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Title: De Re Metallica, Translated from the First Latin Edition of 1556

Author: Georg Agricola

Translator: Herbert Hoover

Lou Henry Hoover

Release date: November 14, 2011 [eBook #38015]
Most recently updated: January 8, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Malcolm Farmer, Stephen H. Sentoff and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at






Biographical Introduction, Annotations and Appendices upon
the Development of Mining Methods, Metallurgical
Processes, Geology, Mineralogy & Mining Law
from the earliest times to the 16th Century


A. B. Stanford University, Member American Institute of Mining Engineers,
Mining and Metallurgical Society of America, Société des Ingéniéurs
Civils de France, American Institute of Civil Engineers,
Fellow Royal Geographical Society, etc., etc.


A. B. Stanford University, Member American Association for the
Advancement of Science, The National Geographical Society,
Royal Scottish Geographical Society, etc., etc.


Dover Publications, Inc.



The inspiration of whose teaching is no less great than his contribution to science.

This New 1950 Edition of DE RE METALLICA is a complete and unchanged reprint of the translation published by The Mining Magazine, London, in 1912. It has been made available through the kind permission of Honorable Herbert C. Hoover and Mr. Edgar Rickard, Author and Publisher, respectively, of the original volume.


[Pg i]



here are three objectives in translation of works of this character: to give a faithful, literal translation of the author's statements; to give these in a manner which will interest the reader; and to preserve, so far as is possible, the style of the original text. The task has been doubly difficult in this work because, in using Latin, the author availed himself of a medium which had ceased to expand a thousand years before his subject had in many particulars come into being; in consequence he was in difficulties with a large number of ideas for which there were no corresponding words in the vocabulary at his command, and instead of adopting into the text his native German terms, he coined several hundred Latin expressions to answer his needs. It is upon this rock that most former attempts at translation have been wrecked. Except for a very small number, we believe we have been able to discover the intended meaning of such expressions from a study of the context, assisted by a very incomplete glossary prepared by the author himself, and by an exhaustive investigation into the literature of these subjects during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. That discovery in this particular has been only gradual and obtained after much labour, may be indicated by the fact that the entire text has been re-typewritten three times since the original, and some parts more often; and further, that the printer's proof has been thrice revised. We have found some English equivalent, more or less satisfactory, for practically all such terms, except those of weights, the varieties of veins, and a few minerals. In the matter of weights we have introduced the original Latin, because it is impossible to give true equivalents and avoid the fractions of reduction; and further, as explained in the Appendix on Weights it is impossible to say in many cases what scale the Author had in mind. The English nomenclature to be adopted has given great difficulty, for various reasons; among them, that many methods and processes described have never been practised in English-speaking mining communities, and so had no representatives in our vocabulary, and we considered the introduction of German terms undesirable; other methods and processes have become obsolete and their descriptive terms with them, yet we wished to avoid the introduction of obsolete or unusual English; but of the greatest importance of all has been the necessity to avoid rigorously such modern technical terms as would imply a greater scientific understanding than the period possessed.

Agricola's Latin, while mostly free from mediæval corruption, is somewhat tainted with German construction. Moreover some portions have not [Pg ii]the continuous flow of sustained thought which others display, but the fact that the writing of the work extended over a period of twenty years, sufficiently explains the considerable variation in style. The technical descriptions in the later books often take the form of House-that-Jack-built sentences which have had to be at least partially broken up and the subject occasionally re-introduced. Ambiguities were also sometimes found which it was necessary to carry on into the translation. Despite these criticisms we must, however, emphasize that Agricola was infinitely clearer in his style than his contemporaries upon such subjects, or for that matter than his successors in almost any language for a couple of centuries. All of the illustrations and display letters of the original have been reproduced and the type as closely approximates to the original as the printers have been able to find in a modern font.

There are no footnotes in the original text, and Mr. Hoover is responsible for them all. He has attempted in them to give not only such comment as would tend to clarify the text, but also such information as we have been able to discover with regard to the previous history of the subjects mentioned. We have confined the historical notes to the time prior to Agricola, because to have carried them down to date in the briefest manner would have demanded very much more space than could be allowed. In the examination of such technical and historical material one is appalled at the flood of mis-information with regard to ancient arts and sciences which has been let loose upon the world by the hands of non-technical translators and commentators. At an early stage we considered that we must justify any divergence of view from such authorities, but to limit the already alarming volume of this work, we later felt compelled to eliminate most of such discussion. When the half-dozen most important of the ancient works bearing upon science have been translated by those of some scientific experience, such questions will, no doubt, be properly settled.

We need make no apologies for De Re Metallica. During 180 years it was not superseded as the text-book and guide to miners and metallurgists, for until Schlüter's great work on metallurgy in 1738 it had no equal. That it passed through some ten editions in three languages at a period when the printing of such a volume was no ordinary undertaking, is in itself sufficient evidence of the importance in which it was held, and is a record that no other volume upon the same subjects has equalled since. A large proportion of the technical data given by Agricola was either entirely new, or had not been given previously with sufficient detail and explanation to have enabled a worker in these arts himself to perform the operations without further guidance. Practically the whole of it must have been given from personal experience and observation, for the scant library at his service can be appreciated from his own Preface. Considering the part which the metallic arts have played in human history, the paucity of their literature down to Agricola's time is amazing. No doubt the arts were jealously guarded by their practitioners as a sort of stock-in-trade, and it is also probable that those who had knowledge were not usually of a literary turn of mind; and, [Pg iii]on the other hand, the small army of writers prior to his time were not much interested in the description of industrial pursuits. Moreover, in those thousands of years prior to printing, the tedious and expensive transcription of manuscripts by hand was mostly applied to matters of more general interest, and therefore many writings may have been lost in consequence. In fact, such was the fate of the works of Theophrastus and Strato on these subjects.

We have prepared a short sketch of Agricola's life and times, not only to give some indication of his learning and character, but also of his considerable position in the community in which he lived. As no appreciation of Agricola's stature among the founders of science can be gained without consideration of the advance which his works display over those of his predecessors, we therefore devote some attention to the state of knowledge of these subjects at the time by giving in the Appendix a short review of the literature then extant and a summary of Agricola's other writings. To serve the bibliophile we present such data as we have been able to collect it with regard to the various editions of his works. The full titles of the works quoted in the footnotes under simply authors' names will be found in this Appendix.

We feel that it is scarcely doing Agricola justice to publish De Re Metallica only. While it is of the most general interest of all of his works, yet, from the point of view of pure science, De Natura Fossilium and De Ortu et Causis are works which deserve an equally important place. It is unfortunate that Agricola's own countrymen have not given to the world competent translations into German, as his work has too often been judged by the German translations, the infidelity of which appears in nearly every paragraph.

We do not present De Re Metallica as a work of "practical" value. The methods and processes have long since been superseded; yet surely such a milestone on the road of development of one of the two most basic of human industrial activities is more worthy of preservation than the thousands of volumes devoted to records of human destruction. To those interested in the history of their own profession we need make no apologies, except for the long delay in publication. For this we put forward the necessity of active endeavour in many directions; as this book could be but a labour of love, it has had to find the moments for its execution in night hours, weekends, and holidays, in all extending over a period of about five years. If the work serves to strengthen the traditions of one of the most important and least recognized of the world's professions we shall be amply repaid.

It is our pleasure to acknowledge our obligations to Professor H. R. Fairclough, of Stanford University, for perusal of and suggestions upon the first chapter; and to those whom we have engaged from time to time for one service or another, chiefly bibliographical work and collateral translation. We are also sensibly obligated to the printers, Messrs. Frost & Sons, for their patience and interest, and for their willingness to bend some of the canons of modern printing, to meet the demands of the 16th Century.

July 1, 1912.

The Red House,
Hornton Street, London.

[Pg v]




eorgius Agricola was born at Glauchau, in Saxony, on March 24th, 1494, and therefore entered the world when it was still upon the threshold of the Renaissance; Gutenberg's first book had been printed but forty years before; the Humanists had but begun that stimulating criticism which awoke the Reformation; Erasmus, of Rotterdam, who was subsequently to become Agricola's friend and patron, was just completing his student days. The Reformation itself was yet to come, but it was not long delayed, for Luther was born the year before Agricola, and through him Agricola's homeland became the cradle of the great movement; nor did Agricola escape being drawn into the conflict. Italy, already awake with the new classical revival, was still a busy workshop of antiquarian research, translation, study, and publication, and through her the Greek and Latin Classics were only now available for wide distribution. Students from the rest of Europe, among them at a later time Agricola himself, flocked to the Italian Universities, and on their return infected their native cities with the newly-awakened learning. At Agricola's birth Columbus had just returned from his great discovery, and it was only three years later that Vasco Da Gama rounded Cape Good Hope. Thus these two foremost explorers had only initiated that greatest period of geographical expansion in the world's history. A few dates will recall how far this exploration extended during Agricola's lifetime. Balboa first saw the Pacific in 1513; Cortes entered the City of Mexico in 1520; Magellan entered the Pacific in the same year; Pizarro penetrated into Peru in 1528; De Soto landed in Florida in 1539, and Potosi was discovered in 1546. Omitting the sporadic settlement on the St. Lawrence by Cartier in 1541, the settlement of North America did not begin for a quarter of a century after Agricola's death. Thus the revival of learning, with its train of Humanism, the Reformation, its stimulation of exploration and the re-awakening of the arts and sciences, was still in its infancy with Agricola.

We know practically nothing of Agricola's antecedents or his youth. His real name was Georg Bauer ("peasant"), and it was probably Latinized by his teachers, as was the custom of the time. His own brother, in receipts [Pg vi]preserved in the archives of the Zwickau Town Council, calls himself "Bauer," and in them refers to his brother "Agricola." He entered the University of Leipsic at the age of twenty, and after about three and one-half years' attendance there gained the degree of Baccalaureus Artium. In 1518 he became Vice-Principal of the Municipal School at Zwickau, where he taught Greek and Latin. In 1520 he became Principal, and among his assistants was Johannes Förster, better known as Luther's collaborator in the translation of the Bible. During this time our author prepared and published a small Latin Grammar[2]. In 1522 he removed to Leipsic to become a lecturer in the University under his friend, Petrus Mosellanus, at whose death in 1524 he went to Italy for the further study of Philosophy, Medicine, and the Natural Sciences. Here he remained for nearly three years, from 1524 to 1526. He visited the Universities of Bologna, Venice, and probably Padua, and at these institutions received his first inspiration to work in the sciences, for in a letter[3] from Leonardus Casibrotius to Erasmus we learn that he was engaged upon a revision of Galen. It was about this time that he made the acquaintance of Erasmus, who had settled at Basel as Editor for Froben's press.

In 1526 Agricola returned to Zwickau, and in 1527 he was chosen town physician at Joachimsthal. This little city in Bohemia is located on the eastern slope of the Erzgebirge, in the midst of the then most prolific metal-mining district of Central Europe. Thence to Freiberg is but fifty miles, and the same radius from that city would include most of the mining towns so frequently mentioned in De Re Metallica—Schneeberg, Geyer, Annaberg and Altenberg—and not far away were Marienberg, Gottesgab, and Platten. Joachimsthal was a booming mining camp, founded but eleven years before Agricola's arrival, and already having several thousand inhabitants. According to Agricola's own statement[4], he spent all the time not required for his medical duties in visiting the mines and smelters, in reading up in the Greek and Latin authors all references to mining, and in association with the most learned among the mining folk. Among these was one Lorenz Berman, whom Agricola afterward set up as the "learned miner" in his dialogue Bermannus. This book was first published by Froben at Basel in 1530, and was a sort of catechism on mineralogy, mining terms, and mining lore. The book was apparently first submitted to the great Erasmus, and the publication arranged by him, a warm letter of approval by him appearing at the beginning of the book[5]. In 1533 he published De Mensuris et Ponderibus, through Froben, this being a discussion of Roman and Greek weights and measures. At about this time he began De Re Metallica—not to be published for twenty-five years.

[Pg vii]

Agricola did not confine his interest entirely to medicine and mining, for during this period he composed a pamphlet upon the Turks, urging their extermination by the European powers. This work was no doubt inspired by the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1529. It appeared first in German in 1531, and in Latin—in which it was originally written—in 1538, and passed through many subsequent editions.

At this time, too, he became interested in the God's Gift mine at Abertham, which was discovered in 1530. Writing in 1545, he says[6]: "We, as a shareholder, through the goodness of God, have enjoyed the proceeds of this God's Gift since the very time when the mine began first to bestow such riches."

Agricola seems to have resigned his position at Joachimsthal in about 1530, and to have devoted the next two or three years to travel and study among the mines. About 1533 he became city physician of Chemnitz, in Saxony, and here he resided until his death in 1555. There is but little record of his activities during the first eight or nine years of his residence in this city. He must have been engaged upon the study of his subjects and the preparation of his books, for they came on with great rapidity soon after. He was frequently consulted on matters of mining engineering, as, for instance, we learn, from a letter written by a certain Johannes Hordeborch[7], that Duke Henry of Brunswick applied to him with regard to the method for working mines in the Upper Harz.

In 1543 he married Anna, widow of Matthias Meyner, a petty tithe official; there is some reason to believe from a letter published by Schmid,[8] that Anna was his second wife, and that he was married the first time at Joachimsthal. He seems to have had several children, for he commends his young children to the care of the Town Council during his absence at the war in 1547. In addition to these, we know that a son, Theodor, was born in 1550; a daughter, Anna, in 1552; another daughter, Irene, was buried at Chemnitz in 1555; and in 1580 his widow and three children—Anna, Valerius, and Lucretia—were still living.

In 1544 began the publication of the series of books to which Agricola owes his position. The first volume comprised five works and was finally issued in 1546; it was subsequently considerably revised, and re-issued in 1558. These works were: De Ortu et Causis Subterraneorum, in five "books," the first work on physical geology; De Natura Eorum quae Effluunt ex Terra, in four "books," on subterranean waters and gases; De Natura Fossilium, in ten "books," the first systematic mineralogy; De Veteribus et Novis Metallis, in two "books," devoted largely to the history of metals and topographical mineralogy; a new edition of Bermannus was included; and finally Rerum Metallicarum Interpretatio, a glossary of Latin and German mineralogical and metallurgical terms. Another work, De Animantibus Subterraneis, usually published with De Re Metallica, is dated 1548 in the preface. It [Pg viii]is devoted to animals which live underground, at least part of the time, but is not a very effective basis of either geologic or zoologic classification. Despite many public activities, Agricola apparently completed De Re Metallica in 1550, but did not send it to the press until 1553; nor did it appear until a year after his death in 1555. But we give further details on the preparation of this work on p. xv. During this period he found time to prepare a small medical work, De Peste, and certain historical studies, details of which appear in the Appendix. There are other works by Agricola referred to by sixteenth century writers, but so far we have not been able to find them although they may exist. Such data as we have, is given in the appendix.

As a young man, Agricola seems to have had some tendencies toward liberalism in religious matters, for while at Zwickau he composed some anti-Popish Epigrams; but after his return to Leipsic he apparently never wavered, and steadily refused to accept the Lutheran Reformation. To many even liberal scholars of the day, Luther's doctrines appeared wild and demagogic. Luther was not a scholarly man; his addresses were to the masses; his Latin was execrable. Nor did the bitter dissensions over hair-splitting theology in the Lutheran Church after Luther's death tend to increase respect for the movement among the learned. Agricola was a scholar of wide attainments, a deep-thinking, religious man, and he remained to the end a staunch Catholic, despite the general change of sentiment among his countrymen. His leanings were toward such men as his friend the humanist, Erasmus. That he had the courage of his convictions is shown in the dedication of De Natura Eorum, where he addresses to his friend, Duke Maurice, the pious advice that the dissensions of the Germans should be composed, and that the Duke should return to the bosom of the Church those who had been torn from her, and adds: "Yet I do not wish to become confused by these turbulent waters, and be led to offend anyone. It is more advisable to check my utterances." As he became older he may have become less tolerant in religious matters, for he did not seem to show as much patience in the discussion of ecclesiastical topics as he must have possessed earlier, yet he maintained to the end the respect and friendship of such great Protestants as Melanchthon, Camerarius, Fabricius, and many others.

In 1546, when he was at the age of 52, began Agricola's activity in public life, for in that year he was elected a Burgher of Chemnitz; and in the same year Duke Maurice appointed him Burgomaster—an office which he held for four terms. Before one can gain an insight into his political services, and incidentally into the character of the man, it is necessary to understand the politics of the time and his part therein, and to bear in mind always that he was a staunch Catholic under a Protestant Sovereign in a State seething with militant Protestantism.

Saxony had been divided in 1485 between the Princes Ernest and Albert, the former taking the Electoral dignity and the major portion of the Principality. Albert the Brave, the younger brother and Duke of Saxony, obtained the subordinate portion, embracing Meissen, but subject to the Elector. The Elector Ernest was succeeded in 1486 by Frederick the Wise, and under [Pg ix]his support Luther made Saxony the cradle of the Reformation. This Elector was succeeded in 1525 by his brother John, who was in turn succeeded by his son John Frederick in 1532. Of more immediate interest to this subject is the Albertian line of Saxon Dukes who ruled Meissen, for in that Principality Agricola was born and lived, and his political fortunes were associated with this branch of the Saxon House. Albert was succeeded in 1505 by his son George, "The Bearded," and he in turn by his brother Henry, the last of the Catholics, in 1539, who ruled until 1541. Henry was succeeded in 1541 by his Protestant son Maurice, who was the Patron of Agricola.

At about this time Saxony was drawn into the storms which rose from the long-standing rivalry between Francis I., King of France, and Charles V. of Spain. These two potentates came to the throne in the same year (1515), and both were candidates for Emperor of that loose Confederation known as the Holy Roman Empire. Charles was elected, and intermittent wars between these two Princes arose—first in one part of Europe, and then in another. Francis finally formed an alliance with the Schmalkalden League of German Protestant Princes, and with the Sultan of Turkey, against Charles. In 1546 Maurice of Meissen, although a Protestant, saw his best interest in a secret league with Charles against the other Protestant Princes, and proceeded (the Schmalkalden War) to invade the domains of his superior and cousin, the Elector Frederick. The Emperor Charles proved successful in this war, and Maurice was rewarded, at the Capitulation of Wittenberg in 1547, by being made Elector of Saxony in the place of his cousin. Later on, the Elector Maurice found the association with Catholic Charles unpalatable, and joined in leading the other Protestant princes in war upon him, and on the defeat of the Catholic party and the peace of Passau, Maurice became acknowledged as the champion of German national and religious freedom. He was succeeded by his brother Augustus in 1553.

Agricola was much favoured by the Saxon Electors, Maurice and Augustus. He dedicates most of his works to them, and shows much gratitude for many favours conferred upon him. Duke Maurice presented to him a house and plot in Chemnitz, and in a letter dated June 14th, 1543[9] in connection therewith, says: "... that he may enjoy his life-long a freehold house unburdened by all burgher rights and other municipal service, to be used by him and inhabited as a free dwelling, and that he may also, for the necessities of his household and of his wife and servants, brew his own beer free, and that he may likewise purvey for himself and his household foreign beer and also wine for use, and yet he shall not sell any such beer.... We have taken the said Doctor under our especial protection and care for our life-long, and he shall not be summoned before any Court of Justice, but only before us and our Councillor...."

Agricola was made Burgomaster of Chemnitz in 1546. A letter[10] from Fabricius to Meurer, dated May 19th, 1546, says that Agricola had been [Pg x]made Burgomaster by the command of the Prince. This would be Maurice, and it is all the more a tribute to the high respect with which Agricola was held, for, as said before, he was a consistent Catholic, and Maurice a Protestant Prince. In this same year the Schmalkalden War broke out, and Agricola was called to personal attendance upon the Duke Maurice in a diplomatic and advisory capacity. In 1546 also he was a member of the Diet of Freiberg, and was summoned to Council in Dresden. The next year he continued, by the Duke's command, Burgomaster at Chemnitz, although he seems to have been away upon Ducal matters most of the time. The Duke addresses[11] the Chemnitz Council in March, 1547: "We hereby make known to you that we are in urgent need of your Burgomaster, Dr. Georgius Agricola, with us. It is, therefore, our will that you should yield him up and forward him that he should with the utmost haste set forth to us here near Freiberg." He was sent on various missions from the Duke to the Emperor Charles, to King Ferdinand of Austria, and to other Princes in matters connected with the war—the fact that he was a Catholic probably entering into his appointment to such missions. Chemnitz was occupied by the troops of first one side, then the other, despite the great efforts of Agricola to have his own town specially defended. In April, 1547, the war came to an end in the Battle of Mühlberg, but Agricola was apparently not relieved of his Burgomastership until the succeeding year, for he wrote his friend Wolfgang Meurer, in April, 1548,[12] that he "was now relieved." His public duties did not end, however, for he attended the Diet of Leipzig in 1547 and in 1549, and was at the Diet at Torgau in 1550. In 1551 he was again installed as Burgomaster; and in 1553, for the fourth time, he became head of the Municipality, and during this year had again to attend the Diets at Leipzig and Dresden, representing his city. He apparently now had a short relief from public duties, for it is not until 1555, shortly before his death, that we find him again attending a Diet at Torgau.

Agricola died on November 21st, 1555. A letter[13] from his life-long friend, Fabricius, to Melanchthon, announcing this event, states: "We lost, on November 21st, that distinguished ornament of our Fatherland, Georgius Agricola, a man of eminent intellect, of culture and of judgment. He attained the age of 62. He who since the days of childhood had enjoyed robust health was carried off by a four-days' fever. He had previously suffered from no disease except inflammation of the eyes, which he brought upon himself by untiring study and insatiable reading.... I know that you loved the soul of this man, although in many of his opinions, more especially in religious and spiritual welfare, he differed in many points from our own. For he despised our Churches, and would not be with us in the Communion of the Blood of Christ. Therefore, after his death, at the command of the Prince, which was given to the Church inspectors and carried out by Tettelbach as a loyal servant, burial was refused him, and not [Pg xi]until the fourth day was he borne away to Zeitz and interred in the Cathedral.... I have always admired the genius of this man, so distinguished in our sciences and in the whole realm of Philosophy—yet I wonder at his religious views, which were compatible with reason, it is true, and were dazzling, but were by no means compatible with truth.... He would not tolerate with patience that anyone should discuss ecclesiastical matters with him." This action of the authorities in denying burial to one of their most honoured citizens, who had been ever assiduous in furthering the welfare of the community, seems strangely out of joint. Further, the Elector Augustus, although a Protestant Prince, was Agricola's warm friend, as evidenced by his letter of but a few months before (see p. xv). However, Catholics were then few in number at Chemnitz, and the feeling ran high at the time, so possibly the Prince was afraid of public disturbances. Hofmann[14] explains this occurrence in the following words:—"The feelings of Chemnitz citizens, who were almost exclusively Protestant, must certainly be taken into account. They may have raised objections to the solemn interment of a Catholic in the Protestant Cathedral Church of St. Jacob, which had, perhaps, been demanded by his relatives, and to which, according to the custom of the time, he would have been entitled as Burgomaster. The refusal to sanction the interment aroused, more especially in the Catholic world, a painful sensation."

A brass memorial plate hung in the Cathedral at Zeitz had already disappeared in 1686, nor have the cities of his birth or residence ever shown any appreciation of this man, whose work more deserves their gratitude than does that of the multitude of soldiers whose monuments decorate every village and city square. It is true that in 1822 a marble tablet was placed behind the altar in the Church of St. Jacob in Chemnitz, but even this was removed to the Historical Museum later on.

He left a modest estate, which was the subject of considerable litigation by his descendants, due to the mismanagement of the guardian. Hofmann has succeeded in tracing the descendants for two generations, down to 1609, but the line is finally lost among the multitude of other Agricolas.

To deduce Georgius Agricola's character we need not search beyond the discovery of his steadfast adherence to the religion of his fathers amid the bitter storm of Protestantism around him, and need but to remember at the same time that for twenty-five years he was entrusted with elective positions of an increasingly important character in this same community. No man could have thus held the respect of his countrymen unless he were devoid of bigotry and possessed of the highest sense of integrity, justice, humanity, and patriotism.

[Pg xii]


Agricola's education was the most thorough that his times afforded in the classics, philosophy, medicine, and sciences generally. Further, his writings disclose a most exhaustive knowledge not only of an extraordinary range of classical literature, but also of obscure manuscripts buried in the public libraries of Europe. That his general learning was held to be of a high order is amply evidenced from the correspondence of the other scholars of his time—Erasmus, Melanchthon, Meurer, Fabricius, and others.

Our more immediate concern, however, is with the advances which were due to him in the sciences of Geology, Mineralogy, and Mining Engineering. No appreciation of these attainments can be conveyed to the reader unless he has some understanding of the dearth of knowledge in these sciences prior to Agricola's time. We have in Appendix B given a brief review of the literature extant at this period on these subjects. Furthermore, no appreciation of Agricola's contribution to science can be gained without a study of De Ortu et Causis and De Natura Fossilium, for while De Re Metallica is of much more general interest, it contains but incidental reference to Geology and Mineralogy. Apart from the book of Genesis, the only attempts at fundamental explanation of natural phenomena were those of the Greek Philosophers and the Alchemists. Orthodox beliefs Agricola scarcely mentions; with the Alchemists he had no patience. There can be no doubt, however, that his views are greatly coloured by his deep classical learning. He was in fine to a certain distance a follower of Aristotle, Theophrastus, Strato, and other leaders of the Peripatetic school. For that matter, except for the muddy current which the alchemists had introduced into this already troubled stream, the whole thought of the learned world still flowed from the Greeks. Had he not, however, radically departed from the teachings of the Peripatetic school, his work would have been no contribution to the development of science. Certain of their teachings he repudiated with great vigour, and his laboured and detailed arguments in their refutation form the first battle in science over the results of observation versus inductive speculation. To use his own words: "Those things which we see with our eyes and understand by means of our senses are more clearly to be demonstrated than if learned by means of reasoning."[15] The bigoted scholasticism of his times necessitated as much care and detail in refutation of such deep-rooted beliefs, as would be demanded to-day by an attempt at a refutation of the theory of evolution, and in consequence his works are often but dry reading to any but those interested in the development of fundamental scientific theory.

In giving an appreciation of Agricola's views here and throughout the footnotes, we do not wish to convey to the reader that he was in all things free from error and from the spirit of his times, or that his theories, constructed long before the atomic theory, are of the clear-cut order which that basic hypothesis has rendered possible to later scientific speculation in these branches. His statements are sometimes much confused, but we reiterate that [Pg xiii]their clarity is as crystal to mud in comparison with those of his predecessors—and of most of his successors for over two hundred years. As an indication of his grasp of some of the wider aspects of geological phenomena we reproduce, in Appendix A, a passage from De Ortu et Causis, which we believe to be the first adequate declaration of the part played by erosion in mountain sculpture. But of all of Agricola's theoretical views those are of the greatest interest which relate to the origin of ore deposits, for in these matters he had the greatest opportunities of observation and the most experience. We have on page 108 reproduced and discussed his theory at considerable length, but we may repeat here, that in his propositions as to the circulation of ground waters, that ore channels are a subsequent creation to the contained rocks, and that they were filled by deposition from circulating solutions, he enunciated the foundations of our modern theory, and in so doing took a step in advance greater than that of any single subsequent authority. In his contention that ore channels were created by erosion of subterranean waters he was wrong, except for special cases, and it was not until two centuries later that a further step in advance was taken by the recognition by Van Oppel of the part played by fissuring in these phenomena. Nor was it until about the same time that the filling of ore channels in the main by deposition from solutions was generally accepted. While Werner, two hundred and fifty years after Agricola, is generally revered as the inspirer of the modern theory by those whose reading has taken them no farther back, we have no hesitation in asserting that of the propositions of each author, Agricola's were very much more nearly in accord with modern views. Moreover, the main result of the new ideas brought forward by Werner was to stop the march of progress for half a century, instead of speeding it forward as did those of Agricola.

In mineralogy Agricola made the first attempt at systematic treatment of the subject. His system could not be otherwise than wrongly based, as he could scarcely see forward two or three centuries to the atomic theory and our vast fund of chemical knowledge. However, based as it is upon such properties as solubility and homogeneity, and upon external characteristics such as colour, hardness, &c., it makes a most creditable advance upon Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and Albertus Magnus—his only predecessors. He is the first to assert that bismuth and antimony are true primary metals; and to some sixty actual mineral species described previous to his time he added some twenty more, and laments that there are scores unnamed.

As to Agricola's contribution to the sciences of mining and metallurgy, De Re Metallica speaks for itself. While he describes, for the first time, scores of methods and processes, no one would contend that they were discoveries or inventions of his own. They represent the accumulation of generations of experience and knowledge; but by him they were, for the first time, to receive detailed and intelligent exposition. Until Schlüter's work nearly two centuries later, it was not excelled. There is no measure by which we may gauge the value of such a work to the men who followed in this profession during centuries, nor the benefits enjoyed by humanity through them.

[Pg xiv]

That Agricola occupied a very considerable place in the great awakening of learning will be disputed by none except by those who place the development of science in rank far below religion, politics, literature, and art. Of wider importance than the details of his achievements in the mere confines of the particular science to which he applied himself, is the fact that he was the first to found any of the natural sciences upon research and observation, as opposed to previous fruitless speculation. The wider interest of the members of the medical profession in the development of their science than that of geologists in theirs, has led to the aggrandizement of Paracelsus, a contemporary of Agricola, as the first in deductive science. Yet no comparative study of the unparalleled egotistical ravings of this half-genius, half-alchemist, with the modest sober logic and real research and observation of Agricola, can leave a moment's doubt as to the incomparably greater position which should be attributed to the latter as the pioneer in building the foundation of science by deduction from observed phenomena. Science is the base upon which is reared the civilization of to-day, and while we give daily credit to all those who toil in the superstructure, let none forget those men who laid its first foundation stones. One of the greatest of these was Georgius Agricola.

[Pg xv]


Agricola seems to have been engaged in the preparation of De Re Metallica for a period of over twenty years, for we first hear of the book in a letter from Petrus Plateanus, a schoolmaster at Joachimsthal, to the great humanist, Erasmus,[16] in September, 1529. He says: "The scientific world will be still more indebted to Agricola when he brings to light the books De Re Metallica and other matters which he has on hand." In the dedication of De Mensuris et Ponderibus (in 1533) Agricola states that he means to publish twelve books De Re Metallica, if he lives. That the appearance of this work was eagerly anticipated is evidenced by a letter from George Fabricius to Valentine Hertel:[17] "With great excitement the books De Re Metallica are being awaited. If he treats the material at hand with his usual zeal, he will win for himself glory such as no one in any of the fields of literature has attained for the last thousand years." According to the dedication of De Veteribus et Novis Metallis, Agricola in 1546 already looked forward to its early publication. The work was apparently finished in 1550, for the dedication to the Dukes Maurice and August of Saxony is dated in December of that year. The eulogistic poem by his friend, George Fabricius, is dated in 1551.

The publication was apparently long delayed by the preparation of the woodcuts; and, according to Mathesius,[18] many sketches for them were prepared by Basilius Wefring. In the preface of De Re Metallica, Agricola does not mention who prepared the sketches, but does say: "I have hired illustrators to delineate their forms, lest descriptions which are conveyed by words should either not be understood by men of our own times, or should cause difficulty to posterity." In 1553 the completed book was sent to Froben for publication, for a letter[19] from Fabricius to Meurer in March, 1553, announces its dispatch to the printer. An interesting letter[20] from the Elector Augustus to Agricola, dated January 18, 1555, reads: "Most learned, dear and faithful subject, whereas you have sent to the Press a Latin book of which the title is said to be De Rebus Metallicis, which has been praised to us and we should like to know the contents, it is our gracious command that you should get the book translated when you have the opportunity into German, and not let it be copied more than once or be printed, but keep it by you and send us a copy. If you should need a writer for this purpose, we will provide one. Thus you will fulfil our gracious behest." The German translation was prepared by Philip Bechius, a Basel University Professor of Medicine and Philosophy. It is a wretched work, by one who knew nothing of the science, and who more especially had no appreciation of the peculiar Latin terms coined by Agricola, most of which [Pg xvi]he rendered literally. It is a sad commentary on his countrymen that no correct German translation exists. The Italian translation is by Michelangelo Florio, and is by him dedicated to Elizabeth, Queen of England. The title page of the first edition is reproduced later on, and the full titles of other editions are given in the Appendix, together with the author's other works. The following are the short titles of the various editions of De Re Metallica, together with the name and place of the publisher:—

Latin Editions.

De Re Metallica,FrobenBasel Folio1556.
"Ludwig König"1621.
"Emanuel König"1657.

In addition to these, Leupold,[21] Schmid,[22] and others mention an octavo edition, without illustrations, Schweinfurt, 1607. We have not been able to find a copy of this edition, and are not certain of its existence. The same catalogues also mention an octavo edition of De Re Metallica, Wittenberg, 1612 or 1614, with notes by Joanne Sigfrido; but we believe this to be a confusion with Agricola's subsidiary works, which were published at this time and place, with such notes.

German Editions.

Vom Bergkwerck,Froben, Folio, 1557.
Bergwerck Buch,Sigmundi Feyrabendt, Frankfort-on-Main, folio, 1580.
"Ludwig König, Basel, folio, 1621.

There are other editions than these, mentioned by bibliographers, but we have been unable to confirm them in any library. The most reliable of such bibliographies, that of John Ferguson,[23] gives in addition to the above; Bergwerkbuch, Basel, 1657, folio, and Schweinfurt, 1687, octavo.

Italian Edition.

L'Arte de Metalli, Froben, Basel, folio, 1563.

Other Languages.

So far as we know, De Re Metallica was never actually published in other than Latin, German, and Italian. However, a portion of the accounts of the firm of Froben were published in 1881[24], and therein is an entry under March, 1560, of a sum to one Leodigaris Grymaldo for some other work, and also for "correction of Agricola's De Re Metallica in French." This may of course, be an error for the Italian edition, which appeared a little later. There is also mention[25] that a manuscript of De Re Metallica in Spanish was [Pg xvii]seen in the library of the town of Bejar. An interesting note appears in the glossary given by Sir John Pettus in his translation of Lazarus Erckern's work on assaying. He says[26] "but I cannot enlarge my observations upon any more words, because the printer calls for what I did write of a metallick dictionary, after I first proposed the printing of Erckern, but intending within the compass of a year to publish Georgius Agricola, De Re Metallica (being fully translated) in English, and also to add a dictionary to it, I shall reserve my remaining essays (if what I have done hitherto be approved) till then, and so I proceed in the dictionary." The translation was never published and extensive inquiry in various libraries and among the family of Pettus has failed to yield any trace of the manuscript.


[Pg v][1] For the biographical information here set out we have relied principally upon the following works:—Petrus Albinus, Meissnische Land Und Berg Chronica, Dresden, 1590; Adam Daniel Richter, Umständliche ... Chronica der Stadt Chemnitz, Leipzig, 1754; Johann Gottfried Weller, Altes Aus Allen Theilen Der Geschichte, Chemnitz, 1766; Freidrich August Schmid, Georg Agrikola's Bermannus, Freiberg, 1806; Georg Heinrich Jacobi, Der Mineralog Georgius Agricola, Zwickau, 1881; Dr. Reinhold Hofmann, Dr. Georg Agricola, Gotha, 1905. The last is an exhaustive biographical sketch, to which we refer those who are interested.

[Pg vi][2] Georgii Agricolae Glaucii Libellus de Prima ac Simplici Institutione Grammatica, printed by Melchior Lotther, Leipzig, 1520. Petrus Mosellanus refers to this work (without giving title) in a letter to Agricola, June, 1520.

[3] Briefe an Desiderius Erasmus von Rotterdam. Published by Joseph Förstemann and Otto Günther. XXVII. Beiheft zum Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen, Leipzig, 1904. p. 44.

[4] De Veteribus et Novis Metallis. Preface.

[5] A summary of this and of Agricola's other works is given in the Appendix A.

[Pg vii][6] De Veteribus et Novis Metallis, Book I.

[7] Printed in F. A. Schmid's Georg Agrikola's Bermannus, p. 14, Freiberg, 1806.

[8] Op. Cit., p. 8.

[Pg ix][9] Archive 38, Chemnitz Municipal Archives.

[10] Baumgarten-Crusius. Georgii Fabricii Chemnicensis Epistolae ad W. Meurerum et Alios Aequales, Leipzig, 1845, p. 26.

[Pg x][11] Hofmann, Op. cit., p. 99.

[12] Weber, Virorum Clarorum Saeculi XVI. et XVII. Epistolae Selectae, Leipzig, 1894, p. 8.

[13] Baumgarten-Crusius. Op. cit., p. 139.

[Pg xi][14] Hofmann, Op. cit., p. 123.

[Pg xii][15] De Ortu et Causis, Book III.

[Pg xv][16] Briefe an Desiderius Erasmus von Rotterdam. Published by Joseph Förstemann & Otto Günther. XXVII. Beiheft zum Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen, Leipzig, 1904, p. 125.

[17] Petrus Albinus, Meissnische Land und Berg Chronica, Dresden, 1590, p. 353.

[18] This statement is contained under "1556" in a sort of chronicle bound up with Mathesius's Sarepta, Nuremberg, 1562.

[19] Baumgarten-Crusius, p. 85, letter No. 93.

[20] Principal State Archives, Dresden, Cop. 259, folio 102.

[Pg xvi][21] Jacob Leupold, Prodromus Bibliothecae Metallicae, 1732, p. 11.

[22] F. A. Schmid, Georg Agrikola's Bermannus, Freiberg, 1806, p. 34.

[23] Bibliotheca Chemica, Glasgow, 1906, p. 10.

[24] Rechnungsbuch der Froben und Episcopius Buchdrucker und Buchhändler zu Basel, 1557-1564, published by R. Wackernagle, Basel, 1881. p. 20.

[25] Colecion del Sr Monoz t. 93, fol. 255 En la Acad. de la Hist. Madrid.

[Pg xvii][26] Sir John Pettus, Fleta Minor, The Laws of Art and Nature, &c., London, 1636, p. 121.

[Pg xix]

Title page from first edition

[Pg xxi]

Metallicos GEORGII AGRICOLAE philosophi


Si iuuat ignita cognoscere fronte Chimæram,
Semicanem nympham, semibouemque uirum:
Si centum capitum Titanem, totque ferentem
Sublimem manibus tela cruenta Gygen:
Si iuuat Ætneum penetrare Cyclopis in antrum,
Atque alios, Vates quos peperere, metus:
Nunc placeat mecum doctos euoluere libros,
Ingenium AGRICOLAE quos dedit acre tibi.
Non hic uana tenet suspensam fabula mentem:
Sed precium, utilitas multa, legentis erit.
Quidquid terra sinu, gremioque recondidit imo,
Omne tibi multis eruit ante libris:
Siue fluens superas ultro nitatur in oras,
Inueniat facilem seu magis arte uiam.
Perpetui proprijs manant de fontibus amnes,
Est grauis Albuneæ sponte Mephitis odor.
Lethales sunt sponte scrobes Dicæarchidis oræ,
Et micat è media conditus ignis humo.
Plana Nariscorum cùm tellus arsit in agro,
Ter curua nondum falce resecta Ceres,
Nec dedit hoc damnum pastor, nec Iuppiter igne:
Vulcani per se ruperat ira solum.
Terrifico aura foras erumpens, incita motu,
Sæpe facit montes, antè ubi plana uia est.
Hæc abstrusa cauis, imoque incognita fundo,
Cognita natura sæpe fuere duce.
Arte hominum, in lucem ueniunt quoque multa, manuque
Terræ multiplices effodiuntur opes.
Lydia sic nitrum profert, Islandia sulfur,
Ac modò Tyrrhenus mittit alumen ager.
Succina, quâ trifido subit æquor Vistula cornu,
Piscantur Codano corpora serua sinu.
Quid memorem regum preciosa insignia gemmas,
Marmoraque excelsis structa sub astra iugis?
Nil lapides, nil saxa moror: sunt pulchra metalla,
Crœse tuis opibus clara, Mydaque tuis,
Quæque acer Macedo terra Creneide fodit,
Nomine permutans nomina prisca suo.
At nunc non ullis cedit GERMANIA terris,
[Pg xxii]Terra ferax hominum, terraque diues opum.
Hic auri in uenis locupletibus aura refulget,
Non alio messis carior ulla loco.
Auricomum extulerit felix Campania ramum,
Nec fructu nobis deficiente cadit.
Eruit argenti solidas hoc tempore massas
Fossor, de proprijs armaque miles agris.
Ignotum Graijs est Hesperijsque metallum,
Quod Bisemutum lingua paterna uocat.
Candidius nigro, sed plumbo nigrius albo,
Nostra quoque hoc uena diuite fundit humus.
Funditur in tormenta, corus cum imitantia fulmen,
Æs, inque hostiles ferrea massa domos.
Scribuntur plumbo libri: quis credidit antè
Quàm mirandam artem Teutonis ora dedit?
Nec tamen hoc alijs, aut illa petuntur ab oris,
Eruta Germano cuncta metalla solo.
Sed quid ego hæc repeto, monumentis tradita claris
AGRICOLAE, quæ nunc docta per ora uolant?
Hic caussis ortus, & formas uiribus addit,
Et quærenda quibus sint meliora locis.
Quæ si mente prius legisti candidus æqua:
Da reliquis quoque nunc tempora pauca libris.
Vtilitas sequitur cultorem: crede, uoluptas
Non iucunda minor, rara legentis, erit.
Iudicioque prius ne quis malè damnet iniquo,
Quæ sunt auctoris munera mira Dei:
Eripit ipse suis primùm tela hostibus, inque
Mittentis torquet spicula rapta caput.
Fertur equo latro, uehitur pirata triremi:
Ergo necandus equus, nec fabricanda ratis?
Visceribus terræ lateant abstrusa metalla,
Vti opibus nescit quòd mala turba suis?
Quisquis es, aut doctis pareto monentibus, aut te
Inter habere bonos ne fateare locum.
Se non in prærupta metallicus abijcit audax,
Vt quondam immisso Curtius acer equo:
Sed prius ediscit, quæ sunt noscenda perito,
Quodque facit, multa doctus ab arte facit.
Vtque gubernator seruat cum sidere uentos:
Sic minimè dubijs utitur ille notis.
Iasides nauim, currus regit arte Metiscus:
Fossor opus peragit nec minus arte suum.
Indagat uenæ spacium, numerumque, modumque,
Siue obliqua suum, rectaúe tendat iter.
[Pg xxiii]Pastor ut explorat quæ terra sit apta colenti,
Quæ bene lanigeras, quæ malè pascat oues.
En terræ intentus, quid uincula linea tendit?
Fungitur officio iam Ptolemæe tuo.
Vtque suæ inuenit mensuram iuraque uenæ,
In uarios operas diuidit inde uiros.
Iamque aggressus opus, uiden' ut mouet omne quod obstat,
Assidua ut uersat strenuus arma manu?
Ne tibi surdescant ferri tinnitibus aures,
Ad grauiora ideo conspicienda ueni.
Instruit ecce suis nunc artibus ille minores:
Sedulitas nulli non operosa loco.
Metiri docet hic uenæ spaciumque modumque,
Vtque regat positis finibus arua lapis,
Ne quis transmisso uiolentus limite pergens,
Non sibi concessas, in sua uertat, opes.
Hic docet instrumenta, quibus Plutonia regna
Tutus adit, saxi permeat atque uias.
Quanta (uides) solidas expugnet machina terras:
Machina non ullo tempore uisa prius.
Cede nouis, nulla non inclyta laude uetustas,
Posteritas meritis est quoque grata tuis.
Tum quia Germano sunt hæc inuenta sub axe,
Si quis es, inuidiæ contrahe uela tuæ.
Ausonis ora tumet bellis, terra Attica cultu,
Germanum infractus tollit ad astra labor.
Nec tamen ingenio solet infeliciter uti,
Mite gerát Phœbi, seu graue Martis opus,
Tempus adest, structis uenarum montibus, igne
Explorare, usum quem sibi uena ferat,
Non labor ingenio caret hic, non copia fructu,
Est adaperta bonæ prima fenestra spei.
Ergo instat porrò grauiores ferre labores,
Intentas operi nec remouere manus.
Vrere siue locus poscat, seu tundere uerras,
Siue lauare lacu præter euntis aquæ.
Seu flammis iterum modicis torrere necesse est,
Excoquere aut fastis ignibus omne malum,
Cùm fluit æs riuis, auri argentique metallum,
Spes animo fossor uix capit ipse suas.
Argentum cupidus fuluo secernit ab auro,
Et plumbi lentam demit utrique moram.
Separat argentum, lucri studiosus, ab ære,
Seruatis, linquens deteriora, bonis.
[Pg xxiv]Quæ si cuncta uelim tenui percurrere uersu,
Ante alium reuehat Memnonis orta diem.
Postremus labor est, concretos discere succos,
Quos fert innumeris Teutona terra locis.
Quo sal, quo nitrum, quo pacto fiat alumen,
Vsibus artificis cùm parat illa manus:
Nec non chalcantum, sulfur, fluidumque bitumen,
Massaque quo uitri lenta dolanda modo.
Suscipit hæc hominum mirandos cura labores,
Pauperiem usque adeo ferre famemque graue est,
Tantus amor uictum paruis extundere natis,
Et patriæ ciuem non dare uelle malum.
Nec manet in terræ fossoris mersa latebris
Mens, sed fert domino uota precesque Deo.
Munificæ expectat, spe plenus, munera dextræ,
Extollens animum lætus ad astra suum.
Diuitias CHRISTUS dat noticiamque fruendi,
Cui memori grates pectore semper agit.
Hoc quoque laudati quondam fecere Philippi,
Qui uirtutis habent cum pietate decus.
Huc oculos, huc flecte animum, suauissime Lector,
Auctoremque pia noscito mente Deum.
AGRICOLAE hinc optans operoso fausta labori,
Laudibus eximij candidus esto uiri.
Ille suum extollit patriæ cum nomine nomen,
Et uir in ore frequens posteritatis erit.
Cuncta cadunt letho, studij monumenta uigebunt,
Purpurei donec lumina solis erunt.

Misenæ M. D. LI.
èludo illustri.


[Pg xxiv][1] For completeness' sake we reproduce in the original Latin the laudation of Agricola by his friend, Georgius Fabricius, a leading scholar of his time. It has but little intrinsic value for it is not poetry of a very high order, and to make it acceptable English would require certain improvements, for which only poets have licence. A "free" translation of the last few lines indicates its complimentary character:—

"He doth raise his country's fame with his own
And in the mouths of nations yet unborn
His praises shall be sung; Death comes to all
But great achievements raise a monument
Which shall endure until the sun grows cold."

