining to the collection: correspondence, documents, further specimens, etc. Much preparation was necessary. A computer database structure and inputting conventions were first devised. Photocopies of all the catalogs were made for us and sections of them distributed to several volunteer inputters, along with a set of the data-entry instructions to help analyze the data into pertinent fields. At Chatsworth a small room was assigned to us to store the collection, and we were granted out-of-season access to a larger room next door where we could lay out specimens to work on. We spent several enjoyable days combing the house for specimens and trucking them through the long stone corridors to our store room. At evening Russell Society meetings, innocent victims were coerced into folding hundreds of card trays-that is, willing volunteers cheerfully made card trays. Over many months, labeled and unlabeled specimens were separated from each other and the former were checked against the known catalogs. As work progressed we began to familiarize ourselves with the various label styles and realize their relative importance. Specimens with labels irreconcilable with the Watson lists were grouped into new "catalogs."
A label typology was developed and proved to be very useful. Each different style, based on size, font or handwriting, and type of inscription (whether just a number or words descriptive of the species or locality) was allotted a number. Some specimens bear several different labels which presumably resulted from several cataloging or re-cataloging efforts. Certain label styles proved to be characteristic of different Watson catalogs. For example the "Type 9" number labels only occur on items from Catalog H. Another style was eventually identified as one applied by Alan Bannister of the British Museum (Natural History) when he cataloged specimens from the Chiswick collection in 1936. Without this correlation between label style and catalog it may have been difficult to differentiate specimens with the same number and the same vague description, such as "copper ore."
In almost all cases, specimens bearing numbers appropriate to the Watson catalogs were matched unequivocally to their rightful entries therein, using Watson's descriptions and clues from the label styles. Tentative assignments have been made in cases where a Watson number is missing but the specimen bears a label or labels that suggest it belongs to a series of specimens once carrying both Watson numbers and labels from another series of numbered labels. The occasional coexistence of two numbering systems allows a lone non-Watson number to be tentatively correlated to a Watson number by assuming the specimens were in the Watson sequence when the other series of numbers was assigned. However, it must be borne in mind that the relationship between the two sets of numbers is a somewhat erratic one, and thus any assumed correlation cannot be accepted unless there is an unambiguous match between specimen and assumed catalog entry and the characters of any other reconciled specimens in the same sequence. To date we have reconciled almost 70% of Georgiana's collection as recorded by Watson, but if we discount catalogs I and J, which are missing in their entirety, the proportion jumps to 77%-a very satisfying figure for a 200-year-old collection.
At first we had no proper storage for the specimens and they had to be packed into cardboard boxes as work progressed. Eventually, however, we were offered two magnificent old sets of drawers at a knockdown price by the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, and Chatsworth agreed to buy them. These fine mahogany-stained pine units now house all of the labeled or otherwise provenanced specimens, the first time they have been in their original arrangement for well over a century. A large number of unlabeled specimens remain to be processed, some of which are of good quality. These will be added as work progresses.
When the database was more or less complete, a full set of labels was generated from it on archival paper and added to the collection trays, and we began the painstaking process of pasting new archival number labels onto the specimens, measuring and describing them in modern terms. In the fullness of time a new paper catalog will be generated from the database and bound. A copy will stay with the collection, and another will be deposited in the Mineralogy Library of the Natural History Museum in London.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COLLECTION
''Catalogue of a Collection of Fossils, the Productions of Derbyshire, in Her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire's Cabinet at Chatsworth: Arranged According to the Order of the Respective Strata in which they are found; Accompanied with a Tablet Representing a Section of the strata in Derbyshire, with a Printed Explanation. By White Watson F.L.S. &c 1804"
Numbered 1 to 569, of which Watson records 546 specimens. There is a superb series of about 30 excellent galena, fluorite and sphalerite specimens from the Gregory mine, Ashover, in Derbyshire, many of which seem to have come from the same find. The best show cuboctahedral galena crystals to 5 cm or so on colorless fluorite cubes with later, smaller, purple fluorite crystals and a sprinkling of minute chalcopyrite and marcasite crystals. They are surprisingly free from damage, given the fragile nature of the minerals present, and represent some of the finest Derbyshire galena specimens we have seen. The fluorite specimens comprise groups of colorless cubes to almost 5 cm, spangled with minute sulfide crystals or scatterings of larger, well-defined sphalerite crystals. Even more exciting is the existence on some of the specimens of minute crystals of a mineral carefully described by Watson as "Brown Lead ore, in small hexagonal prisms flat at the ends." When we searched for Watson's mineral, assuming it to be mimetite (an unusual associate of such specimens), we discovered instead a metallic gray mineral in six-sided orthorhombic prisms looking suspiciously like enargite. This species is of very rare occurrence in the British Isles where it was then only known as minute anhedral inclusions in other minerals and was quite unknown in Derbyshire. An X-ray diffraction analysis at the Natural History Museum, London proved our suspicions correct, and the first occurrence of euhedral enargite crystals in the British Isles was confirmed some 200 years after Watson first set eyes on these almost insignificant prisms (Cooper, 1995). How much more time might have passed if Watson had not made his notes is impossible to tell, but it is highly unlikely that we would have made such a careful examination of these specimens without his guidance. Another Derbyshire specialty in the collection is "Elastic Bitumen" from Castleton, including one huge lump of this intriguing mineraloid some 30 cm across.
