Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sydney Mining Museum - Part II - Fossils

One of the early letters to C. S. Wilkinson, the founder of the Sydney Mining Museum collection, was written by Baron Constantin Ettingshausen in 1886.  Ettingshausen was a noted professor of botany at the University of Graz in Austria who studied the fossil floras of Australia and New Zealand.  One of his important works was his 1888 publication Contributions to the Tertiary flora of Australia.

Wilkinson, Geological Surveyor-in-Charge, and T. W. E. David, Geological Surveyor, collected plant fossils from tin mining areas in the Vegetable Creek and Elsmore regions of New South Wales and sent them to Ettingshausen for examination, who responded with the following letter to Wilkinson:

8 Laimburggasse
Graz, Austria
the 3rd August 3, 1886

Dear Mr. Wilkinson,

As I have promised you, I send you close by the list of numbers and names of species of your collection.  You will see that a great number of Fossils have been described and figured, and only a small number of them are not determinable.  As it was necessary to prepare some of the Fossils, I have found some new specimens, which I have carefully kept and numbered with the following numbers.  I enumerated them in a supplementary list close by and have forwarded them to you with the others all.  I packed the Fossils very carefully and hope that they will arrive well preserved at Sydney.

I am, dear Mr. Wilkinson,
Yours very truly
Baron C. Ettingshausen

Page 2 of the letter is displayed below (single click on image to magnify; single click again on magnified image to enlarge further).

Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

Several species of fossils were named after Wilkinson, such as Fagus Wilkinsoni, which is figured on Plate II of Ettingshausen's Contributions to the Tertiary flora of Australia (upper left hand corner of image below; single click to magnify; single click again to enlarge further).

Be sure to check the next few posts which will cover correspondence related to the mineral and meteorite collections of the Sydney Mining Museum.


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