[Pg xxv]

Saxony, Landgraves of Thuringia, Margraves of Meissen,
Imperial Overlords of Saxony, Burgraves of Altenberg
and Magdeburg, Counts of Brena, Lords of
Pleissnerland, To MAURICE Grand Marshall
and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire
and to his brother AUGUSTUS,[1]


ost illustrious Princes, often have I considered the metallic arts as a whole, as Moderatus Columella[2] considered the agricultural arts, just as if I had been considering the whole of the human body; and when I had perceived the various parts of the subject, like so many members of the body, I became afraid that I might die before I should understand its full extent, much less before I could immortalise it in writing. This book itself indicates the length and breadth of the subject, and the number and importance of the sciences of which at least some little knowledge is necessary to miners. Indeed, the subject of mining is a very extensive one, and one very difficult to explain; no part of it is fully dealt with by the Greek and Latin authors whose works survive; and since the art is one of the most ancient, the most necessary and the most profitable to mankind, I considered that I ought not to neglect it. Without doubt, none of the arts is older than agriculture, but that of the metals is not less ancient; in fact they are at least equal and coeval, for no mortal man ever tilled a field without implements. In truth, in all the works of agriculture, as in the other arts, implements are used which are made from metals, or which could not be made without the use of metals; for this reason the metals are of the greatest necessity to man. When an art is so poor that it lacks metals, it is not of much importance, for nothing is made without tools. Besides, of all ways whereby great wealth is acquired by good and honest means, none is more advantageous than mining; for although from fields which are well tilled (not to mention other things) we derive rich yields, yet we obtain richer products from mines; in fact, one mine is often much more beneficial to us than many fields. For this reason we learn from the history of nearly all ages that very many men have been made rich by the [Pg xxvi]mines, and the fortunes of many kings have been much amplified thereby. But I will not now speak more of these matters, because I have dealt with these subjects partly in the first book of this work, and partly in the other work entitled De Veteribus et Novis Metallis, where I have refuted the charges which have been made against metals and against miners. Now, though the art of husbandry, which I willingly rank with the art of mining, appears to be divided into many branches, yet it is not separated into so many as this art of ours, nor can I teach the principles of this as easily as Columella did of that. He had at hand many writers upon husbandry whom he could follow,—in fact, there are more than fifty Greek authors whom Marcus Varro enumerates, and more than ten Latin ones, whom Columella himself mentions. I have only one whom I can follow; that is C. Plinius Secundus,[3] and he expounds only a very few methods of digging ores and of making metals. Far from the whole of the art having been treated by any one writer, those who have written occasionally on any one or another of its branches have not even dealt completely with a single one of them. Moreover, there is a great scarcity even of these, since alone of all the Greeks, Strato of Lampsacus,[4] the successor of Theophrastus,[5] wrote a book on the subject, De Machinis Metallicis; except, perhaps a work by the poet Philo, a small part of which embraced to some degree the occupation of mining.[6] Pherecrates seems to have introduced into his comedy, which was similar in title, miners as slaves or as persons condemned to serve in the mines. Of the Latin writers, Pliny, as I have already said, has described a few methods of working. Also among the authors I must include the modern writers, whosoever they are, for no one should escape just condemnation who fails to award due recognition to persons whose writings he uses, even very slightly. Two books have been written in our tongue; the one on the assaying of mineral substances and metals, somewhat confused, whose author is unknown[7]; the other "On Veins," of which Pandulfus Anglus[8] is also said to have written, although the German book was written by Calbus of Freiberg, a well-known doctor; but neither of them accomplished the task [Pg xxvii]he had begun.[9] Recently Vannucci Biringuccio, of Sienna, a wise man experienced in many matters, wrote in vernacular Italian on the subject of the melting, separating, and alloying of metals.[10] He touched briefly on the methods of smelting certain ores, and explained more fully the methods of making certain juices; by reading his directions, I have refreshed my memory of those things which I myself saw in Italy; as for many matters on which I write, he did not touch upon them at all, or touched but lightly. This book was given me by Franciscus Badoarius, a Patrician of Venice, and a man of wisdom and of repute; this he had promised that he would do, when in the previous year he was at Marienberg, having been sent by the Venetians as an Ambassador to King Ferdinand. Beyond these books I do not find any writings on the metallic arts. For that reason, even if the book of Strato existed, from all these sources not one-half of the whole body of the science of mining could be pieced together.

Seeing that there have been so few who have written on the subject of the metals, it appears to me all the more wonderful that so many alchemists have arisen who would compound metals artificially, and who would change one into another. Hermolaus Barbarus,[11] a man of high rank and station, and distinguished in all kinds of learning, has mentioned the names of many in his writings; and I will proffer more, but only famous ones, for I will limit myself to a few. Thus Osthanes has written on χυμευτικά and there are Hermes; Chanes; Zosimus, the Alexandrian, to his sister Theosebia; Olympiodorus, also an Alexandrian; Agathodæmon; Democritus, not the one of Abdera, but some other whom I know not; Orus Chrysorichites, Pebichius, Comerius, Joannes, Apulejus, Petasius, Pelagius, Africanus, Theophilus, Synesius, Stephanus to Heracleus Cæsar, Heliodorus to Theodosius, Geber, Callides Rachaidibus, Veradianus, Rodianus, Canides, Merlin, Raymond Lully, Arnold de Villa Nova, and Augustinus Pantheus of Venice; and three women, Cleopatra, the maiden Taphnutia, and Maria the Jewess.[12] All these alchemists employ obscure language, and Johanes Aurelius Augurellus of Rimini, alone has used the language of poetry. There are many other books on [Pg xxviii]this subject, but all are difficult to follow, because the writers upon these things use strange names, which do not properly belong to the metals, and because some of them employ now one name and now another, invented by themselves, though the thing itself changes not. These masters teach their disciples that the base metals, when smelted, are broken up; also they teach the methods by which they reduce them to the primary parts and remove whatever is superfluous in them, and by supplying what is wanted make out of them the precious metals—that is, gold and silver,—all of which they carry out in a crucible. Whether they can do these things or not I cannot decide; but, seeing that so many writers assure us with all earnestness that they have reached that goal for which they aimed, it would seem that faith might be placed in them; yet also seeing that we do not read of any of them ever having become rich by this art, nor do we now see them growing rich, although so many nations everywhere have produced, and are producing, alchemists, and all of them are straining every nerve night and day to the end that they may heap a great quantity of gold and silver, I should say the matter is dubious. But although it may be due to the carelessness of the writers that they have not transmitted to us the names of the masters who acquired great wealth through this occupation, certainly it is clear that their disciples either do not understand their precepts or, if they do understand them, do not follow them; for if they do comprehend them, seeing that these disciples have been and are so numerous, they would have by to-day filled [Pg xxix]whole towns with gold and silver. Even their books proclaim their vanity, for they inscribe in them the names of Plato and Aristotle and other philosophers, in order that such high-sounding inscriptions may impose upon simple people and pass for learning. There is another class of alchemists who do not change the substance of base metals, but colour them to represent gold or silver, so that they appear to be that which they are not, and when this appearance is taken from them by the fire, as if it were a garment foreign to them, they return to their own character. These alchemists, since they deceive people, are not only held in the greatest odium, but their frauds are a capital offence. No less a fraud, warranting capital punishment, is committed by a third sort of alchemists; these throw into a crucible a small piece of gold or silver hidden in a coal, and after mixing therewith fluxes which have the power of extracting it, pretend to be making gold from orpiment, or silver from tin and like substances. But concerning the art of alchemy, if it be an art, I will speak further elsewhere. I will now return to the art of mining.

Since no authors have written of this art in its entirety, and since foreign nations and races do not understand our tongue, and, if they did understand it, would be able to learn only a small part of the art through the works of those authors whom we do possess, I have written these twelve books De Re Metallica. Of these, the first book contains the arguments which may be used against this art, and against metals and the mines, and what can be said in their favour. The second book describes the miner, and branches into [Pg xxx]a discourse on the finding of veins. The third book deals with veins and stringers, and seams in the rocks. The fourth book explains the method of delimiting veins, and also describes the functions of the mining officials. The fifth book describes the digging of ore and the surveyor's art. The sixth book describes the miners' tools and machines. The seventh book is on the assaying of ore. The eighth book lays down the rules for the work of roasting, crushing, and washing the ore. The ninth book explains the methods of smelting ores. The tenth book instructs those who are studious of the metallic arts in the work of separating silver from gold, and lead from gold and silver. The eleventh book shows the way of separating silver from copper. The twelfth book gives us rules for manufacturing salt, soda, alum, vitriol, sulphur, bitumen, and glass.

Although I have not fulfilled the task which I have undertaken, on account of the great magnitude of the subject, I have, at all events, endeavoured to fulfil it, for I have devoted much labour and care, and have even gone to some expense upon it; for with regard to the veins, tools, vessels, sluices, machines, and furnaces, I have not only described them, but have also hired illustrators to delineate their forms, lest descriptions which are conveyed by words should either not be understood by men of our own times, or should cause difficulty to posterity, in the same way as to us difficulty is often caused by many names which the Ancients (because such words were familiar to all of them) have handed down to us without any explanation.

I have omitted all those things which I have not myself seen, or have [Pg xxxi]not read or heard of from persons upon whom I can rely. That which I have neither seen, nor carefully considered after reading or hearing of, I have not written about. The same rule must be understood with regard to all my instruction, whether I enjoin things which ought to be done, or describe things which are usual, or condemn things which are done. Since the art of mining does not lend itself to elegant language, these books of mine are correspondingly lacking in refinement of style. The things dealt with in this art of metals sometimes lack names, either because they are new, or because, even if they are old, the record of the names by which they were formerly known has been lost. For this reason I have been forced by a necessity, for which I must be pardoned, to describe some of them by a number of words combined, and to distinguish others by new names,—to which latter class belong Ingestor, Discretor, Lotor, and Excoctor.[13] Other things, again, I have alluded to by old names, such as the Cisium; for when Nonius Marcellus wrote,[14] this was the name of a two-wheeled vehicle, but I have adopted it for a small vehicle which has only one wheel; and if anyone does not approve of these names, let him either find more appropriate ones for these things, or discover the words used in the writings of the Ancients.

These books, most illustrious Princes, are dedicated to you for many reasons, and, above all others, because metals have proved of the greatest value to you; for though your ancestors drew rich profits from the revenues of their vast and wealthy territories, and likewise from the taxes which were paid by the foreigners by way of toll and by the natives by way of tithes, yet they drew far richer profits from the mines. Because of the mines not a few towns have risen into eminence, such as Freiberg, Annaberg, Marienberg, Schneeberg, Geyer, and Altenberg, not to mention others. Nay, if I understand anything, greater wealth now lies hidden beneath the ground in the mountainous parts of your territory than is visible and apparent above ground. Farewell.

Chemnitz, Saxony,
December First, 1550.


[Pg xxv][1] For Agricola's relations with these princes see p. ix.

[2] Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella was a Roman, a native of Cadiz, and lived during the 1st Century. He was the author of De Re Rustica in 12 books. It was first printed in 1472, and some fifteen or sixteen editions had been printed before Agricola's death.

[Pg xxvi][3] We give a short review of Pliny's Naturalis Historia in the Appendix B.

[4] This work is not extant, as Agricola duly notes later on. Strato succeeded Theophrastus as president of the Lyceum, 288 B.C.

[5] For note on Theophrastus see Appendix B.

[6] It appears that the poet Philo did write a work on mining which is not extant. So far as we know the only reference to this work is in Athenæus' (200 A.D.) Deipnosophistae. The passage as it appears in C. D. Yonge's Translation (Bonn's Library, London, 1854, Vol. II, Book VII, p. 506) is: "And there is a similar fish produced in the Red Sea which is called Stromateus; it has gold-coloured lines running along the whole of his body, as Philo tells us in his book on Mines." There is a fragment of a poem of Pherecrates, entitled "Miners," but it seems to have little to do with mining.

[7] The title given by Agricola De Materiae Metallicae et Metallorum Experimento is difficult to identify. It seems likely to be the little Probier Büchlein, numbers of which were published in German in the first half of the 16th Century. We discuss this work at some length in the Appendix B on Ancient Authors.

[8] Pandulfus, "the Englishman," is mentioned by various 15th and 16th Century writers, and in the preface of Mathias Farinator's Liber Moralitatum ... Rerum Naturalium, etc., printed in Augsburg, 1477, there is a list of books among which appears a reference to a work by Pandulfus on veins and minerals. We have not been able to find the book.

[Pg xxvii][9] Jacobi (Der Mineralog Georgius Agricola, Zwickau, 1881, p. 47) says: "Calbus Freibergius, so called by Agricola himself, is certainly no other than the Freiberg Doctor Rühlein von Kalbe; he was, according to Möller, a doctor and burgomaster at Freiberg at the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th Centuries.... The chronicler describes him as a fine mathematician, who helped to survey and design the mining towns of Annaberg in 1497 and Marienberg in 1521." We would call attention to the statement of Calbus' views, quoted at the end of Book III, De Re Metallica (p. 75), which are astonishingly similar to statements in the Nützlich Bergbüchlin, and leave little doubt that this "Calbus" was the author of that anonymous book on veins. For further discussion see Appendix B.

[10] For discussion of Biringuccio see Appendix B. The proper title is De La Pirotechnia (Venice, 1540).

[11] Hermolaus Barbarus, according to Watt (Bibliotheca Britannica, London, 1824), was a lecturer on Philosophy in Padua. He was born in 1454, died in 1493, and was the author of a number of works on medicine, natural history, etc., with commentaries on the older authors.

[12] The debt which humanity does owe to these self-styled philosophers must not be overlooked, for the science of Chemistry comes from three sources—Alchemy, Medicine and Metallurgy. However polluted the former of these may be, still the vast advance which it made by the discovery of the principal acids, alkalis, and the more common of their salts, should be constantly recognized. It is obviously impossible, within the space of a footnote, to [Pg xxviii]give anything but the most casual notes as to the personages here mentioned and their writings. Aside from the classics and religious works, the libraries of the Middle Ages teemed with more material on Alchemy than on any other one subject, and since that date a never-ending stream of historical, critical, and discursive volumes and tracts devoted to the old Alchemists and their writings has been poured upon the world. A collection recently sold in London, relating to Paracelsus alone, embraced over seven hundred volumes.

Of many of the Alchemists mentioned by Agricola little is really known, and no two critics agree as to the commonest details regarding many of them; in fact, an endless confusion springs from the negligent habit of the lesser Alchemists of attributing the authorship of their writings to more esteemed members of their own ilk, such as Hermes, Osthanes, etc., not to mention the palpable spuriousness of works under the names of the real philosophers, such as Aristotle, Plato, or Moses, and even of Jesus Christ. Knowledge of many of the authors mentioned by Agricola does not extend beyond the fact that the names mentioned are appended to various writings, in some instances to MSS yet unpublished. They may have been actual persons, or they may not. Agricola undoubtedly had perused such manuscripts and books in some leading library, as the quotation from Boerhaave given later shows. Shaw (A New Method of Chemistry, etc., London, 1753. Vol. I, p. 25) considers that the large number of such manuscripts in the European libraries at this time were composed or transcribed by monks and others living in Constantinople, Alexandria, and Athens, who fled westward before the Turkish invasion, bringing their works with them.

For purposes of this summary we group the names mentioned by Agricola, the first class being of those who are known only as names appended to MSS or not identifiable at all. Possibly a more devoted student of the history of Alchemy would assign fewer names to this department of oblivion. They are Maria the Jewess, Orus Chrysorichites, Chanes, Petasius, Pebichius, Theophilus, Callides, Veradianus, Rodianus, Canides, the maiden Taphnutia, Johannes, Augustinus, and Africanus. The last three are names so common as not to be possible of identification without more particulars, though Johannes may be the Johannes Rupeseissa (1375), an alchemist of some note. Many of these names can be found among the Bishops and Prelates of the early Christian Church, but we doubt if their owners would ever be identified with such indiscretions as open, avowed alchemy. The Theophilus mentioned might be the metal-working monk of the 12th Century, who is further discussed in Appendix B on Ancient Authors.

In the next group fall certain names such as Osthanes, Hermes, Zosimus, Agathodaemon, and Democritus, which have been the watchwords of authority to Alchemists of all ages. These certainly possessed the great secrets, either the philosopher's stone or the elixir. [Pg xxix]Hermes Trismegistos was a legendary Egyptian personage supposed to have flourished before 1,500 B.C., and by some considered to be a corruption of the god Thoth. He is supposed to have written a number of works, but those extant have been demonstrated to date not prior to the second Century; he is referred to by the later Greek Alchemists, and was believed to have possessed the secret of transmutation. Osthanes was also a very shadowy personage, and was considered by some Alchemists to have been an Egyptian prior to Hermes, by others to have been the teacher of Zoroaster. Pliny mentions a magician of this name who accompanied Xerxes' army. Later there are many others of this name, and the most probable explanation is that this was a favourite pseudonym for ancient magicians; there is a very old work, of no great interest, in MSS in Latin and Greek, in the Munich, Gotha, Vienna, and other libraries, by one of this name. Agathodaemon was still another shadowy character referred to by the older Alchemists. There are MSS in the Florence, Paris, Escurial, and Munich libraries bearing his name, but nothing tangible is known as to whether he was an actual man or if these writings are not of a much later period than claimed.

To the next group belong the Greek Alchemists, who flourished during the rise and decline of Alexandria, from 200 B.C. to 700 A.D., and we give them in order of their dates. Comerius was considered by his later fellow professionals to have been the teacher of the art to Cleopatra (1st Century B.C.), and a MSS with a title to that effect exists in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris. The celebrated Cleopatra seems to have stood very high in the estimation of the Alchemists; perhaps her doubtful character found a response among them; there are various works extant in MSS attributed to her, but nothing can be known as to their authenticity. Lucius Apulejus or Apuleius was born in Numidia about the 2nd Century; he was a Roman Platonic Philosopher, and was the author of a romance, "The Metamorphosis, or the Golden Ass." Synesius was a Greek, but of unknown period; there is a MSS treatise on the Philosopher's Stone in the library at Leyden under his name, and various printed works are attributed to him; he mentions "water of saltpetre," and has, therefore, been hazarded to be the earliest recorder of nitric acid. The work here referred to as "Heliodorus to Theodosius" was probably the MSS in the Libraries at Paris, Vienna, Munich, etc., under the title of "Heliodorus the Philosopher's Poem to the Emperor Theodosius the Great on the Mystic Art of the Philosophers, etc." His period would, therefore, be about the 4th Century. The Alexandrian Zosimus is more generally known as Zosimus the Panopolite, from Panopolis, an ancient town on the Nile; he flourished in the 5th Century, and belonged to the Alexandrian School of Alchemists; he should not be confused with the Roman historian of the same name and period. The following statement is by Boerhaave (Elementa Chemiae, Paris, 1724, Chap. I.):—"The name Chemistry written in Greek, or Chemia, is so ancient [Pg xxx]as perhaps to have been used in the antediluvian age. Of this opinion was Zosimus the Panopolite, whose Greek writings, though known as long as before the year 1550 to George Agricola, and afterwards perused ... by Jas. Scaliger and Olaus Borrichius, still remain unpublished in the King of France's library. In one of these, entitled, 'The Instruction of Zosimus the Panopolite and Philosopher, out of those written to Theosebia, etc....'" Olympiodorus was an Alexandrian of the 5th Century, whose writings were largely commentaries on Plato and Aristotle; he is sometimes accredited with being the first to describe white arsenic (arsenical oxide). The full title of the work styled "Stephanus to Heracleus Caesar," as published in Latin at Padua in 1573, was "Stephan of Alexandria, the Universal Philosopher and Master, his nine processes on the great art of making gold and silver, addressed to the Emperor Heraclius." He, therefore, if authentic, dates in the 7th Century.

To the next class belong those of the Middle Ages, which we give in order of date. The works attributed to Geber play such an important part in the history of Chemistry and Metallurgy that we discuss his book at length in Appendix B. Late criticism indicates that this work was not the production of an 8th Century Arab, but a compilation of some Latin scholar of the 12th or 13th Centuries. Arnold de Villa Nova, born about 1240, died in 1313, was celebrated as a physician, philosopher, and chemist; his first works were published in Lyons in 1504; many of them have apparently never been printed, for references may be found to some 18 different works. Raymond Lully, a Spaniard, born in 1235, who was a disciple of Arnold de Villa Nova, was stoned to death in Africa in 1315. There are extant over 100 works attributed to this author, although again the habit of disciples of writing under the master's name may be responsible for most of these. John Aurelio Augurello was an Italian Classicist, born in Rimini about 1453. The work referred to, Chrysopoeia et Gerontica is a poem on the art of making gold, etc., published in Venice, 1515, and re-published frequently thereafter; it is much quoted by Alchemists. With regard to Merlin, as satisfactory an account as any of this truly English magician may be found in Mark Twain's "Yankee at the Court of King Arthur." It is of some interest to note that Agricola omits from his list Avicenna (980-1037 A.D.), Roger Bacon (1214-1294), Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), Basil Valentine (end 15th century?), and Paracelsus, a contemporary of his own. In De Ortu et Causis he expends much thought on refutation of theories advanced by Avicenna and Albertus, but of the others we have found no mention, although their work is, from a chemical point of view, of considerable importance.

[Pg xxxi][13] Ingestor,—Carrier; Discretor,—Sorter; Lotor,—Washer; Excoctor,—Smelter.

[14] Nonius Marcellus was a Roman grammarian of the 4th Century B.C. His extant treatise is entitled, De Compendiosa Doctrina per Litteras ad Filium.

[Pg 1]



any persons hold the opinion that the metal industries are fortuitous and that the occupation is one of sordid toil, and altogether a kind of business requiring not so much skill as labour. But as for myself, when I reflect carefully upon its special points one by one, it appears to be far otherwise. For a miner must have the greatest skill in his work, that he may know first of all what mountain or hill, what valley or plain, can be prospected most profitably, or what he should leave alone; moreover, he must understand the veins, stringers[1] and seams in the rocks[2]. Then he must be thoroughly familiar with the many and varied species of earths, juices[3], gems, stones, marbles, rocks, metals, and compounds[4]. He must also have a [Pg 2]complete knowledge of the method of making all underground works. Lastly, there are the various systems of assaying[5] substances and of preparing them for smelting; and here again there are many altogether diverse methods. For there is one method for gold and silver, another for copper, another for quicksilver, another for iron, another for lead, and [Pg 3]even tin and bismuth[6] are treated differently from lead. Although the evaporation of juices is an art apparently quite distinct from metallurgy, yet they ought not to be considered separately, inasmuch as these juices are also often dug out of the ground solidified, or they are produced from certain kinds of earth and stones which the miners dig up, and some of the juices are not themselves devoid of metals. Again, their treatment is not simple, since there is one method for common salt, another for soda[7], another for alum, another for vitriol[8], another for sulphur, and another for bitumen.

Furthermore, there are many arts and sciences of which a miner should not be ignorant. First there is Philosophy, that he may discern the origin, cause, and nature of subterranean things; for then he will be able to dig out the veins easily and advantageously, and to obtain more abundant results from his mining. Secondly, there is Medicine, that he may be able to look after his diggers and other workmen, that they do not meet with those [Pg 4]diseases to which they are more liable than workmen in other occupations, or if they do meet with them, that he himself may be able to heal them or may see that the doctors do so. Thirdly follows Astronomy, that he may know the divisions of the heavens and from them judge the direction of the veins. Fourthly, there is the science of Surveying that he may be able to estimate how deep a shaft should be sunk to reach the tunnel which is being driven to it, and to determine the limits and boundaries in these workings, especially in depth. Fifthly, his knowledge of Arithmetical Science should be such that he may calculate the cost to be incurred in the machinery and the working of the mine. Sixthly, his learning must comprise Architecture, that he himself may construct the various machines and timber work required underground, or that he may be able to explain the method of the construction to others. Next, he must have knowledge of Drawing, that he can draw plans of his machinery. Lastly, there is the Law, especially that dealing with metals, that he may claim his own rights, that he may undertake the duty of giving others his opinion on legal matters, that he may not take another man's property and so make trouble for himself, and that he may fulfil his obligations to others according to the law.

It is therefore necessary that those who take an interest in the methods and precepts of mining and metallurgy should read these and others of our books studiously and diligently; or on every point they should consult expert mining people, though they will discover few who are skilled in the whole art. As a rule one man understands only the methods of mining, another possesses the knowledge of washing[9], another is experienced in the art of smelting, another has a knowledge of measuring the hidden parts of the earth, another is skilful in the art of making machines, and finally, another is learned in mining law. But as for us, though we may not have perfected the whole art of the discovery and preparation of metals, at least we can be of great assistance to persons studious in its acquisition.

But let us now approach the subject we have undertaken. Since there has always been the greatest disagreement amongst men concerning metals and mining, some praising, others utterly condemning them, therefore I have decided that before imparting my instruction, I should carefully weigh the facts with a view to discovering the truth in this matter.

So I may begin with the question of utility, which is a two-fold one, for either it may be asked whether the art of mining is really profitable or not to those who are engaged in it, or whether it is useful or not to the rest of mankind. Those who think mining of no advantage to the men who follow the occupation assert, first, that scarcely one in a hundred who dig metals or other such things derive profit therefrom; and again, that miners, because they entrust their certain and well-established wealth to dubious and slippery fortune, generally deceive themselves, and as a result, impoverished by [Pg 5]expenses and losses, in the end spend the most bitter and most miserable of lives. But persons who hold these views do not perceive how much a learned and experienced miner differs from one ignorant and unskilled in the art. The latter digs out the ore without any careful discrimination, while the former first assays and proves it, and when he finds the veins either too narrow and hard, or too wide and soft, he infers therefrom that these cannot be mined profitably, and so works only the approved ones. What wonder then if we find the incompetent miner suffers loss, while the competent one is rewarded by an abundant return from his mining? The same thing applies to husbandmen. For those who cultivate land which is alike arid, heavy, and barren, and in which they sow seeds, do not make so great a harvest as those who cultivate a fertile and mellow soil and sow their grain in that. And since by far the greater number of miners are unskilled rather than skilled in the art, it follows that mining is a profitable occupation to very few men, and a source of loss to many more. Therefore the mass of miners who are quite unskilled and ignorant in the knowledge of veins not infrequently lose both time and trouble[10]. Such men are accustomed for the most part to take to mining, either when through being weighted with the fetters of large and heavy debts, they have abandoned a business, or desiring to change their occupation, have left the reaping-hook and plough; and so if at any time such a man discovers rich veins or other abounding mining produce, this occurs more by good luck than through any knowledge on his part. We learn from history that mining has brought wealth to many, for from old writings it is well known that prosperous Republics, not a few kings, and many private persons, have made fortunes through mines and their produce. This subject, by the use of many clear and illustrious examples, I have dilated upon and explained in the first Book of my work entitled "De Veteribus et Novis Metallis," from which it is evident that mining is very profitable to those who give it care and attention.

Again, those who condemn the mining industry say that it is not in the least stable, and they glorify agriculture beyond measure. But I do not see how they can say this with truth, for the silver mines at Freiberg in Meissen remain still unexhausted after 400 years, and the lead mines of Goslar after 600 years. The proof of this can be found in the monuments of history. The gold and silver mines belonging to the communities of Schemnitz and Cremnitz have been worked for 800 years, and these latter are said to be the most ancient privileges of the inhabitants. Some then say the profit from an individual mine is unstable, as if forsooth, the miner is, or ought to be dependent on only one mine, and as if many men do not bear in common their expenses in mining, or as if one experienced in his art does not dig another vein, if fortune does not amply respond to his prayers in the first case. The New Schönberg at Freiberg has remained stable beyond the memory of man[11].

[Pg 6]

It is not my intention to detract anything from the dignity of agriculture, and that the profits of mining are less stable I will always and readily admit, for the veins do in time cease to yield metals, whereas the fields bring forth fruits every year. But though the business of mining may be less reliable it is more productive, so that in reckoning up, what is wanting in stability is found to be made up by productiveness. Indeed, the yearly profit of a lead mine in comparison with the fruitfulness of the best fields, is three times or at least twice as great. How much does the profit from gold or silver mines exceed that earned from agriculture? Wherefore truly and shrewdly does Xenophon[12] write about the Athenian silver mines: "There is land of such a nature that if you sow, it does not yield crops, but if you dig, it nourishes many more than if it had borne fruit." So let the farmers have for themselves the fruitful fields and cultivate the fertile hills for the sake of their produce; but let them leave to miners the gloomy valleys and sterile mountains, that they may draw forth from these, gems and metals which can buy, not only the crops, but all things that are sold.

The critics say further that mining is a perilous occupation to pursue, because the miners are sometimes killed by the pestilential air which they breathe; sometimes their lungs rot away; sometimes the men perish by being crushed in masses of rock; sometimes, falling from the ladders into the shafts, they break their arms, legs, or necks; and it is added there is no compensation which should be thought great enough to equalize the extreme dangers to safety and life. These occurrences, I confess, are of exceeding gravity, and moreover, fraught with terror and peril, so that I should consider that the metals should not be dug up at all, if such things were to happen very frequently to the miners, or if they could not safely guard against such risks by any means. Who would not prefer to live rather than to possess all things, even the metals? For he who thus perishes possesses nothing, but relinquishes all to his heirs. But since things like this rarely happen, and only in so far as workmen are careless, they do not deter miners from carrying on their trade any more than it would deter a carpenter from his, because one of his mates has acted incautiously and lost his life by falling from a high building. I have thus answered each argument which critics are wont to put before me when they assert that mining is an undesirable occupation, because it involves expense with uncertainty of return, because it is changeable, and because it is dangerous to those engaged in it.

Now I come to those critics who say that mining is not useful to the rest of mankind because forsooth, gems, metals, and other mineral products are worthless in themselves. This admission they try to extort from us, partly by arguments and examples, partly by misrepresentations and abuse of us. First, they make use of this argument: "The earth does not conceal and remove from our eyes those things which are useful and necessary to [Pg 7]mankind, but on the contrary, like a beneficent and kindly mother she yields in large abundance from her bounty and brings into the light of day the herbs, vegetables, grains, and fruits, and the trees. The minerals on the other hand she buries far beneath in the depth of the ground; therefore, they should not be sought. But they are dug out by wicked men who, as the poets say, are the products of the Iron Age." Ovid censures their audacity in the following lines:—

"And not only was the rich soil required to furnish corn and due sustenance, but men even descended into the entrails of the earth, and they dug up riches, those incentives to vice, which the earth had hidden and had removed to the Stygian shades. Then destructive iron came forth, and gold, more destructive than iron; then war came forth."[13]

Another of their arguments is this: Metals offer to men no advantages, therefore we ought not to search them out. For whereas man is composed of soul and body, neither is in want of minerals. The sweetest food of the soul is the contemplation of nature, a knowledge of the finest arts and sciences, an understanding of virtue; and if he interests his mind in excellent things, if he exercise his body, he will be satisfied with this feast of noble thoughts and knowledge, and have no desire for other things. Now although the human body may be content with necessary food and clothing, yet the fruits of the earth and the animals of different kinds supply him in wonderful abundance with food and drink, from which the body may be suitably nourished and strengthened and life prolonged to old age. Flax, wool, and the skins of many animals provide plentiful clothing low in price; while a luxurious kind, not hard to procure—that is the so called seric material, is furnished by the down of trees and the webs of the silk worm. So that the body has absolutely no need of the metals, so hidden in the depths of the earth and for the greater part very expensive. Wherefore it is said that this maxim of Euripides is approved in assemblies of learned men, and with good reason was always on the lips of Socrates:

"Works of silver and purple are of use, not for human life, but rather for Tragedians."[14]

These critics praise also this saying from Timocreon of Rhodes:

"O Unseeing Plutus, would that thou hadst never appeared in the earth or in the sea or on the land, but that thou didst have thy habitation in Tartarus and Acheron, for out of thee arise all evil things which overtake mankind"[15].

They greatly extol these lines from Phocylides:

"Gold and silver are injurious to mortals; gold is the source of crime, the plague of life, and the ruin of all things. Would that thou were not such an attractive scourge! because of thee arise robberies, [Pg 8]homicides, warfare, brothers are maddened against brothers, and children against parents."

This from Naumachius also pleases them:

"Gold and silver are but dust, like the stones that lie scattered on the pebbly beach, or on the margins of the rivers."

On the other hand, they censure these verses of Euripides:

"Plutus is the god for wise men; all else is mere folly and at the same time a deception in words."

So in like manner these lines from Theognis:

"O Plutus, thou most beautiful and placid god! whilst I have thee, however bad I am, I can be regarded as good."

They also blame Aristodemus, the Spartan, for these words:

"Money makes the man; no one who is poor is either good or honoured."

And they rebuke these songs of Timocles:

"Money is the life and soul of mortal men. He who has not heaped up riches for himself wanders like a dead man amongst the living."

Finally, they blame Menander when he wrote:

"Epicharmus asserts that the gods are water, wind, fire, earth, sun, and stars. But I am of opinion that the gods of any use to us are silver and gold; for if thou wilt set these up in thy house thou mayest seek whatever thou wilt. All things will fall to thy lot; land, houses, slaves, silver-work; moreover friends, judges, and witnesses. Only give freely, for thus thou hast the gods to serve thee."

But besides this, the strongest argument of the detractors is that the fields are devastated by mining operations, for which reason formerly Italians were warned by law that no one should dig the earth for metals and so injure their very fertile fields, their vineyards, and their olive groves. Also they argue that the woods and groves are cut down, for there is need of an endless amount of wood for timbers, machines, and the smelting of metals. And when the woods and groves are felled, then are exterminated the beasts and birds, very many of which furnish a pleasant and agreeable food for man. Further, when the ores are washed, the water which has been used poisons the brooks and streams, and either destroys the fish or drives them away. Therefore the inhabitants of these regions, on account of the devastation of their fields, woods, groves, brooks and rivers, find great difficulty in procuring the necessaries of life, and by reason of the destruction of the timber they are forced to greater expense in erecting buildings. Thus it is said, it is clear to all that there is greater detriment from mining than the value of the metals which the mining produces.

So in fierce contention they clamour, showing by such examples as follow that every great man has been content with virtue, and despised metals. They praise Bias because he esteemed the metals merely as fortune's playthings, not as his real wealth. When his enemies had captured his native Priene, and his fellow-citizens laden with precious things [Pg 9]had betaken themselves to flight, he was asked by one, why he carried away none of his goods with him, and he replied, "I carry all my possessions with me." And it is said that Socrates, having received twenty minae sent to him by Aristippus, a grateful disciple, refused them and sent them back to him by the command of his conscience. Aristippus, following his example in this matter, despised gold and regarded it as of no value. And once when he was making a journey with his slaves, and they, laden with the gold, went too slowly, he ordered them to keep only as much of it as they could carry without distress and to throw away the remainder[16]. Moreover, Anacreon of Teos, an ancient and noble poet, because he had been troubled about them for two nights, returned five talents which had been given him by Polycrates, saying that they were not worth the anxiety which he had gone through on their account. In like manner celebrated and exceedingly powerful princes have imitated the philosophers in their scorn and contempt for gold and silver. There was for example, Phocion, the Athenian, who was appointed general of the army so many times, and who, when a large sum of gold was sent to him as a gift by Alexander, King of Macedon, deemed it trifling and scorned it. And Marcus Curius ordered the gold to be carried back to the Samnites, as did also Fabricius Luscinus with regard to the silver and copper. And certain Republics have forbidden their citizens the use and employment of gold and silver by law and ordinance; the Lacedaemonians, by the decrees and ordinances of Lycurgus, used diligently to enquire among their citizens whether they possessed any of these things or not, and the possessor, when he was caught, was punished according to law and justice. The inhabitants of a town on the Tigris, called Babytace, buried their gold in the ground so that no one should use it. The Scythians condemned the use of gold and silver so that they might not become avaricious.

Further are the metals reviled; in the first place people wantonly abuse gold and silver and call them deadly and nefarious pests of the human race, because those who possess them are in the greatest peril, for those who have none lay snares for the possessors of wealth, and thus again and again the metals have been the cause of destruction and ruin. For example, Polymnestor, King of Thrace, to obtain possession of his gold, killed Polydorus, his noble guest and the son of Priam, his father-in-law, and old friend. Pygmalion, the King of Tyre, in order that he might seize treasures of gold and silver, killed his sister's husband, a priest, taking no account of either kinship or religion. For love of gold Eriphyle betrayed her husband Amphiaraus to his enemy. Likewise Lasthenes betrayed the city of Olynthus to Philip of Macedon. The daughter of Spurius Tarpeius, having been bribed with gold, admitted the Sabines into the citadel of Rome. Claudius Curio sold his country for gold to Cæsar, the Dictator. Gold, too, was the cause of the downfall of Aesculapius, the great physician, who it was believed was the son of Apollo. Similarly Marcus Crassus, through his eager desire for the gold of the Parthians, was completely overcome together with his son and eleven legions, and became the jest of his enemies; for they [Pg 10]poured liquid gold into the gaping mouth of the slain Crassus, saying: "Thou hast thirsted for gold, therefore drink gold."

But why need I cite here these many examples from history?[17] It is almost our daily experience to learn that, for the sake of obtaining gold and silver, doors are burst open, walls are pierced, wretched travellers are struck down by rapacious and cruel men born to theft, sacrilege, invasion, and robbery. We see thieves seized and strung up before us, sacrilegious persons burnt alive, the limbs of robbers broken on the wheel, wars waged for the same reason, which are not only destructive to those against whom they are waged, but to those also who carry them on. Nay, but they say that the precious metals foster all manner of vice, such as the seduction of women, adultery, and unchastity, in short, crimes of violence against the person. Therefore the Poets, when they represent Jove transformed into a golden shower and falling into the lap of Danae, merely mean that he had found for himself a safe road by the use of gold, by which he might enter the tower for the purpose of violating the maiden. Moreover, the fidelity of many men is overthrown by the love of gold and silver, judicial sentences are bought, and innumerable crimes are perpetrated. For truly, as Propertius says:

"This is indeed the Golden Age. The greatest rewards come from gold; by gold love is won; by gold is faith destroyed; by gold is justice bought; the law follows the track of gold, while modesty will soon follow it when law is gone."

Diphilus says:

"I consider that nothing is more powerful than gold. By it all things are torn asunder; all things are accomplished."

Therefore, all the noblest and best despise these riches, deservedly and with justice, and esteem them as nothing. And this is said by the old man in Plautus:

"I hate gold. It has often impelled many people to many wrong acts."

In this country too, the poets inveigh with stinging reproaches against money coined from gold and silver. And especially did Juvenal:

"Since the majesty of wealth is the most sacred thing among us; although, O pernicious money, thou dost not yet inhabit a temple, nor have we erected altars to money."

And in another place:

"Demoralising money first introduced foreign customs, and voluptuous wealth weakened our race with disgraceful luxury."[18]

And very many vehemently praise the barter system which men used before money was devised, and which even now obtains among certain simple peoples.

And next they raise a great outcry against other metals, as iron, than [Pg 11]which they say nothing more pernicious could have been brought into the life of man. For it is employed in making swords, javelins, spears, pikes, arrows—weapons by which men are wounded, and which cause slaughter, robbery, and wars. These things so moved the wrath of Pliny that he wrote: "Iron is used not only in hand to hand fighting, but also to form the winged missiles of war, sometimes for hurling engines, sometimes for lances, sometimes even for arrows. I look upon it as the most deadly fruit of human ingenuity. For to bring Death to men more quickly we have given wings to iron and taught it to fly."[19] The spear, the arrow from the bow, or the bolt from the catapult and other engines can be driven into the body of only one man, while the iron cannon-ball fired through the air, can go through the bodies of many men, and there is no marble or stone object so hard that it cannot be shattered by the force and shock. Therefore it levels the highest towers to the ground, shatters and destroys the strongest walls. Certainly the ballistas which throw stones, the battering rams and other ancient war engines for making breaches in walls of fortresses and hurling down strongholds, seem to have little power in comparison with our present cannon. These emit horrible sounds and noises, not less than thunder, flashes of fire burst from them like the lightning, striking, crushing, and shattering buildings, belching forth flames and kindling fires even as lightning flashes. So that with more justice could it be said of the impious men of our age than of Salmoneus of ancient days, that they had snatched lightning from Jupiter and wrested it from his hands. Nay, rather there has been sent from the infernal regions to the earth this force for the destruction of men, so that Death may snatch to himself as many as possible by one stroke.

But because muskets are nowadays rarely made of iron, and the large ones never, but of a certain mixture of copper and tin, they confer more maledictions on copper and tin than on iron. In this connection too, they mention the brazen bull of Phalaris, the brazen ox of the people of Pergamus, racks in the shape of an iron dog or a horse, manacles, shackles, wedges, hooks, and red-hot plates. Cruelly racked by such instruments, people are driven to confess crimes and misdeeds which they have never committed, and innocent men are miserably tortured to death by every conceivable kind of torment.

It is claimed too, that lead is a pestilential and noxious metal, for men are punished by means of molten lead, as Horace describes in the ode addressed to the Goddess Fortune: "Cruel Necessity ever goes before thee bearing in her brazen hand the spikes and wedges, while the awful hook and molten lead are also not lacking."[20] In their desire to excite greater odium for this metal, they are not silent about the leaden balls of muskets, and they find in it the cause of wounds and death.

They contend that, inasmuch as Nature has concealed metals far within the depths of the earth, and because they are not necessary to human life, they are therefore despised and repudiated by the noblest, and should not be [Pg 12]mined, and seeing that when brought to light they have always proved the cause of very great evils, it follows that mining is not useful to mankind, but on the contrary harmful and destructive. Several good men have been so perturbed by these tragedies that they conceive an intensely bitter hatred toward metals, and they wish absolutely that metals had never been created, or being created, that no one had ever dug them out. The more I commend the singular honesty, innocence, and goodness of such men, the more anxious shall I be to remove utterly and eradicate all error from their minds and to reveal the sound view, which is that the metals are most useful to mankind.

In the first place then, those who speak ill of the metals and refuse to make use of them, do not see that they accuse and condemn as wicked the Creator Himself, when they assert that He fashioned some things vainly and without good cause, and thus they regard Him as the Author of evils, which opinion is certainly not worthy of pious and sensible men.

In the next place, the earth does not conceal metals in her depths because she does not wish that men should dig them out, but because provident and sagacious Nature has appointed for each thing its place. She generates them in the veins, stringers, and seams in the rocks, as though in special vessels and receptacles for such material. The metals cannot be produced in the other elements because the materials for their formation are wanting. For if they were generated in the air, a thing that rarely happens, they could not find a firm resting-place, but by their own force and weight would settle down on to the ground. Seeing then that metals have their proper abiding place in the bowels of the earth, who does not see that these men do not reach their conclusions by good logic?

They say, "Although metals are in the earth, each located in its own proper place where it originated, yet because they lie thus enclosed and hidden from sight, they should not be taken out." But, in refutation of these attacks, which are so annoying, I will on behalf of the metals instance the fish, which we catch, hidden and concealed though they be in the water, even in the sea. Indeed, it is far stranger that man, a terrestrial animal, should search the interior of the sea than the bowels of the earth. For as birds are born to fly freely through the air, so are fishes born to swim through the waters, while to other creatures Nature has given the earth that they might live in it, and particularly to man that he might cultivate it and draw out of its caverns metals and other mineral products. On the other hand, they say that we eat fish, but neither hunger nor thirst is dispelled by minerals, nor are they useful in clothing the body, which is another argument by which these people strive to prove that metals should not be taken out. But man without metals cannot provide those things which he needs for food and clothing. For, though the produce of the land furnishes the greatest abundance of food for the nourishment of our bodies, no labour can be carried on and completed without tools. The ground itself is turned up with ploughshares and harrows, tough stalks and the tops of the roots are broken off and dug up with a mattock, the sown seed is harrowed, the corn [Pg 13]field is hoed and weeded; the ripe grain with part of the stalk is cut down by scythes and threshed on the floor, or its ears are cut off and stored in the barn and later beaten with flails and winnowed with fans, until finally the pure grain is stored in the granary, whence it is brought forth again when occasion demands or necessity arises. Again, if we wish to procure better and more productive fruits from trees and bushes, we must resort to cultivating, pruning, and grafting, which cannot be done without tools. Even as without vessels we cannot keep or hold liquids, such as milk, honey, wine, or oil, neither could so many living things be cared for without buildings to protect them from long-continued rain and intolerable cold. Most of the rustic instruments are made of iron, as ploughshares, share-beams, mattocks, the prongs of harrows, hoes, planes, hay-forks, straw cutters, pruning shears, pruning hooks, spades, lances, forks, and weed cutters. Vessels are also made of copper or lead. Neither are wooden instruments or vessels made without iron. Wine cellars, oil-mills, stables, or any other part of a farm building could not be built without iron tools. Then if the bull, the wether, the goat, or any other domestic animal is led away from the pasture to the butcher, or if the poulterer brings from the farm a chicken, a hen, or a capon for the cook, could any of these animals be cut up and divided without axes and knives? I need say nothing here about bronze and copper pots for cooking, because for these purposes one could make use of earthen vessels, but even these in turn could not be made and fashioned by the potter without tools, for no instruments can be made out of wood alone, without the use of iron. Furthermore, hunting, fowling, and fishing supply man with food, but when the stag has been ensnared does not the hunter transfix him with his spear? As he stands or runs, does he not pierce him with an arrow? Or pierce him with a bullet? Does not the fowler in the same way kill the moor-fowl or pheasant with an arrow? Or does he not discharge into its body the ball from the musket? I will not speak of the snares and other instruments with which the woodcock, woodpecker, and other wild birds are caught, lest I pursue unseasonably and too minutely single instances. Lastly, with his fish-hook and net does not the fisherman catch the fish in the sea, in the lakes, in fish-ponds, or in rivers? But the hook is of iron, and sometimes we see lead or iron weights attached to the net. And most fish that are caught are afterward cut up and disembowelled with knives and axes. But, more than enough has been said on the matter of food.

Now I will speak of clothing, which is made out of wool, flax, feathers, hair, fur, or leather. First the sheep are sheared, then the wool is combed. Next the threads are drawn out, while later the warp is suspended in the shuttle under which passes the wool. This being struck by the comb, at length cloth is formed either from threads alone or from threads and hair. Flax, when gathered, is first pulled by hooks. Then it is dipped in water and afterward dried, beaten into tow with a heavy mallet, and carded, then drawn out into threads, and finally woven into cloth. But has the artisan or weaver of the cloth any instrument not made of iron? Can one be made [Pg 14]of wood without the aid of iron? The cloth or web must be cut into lengths for the tailor. Can this be done without knife or scissors? Can the tailor sew together any garments without a needle? Even peoples dwelling beyond the seas cannot make a covering for their bodies, fashioned of feathers, without these same implements. Neither can the furriers do without them in sewing together the pelts of any kind of animals. The shoemaker needs a knife to cut the leather, another to scrape it, and an awl to perforate it before he can make shoes. These coverings for the body are either woven or stitched. Buildings too, which protect the same body from rain, wind, cold, and heat, are not constructed without axes, saws, and augers.

But what need of more words? If we remove metals from the service of man, all methods of protecting and sustaining health and more carefully preserving the course of life are done away with. If there were no metals, men would pass a horrible and wretched existence in the midst of wild beasts; they would return to the acorns and fruits and berries of the forest. They would feed upon the herbs and roots which they plucked up with their nails. They would dig out caves in which to lie down at night, and by day they would rove in the woods and plains at random like beasts, and inasmuch as this condition is utterly unworthy of humanity, with its splendid and glorious natural endowment, will anyone be so foolish or obstinate as not to allow that metals are necessary for food and clothing and that they tend to preserve life?

Moreover, as the miners dig almost exclusively in mountains otherwise unproductive, and in valleys invested in gloom, they do either slight damage to the fields or none at all. Lastly, where woods and glades are cut down, they may be sown with grain after they have been cleared from the roots of shrubs and trees. These new fields soon produce rich crops, so that they repair the losses which the inhabitants suffer from increased cost of timber. Moreover, with the metals which are melted from the ore, birds without number, edible beasts and fish can be purchased elsewhere and brought to these mountainous regions.