There are 30 of Watson's 40 specimens of chalcopyrite and other minerals from Ecton Hill in Staffordshire (nominally part of the Derbyshire Orefield, though in an adjoining county), including some malachite which is of rare occurrence there. The famous Ecton mines were worked on land that had belonged to the Cavendish family since the 16th century and were the scene of the first use of explosives in British mining history. The pipe-like orebody was fabulously rich, and sustained mining for several hundred years after its first serious working in the 17th century, attaining a celebrity that made a visit to it a must for interested travelers in Derbyshire. The workings became the deepest in the country as well as being among the most profitable. From 1760 to 1817 the operation was averaging £6000 clear profit a year. The 5th Duke of Devonshire used his considerable income from Ecton to refurbish Chatsworth House in the later 18th century and to build The Crescent at Buxton in 1780-84 (Robey and Porter, 1972). Unfortunately Georgiana's collection contains few of the sulfide-included calcite scalenohedra for which Ecton is renowned, though the House once contained an interesting suite of these in its "Grotto" which was lined with them during its refurbishment by the 6th Duke. Unfortunately these have been much damaged by vandals, and the room is now closed to the public. Specimens of calcite and chalcopyrite from Ecton were donated by the 6th Duke to the British Museum in 1820 (Fletcher, 1904). A specimen recently discovered among the 6th Duke's minerals is a fine Ecton calcite-chalcopyrite with a label suggesting it came from the Crichton collection. It may be one of the specimens the Duke exchanged with Crichton some ten years earlier, repatriated after a sojourn in St. Petersburg.
Surprisingly, there are few specimens of "Blue John" fluorite in the collection-this being one of the most famous mineral productions of Derbyshire. The most noteworthy are contained within a small suite of square slabs of fluorite of various appearances from several Derbyshire occurrences. The house of course contains some of the finest examples of worked Blue John in existence, including the largest turned from a single block, the well-known Devonshire Tazza (a shallow bowl on a pedestal), made for the 6th Duke by William Adam (ca. 1794-1873) of Matlock in 1842. "Its shallow bowl is twenty inches (50 cm) in diameter and was turned from a single piece of the Bull Beef vein of Blue John, mounted on a separate Blue John stem and base . . . No other tazza has challenged its supremacy" (Ford, 1992). The world's largest specimen of Blue John is also at Chatsworth. It was found in 1813 and displayed for a while in John Mawe's "Museum and Petrifaction Warehouse" in Matlock Bath before being bought by the 6th Duke for display in the Grand Conservatory at Chatsworth (Adam, 1851; Porteous, 1950).
Although several specimens of coal remain, the varieties of peat which begin the catalog are long gone. Also apparently missing is the "Tablet Representing a Section of the strata in Derbyshire, with a Printed Explanation." There is no further mention of this item in the catalogs, nor any trace or recollection of it at Chatsworth. There may have been yet another such tablet at Chatsworth, for the 5th Duke paid for a "Section of the Strata" in 1809-5 years after the date on Catalog A. As compensation the collection contains a beautiful watercolor of the same section, some 50 cm long, from Combs Moss to Bolsover, signed and dated by White Watson 1810. However, we are glad to say that "a Tablet composed of Derbyshire fossils in Perspective cubes . . . by White Watson" has been preserved (Catalog A, pp. 89-90). It is composed of inlayed rhombs of Derbyshire rocks and minerals forming the classic stacked-cubes pattern and is signed and dated 1788. The catalog entry explains each inlayed piece using grid references inscribed on the edges of the tablet. However, there is neither trace nor recollection of the item described upon the following page, "a Vase made of the various Ores of Derbyshire . . . By White Watson" (Catalog A, p. 91), where there is a rough sketch of the vase along with a verse description. Given that it was likely to have been heavy and brittle, not to mention top-heavy, this unique item may not have survived the years:
Of Shelly Ironstone the plinth
The Pedestal of Blende,
The Body of Galena form 'd
With Copper ore doth end;
Upon them to compleat the form
A top of mixtures rare,
The ores of Copper, Lead and Zinc
With Spars united are.
"Catalogue of a Collection of Fossils Chiefly Volcanic and Pseudo volcanic from Dr. Townson." [White Watson, Chatsworth 1804]
Dr. Robert Townson (1763-1827) was an important English traveler, naturalist and geologist (Rózsa, 1999) who was an expert on the petrology of volcanic rocks. He was the author of, among other works, The Philosophy of Mineralogy (1789), which he dedicated to Georgiana (suggesting, incidentally, that her interest in the subject predated her lessons during her European exile). We still have 21 of Townson's 24 "pseudo-volcanic rocks," a third of which were baked clays and marls from a burning coal-field between Birmingham and Dudley in the Midlands of England. Many of the remainder are basalts from various British and Welsh localities. The realization of the volcanic origin of basalt was a relatively new idea at the time, and had been the subject of much contention with those that considered basalt of aqueous origin.
"Catalogue of a Systematic Collection of British Fossils." [White Watson, Chatsworth 1804]
The numbered list of Catalog C ends at no. 177, though there are many gaps. Watson lists entries for only 83, of which 50 labeled pieces survive. Since the following catalog begins at 201, it may be that Catalog C was intended to contain 200. Of the survivors, almost all of Watson's 15 specimens of galena, sphalerite, calcite and barite from the Earl Ferrer's mine at Staunton Harold in Leicestershire remain in the collection. Although contemporary collectors were quick to recognize their value as cabinet specimens (mineral and shell dealer Jacob Forster was selling examples in his Paris shop in 1788 and included some in a sale he made to the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1805-see Cooper, 2001), the exquisite specimens from this unusual occurrence are now little known outside of local specialists (see King, 1983, 1993). The suite at Chatsworth includes some fine examples. Catalog C once contained several specimens of witherite from Anglezark in Lancashire, where it was first found in the late 18th century, though only Georgiana's specimens from Arkendale in Yorkshire have been identified to date. White Watson supplied Arkendale witherite specimens to James Sowerby which he first found here in September 1803 (Sowerby, 1804). Although generally not well crystallized these must have been mineralogically exciting things in Georgiana's day.
