Sunday, October 31, 2010

Who prepared the first published meteorite catalogue?

I always thought that in 1837, Pierre Louis Antoine Cordier (1777-1861) prepared the first catalogue of the meteorite collection for the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris.  See The history of meteoritics and key meteorite collections:  Fireballs, falls and finds, (London, Geological Society, 2006), 168-169.

However, an associate of mine, Dr. Renaud Mathieu of Toulouse, pointed out that there was an earlier catalogue of meteorite holdings for the Muséum published in 1813 by Lucas and Haüy.  See J. A. H. Lucas, Tableau méthodique des espèces minérales, seconde partie, (Dhautel, Paris, 1813), 369-371.

Renaud informed me that the volume can be viewed on Google Books at:

As noted, 369-371 contain the catalogue.  

I realized after receiving this information that Lucas’catalogue predates von Schreiber’s catalogue of the Vienna collection which appeared as an Appendix to Chladni’s Über feuer-meteore.  See E. F. F. Chladni,  Über feuer-meteore, und über die mit denselben herabgefallenen massen, (Vienna, J.G. Heubner, 1819), 427-434.

Schreiber’s catalogue is usually considered the first published meteorite catalogue for a collection of meteorites.  See The history of meteoritics and key meteorite collections:  Fireballs, falls and finds, p. 140.

Part 1 of Lucas’ work is actually selling on eBay at present, but is was published in 1806, and does not contain the catalogue under discussion. 

The eBay listing (for information only - I have nothing to do with the sale) can be seen at: 

So does Lucas now hold the title for preparing the first published meteorite catalogue?  Looks that way, unless someone out there knows otherwise!


1 comment:

  1. Dr. Svend Buhl noted that Chladni issued his own catalog after von Schrieber’s Appendix appeared in Über feuer-meteore in 1819. Chladni’s catalogue was published in Kastner's Archiv fuer die gesamte Naturlehre IV Nuernberg, 1825), 200-240.

    I was aware that Chladni published his catalogue in Annales de Chimie in 1826, but not in Kastner’s, which preceded Annales by 1 year.

    The reference for the Annales catalogue is: E. F. F. Chladni, ‘Nouveau catalogue des chutes de pierres ou de fer; de poussières ou de substances molles, sèches ou humides, suivant l’ordre chronologique’, Annales de Chimie et de Physique 31, 253-270 (1826).

    The catalogue can be downloaded from Google Books at the following address:

    As it turns out, Chladni’s catalogue that appeared in Kastner’s is also available for download at Google Books:

    It's kind of interesting. The Annales catalogue was widely known in the late 1820s and 1830s, and in some cases more so than Chladni's 1819 book or Kastner's 1825 work, both of which preceded the Annales publication. I haven't checked Ursula Marvin's work on Chladni to see if she mentions the size of the print run or how available it was, but it appears that researchers were more familiar with the Annales de Chimie catalogue than
    Chladni's 1819 book or the Kastner volume - at least for researchers in England and Ireland. I guess that's why Annales decided to reprint the earlier Kastner version - to make it more readily available. There was a problem for researchers though – Chladni’s 1819 book contained more bibliographical information that his 1826 Annales catalogue, and this led to some problems for scientists at the time wishing to locate meteorite papers.
    Mark Grossman