I will pass to the illustrations I have mentioned. Bias of Priene, when his country was taken, carried away out of the city none of his valuables. So strong a man with such a reputation for wisdom had no need to fear personal danger from the enemy, but this in truth cannot be said of him because he hastily took to flight; the throwing away of his goods does not seem to me so great a matter, for he had lost his house, his estates, and even his country, than which nothing is more precious. Nay, I should be convinced of Bias's contempt and scorn for possessions of this kind, if before his country was captured he had bestowed them freely on relations and friends, or had distributed them to the very poor, for this he could have done freely and without question. Whereas his conduct, which the Greeks admire so greatly, was due, it would seem, to his being driven out by the enemy and stricken with fear. Socrates in truth did not despise gold, but would not accept money for his teaching. As for Aristippus of Cyrene, if he had gathered and saved the gold which he ordered his slaves to throw away, he might [Pg 15]have bought the things which he needed for the necessaries of life, and he would not, by reason of his poverty, have then been obliged to flatter the tyrant Dionysius, nor would he ever have been called by him a King's dog. For this reason Horace, speaking of Damasippus when reviling Staberus for valuing riches very highly, says:

"What resemblance has the Grecian Aristippus to this fellow? He who commanded his slaves to throw away the gold in the midst of Libya because they went too slowly, impeded by the weight of their burden—which of these two men is the more insane?"[21]

Insane indeed is he who makes more of riches than of virtue. Insane also is he who rejects them and considers them as worth nothing, instead of using them with reason. Yet as to the gold which Aristippus on another occasion flung into the sea from a boat, this he did with a wise and prudent mind. For learning that it was a pirate boat in which he was sailing, and fearing for his life, he counted his gold and then throwing it of his own will into the sea, he groaned as if he had done it unwillingly. But afterward, when he escaped the peril, he said: "It is better that this gold itself should be lost than that I should have perished because of it." Let it be granted that some philosophers, as well as Anacreon of Teos, despised gold and silver. Anaxagoras of Clazomenae also gave up his sheep-farms and became a shepherd. Crates the Theban too, being annoyed that his estate and other kinds of wealth caused him worry, and that in his contemplations his mind was thereby distracted, resigned a property valued at ten talents, and taking a cloak and wallet, in poverty devoted all his thought and efforts to philosophy. Is it true that because these philosophers despised money, all others declined wealth in cattle? Did they refuse to cultivate lands or to dwell in houses? There were certainly many, on the other hand, who, though affluent, became famous in the pursuit of learning and in the knowledge of divine and human laws, such as Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca. As for Phocion, he did not deem it honest to accept the gold sent to him by Alexander. For if he had consented to use it, the king as much as himself would have incurred the hatred and aversion of the Athenians, and these very people were afterward so ungrateful toward this excellent man that they compelled him to drink hemlock. For what would have been less becoming to Marcus Curius and Fabricius Luscinus than to accept gold from their enemies, who hoped that by these means those leaders could be corrupted or would become odious to their fellow citizens, their purpose being to cause dissentions among the Romans and destroy the Republic utterly. Lycurgus, however, ought to have given instructions to the Spartans as to the use of gold and silver, instead of abolishing things good in themselves. As to the Babytacenses, who does not see that they were senseless and envious? For with their gold they might have bought things of which they were in need, or even given it to neighbouring peoples to bind them more closely to themselves with gifts and favours. Finally, the Scythians, by condemning the use of gold and silver [Pg 16]alone, did not free themselves utterly from avarice, because although he is not enjoying them, one who can possess other forms of property may also become avaricious.

Now let us reply to the attacks hurled against the products of mines. In the first place, they call gold and silver the scourge of mankind because they are the cause of destruction and ruin to their possessors. But in this manner, might not anything that we possess be called a scourge to human kind,—whether it be a horse, or a garment, or anything else? For, whether one rides a splendid horse, or journeys well clad, he would give occasion to a robber to kill him. Are we then not to ride on horses, but to journey on foot, because a robber has once committed a murder in order that he may steal a horse? Or are we not to possess clothing, because a vagabond with a sword has taken a traveller's life that he may rob him of his garment? The possession of gold and silver is similar. Seeing then that men cannot conveniently do all these things, we should be on our guard against robbers, and because we cannot always protect ourselves from their hands, it is the special duty of the magistrate to seize wicked and villainous men for torture, and, if need be, for execution.

Again, the products of the mines are not themselves the cause of war. Thus, for example, when a tyrant, inflamed with passion for a woman of great beauty, makes war on the inhabitants of her city, the fault lies in the unbridled lust of the tyrant and not in the beauty of the woman. Likewise, when another man, blinded by a passion for gold and silver, makes war upon a wealthy people, we ought not to blame the metals but transfer all blame to avarice. For frenzied deeds and disgraceful actions, which are wont to weaken and dishonour natural and civil laws, originate from our own vices. Wherefore Tibullus is wrong in laying the blame for war on gold, when he says: "This is the fault of a rich man's gold; there were no wars when beech goblets were used at banquets." But Virgil, speaking of Polymnestor, says that the crime of the murderer rests on avarice:

"He breaks all law; he murders Polydorus, and obtains gold by violence. To what wilt thou not drive mortal hearts, thou accursed hunger for gold?"

And again, justly, he says, speaking of Pygmalion, who killed Sichaeus:

"And blinded with the love of gold, he slew him unawares with stealthy sword."[22]

For lust and eagerness after gold and other things make men blind, and this wicked greed for money, all men in all times and places have considered dishonourable and criminal. Moreover, those who have been so addicted to avarice as to be its slaves have always been regarded as mean and sordid. Similarly, too, if by means of gold and silver and gems men can overcome the chastity of women, corrupt the honour of many people, bribe the course of justice and commit innumerable wickednesses, it is not the metals which are to be blamed, but the evil passions of men which become inflamed and ignited; or it is due to the blind and impious desires of their minds. But [Pg 17]although these attacks against gold and silver may be directed especially against money, yet inasmuch as the Poets one after another condemn it, their criticism must be met, and this can be done by one argument alone. Money is good for those who use it well; it brings loss and evil to those who use it ill. Hence, very rightly, Horace says:

"Dost thou not know the value of money; and what uses it serves? It buys bread, vegetables, and a pint of wine."

And again in another place:

"Wealth hoarded up is the master or slave of each possessor; it should follow rather than lead, the 'twisted rope.'"[23]

When ingenious and clever men considered carefully the system of barter, which ignorant men of old employed and which even to-day is used by certain uncivilised and barbarous races, it appeared to them so troublesome and laborious that they invented money. Indeed, nothing more useful could have been devised, because a small amount of gold and silver is of as great value as things cumbrous and heavy; and so peoples far distant from one another can, by the use of money, trade very easily in those things which civilised life can scarcely do without.

The curses which are uttered against iron, copper, and lead have no weight with prudent and sensible men, because if these metals were done away with, men, as their anger swelled and their fury became unbridled, would assuredly fight like wild beasts with fists, heels, nails, and teeth. They would strike each other with sticks, hit one another with stones, or dash their foes to the ground. Moreover, a man does not kill another with iron alone, but slays by means of poison, starvation, or thirst. He may seize him by the throat and strangle him; he may bury him alive in the ground; he may immerse him in water and suffocate him; he may burn or hang him; so that he can make every element a participant in the death of men. Or, finally, a man may be thrown to the wild beasts. Another may be sewn up wholly except his head in a sack, and thus be left to be devoured by worms; or he may be immersed in water until he is torn to pieces by sea-serpents. A man may be boiled in oil; he may be greased, tied with ropes, and left exposed to be stung by flies and hornets; he may be put to death by scourging with rods or beating with cudgels, or struck down by stoning, or flung from a high place. Furthermore, a man may be tortured in more ways than one without the use of metals; as when the executioner burns the groins and armpits of his victim with hot wax; or places a cloth in his mouth gradually, so that when in breathing he draws it slowly into his gullet, the executioner draws it back suddenly and violently; or the victim's hands are fastened behind his back, and he is drawn up little by little with a rope and then let down suddenly. Or similarly, he may be tied to a beam and a heavy stone fastened by a cord to his feet, or finally his limbs may be torn asunder. From these examples we see that it is not metals that are to be condemned, but our vices, such as anger, cruelty, discord, passion for power, avarice, and lust.

[Pg 18]

The question next arises, whether we ought to count metals amongst the number of good things or class them amongst the bad. The Peripatetics regarded all wealth as a good thing, and merely spoke of externals as having to do with neither the mind nor the body. Well, let riches be an external thing. And, as they said, many other things may be classed as good if it is in one's power to use them either well or ill. For good men employ them for good, and to them they are useful. The wicked use them badly, and to them they are harmful. There is a saying of Socrates, that just as wine is influenced by the cask, so the character of riches is like their possessors. The Stoics, whose custom it is to argue subtly and acutely, though they did not put wealth in the category of good things, they did not count it amongst the evil ones, but placed it in that class which they term neutral. For to them virtue alone is good, and vice alone evil. The whole of what remains is indifferent. Thus, in their conviction, it matters not whether one be in good health or seriously ill; whether one be handsome or deformed. In short:

"Whether, sprung from Inachus of old, and thus hast lived beneath the sun in wealth, or hast been poor and despised among men, it matters not."

For my part, I see no reason why anything that is in itself of use should not be placed in the class of good things. At all events, metals are a creation of Nature, and they supply many varied and necessary needs of the human race, to say nothing about their uses in adornment, which are so wonderfully blended with utility. Therefore, it is not right to degrade them from the place they hold among the good things. In truth, if there is a bad use made of them, should they on that account be rightly called evils? For of what good things can we not make an equally bad or good use? Let me give examples from both classes of what we term good. Wine, by far the best drink, if drunk in moderation, aids the digestion of food, helps to produce blood, and promotes the juices in all parts of the body. It is of use in nourishing not only the body but the mind as well, for it disperses our dark and gloomy thoughts, frees us from cares and anxiety, and restores our confidence. If drunk in excess, however, it injures and prostrates the body with serious disease. An intoxicated man keeps nothing to himself; he raves and rants, and commits many wicked and infamous acts. On this subject Theognis wrote some very clever lines, which we may render thus:

"Wine is harmful if taken with greedy lips, but if drunk in moderation it is wholesome."[25]

But I linger too long over extraneous matters. I must pass on to the gifts of body and mind, amongst which strength, beauty, and genius occur to me. If then a man, relying on his strength, toils hard to maintain himself and his family in an honest and respectable manner, he uses the gift aright, but if he makes a living out of murder and robbery, he uses it wrongly. Likewise, too, if a lovely woman is anxious to please her husband [Pg 19]alone she uses her beauty aright, but if she lives wantonly and is a victim of passion, she misuses her beauty. In like manner, a youth who devotes himself to learning and cultivates the liberal arts, uses his genius rightly. But he who dissembles, lies, cheats, and deceives by fraud and dishonesty, misuses his abilities. Now, the man who, because they are abused, denies that wine, strength, beauty, or genius are good things, is unjust and blasphemous towards the Most High God, Creator of the World; so he who would remove metals from the class of blessings also acts unjustly and blasphemously against Him. Very true, therefore, are the words which certain Greek poets have written, as Pindar:

"Money glistens, adorned with virtue; it supplies the means by which thou mayest act well in whatever circumstances fate may have in store for thee."[26]

And Sappho:

"Without the love of virtue gold is a dangerous and harmful guest, but when it is associated with virtue, it becomes the source and height of good."

And Callimachus:

"Riches do not make men great without virtue; neither do virtues themselves make men great without some wealth."

And Antiphanes:

"Now, by the gods, why is it necessary for a man to grow rich? Why does he desire to possess much money unless that he may, as much as possible, help his friends, and sow the seeds of a harvest of gratitude, sweetest of the goddesses."[27]

Having thus refuted the arguments and contentions of adversaries, let us sum up the advantages of the metals. In the first place, they are useful to the physician, for they furnish liberally the ingredients for medicines, by which wounds and ulcers are cured, and even plagues; so that certainly if there were no other reasons why we should explore the depths of the earth, we should for the sake of medicine alone dig in the mines. Again, the metals are of use to painters, because they yield certain pigments which, when united with the painter's slip, are injured less than others by the moisture from without. Further, mining is useful to the architects, for thus is found marble, which is suitable not only for strengthening large buildings, but also for decoration. It is, moreover, helpful to those whose ambition urges them toward immortal glory, because it yields metals from which are made coins, statues, and other monuments, which, next to literary records, give men in a sense immortality. The metals are useful to merchants with very great cause, for, as I have stated elsewhere, the use of money which is made from metals is much more convenient to mankind than the old system of exchange of commodities. In short, to whom are the metals not of use? In very truth, even the works of art, elegant, embellished, elaborate, useful, are fashioned in various shapes by the artist from the metals gold, silver, brass, lead, and iron. How few artists [Pg 20]could make anything that is beautiful and perfect without using metals? Even if tools of iron or brass were not used, we could not make tools of wood and stone without the help of metal. From all these examples are evident the benefits and advantages derived from metals. We should not have had these at all unless the science of mining and metallurgy had been discovered and handed down to us. Who then does not understand how highly useful they are, nay rather, how necessary to the human race? In a word, man could not do without the mining industry, nor did Divine Providence will that he should.

Further, it has been asked whether to work in metals is honourable employment for respectable people or whether it is not degrading and dishonourable. We ourselves count it amongst the honourable arts. For that art, the pursuit of which is unquestionably not impious, nor offensive, nor mean, we may esteem honourable. That this is the nature of the mining profession, inasmuch as it promotes wealth by good and honest methods, we shall show presently. With justice, therefore, we may class it amongst honourable employments. In the first place, the occupation of the miner, which I must be allowed to compare with other methods of acquiring great wealth, is just as noble as that of agriculture; for, as the farmer, sowing his seed in his fields injures no one, however profitable they may prove to him, so the miner digging for his metals, albeit he draws forth great heaps of gold or silver, hurts thereby no mortal man. Certainly these two modes of increasing wealth are in the highest degree both noble and honourable. The booty of the soldier, however, is frequently impious, because in the fury of the fighting he seizes all goods, sacred as well as profane. The most just king may have to declare war on cruel tyrants, but in the course of it wicked men cannot lose their wealth and possessions without dragging into the same calamity innocent and poor people, old men, matrons, maidens, and orphans. But the miner is able to accumulate great riches in a short time, without using any violence, fraud, or malice. That old saying is, therefore, not always true that "Every rich man is either wicked himself, or is the heir to wickedness."

Some, however, who contend against us, censure and attack miners by saying that they and their children must needs fall into penury after a short time, because they have heaped up riches by improper means. According to them nothing is truer than the saying of the poet Naevius:

"Ill gotten gains in ill fashion slip away."

The following are some of the wicked and sinful methods by which they say men obtain riches from mining. When a prospect of obtaining metals shows itself in a mine, either the ruler or magistrate drives out the rightful owners of the mines from possession, or a shrewd and cunning neighbour perhaps brings a law-suit against the old possessors in order to rob them of some part of their property. Or the mine superintendent imposes on the owners such a heavy contribution on shares, that if they cannot pay, or will not, they lose their rights of possession; while the superintendent, contrary to all that is right, seizes upon all that they have lost. Or, [Pg 21]finally, the mine foreman may conceal the vein by plastering over with clay that part where the metal abounds, or by covering it with earth, stones, stakes, or poles, in the hope that after several years the proprietors, thinking the mine exhausted, will abandon it, and the foreman can then excavate that remainder of the ore and keep it for himself. They even state that the scum of the miners exist wholly by fraud, deceit, and lying. For to speak of nothing else, but only of those deceits which are practised in buying and selling, it is said they either advertise the veins with false and imaginary praises, so that they can sell the shares in the mines at one-half more than they are worth, or on the contrary, they sometimes detract from the estimate of them so that they can buy shares for a small price. By exposing such frauds our critics suppose all good opinion of miners is lost. Now, all wealth, whether it has been gained by good or evil means, is liable by some adverse chance to vanish away. It decays and is dissipated by the fault and carelessness of the owner, since he loses it through laziness and neglect, or wastes and squanders it in luxuries, or he consumes and exhausts it in gifts, or he dissipates and throws it away in gambling:

"Just as though money sprouted up again, renewed from an exhausted coffer, and was always to be obtained from a full heap."

It is therefore not to be wondered at if miners do not keep in mind the counsel given by King Agathocles: "Unexpected fortune should be held in reverence," for by not doing so they fall into penury; and particularly when the miners are not content with moderate riches, they not rarely spend on new mines what they have accumulated from others. But no just ruler or magistrate deprives owners of their possessions; that, however, may be done by a tyrant, who may cruelly rob his subjects not only of their goods honestly obtained, but even of life itself. And yet whenever I have inquired into the complaints which are in common vogue, I always find that the owners who are abused have the best of reasons for driving the men from the mines; while those who abuse the owners have no reason to complain about them. Take the case of those who, not having paid their contributions, have lost the right of possession, or those who have been expelled by the magistrate out of another man's mine: for some wicked men, mining the small veins branching from the veins rich in metal, are wont to invade the property of another person. So the magistrate expels these men accused of wrong, and drives them from the mine. They then very frequently spread unpleasant rumours concerning this amongst the populace. Or, to take another case: when, as often happens, a dispute arises between neighbours, arbitrators appointed by the magistrate settle it, or the regular judges investigate and give judgment. Consequently, when the judgment is given, inasmuch as each party has consented to submit to it, neither side should complain of injustice; and when the controversy is adjudged, inasmuch as the decision is in accordance with the laws concerning mining, one of the parties cannot be injured by the law. I do not vigorously contest the point, that at times a mine superintendent may exact a larger contribution [Pg 22]from the owners than necessity demands. Nay, I will admit that a foreman may plaster over, or hide with a structure, a vein where it is rich in metals. Is the wickedness of one or two to brand the many honest with fraud and trickery? What body is supposed to be more pious and virtuous in the Republic than the Senate? Yet some Senators have been detected in peculations, and have been punished. Is this any reason that so honourable a house should lose its good name and fame? The superintendent cannot exact contributions from the owners without the knowledge and permission of the Bergmeister or the deputies; for this reason deception of this kind is impossible. Should the foremen be convicted of fraud, they are beaten with rods; or of theft, they are hanged. It is complained that some sellers and buyers of the shares in mines are fraudulent. I concede it. But can they deceive anyone except a stupid, careless man, unskilled in mining matters? Indeed, a wise and prudent man, skilled in this art, if he doubts the trustworthiness of a seller or buyer, goes at once to the mine that he may for himself examine the vein which has been so greatly praised or disparaged, and may consider whether he will buy or sell the shares or not. But people say, though such an one can be on his guard against fraud, yet a simple man and one who is easily credulous, is deceived. But we frequently see a man who is trying to mislead another in this way deceive himself, and deservedly become a laughing-stock for everyone; or very often the defrauder as well as the dupe is entirely ignorant of mining. If, for instance, a vein has been found to be abundant in ore, contrary to the idea of the would-be deceiver, then he who was to have been cheated gets a profit, and he who has been the deceiver loses. Nevertheless, the miners themselves rarely buy or sell shares, but generally they have jurati venditores[28] who buy and sell at such prices as they have been instructed to give or accept. Seeing therefore, that magistrates decide disputes on fair and just principles, that honest men deceive nobody, while a dishonest one cannot deceive easily, or if he does he cannot do so with impunity, the criticism of those who wish to disparage the honesty of miners has therefore no force or weight.

In the next place, the occupation of the miner is objectionable to nobody. For who, unless he be naturally malevolent and envious, will hate the man who gains wealth as it were from heaven? Or who will hate a man who to amplify his fortune, adopts a method which is free from reproach? A moneylender, if he demands an excessive interest, incurs the hatred of men. If he demands a moderate and lawful rate, so that he is not injurious to the public generally and does not impoverish them, he fails to become very rich from his business. Further, the gain derived from mining is not sordid, for how can it be such, seeing that it is so great, so plentiful, and of so innocent a nature. A merchant's profits are mean and base when he sells counterfeit and spurious merchandise, or puts far too high a price on goods that he has purchased for little; for this reason the merchant [Pg 23]would be held in no less odium amongst good men than is the usurer, did they not take account of the risk he runs to secure his merchandise. In truth, those who on this point speak abusively of mining for the sake of detracting from its merits, say that in former days men convicted of crimes and misdeeds were sentenced to the mines and were worked as slaves. But to-day the miners receive pay, and are engaged like other workmen in the common trades.

Certainly, if mining is a shameful and discreditable employment for a gentleman because slaves once worked mines, then agriculture also will not be a very creditable employment, because slaves once cultivated the fields, and even to-day do so among the Turks; nor will architecture be considered honest, because some slaves have been found skilful in that profession; nor medicine, because not a few doctors have been slaves; nor will any other worthy craft, because men captured by force of arms have practised it. Yet agriculture, architecture, and medicine are none the less counted amongst the number of honourable professions; therefore, mining ought not for this reason to be excluded from them. But suppose we grant that the hired miners have a sordid employment. We do not mean by miners only the diggers and other workmen, but also those skilled in the mining arts, and those who invest money in mines. Amongst them can be counted kings, princes, republics, and from these last the most esteemed citizens. And finally, we include amongst the overseers of mines the noble Thucydides, the historian, whom the Athenians placed in charge of the mines of Thasos.[29] And it would not be unseemly for the owners themselves to work with their own hands on the works or ore, especially if they themselves have contributed to the cost of the mines. Just as it is not undignified for great men to cultivate their own land. Otherwise the Roman Senate would not have created Dictator L. Quintius Cincinnatus, as he was at work in the fields, nor would it have summoned to the Senate House the chief men of the State from their country villas. Similarly, in our day, Maximilian Cæsar would not have enrolled Conrad in the ranks of the nobles known as Counts; Conrad was really very poor when he served in the mines of Schneeberg, and for that reason he was nicknamed the "poor man"; but [Pg 24]not many years after, he attained wealth from the mines of Fürst, which is a city in Lorraine, and took his name from "Luck."[30] Nor would King Vladislaus have restored to the Assembly of Barons, Tursius, a citizen of Cracow, who became rich through the mines in that part of the kingdom of Hungary which was formerly called Dacia.[31] Nay, not even the common worker in the mines is vile and abject. For, trained to vigilance and work by night and day, he has great powers of endurance when occasion demands, and easily sustains the fatigues and duties of a soldier, for he is accustomed to keep long vigils at night, to wield iron tools, to dig trenches, to drive tunnels, to make machines, and to carry burdens. Therefore, experts in military affairs prefer the miner, not only to a commoner from the town, but even to the rustic.

But to bring this discussion to an end, inasmuch as the chief callings are those of the moneylender, the soldier, the merchant, the farmer, and the miner, I say, inasmuch as usury is odious, while the spoil cruelly captured from the possessions of the people innocent of wrong is wicked in the sight of God and man, and inasmuch as the calling of the miner excels in honour and dignity that of the merchant trading for lucre, while it is not less noble though far more profitable than agriculture, who can fail to realize that mining is a calling of peculiar dignity? Certainly, though it is but one of ten important and excellent methods of acquiring wealth in an honourable way, a careful and diligent man can attain this result in no easier way than by mining.



[Pg 1][1] Fibrae—"fibres." See Note 6, p. 70.

[2] Commissurae saxorum—"rock joints," "seams," or "cracks." Agricola and all of the old authors laid a wholly unwarranted geologic value on these phenomena. See description and footnotes, Book III., pages 43 and 72.

[3] Succi—"juice," or succi concreti—"solidified juice." Ger. Trans., saffte. The old English translators and mineralogists often use the word juices in the same sense, and we have adopted it. The words "solutions" and "salts" convey a chemical significance not warranted by the state of knowledge in Agricola's time. Instances of the former use of this word may be seen in Barba's "First Book of the Art of Metals," (Trans. Earl Sandwich, London, 1674, p. 2, etc.,) and in Pryce's Mineralogia Cornubiensis (London, 1778, p. 25, 32).

[4] In order that the reader should be able to grasp the author's point of view as to his divisions of the Mineral Kingdom, we introduce here his own statement from De Natura Fossilium, (p. 180). It is also desirable to read the footnote on his theory of ore-deposits on pages 43 to 53, and the review of De Natura Fossilium given in the Appendix.

"The subterranean inanimate bodies are divided into two classes, one of which, because it is a fluid or an exhalation, is called by those names, and the other class is called the minerals. Mineral bodies are solidified from particles of the same substance, such as pure gold, each particle of which is gold, or they are of different substances such as lumps which consist of earth, stone, and metal; these latter may be separated into earth, stone and metal, and therefore the first is not a mixture while the last is called a mixture. The first are again divided into simple and compound minerals. The simple minerals are of four classes, namely earths, solidified juices, stones and metals, while the mineral compounds are of many sorts, as I shall explain later.

"Earth is a simple mineral body which may be kneaded in the hands when moistened, or from which lute is made when it has been wetted. Earth, properly so called, is found enclosed in veins or veinlets, or frequently on the surface in fields and meadows. This definition is a general one. The harder earth, although moistened by water, does not at once become lute, but does turn into lute if it remains in water for some time. There are many species of earths, some of which have names but others are unnamed.

"Solidified juices are dry and somewhat hard (subdurus) mineral bodies which when moistened with water do not soften but liquefy instead; or if they do soften, they differ greatly from the earths by their unctuousness (pingue) or by the material of which they consist. Although occasionally they have the hardness of stone, yet because they preserve the form and nature which they had when less hard, they can easily be distinguished from the stones. The juices are divided into 'meagre' and unctuous (macer et pinguis). The 'meagre' juices, since they originate from three different substances, are of three species. They are formed from a liquid mixed with earth, or with metal, or with a mineral compound. To the first species belong salt and Nitrum (soda); to the second, chrysocolla, verdigris, iron-rust, and azure; to the third, vitriol, alum, and an acrid juice which is unnamed. The first two of these latter are obtained from pyrites, which is numbered amongst the compound minerals. The third of these comes from Cadmia (in this case the cobalt-zinc-arsenic minerals; the acrid juice is probably zinc sulphate). To the unctuous juices belong these species: sulphur, bitumen, realgar and orpiment. Vitriol and alum, although they are somewhat unctuous yet do not burn, and they differ in their origin from the unctuous juices, for the latter are forced out from the earth by heat, whereas the former are produced when pyrites is softened by moisture.

[Pg 2] "Stone is a dry and hard mineral body which may either be softened by remaining for a long time in water and be reduced to powder by a fierce fire; or else it does not soften with water but the heat of a great fire liquefies it. To the first species belong those stones which have been solidified by heat, to the second those solidified (literally 'congealed') by cold. These two species of stones are constituted from their own material. However, writers on natural subjects who take into consideration the quantity and quality of stones and their value, divide them into four classes. The first of these has no name of its own but is called in common parlance 'stone': to this class belong loadstone, jasper (or bloodstone) and Aetites (geodes?). The second class comprises hard stones, either pellucid or ornamental, with very beautiful and varied colours which sparkle marvellously; they are called gems. The third comprises stones which are only brilliant after they have been polished, and are usually called marble. The fourth are called rocks; they are found in quarries, from which they are hewn out for use in building, and they are cut into various shapes. None of the rocks show colour or take a polish. Few of the stones sparkle; fewer still are transparent. Marble is sometimes only distinguishable from opaque gems by its volume; rock is always distinguishable from stones properly so-called by its volume. Both the stones and the gems are usually to be found in veins and veinlets which traverse the rocks and marble. These four classes, as I have already stated, are divided into many species, which I will explain in their proper place.

"Metal is a mineral body, by nature either liquid or somewhat hard. The latter may be melted by the heat of the fire, but when it has cooled down again and lost all heat, it becomes hard again and resumes its proper form. In this respect it differs from the stone which melts in the fire, for although the latter regain its hardness, yet it loses its pristine form and properties. Traditionally there are six different kinds of metals, namely gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead. There are really others, for quicksilver is a metal, although the Alchemists disagree with us on this subject, and bismuth is also. The ancient Greek writers seem to have been ignorant of bismuth, wherefore Ammonius rightly states that there are many species of metals, animals, and plants which are unknown to us. Stibium when smelted in the crucible and refined has as much right to be regarded as a proper metal as is accorded to lead by writers. If when smelted, a certain portion be added to tin, a bookseller's alloy is produced from which the type is made that is used by those who print books on paper. Each metal has its own form which it preserves when separated from those metals which were mixed with it. Therefore neither electrum nor Stannum is of itself a real metal, but rather an alloy of two metals. Electrum is an alloy of gold and silver, Stannum of lead and silver (see note 33, p. 473). And yet if silver be parted from the electrum, then gold remains and not electrum; if silver be taken away from Stannum, then lead remains and not Stannum. Whether brass, however, is found as a native metal or not, cannot be ascertained with any surety. We only know of the artificial brass, which consists of copper tinted with the colour of the mineral calamine. And yet if any should be dug up, it would be a proper metal. Black and white copper seem to be different from the red kind. Metal, therefore, is by nature either solid, as I have stated, or fluid, as in the unique case of quicksilver. But enough now concerning the simple kinds.

"I will now speak of the compounds which are composed of the simple minerals cemented together by nature, and under the word 'compound' I now discuss those mineral bodies which consist of two or three simple minerals. They are likewise mineral substances, but so thoroughly mixed and alloyed that even in the smallest part there is not wanting any substance that is contained in the whole. Only by the force of the fire is it possible to separate one of the simple mineral substances from another; either the third from the other two, or two from the third, if there were three in the same compound. These two, three or more bodies are so completely mixed into one new species that the pristine form of none of these is recognisable.

"The 'mixed' minerals, which are composed of those same simple minerals, differ from the 'compounds,' in that the simple minerals each preserves its own form so that they can be separated one from the other not only by fire but sometimes by water and sometimes by hand. As these two classes differ so greatly from one another I usually use two different words in order to distinguish one from the other. I am well aware that [Pg 3]Galen calls the metallic earth a compound which is really a mixture, but he who wishes to instruct others should bestow upon each separate thing a definite name."

For convenience of reference we may reduce the above to a diagram as follows:

1. Fluids and gases.
2. Mineral bodiesA. Homogenous bodies(a) Simple mineralsEarths
Solidified juices
(b) Compound mineralsBeing heterogeneous mixtures of (a)
B. Mixtures.Being homogenous mixtures of (a)

[5] Experiendae—"a trial." That actual assaying in its technical sense is meant, is sufficiently evident from Book VII.

[6] ... plumbum ... candidum ac cinereum vel nigrum. "Lead ... white, or ash-coloured, or black." Agricola himself coined the term plumbum cinereum for bismuth, no doubt following the Roman term for tin—plumbum candidum. The following passage from Bermannus (p. 439) is of interest, for it appears to be the first description of bismuth, although mention of it occurs in the Nützlich Bergbüchlin (see Appendix B). "Bermannus: I will show you another kind of mineral which is numbered amongst metals, but appears to me to have been unknown to the Ancients; we call it bisemutum. Naevius: Then in your opinion there are more kinds of metals than the seven commonly believed? Bermannus: More, I consider; for this which just now I said we called bisemutum, cannot correctly be called plumbum candidum (tin), nor nigrum (lead), but is different from both and is a third one. Plumbum candidum is whiter and plumbum nigrum is darker, as you see. Naevius: We see that this is of the colour of galena. Ancon: How then can bisemutum, as you call it, be distinguished from galena? Bermannus: Easily; when you take it in your hands it stains them with black, unless it is quite hard. The hard kind is not friable like galena, but can be cut. It is blacker than the kind of rudis silver which we say is almost the colour of lead, and thus is different from both. Indeed, it not rarely contains some silver. It generally indicates that there is silver beneath the place where it is found, and because of this our miners are accustomed to call it the 'roof of silver.' They are wont to roast this mineral, and from the better part they make metal; from the poorer part they make a pigment of a kind not to be despised."

[7] Nitrum. The Ancients comprised many salts under this head, but Agricola in the main uses it for soda, although sometimes he includes potash. He usually, however, refers to potash as lixivium or salt therefrom, and by other distinctive terms. For description of method of manufacture and discussion, see Book XII., p. 558.

[8] Atramentum sutorium—"Shoemaker's blacking." See p. 572 for description of method of manufacture and historical footnote. In the main Agricola means green vitriol, but he does describe three main varieties, green, blue, and white (De Natura Fossilium, p. 219). The blue was of course copper sulphate, and it is fairly certain that the white was zinc vitriol.

[Pg 4][9] Lavandi—"Washing." By this term the author includes all the operations of sluicing, buddling, and wet concentration generally. There is no English equivalent of such wide application, and there is some difficulty in interpretation without going further than the author intends. Book VIII. is devoted to the subject.

[Pg 5][10] Operam et oleum perdit—"loss of labour and oil."

[11] In Veteribus et Novis Metallis, and Bermannus, Agricola states that the mines of Schemnitz were worked 800 years before that time (1530), or about 750 A.D., and, further, [Pg 6]that the lead mines of Goslar in the Hartz were worked by Otho the Great (936-973), and that the silver mines at Freiberg were discovered during the rule of Prince Otho (about 1170). To continue the argument to-day we could add about 360 years more of life to the mines of Goslar and Freiberg. See also Note 16, p. 36, and note 19, p. 37.

[12] Xenophon. Essay on the Revenues of Athens, I., 5.

[Pg 7][13] Ovid, Metamorphoses, I., 137 to 143.

[14] Diogenes Laertius, II., 5. The lines are assigned, however, to Philemon, not Euripides. (Kock, Comicorum Atticorum Fragmenta II., 512).

[15] We have not considered it of sufficient interest to cite the references to all of the minor poets and those whose preserved works are but fragmentary. The translations from the Greek into Latin are not literal and suffer again by rendering into English; we have however considered it our duty to translate Agricola's view of the meaning.

[Pg 9][16] Diogenes Laertius, II.

[Pg 10][17] An inspection of the historical incidents mentioned here and further on, indicates that Agricola relied for such information on Diogenes Laertius, Plutarch, Livy, Valerius Maximus, Pliny, and often enough on Homer, Horace, and Virgil.

[18] Juvenal. Satires I., l. 112, and VI., l. 298.

[Pg 11][19] Pliny, XXXIV., 39.

[20] Horace. Odes, I., 35, ll. 17-20.

[Pg 15][21] Horace. Satires, II., 3, ll. 99-102.

[Pg 16][22] Virgil. Æneid, III., l. 55, and I., l. 349.

[Pg 17][23] Horace. Satires, I., l. 73; and Epistle, I., 10, l. 47.

[Pg 18][25] Theognis. Maxims, II., l. 210.

[Pg 19][26] Pindar. Olymp. II., 58-60.

[27] Antiphanes, 4.

[Pg 22][28] Jurati Venditores—"Sworn brokers." (?)

[Pg 23][29] There is no doubt that Thucydides had some connection with gold mines; he himself is the authority for the statement that he worked mines in Thrace. Agricola seems to have obtained his idea that Thucydides held an appointment from the Athenians in charge of mines in Thasos, from Marcellinus (Vita, Thucydides, 30), who also says that Thucydides obtained possession of mines in Thrace through his marriage with a Thracian woman, and that it was while residing on the mines at Scapte-Hyle that he wrote his history. Later scholars, however, find little warrant for these assertions. The gold mines of Thasos—an island off the mainland of Thrace—are frequently mentioned by the ancient authors. Herodotus, VI., 46-47, says:—"Their (the Thasians') revenue was derived partly from their possessions upon the mainland, partly from the mines which they owned. They were masters of the gold mines of Scapte-Hyle, the yearly produce of which amounted to eighty talents. Their mines in Thasos yielded less, but still were so prolific that besides being entirely free from land-tax they had a surplus of income derived from the two sources of their territory on the mainland and their mines, in common years two hundred and in best years three hundred talents. I myself have seen the mines in question. By far the most curious of them are those which the Phoenicians discovered at the time when they went with Thasos and colonized the island, which took its name from him. [Pg 24]These Phoenician workings are in Thasos itself, between Coenyra and a place called Aenyra over against Samothrace; a high mountain has been turned upside down in the search for ores." (Rawlinson's Trans.). The occasion of this statement of Herodotus was the relations of the Thasians with Darius (521-486 B.C.). The date of the Phoenician colonization of Thasos is highly nebular—anywhere from 1200 to 900 B.C.

[30] Agricola, De Veteribus et Novis Metallis, Book I., p. 392, says:—"Conrad, whose nickname in former years was 'pauper,' suddenly became rich from the silver mines of Mount Jura, known as the Firstum." He was ennobled with the title of Graf Cuntz von Glück by the Emperor Maximilian (who was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, 1493-1519). Conrad was originally a working miner at Schneeberg where he was known as Armer Cuntz (poor Cuntz or Conrad) and grew wealthy from the mines of Fürst in Leberthal. This district is located in the Vosges Mountains on the borders of Lorraine and Upper Alsace. The story of Cuntz or Conrad von Glück is mentioned by Albinus (Meissnische Land und Berg Chronica, Dresden, 1589, p. 116), Mathesius (Sarepta, Nuremberg, 1578, fol. XVI.), and by others.

[31] Vladislaus III. was King of Poland, 1434-44, and also became King of Hungary in 1440. Tursius seems to be a Latinized name and cannot be identified.

[Pg 25]



ualities which the perfect miner should possess and the arguments which are urged for and against the arts of mining and metallurgy, as well as the people occupied in the industry, I have sufficiently discussed in the first Book. Now I have determined to give more ample information concerning the miners.

In the first place, it is indispensable that they should worship God with reverence, and that they understand the matters of which I am going to speak, and that they take good care that each individual performs his duties efficiently and diligently. It is decreed by Divine Providence that those who know what they ought to do and then take care to do it properly, for the most part meet with good fortune in all they undertake; on the other hand, misfortune overtakes the indolent and those who are careless in their work. No person indeed can, without great and sustained effort and labour, store in his mind the knowledge of every portion of the metallic arts which are involved in operating mines. If a man has the means of paying the necessary expense, he hires as many men as he needs, and sends them to the various works. Thus formerly Sosias, the Thracian, sent into the silver mines a thousand slaves whom he had hired from the Athenian Nicias, the son of Niceratus[1]. But if a man cannot afford the expenditure he chooses of the various kinds of mining that work which he himself can most easily and efficiently do. Of these kinds, the two most important are the making prospect trenches and the washing of the sands of rivers, for out of these sands are often collected gold dust, or certain black stones from which tin is smelted, or even gems are sometimes found in them; the trenching occasionally lays bare at the grass-roots veins which are found rich in metals. If therefore by skill or by luck, such sands or veins shall fall into his hands, he will be able to establish his fortune without expenditure, and from poverty rise to wealth. If on the contrary, his hopes are not realized, then he can desist from washing or digging.

When anyone, in an endeavour to increase his fortune, meets the expenditure of a mine alone, it is of great importance that he should attend to his works and personally superintend everything that he has ordered to be done. For this reason, he should either have his dwelling at the mine, [Pg 26]where he may always be in sight of the workmen and always take care that none neglect their duties, or else he should live in the neighbourhood, so that he may frequently inspect his mining works. Then he may send word by a messenger to the workmen that he is coming more frequently than he really intends to come, and so either by his arrival or by the intimation of it, he so frightens the workmen that none of them perform their duties otherwise than diligently. When he inspects the mines he should praise the diligent workmen and occasionally give them rewards, that they and the others may become more zealous in their duties; on the other hand, he should rebuke the idle and discharge some of them from the mines and substitute industrious men in their places. Indeed, the owner should frequently remain for days and nights in the mine, which, in truth, is no habitation for the idle and luxurious; it is important that the owner who is diligent in increasing his wealth, should frequently himself descend into the mine, and devote some time to the study of the nature of the veins and stringers, and should observe and consider all the methods of working, both inside and outside the mine. Nor is this all he ought to do, for sometimes he should undertake actual labour, not thereby demeaning himself, but in order to encourage his workmen by his own diligence, and to teach them their art; for that mine is well conducted in which not only the foreman, but also the owner himself, gives instruction as to what ought to be done. A certain barbarian, according to Xenophon, rightly remarked to the King of Persia that "the eye of the master feeds the horse,"[2] for the master's watchfulness in all things is of the utmost importance.

When several share together the expenditure on a mine, it is convenient and useful to elect from amongst their own number a mine captain, and also a foreman. For, since men often look after their own interests but neglect those of others, they cannot in this case take care of their own without at the same time looking after the interests of the others, neither can they neglect the interests of the others without neglecting their own. But if no man amongst them be willing or able to undertake and sustain the burdens of these offices, it will be to the common interest to place them in the hands of most diligent men. Formerly indeed, these things were looked after by the mining prefect[3], because the owners were kings, as Priam, who owned the gold mines round Abydos, or as Midas, who was the owner of those situated in Mount Bermius, or as Gyges, or as Alyattes, or as Crœsus, who was the owner of those mines near a deserted town between Atarnea and Pergamum[4]; sometimes the mines belonged to a Republic, as, for [Pg 27]instance, the prosperous silver mines in Spain which belonged to Carthage[5]; sometimes they were the property of great and illustrious families, as were the Athenian mines in Mount Laurion[6].

When a man owns mines but is ignorant of the art of mining, then it is advisable that he should share in common with others the expenses, not of one only, but of several mines. When one man alone meets the expense for a long time of a whole mine, if good fortune bestows on him a vein abundant in metals, or in other products, he becomes very wealthy; if, on the contrary, the mine is poor and barren, in time he will lose everything which he has expended on it. But the man who, in common with others, has laid out his money on several mines in a region renowned for its wealth of metals, rarely spends it in vain, for fortune usually responds to his hopes in part. For when out of twelve veins in which he has a joint interest [Pg 28]one yields an abundance of metals, it not only gives back to the owner the money he has spent, but also gives a profit besides; certainly there will be for him rich and profitable mining, if of the whole number, three, or four, or more veins should yield metal. Very similar to this is the advice which Xenophon gave to the Athenians when they wished to prospect for new veins of silver without suffering loss. "There are," he said, "ten tribes of Athenians; if, therefore, the State assigned an equal number of slaves to each tribe, and the tribes participated equally in all the new veins, undoubtedly by this method, if a rich vein of silver were found by one tribe, whatever profit were made from it would assuredly be shared by the whole number. And if two, three, or four tribes, or even half the whole number find veins, their works would then become more profitable; and it is not probable that the work of all the tribes will be disappointing."[7] Although this advice of Xenophon is full of prudence, there is no opportunity for it except in free and wealthy States; for those people who are under the authority of kings and princes, or are kept in subjection by tyranny, do not dare, without permission, to incur such expenditure; those who are endowed with little wealth and resources cannot do so on account of insufficient funds. Moreover, amongst our race it is not customary for Republics to have slaves whom they can hire out for the benefit of the people[8]; but, instead, nowadays those who are in authority administer the funds for mining in the name of the State, not unlike private individuals.

[Pg 29]

Some owners prefer to buy shares[9] in mines abounding in metals, rather than to be troubled themselves to search for the veins; these men employ an easier and less uncertain method of increasing their property. Although their hopes in the shares of one or another mine may be frustrated, the buyers of shares should not abandon the rest of the mines, for all the money expended will be recovered with interest from some other mine. They should not buy only high priced shares in those mines producing metals, nor should they buy too many in neighbouring mines where metal has not yet been found, lest, should fortune not respond, they may be exhausted by their losses and have nothing with which they may meet their expenses or buy other shares which may replace their losses. This calamity overtakes those who wish to grow suddenly rich from mines, and instead, they become very much poorer than before. So then, in the buying of shares, as in other matters, there should be a certain limit of expenditure which miners should set themselves, lest blinded by the desire for excessive wealth, they throw all their money away. Moreover, a prudent owner, before he buys shares, ought to go to the mine and carefully examine the nature of the vein, for it is very important that he should be on his guard lest fraudulent sellers of shares should deceive him. Investors in shares may perhaps become less wealthy, but they are more certain of some gain than those who mine for metals at their own expense, as they are more cautious in trusting to fortune. Neither ought miners to be altogether distrustful of fortune, as we see some are, who as soon as the shares of any mine begin to go up in [Pg 30]value, sell them, on which account they seldom obtain even moderate wealth. There are some people who wash over the dumps from exhausted and abandoned mines, and those dumps which are derived from the drains of tunnels; and others who smelt the old slags; from all of which they make an ample return.

Now a miner, before he begins to mine the veins, must consider seven things, namely:—the situation, the conditions, the water, the roads, the climate, the right of ownership, and the neighbours. There are four kinds of situations—mountain, hill, valley, and plain. Of these four, the first two are the most easily mined, because in them tunnels can be driven to drain off the water, which often makes mining operations very laborious, if it does not stop them altogether. The last two kinds of ground are more troublesome, especially because tunnels cannot be driven in such places. Nevertheless, a prudent miner considers all these four sorts of localities in the region in which he happens to be, and he searches for veins in those places where some torrent or other agency has removed and swept the soil away; yet he need not prospect everywhere, but since there is a great variety, both in mountains and in the three other kinds of localities, he always selects from them those which will give him the best chance of obtaining wealth.

In the first place, mountains differ greatly in position, some being situated in even and level plains, while others are found in broken and elevated regions, and others again seem to be piled up, one mountain upon another. The wise miner does not mine in mountains which are situated on open plains, neither does he dig in those which are placed on the summits of mountainous regions, unless by some chance the veins in those mountains have been denuded of their surface covering, and abounding in metals and other products, are exposed plainly to his notice,—for with regard to what I have already said more than once, and though I never repeat it again, I wish to emphasize this exception as to the localities which should not be selected. All districts do not possess a great number of mountains crowded together; some have but one, others two, others three, or perhaps a few more. In some places there are plains lying between them; in others the mountains are joined together or separated only by narrow valleys. The miner should not dig in those solitary mountains, dispersed through the plains and open regions, but only in those which are connected and joined with others. Then again, since mountains differ in size, some being very large, others of medium height, and others more like hills than mountains, the miner rarely digs in the largest or the smallest of them, but generally only in those of medium size. Moreover, mountains have a great variety of shapes; for with some the slopes rise gradually, while others, on the contrary, are all precipitous; in some others the slopes are gradual on one side, and on the other sides precipitous; some are drawn out in length; some are gently curved; others assume different shapes. But the miner may dig in all parts of them, except where there are precipices, and he should not neglect even these latter if metallic veins [Pg 31]are exposed before his eyes. There are just as great differences in hills as there are in mountains, yet the miner does not dig except in those situated in mountainous districts, and even very rarely in those. It is however very little to be wondered at that the hill in the Island of Lemnos was excavated, for the whole is of a reddish-yellow colour, which furnishes for the inhabitants that valuable clay so especially beneficial to mankind[10]. In like manner, other hills are excavated if chalk or other varieties of earth are exposed, but these are not prospected for.

There are likewise many varieties of valleys and plains. One kind is enclosed on the sides with its outlet and entrance open; another has either its entrance or its outlet open and the rest of it is closed in; both of these are properly called valleys. There is a third variety which is surrounded on all sides by mountains, and these are called convalles. Some valleys again, have recesses, and others have none; one is wide, another narrow; one is long, another short; yet another kind is not higher than the neighbouring plain, and others are lower than the surrounding flat country. But the miner does not dig in those surrounded on all sides by mountains, nor in those that are open, unless there be a low plain close at hand, or unless a vein of metal descending from the mountains should extend into the valley. Plains differ from one another, one being situated at low elevation, and others higher, one being level and another with a slight incline. The miner should never excavate the low-lying plain, nor one which is perfectly level, unless it be in some mountain, and rarely should he mine in the other kinds of plains.