"Catalogue of a Collection of Fossils The Productions of Cornwall." [White Watson, Chatsworth 1804]
Some 50% of the Cornish minerals are missing (82 remain out of a total of 167, originally numbered in continuation from Catalog C as 201 to 367), although many typically Cornish, though label-less, specimens remain in the collection. The latter include an attractive 2 cm torbernite plate on matrix, though no such specimen is listed by Watson and it may be one of the 6th Duke's additions. The majority of extant specimens from Georgiana's Cornish suite are cassiterite, copper and cuprite. Some of the latter were once good pieces, but have tarnished and darkened with the passage of time. The most interesting item in the catalog is No. D-254: Arborescent Native Copper, Inlayed on an oval of White Statuary Marble, surrounded with black marble and a white frame by White Watson. It is a rectangular slab of white marble upon which several flat pieces of arborescent copper have been glued (not "inlayed"); this arrangement is surrounded by an oval mount of black marble and the whole framed by a thin molding of white marble. The front is glazed. There is no maker's mark or other inscription. Overall dimensions 152 × 125 × 18 mm. This item is unique in Watson's known oeuvre.
"Catalogue of a Collection of Fossils from Scotland, chiefly polished." [White Watson, Chatsworth 1804]
This small collection of Scottish minerals is mostly composed of cut and polished samples of the small but exquisite agate pebbles and nodules for which Scotland is world-famous (MacPherson, 1989). The best here are those from Montrose. There are also a few small examples of the smoky quartz crystals known from the locality as "Cairngorms." We have 58 of an original 64 pieces.
Catalogs F and G
F: "Catalogue of the Fossils in the Cabinet In the Closet adjoining Her Grace's Dressing Room."
G: "Catalogue" [sic]
There were 231 specimens in Catalog F of which 164 survive. Catalog G had 371 specimens of which 303 have been identified. It is probable that these are mostly specimens acquired by Georgiana during her European exile and may in part be those arranged for her by Henri Struve which she shipped back to Thomas Coutts' care pending her return to England. These Catalogs contain similar mixes of species, the majority of which are European, including many Alpine 'rock crystal' and smoky quartz crystals (most rather damaged unfortunately), kyanite with staurolite ("Sappare with red Shorl in micaceous Shistus") typical of material from Pizzo Forno, Switzerland, and adularia. There is a lump of massive pyromorphite from Anglesey (a rarity for the locality), a drawerful of Elba hematites of middling quality (obviously a favorite species at the time), and a plethora of "Vesuvian Hyacinths in the Matrix," most of which is well-crystallized vesuvianite from Vesuvius. There are a couple of well crystallized golds, and an "Eaglestone" which no self-respecting 18th century mineral collection should lack: these hollow rattling ironstone nodules were once supposed to be found in eagles' nests and were imbued with all manner of occult powers, from combating miscarriage to curing gout.
Other than the Watson tablet, the most elaborately described item in the whole collection is the first in Catalog F: "A stone which fell from the Clouds." Its entry is un-numbered so we've assigned it to F-0. The entry contains a detailed account of the occurrence of this rusty bean-shaped fragment (it weighs a mere 11.5 g) by "Mr Santi, the Professor of Natural History at Pisa," who may-or may not-have supplied the specimen:
On the 16th of June 1794, at Pienza near Radifocini [sic], a dark and dense Cloud was discovered at a great height above the horizon, coming from the South east, that is, in the direction of Mount Vesuvius, which may be about 200 horizontal miles distant-from their height the Cloud was heard to issue noises like the discharge of several batteries of Cannon: it then burst into flames, at which moment fell a Shower of Stones, for seven or eight miles round, while the Cloud gradually vanished-These stones are various, being composed of grayish Lava, exactly resembling what is found on Vesuvius, and Mr. Santi, who took infinite pains to investigate this Phenomenon, is perfectly convinced, that the Cloud rose from Vesuvius, which was at that moment disgorging fires.
Giorgio Santi (1746-1822) graduated in medicine from Siena University, and worked in France for many years, where he met with Boscovich, Lavoisier and Buffon. Back in Italy he became professor of chemistry and natural history at the University of Pisa, and Director of the Museum and Botanical Garden there. Like many other scientists, Santi was mistaken about the origin of the stone. It is undoubtedly part of the meteorite shower of San Giovanni d'Asso (or Lucignano d'Asso) near Siena. This fall was described by Ambrogio Soldani (1736-1808) and the meteorites were once known as "soldanites" or "giovannites." They are olivine and hypersthene chondrites. The Siena fall is extremely important in the history of meteorite science. In the eighteenth century most scientists scoffed at the notion that stones could fall from the sky. However, when the Siena meteorite fell, many of the eye-witnesses insisted it was extraterrestrial in origin. In contrast, many scientists argued it was more likely volcanic in origin (as per Santi's account), despite the fact that it looks nothing like the rocks from Vesuvius.
Chatsworth's tiny meteorite collection was doubled in size in 2002 with the discovery in an attic of a piece of "Pallas's Iron" purchased from the collection of Alexander Crichton in 1827. This is another of the world's most famous and seminal meteorites. The original 700 kg mass was discovered some 145 miles from Krasnojarsk, Siberia, in 1749 and excavated by Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811)7 of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1772. The character of its discovery and its unusual composition (a mixture of nickel-iron and olivine) convinced fellow academician Ernst Chladni of its extraterrestrial origin, and he published his conclusions in 1794. The following year, 1795, a meteorite was seen to fall at Wold Cottage, Yorkshire, England, far from any active volcanoes, and this fall, combined with the Siena shower, finally convinced the scientific establishment of the extraterrestrial origin of meteorites.
Specimen F-219 is the piece of "Porphyry" obtained "from the very top of the highest point of the Mount St. Gothard" by Lieutenant General Count Rumford, already mentioned. Among the many achievements of his colorful life Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753-1814), was (briefly) a British soldier in the American War of Independence, a spy and a celebrated physicist. He founded the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1799, of which Michael Faraday and Humphrey Davy were to be the most famous directors (see Brown, 1999). He has been described as one of the greatest applied scientists of all time and a founding father of thermodynamics.
Specimens of "Sydneia or Terra Australis" (F-158a) and amazonite (F-78a) were "by Mr Hatchett" according to their entries in Catalog K (a draft of Catalog F). This must be the chemist and mineral collector Charles Hatchett (1765-1847) who analyzed "Sydneia" in 1798. Liversidge (1882) describes the material as "of no importance" but says of Hatchett's paper that "it contains probably the first analyses of any mineral from this Colony." Sydneia had first been brought to England by Sir Joseph Banks, and was examined by Josiah Wedgwood (1790) for its potential for porcelain manufacture. Owing in part to the use of impure reagents, Wedgwood concluded that the mineral contained a new element to which the name Sydney Earth or Syndneia was given. Further work by Martin Klaproth and Hatchett concluded it was merely an impure clay (probably kaolin) derived from the decomposition of granite (Vallance, 1986).
F-142 is labeled "Foxite" and appears to be a silky mat of iron-stained "byssolite" on matrix. This previously unrecorded synonym describes the specimen perfectly from its resemblance to red fox fur.
''Catalogue of Fossils Arranged by" [sic]. [White Watson, Chiswick, 1799]
This relatively large collection has survived almost entire (we have 290 of its 351 pieces), a circumstance probably wholly due to the unprepossessing character of most of its specimens. The readily recognizable and coarsely printed number labels have also proved to be remarkably stable over the last 200 years. The collection contains many duplicate samples of massive ore from various unnamed copper and gold deposits, including much copper-impregnated sandstone from "the horizontal strata near Trigmuka"-wherever that may be . . .
"Catalogue of the Marble and Silicious Stones cut in squares of 2 & 5/8 inches and polished." [White Watson, Chiswick, 1799]
"Handsome Silicious Hardstones." [White Watson, Chiswick, 1799]
Until the 2002 find of slabs among the 6th Duke's specimens discovered in a neglected attic, nothing was known from catalogs I and J and we suspected they were used by the 6th Duke for lapidary purposes. There are 130 slabs listed in Catalogue I, and a quick check of those recently to hand shows that a few dozen may be identifiable among the new find. Time will tell. There are several hundred other small numbered slabs or tesserae of decorative stone in the collection that cannot be matched to these catalogs. These may be later material acquired by the 6th Duke as samples or mementos of his European tours, the smaller ones probably being intended for mosaic or inlay work. The Duke was passionately fond of such work, examples of which abound in the table tops and sculpture plinths at Chatsworth.
"Catalogue of Fossils &ca in the Closet of Her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire adjoining to the dressing room at Chiswick taken in May 1799 by White Watson."
This is a loose gathering of a few pages and appears to be a rough draft of Catalog F.
Catalog L: The Crichton Collection (1827)
Some of our most exciting and satisfying pieces of detective work involved the specimens from the Crichton collection. Most of the Duke's acquisitions are described in an 8-page manuscript list of "Minerals bought at Sir Alexander Crichton's Sale." This notes 67 lots containing 75 (or 76) described specimens, purchased by the Duke for £315.2s., and we were able to match several of these entries from the simple fact that someone had cut them from the sale catalog and glued them to the specimens. But not all specimens to hand with these kinds of labels appeared in the list. The similarity of their labels to those on the known Crichton specimens convinced us they were Crichton pieces, but the only way to be sure was to track down their entries in the 4,000+ lots in Sowerby's catalog. This was a laborious, though admittedly a most interesting, exercise, and resulted in the identification of all but one of the suspect pieces. It is almost certain that Franz Werner and the author have now read Sowerby's catalog more carefully than anyone in its 175-year history. How these extra pieces came to be at Chatsworth is unknown. It's possible they were bought by another at the sale (Heuland perhaps?) and acquired by the Duke at a later date.
Franz Werner became our forensic expert checking the suspect Crichton labels by comparing the wording or fragmentary letters on both front and back of the labels with entries in the Sowerby sale catalogue. The first success was a particularly fine group of the marvelous "Sand calcite" crystals from the famous occurrence at Fontainbleau in France. The remains of the label ("Inverse Fontainbleau Sa") being slightly loose, Franz was able to see the letters "ia." from the end of a line of print on the reverse. The back of the page bearing Lot 51, one of the several catalog entries for Fontainbleau specimens, featured a specimen from "Westphalia." Franz measured the pages of our photocopy of the Sowerby catalog and found that the last characters of this line were in exactly the right position to appear under the exact same portion of our Fontainbleau specimen as the label it bore. Incredibly this magnificent specimen, along with a gypsum from Bex [Switzerland], was sold for 6d (7 ½ cents)! A similar process was applied to identify Lot 2265, a slab of the classic red and green banded "Ribbon Jasper" from Siberia. At the beginning of the project such a specimen-just one of several candidates for Lot 2265 (known to have been bought by the Duke)-was found mounted in an oak block with a Dymotape label "Red Jasper." At first the ferociously stubborn cement used to mount the specimen shrugged off all our attempts to free the specimen from its ugly prison. In Nov. 2000 the application of the vicious solvent methylene chloride enabled us to remove it from the block, and a minute fragment of label was found embedded in the cement remaining inside the mount. It bears the letters "zil" and is the end of the reverse of a label that was once glued to the specimen. There is an elongated rectangular mark on the specimen that must be the trace left by the long-disappeared label. On the page behind the entry for Lot 2265 in the Crichton sale catalog, exactly in line with the beginning of the entry, is the word "Brazil." As a clincher, the entry for Lot 2265 is exactly the same size as the stain on the specimen. The moral? Never clean your specimens until you are sure the dirt has revealed all its secrets.