With regard to the conditions of the locality the miner should not contemplate mining without considering whether the place be covered with trees or is bare. If it be a wooded place, he who digs there has this advantage, besides others, that there will be an abundant supply of wood for his underground timbering, his machinery, buildings, smelting, and other necessities. If there is no forest he should not mine there unless there is a river near, by which he can carry down the timber. Yet wherever there is a hope that pure gold or gems may be found, the ground can be turned up, even though there is no forest, because the gems need only to be polished and the gold to be purified. Therefore the inhabitants of hot regions obtain these substances from rough and sandy places, where sometimes there are not even shrubs, much less woods.

The miner should next consider the locality, as to whether it has a perpetual supply of running water, or whether it is always devoid of water except when a torrent supplied by rains flows down from the summits of the mountains. The place that Nature has provided with a river or stream can [Pg 32]be made serviceable for many things; for water will never be wanting and can be carried through wooden pipes to baths in dwelling-houses; it may be carried to the works, where the metals are smelted; and finally, if the conditions of the place will allow it, the water can be diverted into the tunnels, so that it may turn the underground machinery. Yet on the other hand, to convey a constant supply of water by artificial means to mines where Nature has denied it access, or to convey the ore to the stream, increases the expense greatly, in proportion to the distance the mines are away from the river.

The miner also should consider whether the roads from the neighbouring regions to the mines are good or bad, short or long. For since a region which is abundant in mining products very often yields no agricultural produce, and the necessaries of life for the workmen and others must all be imported, a bad and long road occasions much loss and trouble with porters and carriers, and this increases the cost of goods brought in, which, therefore, must be sold at high prices. This injures not so much the workmen as the masters; since on account of the high price of goods, the workmen are not content with the wages customary for their labour, nor can they be, and they ask higher pay from the owners. And if the owners refuse, the men will not work any longer in the mines but will go elsewhere. Although districts which yield metals and other mineral products are generally healthy, because, being often situated on high and lofty ground, they are fanned by every wind, yet sometimes they are unhealthy, as has been related in my other book, which is called "De Natura Eorum Quae Effluunt ex Terra." Therefore, a wise miner does not mine in such places, even if they are very productive, when he perceives unmistakable signs of pestilence. For if a man mines in an unhealthy region he may be alive one hour and dead the next.

Then, the miner should make careful and thorough investigation concerning the lord of the locality, whether he be a just and good man or a tyrant, for the latter oppresses men by force of his authority, and seizes their possessions for himself; but the former governs justly and lawfully and serves the common good. The miner should not start mining operations in a district which is oppressed by a tyrant, but should carefully consider if in the vicinity there is any other locality suitable for mining and make up his mind if the overlord there be friendly or inimical. If he be inimical the mine will be rendered unsafe through hostile attacks, in one of which all of the gold or silver, or other mineral products, laboriously collected with much cost, will be taken away from the owner and his workmen will be struck with terror; overcome by fear, they will hastily fly, to free themselves from the danger to which they are exposed. In this case, not only are the fortunes of the miner in the greatest peril but his very life is in jeopardy, for which reason he should not mine in such places.

Since several miners usually come to mine the veins in one locality, a settlement generally springs up, for the miner who began first cannot keep it exclusively for himself. The Bergmeister gives permits to some to mine [Pg 33]the superior and some the inferior parts of the veins; to some he gives the cross veins, to others the inclined veins. If the man who first starts work finds the vein to be metal-bearing or yielding other mining products, it will not be to his advantage to cease work because the neighbourhood may be evil, but he will guard and defend his rights both by arms and by the law. When the Bergmeister[11] delimits the boundaries of each owner, it is the duty of a good miner to keep within his bounds, and of a prudent one to repel encroachments of his neighbours by the help of the law. But this is enough about the neighbourhood.

The miner should try to obtain a mine, to which access is not difficult, in a mountainous region, gently sloping, wooded, healthy, safe, and not far distant from a river or stream by means of which he may convey his mining products to be washed and smelted. This indeed, is the best position. As for the others, the nearer they approximate to this position the better they are; the further removed, the worse.

Now I will discuss that kind of minerals for which it is not necessary to dig, because the force of water carries them out of the veins. Of these there are two kinds, minerals—and their fragments[12]—and juices. When there are springs at the outcrop of the veins from which, as I have already said, the above-mentioned products are emitted, the miner should consider these first, to see whether there are metals or gems mixed with the sand, or whether the waters discharged are filled with juices. In case metals or gems have settled in the pool of the spring, not only should the sand from it be washed, but also that from the streams which flow from these springs, and even from the river itself into which they again discharge. If the springs discharge water containing some juice, this also should be collected; the further such a stream has flowed from the source, the more it receives plain water and the more diluted does it become, and so much the more deficient in strength. If the stream receives no water of another kind, or scarcely any, not only the rivers, but likewise the lakes which receive these waters, are of the same nature as the springs, and serve the same uses; of this kind is the lake which the Hebrews call the Dead Sea, and which is quite full of bituminous fluids[13]. But I must return to the subject of the sands.

Springs may discharge their waters into a sea, a lake, a marsh, a river, or a stream; but the sand of the sea-shore is rarely washed, for although the water flowing down from the springs into the sea carries some metals or gems with it, yet these substances can scarcely ever be reclaimed, because they are dispersed through the immense body of waters and mixed up with [Pg 34]other sand, and scattered far and wide in different directions, or they sink down into the depths of the sea. For the same reasons, the sands of lakes can very rarely be washed successfully, even though the streams rising from the mountains pour their whole volume of water into them. The particles of metals and gems from the springs are very rarely carried into the marshes, which are generally in level and open places. Therefore, the miner, in the first place, washes the sand of the spring, then of the stream which flows from it, then finally, that of the river into which the stream discharges. It is not worth the trouble to wash the sands of a large river which is on a level plain at a distance from the mountains. Where several springs carrying metals discharge their waters into one river, there is more hope of productive results from washing. The miner does not neglect even the sands of the streams in which excavated ores have been washed.

The waters of springs taste according to the juice they contain, and they differ greatly in this respect. There are six kinds of these tastes which the worker[14] especially observes and examines; there is the salty kind, which shows that salt may be obtained by evaporation; the nitrous, which indicates soda; the aluminous kind, which indicates alum; the vitrioline, which indicates vitriol; the sulphurous kind, which indicates sulphur; and as for the bituminous juice, out of which bitumen is melted down, the colour itself proclaims it to the worker who is evaporating it. The sea-water however, is similar to that of salt springs, and may be drawn into low-lying pits, and, evaporated by the heat of the sun, changes of itself into salt; similarly the water of some salt-lakes turns to salt when dried by the heat of summer. Therefore an industrious and diligent man observes and makes use of these things and thus contributes something to the common welfare.

The strength of the sea condenses the liquid bitumen which flows into it from hidden springs, into amber and jet, as I have described already in my books "De Subterraneorum Ortu et Causis"[15]. The sea, with certain [Pg 35]directions of the wind, throws both these substances on shore, and for this reason the search for amber demands as much care as does that for coral.

Moreover, it is necessary that those who wash the sand or evaporate the water from the springs, should be careful to learn the nature of the locality, its roads, its salubrity, its overlord, and the neighbours, lest on account of difficulties in the conduct of their business they become either impoverished by exhaustive expenditure, or their goods and lives are imperilled. But enough about this.

The miner, after he has selected out of many places one particular spot adapted by Nature for mining, bestows much labour and attention on the veins. These have either been stripped bare of their covering by chance and thus lie exposed to our view, or lying deeply hidden and concealed they are found after close search; the latter is more usual, the former more rarely happens, and both of these occurrences must be explained. There is more than one force which can lay bare the veins unaided by the industry or toil of man; since either a torrent might strip off the surface, which happened in the case of the silver mines of Freiberg (concerning which I have [Pg 36]written in Book I. of my work "De Veteribus et Novis Metallis")[16]; or they may be exposed through the force of the wind, when it uproots and destroys the trees which have grown over the veins; or by the breaking away of the rocks; or by long-continued heavy rains tearing away the mountain; or by an earthquake; or by a lightning flash; or by a snowslide; or by the violence of the winds: "Of such a nature are the rocks hurled down from the mountains by the force of the winds aided by the ravages of time." Or the plough may uncover the veins, for Justin relates in his history that nuggets of gold had been turned up in Galicia by the plough; or this may occur through a fire in the forest, as Diodorus Siculus tells us happened in the silver mines in Spain; and that saying of Posidonius is appropriate enough: "The earth violently moved by the fires consuming the forest sends forth new products, namely, gold and silver."[17] And indeed, Lucretius has explained the same thing more fully in the following lines: "Copper and gold and iron were discovered, and at the same time weighty silver and the substance of lead, when fire had burned up vast forests on the great hills, either by a discharge of heaven's lightning, or else because, when men were waging war with one another, forest fires had carried fire among the enemy in order to strike terror to them, or because, attracted by the goodness of the soil, they wished to clear rich fields and bring the country into pasture, or else to destroy wild beasts and enrich themselves with the game; for hunting with pitfalls and with fire came into use before the practice of enclosing the wood with toils and rousing the game with dogs. Whatever the fact is, from [Pg 37]whatever cause the heat of flame had swallowed up the forests with a frightful crackling from their very roots, and had thoroughly baked the earth with fire, there would run from the boiling veins and collect into the hollows of the grounds a stream of silver and gold, as well as of copper and lead."[18] But yet the poet considers that the veins are not laid bare in the first instance so much by this kind of fire, but rather that all mining had its origin in this. And lastly, some other force may by chance disclose the veins, for a horse, if this tale can be believed, disclosed the lead veins at Goslar by a blow from his hoof[19]. By such methods as these does fortune disclose the veins to us.

But by skill we can also investigate hidden and concealed veins, by observing in the first place the bubbling waters of springs, which cannot be very far distant from the veins because the source of the water is from them; secondly, by examining the fragments of the veins which the torrents break off from the earth, for after a long time some of these fragments are again buried in the ground. Fragments of this kind lying about on the ground, if they are rubbed smooth, are a long distance from the veins, because the torrent, which broke them from the vein, polished them while it rolled them a long distance; but if they are fixed in the ground, or if they are rough, they are nearer to the veins. The soil also should be considered, for this is often the cause of veins being buried more or less deeply under the earth; in this case the fragments protrude more or less widely apart, and miners are wont to call the veins discovered in this manner "fragmenta."[20]

Further, we search for the veins by observing the hoar-frosts, which whiten all herbage except that growing over the veins, because the veins emit a warm and dry exhalation which hinders the freezing of the moisture, for which reason such plants appear rather wet than whitened by the frost. This may be observed in all cold places before the grass has grown to its full size, as in the months of April and May; or when the late crop of [Pg 38]hay, which is called the cordum, is cut with scythes in the month of September. Therefore in places where the grass has a dampness that is not congealed into frost, there is a vein beneath; also if the exhalation be excessively hot, the soil will produce only small and pale-coloured plants. Lastly, there are trees whose foliage in spring-time has a bluish or leaden tint, the upper branches more especially being tinged with black or with any other unnatural colour, the trunks cleft in two, and the branches black or discoloured. These phenomena are caused by the intensely hot and dry exhalations which do not spare even the roots, but scorching them, render the trees sickly; wherefore the wind will more frequently uproot trees of this kind than any others. Verily the veins do emit this exhalation. Therefore, in a place where there is a multitude of trees, if a long row of them at an unusual time lose their verdure and become black or discoloured, and frequently fall by the violence of the wind, beneath this spot there is a vein. Likewise along a course where a vein extends, there grows a certain herb or fungus which is absent from the adjacent space, or sometimes even from the neighbourhood of the veins. By these signs of Nature a vein can be discovered.

There are many great contentions between miners concerning the forked twig[21], for some say that it is of the greatest use in discovering veins, and others deny it. Some of those who manipulate and use the twig, first cut a fork from a hazel bush with a knife, for this bush they consider more efficacious than any other for revealing the veins, especially if the hazel [Pg 39]bush grows above a vein. Others use a different kind of twig for each metal, when they are seeking to discover the veins, for they employ hazel twigs for veins of silver; ash twigs for copper; pitch pine for lead and especially tin, and rods made of iron and steel for gold. All alike grasp the forks of the twig with their hands, clenching their fists, it being necessary that the clenched fingers should be held toward the sky in order that the twig should be raised at that end where the two branches meet. Then they wander hither and thither at random through mountainous regions. It is said that the moment they place their feet on a vein the twig immediately turns and twists, and so by its action discloses the vein; when they move their feet again and go away from that spot the twig becomes once more immobile.

The truth is, they assert, the movement of the twig is caused by the power of the veins, and sometimes this is so great that the branches of trees growing near a vein are deflected toward it. On the other hand, those who say that the twig is of no use to good and serious men, also deny that the motion is due to the power of the veins, because the twigs will not move for everybody, but only for those who employ incantations and craft. Moreover, they deny the power of a vein to draw to itself the branches of trees, but they say that the warm and dry exhalations cause these contortions. Those who advocate the use of the twig make this reply to these objections: when one of the miners or some other person holds the twig in his hands, and it is not turned by the force of a vein, this is due to some peculiarity of the individual, which hinders and impedes the power of the vein, for since the power of the vein in turning and twisting the twig may be not unlike that of a magnet attracting and drawing iron toward itself, this hidden quality of a man weakens and breaks the force, just the same as garlic weakens and overcomes the strength of a magnet. For a magnet smeared with garlic juice cannot attract iron; nor does it attract the latter when rusty. Further, concerning the handling of the twig, they warn us that we should not press the fingers together too lightly, nor clench them too firmly, for if the twig is held lightly they say that it will fall before the force of the vein can turn it; if however, it is grasped too firmly the force of the hands resists the force of the veins and counteracts it. Therefore, they consider that five things are necessary to insure that the twig shall serve its purpose: of these the first is the size of the twig, for the force of the veins cannot turn too large a stick; secondly, there is the shape of the twig, which must be forked or the vein cannot turn it; thirdly, the power of the vein which has the nature to turn it; fourthly, the manipulation of the twig; fifthly, the absence of impeding peculiarities. These advocates of the twig sum up their conclusions as follows: if the rod does not move for everybody, it is due to unskilled manipulation or to the impeding peculiarities of the man which oppose and resist the force of the veins, as we said above, and those who search for veins by means of the twig need not necessarily make incantations, but it is sufficient that they handle it suitably and are devoid of impeding power; therefore, the twig may be of use to good and serious [Pg 40]men in discovering veins. With regard to deflection of branches of trees they say nothing and adhere to their opinion.

Divining Rod
A—Twig. B—Trench. [Pg 40]
Since this matter remains in dispute and causes much dissention amongst miners, I consider it ought to be examined on its own merits. The wizards, who also make use of rings, mirrors and crystals, seek for veins with a divining rod shaped like a fork; but its shape makes no difference in the matter,—it might be straight or of some other form—for it is not the form of the twig that matters, but the wizard's incantations which it would not become me to repeat, neither do I wish to do so. The Ancients, by means of the divining rod, not only procured those things necessary for a livelihood or for luxury, but they were also able to alter the forms of things by it; as when the magicians changed the rods of the Egyptians into serpents, as the writings of the Hebrews relate[22]; and as in Homer, Minerva with a divining rod turned the aged Ulysses suddenly into a youth, and then restored him back again to old age; Circe also changed Ulysses' companions into beasts, but afterward gave them back again their human form[23]; moreover by his rod, which was called "Caduceus," Mercury gave [Pg 41]sleep to watchmen and awoke slumberers[24]. Therefore it seems that the divining rod passed to the mines from its impure origin with the magicians. Then when good men shrank with horror from the incantations and rejected them, the twig was retained by the unsophisticated common miners, and in searching for new veins some traces of these ancient usages remain.

But since truly the twigs of the miners do move, albeit they do not generally use incantations, some say this movement is caused by the power of the veins, others say that it depends on the manipulation, and still others think that the movement is due to both these causes. But, in truth, all those objects which are endowed with the power of attraction do not twist things in circles, but attract them directly to themselves; for instance, the magnet does not turn the iron, but draws it directly to itself, and amber rubbed until it is warm does not bend straws about, but simply draws them to itself. If the power of the veins were of a similar nature to that of the magnet and the amber, the twig would not so much twist as move once only, in a semi-circle, and be drawn directly to the vein, and unless the strength of the man who holds the twig were to resist and oppose the force of the vein, the twig would be brought to the ground; wherefore, since this is not the case, it must necessarily follow that the manipulation is the cause of the twig's twisting motion. It is a conspicuous fact that these cunning manipulators do not use a straight twig, but a forked one cut from a hazel bush, or from some other wood equally flexible, so that if it be held in the hands, as they are accustomed to hold it, it turns in a circle for any man wherever he stands. Nor is it strange that the twig does not turn when held by the inexperienced, because they either grasp the forks of the twig too tightly or hold them too loosely. Nevertheless, these things give rise to the faith among common miners that veins are discovered by the use of twigs, because whilst using these they do accidentally discover some; but it more often happens that they lose their labour, and although they might discover a vein, they become none the less exhausted in digging useless trenches than do the miners who prospect in an unfortunate locality. Therefore a miner, since we think he ought to be a good and serious man, should not make use of an enchanted twig, because if he is prudent and skilled in the natural signs, he understands that a forked stick is of no use to him, for as I have said before, there are the natural indications of the veins which he can see for himself without the help of twigs. So if Nature or chance should indicate a locality suitable for mining, the miner should dig his trenches there; if no vein appears he must dig numerous trenches until he discovers an outcrop of a vein.

A vena dilatata is rarely discovered by men's labour, but usually some force or other reveals it, or sometimes it is discovered by a shaft or a tunnel on a vena profunda[25].

[Pg 42]

The veins after they have been discovered, and likewise the shafts and tunnels, have names given them, either from their discoverers, as in the case at Annaberg of the vein called "Kölergang," because a charcoal burner discovered it; or from their owners, as the Geyer, in Joachimsthal, because part of the same belonged to Geyer; or from their products, as the "Pleygang" from lead, or the "Bissmutisch" at Schneeberg from bismuth[26]; or from some other circumstances, such as the rich alluvials from the torrent by which they were laid bare in the valley of Joachim. More often the first discoverers give the names either of persons, as those of German Kaiser, Apollo, Janus; or the name of an animal, as that of lion, bear, ram, or cow; or of things inanimate, as "silver chest" or "ox stalls"; or of something ridiculous, as "glutton's nightshade"; or finally, for the sake of a good omen, they call it after the Deity. In ancient times they followed the same custom and gave names to the veins, shafts and tunnels, as we read in Pliny: "It is wonderful that the shafts begun by Hannibal in Spain are still worked, their names being derived from their discoverers. One of these at the present day, called Baebelo, furnished Hannibal with three hundred pounds weight (of silver) per day."[27]



[Pg 25] [1] Xenophon. Essay on the Revenues of Athens, IV., 14.

"But we cannot but feel surprised that the State, when it sees many private individuals enriching themselves from its resources, does not imitate their proceedings; for we heard long ago, indeed, at least such of us as attended to these matters, that Nicias the son of Niceratus kept a thousand men employed in the silver mines, whom he let on hire to Sosias of Thrace on condition that he should give him for each an obolus a day, free of all charges; and this number he always supplied undiminished." (See also Note 6). An obolus a day each, would be about 23 oz. Troy of silver per day for the whole number. In modern value this would, of course, be but about 50s. per day, but in purchasing power the value would probably be 100 to 1 (see Note on p. 28). Nicias was estimated to have a fortune of 100 talents—about 83,700 Troy ounces of silver, and was one of the wealthiest of the Athenians. (Plutarch, Life of Nicias).

[Pg 26][2] Xenophon. Oeconomicus XII., 20. "'I approve,' said Ischomachus, 'of the barbarian's answer to the King who found a good horse, and, wishing to fatten it as soon as possible, asked a man with a good reputation for horsemanship what would do it?' The man's reply was: 'Its master's eye.'"

[3] Praefectus Metallorum. In Saxony this official was styled the Berghauptmann. For further information see page 94 and note on page 78.

[4] This statement is either based upon Apollodorus, whom Agricola does not mention among his authorities, or on Strabo, whom he does so include. The former in his work on Mythology makes such a statement, for which Strabo (XIV., 5, 28) takes him to task as follows: "With this vain intention they collected the stories related by the Scepsian [Pg 27](Demetrius), and taken from Callisthenes and other writers, who did not clear them from false notions respecting the Halizones; for example, that the wealth of Tantalus and of the Pelopidae was derived, it is said, from the mines about Phrygia and Sipylus; that of Cadmus from the mines of Thrace and Mount Pangaeum; that of Priam from the gold mines of Astyra, near Abydos (of which at present there are small remains, yet there is a large quantity of matter ejected, and the excavations are proofs of former workings); that of Midas from the mines about Mount Bermium; that of Gyges, Alyattes, and Croesus, from the mines in Lydia and the small deserted city between Atarneus and Pergamum, where are the sites of exhausted mines." (Hamilton's Trans., Vol. III., p. 66).

In adopting this view, Agricola apparently applied a wonderful realism to some Greek mythology—for instance, in the legend of Midas, which tells of that king being rewarded by the god Dionysus, who granted his request that all he touched might turn to gold; but the inconvenience of the gift drove him to pray for relief, which he obtained by bathing in the Pactolus, the sands of which thereupon became highly auriferous. Priam was, of course, King of Troy, but Homer does not exhibit him as a mine-owner. Gyges, Alyattes, and Croesus were successively Kings of Lydia, from 687 to 546 B.C., and were no doubt possessed of great treasure in gold. Some few years ago we had occasion to inquire into extensive old workings locally reputed to be Croesus' mines, at a place some distance north of Smyrna, which would correspond very closely to the locality here mentioned.

[5] There can be no doubt that the Carthaginians worked the mines of Spain on an extensive scale for a very long period anterior to their conquest by the Romans, but whether the mines were worked by the Government or not we are unable to find any evidence.

[6] The silver mines of Mt. Laurion formed the economic mainstay of Athens for the three centuries during which the State had the ascendency in Greece, and there can be no doubt that the dominance of Athens and its position as a sea-power were directly due to the revenues from the mines. The first working of the mines is shrouded in mystery. The scarcity of silver in the time of Solon (638-598 B.C.) would not indicate any very considerable output at that time. According to Xenophon (Essay on Revenue of Athens, IV., 2), written about 355 B.C., "they were wrought in very ancient times." The first definite discussion of the mines in Greek record begins about 500 B.C., for about that time the royalties began to figure in the Athenian Budget (Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 47). There can be no doubt that the mines reached great prosperity prior to the Persian invasion. In the year 484 B.C. the mines returned 100 Talents (about 83,700 oz. Troy) to the Treasury, and this, on the advice of Themistocles, was devoted to the construction of the fleet which conquered the Persians at Salamis (480 B.C.). The mines were much interfered with by the Spartan invasions from 431 to 425 B.C., and again by their occupation in 413 B.C.; and by 355 B.C., when Xenophon wrote the "Revenues," exploitation had fallen to a low ebb, for which he proposes the remedies noted by Agricola on p. 28. By the end of the 4th Century, B.C., the mines had again reached considerable prosperity, as is evidenced by Demosthenes' orations against Pantaenetus and against Phaenippus, and by Lycurgus' prosecution of Diphilos for robbing the supporting pillars. The domination of the Macedonians under Philip and Alexander at the end of the 4th and beginning of the 3rd Centuries B.C., however, so flooded Greece with money from the mines of Thrace, that this probably interfered with Laurion, at this time, in any event, began the decadence of these mines. Synchronous also was the decadence of Athens, and, but for fitful displays, the State was not able to maintain even its own independence, not to mention its position as a dominant State. Finally, Strabo, writing about 30 B.C. gives the epitaph of every mining district—reworking the dumps. He says (IX., 1, 23): "The silver mines in Attica were at first of importance, but [Pg 28]are now exhausted. The workmen, when the mines yielded a bad return to their labour, committed to the furnace the old refuse and scoria, and hence obtained very pure silver, for the former workmen had carried on the process in the furnace unskilfully."

Since 1860, the mines have been worked with some success by a French Company, thus carrying the mining history of this district over a period of twenty-seven centuries. The most excellent of many memoirs upon the mines at Laurion, not only for its critical, historical, and archæological value, but also because of its author's great insight into mining and metallurgy, is that of Edouard Ardaillon (Les Mines du Laurion dans l'Antiquité, Paris, 1897). We have relied considerably upon this careful study for the following notes, and would refer others to it for a short bibliography on the subject. We would mention in passing that Augustus Boeckh's "Silver Mines of Laurion," which is incorporated with his "Public Economy of Athens" (English Translation by Lewis, London, 1842) has been too much relied upon by English students. It is no doubt the product of one acquainted with written history, but without any special knowledge of the industry and it is based on no antiquarian research. The Mt. Laurion mining district is located near the southern end of the Attic Peninsula. The deposits are silver-lead, and they occur along the contact between approximately horizontal limestones and slates. There are two principal beds of each, thus forming three principal contacts. The most metalliferous of these contacts are those at the base of the slates, the lowest contact of the series being the richest. The ore-bodies were most irregular, varying greatly in size, from a thin seam between schist planes, to very large bodies containing as much as 200,000 cubic metres. The ores are argentiferous galena, accompanied by considerable amounts of blende and pyrites, all oxidized near the surface. The ores worked by the Ancients appear to have been fairly rich in lead, for the discards worked in recent years by the French Company, and the pillars left behind, ran 8% to 10% lead. The ratio of silver was from 40 to 90 ounces per ton of lead. The upper contacts were exposed by erosion and could be entered by tunnels, but the lowest and most prolific contact line was only to be reached by shafts. The shafts were ordinarily from four to six feet square, and were undoubtedly cut by hammer and chisel; they were as much as 380 feet deep. In some cases long inclines for travelling roads join the vertical shafts in depth. The drives, whether tunnels or from shafts, were not level, but followed every caprice of the sinuous contact. They were from two to two and a half feet wide, often driven in parallels with cross-cuts between, in order to exploit every corner of the contact. The stoping of ore-bodies discovered was undertaken quite systematically, the methods depending in the main on the shape of the ore-body. If the body was large, its dimensions were first determined by drives, crosscuts, rises, and [Pg 29]winzes, as the case might require. If the ore was mainly overhead it was overhand-stoped, and the stopes filled as work progressed, inclined winzes being occasionally driven from the stopes to the original entry drives. If the ore was mainly below, it was underhand-stoped, pillars being left if necessary—such pillars in some cases being thirty feet high. They also employed timber and artificial pillars. The mines were practically dry. There is little evidence of breaking by fire. The ore was hand-sorted underground and carried out by the slaves, and in some cases apparently the windlass was used. It was treated by grinding in mills and concentrating upon a sort of buddle. These concentrates—mostly galena—were smelted in low furnaces and the lead was subsequently cupelled. Further details of metallurgical methods will be found in Notes on p. 391 and p. 465, on metallurgical subjects.

The mines were worked by slaves. Even the overseers were at times apparently slaves, for we find (Xenophon, Memorabilia, II., 5) that Nicias paid a whole talent for a good overseer. A talent would be about 837 Troy ounces of silver. As wages of skilled labour were about two and one half pennyweights of silver per diem, and a family income of 100 ounces of silver per annum was affluence, the ratio of purchasing power of Attic coinage to modern would be about 100 to 1. Therefore this mine manager was worth in modern value roughly £8,000. The mines were the property of the State. The areas were defined by vertical boundaries, and were let on lease for definite periods for a fixed annual rent. More ample discussion of the law will be found on p. 83.

[7] Xenophon. (Essay on The Revenues, IV., 30). "I think, however, that I am able to give some advice with regard to this difficulty also (the risk of opening new mines), and to show how new operations may be conducted with the greatest safety. There are ten tribes at Athens, and if to each of these the State should assign an equal number of slaves, and the tribes should all make new cuttings, sharing their fortunes in common, then if but one tribe should make any useful discovery it would point out something profitable to the whole; but if two, three, or four, or half the number should make some discovery, it is plain that the works would be more profitable in proportion, and that they should all fail is contrary to all experience in past times." (Watson's Trans. p. 258).

[8] Agricola here refers to the proposal of Xenophon for the State to collect slaves and hire them to work the mines of Laurion. There is no evidence that this recommendation was ever carried out.

[9] Partes. Agricola, p. 89-91, describes in detail the organization and management of these share companies. See Note 8, p. 90.

[Pg 31][10] This island in the northern Ægean Sea has produced this "earth" from before Theophrastus' time (372-287 B.C.) down to the present day. According to Dana (System of Mineralogy 689), it is cimolite, a hydrous silicate of aluminium. The Ancients distinguished two kinds,—one sort used as a pigment, and the other for medicinal purposes. This latter was dug with great ceremony at a certain time of the year, moulded into cubes, and stamped with a goat,—the symbol of Diana. It thus became known as terra sigillata, and was an article of apothecary commerce down to the last century. It is described by Galen (XII., 12), Dioscorides (V., 63), and Pliny (XXXV., 14), as a remedy for ulcers and snake bites.

[Pg 33][11] Magister Metallorum. See Note 1, p. 78, for the reasons of the adoption of the term Bergmeister and page 95 for details of his duties.

[12] Ramenta. "Particles." The author uses this term indifferently for fragments, particles of mineral, concentrates, gold dust, black tin, etc., in all cases the result of either natural or artificial concentration. As in technical English we have no general term for both natural and artificial "concentrates," we have rendered it as the context seemed to demand.

[13] A certain amount of bitumen does float ashore in the Dead Sea; the origin of it is, however, uncertain. Strabo (XVI., 2, 42), Pliny (V., 15 and 16), and Josephus (IV., 8), all mention this fact. The lake for this reason is often referred to by the ancient writers by the name Asphaltites.

[Pg 34][14] Excoctor,—literally, "Smelter" or "Metallurgist."

[15] This reference should be to the De Natura Fossilium (p. 230), although there is a short reference to the matter in De Ortu et Causis (p. 59). Agricola maintained that not only were jet and amber varieties of bitumen, but also coal and camphor and obsidian. As jet (gagates) is but a compact variety of coal, the ancient knowledge of this substance has more interest than would otherwise attach to the gem, especially as some materials described in this connection were no doubt coal. The Greeks often refer to a series of substances which burned, contained earth, and which no doubt comprised coal. Such substances are mentioned by Aristotle (De Mirabilibus. 33, 41, 125), Nicander (Theriaca. 37), and others, previous to the 2nd Century B.C., but the most ample description is that of Theophrastus (23-28): "Some of the more brittle stones there also are, which become as it were burning coals when put into a fire, and continue so a long time; of this kind are those about Bena, found in mines and washed down by the torrents, for they will take fire on burning coals being thrown on them, and will continue burning as long as anyone blows them; afterward they will deaden, and may after that be made to burn again. They are therefore of long continuance, but their smell is troublesome and disagreeable. That also which is called the spinus, is found in mines. This stone, cut in pieces and thrown together in a heap, exposed to the sun, burns; and that the more, if it be moistened or sprinkled with water (a pyritiferous shale?). But the Lipara stone empties itself, as it were, in burning, and becomes like the pumice, changing at once both its colour and density; for before burning it is black, smooth, and compact. This stone is found in the Pumices, separately in different places, as it were, in [Pg 35]cells, nowhere continuous to the matter of them. It is said that in Melos the pumice is produced in this manner in some other stone, as this is on the contrary in it; but the stone which the pumice is found in is not at all like the Lipara stone which is found in it. Certain stones there are about Tetras, in Sicily, which is over against Lipara, which empty themselves in the same manner in the fire. And in the promontory called Erineas, there is a great quantity of stone like that found about Bena, which, when burnt, emits a bituminous smell, and leaves a matter resembling calcined earth. Those fossil substances that are called coals, and are broken for use, are earthy; they kindle, however, and burn like wood coals. These are found in Liguria, where there also is amber, and in Elis, on the way to Olympia over the mountains. These are used by smiths." (Based on Hill's Trans.). Dioscorides and Pliny add nothing of value to this description.

Agricola (De Nat. Fos., p. 229-230) not only gives various localities of jet, but also records its relation to coal. As to the latter, he describes several occurrences, and describes the deposits as vena dilatata. Coal had come into considerable use all over Europe, particularly in England, long before Agricola's time; the oft-mentioned charter to mine sea-coal given to the Monks of Newbottle Abbey, near Preston, was dated 1210.

Amber was known to the Greeks by the name electrum, but whether the alloy of the same name took its name from the colour of amber or vice versa is uncertain. The gum is supposed to be referred to by Homer (Od. XV. 460), and Thales of Miletus (640-546 B.C.) is supposed to have first described its power of attraction. It is mentioned by many other Greek authors, Æschylus, Euripides, Aristotle, and others. The latter (De Mirabilibus, 81) records of the amber islands in the Adriatic, that the inhabitants tell the story that on these islands amber falls from poplar trees. "This, they say, resembles gum and hardens like stone, the story of the poets being that after Phaeton was struck by lightning his sisters turned to poplar trees and shed tears of amber." Theophrastus (53) says: "Amber is also a stone; it is dug out of the earth in Liguria and has, like the before-mentioned (lodestone), a power of attraction." Pliny (XXXVII., 11) gives a long account of both the substance, literature, and mythology on the subject. His view of its origin was: "Certainly amber is obtained from the islands of the Northern Ocean, and is called by the Germans glaesum. For this reason the Romans, when Germanicus Cæsar commanded in those parts, called one of them Glaesaria, which was known to the barbarians as Austeravia. Amber originates from gum discharged by a kind of pine tree, like gum from cherry and resin from the ordinary pine. It is liquid at first, and issues abundantly and hardens in time by cold, or by the sea when the rising tides carry off the fragments from the shores of those islands. Certainly it is thrown on the coasts, and is so light that it appears to roll in the water. Our forefathers believed that it was the juice of a tree, for they called it succinum. And that it belongs to a kind of pine tree is proved by the odour of the pine tree which it gives when rubbed, and that it burns when ignited like a pitch pine torch." The term amber is of Arabic origin—from Ambar—and this term was adopted by the Greeks after the Christian era. Agricola uses the Latin term succinum and (De Nat. Fos., p. 231-5) disputes the origin from tree gum, and contends for submarine bitumen springs.

[Pg 36][16] The statement in De Veteribus et Novis Metallis (p. 394) is as follows:—

"It came about by chance and accident that the silver mines were discovered at Freiberg in Meissen. By the river Sala, which is not unknown to Strabo, is Hala, which was once country, but is now a large town; the site, at any rate, even from Roman times was famous and renowned for its salt springs, for the possession of which the Hermunduri fought with the Chatti. When people carried the salt thence in wagons, as they now do straight through Meissen (Saxony) into Bohemia—which is lacking in that seasoning to-day no less than formerly—they saw galena in the wheel tracks, which had been uncovered by the torrents. This lead ore, since it was similar to that of Goslar, they put into their carts and carried to Goslar, for the same carriers were accustomed to carry lead from that city. And since much more silver was smelted from this galena than from that of Goslar, certain miners betook themselves to that part of Meissen in which is now situated Freiberg, a great and wealthy town; and we are told by consistent stories and general report that they grew rich out of the mines." Agricola places the discovery of the mines at Freiberg at about 1170. See Note 11, p. 5.

[17] Diodorus Siculus (V., 35). "These places being covered with woods, it is said that in ancient times these mountains were set on fire by shepherds, and continued burning for many days, and parched the earth, so that an abundance of silver ore was melted, and the metal flowed in streams of pure silver like a river." Aristotle, nearly three centuries before Diodorus, mentions this same story (De Mirabilibus, 87): "They say that in Ibernia the woods were set on fire by certain shepherds, and the earth thus heated, the country visibly flowed silver; and when some time later there were earthquakes, and the earth burst asunder at different places, a large amount of silver was collected." As the works of Posidonius are lost, it is probable that Agricola was quoting from Strabo (III., 2, 9), who says, in describing Spain: "Posidonius, in praising the amount and excellence of the metals, cannot refrain from his accustomed rhetoric, and becomes quite enthusiastic in exaggeration. He tells us we are not to disbelieve the fable that formerly the forests having been set on fire, the earth, which was loaded with silver and gold, melted and threw up these metals to the surface, for inasmuch as every mountain and wooded hill seemed to be heaped up with money by a lavish fortune." (Hamilton's Trans. I., p. 220). Or he may have been quoting from the Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus (VI.), where Posidonius is quoted: "And the mountains ... when once the woods upon them had caught fire, spontaneously ran with liquid silver."

[Pg 37][18] Lucretius, De Rerum Natura V. 1241.

[19] Agricola's account of this event in De Veteribus et Novis Metallis is as follows (p. 393): "Now veins are not always first disclosed by the hand and labour of man, nor has art always demonstrated them; sometimes they have been disclosed rather by chance or by good fortune. I will explain briefly what has been written upon this matter in history, what miners tell us, and what has occurred in our times. Thus the mines at Goslar are said to have been found in the following way. A certain noble, whose name is not recorded, tied his horse, which was named Ramelus, to the branch of a tree which grew on the mountain. This horse, pawing the earth with its hoofs, which were iron shod, and thus turning it over, uncovered a hidden vein of lead, not unlike the winged Pegasus, who in the legend of the poets opened a spring when he beat the rock with his hoof. So just as that spring is named Hippocrene after that horse, so our ancestors named the mountain Rammelsberg. Whereas the perennial water spring of the poets would long ago have dried up, the vein even to-day exists, and supplies an abundant amount of excellent lead. That a horse can have opened a vein will seem credible to anyone who reflects in how many ways the signs of veins are shown by chance, all of which are explained in my work De Re Metallica. Therefore, here we will believe the story, both because it may happen that a horse may disclose a vein, and because the name of the mountain agrees with the story." Agricola places the discovery of Goslar in the Hartz at prior to 936. See Note 11, p. 5.

[20] Fragmenta. The glossary gives "Geschube." This term is defined in the Bergwerks' Lexicon (Chemnitz, 1743, p. 250) as the pieces of stone, especially tin-stone, broken from the vein and washed out by the water—the croppings.

[Pg 38][21] So far as we are able to discover, this is the first published description of the divining rod as applied to minerals or water. Like Agricola, many authors have sought to find its origin among the Ancients. The magic rods of Moses and Homer, especially the rod with which the former struck the rock at Horeb, the rod described by Ctesias (died 398 B.C.) which attracted gold and silver, and the virgula divina of the Romans have all been called up for proof. It is true that the Romans are responsible for the name virgula divina, "divining rod," but this rod was used for taking auguries by casting bits of wood (Cicero, De Divinatione). Despite all this, while the ancient naturalists all give detailed directions for finding water, none mention anything akin to the divining rod of the Middle Ages. It is also worth noting that the Monk Theophilus in the 12th Century also gives a detailed description of how to find water, but makes no mention of the rod. There are two authorities sometimes cited as prior to Agricola, the first being Basil Valentine in his "Last Will and Testament" (XXIV-VIII.), and while there may be some reason (see Appendix) for accepting the authenticity of the "Triumphal Chariot of Antimony" by this author, as dating about 1500, there can be little doubt that the "Last Will and Testament" was spurious and dated about 50 years after Agricola. Paracelsus (De Natura Rerum IX.), says: "These (divinations) are vain and misleading, and among the first of them are divining rods, which have deceived many miners. If they once point rightly they deceive ten or twenty times." In his De Origine Morborum Invisibilium (Book I.) he adds that the "faith turns the rod." These works were no doubt written prior to De Re Metallica—Paracelsus died in 1541—but they were not published until some time afterward. Those interested in the strange persistence of this superstition down to the present day—and the files of the patent offices of the world are full of it—will find the subject exhaustively discussed in M. E. Chevreul's "De la Baguette Divinatoire," Paris, 1845; L. Figuier, "Histoire du Merveilleux dans les temps moderne II.", Paris, 1860; W. F. Barrett, Proceedings of the Society of Psychical Research, part 32, 1897, and 38, 1900; R. W. Raymond, American Inst. of Mining Engineers, 1883, p. 411. Of the descriptions by those who believed in it there is none better than that of William Pryce (Mineralogia Cornubiensis, London, 1778, pp. 113-123), who devotes much pains to a refutation of Agricola. When we consider that a century later than Agricola such an advanced mind as Robert Boyle (1626-1691), the founder of the Royal Society, was convinced of the genuineness of the divining rod, one is more impressed with the clarity of Agricola's vision. In fact, there were few indeed, down to the 19th Century, who did not believe implicitly in the effectiveness of this instrument, and while science has long since abandoned it, not a year passes but some new manifestation of its hold on the popular mind breaks out.

[Pg 40][22] Exodus VII., 10, 11, 12.

[23] Odyssey XVI., 172, and X., 238.

[Pg 41][24] Odyssey XXIV., 1, etc. The Caduceus of Hermes had also the power of turning things to gold, and it is interesting to note that in its oldest form, as the insignia of heralds and of ambassadors, it had two prongs.

[25] In a general way venae profundae were fissure veins and venae dilatatae were sheeted deposits. For description see Book III.

[Pg 42][26] These mines are in the Erzgebirge. We have adopted the names given in the German translation.

[27] The quotation from Pliny (XXXIII., 31) as a whole reads as follows:—

"Silver is found in nearly all the provinces, but the finest of all in Spain; where it is found in the barren lands, and in the mountains. Wherever one vein of silver has been found, another is sure to be found not far away. This is the case of nearly all the metals, whence it appears that the Greeks derived metalla. It is wonderful that the shafts begun by Hannibal in Spain still remain, their names being derived from their makers. One of these at the present day called Baebelo, furnished Hannibal with three hundred pounds' weight (of silver) per day. This mountain is excavated for a distance of fifteen hundred paces; and for this distance there are waterbearers lighted by torches standing night and day baling out the water in turns, thus making quite a river." Hannibal dates 247-183 B.C. and was therefore dead 206 years when Pliny was born. According to a footnote in Bostock and Riley's translation of Pliny, these workings were supposed to be in the neighbourhood of Castulo, now Cazlona, near Linares. It was at Castulo that Hannibal married his rich wife Himilce; and in the hills north of Linares there are ancient silver mines still known as Los Pozos de Anibal.

[Pg 43]



reviously I have given much information concerning the miners, also I have discussed the choice of localities for mining, for washing sands, and for evaporating waters; further, I described the method of searching for veins. With such matters I was occupied in the second book; now I come to the third book, which is about veins and stringers, and the seams in the rocks[1]. The term "vein" is sometimes used to indicate canales in the earth, but very often elsewhere by this name I have described that which may be put in vessels[2]; I now attach a second significance to these words, for by them I mean to designate any mineral substances which the earth keeps hidden within her own deep receptacles.

[Pg 44]

Vein in mountain
A, C—The mountain. B—Vena profunda. [Pg 45]
First I will speak of the veins, which, in depth, width, and length, differ very much one from another. Those of one variety descend from the surface of the earth to its lowest depths, which on account of this characteristic, I am accustomed to call "venae profundae."

[Pg 45]

Vein in mountain
A, D—The mountain. B, C—Vena dilatata. [Pg 45]
Another kind, unlike the venae profundae, neither ascend to the surface of the earth nor descend, but lying under the ground, expand over a large area; and on that account I call them "venae dilatatae."

[Pg 46]

Veins in mountain
A, B, C, D—The mountain. E, F, G, H, I, K—Vena cumulata. [Pg 49]
Another occupies a large extent of space in length and width; therefore I usually call it "vena cumulata," for it is nothing else than an accumulation of some certain kind of mineral, as I have described in the book [Pg 47]entitled De Subterraneorum Ortu et Causis. It occasionally happens, though it is unusual and rare, that several accumulations of this kind are found in one place, each one or more fathoms in depth and four or five in [Pg 48]width, and one is distant from another two, three, or more fathoms. When the excavation of these accumulations begins, they at first appear in the shape of a disc; then they open out wider; finally from each of such [Pg 49]accumulations is usually formed a "vena cumulata."

[Pg 51]

Veins in mountain
A—Vena profunda. B—Intervenium. C—Another vena profunda. [Pg 50]
Veins in mountain
A & B—Vena dilatatae. C—Intervenium. D & E—Other venae dilatatae. [Pg 50]
The space between two veins is called an intervenium; this interval between the veins, if it is between venae dilatatae is entirely hidden underground. If, however, it lies between venae profundae then the top is plainly in sight, and the remainder is hidden.

Veins in mountain
A—Wide vena profunda. B—Narrow vena profunda. [Pg 53]
Venae profundae differ greatly one from another in width, for some of them are one fathom wide, some are two cubits, others one cubit; others again are a foot wide, and some only half a foot; all of which our miners call wide veins. Others on the contrary, are only a palm wide, others three digits, [Pg 52]or even two; these they call narrow. But in other places where there are very wide veins, the widths of a cubit, or a foot, or half a foot, are said to be narrow; at Cremnitz, for instance, there is a certain vein which measures in one place fifteen fathoms in width, in another eighteen, and in another twenty; the truth of this statement is vouched for by the inhabitants.

[Pg 53]

Veins in mountain
A—Thin vena dilatata. B—Thick vena dilatata. [Pg 54]
Venae dilatatae, in truth, differ also in thickness, for some are one fathom thick, others two, or even more; some are a cubit thick, some a foot, some only half a foot; and all these are usually called thick veins. Some on the other hand, are but a palm thick, some three digits, some two, some one; these are called thin veins.

[Pg 54]

Seams in the Rocks
A, B, C—Vein. D, E, F—Seams in the Rock (Commissurae Saxorum). [Pg 54]
Venae profundae vary in direction; for some run from east to west.

[Pg 55]

Seams in the Rocks
A, B, C—Vein. D, E, F—Seams in the Rocks. [Pg 55]
Others, on the other hand, run from west to east.

Seams in the Rocks
A, B, C—Vein. D, E, F—Seams in the Rocks. [Pg 55]
Others run from south to north.

[Pg 56]

Seams in the Rocks
A, B, C—Vein. D, E, F—Seams in the Rocks. [Pg 56]
Others, on the contrary, run from north to south.

The seams in the rocks indicate to us whether a vein runs from the east or from the west. For instance, if the rock seams incline toward the westward as they descend into the earth, the vein is said to run from east to west; if they incline toward the east, the vein is said to run from west to east; in a similar manner, we determine from the rock seams whether the veins run north or south.

[Pg 57]
Now miners divide each quarter of the earth into six divisions; and by this method they apportion the earth into twenty-four directions, which they divide into two parts of twelve each. The instrument which indicates these directions is thus constructed. First a circle is made; then at equal intervals on one half portion of it right through to the other, twelve straight lines called by the Greeks διάμετροι, and in the Latin dimetientes, are drawn through a central point which the Greeks call κέντρον, so that the circle is thus divided into twenty-four divisions, all being of an equal size. Then, within the circle are inscribed three other circles, the outermost of which has cross-lines dividing it into twenty-four equal parts; the space between it and the next circle contains two sets of twelve numbers, inscribed on the lines called "diameters"; while within the innermost circle it is hollowed out to contain a magnetic needle[3]. The needle lies directly [Pg 57]over that one of the twelve lines called "diameters" on which the number XII is inscribed at both ends.