Several other specimens were reconciled from minute fragments of labels which were all that remained of the original cut-outs from the Sowerby catalog. A broken nodule sprinkled with small celestine crystals bore only the string "eudon," but this was enough to convince us it was part of Lot 1765: "Dioxinite Sulphate of Strontian on Flint, Bas Meudon, near Paris" Meudon is the "type locality" for dioxynite, described from here by Haüy (Traité de Minéralogie) in 1822. The fragment of paper adhering to a chunk of black obsidian had only "an, M" on it but it was enough: Lot 2367 "Chatoyant fibrous Obsidian, Mexico, rare and fine."
Although these finds were satisfying, the most exciting identification was that of a pair of Russian tourmaline specimens. These had appeared in our work room between visits with a note that they had been found in the house "during a clear out of some old cupboards." One was a superb example of the rare raspberry-red "sibirite" elbaite from Shaitansk, near Mursinsk, in the eastern Urals, and the other was a lustrous bunched mass of very dark green prisms. Neither had labels of any kind. The Crichton purchase list noted two such specimens, lots 2087 and 2082 from the Sowerby sale, respectively a "Group of prismatic Rubellite of a beautiful red colour, Siberia" (£10.10) [say £515 in today's money] and "A Group of Tridecimal Green Tourmaline, very fine (Miask)" (£20.9.6) [about £1000], but without any other evidence there was no way we could match them unequivocally with these newly-found specimens. Through correspondence with Wendell Wilson of the Mineralogical Record, I learned there was a contemporary description of Crichton's collection published in German by Joseph Wagner in 1818. A photocopy of Wagner's catalog, courtesy of the Mineralogical Record Library, was duly delivered to my door. The back of the catalog contained several life-size engravings of prize specimens from Crichton's collection. And, yes, there were our tourmalines perfectly delineated by the engraver's burin. At that moment, 200 years of history were returned to these two small, and now highly significant, specimens. To add yet further spice, the sprinkling of pale ivory-white sparkling crystals on one side of the "sibirite" spray appears to be the extremely rare rhodizite, a characteristic associate of sibirite from Shaitansk, which is the co-type locality. According to Wagner (1818), sibirite was discovered near Shaitansk in about 1815 by Mohr, Director of the Royal Gem Works of Catherinenberg. Though the locality was soon exhausted, it created a sensation and specimens changed hands for huge sums, especially matrix specimens on feldspar. A specimen acquired by the Royal Mine Corps in St. Petersburg (now the Mining Institute), was estimated to be worth over 10,000 Rubles (£1250 at contemporary prices, say a quarter of a million US dollars today). Wagner thought himself lucky to obtain a specimen "on which a beautiful crystal of about 1 ½ inches is intergrown with Adular," for which he paid 1000 Rubles. He considered Crichton's suite of sibirite reason enough alone to visit the collection, irrespective of its other merits.
Identifiable from its label and its reproduction by Wagner is a large amazonite feldspar crystal described in the Sowerby catalog (lot number 2571) as "The Magnificent sousquadruple Crystal of Amazon Feldspar" and featured life-size in plate IX by Wagner, who considered it one of the two finest crystals known. The Duke paid £6.16.6 for it.
A further 20 or so Crichton sale specimens turned up in the 2002 "attic discovery"-half of them being extra to the known list of purchases. Conveniently, a few bore small circular labels with their lot numbers written in faded ink. Among them Lot 1877, the "brilliant wine coloured Heavy Spar [barite], Przibram," was disappointingly pale (faded perhaps?), but we were pleased to find Lot 1738 "A select specimen of foliated native silver in slacky Hydrate of Copper, Chili," which may have been one of the many specimens sent to London by Heuland's brothers from Peru on their famous mineralogical tour of South America in 1795-1800 (Cooper, 2001). No less than 3 (unlabeled) contenders appeared from their 40-year-old newspaper wrappings for Lot 2124 "Chromate of Lead of remarkable beauty, with Phosphate of Lead and Vauquelinite, Beresoff" known to have been acquired by the Duke. Lot 1792 "Mammillated cupriferous Zinc, fine and rare, Nertschinsk" turned out to be aurichalcite on gossan, but there is still no sign of the intriguing Lot 2384 "An Aquamarine, one half rose red the other green, Ceylon, considered one of the rarest mineral substances." It is probably a cut stone and an investigation of the Chatsworth jewels may be revealing.
"Catalogue of minerals and rocks at Chatsworth, 1936."
A catalog, predominantly of specimens from Catalogs F and G, made by F. Alan Bannister of the British Museum (Natural History) in 1936. His fee for the work was 5 guineas: "you must allow me to say," wrote F. Thompson, the Chatsworth curator, on hearing this, "that five guineas for three days strenuous and responsible work is absurd. Five guineas a day would be more like it." Bannister applied his own characteristic hand-written number labels to the specimens he worked on. Only seven pages of Bannister's typescript catalog survive, covering specimens M-1 to M-150. The highest Bannister number found to date on a specimen is 425.
Catalog N is a list made for insurance purposes in 1980 by Brian Lloyd for Christie's auction house. Brian is now the proprietor of the UK's longest-lived mineral and fossil dealership Gregory, Bottley & Lloyd of London.