When the needle which is governed by the magnet points directly from the north to the south, the number XII at its tail, which is forked, signifies the north, that number XII which is at its point indicates the south. The sign VI superior indicates the east, and VI inferior the west. Further, between each two cardinal points there are always five others which are not so important. The first two of these directions are called the prior directions; the last two are called the posterior, and the fifth direction lies immediately between the former and the latter; it is halved, and one half is attributed to one cardinal point and one half to the other. For example, between the northern number XII and the eastern number VI, are points numbered I, II, III, IV, V, of which I and [Pg 58]II are northern directions lying toward the east, IV and V are eastern directions lying toward the north, and III is assigned, half to the north and half to the east.

One who wishes to know the direction of the veins underground, places over the vein the instrument just described; and the needle, as soon as it becomes quiet, will indicate the course of the vein. That is, if the vein proceeds from VI to VI, it either runs from east to west, or from west to east; but whether it be the former or the latter, is clearly shown by the seams in the rocks. If the vein proceeds along the line which is between V and VI toward the opposite direction, it runs from between the fifth and sixth divisions of east to the west, or from between the fifth and sixth divisions of west to the east; and again, whether it is the one or the other is clearly shown by the seams in the rocks. In a similar manner we determine the other directions.

Compass with winds
[Pg 59]
Now miners reckon as many points as the sailors do in reckoning up the number of the winds. Not only is this done to-day in this country, but it was also done by the Romans who in olden times gave the winds partly Latin names and partly names borrowed from the Greeks. Any miner who pleases may therefore call the directions of the veins by the names of the winds. There are four principal winds, as there are four cardinal points: the Subsolanus, which blows from the east; and its opposite the Favonius, which blows from the west; the latter is called by the Greeks Ζέφυρος, and the former ̓Απηλιώτης. There is the Auster, which blows from the south; and opposed to it is the Septentrio, from the north; the former the Greeks called Νότος, and the latter ̓Απαρκτίας. There are also subordinate winds, to the number of twenty, as there are directions, for between each two principal winds there are always five subordinate ones. Between the Subsolanus (east wind) and the Auster (south wind) there is the Ornithiae or the Bird wind, which has the first place next to the Subsolanus; then comes Caecias; then Eurus, which lies in the midway of these five; next comes Vulturnus; and lastly, Euronotus, nearest the Auster (south wind). The Greeks have given these names to all of these, with the exception of Vulturnus, but those who do not distinguish the winds in so precise a manner say this is the same as the Greeks called Εὖρος. Between the Auster (south wind) and the Favonius (west wind) is first Altanus, to the right of the Auster (south wind); then Libonotus; then Africus, which is the middle one of these five; after that comes Subvesperus; next Argestes, to the left of Favonius (west wind). All these, with the exception of Libonotus and Argestes, have Latin names; but Africus also is called by the Greeks Λίψ. In a similar manner, between Favonius (west wind) and Septentrio (north wind), first to the right of Favonius (west wind), is the Etesiae; then Circius; then Caurus, which is in the middle of these five; then Corus; and lastly Thrascias to the left of Septentrio (north wind). To all of these, except that of Caurus, the Greeks gave the names, and those who do not distinguish the winds by so exact a plan, assert that the wind which the Greeks called Κόρος and the Latins Caurus is one and the same. [Pg 59]Again, between Septentrio (north wind) and the Subsolanus (east wind), the first to the right of Septentrio (north wind) is Gallicus; then Supernas; then Aquilo, which is the middle one of these five; next comes Boreas; and lastly Carbas, to the left of Subsolanus (east wind). Here again, those who do not consider the winds to be in so great a multitude, but say there are but twelve winds in all, or at the most fourteen, assert that the wind called by the Greeks Βορέας and the Latins Aquilo is one and the same. For our purpose it is not only useful to adopt this large number of winds, but even to double it, as the German sailors do. They always reckon that between each two there is one in the centre taken from both. By this method we [Pg 60]also are able to signify the intermediate directions by means of the names of the winds. For instance, if a vein runs from VI east to VI west, it is said to proceed from Subsolanus (east wind) to Favonius (west wind); but one which proceeds from between V and VI of the east to between V and VI west is said to proceed out of the middle of Carbas and Subsolanus to between Argestes and Favonius; the remaining directions, and their intermediates are similarly designated. The miner, on account of the natural properties of a magnet, by which the needle points to the south, must fix the instrument already described so that east is to the left and west to the right.

Veins in mountain
A, B—Venae dilatatae. C—Seams in the Rocks. [Pg 60]
In a similar way to venae profundae, the venae dilatatae vary in their lateral directions, and we are able to understand from the seams in the rocks in which direction they extend into the ground. For if these incline toward the west in depth, the vein is said to extend from east to west; if on the contrary, they incline toward the east, the vein is said to go from west to east. In the same way, from the rock seams we can determine veins running south and north, or the reverse, and likewise to the subordinate directions and their intermediates.

Veins in mountain
A—Straight vena profunda. B—Curved vena profunda [should be vena dilatata(?)]. [Pg 61]
Further, as regards the question of direction of a vena profunda, one runs straight from one quarter of the earth to that quarter which is opposite, while another one runs in a curve, in which case it may happen that a vein proceeding from the east does not turn to the quarter opposite, which is the west, but twists itself and turns to the south or the north.

[Pg 61]

Veins in mountain
A—Horizontal vena dilatata. B—Inclined vena dilatata. C—Curved vena dilatata. [Pg 61]
Similarly some venae dilatatae are horizontal, some are inclined, and some are curved.

[Pg 62]

Veins in mountain
[Pg 62]
Also the veins which we call profundae differ in the manner in which they descend into the depths of the earth; for some are vertical (A), some are inclined and sloping (B), others crooked (C).

Veins in mountain
[Pg 62]
Moreover, venae profundae (B) differ much among themselves regarding the kind of locality through which they pass, for some extend along the slopes of mountains or hills (A-C) and do not descend down the sides.

[Pg 63]

Veins in mountain
[Pg 63]
Other Venae Profundae (D, E, F) from the very summit of the mountain or hill descend the slope (A) to the hollow or valley (B), and they again ascend the slope or the side of the mountain or hill opposite (C).

Veins in mountain
[Pg 63]
Other Venae Profundae (C, D) descend the mountain or hill (A) and extend out into the plain (B).

[Pg 64]

Veins in mountain
A—Mountainous Plain. B—Vena profunda. [Pg 64]
Some veins run straight along on the plateaux, the hills, or plains.

[Pg 65]

Intersections of Veins
A—Principal vein. B—Transverse vein. C—Vein cutting principal one obliquely. [Pg 64]
In the next place, venae profundae differ not a little in the manner in which they intersect, since one may cross through a second transversely, or one may cross another one obliquely as if cutting it in two.

Intersections of Veins
A—Principal vein. B—Vein which cuts A obliquely. C—Part carried away. D—That part which has been carried forward. [Pg 65]
If a vein which cuts through another principal one obliquely be the harder of the two, it penetrates right through it, just as a wedge of beech or iron can be driven through soft wood by means of a tool. If it be softer, the principal vein either drags the soft one with it for a distance of three feet, or perhaps one, two, three, or several fathoms, or else throws it forward along the principal vein; but this latter happens very rarely. But that the vein which cuts the principal one is the same vein on both sides, is shown by its having the same character in its footwalls and hangingwalls.

Intersections of Veins
A, B—Two veins descend inclined and dip toward each other. C—Junction. Likewise two veins. D—Indicates one descending vertically. E—Marks the other descending inclined, which dips toward D. F—Their junction. [Pg 66]
Sometimes venae profundae join one with another, and from two or more outcropping veins[4], one is formed; or from two which do not outcrop one is made, if they are not far distant from each other, and the one dips into the other, or if each dips toward the other, and they thus join when they have descended in depth. In exactly the same way, out of three or more veins, one may be formed in depth.

[Pg 67]

Intersections of Veins
[Pg 66]
However, such a junction of veins sometimes disunites and in this way it happens that the vein which was the right-hand vein becomes the left; and again, the one which was on the left becomes the right.

Intersections of Veins
A, B—Veins dividing. C—The same joining. [Pg 67]
Furthermore, one vein may be split and divided into parts by some hard rock resembling a beak, or stringers in soft rock may sunder the vein and make two or more. These sometimes join together again and sometimes remain divided.

Whether a vein is separating from or uniting with another can be determined only from the seams in the rocks. For example, if a principal vein runs from the east to the west, the rock seams descend in depth likewise from the east toward the west, and the associated vein which joins with the principal vein, whether it runs from the south or the north, has its rock seams extending in the same way as its own, and they do not conform with the seams in the rock of the principal vein—which remain the same after the junction—unless the associated vein proceeds in the same direction as the principal vein. In that case we name the broader vein the principal one, and the narrower the associated vein. But if the principal vein splits, the rock seams which belong respectively to the parts, keep the same course when descending in depth as those of the principal vein.

Intersections of Veins
A, C—Vena dilatata crossing a vena profunda. B—Vena profunda. D, E—Vena dilatata which junctions with a vena profunda. F—Vena profunda. G—Vena dilatata. H, I—Its divided parts. K—Vena profunda which divides the vena dilatata. [Pg 68]
But enough of venae profundae, their junctions and divisions. Now we come to venae dilatatae. A vena dilatata may either cross a vena profunda, or join with it, or it may be cut by a vena profunda, and be divided into parts.

[Pg 68]

Veins in mountain
A—The "beginning" (origo). B—The "end" (finis). C—The "head" (caput). D—The "tail" (cauda). [Pg 69]
Finally, a vena profunda has a "beginning" (origo), an "end" (finis), a "head" (caput), and a "tail" (cauda). That part whence it takes its rise is said to be its "beginning," that in which it terminates the "end." Its "head"[5] is that part which emerges into daylight; its "tail" that part which is hidden in the earth. But miners have no need to seek the "beginning" of veins, as formerly the kings of Egypt sought for the source of the Nile, but it is enough for them to discover some other part of the vein and to recognise its direction, for seldom can either the "beginning" or the "end" be found. The direction in which the head of the vein comes into the light, or the direction toward which the tail extends, is indicated by its footwall and hangingwall. The latter is said to hang, and the former to lie. The vein rests on the footwall, and the hangingwall overhangs it; thus, when we descend a shaft, the part to which we turn the face is the footwall and seat of the vein, that to which we turn the back is the hangingwall. Also in another way, the head accords with the footwall and the tail with the hangingwall, for if the footwall is toward the south, the vein extends its head into the light toward the south; and the hangingwall, because it is always opposite to the footwall, is then toward the north. Consequently the vein extends its tail toward the north if it is an inclined vena profunda. Similarly, we can determine with regard to east and west and the subordinate and their intermediate directions. A vena profunda which descends into the earth may be either vertical, inclined, or crooked; the footwall of an inclined vein is easily distinguished from the hangingwall, but it is not so with a vertical vein; and again, the footwall of a crooked vein is inverted and changed into the hangingwall, and contrariwise the hangingwall is twisted into the footwall, but very many of these crooked veins may be turned back to vertical or inclined ones.

[Pg 69]

Veins in mountain
A—The "beginning." B—The "end." C, D—The "sides." [Pg 69]
A vena dilatata has only a "beginning" and an "end," and in the place of the "head" and "tail" it has two sides.

[Pg 70]

Veins in mountain
A—The "beginning." B—The "end." C—The "head." D—The "tail." E—Transverse vein. [Pg 70]
A vena cumulata has a "beginning," an "end," a "head," and a "tail," just as a vena profunda. Moreover, a vena cumulata, and likewise a vena dilatata, are often cut through by a transverse vena profunda.

Fibra dilatata
A, B—Veins. C—Transverse stringer. D—Oblique stringer. E—Associated stringer. F—Fibra dilatata. [Pg 71]
Stringers (fibrae)[6], which are little veins, are classified into fibrae transversae, fibrae obliquae which cut the vein obliquely, fibrae sociae, fibrae dilatatae, and fibrae incumbentes. The fibra transversa crosses the vein; the fibra obliqua crosses the vein obliquely; the fibra socia joins with the vein itself; the fibra dilatata, like the vena dilatata, penetrates through it; but the fibra dilatata, as well as the fibra profunda, is usually found associated with a vein.

Fibra incumbens
A—Vein. B—Fibra incumbens from the surface of the hangingwall. C—Same from the footwall. [Pg 71]
The fibra incumbens does not descend as deeply into the earth as the other stringers, but lies on the vein, as it were, from the surface to the hangingwall or footwall, from which it is named Subdialis.[7]

In truth, as to direction, junctions, and divisions, the stringers are not different from the veins.

[Pg 72]

Seams in the Rocks
A—Seams which proceed from the east. B—The inverse. [Pg 72]
Lastly, the seams, which are the very finest stringers (fibrae), divide the rock, and occur sometimes frequently, sometimes rarely. From whatever direction the vein comes, its seams always turn their heads toward the light in the same direction. But, while the seams usually run from one point of the compass to another immediately opposite it, as for instance, from east to west, if hard stringers divert them, it may happen that these very seams, which before were running from east to west, then contrariwise proceed from west to east, and the direction of the rocks is thus inverted. In such a case, the direction of the veins is judged, not by the direction of the seams which occur rarely, but by those which constantly recur.

Veins in mountain
A—Solid vein. B—Solid stringer. C—Cavernous vein. D—Cavernous stringer. E—Barren vein. F—Barren stringer. [Pg 73]
Both veins or stringers may be solid or drusy, or barren of minerals, or pervious to water. Solid veins contain no water and very little air. The drusy veins rarely contain water; they often contain air. Those which are barren of minerals often carry water. Solid veins and stringers consist sometimes of hard materials, sometimes of soft, and sometimes of a kind of medium between the two.

[Pg 73]

But to return to veins. A great number of miners consider[8] that the best veins in depth are those which run from the VI or VII direction of the east to the VI or VII direction of the west, through a mountain slope which inclines to the north; and whose hangingwalls are in the south, and whose footwalls are in the north, and which have their heads rising to the north, as explained before, always like the footwall, and finally, whose rock seams turn their heads to the east. And the veins which are the next [Pg 74]best are those which, on the contrary, extend from the VI or VII direction of the west to the VI or VII direction of the east, through the slope of a mountain which similarly inclines to the north, whose hangingwalls are also in the south, whose footwalls are in the north, and whose heads rise toward the north; and lastly, whose rock seams raise their heads toward the west. In the third place, they recommend those veins which extend from XII north to XII south, through the slope of a mountain which faces east; whose hangingwalls are in the west, whose footwalls are in the east; whose heads rise toward the east; and whose rock seams raise their heads toward the north. Therefore they devote all their energies to those veins, and give very little or nothing to those whose heads, or the heads of whose rock seams rise toward the south or west. For although they say these veins sometimes show bright specks of pure metal adhering to the stones, or they come upon lumps of metal, yet these are so few and far between that despite them it is not worth the trouble to excavate such veins; and miners who persevere in digging in the hope of coming upon a quantity of metal, always lose their time and trouble. And they say that from veins of this kind, since the sun's rays draw out the metallic material, very little metal is gained. But in this matter the actual experience of the miners who thus judge of the veins does not always agree with their opinions, nor is their reasoning sound; since indeed the veins which run from east to west through the slope of a mountain which inclines to the south, whose heads rise likewise to the south, are not less charged with metals, than those to which miners are wont to accord the first place in productiveness; as in recent years has been proved by the St. Lorentz vein at Abertham, which our countrymen call Gottsgaab, for they have dug out of it a large quantity of pure silver; and lately a vein in Annaberg, called by the name of Himmelsch hoz[9], has made it [Pg 75]plain by the production of much silver that veins which extend from the north to the south, with their heads rising toward the west, are no less rich in metals than those whose heads rise toward the east.

It may be denied that the heat of the sun draws the metallic material out of these veins; for though it draws up vapours from the surface of the ground, the rays of the sun do not penetrate right down to the depths; because the air of a tunnel which is covered and enveloped by solid earth to the depth of only two fathoms is cold in summer, for the intermediate earth holds in check the force of the sun. Having observed this fact, the inhabitants and dwellers of very hot regions lie down by day in caves which protect them from the excessive ardour of the sun. Therefore it is unlikely that the sun draws out from within the earth the metallic bodies. Indeed, it cannot even dry the moisture of many places abounding in veins, because they are protected and shaded by the trees. Furthermore, certain miners, out of all the different kinds of metallic veins, choose those which I have described, and others, on the contrary, reject copper mines which are of this sort, so that there seems to be no reason in this. For what can be the reason if the sun draws no copper from copper veins, that it draws silver from silver veins, and gold from gold veins?

Moreover, some miners, of whose number was Calbus[10], distinguish between the gold-bearing rivers and streams. A river, they say, or a stream, is most productive of fine and coarse grains of gold when it comes from the east and flows to the west, and when it washes against the foot of mountains which are situated in the north, and when it has a level plain toward the south or west. In the second place, they esteem a river or a stream which flows in the opposite course from the west toward the east, and which has the mountains to the north and the level plain to the south. In the third place, they esteem the river or the stream which flows from the north to the south and washes the base of the mountains which are situated in the east. But they say that the river or stream is least productive of gold which flows in a contrary direction from the south to the north, and washes the base of [Pg 76]mountains which are situated in the west. Lastly, of the streams or rivers which flow from the rising sun toward the setting sun, or which flow from the northern parts to the southern parts, they favour those which approach the nearest to the lauded ones, and say they are more productive of gold, and the further they depart from them the less productive they are. Such are the opinions held about rivers and streams. Now, since gold is not generated in the rivers and streams, as we have maintained against Albertus[11] in the book entitled "De Subterraneorum Ortu et Causis," Book V, but is torn away from the veins and stringers and settled in the sands of torrents and water-courses, in whatever direction the rivers or streams flow, therefore it is reasonable to expect to find gold therein; which is not opposed by experience. Nevertheless, we do not deny that gold is generated in veins and stringers which lie under the beds of rivers or streams, as in other places.



[Pg 43][1] Modern nomenclature in the description of ore-deposits is so impregnated with modern views of their origin, that we have considered it desirable in many instances to adopt the Latin terms used by the author, for we believe this method will allow the reader greater freedom of judgment as to the author's views. The Latin names retained are usually expressive even to the non-Latin student. In a general way, a vena profunda is a fissure vein, a vena dilatata is a bedded deposit, and a vena cumulata an impregnation, or a replacement or a stockwerk. The canales, as will appear from the following footnote, were ore channels. "The seams of the rocks" (commissurae saxorum) are very puzzling. The author states, as appears in the following note, that they are of two kinds,—contemporaneous with the formation of the rocks, and also of the nature of veinlets. However, as to their supposed relation to the strike of veins, we can offer no explanation. There are passages in this chapter where if the word "ore-shoot" were introduced for "seams in the rocks" the text would be intelligible. That is, it is possible to conceive the view that the determination of whether an east-west vein ran east or ran west was dependent on the dip of the ore-shoot along the strike. This view, however, is utterly impossible to reconcile with the description and illustration of commissurae saxorum given on page 54, where they are defined as the finest stringers. The following passage from the Nützliche Bergbüchlin (see Appendix), reads very much as though the dip of ore-shoots was understood at this time in relation to the direction of veins. "Every vein (gang) has two (outcrops) ausgehen, one of the ausgehen is toward daylight along the whole length of the vein, which is called the ausgehen of the whole vein. The other ausgehen is contrary to or toward the strike (streichen) of the vein, according to its rock (gestein), that is called the gesteins ausgehen; for instance, every vein that has its strike from east to west has its gesteins ausgehen to the east, and vice-versa."

Agricola's classification of ore-deposits, after the general distinction between alluvial and in situ deposits, is based entirely upon form, as will be seen in the quotation below relating to the origin of canales. The German equivalents in the Glossary are as follows:—

Fissure vein (vena profunda)Gang.
Bedded deposit (vena dilatata)Schwebender gang oder fletze.
Stockwerk or impregnation (vena cumulata)Geschute oder stock.
Stringer (fibra)Klufft.
Seams or joints (commissurae saxorum)Absetzen des gesteins.

It is interesting to note that in De Natura Fossilium he describes coal and salt, and later in De Re Metallica he describes the Mannsfeld copper schists, as all being venae dilatatae. This nomenclature and classification is not original with Agricola. Pliny (XXXIII, 21) uses the term vena with no explanations, and while Agricola coined the Latin terms for various kinds of veins, they are his transliteration of German terms already in use. The Nützliche Bergbüchlin gives this same classification.

Historical Note on the Theory of Ore Deposits. Prior to Agricola there were three schools of explanation of the phenomena of ore deposits, the orthodox followers of the Genesis, the Greek Philosophers, and the Alchemists. The geology of the Genesis—the contemporaneous formation of everything—needs no comment other than that for anyone to have proposed an alternative to the dogma of the orthodox during the Middle Ages, required much [Pg 44]independence of mind. Of the Greek views—which are meagre enough—that of the Peripatetics greatly dominated thought on natural phenomena down to the 17th century. Aristotle's views may be summarized: The elements are earth, water, air, and fire; they are transmutable and never found pure, and are endowed with certain fundamental properties which acted as an "efficient" force upon the material cause—the elements. These properties were dryness and dampness and heat and cold, the latter being active, the former passive. Further, the elements were possessed of weight and lightness, for instance earth was absolutely heavy, fire absolutely light. The active and passive properties existed in binary combinations, one of which is characteristic, i.e., "earth" is cold and dry, water damp and cold, fire hot and dry, air hot and wet; transmutation took place, for instance, by removing the cold from water, when air resulted (really steam), and by removing the dampness from water, when "earth" resulted (really any dissolved substance). The transmutation of the elements in the earth (meaning the globe) produces two "exhalations," the one fiery (probably meaning gases), the other damp (probably meaning steam). The former produces stones, the latter the metals. Theophrastus (On Stones, I to VII.) elaborates the views of Aristotle on the origin of stones, metals, etc.: "Of things formed in the earth some have their origin from water, others from earth. Water is the basis of metals, silver, gold, and the rest; 'earth' of stones, as well the more precious as the common.... All these are formed by solidification of matter pure and equal in its constituent parts, which has been brought together in that state by mere afflux or by means of some kind of percolation, or separated.... The solidification is in some of these substances due to heat and in others to cold." (Based on Hill's Trans., pp. 3-11). That is, the metals inasmuch as they become liquid when heated must be in a large part water, and, like water, they solidify with cold. Therefore, the "metals are cold and damp." Stones, on the other hand, solidify with heat and do not liquefy, therefore, they are "dry and hot" and partake largely of "earth." This "earth" was something indefinite, but purer and more pristine than common clay. In discussing the ancient beliefs with regard to the origin of deposits, we must not overlook the import of the use of the word "vein" (vena) by various ancient authors including Pliny (XXXIII, 21), although he offers no explanation of the term.

During the Middle Ages there arose the horde of Alchemists and Astrologers, a review of the development of whose muddled views is but barren reading. In the main they held more or less to the Peripatetic view, with additions of their own. Geber (13th (?) century, see Appendix B) propounded the conception that all metals were composed of varying proportions of "spiritual" sulphur and quicksilver, and to these Albertus Magnus added salt. The Astrologers contributed the idea that the immediate cause of the metals were the various planets. The only work devoted to description of ore-deposits prior to Agricola was the Bergbüchlin (about 1520, see Appendix B), and this little book exhibits the absolute apogee of muddled thought derived from the Peripatetics, the Alchemists, and the Astrologers. We believe it is of interest to reproduce the following statement, if for no other reason than to indicate the great advance in thought shown by Agricola.

"The first chapter or first part; on the common origin of ore, whether silver, gold, tin, copper, iron, or lead ore, in which they all appear together, and are called by the common name of metallic ore. It must be noticed that for the washing or smelting of metallic ore, there must be the one who works and the thing that is worked upon, or the material upon which the work is expended. The general worker (efficient force) on the ore and on all things that are born, is the heavens, its movement, its light and influences, as the philosophers say. The influence of the heavens is multiplied by the movement of the firmaments and the movements of the seven planets. Therefore, every metallic ore receives a special influence from its own particular planet, due to the properties of the planet and of the ore, also due to properties of heat, cold, dampness, and dryness. Thus gold is of the Sun or its influence, silver of the Moon, tin of Jupiter, copper of Venus, iron of Mars, lead of Saturn, and quicksilver of Mercury. Therefore, metals are often called by these names by hermits and other philosophers. Thus gold is called the Sun, in Latin Sol, silver is called the Moon, in Latin Luna, as is clearly stated in the special chapters on each metal. Thus briefly have we spoken of the 'common worker' of metal and ore. But the thing worked upon, or the common material of all metals, according to the opinion of the learned, is sulphur and quicksilver, which through the movement and influence of the heavens must have become united and hardened into one metallic body or one ore. Certain others hold that through the movement and the influence of the heavens, vapours or braden, called mineral exhalations, are drawn up from the depths of the earth, from sulphur and quicksilver, and the rising fumes pass into the veins and stringers and are [Pg 46]united through the effect of the planets and made into ore. Certain others hold that metal is not formed from quicksilver, because in many places metallic ore is found and no quicksilver. But instead of quicksilver they maintain a damp and cold and slimy material is set up on all sulphur which is drawn out from the earth, like your perspiration, and from that mixed with sulphur all metals are formed. Now each of these opinions is correct according to a good understanding and right interpretation; the ore or metal is formed from the fattiness of the earth as the material of the first degree (primary element), also the vapours or braden on the one part and the materials on the other part, both of which are called quicksilver. Likewise in the mingling or union of the quicksilver and the sulphur in the ore, the sulphur is counted the male and quicksilver the female, as in the bearing or conception of a child. Also the sulphur is a special worker in ore or metal.

"The second chapter or part deals with the general capacity of the mountain. Although the influence of the heavens and the fitness of the material are necessary to the formation of ore or metal, yet these are not enough thereto. But there must be adaptability of the natural vessel in which the ore is formed, such are the veins, namely steinendegange, flachgange, schargange, creutzgange, or as these may be termed in provincial names. Also the mineral force must have easy access to the natural vessel such as through the kluffte (stringers), namely hengkluft, querklufte, flachekluffte, creutzklufft, and other occasional flotzwerk, according to their various local names. Also there must be a suitable place in the mountain which the veins and stringers can traverse."

Agricola's Views on the Origin of Ore Deposits. Agricola rejected absolutely the Biblical view which, he says, was the opinion of the vulgar; further, he repudiates the alchemistic and astrological view with great vigour. There can be no doubt, however, that he was greatly influenced by the Peripatetic philosophy. He accepted absolutely the four elements—earth, fire, water, and air, and their "binary" properties, and the theory that every substance had a material cause operated upon by an efficient force. Beyond this he did not go, and a large portion of De Ortu et Causis is devoted to disproof of the origin of metals and stones from the Peripatetic "exhalations."

No one should conclude that Agricola's theories are set out with the clarity of Darwin or Lyell. However, the matter is of such importance in the history of the theory of ore-deposits, and has been either so ignored or so coloured by the preconceptions of narrators, that we consider it justifiable to devote the space necessary to a reproduction of his own statements in De Ortu et Causis and other works. Before doing so we believe it will be of service to readers to summarize these views, and in giving quotations from the Author's other works, to group them under special headings, following the outline of his theory given below. His theory was:—

(1) Openings in the earth (canales) were formed by the erosion of subterranean waters.

(2) These ground waters were due (a) to the infiltration of the surface waters, rain, river, and sea water; (b) to the condensation of steam (halitus) arising from the penetration of the surface waters to greater depths,—the production of this halitus being due to subterranean heat, which in his view was in turn due in the main to burning bitumen (a comprehensive genera which embraced coal).

(3) The filling of these canales is composed of "earth," "solidified juices," "stone," metals, and "compounds," all deposited from water and "juices" circulating in the canales. (See also note 4, page 1).

"Earth" comprises clay, mud, ochre, marl, and "peculiar earths" generally. The origin of these "earths" was from rocks, due to erosion, transportation, and deposition by water. "Solidified juices" (succi concreti) comprised salt, soda, vitriol, bitumen, etc., being generally those substances which he conceived were soluble in and deposited from water. "Stones" comprised precious, semi-precious, and unusual stones, such as quartz, fluor-spar, etc., as distinguished from country rock; the origin of these he attributed in minor proportion to transportation of fragments of rock, but in the main to deposits from ordinary mineral juice and from "stone juice" (succus lapidescens). Metals comprised the seven traditional metals; the "compounds" comprised the metallic minerals; and both were due to deposition from juices, the compounds being due to a mixture of juices. The "juices" play the most important part in Agricola's theory. Each substance had its own particular juice, and in his theory every substance had a material and an efficient cause, the first being the juice, the second being heat or cold. Owing to the latter the juices fell into two categories—those solidified by heat (i.e., by evaporation, such as salt), and those solidified by cold, (i.e., because metals melt and flow by heat, therefore their solidification was due to cold, and the juice underwent similar treatment). As to the origin of these juices, some were generated by the solution of their own particular substance, but in the [Pg 47]main their origin was due to the combination of "dry things," such as "earth," with water, the mixture being heated, and the resultant metals depended upon the proportions of "earth" and water. In some cases we have been inclined to translate succus (juice) as "solution," but in other cases it embraced substances to which this would not apply, and we feared implying in the text a chemical understanding not warranted prior to the atomic theory. In order to distinguish between earths, (clays, etc.,) the Peripatetic "earth" (a pure element) and the earth (the globe) we have given the two former in quotation marks. There is no doubt some confusion between earth (clays, etc.) and the Peripatetic "earth," as the latter was a pure substance not found in its pristine form in nature; it is, however, difficult to distinguish between the two.

Origin of Canales (De Ortu, p. 35). "I now come to the canales in the earth. These are veins, veinlets, and what are called 'seams in the rocks.' These serve as vessels or receptacles for the material from which minerals (res fossiles) are formed. The term vena is most frequently given to what is contained in the canales, but likewise the same name is applied to the canales themselves. The term vein is borrowed from that used for animals, for just as their veins are distributed through all parts of the body, and just as by means of the veins blood is diffused from the liver throughout the whole body, so also the veins traverse the whole globe, and more particularly the mountainous districts; and water runs and flows through them. With regard to veinlets or stringers and 'seams in the rocks,' which are the thinnest stringers, the following is the mode of their arrangement. Veins in the earth, just like the veins of an animal, have certain veinlets of their own, but in a contrary way. For the larger veins of animals pour blood into the veinlets, while in the earth the humours are usually poured from the veinlets into the larger veins, and rarely flow from the larger into the smaller ones. As for the seams in the rocks (commissurae saxorum) we consider that they are produced by two methods: by the first, which is peculiar to themselves, they are formed at the same time as the rocks, for the heat bakes the refractory material into stone and the non-refractory material similarly heated exhales its humours and is made into 'earth,' generally friable. The other method is common also to veins and veinlets, when water is collected into one place it softens the rock by its liquid nature, and by its weight and pressure breaks and divides it. Now, if the rock is hard, it makes seams in the rocks and veinlets, and if it is not too hard it makes veins. However, if the rocks are not hard, seams and veinlets are created as well as veins. If these do not carry a very large quantity of water, or if they are pressed by a great volume of it, they soon discharge themselves into the nearest veins. The following appears to be the reason why some veinlets or stringers and veins are profundae and others dilatatae. The force of the water crushes and splits the brittle rocks; and when they are broken and split, it forces its way through them and passes on, at one time in a downward direction, making small and large venae profundae, at another time in a lateral direction, in which way venae dilatatae are formed. Now since in each class there are found some which are straight, some inclined, and some crooked, it should be explained that the water makes the vena profunda straight when it runs straight downward, inclined when it runs in an inclined direction; and that it makes a vena dilatata straight when it runs horizontally to the right or left, and in a similar way inclined when it runs in a sloping direction. Stringers and large veins of the profunda sort, extending for considerable lengths, become crooked from two causes. In one case when narrow veins are intersected by wide ones, then the latter bend or drag the former a little. In the other case, when the water runs against very hard rock, being unable to break through, it goes around the nearest way, and the stringers and veins are formed bent and crooked. This last is also the reason we sometimes see crooked small and large venae dilatatae, not unlike the gentle rise and fall of flowing water. Next, venae profundae are wide, either because of abundant water or because the rock is fragile. On the other hand, they are narrow, either because but little water flows and trickles through them, or because the rock is very hard. The venae dilatatae, too, for the same reasons, are either thin or thick. There are other differences, too, in stringers and veins, which I will explain in my work De Re Metallica.... There is also a third kind of vein which, as it cannot be described as a wide vena profunda, nor as a thick vena dilatata, we will call a vena cumulata. These are nothing else than places where some species of mineral is accumulated; sometimes exceeding in depth and also in length and breadth 600 feet; sometimes, or rather generally, not so deep nor so long, nor so wide. These are created when water has broken away the rock for such a length, breadth, and thickness, and has flung aside and ejected the stones and sand from the great cavern which is thus made; and afterward when the mouth is obstructed and closed up, the whole cavern is filled with material from which there is in time produced some one or more minerals. Now I have stated [Pg 48]when discoursing on the origin of subterranean humours, that water erodes away substances inside the earth, just as it does those on the surface, and least of all does it shun minerals; for which reason we may daily see veinlets and veins sometimes filled with air and water, but void and empty of mining products, and sometimes full of these same materials. Even those which are empty of minerals become finally obstructed, and when the rock is broken through at some other point the water gushes out. It is certain that old springs are closed up in some way and new ones opened in others. In the same manner, but much more easily and quickly than in the solid rock, water produces stringers and veins in surface material, whether it be in plains, hills, or mountains. Of this kind are the stringers in the banks of rivers which produce gold, and the veins which produce peculiar earth. So in this manner in the earth are made canales which bear minerals."

Origin of Ground Waters. (De Ortu p. 5). "... Besides rain there is another kind of water by which the interior of the earth is soaked, so that being heated it can continually give off halitus, from which arises a great and abundant force of waters." In description of the modus operandi of halitum, he says (p. 6): "... Halitus rises to the upper parts of the canales, where the congealing cold turns it into water, which by its gravity and weight again runs down to the lowest parts and increases the flow of water if there is any. If any finds its way through a canales dilatata the same thing happens, but it is carried a long way from its place of origin. The first phase of distillation teaches us how this water is produced, for when that which is put into the ampulla is warmed it evaporates (expirare), and this halitus rising into the operculum is converted by cold into water, which drips through the spout. In this way water is being continually created underground." (De Ortu, p. 7): "And so we know from all this that of the waters which are under the earth, some are collected from rain, some arise from halitus (steam), some from river-water, some from sea-water; and we know that the halitum is produced within the earth partly from rain-water, partly from river-water, and partly from sea-water." It would require too much space to set out Agricola's views upon the origin of the subterranean heat which produced this steam. It is an involved theory embracing clashing winds, burning bitumen, coal, etc., and is fully set out in the latter part of Book II, De Ortu et Causis.

Origin of Gangue Minerals. It is necessary to bear in mind that Agricola divided minerals (res fossiles—"Things dug up," see note 4, p. 1) into "earths," "solidified juices," "stones," "metals," and "compounds;" and, further, to bear in mind that in his conception of the origin of things generally, he was a disciple of the Peripatetic logic of a "material substance" and an "efficient force," as mentioned above.

As to the origin of "earths," he says (De Ortu, p. 38): "Pure and simple 'earth' originates in the canales in the following way: rain water, which is absorbed by the surface of the earth, first of all penetrates and passes into the inner parts of the earth and mixes with it; next, it is collected from all sides into stringers and veins, where it, and sometimes water of other origin, erodes the 'earth' away,—a great quantity of it if the stringers and veins are in 'earth,' a small quantity if they are in rock. The softer the rock is, the more the water wears away particles by its continual movement. To this class of rock belongs limestone, from which we see chalk, clay, and marl, and other unctuous 'earths' made; also sandstone, from which are made those barren 'earths' which we may see in ravines and on bare rocks. For the rain softens limestone or sandstone and carries particles away with it, and the sediment collects together and forms mud, which afterward solidifies into some kind of 'earth.' In a similar way under the ground the power of water softens the rock and dissolves the coarser fragments of stone. This is clearly shown by the following circumstance, that frequently the powder of rock or marble is found in a soft state and as if partly dissolved. Now, the water carries this mixture into the course of some underground canalis, or dragging it into narrow places, filters away. And in each case the water flows away and a pure and uniform material is left from which 'earth' is made.... Particles of rock, however, are only by force of long time so softened by water as to become similar to particles of 'earth.' It is possible to see 'earth' being made in this way in underground canales in the earth, when drifts or tunnels are driven into the mountains, or when shafts are sunk, for then the canales are laid bare; also it can be seen above ground in ravines, as I have said, or otherwise disclosed. For in both cases it is clear to the eye that they are made out of the 'earth' or rocks, which are often of the same colour. And in just the same way they are made in the springs which the veins discharge. Since all those things which we see with our eyes and which are perceived with our senses, are more clearly understood than if they were learnt by means of reasoning, we deem it sufficient to explain by this argument our view of the origin of 'earth.' In the manner which I have described, 'earths' originate in veins and veinlets, seams in the rocks, springs, ravines, and other openings, therefore all 'earths' are made in this way. [Pg 49]As to those that are found in underground canales which do not appear to have been derived from the earth or rock adjoining, these have undoubtedly been carried by the water for a greater distance from their place of origin; which may be made clear to anyone who seeks their source."

On the origin of solidified juices he states (De Ortu, p. 43): "I will now speak of solidified juices (succi concreti). I give this name to those minerals which are without difficulty resolved into liquids (humore). Some stones and metals, even though they are themselves composed of juices, have been compressed so solidly by the cold that they can only be dissolved with difficulty or not at all.... For juices, as I said above, are either made when dry substances immersed in moisture are cooked by heat, or else they are made when water flows over 'earth,' or when the surrounding moisture corrodes metallic material; or else they are forced out of the ground by the power of heat alone. Therefore, solidified juices originate from liquid juices, which either heat or cold have condensed. But that which heat has dried, fire reduces to dust, and moisture dissolves. Not only does warm or cold water dissolve certain solidified juices, but also humid air; and a juice which the cold has condensed is liquefied by fire and warm water. A salty juice is condensed into salt; a bitter one into soda; an astringent and sharp one into alum or into vitriol. Skilled workmen in a similar way to nature, evaporate water which contains juices of this kind until it is condensed; from salty ones they make salt, from aluminous ones alum, from one which contains vitriol they make vitriol. These workmen imitate nature in condensing liquid juices with heat, but they cannot imitate nature in condensing them by cold. From an astringent juice not only is alum made and vitriol, but also sory, chalcitis, and misy, which appears to be the 'flower' of vitriol, just as melanteria is of sory. (See note on p. 573 for these minerals.) When humour corrodes pyrites so that it is friable, an astringent juice of this kind is obtained."

On the Origin of Stones (De Ortu, p. 50), he states: "It is now necessary to review in a few words what I have said as to all of the material from which stones are made; there is first of all mud; next juice which is solidified by severe cold; then fragments of rock; afterward stone juice (succus lapidescens), which also turns to stone when it comes out into the air; and lastly, everything which has pores capable of receiving a stony juice." As to an "efficient force," he states (p. 54): "But it is now necessary that I should explain my own view, omitting the first and antecedent causes. Thus the [Pg 51]immediate causes are heat and cold; next in some way a stony juice. For we know that stones which water has dissolved, are solidified when dried by heat; and on the contrary, we know that stones which melt by fire, such as quartz, solidify by cold. For solidification and the conditions which are opposite thereto, namely, dissolving and liquefying, spring from causes which are the opposite to each other. Heat, driving the water (humorem) out of a substance, makes it hard; and cold, by withdrawing the air, solidifies the same stone firmly. But if a stony juice, either alone or mixed with water, finds its way into the pores either of plants or animals ... it creates stones.... If stony juice is obtained in certain stony places and flows through the veins, for this reason certain springs, brooks, streams, and lakes, have the power of turning things to stone."

On the Origin of Metals, he says (De Ortu, p. 71): "Having now refuted the opinions of others, I must explain what it really is from which metals are produced. The best proof that there is water in their materials is the fact that they flow when melted, whereas they are again solidified by the cold of air or water. This, however, must be understood in the sense that there is more water in them and less 'earth'; for it is not simply water that is their substance but water mixed with 'earth.' And such a proportion of 'earth' is in the mixture as may obscure the transparency of the water, but not remove the brilliance which is frequently in unpolished things. Again, the purer the mixture, the more precious the metal which is made from it, and the greater its resistance to fire. But what proportion of 'earth' is in each liquid from which a metal is made no mortal can ever ascertain, or still less explain, but the one God has known it, Who has given certain sure and fixed laws to nature for mixing and blending things together. It is a juice (succus) then, from which metals are formed; and this juice is created by various operations. Of these operations the first is a flow of water which softens the 'earth' or carries the 'earth' along with it, thus there is a mixture of 'earth' and water, then the power of heat works upon the mixtures so as to produce that kind of a juice. We have spoken of the substance of metals; we must now speak of their efficient cause.... (p. 75): We do not deny the statement of Albertus Magnus that the mixture of 'earth' and water is baked by subterranean heat to a certain denseness, but it is our opinion that the juice so obtained is afterward solidified by cold so as to become a metal.... We grant, indeed, that heat is the efficient cause of a good mixture of elements, and also cooks this same mixture into a juice, but until this juice is solidified by cold it is not a metal.... (p. 76): This view of Aristotle is the true one. For metals melt through the heat and somehow become softened; but those which have become softened through heat are again solidified by the influence of cold, and, on the contrary, those which become softened by moisture are solidified by heat."

On the Origin of Compounds, he states (De Ortu, p. 80): "There now remain for our consideration the compound minerals (mistae), that is to say, minerals which contain either solidified juice (succus concretus) and 'stone,' or else metal or metals and 'stone,' or else metal-coloured 'earth,' of which two or more have so grown together by the action of cold that one body has been created. By this sign they are distinguished from mixed minerals (composita), for the latter have not one body. For example, pyrites, galena, and ruby silver are reckoned in the category of compound minerals, whereas we say that metallic 'earths' or stony 'earths' or 'earths' mingled with juices, are mixed minerals; or similarly, stones in which metal or solidified juices adhere, or which contain 'earth.' But of both these classes I will treat more fully in my book De Natura Fossilium. I will now discuss their origin in a few words. A compound mineral is produced when either a juice from which some metal is obtained, or a humour and some other juice from which stone is obtained, are solidified by cold, or when two or more juices of different metals mixed with the juice from which stone is made, are condensed by the same cold, or when a metallic juice is mixed with 'earth' whose whole mass is stained with its colour, and in this way they form one body. To the first class belongs galena, composed of lead juice and of that material which forms the substance of opaque stone. Similarly, transparent ruby silver is made out of silver juice and the juice which forms the [Pg 52]substance of transparent stone; when it is smelted into pure silver, since from it is separated the transparent juice, it is no longer transparent. Then too, there is pyrites, or lapis fissilis, from which sulphur is melted. To the second kind belongs that kind of pyrites which contains not only copper and stone, but sometimes copper, silver, and stone; sometimes copper, silver, gold, and stone; sometimes silver, lead, tin, copper and silver glance. That compound minerals consist of stone and metal is sufficiently proved by their hardness; that some are made of 'earth' and metal is proved from brass, which is composed of copper and calamine; and also proved from white brass, which is coloured by artificial white arsenic. Sometimes the heat bakes some of them to such an extent that they appear to have flowed out of blazing furnaces, which we may see in the case of cadmia and pyrites. A metallic substance is produced out of 'earth' when a metallic juice impregnating the 'earth' solidifies with cold, the 'earth' not being changed. A stony substance is produced when viscous and non-viscous 'earth' are accumulated in one place and baked by heat; for then the viscous part turns into stone and the non-viscous is only dried up."

The Origin of Juices. The portion of Agricola's theory surrounding this subject is by no means easy to follow in detail, especially as it is difficult to adjust one's point of view to the Peripatetic elements, fire, water, earth, and air, instead of to those of the atomic theory which so dominates our every modern conception. That Agricola's 'juice' was in most cases a solution is indicated by the statement (De Ortu, p. 48): "Nor is juice anything but water, which on the other hand has absorbed 'earth' or has corroded or touched metal and somehow become heated." That he realized the difference between mechanical suspension and solution is evident from (De Ortu, p. 50): "A stony juice differs from water which has abraded something from rock, either because it has more of that which deposits, or because heat, by cooking water of that kind, has thickened it, or because there is something in it which has powerful astringent properties." Much of the author's notion of juices has already been given in the quotations regarding various minerals, but his most general statement on the subject is as follows:—(De Ortu, p. 9): "Juices, however, are distinguished from water by their density (crassitudo), and are generated in various ways—either when dry things are soaked with moisture and the mixture is heated, in which way by far the greatest part of juices arise, not only inside the earth, but outside it; or when water running over the earth is made rather dense, in which way, for the most part the juice becomes salty and bitter; or when the moisture stands upon metal, especially copper, and corrodes it, and in this way is produced the juice from which chrysocolla originates. Similarly, when the moisture corrodes friable cupriferous pyrites an acrid juice is made from which is produced vitriol and sometimes alum; or, finally, juices are pressed out by the very force of the heat from the earth. If the force is great the juice flows like pitch from burning pine ... in this way we know a kind of bitumen is made in the earth. In the same way different kinds of moisture are generated in living bodies, so also the earth produces waters differing in quality, and in the same way juices."

Conclusion. If we strip his theory of the necessary influence of the state of knowledge of his time, and of his own deep classical learning, we find two propositions original with Agricola, which still to-day are fundamentals:

(1) That ore channels were of origin subsequent to their containing rocks; (2) That ores were deposited from solutions circulating in these openings. A scientist's work must be judged by the advancement he gave to his science, and with this gauge one can say unhesitatingly that the theory which we have set out above represents a much greater step from what had gone before than that of almost any single observer since. Moreover, apart from any tangible proposition laid down, the deduction of these views from actual observation instead of from fruitless speculation was a contribution to the very foundation of natural science. Agricola was wrong in attributing the creation of ore channels to erosion alone, and it was not until Von Oppel (Anleitung zur Markscheidekunst, Dresden, 1749 and other essays), two centuries after Agricola, that the positive proposition that ore channels were due to fissuring was brought forward. Von Oppel, however, in neglecting channels due to erosion (and in this term we include solution) was not altogether sound. Nor was it until late in the 18th century that the filling of ore channels by deposition from solutions was generally accepted. In the meantime, Agricola's successors in the study of ore deposits exhibited positive retrogression from the true fundamentals advocated by him. Gesner, Utman, Meier, Lohneys, Barba, [Pg 53]Rössler, Becher, Stahl, Henckel, and Zimmerman, all fail to grasp the double essentials. Other writers of this period often enough merely quote Agricola, some not even acknowledging the source, as, for instance, Pryce (Mineralogia Cornubiensis, London, 1778) and Williams (Natural History of the Mineral Kingdom, London, 1789). After Von Oppel, the two fundamental principles mentioned were generally accepted, but then arose the complicated and acrimonious discussion of the origin of solutions, and nothing in Agricola's view was so absurd as Werner's contention (Neue Theorie von der Entstehung der Gänge, Freiberg, 1791) of the universal chemical deluge which penetrated fissures open at the surface. While it is not the purpose of these notes to pursue the history of these subjects subsequent to the author's time, it is due to him and to the current beliefs as to the history of the theory of ore deposits, to call the attention of students to the perverse representation of Agricola's views by Werner (op. cit.) upon which most writers have apparently relied. Why this author should be (as, for instance, by Posepny, Amer. Inst. Mining Engineers, 1901) so generally considered the father of our modern theory, can only be explained by a general lack of knowledge of the work of previous writers on ore deposition. Not one of the propositions original with Werner still holds good, while his rejection of the origin of solutions within the earth itself halted the march of advance in thought on these subjects for half a century. It is our hope to discuss exhaustively at some future time the development of the history of this, one of the most far-reaching of geologic hypotheses.