Catalog O consists of specimens with "Type 16" labels. We dubbed these "Species Labels" as they are printed labels bearing just the species name in bold type, terminated by a bold full stop (e.g. "Calcareous Spar.") and bearing no printing on the reverse. There are some 40 to 50 specimens with these labels, which may have been printed specifically to label specimens. Some of them are glued to specimens from the Crichton sale. In one case the Crichton sale label is glued over the Type 16 label, suggesting that they predated the sale and may thus have been Crichton's own. It is possible that all the Catalog O specimens are from this source, possibly items in a lot additional to those described in the sale catalog. The suite of "attic specimens" found in 2002 contains many specimens with these labels, alongside several important and unequivocally Crichton pieces. The most curious of this new suite is a faked piece of malachite pornographia, consisting of a malachite stalactite carefully attached to a globular specimen of the same mineral. Henry Heuland referred to such specimens as "priapite"-after the Roman god Priapus, another mineral name that has escaped the synonym hunters. It may be Lot 1961 from the Crichton sale, coyly described as: "Malachite in stalactitical and globular concretions, Gumoscheffsky," which raised £2 on the 13th day of the sale.
Catalog P is devoted to specimens with modern circular self-adhesive labels printed with numbers in black or red ink. Their origin and purpose is unknown. Few have survived, their failure being almost certainly due to the notoriously poor long-term adhesion of such labels. (Those of you using such labels on your collections today, take note! Even when they adhere when first applied-and they may not if the surface is powdery-the glue eventually migrates into the paper and they fall off.)
Catalog Q involves specimens with "Type 14" labels: handwritten numbers prefixed by the letter "Q." Only five such labels are known, the lowest number being 4 and the highest 26. Those to hand are all from Catalogs F and G and are probably a suite of pieces obtained by Georgiana during her European exile.
Catalog R is an unusual suite of specimens with "Type 7" labels: hand-written numbers prefixed by the letter "R." Only 7 such labels are known, the lowest number being 2 and the highest 12. They all appear to be Derbyshire lead minerals, several are large hernia-inducing masses of solid galena with central cavities spanned by bladed anglesite crystals. The largest of the latter is 7 cm long! They have been tentatively attributed to the Golconda mine.
Catalog S is defined by the attached printed labels with species name and, usually, a locality.
The printed labels of Catalog T, with species name, are similar to, but not identical with, Catalog S labels. Both S and T labels (like those of Catalog O) may have been cut from publications intended for the use of collectors as specimen labels.
Catalog U refers to specimens with hand-written numbers on shaped labels with blue patterned borders, some with scalloped edges ("Types 4, 5 and 6"). These are restricted to specimens from Catalog A and run in sequence from 707 to 790 with a few gaps. What became of the first 706 we have no idea!
Catalog V involves specimens with "Type 11" labels. Only two specimens have been found, one of which is the "Foxite, on the matrix" already mentioned.
Catalog W: Heuland Specimens
The Silver Vault at Chatsworth is home to two of the most remarkable pieces in the collection. From the outset, one of these two fine native silvers was obviously a fine silver wire from Kongsberg. It is over 25 cm long and curls like a plume of metallic smoke, still lustrous, from a mass of crystallized white calcite. The other is a thin sail-like triangular sheet of tarnished metal 19 cm high clasped at the base by a block of gray rock. This latter specimen, in common with a small group of other pieces we had put together during our initial arrangement, bore a label characteristic of those used by Henry Heuland: large paper squares with an off-center number in a bold hand. At the time we could go no further with this suspicion, but serendipity was to take us in hand. It had been our habit to use a photocopy of the original Watson catalogs on our working trips to Chatsworth House, but one day I neglected to bring them with me. Luckily, as it was a weekday trip, we were able to borrow the originals for the day, and while paging through one of them I discovered slipped in the back of one of them a previously un-noticed envelope entitled "old mineral labels." Within were the brittle remains of a list written in French in Heuland's characteristic hand. The list had been cut into strips, and parts had been lost, but enough remained to show it was a numbered description of ten specimens including two Kongsberg silvers, a Greenland tourmaline, a Saxony fluorite, a slab of rose quartz, and a German pyrargyrite. All of these pieces were instantly recognizable as those in the suspected Heuland suite! And all, with the exception of the silver wire, bore the same Heuland numbers as those on the list. The description of a silver wire on one fragment of paper left no doubt that here was the missing label for the second Silver Vault specimen: "Rameaux d'Argent natif d'un volume extraordinaire, supporté par une chaux carbonatée lamellaire; de la mine llsoë à Kongsberg en Norvège"-"A branch of native silver of an extraordinary size, supported by lamellar carbonate of lime . . ." Then deeply involved in writing a biography of Heuland (Cooper 2001), I was so excited by this discovery that I had to sit down to recover. This magnificent suite was dated by Heuland the 6th April 1820, and must have been a most costly purchase (though no prices are noted), but by whom? Presumably the 6th Duke, though we are yet to find confirmation of this. One day perhaps we will discover further evidence to explain both its existence at Chatsworth and the reason the labels were written in French!
An annotated copy of the catalog of one of Henry Heuland's famous mineral auctions on Wednesday 7 May 1834, preserved in the library of the Natural History Museum in London, reveals that the Duke of Devonshire bought several lots. One lot, no. 512, Heuland describes as: "The most beautiful group known in this Country of the Amethyst from Rodna, in Transylvania; to be put up at £10." Bidding well over the odds, the Duke paid £15.0.0 for this piece. The Devonshire collection contains a striking nest of milky purple bulbous amethyst crystals sprouting from pyrite-coated rock. Could this be the piece? At the time of its discovery in the collections our knowledge of Rodna material was non-existent, yet the specimen certainly deserved a eulogy like Heuland's, for it drew the eyes of collectors like a magnet. The likelihood was increased to a near certainty by comparison of the specimen with known examples from Rodna in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, one being so close in habit, colour and association that it could have come from the same vug. We are still hoping to identify some of the Duke's other purchases from this sale, another highlight of which was "The most valuable Crystal known of the Idocrase, from Ala, Piemont; cost 600 francs; to be put up at £24," for which the Duke parted with £30. It is probable that this is the remarkable deep olive-green striated single crystal that we found mounted in an oak block labeled "diopside." When removed from this support it was discovered that the perfect lustrous flat termination of this fine crystal (useful in distinguishing diopside from vesuvianite) had been used as its base! The few small orange grossular crystals on one side seem characteristic of material from Ala in Piedmont, though the crystal itself-at 13.5 × 5 × 4 cm-is anything but typical. Even it is not the Heuland specimen it is still one of the largest vesuvianites known from Ala (Renato Pagano, pers. comm.).