[2] The Latin vena, "vein," is also used by the author for ore; hence this descriptive warning as to its intended double use.

[Pg 56][3] The endeavour to discover the origin of the compass with the Chinese, Arabs, or other Orientals having now generally ceased, together with the idea that the knowledge of the lodestone involved any acquaintance with the compass, it is permissible to take a rational [Pg 57]view of the subject. The lodestone was well known even before Plato and Aristotle, and is described by Theophrastus (see Note 10, p. 115.) The first authentic and specific mention of the compass appears to be by Alexander Neckam (an Englishman who died in 1217), in his works De Utensilibus and De Naturis Rerum. The first tangible description of the instrument was in a letter to Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt, written in 1269, a translation of which was published by Sir Sylvanus Thompson (London, 1902). His circle was divided into four quadrants and these quarters divided into 90 degrees each. The first mention of a compass in connection with mines so far as we know is in the Nützlich Bergbüchlin, a review of which will be found in Appendix B. This book, which dates from 1500, gives a compass much like the one described above by Agricola. It is divided in like manner into two halves of 12 divisions each. The four cardinal points being marked Mitternacht, Morgen, Mittag, and Abend. Thus the directions read were referred to as II. after midnight, etc. According to Joseph Carne (Trans. Roy. Geol. Socy. of Cornwall, Vol. II, 1814), the Cornish miners formerly referred to North-South veins as 12 o'clock veins; South-East North-West veins as 9 o'clock veins, etc.

[Pg 65][4] Crudariis. Pliny (XXXIII., 31), says:—"Argenti vena in summo reperta crudaria appellatur." "Silver veins discovered at the surface are called crudaria." The German translator of Agricola uses the term sylber gang—silver vein, obviously misunderstanding the author's meaning.

[Pg 68][5] It might be considered that the term "outcrop" could be used for "head," but it will be noticed that a vena dilatata would thus be stated to have no outcrop.

[Pg 70][6] It is possible that "veinlets" would be preferred by purists, but the word "stringer" has become fixed in the nomenclature of miners and we have adopted it. The old English term was "stringe," and appears in Edward Manlove's "Rhymed Chronicle," London, 1653; Pryce's, Mineralogia Cornubiensis, London, 1778, pp. 103 and 329; Mawe's "Mineralogy of Devonshire," London, 1802, p. 210, etc., etc.

[7] Subdialis. "In the open air." The Glossary gives the meaning as Ein tag klufft oder tag gehenge—a surface stringer.

[Pg 73][8] The following from Chapter IV of the Nützlich Bergbüchlin (see Appendix B) may indicate the source of the theory which Agricola here discards:—"As to those veins which are most profitable to work, it must be remarked that the most suitable location for the vein is on the slope of the mountain facing south, so its strike is from VII or VI east to VI or VII west. According to the above-mentioned directions, the outcrop of the whole vein should face north, its gesteins ausgang toward the east, its hangingwall toward the south, and its footwall toward the north, for in such mountains and veins the influence of the planets is conveniently received to prepare the matter out of which the silver is to be made or formed.... The other strikes of veins from between east and south to the region between west and north are esteemed more or less valuable, according to whether they are nearer or further away from the above-mentioned strikes, but with the same hangingwall, footwall, and outcrops. But the veins having their strike from north to south, their hangingwall toward the west, their footwall and their outcrops toward the east, are better to work than veins which extend from south to north, whose hangingwalls are toward the east, and footwalls and outcrops toward the west. Although the latter veins sometimes yield solid and good silver ore, still it is not sure and certain, because the whole mineral force is completely scattered and dispersed through the outcrop, etc."

[Pg 74][9] The names in the Latin are given as Donum Divinum—"God's Gift," and Coelestis Exercitus—"Heavenly Host." The names given in the text are from the German Translation. The former of these mines was located in the valley of Joachim, where Agricola spent many years as the town physician at Joachimsthal. It is of further interest, as Agricola obtained an income from it as a shareholder. He gives the history of the mine (De Veteribus et Novis Metallis, Book I.), as follows:—"The mines at Abertham were discovered, partly by chance, partly by science. In the eleventh year of Charles V. (1530), on the 18th of February, a poor miner, but one skilled in the art of mining, dwelt in the middle of the forest in a solitary hut, and there tended the cattle of his employer. While digging a little trench in which to store milk, he opened a vein. At once he washed some in a bowl and saw particles of the purest silver settled at the bottom. Overcome with joy he informed his employer, and went to the Bergmeister and petitioned that official to give him a head mining lease, which in the language of our people he called Gottsgaab. Then he proceeded to dig the vein, and found more fragments of silver, and the miners were inspired with great hopes as to the richness of the vein. Although such hopes were not frustrated, still a whole year was spent before they received any profits from the mine; whereby many became discouraged and did not persevere in paying expenses, but sold their shares in the mine; and for this reason, when at last an abundance of silver was being drawn out, a great change had taken place in the ownership of the mine; nay, even the first finder of the vein was not in possession of any share in it, and had spent nearly all the money which he had obtained from the selling of his shares. Then this mine yielded such a quantity of pure silver as no other mine that has existed within our own or our fathers' memories, with the exception of the St. George at Schneeberg. We, as a shareholder, through the goodness of God, have enjoyed the proceeds of this 'God's Gift' since the very time when the mine began first to bestow such riches." Later on in the [Pg 75]same book he gives the following further information with regard to these mines:—"Now if all the individual mines which have proved fruitful in our own times are weighed in the balance, the one at Annaberg, which is known as the Himmelsch hoz, surpasses all others. For the value of the silver which has been dug out has been estimated at 420,000 Rhenish gulden. Next to this comes the lead mine in Joachimsthal, whose name is the Sternen, from which as much silver has been dug as would be equivalent to 350,000 Rhenish gulden; from the Gottsgaab at Abertham, explained before, the equivalent of 300,000. But far before all others within our fathers' memory stands the St. George of Schneeberg, whose silver has been estimated as being equal to two million Rhenish gulden." A Rhenish gulden was about 6.9 shillings, or, say, $1.66. However, the ratio value of silver to gold at this period was about 11.5 to one, or in other words an ounce of silver was worth about a gulden, so that, for purposes of rough calculation, one might say that the silver product mentioned in gulden is practically of the same number of ounces of silver. Moreover, it must be remembered that the purchasing power of money was vastly greater then.

[10] The following passage occurs in the Nützlich Bergbüchlin (Chap. V.), which is interesting on account of the great similarity to Agricola's quotation:—"The best position of the stream is when it has a cliff beside it on the north and level ground on the south, but its current should be from east to west—that is the most suitable. The next best after this is from west to east, with the same position of the rocks as already stated. The third in order is when the stream flows from north to south with rocks toward the east, but the worst flow of water for the preparation of gold is from south to north if a rock or hill rises toward the west." Calbus was probably the author of this booklet.

[Pg 76][11] Albertus Magnus.

[Pg 77]



he third book has explained the various and manifold varieties of veins and stringers. This fourth book will deal with mining areas and the method of delimiting them, and will then pass on to the officials who are connected with mining affairs[1].

Now the miner, if the vein he has uncovered is to his liking, first of all goes to the Bergmeister to request to be granted a right to mine, this official's special function and office being to adjudicate in respect of the mines. And so to the first man who has discovered the vein the Bergmeister awards the head meer, and to others the remaining meers, in the order in which each makes his application. The size of a meer is measured by fathoms, which for miners are reckoned at six feet each. The length, in fact, is that of a man's extended arms and hands measured across his chest; but different peoples assign to it different lengths, [Pg 78]for among the Greeks, who called it an ὀργυιά, it was six feet, among the Romans five feet. So this measure which is used by miners seems to have come down to the Germans in accordance with the Greek mode of reckoning. A miner's foot approaches very nearly to the length of a Greek foot, for it exceeds it by only three-quarters of a Greek digit, but like that of the Romans it is divided into twelve unciae[2].

Square with lengths and area
Shape of a Square Meer. [Pg 79]
Now square fathoms are reckoned in units of one, two, three, or more "measures", and a "measure" is seven fathoms each way. Mining meers are for the most part either square or elongated; in square meers all the sides are of equal length, therefore the numbers of fathoms on the two sides multiplied together produce the total in square fathoms. Thus, if the shape of a "measure" is seven fathoms on every side, this number multiplied by itself makes forty-nine square fathoms.

Rectangle with lengths and area
Shape of a Long Meer or Double Measure. [Pg 79]
The sides of a long meer are of equal length, and similarly its ends are equal; therefore, if the number of fathoms in one of the long sides be multiplied by the number of fathoms in one of the ends, the total produced by the [Pg 79]multiplication is the total number of square fathoms in the long meer. For example, the double measure is fourteen fathoms long and seven broad, which two numbers multiplied together make ninety-eight square fathoms.

Rectangle with lengths and area
Shape of a Head Meer. [Pg 79]
Since meers vary in shape according to the different varieties of veins it is necessary for me to go more into detail concerning them and their measurements. If the vein is a vena profunda, the head meer is composed of three double measures, therefore it is forty-two fathoms in length and seven in width, which numbers multiplied together give two hundred and ninety-four square fathoms, and by these limits the Bergmeister bounds the owner's rights in a head-meer.

Rectangle with lengths and area
Shape of a Meer. [Pg 80]
The area of every other meer consists of two double measures, on whichever side of the head meer it lies, or whatever its number in order may be, that is to say, whether next to the head meer, or second, third, or any later number. Therefore, it is twenty-eight fathoms long and seven wide, so multiplying the length by the width we get one hundred and ninety-six square fathoms, which is the extent of the meer, and by these boundaries the Bergmeister defines the right of the owner or company over each mine.

[Pg 80]

Now we call that part of the vein which is first discovered and mined, the head-meer, because all the other meers run from it, just as the nerves from the head. The Bergmeister begins his measurements from it, and the reason why he apportions a larger area to the head-meer than to the others, is that he may give a suitable reward to the one who first found the vein and may encourage others to search for veins. Since meers often reach to a torrent, or river, or stream, if the last meer cannot be completed it is called a fraction[3]. If it is the size of a double measure, the Bergmeister grants the right of mining it to him who makes the first application, but if it is the size of a single measure or a little over, he divides it between the nearest meers on either side of it. It is the custom among miners that the first meer beyond a stream on that part of the vein on the opposite side is a new head-meer, and they call it the "opposite,"[4] while the other meers beyond are only ordinary meers. Rectangle with lengths and area
Shape of an ancient Head-Meer. [Pg 80]
Formerly every head-meer was composed of three double measures and one single one, that is, it was forty-nine fathoms long and seven wide, and so if we multiply these two together we have three hundred and forty-three square fathoms, which total gives us the area of an ancient head-meer.

Every ancient meer was formed of a single measure, that is to say, it was seven fathoms in length and width, and was therefore square. In memory of which miners even now call the width of every meer which is located on a vena profunda a "square"[5]. The following was formerly the [Pg 81]usual method of delimiting a vein: as soon as the miner found metal, he gave information to the Bergmeister and the tithe-gatherer, who either proceeded personally from the town to the mountains, or sent thither men of good repute, at least two in number, to inspect the metal-bearing vein. Thereupon, if they thought it of sufficient importance to survey, the Bergmeister again having gone forth on an appointed day, thus questioned him who first found the vein, concerning the vein and the diggings: "Which is your vein?" "Which digging carried metal?" Then the discoverer, pointing his finger to his vein and diggings, indicated them, and next the Bergmeister ordered him to approach the windlass and place two fingers of his right hand upon his head, and swear this oath in a clear voice: "I swear by God and all the Saints, and I call them all to witness, that this is my vein; and moreover if it is not mine, may neither this my head nor these my hands henceforth perform their functions." Then the Bergmeister, having started from the centre of the windlass, proceeded to measure the vein with a cord, and to give the measured portion to the discoverer,—in the first instance a half and then three full measures; afterward one to the King or Prince, another to his Consort, a third to the Master of the Horse, a fourth to the Cup-bearer, a fifth to the Groom of the Chamber, a sixth to himself. Then, starting from the other side of the windlass, he proceeded to measure the vein in a similar manner. Thus the discoverer of the vein obtained the head-meer, that is, seven single measures; but the King or Ruler, his Consort, the leading dignitaries, and lastly, the Bergmeister, obtained two measures each, or two ancient meers. This is the reason there are to be found at Freiberg in Meissen so many shafts with so many intercommunications on a single vein—which are to a great extent destroyed by age. If, however, the Bergmeister had already fixed the boundaries of the meers on one side of the shaft for the benefit of some other discoverer, then for those dignitaries I have just mentioned, as many meers as he was unable to award on that side he duplicated on the other. But if on both sides of the shaft he had already defined the boundaries of meers, he proceeded to measure out only that part of the vein which remained free, and thus it sometimes happened that some of those persons I have mentioned obtained no meer at all. To-day, though that old-established custom is observed, the method of allotting the vein and granting title has been changed. As I have explained above, the head-meer consists of three double measures, and each other meer of two measures, and the Bergmeister grants one each of the meers to him who makes the first application. The King or Prince, since all metal is taxed, is himself content with that, which is usually one-tenth.

Of the width of every meer, whether old or new, one-half lies on the footwall side of a vena profunda and one half on the hangingwall side. If the vein descends vertically into the earth, the boundaries similarly descend [Pg 82]vertically; but if the vein inclines, the boundaries likewise will be inclined. The owner always holds the mining right for the width of the meer, however far the vein descends into the depth of the earth.[6] Further, the Bergmeister, on application being made to him, grants to one owner or company a right [Pg 83]over not only the head meer, or another meer, but also the head meer and the next meer or two adjoining meers. So much for the shape of meers and their dimensions in the case of a vena profunda.

I now come to the case of venae dilatatae. The boundaries of the areas [Pg 84]on such veins are not all measured by one method. For in some places the Bergmeister gives them shapes similar to the shapes of the meers on venae profundae, in which case the head-meer is composed of three double measures, and the area of every other mine of two measures, as I have [Pg 85]explained more fully above. In this case, however, he measures the meers with a cord, not only forward and backward from the ends of the head-meer, as he is wont to do in the case where the owner of a vena profunda has a meer granted him, but also from the sides. In this way meers are marked [Pg 86]out when a torrent or some other force of Nature has laid open a vena dilatata in a valley, so that it appears either on the slope of a mountain or hill or on a plain. Rectangle with lengths
Shape of a Head-Meer. [Pg 86]
Elsewhere the Bergmeister doubles the width of the head-meer and it is made fourteen fathoms wide, while the width of each of the other meers remains single, that is seven fathoms, but the length is not defined by boundaries. In some places the head-meer consists of three double measures, but has a width of fourteen fathoms and a length of twenty-one.

Square with lengths
Shape of every other Meer. [Pg 86]
In the same way, every other meer is composed of two measures, doubled in the same fashion, so that it is fourteen fathoms in width and of the same length.

[Pg 87]

Elsewhere every meer, whether a head-meer or other meer, comprises forty-two fathoms in width and as many in length.

In other places the Bergmeister gives the owner or company all of some locality defined by rivers or little valleys as boundaries. But the boundaries of every such area of whatsoever shape it be, descend vertically into the earth; so the owner of that area has a right over that part of any vena dilatata which lies beneath the first one, just as the owner of the meer on a vena profunda has a right over so great a part of all other venae profundae as lies within the boundaries of his meer; for just as wherever one vena profunda is found, another is found not far away, so wherever one vena dilatata is found, others are found beneath it.

Finally, the Bergmeister divides vena cumulata areas in different ways, for in some localities the head-meer is composed of three measures, doubled in such a way that it is fourteen fathoms wide and twenty-one long; and every other meer consists of two measures doubled, and is square, that is, fourteen fathoms wide and as many long. Rectangle with lengths and area
Shape of a Head-Meer. [Pg 87]
In some places the head-meer is composed of three single measures, and its width is seven fathoms and its length twenty-one, which two numbers multiplied together make one hundred and forty-seven square fathoms.

Each other meer consists of one double measure. In some places the head-meer is given the shape of a double measure, and every other meer that of a single measure. Lastly, in other places the owner or a company is given a right over some complete specified locality bounded by little streams, valleys, or other limits. Furthermore, all meers on venae cumulatae, as in the case of dilatatae, descend vertically into the depths of the earth, and each meer has the boundaries so determined as to prevent disputes arising between the owners of neighbouring mines.

The boundary marks in use among miners formerly consisted only of stones, and from this their name was derived, for now the marks of a boundary are called "boundary stones." To-day a row of posts, made either of oak or pine, and strengthened at the top with iron rings to prevent them from being damaged, is fixed beside the boundary stones to make them more conspicuous. By this method in former times the boundaries of the fields were marked by stones or posts, not only as written of in the book "De Limitibus Agrorum,"[7] but also as testified to by the songs of the poets. Such [Pg 88]then is the shape of the meers, varying in accordance with the different kinds of veins.

Now tunnels are of two sorts, one kind having no right of property, the other kind having some limited right. For when a miner in some particular locality is unable to open a vein on account of a great quantity of water, he runs a wide ditch, open at the top and three feet deep, starting on the slope and running up to the place where the vein is found. Through it the water flows off, so that the place is made dry and fit for digging. But if it is not sufficiently dried by this open ditch, or if a shaft which he has now for the first time begun to sink is suffering from overmuch water, he goes to the Bergmeister and asks that official to give him the right for a tunnel. Having obtained leave, he drives the tunnel, and into its drains all the water is diverted, so that the place or shaft is made fit for digging. If it is not seven fathoms from the surface of the earth to the bottom of this kind of tunnel, the owner possesses no rights except this one: namely, that the owners of the mines, from whose leases the owner of the tunnel extracts gold or silver, themselves pay him the sum he expends within their meer in driving the tunnel through it.

To a depth or height of three and a half fathoms above and below the mouth of the tunnel, no one is allowed to begin another tunnel. The reason for this is that this kind of a tunnel is liable to be changed into the other kind which has a complete right of property, when it drains the meers to a depth of seven fathoms, or to ten, according as the old custom in each place acquires the force of law. In such case this second kind of tunnel has the following right; in the first place, whatever metal the owner, or company owning it, finds in any meer through which it is driven, all belongs to the tunnel owner within a height or depth of one and a quarter fathoms. In the years which are not long passed, the owner of a tunnel possessed all the metal which a miner standing at the bottom of the tunnel touched with a bar, whose handle did not exceed the customary length; but nowadays a certain prescribed height and width is allowed to the owner of the tunnel, lest the owners of the mines be damaged, if the length of the bar be longer than usual. Further, every metal-yielding mine which is drained and supplied with ventilation by a tunnel, is taxed in the proportion of one-ninth for the benefit of the owner of the tunnel. But if several tunnels of this kind are driven through one mining area which is yielding metals, and all drain it and supply it with ventilation, then of the metal which is dug out from above the bottom of each tunnel, one-ninth is given to the owner of that tunnel; of that which is dug out below the bottom of each tunnel, one-ninth is in each case given to the owner of the tunnel which follows next in order below. But if the lower tunnel does not yet drain the shaft of that meer nor supply it with ventilation, then of the metal which is dug out below the bottom of the higher tunnel, one-ninth part is given to the owner of such upper tunnel. Moreover, no one tunnel deprives another of its right to one-ninth part, unless it be a lower one, from the bottom of which to the bottom of the one above must not be less than seven or ten fathoms, [Pg 89]according as the king or prince has decreed. Further, of all the money which the owner of the tunnel has spent on his tunnel while driving it through a meer, the owner of that meer pays one-fourth part. If he does not do so he is not allowed to make use of the drains.

Finally, with regard to whatever veins are discovered by the owner at whose expense the tunnel is driven, the right of which has not been already awarded to anyone, on the application of such owner the Bergmeister grants him a right of a head-meer, or of a head-meer together with the next meer. Ancient custom gives the right for a tunnel to be driven in any direction for an unlimited length. Further, to-day he who commences a tunnel is given, on his application, not only the right over the tunnel, but even the head and sometimes the next meer also. In former days the owner of the tunnel obtained only so much ground as an arrow shot from the bow might cover, and he was allowed to pasture cattle therein. In a case where the shafts of several meers on some vein could not be worked on account of the great quantity of water, ancient custom also allowed the Bergmeister to grant the right of a large meer to anyone who would drive a tunnel. When, however, he had driven a tunnel as far as the old shafts and had found metal, he used to return to the Bergmeister and request him to bound and mark off the extent of his right to a meer. Rectangle with lengths and area
Large Area. [Pg 89]
Thereupon, the Bergmeister, together with a certain number of citizens of the town—in whose place Jurors have now succeeded—used to proceed to the mountain and mark off with boundary stones a large meer, which consisted of seven double measures, that is to say, it was ninety-eight fathoms long and seven wide, which two numbers multiplied together make six hundred and eighty-six square fathoms.

But each of these early customs has been changed, and we now employ the new method.

I have spoken of tunnels; I will now speak about the division of ownership in mines and tunnels. One owner is allowed to possess and to work one, two, three, or more whole meers, or similarly one or more separate tunnels, provided he conforms to the decrees of the laws relating to metals, and to the orders of the Bergmeister. And because he alone provides the expenditure of money on the mines, if they yield metal he alone obtains the product from them. But when large and frequent expenditures are necessary in mining, he to whom the Bergmeister first gave the right [Pg 90]often admits others to share with him, and they join with him in forming a company, and they each lay out a part of the expense and share with him the profit or loss of the mine. But the title of the mines or tunnels remains undivided, although for the purpose of dividing the expense and profit it may be said each mine or tunnel is divided into parts[8].

This division is made in various ways. A mine, and the same thing must be understood with regard to a tunnel, may be divided into two halves, that is into two similar portions, by which method two owners spend an equal amount on it and draw an equal profit from it, for each possesses one half. Sometimes it is divided into four shares, by which compact four persons can be owners, so that each possesses one-fourth, or also two persons, so that one possesses three-fourths, and the other only one-fourth; or three owners, so that the first has two-fourths, and the second and third one-fourth each. Sometimes it is divided into eight shares, by which plan there may be eight owners, so that each is possessor of one-eighth; sometimes there are two owners, so that one has five-sixths[9] together with one twenty-fourth, and the other one-eighth; or there may be three owners, in which one has three-quarters and the second and third each one-eighth; or it may be divided so that one owner has seven-twelfths, together with one twenty-fourth, a second owner has one-quarter, and a third owner has one-eighth; or so that the first has one-half, the second one-third and one twenty-fourth, and the third one-eighth; or so that the first has one-half, as before, and the second and third each one-quarter; or so that the first and second each have one-third and one twenty-fourth, and the third one-quarter; and in the same way the divisions may be adjusted in all the other proportions. The different ways of dividing the shares originate from the different proportions of ownership. Sometimes a mine is divided into sixteen parts, each of which is a twenty-fourth and a forty-eighth; or it may be divided into thirty-two parts, each of which is a forty-eighth and half a seventy-second and a two hundred and eighty-eighth; or into sixty-four parts of which each share is one seventy-second and one five hundred and seventy-sixth; or finally, into one hundred and twenty-eight parts, any one of which is half a seventy-second and half of one five hundred and seventy-sixth.

Now an iron mine either remains undivided or is divided into two, four, or occasionally more shares, which depends on the excellence of the veins. But a lead, bismuth, or tin mine, and likewise one of copper or even quicksilver, is also divided into eight shares, or into sixteen or thirty-two, and less commonly into sixty-four. The number of the divisions of the silver mines at Freiberg in Meissen did not formerly progress beyond this; but [Pg 91]within the memory of our fathers, miners have divided a silver mine, and similarly the tunnel at Schneeberg, first of all into one hundred and twenty-eight shares, of which one hundred and twenty-six are the property of private owners in the mines or tunnels, one belongs to the State and one to the Church; while in Joachimsthal only one hundred and twenty-two shares of the mines or tunnels are the property of private owners, four are proprietary shares, and the State and Church each have one in the same way. To these there has lately been added in some places one share for the most needy of the population, which makes one hundred and twenty-nine shares. It is only the private owners of mines who pay contributions. A proprietary holder, though he holds as many as four shares such as I have described, does not pay contributions, but gratuitiously supplies the owners of the mines with sufficient wood from his forests for timbering, machinery, buildings, and smelting; nor do those belonging to the State, Church, and the poor pay contributions, but the proceeds are used to build or repair public works and sacred buildings, and to support the most needy with the profits which they draw from the mines. Furthermore, in our State, the one hundred and twenty-eighth share has begun to be divided into two, four, or eight parts, or even into three, six, twelve, or smaller parts. This is done when one mine is created out of two, for then the owner who formerly possessed one-half becomes owner of one-fourth; he who possessed one-fourth, of one-eighth; he who possessed one-third, of one-sixth; he who possessed one-sixth, of one-twelfth. Since our countrymen call a mine a symposium, that is, a drinking bout, we are accustomed to call the money which the owners subscribe a symbolum, or a contribution[10]. For, just as those who go to a banquet (symposium) give contributions (symbola), so those who purpose making large profits from mining are accustomed to contribute toward the expenditure. However, the manager of the mine assesses the contributions of the owners annually, or for the most part quarterly, and as often he renders an account of receipts and expenses. At Freiberg in Meissen the old practice was for the manager to exact a contribution from the owners every week, and every week to distribute among them the profits of the mines, but this practice during almost the last fifteen years has been so far changed that contribution and distribution are made four[11] times each year. Large or small contributions are imposed according to the number of workmen which the mine or tunnel requires; as a result, those who possess many shares provide many contributions. Four times a year the owners contribute to the cost, and four times during the year the profits of the mines are distributed among them; these are sometimes large, sometimes small, according as there is more or less gold or silver or other metal dug out. Indeed, from the St. George mine in Schneeberg the miners extracted so much silver in a quarter of a year that silver cakes, which were worth [Pg 92]1,100 Rhenish guldens, were distributed to each one hundred and twenty-eighth share. From the Annaberg mine which is known as the Himmelisch Höz, they had a dole of eight hundred thaler; from a mine in Joachimsthal which is named the Sternen, three hundred thaler; from the head mine at Abertham, which is called St. Lorentz, two hundred and twenty-five thaler[12]. The more shares of which any individual is owner the more profits he takes.

I will now explain how the owners may lose or obtain the right over a mine, or a tunnel, or a share. Formerly, if anyone was able to prove by witnesses that the owners had failed to send miners for three continuous shifts[13], the Bergmeister deprived them of their right over the mine, and gave the right over it to the informer, if he desired it. But although miners preserve this custom to-day, still mining share owners who have paid their contributions do not lose their right over their mines against their will. Formerly, if water which had not been drawn off from the higher shaft of some mine percolated through a vein or stringer into the shaft of another mine and impeded their work, then the owners of the mine which suffered the damage went to the Bergmeister and complained of the loss, and he sent to the shafts two Jurors. If they found that matters were as claimed, the right over the mine which caused the injury was given to the owners who suffered the injury. But this custom in certain places has been changed, for the Bergmeister, if he finds this condition of things proved in the case of two shafts, orders the owners of the shaft which causes the injury to contribute part of the expense to the owners of the shaft which receives the injury; if they fail to do so, he then deprives them of their right over their mine; on the other hand, if the owners send men to the workings to dig and draw off the water from the shafts, they keep their right over their mine. Formerly owners used to obtain a right over any tunnel, firstly, if in its bottom they made drains and cleansed them of mud and sand so that the water might flow out without any hindrance, and restored those drains which had been damaged; secondly, if they provided shafts or openings to supply the miners with air, and restored those which had fallen in; and finally, if three miners were employed continuously in driving the tunnel. But the principal reason for losing the title to a tunnel was that for a period of eight days no miner was employed upon it; therefore, when anyone was able to prove by witnesses that the owners of a tunnel had not done these things, he brought his accusation before the Bergmeister, who, after going out from the town to the tunnel and inspecting the drains and the ventilating machines and everything else, and finding the charge to be true, placed the witness under oath, and asked him: "Whose tunnel is this at the present time?" The witness would reply: "The King's" or "The [Pg 93]Prince's." Thereupon the Bergmeister gave the right over the tunnel to the first applicant. This was the severe rule under which the owners at one time lost their rights over a tunnel; but its severity is now considerably mitigated, for the owners do not now forthwith lose their right over a tunnel through not having cleaned out the drains and restored the shafts or ventilation holes which have suffered damage; but the Bergmeister orders the tunnel manager to do it, and if he does not obey, the authorities fine the tunnel. Also it is sufficient for one miner to be engaged in driving the tunnel. Moreover, if the owner of a tunnel sets boundaries at a fixed spot in the rocks and stops driving the tunnel, he may obtain a right over it so far as he has gone, provided the drains are cleaned out and ventilation holes are kept in repair. But any other owner is allowed to start from the established mark and drive the tunnel further, if he pays the former owners of the tunnel as much money every three months as the Bergmeister decides ought to be paid.

There remain for discussion, the shares in the mines and tunnels. Formerly if anybody conveyed these shares to anyone else, and the latter had once paid his contribution, the seller[14] was bound to stand by his bargain, and this custom to-day has the force of law. But if the seller denied that the contribution had been paid, while the buyer of the shares declared that he could prove by witnesses that he had paid his contribution to the other proprietors, and a case arose for trial, then the evidence of the other proprietors carried more weight than the oath of the seller. To-day the buyer of the shares proves that he has paid his contribution by a document which the mine or tunnel manager always gives each one; if the buyer has contributed no money there is no obligation on the seller to keep his bargain. Formerly, as I have said above, the proprietors used to contribute money weekly, but now contributions are paid four times each year. To-day, if for the space of a month anyone does not take proceedings against the seller of the shares for the contribution, the right of taking proceedings is lost. But when the Clerk has already entered on the register the shares which had been conveyed or bought, none of the owners loses his right over the share unless the money is not contributed which the manager of the mine or tunnel has demanded from the owner or his agent. Formerly, if on the application of the manager the owner or his agent did not pay, the matter was referred to the Bergmeister, who ordered the owner or his agent to make his contribution; then if he failed to contribute for three successive weeks, the Bergmeister gave the right to his shares to the first applicant. To-day this custom is unchanged, for if owners fail for the space of a month to pay the contributions which the manager of the mine has imposed on them, on a stated day their names are proclaimed aloud and struck off the list of owners, in the presence of the Bergmeister, the Jurors, the Mining Clerk, and the Share Clerk, and each of such shares is entered on the proscribed list. If, however, [Pg 94]on the third, or at latest the fourth day, they pay their contributions to the manager of the mine or tunnel, and pay the money which is due from them to the Share Clerk, he removes their shares from the proscribed list. They are not thereupon restored to their former position unless the other owners consent; in which respect the custom now in use differs from the old practice, for to-day if the owners of shares constituting anything over half the mine consent to the restoration of those who have been proscribed, the others are obliged to consent whether they wish to or not. Formerly, unless such restoration had been sanctioned by the approval of the owners of one hundred shares, those who had been proscribed were not restored to their former position.

The procedure in suits relating to shares was formerly as follows: he who instituted a suit and took legal proceedings against another in respect of the shares, used to make a formal charge against the accused possessor before the Bergmeister. This was done either at his house or in some public place or at the mines, once each day for three days if the shares belonged to an old mine, and three times in eight days if they belonged to a head-meer. But if he could not find the possessor of the shares in these places, it was valid and effectual to make the accusation against him at the house of the Bergmeister. When, however, he made the charge for the third time, he used to bring with him a notary, whom the Bergmeister would interrogate: "Have I earned the fee?" and who would respond: "You have earned it"; thereupon the Bergmeister would give the right over the shares to him who made the accusation, and the accuser in turn would pay down the customary fee to the Bergmeister. After these proceedings, if the man whom the Bergmeister had deprived of his shares dwelt in the city, one of the proprietors of the mine or of the head-mine was sent to him to acquaint him with the facts, but if he dwelt elsewhere proclamation was made in some public place, or at the mine, openly and in a loud voice in the hearing of numbers of miners. Nowadays a date is defined for the one who is answerable for the debt of shares or money, and information is given the accused by an official if he is near at hand, or if he is absent, a letter is sent him; nor is the right over his shares taken from anyone for the space of one and a half months. So much for these matters.

Now, before I deal with the methods which must be employed in working, I will speak of the duties of the Mining Prefect, the Bergmeister, the Jurors, the Mining Clerk, the Share Clerk, the manager of the mine or tunnel, the foreman of the mine or tunnel, and the workmen.

To the Mining Prefect, whom the King or Prince appoints as his deputy, all men of all races, ages, and rank, give obedience and submission. He governs and regulates everything at his discretion, ordering those things which are useful and advantageous in mining operations, and prohibiting those which are to the contrary. He levies penalties and punishes offenders; he arranges disputes which the Bergmeister has been unable to settle, and if even he cannot arrange them, he allows the owners who are at variance over some point to proceed to litigation; he even lays down the law, gives orders [Pg 95]as a magistrate, or bids them leave their rights in abeyance, and he determines the pay of persons who hold any post or office. He is present in person when the mine managers present their quarterly accounts of profits and expenses, and generally represents the King or Prince and upholds his dignity. The Athenians in this way set Thucydides, the famous historian, over the mines of Thasos[15].

Next in power to the Mining Prefect comes the Bergmeister, since he has jurisdiction over all who are connected with mines, with a few exceptions, which are the Tithe Gatherer, the Cashier, the Silver Refiner, the Master of the Mint, and the Coiners themselves. Fraudulent, negligent, or dissolute men he either throws into prison, or deprives of promotion, or fines; of these fines, part is given as a tribute to those in power. When the mine owners have a dispute over boundaries he arbitrates it; or if he cannot settle the dispute, he pronounces judgment jointly with the Jurors; from them, however, an appeal lies to the Mining Prefect. He transcribes his decrees in a book and sets up the records in public. It is also his duty to grant the right over the mines to those who apply, and to confirm their rights; he also must measure the mines, and fix their boundaries, and see that the mine workings are not allowed to become dangerous. Some of these duties he observes on fixed days; for on Wednesday in the presence of the Jurors he confirms the rights over the mines which he has granted, settles disputes about boundaries, and pronounces judgments. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, he rides up to the mines, and dismounting at some of them explains what is required to be done, or considers the boundaries which are under controversy. On Saturday all the mine managers and mine foremen render an account of the money which they have spent on the mines during the preceding week, and the Mining Clerk transcribes this account into the register of expenses. Formerly, for one Principality there was one Bergmeister, who used to create all the judges and exercise jurisdiction and control over them; for every mine had its own judge, just as to-day each locality has a Bergmeister in his place, the name alone being changed. To this ancient Bergmeister, who used to dwell at Freiberg in Meissen, disputes were referred; hence right up to the present time the one at Freiberg still has the power of pronouncing judgment when mine owners who are engaged in disputes among themselves appeal to him. The old Bergmeister could try everything which was presented to him in any mine whatsoever; whereas the judge could only try the things which were done in his own district, in the same way that every modern Bergmeister can.

To each Bergmeister is attached a clerk, who writes out a schedule signifying to the applicant for a right over a mine, the day and hour on which the right is granted, the name of the applicant, and the location of the mine. He also affixes at the entrance to the mine, quarterly, at the appointed time, a sheet of paper on which is shown how much contribution must be paid to the manager of the mine. These notices are prepared jointly with the [Pg 96]Mining Clerk, and in common they receive the fee rendered by the foremen of the separate mines.

I now come to the Jurors, who are men experienced in mining matters and of good repute. Their number is greater or less as there are few or more mines; thus if there are ten mines there will be five pairs of Jurors, like a decemviral college[16]. Into however many divisions the total number of mines has been divided, so many divisions has the body of Jurors; each pair of Jurors usually visits some of the mines whose administration is under their supervision on every day that workmen are employed; it is usually so arranged that they visit all the mines in the space of fourteen days. They inspect and consider all details, and deliberate and consult with the mine foreman on matters relating to the underground workings, machinery, timbering, and everything else. They also jointly with the mine foreman from time to time make the price per fathom to the workmen for mining the ore, fixing it at a high or low price, according to whether the rock is hard or soft; if, however, the contractors find that an unforeseen and unexpected hardness occurs, and for that reason have difficulty and delay in carrying out their work, the Jurors allow them something in excess of the price fixed; while if there is a softness by reason of water, and the work is done more easily and quickly, they deduct something from the price. Further, if the Jurors discover manifest negligence or fraud on the part of any foreman or workman, they first admonish or reprimand him as to his duties and obligations, and if he does not become more diligent and improve, the matter is reported to the Bergmeister, who by right of his authority deprives such persons of their functions and office, or, if they have committed a crime, throws them into prison. Lastly, because the Jurors have been given to the Bergmeister as councillors and advisors, in their absence he does not confirm the right over any mine, nor measure the mines, nor fix their boundaries, nor settle disputes about boundaries, nor pronounce judgment, nor, finally, does he without them listen to any account of profits and expenditure.

Now the Mining Clerk enters each mine in his books, the new mines in one book, the old mines which have been re-opened in another. This is done in the following way: first is written the name of the man who has applied for the right over the mine, then the day and hour on which he made his application, then the vein and the locality in which it is situated, next the conditions on which the right has been given, and lastly, the day on which the Bergmeister confirmed it. A document containing all these particulars is also given to the person whose right over a mine has been confirmed. The Mining Clerk also sets down in another book the names of the owners of each mine over which the right has been confirmed; in another any intermission of work permitted to any person for certain [Pg 97]reasons by the Bergmeister; in another the money which one mine supplies to another for drawing off water or making machinery; and in another the decisions of the Bergmeister and the Jurors, and the disputes settled by them as honorary arbitrators. All these matters he enters in the books on Wednesday of every week; if holidays fall on that day he does it on the following Thursday. Every Saturday he enters in another book the total expenses of the preceding week, the account of which the mine manager has rendered; but the total quarterly expenses of each mine manager, he enters in a special book at his own convenience. He enters similarly in another book a list of owners who have been proscribed. Lastly, that no one may be able to bring a charge of falsification against him, all these books are enclosed in a chest with two locks, the key of one of which is kept by the Mining Clerk, and of the other by the Bergmeister.

The Share Clerk enters in a book the owners of each mine whom the first finder of the vein names to him, and from time to time replaces the names of the sellers with those of the buyers of the shares. It sometimes happens that twenty or more owners come into the possession of some particular share. Unless, however, the seller is present, or has sent a letter to the Mining Clerk with his seal, or better still with the seal of the Mayor of the town where he dwells, his name is not replaced by that of anyone else; for if the Share Clerk is not sufficiently cautious, the law requires him to restore the late owner wholly to his former position. He writes out a fresh document, and in this way gives proof of possession. Four times a year, when the accounts of the quarterly expenditure are rendered, he names the new proprietors to the manager of each mine, that the manager may know from whom he should demand contributions and among whom to distribute the profits of the mines. For this work the mine manager pays the Clerk a fixed fee.

I will now speak of the duties of the mine manager. In the case of the owners of every mine which is not yielding metal, the manager announces to the proprietors their contributions in a document which is affixed to the doors of the town hall, such contributions being large or small, according as the Bergmeister and two Jurors determine. If anyone fails to pay these contributions for the space of a month, the manager removes their names from the list of owners, and makes their shares the common property of the other proprietors. And so, whomsoever the mine manager names as not having paid his contribution, that same man the Mining Clerk designates in writing, and so also does the Share Clerk. Of the contribution, the mine manager applies part to the payment of the foreman and workmen, and lays by a part to purchase at the lowest price the necessary things for the mine, such as iron tools, nails, firewood, planks, buckets, drawing-ropes, or grease. But in the case of a mine which is yielding metal, the Tithe-gatherer pays the mine manager week by week as much money as suffices to discharge the workmen's wages and to provide the necessary implements for mining. The mine manager of each mine also, in the presence of its foreman, on Saturday in each week renders an account of his expenses to [Pg 98]the Bergmeister and the Jurors, he renders an account of his receipts, whether the money has been contributed by the owners or taken from the Tithe-gatherer; and of his quarterly expenditure in the same way to them and to the Mining Prefect and to the Mining Clerk, four times a year at the appointed time; for just as there are four seasons of the year, namely, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, so there are fourfold accounts of profits and expenses. In the beginning of the first month of each quarter an account is rendered of the money which the manager has spent on the mine during the previous quarter, then of the profit which he has taken from it during the same period; for example, the account which is rendered at the beginning of spring is an account of all the profits and expenses of each separate week of winter, which have been entered by the Mining Clerk in the book of accounts. If the manager has spent the money of the proprietors advantageously in the mine and has faithfully looked after it, everyone praises him as a diligent and honest man; if through ignorance in these matters he has caused loss, he is generally deprived of his office; if by his carelessness and negligence the owners have suffered loss, the Bergmeister compels him to make good the loss; and finally, if he has been guilty of fraud or theft, he is punished with fine, prison, or death. Further, it is the business of the manager to see that the foreman of the mine is present at the beginning and end of the shifts, that he digs the ore in an advantageous manner, and makes the required timbering, machines, and drains. The manager also makes the deductions from the pay of the workmen whom the foreman has noted as negligent. Next, if the mine is rich in metal, the manager must see that its ore-house is closed on those days on which no work is performed; and if it is a rich vein of gold or silver, he sees that the miners promptly transfer the output from the shaft or tunnel into a chest or into the strong room next to the house where the foreman dwells, that no opportunity for theft may be given to dishonest persons. This duty he shares in common with the foreman, but the one which follows is peculiarly his own. When ore is smelted he is present in person, and watches that the smelting is performed carefully and advantageously. If from it gold or silver is melted out, when it is melted in the cupellation furnace he enters the weight of it in his books and carries it to the Tithe-gatherer, who similarly writes a note of its weight in his books; it is then conveyed to the refiner. When it has been brought back, both the Tithe-gatherer and manager again enter its weight in their books. Why again? Because he looks after the goods of the owners just as if they were his own. Now the laws which relate to mining permit a manager to have charge of more than one mine, but in the case of mines yielding gold or silver, to have charge of only two. If, however, several mines following the head-mine begin to produce metal, he remains in charge of these others until he is freed from the duty of looking after them by the Bergmeister. Last of all, the manager, the Bergmeister, and the two Jurors, in agreement with the owners, settle the remuneration for the labourers. Enough of the duties and occupation of the manager.

[Pg 99]

I will now leave the manager, and discuss him who controls the workmen of the mine, who is therefore called the foreman, although some call him the watchman. It is he who distributes the work among the labourers, and sees diligently that each faithfully and usefully performs his duties. He also discharges workmen on account of incompetence, or negligence, and supplies others in their places if the two Jurors and manager give their consent. He must be skilful in working wood, that he may timber shafts, place posts, and make underground structures capable of supporting an undermined mountain, lest the rocks from the hangingwall of the veins, not being supported, become detached from the mass of the mountain and overwhelm the workmen with destruction. He must be able to make and lay out the drains in the tunnels, into which the water from the veins, stringers, and seams in the rocks may collect, that it may be properly guided and can flow away. Further, he must be able to recognize veins and stringers, so as to sink shafts to the best advantage, and must be able to discern one kind of material which is mined from another, or to train his subordinates that they may separate the materials correctly. He must also be well acquainted with all methods of washing, so as to teach the washers how the metalliferous earth or sand is washed. He supplies the miners with iron tools when they are about to start to work in the mines, and apportions a certain weight of oil for their lamps, and trains them to dig to the best advantage, and sees that they work faithfully. When their shift is finished, he takes back the oil which has been left. On account of his numerous and important duties and labours, only one mine is entrusted to one foreman, nay, rather sometimes two or three foremen are set over one mine.

Since I have mentioned the shifts, I will briefly explain how these are carried on. The twenty-four hours of a day and night are divided into three shifts, and each shift consists of seven hours. The three remaining hours are intermediate between the shifts, and form an interval during which the workmen enter and leave the mines. The first shift begins at the fourth hour in the morning and lasts till the eleventh hour; the second begins at the twelfth and is finished at the seventh; these two are day shifts in the morning and afternoon. The third is the night shift, and commences at the eighth hour in the evening and finishes at the third in the morning. The Bergmeister does not allow this third shift to be imposed upon the workmen unless necessity demands it. In that case, whether they draw water from the shafts or mine the ore, they keep their vigil by the night lamps, and to prevent themselves falling asleep from the late hours or from fatigue, they lighten their long and arduous labours by singing, which is neither wholly untrained nor unpleasing. In some places one miner is not allowed to undertake two shifts in succession, because it often happens that he either falls asleep in the mine, overcome by exhaustion from too much labour, or arrives too late for his shift, or leaves sooner than he ought. Elsewhere he is allowed to do so, because he cannot subsist on the pay of one shift, especially if provisions grow dearer. The Bergmeister does not, however, forbid an extraordinary shift when he concedes only one ordinary shift. [Pg 100]When it is time to go to work the sound of a great bell, which the foreigners call a "campana," gives the workmen warning, and when this is heard they run hither and thither through the streets toward the mines. Similarly, the same sound of the bell warns the foreman that a shift has just been finished; therefore as soon as he hears it, he stamps on the woodwork of the shaft and signals the workmen to come out. Thereupon, the nearest as soon as they hear the signal, strike the rocks with their hammers, and the sound reaches those who are furthest away. Moreover, the lamps show that the shift has come to an end when the oil becomes almost consumed and fails them. The labourers do not work on Saturdays, but buy those things which are necessary to life, nor do they usually work on Sundays or annual festivals, but on these occasions devote the shift to holy things. However, the workmen do not rest and do nothing if necessity demands their labour; for sometimes a rush of water compels them to work, sometimes an impending fall, sometimes something else, and at such times it is not considered irreligious to work on holidays. Moreover, all workmen of this class are strong and used to toil from birth.

The chief kinds of workmen are miners, shovellers, windlass men, carriers, sorters, washers, and smelters, as to whose duties I will speak in the following books, in their proper place. At present it is enough to add this one fact, that if the workmen have been reported by the foreman for negligence, the Bergmeister, or even the foreman himself, jointly with the manager, dismisses them from their work on Saturday, or deprives them of part of their pay; or if for fraud, throws them into prison. However, the owners of works in which the metals are smelted, and the master of the smelter, look after their own men. As to the government and duties of miners, I have now said enough; I will explain them more fully in another work entitled De Jure et Legibus Metallicis[17].