The Crichton purchase includes two very fine specimens of well crystallized orange-red heulandite from Scotland, and it is tempting to think the Duke bought them partly as a result of his acquaintance with the eponymous dealer.
Specimens in Catalog Y are characterized by small handwritten paper labels in a distinctive hand. The descriptive text is preceded by the specimen number, e.g. "No. 4 Marble Tyrol." Numbers begin at 2 and end at 11, the specimens being mostly in Watson catalog F.
Specimens in Catalog Z have characteristic hand-written paper labels fixed, in most cases, to the display surface of the specimen. The label gives the species only. This frustrating habit is all too common in old (and some new) collections when what one really longs for is a locality, which can so often only be retrospectively supplied by educated or inspired guesswork. Catalog Z's 22 specimens are an odd mixture of Cornish copper minerals, Russian pegmatite and European metamorphic species.
"The Duke's Emerald"
The "Duke's Emerald" is an incredible terminated crystal from the mines of Muzo, Santa Fé de Bogota, in Colombia, home of the world's finest emeralds. It is a superb deep green, perfectly transparent in places, though heavily flawed in others, 5 cm across the pinacoid, and weighs 1383.95 carats. It was for long renowned as the largest and finest uncut emerald in existence. It is said to have been given to the 6th Duke by Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil in 1831, though there is no original documentary evidence for this at Chatsworth. The stone seems at one time to have been in the hands of the then Crown Jewellers Rundell and Bridge, as the banker and mineral collector Thomas Allan notes in the manuscript catalogue of his collection in 1831:
In the hands of Mess Rundell & Co. I saw another fine crystal [of emerald], weighing 8 oz 18 pwts or 1043 carats,8 of a perfect form measuring across its diameter 2 ¼, 2 1/8 & 1 7/8 inches, & two inches in length. (Allan-Greg Catalog, Natural History Museum, London)
Edmond Waller Rundell FGS (d. 1857) was a mineral collector and jeweler, a correspondent of mineralogists James Sowerby and E. D. Clarke of Cambridge. Why he was holding the emerald is unknown. Why Dom Pedro disposed of it remains an equal mystery. He had become Emperor of Brazil in 1822 after declaring Brazil's independence from Portugal and instating as president Brazil's most celebrated politician José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (1763-1838, after whom, incidentally, andradite is named). In 1831, after the loss of his popular support (which had been on the wane for many years) and a disastrous civil war in 1828 which resulted in the separation of Uruguay, he abdicated, made his 5-year-old son Dom Pedro II Emperor in his place, and returned to Europe, leaving the country to be ruled by a regency until his son's majority. Perhaps the emerald was a quickly pocketable valuable as insurance for possible financial problems ahead? It may equally have been potentially useful as a gift out of friendship, or as an expression of gratitude for political support.
This superb and historic stone has been illustrated several times (e.g. King, 1865; Bauer, 1904; Smith, 1958) and was exhibited at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851 by James Tennant. When G.F. Herbert Smith of the British Museum (Natural History) borrowed it from Chatsworth House for the Coronation Exhibition of 1911 it was with regret that it was finally returned in 1915: "Its interest is mainly mineralogical and it would be far more accessible to those who can appreciate such a specimen in this Museum than in a private collection" (G. F. H. Smith to J. P. Maine, Librarian at Chatsworth 25 Mar. 1915, NHM Mineralogy Correspondence Archive DF1/31). Unsurprisingly, his remonstrations fell upon deaf ears. However, from July 1936 to January 1950 (except for the duration of World War II) it was loaned for exhibition in the mineral gallery of the British Museum (Natural History). It was subsequently exhibited in the Gemmological Association's exhibition in London in 1949 and again in the City of Birmingham Museum in 1955. Today it resides in a Chatsworth vault in a nondescript cardboard box which belies its remarkable contents.
Catalog X: Unknown
There are many other fine pieces in the collection for which we have no matching documentation of any kind: a quite superb "cleiophane" sphalerite (possibly from Przibram in Bohemia) consisting of limpid olive-green crystals with galena on quartz (John White, the Smithsonian's ex-curator, on a visit in 2001, rated it the finest he had ever seen); several good North of England fluorites (all somewhat damaged unfortunately-and, judging by the cleanliness of the fracture surfaces, perhaps long after they were originally added to the collection); a fine and large Alston Moor sphalerite; two excellent botryoidal chalcedony specimens (one of which may be another purchase from the 1834 Heuland sale); and a highly unusual, thick wire gold on quartz with a cutout label (probably from a 19th century mineral sale): "Green Ramose Native Gold, on Quartz with bunt Copper Ore, Olonetz." This must be from Olonets, some 200 km NE of St. Petersburg. An examination of 19th century sale catalogs might reveal its identity-though there are rather a lot of them . . .
Other than these notable items the collection also contains many "curiosities" such as medallions embedded in lava, probably obtained from one of the more active Mediterranean volcanoes such as Vesuvius, where there must have been a cottage industry making such things after each fresh outpouring of molten rock, as trinkets for the tourist trade; and a "petrified" egg (probably from one of the "Petrifying Wells" in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire). Our next task is the cataloging of these hundreds of additional items. There is still a way to go, and we are yet to make any inroads into the dozens of fossils in the collection. Who knows what other stories await discovery?