[Pg 77][1] The nomenclature in this chapter has given unusual difficulty, because the organisation of mines, either past or present, in English-speaking countries provides no exact equivalents for many of these offices and for many of the legal terms. The Latin terms in the text were, of course, coined by the author, and have no historical basis to warrant their adoption, while the introduction of the original German terms is open to much objection, as they are not only largely obsolete, but also in the main would convey no meaning to the majority of readers. We have, therefore, reached a series of compromises, and in the main give the nearest English equivalent. Of much interest in this connection is a curious exotic survival in mining law to be found in the High Peak of Derbyshire. We believe (see note on p. 85) that the law of this district was of Saxon importation, for in it are not only many terms of German origin, but the character of the law is foreign to the older English districts and shows its near kinship to that of Saxony. It is therefore of interest in connection with the nomenclature to be adopted in this book, as it furnishes about the only English precedents in many cases. The head of the administration in the Peak was the Steward, who was the chief judicial officer, with functions somewhat similar to the Berghauptmann. However, the term Steward has come to have so much less significance that we have adopted a literal rendering of the Latin. Under the Steward was the Barmaster, Barghmaster, or Barmar, as he was variously called, and his duties were similar to those of the Bergmeister. The English term would seem to be a corruption of the German, and as the latter has come to be so well understood by the English-speaking mining class, we have in this case adopted the German. The Barmaster acted always by the consent and with the approval of a jury of from 12 to 24 members. In this instance the English had functions much like a modern jury, while the Geschwornen of Saxony had much more widely extended powers. The German Geschwornen were in the main Inspectors; despite this, however, we have not felt justified in adopting any other than the literal English for the Latin and German terms. We have vacillated a great deal over the term Praefectus Fodinae, the German Steiger having, like the Cornish "Captain," in these days degenerated into a foreman, whereas the duties as described were not only those of the modern Superintendent or Manager, but also those of Treasurer of the Company, for he made the calls on shares and paid the dividends. The term Purser has been used for centuries in English mining for the Accountant or Cashier, but his functions were limited to paying dividends, wages, etc., therefore we have considered it better not to adopt the latter term, and have compromised upon the term Superintendent or Manager, although it has a distinctly modern flavor. The word for area has also caused much hesitation, and the "meer" has finally been adopted with some doubt. The title described by Agricola has a very close equivalent in the meer of old Derbyshire. As will be seen later, the mines of Saxony were Regal property, and were held subject to two essential conditions, i.e., payment of a tithe, and continuous operation. This form of title thus approximates more closely to the "lease" of Australia than to the old Cornish sett, or the American claim. The fundgrube of Saxony and Agricola's equivalent, the area capitis—head lease—we have rendered literally as "head meer," although in some ways "founders' meer" might be better, for, in Derbyshire, this was called the "finder's" or founder's meer, and was awarded under similar circumstances. It has also an analogy in Australian law in the "reward" leases. The term "measure" has the merit of being a literal rendering of the Latin, and also of being the identical term in the same [Pg 78]use in the High Peak. The following table of the principal terms gives the originals of the Latin text, their German equivalents according in the Glossary and other sources, and those adopted in the translation:—

Agricola.German Glossary.Term Adopted.
Praefectus MetallorumBergamptmannMining Prefect.
Magister MetallicorumBergmeisterBergmeister.
Scriba Magister MetallicorumBergmeister's schreiberBergmeister's clerk.
JuratiGeschwornenJurates or Jurors.
Publicus SignatorGemeiner siglerNotary.
DecumanusZehenderTithe gatherer.
Scriba partiumGegenschreiberShare clerk.
Scriba fodinarumBergschreiberMining clerk.
Praefectus fodinae} Steiger {Manager of the Mine.
Praefectus cuniculiManager of the Tunnel.
Praeses fodinae} Schichtmeister {Foreman of the Mine.
Praeses cuniculiForeman of the Tunnel.
FossoresBerghauerMiners or diggers.
VectariiHespelerLever workers (windlass men).
LotoresWescher und seiffnerWashers, buddlers, sifters, etc.
Purgator ArgentiSilber brennerSilver refiner.
Magister MonetariorumMüntzmeisterMaster of the Mint.
Area fodinarumMasseMeer.
Area Capitis FodinarumFundgrubeHead meer.

[2] The following are the equivalents of the measures mentioned in this book. It is not always certain which "foot" or "fathom" Agricola actually had in mind although they were probably the German.

  Uncia=.97"12=Pes=11.6 "5=Passus=58.1 "
  Zoll=.93"12=Werckschuh=11.24"6=Lachter=67.5 "
  Inch=1.0 "12=Foot=12.00"6=Fathom=72.0 "

The discrepancies are due to variations in authorities and to decimals dropped. The werckschuh taken is the Chemnitz foot deduced from Agricola's statement in his De Mensuris et Ponderibus, Basel, 1533, p. 29. For further notes see Appendix C.

[Pg 80][3] Subcisivum—"Remainder." German Glossary, Ueberschar. The term used in Mendip and Derbyshire was primgap or primegap. It did not, however, in this case belong to adjacent mines, but to the landlord.

[4] Adversum. Glossary, gegendrumb. The Bergwerk Lexicon, Chemnitz, 1743, gives gegendrom or gegentramm, and defines it as the masse or lease next beyond a stream.

[5] Quadratum. Glossary, vierung. The vierung in old Saxon title meant a definite zone on either side of the vein, 31/2 lachter (lachter = 5 ft. 7.5 inches) into the hangingwall and the same into the footwall, the length of one vierung being 7 lachter along the strike. It [Pg 81]must be borne in mind that the form of rights here referred to entitled the miner to follow his vein, carrying the side line with him in depth the same distance from the vein, in much the same way as with the Apex Law of the United States. From this definition as given in the Bergwerk Lexicon, p. 585, it would appear that the vein itself was not included in the measurements, but that they started from the walls.

[Pg 82][6] Historical Note on the Development of Mining Law.—There is no branch of the law of property, of which the development is more interesting and illuminating from a social point of view than that relating to minerals. Unlike the land, the minerals have ever been regarded as a sort of fortuitous property, for the title of which there have been four principal claimants—that is, the Overlord, as represented by the King, Prince, Bishop, or what not; the Community or the State, as distinguished from the Ruler; the Landowner; and the Mine Operator, to which class belongs the Discoverer. The one of these that possessed the dominant right reflects vividly the social state and sentiment of the period. The Divine Right of Kings; the measure of freedom of their subjects; the tyranny of the land-owning class; the rights of the Community as opposed to its individual members; the rise of individualism; and finally, the modern return to more communal view, have all been reflected promptly in the mineral title. Of these parties the claims of the Overlord have been limited only by the resistance of his subjects; those of the State limited by the landlord; those of the landlord by the Sovereign or by the State; while the miner, ever in a minority in influence as well as in numbers, has been buffeted from pillar to post, his only protection being the fact that all other parties depended upon his exertion and skill.

The conception as to which of these classes had a right in the title have been by no means the same in different places at the same time, and in all it varies with different periods; but the whole range of legislation indicates the encroachment of one factor in the community over another, so that their relative rights have been the cause of never-ending contention, ever since a record of civil and economic contentions began. In modern times, practically over the whole world, the State has in effect taken the rights from the Overlord, but his claims did not cease until his claims over the bodies of his subjects also ceased. However, he still remains in many places with his picture on the coinage. The Landlord has passed through many vicissitudes; his complete right to minerals was practically never admitted until the doctrine of laissez-faire had become a matter of faith, and this just in time to vest him with most of the coal and iron deposits in the world; this, no doubt, being also partially due to the little regard in which such deposits were generally held at that time, and therefore to the little opposition to his ever-ready pretentions. Their numbers, however, and their prominence in the support of the political powers de jure have usually obtained them some recognition. In the rise of individualism, the apogee of the laissez-faire fetish came about the time of the foundation of the United States, and hence the relaxation in the claims of the State in that country and the corresponding position attained by the landlord and miner. The discoverer and the operator—that is, the miner himself—has, however, had to be reckoned with by all three of the other claimants, because they have almost universally sought to escape the risks of mining, to obtain the most skilful operation, and to stimulate the productivity of the mines; thereupon the miner has secured at least partial consideration. This stands out in all times and all places, and while the miner has had to take the risks of his fortuitous calling, the Overlord, State, or Landlord have all made for complacent safety by demanding some kind of a tithe on his exertions. Moreover, there has often been a low cunning displayed by these powers in giving something extra to the first discoverer. In these relations of the powers to the mine operator, from the very first we find definite records of the imposition of certain conditions with extraordinary persistence—so fixed a notion that even the United States did not quite escape it. This condition was, no doubt, designed as a stimulus to productive activity, and was the requirement that the miner should continuously employ himself digging in the piece of ground allotted to him. The Greeks, Romans, Mediæval Germans, old and modern Englishmen, modern Australians, all require the miner to keep continuously labouring at his mines, or lose his title. The American, as his inauguration of government happened when things were easier for individuals, allows him a vacation of 11 months in the year for a few years, and finally a holiday altogether. There are other points where the Overlord, the State, or the Landlord have always considered that they had a right to interfere, principally as to the way the miner does his work, lest he should miss, or cause to be missed, some of the mineral; so he has usually been under pains and penalties as to his methods—these quite apart from the very proper protection to human life, which is purely a modern invention, largely of the miner himself. Somebody has had to keep peace and settle disputes among the usually turbulent miners (for what other sort of operators would undertake the hazards and handicaps?), and therefore special officials and codes, or Courts, for his benefit are of the oldest and most persistent of institutions.

Between the Overlord and the Landowner the fundamental conflict of view as to their respective rights has found its interpretation in the form of the mineral title. The Overlord claimed the metals as distinguished from the land, while the landowner claimed all beneath his [Pg 83]soil. Therefore, we find two forms of title—that in which the miner could follow the ore regardless of the surface (the "apex" conception), and that in which the boundaries were vertical from the land surface. Lest the Americans think that the Apex Law was a sin original to themselves, we may mention that it was made use of in Europe a few centuries before Agricola, who will be found to set it out with great precision.

From these points of view, more philosophical than legal, we present a few notes on various ancient laws of mines, though space forbids a discussion of a tithe of the amount it deserves at some experienced hand.

Of the Ancient Egyptian, Lydian, Assyrian, Persian, Indian, and Chinese laws as to mines we have no record, but they were of great simplicity, for the bodies as well as the property of subjects were at the abject disposition of the Overlord. We are informed on countless occasions of Emperors, Kings, and Princes of various degree among these races, owning and operating mines with convicts, soldiers, or other slaves, so we may take it for certain that continuous labour was enforced, and that the boundaries, inspection, and landlords did not cause much anxiety. However, herein lies the root of regalian right.

Our first glimpse of a serious right of the subject to mines is among some of the Greek States, as could be expected from their form of government. With republican ideals, a rich mining district at Mount Laurion, an enterprising and contentious people, it would be surprising indeed if Athenian Literature was void on the subject. While we know that the active operation of these mines extended over some 500 years, from 700 to 200 B.C., the period of most literary reference was from 400 to 300 B.C. Our information on the subject is from two of Demosthenes' orations—one against Pantaenetus, the other against Phaenippus—the first mining lawsuit in which the address of counsel is extant. There is also available some information in Xenophon's Essay upon the Revenues, Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, Lycurgus' prosecution of Diphilos, the Tablets of the Poletae, and many incidental references and inscriptions of minor order. The minerals were the property of the State, a conception apparently inherited from the older civilizations. Leases for exploitation were granted to individuals for terms of three to ten years, depending upon whether the mines had been previously worked, thus a special advantage was conferred upon the pioneer. The leases did not carry surface rights, but the boundaries at Mt. Laurion were vertical, as necessarily must be the case everywhere in horizontal deposits. What they were elsewhere we do not know. The landlord apparently got nothing. The miner must continuously operate his mine, and was required to pay a large tribute to the State, either in the initial purchase of his lease or in annual rent. There were elaborate regulations as to interference and encroachment, and proper support of the workings. Diphilos was condemned to death and his fortune confiscated for robbing pillars. The mines were worked with slaves.

The Romans were most intensive miners and searchers after metallic wealth already mined. The latter was obviously the objective of most Roman conquest, and those nations rich in these commodities, at that time necessarily possessed their own mines. Thus a map showing the extensions of Empire coincides in an extraordinary manner with the metal distribution of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Further, the great indentations into the periphery of the Imperial map, though many were rich from an agricultural point of view, had no lure to the Roman because they had no mineral wealth. On the Roman law of mines the student is faced with many perplexities. With the conquest of the older States, the plunderers took over the mines and worked them, either by leases from the State to public companies or to individuals; or even in some cases worked them directly by the State. There was thus maintained the concept of State ownership of the minerals which, although apparently never very specifically defined, yet formed a basis of support to the contention of regalian rights in Europe later on. Parallel with this system, mines were discovered and worked by individuals under tithe to the State, and in Pliny (XXXIV, 49) there is reference to the miners in Britain limiting their own output. Individual mining appears to have increased with any relaxation of central authority, as for instance under Augustus. It appears, as a rule, that the mines were held on terminable leases, and that the State did at times resume them; the labour was mostly slaves. As to the detailed conditions under which the mine operator held his title, we know less than of the Greeks—in fact, practically nothing other than that he paid a tithe. The Romans maintained in each mining district an official—the Procurator Metallorum—who not only had general charge of the leasing of the mines on behalf of the State, but was usually the magistrate of the district. A bronze tablet found near Aljustrel, in Portugal, in 1876, generally known as the Aljustrel Tablet, appears to be the third of a series setting out the regulations of the mining district. It refers mostly to the regulation of public auctions, the baths, barbers, and tradesmen; but one clause (VII.) is devoted to the regulation of those [Pg 84]who work dumps of scoria, etc., and provides for payment to the administrator of the mines of a capitation on the slaves employed. It does not, however, so far as we can determine, throw any light upon the actual regulations for working the mines. (Those interested will find ample detail in Jacques Flach, "La Table de Bronze d'Aljustrel: Nouvelle Revue Historique de Droit Francais et Etranger," 1878, p. 655; Estacio da Veiga, Memorias da Acad. Real das Ciencias de Lisbon, Nova Scrie, Tome V, Part II, Lisbon, 1882.) Despite the systematic law of property evolved by the Romans, the codes contain but small reference to mines, and this in itself is indirect evidence of the concept that they were the property of the State. Any general freedom of the metals would have given rise to a more extensive body of law. There are, of course, the well-known sections in the Justinian and Theodosian Codes, but the former in the main bears on the collection of the tithe and the stimulation of mining by ordering migrant miners to return to their own hearths. There is also some intangible prohibition of mining near edifices. There is in the Theodosian code evident extension of individual right to mine or quarry, and this "freeing" of the mines was later considerably extended. The Empire was, however, then on the decline; and no doubt it was hoped to stimulate the taxable commodities. There is nothing very tangible as to the position of the landlord with regard to minerals found on his property; the metals were probably of insufficient frequency on the land of Italian landlords to matter much, and the attitude toward subject races was not usually such as to require an extensive body of law.

In the chaos of the Middle Ages, Europe was governed by hundreds of potentates, great and small, who were unanimous on one point, and this that the minerals were their property. In the bickerings among themselves, the stronger did not hesitate to interpret the Roman law in affirming regalian rights as an excuse to dispossess the weaker. The rights to the mines form no small part of the differences between these Potentates and the more important of their subjects; and with the gradual accretion of power into a few hands, we find only the most powerful of vassals able to resist such encroachment. However, as to what position the landlord or miner held in these rights, we have little indication until about the beginning of the 13th century, after which there appear several well-known charters, which as time went on were elaborated into practical codes of mining law. The earliest of these charters are those of the Bishop of Trent, 1185; that of the Harz Miners, 1219; of the town of Iglau in 1249. Many such in connection with other districts appear throughout the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. (References to the most important of such charters may be found in Sternberg, Umrisse der Geschichte des Bergbaues, Prague, 1838; Eisenhart, De Regali Metalli Fodinarium, Helmestadt, 1681; Gmelin, Beyträge zur Geschichte des Teutschen Bergbaus, Halle, 1783; Inama-Sternegg, Deutsche Wirthschaftsgeschichte, Leipzig, 1879-1901; Transactions, Royal Geol. Soc. Cornwall VI, 155; Lewis, The Stannaries, New York, 1908.) By this time a number of mining communities had grown up, and the charters in the main are a confirmation to them of certain privileges; they contain, nevertheless, rigorous reservation of the regalian right. The landlord, where present, was usually granted some interest in the mine, but had to yield to the miner free entry. The miner was simply a sort of tributer to the Crown, loaded with an obligation when upon private lands to pay a further portion of his profits to the landlord. He held tenure only during strenuous operation. However, it being necessary to attract skilled men, they were granted many civil privileges not general to the people; and from many of the principal mining towns "free cities" were created, possessing a measure of self-government. There appear in the Iglau charter of 1249 the first symptoms of the "apex" form of title, this being the logical development of the conception that the minerals were of quite distinct ownership from the land. The law, as outlined by Agricola, is much the same as set out in the Iglavian Charter of three centuries before, and we must believe that such fully developed conceptions as that charter conveys were but the confirmation of customs developed over generations.

In France the landlord managed to maintain a stronger position vis-à-vis with the Crown, despite much assertion of its rights; and as a result, while the landlord admitted the right to a tithe for the Crown, he maintained the actual possession, and the boundaries were defined with the land.

In England the law varied with special mining communities, such as Cornwall, Devon, the Forest of Dean, the Forest of Mendip, Alston Moor, and the High Peak, and they exhibit a curious complex of individual growth, of profound interest to the student of the growth of institutions. These communities were of very ancient origin, some of them at least pre-Roman; but we are, except for the reference in Pliny, practically without any idea of their legal doings until after the Norman occupation (1066 A.D.). The genius of these conquerors for systematic government soon led them to inquire into the doings of these communities, and while gradually systematising their customs into law, they lost no occasion to assert the [Pg 85]regalian right to the minerals. In the two centuries subsequent to their advent there are on record numerous inquisitions, with the recognition and confirmation of "the customs and liberties which had existed from time immemorial," always with the reservation to the Crown of some sort of royalty. Except for the High Peak in Derbyshire, the period and origin of these "customs and liberties" are beyond finding out, as there is practically no record of English History between the Roman withdrawal and the Norman occupation. There may have been "liberties" under the Romans, but there is not a shred of evidence on the subject, and our own belief is that the forms of self-government which sprang up were the result of the Roman evacuation. The miner had little to complain of in the Norman treatment in these matters; but between the Crown and the landlord as represented by the Barons, Lords of the Manor, etc., there were wide differences of opinion on the regalian rights, for in the extreme interpretation of the Crown it tended greatly to curtail the landlord's position in the matter, and the success of the Crown on this subject was by no means universal. In fact, a considerable portion of English legal history of mines is but the outcropping of this conflict, and one of the concessions wrung from King John at Runnymede in 1215 was his abandonment of a portion of such claims.

The mining communities of Cornwall and Devon were early in the 13th century definitely chartered into corporations—"The Stannaries"—possessing definite legislative and executive functions, judicial powers, and practical self-government; but they were required to make payment of the tithe in the shape of "coinage" on the tin. Such recognition, while but a ratification of prior custom, was not obtained without struggle, for the Norman Kings early asserted wide rights over the mines. Tangible record of mining in these parts, from a legal point of view, practically begins with a report by William de Wrotham in 1198 upon his arrangements regarding the coinage. A charter of King John in 1201, while granting free right of entry to the miners, thus usurped the rights of the landlords—a claim which he was compelled by the Barons to moderate; the Crown, as above mentioned did maintain its right to a royalty, but the landlord held the minerals. It is not, however, until the time of Richard Carew's "Survey of Cornwall" (London, 1602) that we obtain much insight into details of miners' title, and the customs there set out were maintained in broad principle down to the 19th century. At Carew's time the miner was allowed to prospect freely upon "Common" or wastrel lands (since mostly usurped by landlords), and upon mineral discovery marked his boundaries, within which he was entitled to the vertical contents. Even upon such lands, however, he must acknowledge the right of the lord of the manor to a participation in the mine. Upon "enclosed" lands he had no right of entry without the consent of the landlord; in fact, the minerals belonged to the land as they do to-day except where voluntarily relinquished. In either case he was compelled to "renew his bounds" once a year, and to operate more or less continuously to maintain the right once obtained. There thus existed a "labour condition" of variable character, usually imposed more or less vigorously in the bargains with landlords. The regulations in Devonshire differed in the important particular that the miner had right of entry to private lands, although he was not relieved of the necessity to give a participation of some sort to the landlord. The Forests of Dean, Mendip, and other old mining communities possessed a measure of self-government, which do not display any features in their law fundamentally different from those of Cornwall and Devon. The High Peak lead mines of Derbyshire, however, exhibit one of the most profoundly interesting of these mining communities. As well as having distinctively Saxon names for some of the mines, the customs there are of undoubted Saxon origin, and as such their ratification by the Normans caused the survival of one of the few Saxon institutions in England—a fact which, we believe, has been hitherto overlooked by historians. Beginning with inquisitions by Edward I. in 1288, there is in the Record Office a wealth of information, the bare titles of which form too extensive a list to set out here. (Of published works, the most important are Edward Manlove's "The Liberties and Customs of the Lead Mines within the Wapentake of Wirksworth," London, 1653, generally referred to as the "Rhymed Chronicle"; Thomas Houghton, "Rara Avis in Terra," London, 1687; William Hardy, "The Miner's Guide," Sheffield, 1748; Thomas Tapping, "High Peak Mineral Customs," London, 1851.) The miners in this district were presided over by a "Barmaster," "Barghmaster," or "Barmar," as he was variously spelled, all being a corruption of the German Bergmeister, with precisely the same functions as to the allotment of title, settlement of disputes, etc., as his Saxon progenitor had, and, like him, he was advised by a jury. The miners had entry to all lands except churchyards (this regulation waived upon death), and a few similar exceptions, and was subject to royalty to the Crown and the landlord. The discoverer was entitled to a finder's "meer" of extra size, and his title was to the vein within the end lines, i.e., the "apex" law. This title was held subject to rigorous labour [Pg 86]conditions, amounting to forfeiture for failure to operate the mine for a period of nine weeks. Space does not permit of the elaboration of the details of this subject, which we hope to pursue elsewhere in its many historical bearings. Among these we may mention that if the American "Apex law" is of English descent, it must be laid to the door of Derbyshire, and not of Cornwall, as is generally done. Our own belief, however, is that the American "apex" conception came straight from Germany.

It is not our purpose to follow these inquiries into mining law beyond the 15th century, but we may point out that with the growth of the sentiment of individualism the miners and landlords obtained steadily wider and wider rights at the cost of the State, until well within the 19th century. The growth of stronger communal sentiment since the middle of the last century has already found its manifestation in the legislation with regard to mines, for the laws of South Africa, Australia, and England, and the agitation in the United States are all toward greater restrictions on the mineral ownership in favour of the State.

[Pg 87][7] ?De Limitibus et de Re Agraria of Sextus Julius Frontinus (about 50-90 A.D.)

[Pg 90][8] Such a form of ownership is very old. Apparently upon the instigation of Xenophon (see Note 7, p. 29) the Greeks formed companies to work the mines of Laurion, further information as to which is given in note 6, p. 27. Pliny (Note 7, p. 232) mentions the Company working the quicksilver mines in Spain. In fact, company organization was very common among the Romans, who speculated largely in the shares, especially in those companies which farmed the taxes of the provinces, or leased public lands, or took military and civil contracts.

[9] The Latin text gives one-sixth, obviously an error.

[Pg 91][10] A symposium is a banquet, and a symbola is a contribution of money to a banquet. This sentence is probably a play on the old German Zeche, mine, this being also a term for a drinking bout.

[11] In the Latin text this is "three"—obviously an error.

[Pg 92][12] See Note 9, p. 74, for further information with regard to these mines. The Rhenish gulden was about 6.9 shillings, or $1.66. Silver was worth about this amount per Troy ounce at this period, so that roughly, silver of a value of 1,100 gulden would be about 1,100 Troy ounces. The Saxon thaler was worth about 4.64 shillings or about $1.11. The thaler, therefore, represented about .65 Troy ounces of silver, so that 300 thalers were about 195 Troy ounces, and 225 thalers about 146 Troy ounces.

[13] Opera continens. The Glossary gives schicht,—the origin of the English "shift."

[Pg 93][14] The terms in the Latin text are donator, a giver of a gift, and donatus, a receiver. It appears to us, however, that some consideration passed, and we have, therefore, used "seller" and "buyer."

[Pg 95][15] See Note 29, p. 23.

[Pg 96][16] Decemviri—"The Ten Men." The original Decemviri were a body appointed by the Romans in 452 B.C., principally to codify the law. Such commissions were afterward instituted for other purposes, but the analogy of the above paragraph is a little remote.

[Pg 100][17] This work was apparently never published; see Appendix A.

[Pg 101]



n the last book I have explained the methods of delimiting the meers along each kind of vein, and the duties of mine officials. In this book[1] I will in like manner explain the principles of underground mining and the art of surveying. First then, I will proceed to deal with those matters which pertain to the former heading, since both the subject and methodical arrangement require it. And so I will describe first of all the digging of shafts, tunnels, and drifts on venae profundae; next I will discuss the good indications shown by canales[2], by the materials which are dug out, and by the rocks; then I will speak of the tools by which veins and rocks are broken down and excavated; the method by which fire shatters the hard veins; and further, of the machines with which water is drawn from the shafts and air is forced into deep shafts and long tunnels, for digging is impeded by the inrush of the former or the failure of the latter; next I will deal with the two kinds of shafts, and with the making of them and of tunnels; and finally, I will describe the method of mining venae dilatatae, venae cumulatae, and stringers.

[Pg 102]

Now when a miner discovers a vena profunda he begins sinking a shaft and above it sets up a windlass, and builds a shed over the shaft to prevent the rain from falling in, lest the men who turn the windlass be numbed by the cold or troubled by the rain. The windlass men also place their barrows in it, and the miners store their iron tools and other implements therein. Next to the shaft-house another house is built, where the mine foreman and the other workmen dwell, and in which are stored the ore and other things which are dug out. Although some persons build only one house, yet because sometimes boys and other living things fall into the shafts, most miners deliberately place one house apart from the other, or at least separate them by a wall.

Three vertical shafts, of which the first, A, does not reach the tunnel; the second, B, reaches the tunnel; to the third, C, the tunnel has not yet been driven. D—Tunnel. [Pg 103]
Three inclined shafts, of which A does not yet reach the tunnel; B reaches the tunnel; to the third, C, the tunnel has not yet been driven. D—Tunnel. [Pg 104]
Now a shaft is dug, usually two fathoms long, two-thirds of a fathom wide, and thirteen fathoms deep; but for the purpose of connecting with a tunnel which has already been driven in a hill, a shaft may be sunk to a depth of only eight fathoms, at other times to fourteen, more or less[3]. A shaft may be made vertical or inclined, according as the vein which the miners follow in the course of digging is vertical or inclined. A tunnel is a subterranean ditch driven lengthwise, and is nearly twice as high as it is broad, and wide enough that workmen and others may be able to pass and carry their loads. It is usually one and a quarter fathoms high, while its width is about three and three-quarters feet. Usually two workmen are required to drive it, one of whom digs out the upper and the other the lower part, and the one goes forward, while the other follows closely after. Each sits upon small boards fixed securely from the footwall to the hangingwall, or if the vein is a soft one, sometimes on a wedge-shaped plank fixed on to the vein itself. Miners sink more inclined shafts than vertical, and some of each kind do not reach to tunnels, while some connect with them. But as for some shafts, though they have already been sunk to the required depth, the tunnel which is to pierce the mountain may not yet have been driven far enough to connect with them.

A—Shaft. B, C—Drift. D—Another shaft. E—Tunnel. F—Mouth of tunnel. [Pg 105]
It is advantageous if a shaft connects with a tunnel, for then the miners and other workmen carry on more easily the work they have undertaken; but if the shaft is not so deep, it is usual to drift from one or both sides of it. From these openings the owner or foreman becomes acquainted with the veins and stringers that unite with the principal vein, or cut across it, or [Pg 103]divide it obliquely; however, my discourse is now concerned mainly with vena profunda, but most of all with the metallic material which it contains. [Pg 104]Excavations of this kind were called by the Greeks κρυπται for, extending along after the manner of a tunnel, they are entirely hidden within the [Pg 105]ground. This kind of an opening, however, differs from a tunnel in that it is dark throughout its length, whereas a tunnel has a mouth open to daylight.

[Pg 106]

I have spoken of shafts, tunnels, and drifts. I will now speak of the indications given by the canales, by the materials which are dug out, and by the rocks. These indications, as also many others which I will explain, are to a great extent identical in venae dilatatae and venae cumulatae with venae profundae.

When a stringer junctions with a main vein and causes a swelling, a shaft should be sunk at the junction. But when we find the stringer intersecting the main vein crosswise or obliquely, if it descends vertically down to the depths of the earth, a second shaft should be sunk to the point where the stringer cuts the main vein; but if the stringer cuts it obliquely the shaft should be two or three fathoms back, in order that the junction may be pierced lower down. At such junctions lies the best hope of finding the ore for the sake of which we explore the ground, and if ore has already been found, it is usually found in much greater abundance at that spot. Again, if several stringers descend into the earth, the miner, in order to pierce through the point of contact, should sink the shaft in the midst of these stringers, or else calculate on the most prominent one.

Since an inclined vein often lies near a vertical vein, it is advisable to sink a shaft at the spot where a stringer or cross-vein cuts them both; or where a vena dilatata or a stringer dilatata passes through, for minerals are usually found there. In the same way we have a good prospect of finding metal at the point where an inclined vein joins a vertical one; this is why miners cross-cut the hangingwall or footwall of a main vein, and in these openings seek for a vein which may junction with the principal vein a few fathoms below. Nay, further, these same miners, if no stringer or cross-vein intersects the main vein so that they can follow it in their workings, even cross-cut through the solid rock of the hangingwall or footwall. These cross-cuts are likewise called "κρυπταί," whether the beginning of the opening which has to be undertaken is made from a tunnel or from a drift. Miners have some hope when only a cross vein cuts a main vein. Further, if a vein which cuts the main vein obliquely does not appear anywhere beyond it, it is advisable to dig into that side of the main vein toward which the oblique vein inclines, whether the right or left side, that we may ascertain if the main vein has absorbed it; if after cross-cutting six fathoms it is not found, it is advisable to dig on the other side of the main vein, that we may know for certain whether it has carried it forward. The owners of a main vein can often dig no less profitably on that side where the vein which cuts the main vein again appears, than where it first cuts it; the owners of the intersecting vein, when that is found again, recover their title, which had in a measure been lost.

The common miners look favourably upon the stringers which come from the north and join the main vein; on the other hand, they look unfavourably upon those which come from the south, and say that these do much harm to the main vein, while the former improve it. But I think that miners should not neglect either of them: as I showed in Book III, experience does not confirm those who hold this opinion about veins, so now [Pg 107]again I could furnish examples of each kind of stringers rejected by the common miners which have proved good, but I know this could be of little or no benefit to posterity.

If the miners find no stringers or veins in the hangingwall or footwall of the main vein, and if they do not find much ore, it is not worth while to undertake the labour of sinking another shaft. Nor ought a shaft to be sunk where a vein is divided into two or three parts, unless the indications are satisfactory that those parts may be united and joined together a little later. Further, it is a bad indication for a vein rich in mineral to bend and turn hither and thither, for unless it goes down again into the ground vertically or inclined, as it first began, it produces no more metal; and even though it does go down again, it often continues barren. Stringers which in their outcrops bear metals, often disappoint miners, no metal being found in depth. Further, inverted seams in the rocks are counted among the bad indications.

The miners hew out the whole of solid veins when they show clear evidence of being of good quality; similarly they hew out the drusy[4] veins, especially if the cavities are plainly seen to have formerly borne metal, or if the cavities are few and small. They do not dig barren veins through which water flows, if there are no metallic particles showing; occasionally, however, they dig even barren veins which are free from water, because of the pyrites which is devoid of all metal, or because of a fine black soft substance which is like wool. They dig stringers which are rich in metal, or sometimes, for the purpose of searching for the vein, those that are devoid of ore which lie near the hangingwall or footwall of the main vein. This then, generally speaking, is the mode of dealing with stringers and veins.

Let us now consider the metallic material which is found in the canales of venae profundae, venae dilatatae, and venae cumulatae, being in all these either cohesive and continuous, or scattered and dispersed among them, or swelling out in bellying shapes, or found in veins or stringers which originate from the main vein and ramify like branches; but these latter veins and stringers are very short, for after a little space they do not appear again. If we come across a small quantity of metallic material it is an indication; but if a large quantity, it is not an "indication," but the very thing for which we explore the earth. As soon as a miner who searches for veins discovers pure metal or minerals, or rich metallic material, or a great abundance of material which is poor in metal, let him sink a shaft on the spot without any delay. If the material appears more abundant or of better quality on the one side, he will incline his digging in that direction.

Gold, silver, copper, and quicksilver are often found native[5]; less often iron and bismuth; almost never tin and lead. Nevertheless tin-stone is not far removed from the pure white tin which is melted out of them, and galena, from which lead is obtained, differs little from that metal itself.

Now we may classify gold ores. Next after native gold, we come to the [Pg 108]rudis[6], of yellowish green, yellow, purple, black, or outside red and inside gold colour. These must be reckoned as the richest ores, because the gold exceeds the stone or earth in weight. Next come all gold ores of which each one hundred librae contains more than three unciae of gold[7]; for although but a small proportion of gold is found in the earth or stone, yet it equals in value other metals of greater weight.[8] All other gold ores are considered poor, because [Pg 109]the earth or stone too far outweighs the gold. A vein which contains a larger proportion of silver than of gold is rarely found to be a rich one. Earth, whether it be dry or wet, rarely abounds in gold; but in dry earth there is more often found a greater quantity of gold, especially if it has the [Pg 110]appearance of having been melted in a furnace, and if it is not lacking in scales resembling mica. The solidified juices, azure, chrysocolla, orpiment, and realgar, also frequently contain gold. Likewise native or rudis gold is found sometimes in large, and sometimes in small quantities in quartz, [Pg 111]schist, marble, and also in stone which easily melts in fire of the second degree, and which is sometimes so porous that it seems completely decomposed. Lastly, gold is found in pyrites, though rarely in large quantities.

When considering silver ores other than native silver, those ores are [Pg 112]classified as rich, of which each one hundred librae contains more than three librae of silver. This quality comprises rudis silver, whether silver glance or ruby silver, or whether white, or black, or grey, or purple, or yellow, or liver-coloured, [Pg 113]or any other. Sometimes quartz, schist, or marble is of this quality also, if much native or rudis silver adheres to it. But that ore is considered of poor quality if three librae of silver at the utmost are found in each one hundred librae of it[9]. Silver ore usually contains a greater quantity [Pg 114]than this, because Nature bestows quantity in place of quality; such ore is mixed with all kinds of earth and stone compounds, except the various kinds of rudis silver; especially with pyrites, cadmia metallica fossilis, galena, stibium, and others.

[Pg 115]

As regards other kinds of metal, although some rich ores are found, still, unless the veins contain a large quantity of ore, it is very rarely worth while to dig them. The Indians and some other races do search for gems in veins hidden deep in the earth, but more often they are noticed from their clearness, or rather their brilliancy, when metals are mined. When they outcrop, we follow veins of marble by mining in the same way as is done with rock or building-stones when we come upon them. But gems, properly so called, though they sometimes have veins of their own, are still for the most part found in mines and rock quarries, as the lodestone in iron mines, the emery in silver mines, the lapis judaicus, trochites, and the like in stone quarries where the diggers, at the bidding of the owners, usually collect them from the seams in the rocks.[10] Nor does the miner neglect the digging of "extraordinary earths,"[11] whether they are found [Pg 116]in gold mines, silver mines, or other mines; nor do other miners neglect them if they are found in stone quarries, or in their own veins; their value is usually indicated by their taste. Nor, lastly, does the miner fail to give attention to the solidified juices which are found in metallic veins, as well as in their own veins, from which he collects and gathers them. But I will say no more on these matters, because I have explained more fully all the metals and mineral substances in the books "De Natura Fossilium."

But I will return to the indications. If we come upon earth which is like lute, in which there are particles of any sort of metal, native or rudis, the best possible indication of a vein is given to miners, for the metallic material from which the particles have become detached is necessarily close by. But if this kind of earth is found absolutely devoid of all metallic material, but fatty, and of white, green, blue, and similar colours, they must not abandon the work that has been started. Miners have other indications in the veins and stringers, which I have described already, and in the rocks, about which I will speak a little later. If the miner comes across other dry earths which contain native or rudis metal, that is a good indication; if he comes across yellow, red, black, or some other "extraordinary" earth, though it is devoid of mineral, it is not a bad indication. Chrysocolla, or azure, or verdigris, or orpiment, or realgar, when they are found, are counted among the good indications. Further, where underground springs throw up metal we ought to continue the digging we have begun, for this points to the particles having been detached from the main mass like a fragment from a body. In the same way the thin scales of any metal adhering to stone or rock are counted among the good indications. Next, if the veins which are composed partly of quartz, partly of clayey or dry earth, descend one and all into the depths of the earth together, with their stringers, there is good hope of metal being found; but if the stringers afterward do not appear, or little metallic material is met with, the digging should not be given up until there is nothing remaining. Dark or black or horn or liver-coloured quartz is usually a good sign; white is sometimes good, sometimes no sign at all. But calc-spar, showing itself in a vena profunda, if it disappears a little lower down is not a good indication; for it did not belong to the vein proper, but to some stringer. Those kinds of stone which easily melt in fire, especially if they are translucent (fluorspar?), must be counted among the medium indications, for if other good indications are present they are good, but if no good indications are present, they give no useful significance. In the same way we ought to form our judgment with regard to gems. Veins which at the hangingwall and footwall have horn-coloured quartz or marble, but in the middle clayey earth, give some hope; likewise those give hope in which the hangingwall or footwall shows iron-rust coloured earth, and in the middle greasy and sticky earth; also there is hope for those which have at the hanging or footwall that kind of earth which we call "soldiers' earth," and in the middle black earth or earth which looks as if burnt. The special indication of gold is orpiment; of silver is bismuth and stibium; of copper is verdigris, melanteria, sory, chalcitis, misy, and vitriol; of tin is the large pure black stones of [Pg 117]which the tin itself is made, and a material they dig up resembling litharge; of iron, iron rust. Gold and copper are equally indicated by chrysocolla and azure; silver and lead, by the lead. But, though miners rightly call bismuth "the roof of silver," and though copper pyrites is the common parent of vitriol and melanteria, still these sometimes have their own peculiar minerals, just as have orpiment and stibium.

Now, just as certain vein materials give miners a favourable indication, so also do the rocks through which the canales of the veins wind their way, for sand discovered in a mine is reckoned among the good indications, especially if it is very fine. In the same way schist, when it is of a bluish or blackish colour, and also limestone, of whatever colour it may be, is a good sign for a silver vein. There is a rock of another kind that is a good sign; in it are scattered tiny black stones from which tin is smelted; especially when the whole space between the veins is composed of this kind of rock. Very often indeed, this good kind of rock in conjunction with valuable stringers contains within its folds the canales of mineral bearing veins: if it descends vertically into the earth, the benefit belongs to that mine in which it is seen first of all; if inclined, it benefits the other neighbouring mines[12]. As a result the miner who is not ignorant of geometry can calculate from the other mines the depth at which the canales of a vein bearing rich metal will wind its way through the rock into his mine. So much for these matters.

I now come to the mode of working, which is varied and complex, for in some places they dig crumbling ore, in others hard ore, in others a harder ore, and in others the hardest kind of ore. In the same way, in some places the hangingwall rock is soft and fragile, in others hard, in others harder, and in still others of the hardest sort. I call that ore "crumbling" which is composed of earth, and of soft solidified juices; that ore "hard" which is composed of metallic minerals and moderately hard stones, such as for the most part are those which easily melt in a fire of the first and second orders, like lead and similar materials. I call that ore "harder" when with those I have already mentioned are combined various sorts of quartz, or stones which easily melt in fire of the third degree, or pyrites, or cadmia, or very hard marble. I call that ore hardest, which is composed throughout the whole vein of these hard stones and compounds. The hanging or footwalls of a vein are hard, when composed of rock in which there are few stringers or seams; harder, in which they are fewer; hardest, in which they are fewest or none at all. When these are absent, the rock is quite devoid of water which softens it. But the hardest rock of the hanging or footwall, however, is seldom as hard as the harder class of ore.

Miners dig out crumbling ore with the pick alone. When the metal has not yet shown itself, they do not discriminate between the hangingwall and the veins; when it has once been found, they work with the utmost care. For first of all they tear away the hangingwall rock separately from the vein, afterward with a pick they dislodge the crumbling vein from the footwall [Pg 118]into a dish placed underneath to prevent any of the metal from falling to the ground. They break a hard vein loose from the footwall by blows with a hammer upon the first kind of iron tool[13], all of which are designated by appropriate names, and with the same tools they hew away the hard hangingwall rock. They hew out the hangingwall rock in advance more frequently, the rock of the footwall more rarely; and indeed, when the rock of the footwall resists iron tools, the rock of the hangingwall certainly cannot be broken unless it is allowable to shatter it by fire. With regard to the harder veins which are tractable to iron tools, and likewise with regard to the harder and hardest kind of hangingwall rock, they generally attack them with more powerful iron tools, in fact, with the fourth kind of iron tool, which are called by their appropriate names; but if these are not ready to hand, they use two or three iron tools of the first kind together. As for the hardest kind of metal-bearing vein, which in a measure resists iron tools, if the owners of the neighbouring mines give them permission, they break it with fires. But if these owners refuse them permission, then first of all they hew out the rock of the hangingwall, or of the footwall if it be less hard; then they place timbers set in hitches in the hanging or footwall, a little above the vein, and from the front and upper part, where the vein is seen to be seamed with small cracks, they drive into one of the little cracks one of the iron tools which I have mentioned; then in each fracture they place four thin iron blocks, and in order to hold them more firmly, if necessary, they place as many thin iron plates back to back; next they place thinner iron plates between each two iron blocks, and strike and drive them by turns with hammers, whereby the vein rings with a shrill sound; and the moment when it begins to be detached from the hangingwall or footwall rock, a tearing sound is heard. As soon as this grows distinct the miners hastily flee away; then a great crash is heard as the vein is broken and torn, and falls down. By this method they throw down a portion of a vein weighing a hundred pounds more or less. But if the miners by any other method hew the hardest kind of vein which is rich in metal, there remain certain cone-shaped portions which can be cut out afterward only with difficulty. As for this knob of hard ore, if it is devoid of metal, or if they are not allowed to apply fire to it, they proceed round it by digging to the right or left, because it cannot be broken into by iron wedges without great expense. Meantime, while the workmen are carrying out the task they have undertaken, the depths of the earth often resound with sweet singing, whereby they lighten a toil which is of the severest kind and full of the greatest dangers.

As I have just said, fire shatters the hardest rocks, but the method of its application is not simple[14]. For if a vein held in the rocks cannot be hewn [Pg 119]out because of the hardness or other difficulty, and the drift or tunnel is low, a heap of dried logs is placed against the rock and fired; if the drift or tunnel is high, two heaps are necessary, of which one is placed above the other, and both burn until the fire has consumed them. This force does not generally soften a large portion of the vein, but only some of the surface. When the rock in the hanging or footwall can be worked by the iron tools and the vein is so hard that it is not tractable to the same tools, then the walls are hollowed out; if this be in the end of the drift or tunnel or above or below, the vein is then broken by fire, but not by the same method; for if the hollow is wide, as many logs are piled into it as possible, but if narrow, only a few. By the one method the greater fire separates the vein more completely from the footwall or sometimes from the hangingwall, and by the other, the smaller fire breaks away less of the vein from the rock, because in that case the fire is confined and kept in check by portions of the rock which surround the wood held in such a narrow excavation. Further, if the excavation is low, only one pile of logs is placed in it, if high, there are two, one placed above the other, by which plan the lower bundle being kindled sets alight the upper one; and the fire being driven by the draught into the vein, separates it from the rock which, however hard it may be, often becomes so softened as to be the most easily breakable of all. Applying this principle, Hannibal, the Carthaginian General, imitating the Spanish miners, [Pg 120]overcame the hardness of the Alps by the use of vinegar and fire. Fire-setting
A—Kindled logs. B—Sticks shaved down fan-shaped. C—Tunnel. [Pg 120]
Even if a vein is a very wide one, as tin veins usually are, miners excavate into the small streaks, and into those hollows they put dry wood and place amongst them at frequent intervals sticks, all sides of which are shaved down fan-shaped, which easily take light, and when once they have taken fire communicate it to the other bundles of wood, which easily ignite.

While the heated veins and rock are giving forth a foetid vapour and the shafts or tunnels are emitting fumes, the miners and other workmen do not go down in the mines lest the stench affect their health or actually kill them, as I will explain in greater detail when I come to speak of the evils which affect miners. The Bergmeister, in order to prevent workmen from being suffocated, gives no one permission to break veins or rock by fire in shafts or tunnels where it is possible for the poisonous vapour and smoke to permeate the veins or stringers and pass through into the neighbouring mines, which have no hard veins or rock. As for that part of a vein or the surface of the rock which the fire has separated from the remaining mass, if it is overhead, the miners dislodge it with a crowbar, or if it still has some degree of hardness, they thrust a smaller crowbar into the cracks and so break it down, but if [Pg 121]it is on the sides they break it with hammers. Thus broken off, the rock tumbles down; or if it still remains, they break it off with picks. Rock and earth on the one hand, and metal and ore on the other, are filled into buckets separately and drawn up to the open air or to the nearest tunnel. If the shaft is not deep, the buckets are drawn up by a machine turned by men; if it is deep, they are drawn by machines turned by horses.

It often happens that a rush of water or sometimes stagnant air hinders the mining; for this reason miners pay the greatest attention to these matters, just as much as to digging, or they should do so. The water of the veins and stringers and especially of vacant workings, must be drained out through the shafts and tunnels. Air, indeed, becomes stagnant both in tunnels and in shafts; in a deep shaft, if it be by itself, this occurs if it is neither reached by a tunnel nor connected by a drift with another shaft; this occurs in a tunnel if it has been driven too far into a mountain and no shaft has yet been sunk deep enough to meet it; in neither case can the air move or circulate. For this reason the vapours become heavy and resemble mist, and they smell of mouldiness, like a vault or some underground chamber which has been completely closed for many years. This suffices to prevent miners from continuing their work for long in these places, even if the mine is full of silver or gold, or if they do continue, they cannot breathe freely and they have headaches; this more often happens if they work in these places in great numbers, and bring many lamps, which then supply them with a feeble light, because the foul air from both lamps and men make the vapours still more heavy.

A small quantity of water is drawn from the shafts by machines of different kinds which men turn or work. If so great a quantity has flowed into one shaft as greatly to impede mining, another shaft is sunk some fathoms distant from the first, and thus in one of them work and labour are carried on without hindrance, and the water is drained into the other, which is sunk lower than the level of the water in the first one; then by these machines or by those worked by horses, the water is drawn up into the drain and flows out of the shaft-house or the mouth of the nearest tunnel. But when into the shaft of one mine, which is sunk more deeply, there flows all the water of all the neighbouring mines, not only from that vein in which the shaft is sunk, but also from other veins, then it becomes necessary for a large sump to be made to collect the water; from this sump the water is drained by machines which draw it through pipes, or by ox-hides, about which I will say more in the next book. The water which pours into the tunnels from the veins and stringers and seams in the rocks is carried away in the drains.