The restoration of the Devonshire Collection has required a considerable effort on the part of Russell Society and other volunteers, and considerable patience and trust on the part of Chatsworth staff. It has proved well worth it. It is difficult to say which has given us the more satisfaction: seeing Georgiana's collection rebuilt in its original arrangement; rediscovering Crichton's long-lost treasures; identifying a fine suite of specimens from the legendary Henry Heuland; finding enargite from Derbyshire or such a surprising array of fine material from the Gregory, Earl Ferrer's, and Ecton mines; or extending the range of White Watson's mineralogical and lapidary achievements. We trust that the collection will live on, and hope that it will continue to be used and appreciated by generations to come. As I write this, some of the collections rescued from obscurity are revealed in two displays at Chatsworth: one in the recently-established conference center and another in the room dedicated to Georgiana. The collection and the restoration project was featured in a Bazal Productions TV program in their acclaimed series on Great Estates-the first 10 minutes of fame for such a project on British television.9 There are plans to include some of the finer pieces in a travelling exhibition of the Treasures of Chatsworth in the USA in the near future. After being overlooked for nearly a century the Devonshire Mineral Collections are back to stay, rare survivors from a fascinating era.
POSTSCRIPT: THE MINERAL COLLECTOR AND THE DUCHESS
In 1900, financier John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) purchased the finest collection of minerals ever made in America, that of Clarence Sweet Bernent (1843-1923), and donated it to the American Museum of Natural History, New York, where the Morgan Hall of Gems and Minerals displays some of the finest specimens from this remarkable act of generosity. Morgan is more widely known as an art collector, a passion that links his name once more to mineralogy-albeit unwittingly. In about 1785 Georgiana's portrait was painted by Britain's foremost society painter, Thomas Gainsborough. The beautiful and coquettish face is said not to be a good physical likeness, but the amused eyes and enigmatic smile are as captivating as the living Georgiana must have been. For some years the portrait hung at Chatsworth and then disappeared. In 1841 it was rediscovered by an art dealer, who purchased it for £56 and sold it to the art collector Wynn Ellis. After Ellis's death in 1875 the painting was put up for auction in London where it created a sensation. When the auction came, the bidding was frantic and the Duchess was quickly knocked down to the art dealer Thomas Agnew for 10,000 guineas, then the highest price ever paid at auction for a portrait. Agnew gave her pride of place in his gallery where she was a huge hit with the public and press. Among the myriad visitors was the American banker Junius Morgan, who offered $50,000 for her as a present to his son John Pierpont Morgan. But before he could collect his prize the painting was acquired by another American admirer, Adam Worth, an eminent international thief and conman (the inspiration for Conan Doyle's arch-criminal Moriarty), who stole the portrait from the gallery on 25 May 1876. He originally intended ransoming the picture to bail out his brother, a less efficient criminal then in a London jail, but this became unnecessary when the brother was released on a technicality. But far from carrying through the ransom, Worth fell in love with the Duchess, and for several subsequent decades she accompanied Worth on his highly successful criminal travels around the globe. In 1893 he slipped up and was jailed in Belgium for 5 years. After this salutary experience he was a broken man and even his beloved Duchess could not console him. Anticipating his end, he decided to give her back. With US detective William Pinkerton as go-between, a deal was struck, and the painting was handed over to Thomas Agnew's son in a Chicago hotel room in 1901. On his triumphant return to London Agnew was contacted by Pierpont Morgan, willing to pay anything to have "his" painting. The price he paid was kept secret-Morgan considered he would be thought "lunatic" if it got out. We now know it was £30,000. He too jealously kept the Duchess to himself for the rest of his life. She was handed down through the family for generations until in 1994 she came back to England to be auctioned at Sotheby's. She was bought by the Chatsworth Trustees and returned at last to Chatsworth House. (See MacIntyre, 1994 for a fuller account of this fascinating tale.)
Special thanks must go to the memory His Grace the late (11th) Duke of Devonshire (1920-2004) and Her Grace the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire for allowing us the freedom to work on the collection, and to the staff of Chatsworth, particularly Peter Day and Charles Noble, for their trust and support. The efforts of regular volunteers Franz Werner, Frank and Margaret Ince, Neil Hubbard, John Cooper, Catherine Foley and Keith Hughes are key to the project. Mike Bayley, Tony Brittain, Franz Werner, Phil Jackman and the author entered data from the Watson and other catalogs into various database applications which were then converted to Microsoft Access. Thanks to Wendell Wilson, Bob Symes, John Appleby (Alexander Crichton's most recent biographer), Trevor Ford, Renato Pagano, John Jones, Wendy Cawthorne of the Geological Society of London, and Amanda Foreman for supplying useful information; to Chris Stanley for help and advice, to Monica Price for access to the collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and to the late Mike Rothwell and to Franz Werner for translations from German. Sara Russell and Monica Grady of the Department of Mineralogy, Natural History Museum, London provided useful information on the Siena meteorite shower for the story of the "Stone which fell from the Clouds." The patience of Ian Fraser-Martin, the Chatsworth staff photographer, deserves the highest praise as we chased ideal images of several of the collection's finest treasures. Peter Day, Franz Werner, and Hugh Torrens made penetrating observations on the draft and I thank them for their compensations for my editorial and historical shortcomings. The work was substantially improved by myriad suggestions from Hugh Torrens' encyclopedic store of knowledge, and by the thoughtful editing of Wendell Wilson and Thomas Moore. Any remaining inaccuracies and ambiguities are mine alone.
Source: Mineralogical Record