Air is driven into the extremities of deep shafts and long tunnels by powerful blowing machines, as I will explain in the following book, which will deal with these machines also. The outer air flows spontaneously into the caverns of the earth, and when it can pass through them comes out again. This, however, comes about in different ways, for in spring and summer it flows into the deeper shafts, traverses the tunnels or drifts, and finds its way [Pg 122]out of the shallower shafts; similarly at the same season it pours into the lowest tunnel and, meeting a shaft in its course, turns aside to a higher tunnel and passes out therefrom; but in autumn and winter, on the other hand, it enters the upper tunnel or shaft and comes out at the deeper ones. This change in the flow of air currents occurs in temperate regions at the beginning of spring and the end of autumn, but in cold regions at the end of spring and the beginning of autumn. But at each period, before the air regularly assumes its own accustomed course, generally for a space of fourteen days it undergoes frequent variations, now blowing into an upper shaft or tunnel, now into a lower one. But enough of this, let us now proceed to what remains.

There are two kinds of shafts, one of the depth already described, of which kind there are usually several in one mine; especially if the mine is entered by a tunnel and is metal-bearing. For when the first tunnel is connected with the first shaft, two new shafts are sunk; or if the inrush of water hinders sinking, sometimes three are sunk; so that one may take the place of a sump and the work of sinking which has been begun may be continued by means of the remaining two shafts; the same is done in the case of the second tunnel and the third, or even the fourth, if so many are driven into a mountain. The second kind of shaft is very deep, sometimes as much as sixty, eighty, or one hundred fathoms. These shafts continue vertically toward the depths of the earth, and by means of a hauling-rope the broken rock and metalliferous ores are drawn out of the mine; for which reason miners call them vertical shafts. Over these shafts are erected machines by which water is extracted; when they are above ground the machines are usually worked by horses, but when they are in tunnels, other kinds are used which are turned by water-power. Such are the shafts which are sunk when a vein is rich in metal.

Now shafts, of whatever kind they may be, are supported in various ways. If the vein is hard, and also the hanging and footwall rock, the shaft does not require much timbering, but timbers are placed at intervals, one end of each of which is fixed in a hitch cut into the rock of the hangingwall and the other fixed into a hitch cut in the footwall. To these timbers are fixed small timbers along the footwall, to which are fastened the lagging and ladders. The lagging is also fixed to the timbers, both to those which screen off the shaft on the ends from the vein, and to those which screen off the rest of the shaft from that part in which the ladders are placed. The lagging on the sides of the shaft confine the vein, so as to prevent fragments of it which have become loosened by water from dropping into the shaft and terrifying, or injuring, or knocking off the miners and other workmen who are going up or down the ladders from one part of the mine to another. For the same reason, the lagging between the ladders and the haulage-way on the other hand, confine and shut off from the ladders the fragments of rock which fall from the buckets or baskets while they are being drawn up; moreover, they make the arduous and difficult descent and ascent to appear less terrible, and in fact to be less dangerous.

[Pg 123]

Timbering Shafts
A—Wall plates. B—Dividers. C—Long end posts. D—End plates. [Pg 123]
If a vein is soft and the rock of the hanging and footwalls is weak, a closer structure is necessary; for this purpose timbers are joined together, in rectangular shapes and placed one after the other without a break. These [Pg 124]are arranged on two different systems; for either the square ends of the timbers, which reach from the hangingwall to the footwall, are fixed into corresponding square holes in the timbers which lie along the hanging or footwall, or the upper part of the end of one and the lower part of the end of the other are cut out and one laid on the other. The great weight of these joined timbers is sustained by stout beams placed at intervals, which are deeply set into hitches in the footwall and hangingwall, but are inclined. In order that these joined timbers may remain stationary, wooden wedges or poles cut from trees are driven in between the timbers and the vein and the hangingwall and the footwall; and the space which remains empty is filled with loose dirt. If the hanging and footwall rock is sometimes hard and sometimes soft, and the vein likewise, solid joined timbers are not used, but timbers are placed at intervals; and where the rock is soft and the vein crumbling, carpenters put in lagging between them and the wall rocks, and behind these they fill with loose dirt; by this means they fill up the void.

When a very deep shaft, whether vertical or inclined, is supported by joined timbers, then, since they are sometimes of bad material and a fall is threatened, for the sake of greater firmness three or four pairs of strong end posts are placed between these, one pair on the hangingwall side, the other on the footwall side. To prevent them from falling out of position and to make them firm and substantial, they are supported by frequent end plates, and in order that these may be more securely fixed they are mortised into the posts. Further, in whatever way the shaft may be timbered, dividers are placed upon the wall plates, and to these is fixed lagging, and this marks off and separates the ladder-way from the remaining part of the shaft. If a vertical shaft is a very deep one, planks are laid upon the timbers by the side of the ladders and fixed on to the timbers, in order that the men who are going up or down may sit or stand upon them and rest when they are tired. To prevent danger to the shovellers from rocks which, after being drawn up from so deep a shaft fall down again, a little above the bottom of the shaft small rough sticks are placed close together on the timbers, in such a way as to cover the whole space of the shaft except the ladder-way. A hole, however, is left in this structure near the footwall, which is kept open so that there may be one opening to the shaft from the bottom, that the buckets full of the materials which have been dug out may be drawn from the shaft through it by machines, and may be returned to the same place again empty; and so the shovellers and other workmen, as it were hiding beneath this structure, remain perfectly safe in the shaft.

In mines on one vein there are driven one, two, or sometimes three or more tunnels, always one above the other. If the vein is solid and hard, and likewise the hanging and footwall rock, no part of the tunnel needs support, beyond that which is required at the mouth, because at that spot there is not yet solid rock; if the vein is soft, and the hanging and footwall rock are likewise soft, the tunnel requires frequent strong timbering, which is provided in the following way. Timbering Tunnels
A—Posts. B—Caps. C—Sills. D—Doors. E—Lagging. F—Drains. [Pg 125]
First, two dressed posts are erected and set into the tunnel floor, which is dug out a little; these are of medium [Pg 125]thickness, and high enough that their ends, which are cut square, almost touch the top of the tunnel; then upon them is placed a smaller dressed cap, which is mortised into the heads of the posts; at the bottom, other small timbers, whose ends are similarly squared, are mortised into the posts. At each interval of one and a half fathoms, one of these sets is erected; each one of these the miners call a "little doorway," because it opens a certain amount of passage way; and indeed, when necessity requires it, doors are fixed to the timbers of each little doorway so that it can be closed. Then lagging of planks or of poles is placed upon the caps lengthwise, so as to reach from one set of timbers to another, and is laid along the sides, in case some portion of the body of the mountain may fall, and by its bulk impede passage or crush persons coming in or out. Moreover, to make the timbers remain stationary, wooden pegs are driven between them and the sides of the tunnel. Lastly, if rock or earth are carried out in wheelbarrows, planks joined together are laid upon the sills; if the rock is hauled out in trucks, then two timbers three-quarters of a foot thick and wide are laid on the sills, and, where they join, these are usually hollowed out so that in the hollow, as in a road, the iron pin of the truck may be pushed along; indeed, because of this pin in the groove, the truck does not leave the worn track to the left or right. Beneath the sills are the drains through which the water flows away.

Miners timber drifts in the same way as tunnels. These do not, however, require sill-pieces, or drains; for the broken rock is not hauled very far, nor does the water have far to flow. If the vein above is metal-bearing, as it sometimes is [Pg 126]for a distance of several fathoms, then from the upper part of tunnels or even drifts that have already been driven, other drifts are driven again and again until that part of the vein is reached which does not yield metal. The timbering of these openings is done as follows: stulls are set at intervals into hitches in the hanging and footwall, and upon them smooth poles are laid continuously; and that they may be able to bear the weight, the stulls are generally a foot and a half thick. After the ore has been taken out and the mining of the vein is being done elsewhere, the rock then broken, especially if it cannot be taken away without great difficulty, is thrown into these openings among the timber, and the carriers of the ore are saved toil, and the owners save half the expense. This then, generally speaking, is the method by which everything relating to the timbering of shafts, tunnels, and drifts is carried out.

All that I have hitherto written is in part peculiar to venae profundae, and in part common to all kinds of veins; of what follows, part is specially applicable to venae dilatatae, part to venae cumulatae. But first I will describe how venae dilatatae should be mined. Where torrents, rivers, or streams have by inundations washed away part of the slope of a mountain or a hill, and have disclosed a vena dilatata, a tunnel should be driven first straight and narrow, and then wider, for nearly all the vein should be hewn away; and when this tunnel has been driven further, a shaft which supplies air should be sunk in the mountain or hill, and through it from time to time the ore, earth, and rock can be drawn up at less expense than if they be drawn out through the very great length of the tunnel; and even in those places to which the tunnel does not yet reach, miners dig shafts in order to open a vena dilatata which they conjecture must lie beneath the soil. In this way, when the upper layers are removed, they dig through rock sometimes of one kind and colour, sometimes of one kind but different colours, sometimes of different kinds but of one colour, and, lastly, of different kinds and different colours. The thickness of rock, both of each single stratum and of all combined, is uncertain, for the whole of the strata are in some places twenty fathoms deep, in others more than fifty; individual strata are in some places half a foot thick; in others, one, two, or more feet; in others, one, two, three, or more fathoms. For example, in those districts which lie at the foot of the Harz mountains, there are many different coloured strata, covering a copper vena dilatata. When the soil has been stripped, first of all is disclosed a stratum which is red, but of a dull shade and of a thickness of twenty, thirty, or five and thirty fathoms. Then there is another stratum, also red, but of a light shade, which has usually a thickness of about two fathoms. Beneath this is a stratum of ash-coloured clay nearly a fathom thick, which, although it is not metalliferous, is reckoned a vein. Then follows a third stratum, which is ashy, and about three fathoms thick. Beneath this lies a vein of ashes to the thickness of five fathoms, and these ashes are mixed with rock of the same colour. Joined to the last, and underneath, comes a stratum, the fourth in number, dark in colour and a foot thick. Under this comes the fifth stratum, of a pale or yellowish colour, two feet thick; underneath [Pg 127]which is the sixth stratum, likewise dark, but rough and three feet thick. Afterward occurs the seventh stratum, likewise of dark colour, but still darker than the last, and two feet thick. This is followed by an eighth stratum, ashy, rough, and a foot thick. This kind, as also the others, is sometimes distinguished by stringers of the stone which easily melts in fire of the second order. Beneath this is another ashy rock, light in weight, and five feet thick. Next to this comes a lighter ash-coloured one, a foot thick; beneath this lies the eleventh stratum, which is dark and very much like the seventh, and two feet thick. Below the last is a twelfth stratum of a whitish colour and soft, also two feet thick; the weight of this rests on a thirteenth stratum, ashy and one foot thick, whose weight is in turn supported by a fourteenth stratum, which is blackish and half a foot thick. There follows this, another stratum of black colour, likewise half a foot thick, which is again followed by a sixteenth stratum still blacker in colour, whose thickness is also the same. Beneath this, and last of all, lies the cupriferous stratum, black coloured and schistose, in which there sometimes glitter scales of gold-coloured pyrites in the very thin sheets, which, as I said elsewhere, often take the forms of various living things.[15]

The miners mine out a vena dilatata laterally and longitudinally by driving a low tunnel in it, and if the nature of the work and place permit, they sink also a shaft in order to discover whether there is a second vein beneath the first one; for sometimes beneath it there are two, three, or more similar metal-bearing veins, and these are excavated in the same way laterally and longitudinally. They generally mine venae dilatatae lying down; and to [Pg 128]avoid wearing away their clothes and injuring their left shoulders they usually bind on themselves small wooden cradles. For this reason, this particular class of miners, in order to use their iron tools, are obliged to bend their necks to the left, not infrequently having them twisted. Now these veins also sometimes divide, and where these parts re-unite, ore of a richer and a better quality is generally found; the same thing occurs where the stringers, of which they are not altogether devoid, join with them, or cut them crosswise, or divide them obliquely. To prevent a mountain or hill, which has in this way been undermined, from subsiding by its weight, either some natural pillars and arches are left, on which the pressure rests as on a foundation, or timbering is done for support. Moreover, the materials which are dug out and which are devoid of metal are removed in bowls, and are thrown back, thus once more filling the caverns.

Next, as to venae cumulatae. These are dug by a somewhat different method, for when one of these shows some metal at the top of the ground, first of all one shaft is sunk; then, if it is worth while, around this one many shafts are sunk and tunnels are driven into the mountain. If a torrent or spring has torn fragments of metal from such a vein, a tunnel is first driven into the mountain or hill for the purpose of searching for the ore; then when it is found, a vertical shaft is sunk in it. Since the whole mountain, or more especially the whole hill, is undermined, seeing that the whole of it is composed of ore, it is necessary to leave the natural pillars and arches, or the place is timbered. But sometimes when a vein is very hard it is broken by fire, whereby it happens that the soft pillars break up, or the timbers are burnt away, and the mountain by its great weight sinks into itself, and then the shaft buildings are swallowed up in the great subsidence. Therefore, about a vena cumulata it is advisable to sink some shafts which are not subject to this kind of ruin, through which the materials that are excavated may be carried out, not only while the pillars and underpinnings still remain whole and solid, but also after the supports have been destroyed by fire and have fallen. Since ore which has thus fallen must necessarily be broken by fire, new shafts through which the smoke can escape must be sunk in the abyss. At those places where stringers intersect, richer ore is generally obtained from the mine; these stringers, in the case of tin mines, sometimes have in them black stones the size of a walnut. If such a vein is found in a plain, as not infrequently happens in the case of iron, many shafts are sunk, because they cannot be sunk very deep. The work is carried on by this method because the miners cannot drive a tunnel into a level plain of this kind.

There remain the stringers in which gold alone is sometimes found, in the vicinity of rivers and streams, or in swamps. If upon the soil being removed, many of these are found, composed of earth somewhat baked and burnt, as may sometimes be seen in clay pits, there is some hope that gold may be obtained from them, especially if several join together. But the very point of junction must be pierced, and the length and width searched for ore, and in these places very deep shafts cannot be sunk.

I have completed one part of this book, and now come to the other, in which I will deal with the art of surveying. Miners measure the solid [Pg 129]mass of the mountains in order that the owners may lay out their plans, and that their workmen may not encroach on other people's possessions. The surveyor either measures the interval not yet wholly dug through, which lies between the mouth of a tunnel and a shaft to be sunk to that depth, or between the mouth of a shaft and the tunnel to be driven to that spot which lies under the shaft, or between both, if the tunnel is neither so long as to reach to the shaft, nor the shaft so deep as to reach to the tunnel; and thus on both sides work is still to be done. Or in some cases, within the tunnels and drifts, are to be fixed the boundaries of the meers, just as the Bergmeister has determined the boundaries of the same meers above ground.[16]

Each method of surveying depends on the measuring of triangles. A small triangle should be laid out, and from it calculations must be made regarding a larger one. Most particular care must be taken that we do not deviate at all from a correct measuring; for if, at the beginning, we are drawn [Pg 130]by carelessness into a slight error, this at the end will produce great errors. Now these triangles are of many shapes, since shafts differ among themselves and are not all sunk by one and the same method into the depths of the earth, nor do the slopes of all mountains come down to the valley or plain in the same manner. For if a shaft is vertical, there is a triangle with a right angle, which the Greeks call ὀρθογώνιον and this, according to the inequalities of the mountain slope, has either two equal sides or three unequal sides. The Greeks call the former τρίγωνον ἰσοσκελές the latter σκαληνόν for a right angle triangle cannot have three equal sides. If a shaft is inclined and sunk in the same vein in which the tunnel is driven, a triangle is likewise made with a right angle, and this again, according to the various inequalities of the mountain slope, has either two equal or three unequal sides. But if a shaft is inclined and is sunk in one vein, and a tunnel is driven in another vein, then a triangle comes into existence which has either an obtuse angle or all acute angles. The former the Greeks call ἀμβλυγώνιον, the latter ὀξυγώνιον. That triangle which has an obtuse angle cannot have three equal sides, but in accordance with the different mountain slopes has either two equal sides or three unequal sides. That triangle which has all acute angles in accordance with the different mountain slopes has either three equal sides, which the Greeks call τρίγωνον ἰσόπλευρον or two equal sides or three unequal sides.

The surveyor, as I said, employs his art when the owners of the mines desire to know how many fathoms of the intervening ground require to be dug; when a tunnel is being driven toward a shaft and does not yet reach it; or when the shaft has not yet been sunk to the depth of the bottom of the tunnel which is under it; or when neither the tunnel reaches to that point, nor has the shaft been sunk to it. It is of importance that miners should know how many fathoms remain from the tunnel to the shaft, or from the shaft to the tunnel, in order to calculate the expenditure; and in order that the owners of a metal-bearing mine may hasten the sinking of a shaft and the excavation of the metal, before the tunnel reaches that point and the tunnel owners excavate part of the metal by any right of their own; and on the other hand, it is important that the owners of a tunnel may similarly hasten their driving before a shaft can be sunk to the depth of a tunnel, so that they may excavate the metal to which they will have a right.

A—Upright forked posts. B—Pole over the posts. C—Shaft. D—First cord. E—Weight of first cord. F—Second cord. G—Same fixed ground. H—Head of first cord. I—Mouth of tunnel. K—Third cord. L—Weight of third cord. M—First side minor triangle. N—Second side minor triangle. O—Third side minor triangle. P—The minor triangle. [Pg 131]
The surveyor, first of all, if the beams of the shaft-house do not give him the opportunity, sets a pair of forked posts by the sides of the shaft in such a manner that a pole may be laid across them. Next, from the pole he lets down into the shaft a cord with a weight attached to it. Then he stretches a second cord, attached to the upper end of the first cord, right down along the slope of the mountain to the bottom of the mouth of the tunnel, and fixes it to the ground. Next, from the same pole not far from the first cord, he lets down a third cord, similarly weighted, so that it may intersect the second cord, which descends obliquely. Then, starting from that point where the third cord cuts the second cord which descends obliquely to the mouth of the tunnel, he measures the second cord upward to where it reaches the end of [Pg 132]the first cord, and makes a note of this first side of the minor triangle[17]. Afterward, starting again from that point where the third cord intersects the second cord, he measures the straight space which lies between that point and the opposite point on the first cord, and in that way forms the minor triangle, and he notes this second side of the minor triangle in the same way as before. Then, if it is necessary, from the angle formed by the first cord and the second side of the minor triangle, he measures upward to the end of the first cord and also makes a note of this third side of the minor triangle. The third side of the minor triangle, if the shaft is vertical or inclined and is sunk on the same vein in which the tunnel is driven, will necessarily be the same length as the third cord above the point where it intersects the second cord; and so, as often as the first side of the minor triangle is contained in the length of the whole cord which descends obliquely, so many times the length of the second side of the minor triangle indicates the distance between the mouth of the tunnel and the point to which the shaft must be sunk; and similarly, so many times the length of the third side of the minor triangle gives the distance between the mouth of the shaft and the bottom of the tunnel.

When there is a level bench on the mountain slope, the surveyor first measures across this with a measuring-rod; then at the edges of this bench he sets up forked posts, and applies the principle of the triangle to the two sloping parts of the mountain; and to the fathoms which are the length of that part of the tunnel determined by the triangles, he adds the number of fathoms which are the width of the bench. But if sometimes the mountain side stands up, so that a cord cannot run down from the shaft to the mouth of the tunnel, or, on the other hand, cannot run up from the mouth of the tunnel to the shaft, and, therefore, one cannot connect them in a straight line, the surveyor, in order to fix an accurate triangle, measures the mountain; and going downward he substitutes for the first part of the cord a pole one fathom long, and for the second part a pole half a fathom long. Going upward, on the contrary, for the first part of the cord he substitutes a pole half a fathom long, and for the next part, one a whole fathom long; then where he requires to fix his triangle he adds a straight line to these angles.

Surveying Triangle
A triangle having a right angle and two equal sides. [Pg 133]
To make this system of measuring clear and more explicit, I will proceed by describing each separate kind of triangle. When a shaft is vertical or inclined, and is sunk in the same vein on which the tunnel is driven, there is created, as I said, a triangle containing a right angle. Now if the minor triangle has the two sides equal, which, in accordance with the numbering used by surveyors, are the second and third sides, then the second and third sides of the major triangle will be equal; and so also the intervening distances will be equal which lie between the mouth of the tunnel and the bottom of the shaft, and which lie between the mouth of the shaft and the bottom of the tunnel. For example, if the first side of the minor triangle is seven feet long and the second and likewise the third sides are five feet, and [Pg 133]the length shown by the cord for the side of the major triangle is 101 times seven feet, that is 117 fathoms and five feet, then the intervening space, of course, whether the whole of it has been already driven through or has yet to be driven, will be one hundred times five feet, which makes eighty-three fathoms and two feet. Anyone with this example of proportions will be able to construct the major and minor triangles in the same way as I have done, if there be the necessary upright posts and cross-beams. When a shaft is vertical the triangle is absolutely upright; when it is inclined and is sunk on the same vein in which the tunnel is driven, it is inclined toward one side. Therefore, if a tunnel has been driven into the mountain for sixty fathoms, there remains a space of ground to be penetrated twenty-three fathoms and two feet long; for five feet of the second side of the major triangle, which lies above the mouth of the shaft and corresponds with the first side of the minor triangle, must not be added. Therefore, if the shaft has been sunk in the middle of the head meer, a tunnel sixty fathoms long will reach to the boundary of the meer only when the tunnel has been extended a further two fathoms and two feet; but if the shaft is located in the middle of an ordinary meer, then the boundary will be reached when the tunnel has been driven a further length of nine fathoms and two feet. Since a tunnel, for every one hundred fathoms of length, rises in grade one fathom, or at all events, ought to rise as it proceeds toward the shaft, one more fathom must always be taken from the depth allowed to the shaft, and one added to the length allowed to the tunnel. Proportionately, because a tunnel fifty fathoms long is raised half a fathom, this amount must be taken from the depth of the shaft and added to the length of the tunnel. In the same way if a tunnel is one hundred or fifty fathoms shorter or longer, the same proportion also must be taken from the depth of the one and added to the length of the other. For this reason, in the case mentioned above, half a fathom and a little more must be added to the distance to be driven through, so that there remain twenty-three fathoms, five feet, two palms, one and a half digits and a fifth of a digit; that is, if even the minutest proportions are carried out; and surveyors do not neglect these without good cause. Similarly, if the shaft is seventy fathoms deep, in order that it may reach to the bottom of the tunnel, it still must be sunk a further depth of thirteen fathoms and two feet, or rather twelve fathoms and a half, one foot, two digits, and four-fifths of half a digit. And in this instance five feet must be deducted from the reckoning, because these five feet complete the third side of the minor triangle, which is above the mouth of the shaft, and from its [Pg 134]depth there must be deducted half a fathom, two palms, one and a half digits and the fifth part of half a digit. But if the tunnel has been driven to a point where it is under the shaft, then to reach the roof of the tunnel the shaft must still be sunk a depth of eleven fathoms, two and a half feet, one palm, two digits, and four-fifths of half a digit.

Surveying Triangle
A triangle having a right angle and three unequal sides. [Pg 134]
If a minor triangle is produced of the kind having three unequal sides, then the sides of the greater triangle cannot be equal; that is, if the first side of the minor triangle is eight feet long, the second six feet long, and the third five feet long, and the cord along the side of the greater triangle, not to go too far from the example just given, is one hundred and one times eight feet, that is, one hundred and thirty-four fathoms and four feet, the distance which lies between the mouth of the tunnel and the bottom of the shaft will occupy one hundred times six feet in length, that is, one hundred fathoms. The distance between the mouth of the shaft and the bottom of the tunnel is one hundred times five feet, that is, eighty-three fathoms and two feet. And so, if the tunnel is eighty-five fathoms long, the remainder to be driven into the mountain is fifteen fathoms long, and here, too, a correction in measurement must be taken from the depth of the shaft and added to the length of the tunnel; what this is precisely, I will pursue no further, since everyone having a small knowledge of arithmetic can work it out. If the shaft is sixty-seven fathoms deep, in order that it may reach the bottom of the tunnel, the further distance required to be sunk amounts to sixteen fathoms and two feet.

The surveyor employs this same method in measuring the mountain, whether the shaft and tunnel are on one and the same vein, whether the vein is vertical or inclined, or whether the shaft is on the principal vein and the tunnel on a transverse vein descending vertically to the depths of the earth; in the latter case the excavation is to be made where the transverse vein cuts the vertical vein. If the principal vein descends on an incline and the cross-vein descends vertically, then a minor triangle is created having one obtuse angle or all three angles acute. Surveying Triangle
Triangle having an obtuse angle and two equal sides. [Pg 135]
If the minor triangle has one angle obtuse and the two sides which are the second and third are equal, then the second and third sides of the major triangle will be equal, so that if the first side of the minor triangle is nine feet, the second, and likewise the third, will be five feet. Then the first side of the major triangle will be one hundred and one times nine feet, or one hundred and fifty-one and one-half fathoms, and each of the other sides of the major triangle will be one hundred times five feet, that is, eighty-three fathoms and two feet. But when the first shaft is inclined, [Pg 135]generally speaking, it is not deep; but there are usually several, all inclined, and one always following the other. Therefore, if a tunnel is seventy-seven fathoms long, it will reach to the middle of the bottom of a shaft when six fathoms and two feet further have been sunk. But if all such inclined shafts are seventy-six fathoms deep, in order that the last one may reach the bottom of the tunnel, a depth of seven fathoms and two feet remains to be sunk.

Surveying Triangle
Triangle having an obtuse angle and three unequal sides. [Pg 135]
If a minor triangle is made which has an obtuse angle and three unequal sides, then again the sides of the large triangle cannot be equal. For example, if the first side of the minor triangle is six feet long, the second three feet, and the third four feet, and the cord along the side of the greater triangle one hundred and one times six feet, that is, one hundred and one fathoms, the distance between the mouth of the tunnel and the bottom of the last shaft will be a length one hundred times three feet, or fifty fathoms; but the depth that lies between the mouth of the first shaft and the bottom of the tunnel is one hundred times four feet, or sixty-six fathoms and four feet. Therefore, if a tunnel is forty-four fathoms long, the remaining distance to be driven is six fathoms. If the shafts are fifty-eight fathoms deep, the newest will touch the bottom of the tunnel when eight fathoms and four feet have been sunk.

Surveying Triangle
A triangle having all its angles acute and its three sides equal. [Pg 136]
If a minor triangle is produced which has all its angles acute and its three sides equal, then necessarily the second and third sides of the minor triangle will be equal, and likewise the sides of the major triangle frequently referred to will be equal. Thus if each side of the minor triangle is six feet long, and the cord measurement for the side of the major triangle is one hundred and one times six feet, that is, one hundred and one fathoms, then both the distances to be dug will be one hundred fathoms. And thus if the tunnel is ninety fathoms long, it will reach the middle of the bottom of the last shaft when ten fathoms further have been driven. If the shafts are [Pg 136]ninety-five fathoms deep, the last will reach the bottom of the tunnel when it is sunk a further depth of five fathoms.

Surveying Triangle
Triangle having all its angles acute and two sides equal, A, B, unequal side C. [Pg 136]
If a triangle is made which has all its angles acute, but only two sides equal, namely, the first and third, then the second and third sides are not equal; therefore the distances to be dug cannot be equal. For example, if the first side of the minor triangle is six feet long, and the second is four feet, and the third is six feet, and the cord measurement for the side of the major triangle is one hundred and one times six feet, that is, one hundred and one fathoms, then the distance between the mouth of the tunnel and the bottom of the last shaft will be sixty-six fathoms and four feet. But the distance from the mouth of the first shaft to the bottom of the tunnel is one hundred fathoms. So if the tunnel is sixty fathoms long, the remaining distance to be driven into the mountain is six fathoms and four feet. If the shaft is ninety-seven fathoms deep, the last one will reach the bottom of the tunnel when a further depth of three fathoms has been sunk.

Surveying Triangle
A triangle having all its angles acute and its three sides unequal. [Pg 137]
If a minor triangle is produced which has all its angles acute, but its three sides unequal, then again the distances to be dug cannot be equal. For example, if the first side of the minor triangle is seven feet long, the second side is four feet, and the third side is six feet, and the cord measurement for the side of the major triangle is one hundred and one times seven feet or one hundred and seventeen fathoms and four feet, the distance between the mouth of the tunnel and the bottom of the last shaft will be four hundred feet or sixty-six fathoms, and the depth between the mouth of the first shaft and the bottom of the tunnel will be one hundred fathoms. Therefore, if a tunnel is fifty fathoms long, it will reach the middle of the bottom of the newest shaft when it has been driven sixteen fathoms and four feet further. But if the shafts are then ninety-two fathoms deep, the last [Pg 137]shaft will reach the bottom of the tunnel when it has been sunk a further eight fathoms.

This is the method of the surveyor in measuring the mountain, if the principal vein descends inclined into the depths of the earth or the transverse vein is vertical. But if they are both inclined, the surveyor uses the same method, or he measures the slope of the mountain separately from the slope of the shaft. Next, if a transverse vein in which a tunnel is driven does not cut the principal vein in that spot where the shaft is sunk, then it is necessary for the starting point of the survey to be in the other shaft in which the transverse vein cuts the principal vein. But if there be no shaft on that spot where the outcrop of the transverse vein cuts the outcrop of the principal vein, then the surface of the ground which lies between the shafts must be measured, or that between the shaft and the place where the outcrop of the one vein intersects the outcrop of the other.

A—Waxed semicircle of the hemicycle. B—Semicircular lines. C—Straight lines. D—Line measuring the half. E—Line measuring the whole. F—Tongue. [Pg 138]
Surveying Rods
A—Lines of the rod which separate minor spaces. B—Lines of the rod which separate major spaces. [Pg 138A]
Some surveyors, although they use three cords, nevertheless ascertain only the length of a tunnel by that method of measuring, and determine the depth of a shaft by another method; that is, by the method by which cords are re-stretched on a level part of the mountain or in a valley, or in flat fields, and are measured again. Some, however, do not employ this method in surveying the depth of a shaft and the length of a tunnel, but use only two cords, a graduated hemicycle[18] and a rod half a fathom long. They suspend in the shaft one cord, fastened from the upper pole and weighted, just as the others do. Fastened to the upper end of this cord, they stretch another right down the slope of the mountain to the bottom of the mouth of the tunnel and fix it to the ground. Then to the upper part of this second cord they apply on its lower side the broad part of a hemicycle. This consists of half a circle, the outer margin of which is covered with wax, and within this are six semi-circular lines. From the [Pg 138]waxed margin through the first semi-circular line, and reaching to the second, there proceed straight lines converging toward the centre of the hemicycle; these mark the middles of intervening spaces lying between other straight lines which extend to the fourth semi-circular line. But all lines whatsoever, from the waxed margin up to the fourth line, whether they go beyond it or not, correspond with the graduated lines which mark the minor spaces of a rod. Those which go beyond the fourth line correspond with the lines marking [Pg 139]the major spaces on the rod, and those which proceed further, mark the middle of the intervening space which lies between the others. The straight lines, which run from the fifth to the sixth semi-circular line, show nothing further. Nor does the line which measures the half, show anything when it has already passed from the sixth straight line to the base of the hemicycle. When the hemicycle is applied to the cord, if its tongue indicates the sixth straight line which lies between the second and third semi-circular lines, the surveyor counts on the rod six lines which separate the minor spaces, and if the length of this portion of the rod be taken from the second cord, as many times as the cord itself is half-fathoms long, the remaining length of cord shows the distance the tunnel must be driven to reach under the shaft. But if he sees that the tongue has gone so far that it marks the sixth line between the fourth and fifth semi-circular lines, he counts six lines which separate the major spaces on the rod; and this entire space is deducted from the length of the second cord, as many times as the number of whole fathoms which the cord contains; and then, in like manner, the remaining length of cord shows us the distance the tunnel must be driven to reach under the shaft.[19]

[Pg 140]

Surveying Triangle
Stretched cords: A—First cord. B—Second cord. C—Third cord. D—Triangle. [Pg 139]
Both these surveyors, as well as the others, in the first place make use of the haulage rope. These they measure by means of others made of linden bark, because the latter do not stretch at all, while the former become very slack. These cords they stretch on the surveyor's field, the first one to represent the parts of mountain slopes which descend obliquely. Then the second cord, which represents the length of the tunnel to be driven to reach the shaft, they place straight, in such a direction that one end of it can touch the lower end of the first cord; then they similarly lay the third cord straight, and in such a direction that its upper end may touch the upper end of the first cord, and its lower end the other extremity of the second cord, and thus a triangle is formed. This third cord is measured by the instrument with the index, to determine its relation to the perpendicular; and the length of this cord shows the depth of the shaft.

Surveying Triangles
Stretched cords: A—First. B—Second. B—Third. C—Fourth. C—Fifth. D—Quadrangle. [Pg 140]
Some surveyors, to make their system of measuring the depth of a shaft more certain, use five stretched cords: the first one descending obliquely; two, that is to say the second and third, for ascertaining the length of the tunnel; two for the depth of the shaft; in which way they form a quadrangle divided into two equal triangles, and this tends to greater accuracy.

Compass. A, B, C, D, E, F, G are the seven waxed circles. [Pg 142]
A, B, C, D, E—Five waxed circles of the orbis. F—Opening of same. G—Screw. H—Perforated iron. [Pg 142A]
Miner using level
A—Standing plummet level. B—Tongue. C—Level and tongue. [Pg 143]
These systems of measuring the depth of a shaft and the length of a tunnel, are accurate when the vein and also the shaft or shafts go down to the [Pg 141]tunnel vertically or inclined, in an uninterrupted course. The same is true when a tunnel runs straight on to a shaft. But when each of them bends now in this, now in that direction, if they have not been completely driven and sunk, no living man is clever enough to judge how far they are deflected from a straight course. But if the whole of either one of the two has been excavated its full distance, then we can estimate more easily the length of one, or the depth of the other; and so the location of the tunnel, which is below a newly-started shaft, is determined by a method of surveying which I will describe. First of all a tripod is fixed at the mouth of the tunnel, and likewise at the mouth of the shaft which has been started, or at the place where the shaft will be started. The tripod is made of three stakes fixed to the ground, a small rectangular board being placed upon the stakes and fixed to them, and on this is set a compass. Then from the lower tripod a weighted cord is let down perpendicularly to the earth, close to which cord a stake is fixed in the ground. To this stake another cord is tied and drawn straight into the tunnel to a point as far as it can go without being bent by the hangingwall or the footwall of the vein. Next, from the cord which hangs from the lower tripod, a third cord likewise fixed is brought straight up the sloping side of the mountain to the stake of the upper tripod, and fastened to it. In order that the measuring of the depth of the shaft may be more certain, the third cord should touch one and the same side of the cord hanging from the lower tripod which is touched by the second cord—the one which is drawn into the tunnel. All this having been correctly carried out, the surveyor, when at length the cord which has been drawn straight into the tunnel is about to be bent by the hangingwall or footwall, places a plank in the bottom of the tunnel and on it sets the orbis, an instrument which has an indicator peculiar to itself. This instrument, although it also has waxed circles, differs from the other, which I have described in the third book. But by both these instruments, as well as by a rule and a square, he determines whether the stretched cords reach straight to the extreme end of the tunnel, or whether they sometimes reach straight, and are sometimes bent by the footwall or hangingwall. Each instrument is divided into parts, but the compass into twenty-four parts, the orbis into sixteen parts; for first of all it is divided into four principal parts, and then each of these is again divided into four. Both have waxed circles, but the compass has seven circles, and the orbis only five circles. These waxed circles the surveyor marks, whichever instrument he uses, and by the succession of these same marks he notes any change in the direction in which the cord extends. The orbis has an opening running from its outer edge as far as the centre, into which opening he puts an iron screw, to which he binds the second cord, and by screwing it into the plank, fixes it so that the orbis may be immovable. He takes care to prevent the second cord, and afterward the others which are put up, from being pulled off the screw, by employing a heavy iron, into an opening of which he fixes the head of the screw. In the case of the compass, since it has no opening, he merely places it by the side of the screw. That the instrument does not incline forward or backward, and in that way the [Pg 142]measurement become a greater length than it should be, he sets upon the instrument a standing plummet level, the tongue of which, if the instrument is level, indicates no numbers, but the point from which the numbers start.

When the surveyor has carefully observed each separate angle of the tunnel and has measured such parts as he ought to measure, then he lays them out in the same way on the surveyor's field[20] in the open air, and again no less carefully observes each separate angle and measures them. First of all, to each angle, according as the calculation of his triangle and his art require it, he lays out a straight cord as a line. Then he stretches a cord at [Pg 143]such an angle as represents the slope of the mountain, so that its lower end may reach the end of the straight cord; then he stretches a third cord [Pg 144]similarly straight and at such an angle, that with its upper end it may reach the upper end of the second cord, and with its lower end the last end of the first cord. The length of the third cord shows the depth of the shaft, as I said before, and at the same time that point on the tunnel to which the shaft will reach when it has been sunk.

If one or more shafts reach the tunnel through intermediate drifts and shafts, the surveyor, starting from the nearest which is open to the air, measures in a shorter time the depth of the shaft which requires to be sunk, than if he starts from the mouth of the tunnel. First of all he measures that space on the surface which lies between the shaft which has been sunk and the one which requires to be sunk. Then he measures the incline of all the shafts which it is necessary to measure, and the length of all the drifts with which they are in any way connected to the tunnel. Lastly, he measures part of the tunnel; and when all this is properly done, he demonstrates the depth of the shaft and the point in the tunnel to which the shaft will reach. But sometimes a very deep straight shaft requires to be sunk at the same place where there is a previous inclined shaft, and to the same depth, in order that loads may be raised and drawn straight up by machines. Those machines on the surface are turned by horses; those inside the earth, by the same means, and also by water-power. And so, if it becomes necessary to sink such a shaft, the surveyor first of all fixes an iron screw in the upper part of the old shaft, and from the screw he lets down a cord as far as the first angle, where again he fixes a screw, and again lets down the cord as far as the second angle; this he repeats again and again until the cord reaches to the bottom of the shaft. Then to each angle of the cord he applies a hemicycle, and marks the waxed semi-circle according to the lines which the tongue indicates, and designates it by a number, in case it should be moved; then he measures the separate parts of the cord with another cord made of linden bark. Afterward, when he has come back out of the shaft, he goes away and transfers the markings from the waxed semi-circle of the hemicycle to an orbis similarly waxed. Lastly, the cords are stretched on the surveyor's field, and he measures the angles, as the system of measuring by triangles requires, and ascertains which part of the footwall and which part of the hangingwall rock must be cut away in order that the shaft may descend straight. But if the surveyor is required to show the owners of the mine, the spot in a drift or a tunnel in which a shaft needs to be raised from the bottom upward, that it should cut through more quickly, he begins measuring from the bottom of the drift or tunnel, at a point beyond the spot at which the bottom of the shaft will arrive, when it has been sunk. When he has measured the part of the drift or tunnel up to the first shaft which connects with an upper drift, he measures the incline of this shaft by applying a hemicycle or orbis to the cord. Then in a like manner he measures the upper drift and the incline shaft which is sunk therein toward which a raise is being dug, then again all the cords are stretched in the surveyor's field, the last cord in such a way that it reaches the first, and then he measures them. From this measurement is known in what part [Pg 145]of the drift or tunnel the raise should be made, and how many fathoms of vein remain to be broken through in order that the shaft may be connected.

I have described the first reason for surveying; I will now describe another. When one vein comes near another, and their owners are different persons who have late come into possession, whether they drive a tunnel or a drift, or sink a shaft, they may encroach, or seem to encroach, without any lawful right, upon the boundaries of the older owners, for which reason the latter very often seek redress, or take legal proceedings. The surveyor either himself settles the dispute between the owners, or by his art gives evidence to the judges for making their decision, that one shall not encroach on the mine of the other. Thus, first of all he measures the mines of each party with a basket rope and cords of linden bark; and having applied to the cords an orbis or a compass, he notes the directions in which they extend. Then he stretches the cords on the surveyor's field; and starting from that point whose owners are in possession of the old meer toward the other, whether it is in the hanging or footwall of the vein, he stretches a cross-cord in a straight line, according to the sixth division of the compass, that is, at a right angle to the vein, for a distance of three and a half fathoms, and assigns to the older owners that which belongs to them. But if both ends of one vein are being dug out in two tunnels, or drifts from opposite directions, the surveyor first of all considers the lower tunnel or drift and afterward the upper one, and judges how much each of them has risen little by little. On each side strong men take in their hands a stretched cord and hold it so that there is no point where it is not strained tight; on each side the surveyor supports the cord with a rod half a fathom long, and stays the rod at the end with a short stick as often as he thinks it necessary. But some fasten cords to the rods to make them steadier. Plummet cord and weight
Indicator of a suspended plummet level. [Pg 146]
The surveyor attaches a suspended plummet level to the middle of the cord to enable him to calculate more accurately on both sides, and from this he ascertains whether one tunnel has risen more than another, or in like manner one drift more than another. Afterward he measures the incline of the shafts on both sides, so that he can estimate their position on each side. Then he easily sees how many fathoms remain in the space which must be broken through. But the grade of each tunnel, as I said, should rise one fathom in the distance of one hundred fathoms.

The Swiss surveyors, when they wish to measure tunnels driven into the highest mountains, also use a rod half a fathom long, but composed of three parts, which screw together, so that they may be shortened. They use a cord made of linden bark to which are fastened slips of paper showing the number of fathoms. Compass
A—Needle of the instrument. B—Its tongue. C, D, E—Holes in the tongue. [Pg 147]
They also employ an instrument peculiar to them, which has a needle; but in place of the waxed circles they carry in their hands a chart on which they inscribe the readings of the instrument. The instrument is placed on the back part of the rod so that the tongue, and the extended cord which runs through the three holes in the tongue, demonstrates the direction, and they note the number of fathoms. The tongue shows whether the cord inclines forward or backward. The tongue does not hang, [Pg 146]as in the case of the suspended plummet level, but is fixed to the instrument in a half-lying position. They measure the tunnels for the purpose of knowing how many fathoms they have been increased in elevation; how many fathoms the lower is distant from the upper one; how many fathoms of interval is [Pg 147]not yet pierced between the miners who on opposite sides are digging on the same vein, or cross-stringers, or two veins which are approaching one another.

But I return to our mines. If the surveyor desires to fix the boundaries of the meer within the tunnels or drifts, and mark to them with a sign cut in the rock, in the same way that the Bergmeister has marked these boundaries above ground, he first of all ascertains, by measuring in the manner which I have explained above, which part of the tunnel or drift lies beneath the surface boundary mark, stretching the cords along the drifts to a point beyond that spot in the rock where he judges the mark should be cut. Then, after the same cords have been laid out on the surveyor's field, he starts from that upper cord at a point which shows the boundary mark, and stretches another cross-cord straight downward according to the sixth [Pg 148]division of the compass—that is at a right angle. Then that part of the lowest cord which lies beyond the part to which the cross-cord runs being removed, it shows at what point the boundary mark should be cut into the rock of the tunnel or drift. The cutting is made in the presence of the two Jurors and the manager and the foreman of each mine. For as the Bergmeister in the presence of these same persons sets the boundary stones on the surface, so the surveyor cuts in the rock a sign which for this reason is called the boundary rock. If he fixes the boundary mark of a meer in which a shaft has recently begun to be sunk on a vein, first of all he measures and notes the incline of that shaft by the compass or by another way with the applied cords; then he measures all the drifts up to that one in whose rock the boundary mark has to be cut. Of these drifts he measures each angle; then the cords, being laid out on the surveyor's field, in a similar way he stretches a cross-cord, as I said, and cuts the sign on the rock. But if the underground boundary rock has to be cut in a drift which lies beneath the first drift, the surveyor starts from the mark in the first drift, notes the different angles, one by one, takes his measurements, and in the lower drift stretches a cord beyond that place where he judges the mark ought to be cut; and then, as I said before, lays out the cords on the surveyor's field. Even if a vein runs differently in the lower drift from the upper one, in which the first boundary mark has been cut in the rock, still, in the lower drift the mark must be cut in the rock vertically beneath. For if he cuts the lower mark obliquely from the upper one some part of the possession of one mine is taken away to its detriment, and given to the other. Moreover, if it happens that the underground boundary mark requires to be cut in an angle, the surveyor, starting from that angle, measures one fathom toward the front of the mine and another fathom toward the back, and from these measurements forms a triangle, and dividing its middle by a cross-cord, makes his cutting for the boundary mark.

Lastly, the surveyor sometimes, in order to make more certain, finds the boundary of the meers in those places where many old boundary marks are cut in the rock. Then, starting from a stake fixed on the surface, he first of all measures to the nearest mine; then he measures one shaft after another; then he fixes a stake on the surveyors' field, and making a beginning from it stretches the same cords in the same way and measures them, and again fixes in the ground a stake which for him will signify the end of his measuring. Afterward he again measures underground from that spot at which he left off, as many shafts and drifts as he can remember. Then he returns to the surveyor's field, and starting again from the second stake, makes his measurements; and he does this as far as the drift in which the boundary mark must be cut in the rock. Finally, commencing from the stake first fixed in the ground, he stretches a cross-cord in a straight line to the last stake, and this shows the length of the lowest drift. The point where they touch, he judges to be the place where the underground boundary mark should be cut.



[Pg 101][1] It has been suggested that we should adopt throughout this volume the mechanical and mining terms used in English mines at Agricola's time. We believe, however, that but a little inquiry would illustrate the undesirability of this course as a whole. Where there is choice in modern miner's nomenclature between an old and a modern term, we have leaned toward age, if it be a term generally understood. But except where the subject described has itself become obsolete, we have revived no obsolete terms. In substantiation of this view, we append a few examples of terms which served the English miner well for centuries, some of which are still extant in some local communities, yet we believe they would carry as little meaning to the average reader as would the reproduction of the Latin terms coined by Agricola.

Rake= A perpendicular vein.
Woughs= Walls of the vein.
Shakes= Cracks in the walls.
Flookan= Gouge.
Bryle= Outcrop.
Hade= Incline or underlay of the vein.
Dawling= Impoverishment of the vein.
Rither= A "horse" in a vein.
Twitches= "Pinching" of a vein.
Slough= Drainage tunnel.
Sole= Lowest drift.
Stool= Face of a drift or stope.
Winds} = Winze.
Grove= Shaft.
Dutins= Set of timber.
Stemple= Post or stull.
Laths= Lagging.

As examples of the author's coinage and adaptations of terms in this book we may cite:—

Fossa latens= Drift.
Fossa latens transversa= Crosscut.
Tectum= Hangingwall.
Fundamentum= Footwall.
Tigna per intervalla posita= Wall plate.
Arbores dissectae= Lagging.
Formae= Hitches.

We have adopted the term "tunnel" for openings by way of outlet to the mine. The word in this narrow sense is as old as "adit," a term less expressive and not so generally used in the English-speaking mining world. We have for the same reason adopted the word "drift" instead of the term "level" so generally used in America, because that term always leads to confusion in discussion of mine surveys. We may mention, however, that the term "level" is a heritage from the Derbyshire mines, and is of an equally respectable age as "drift."

[2] See note on p. 46-47. The canales, as here used, were the openings in the earth, in which minerals were deposited.

[Pg 102][3] This statement, as will appear by the description later on, refers to the depth of winzes or to the distance between drifts, that is "the lift." We have not, however, been justified in using the term "winze," because some of these were openings to the surface. As showing the considerable depth of shafts in Agricola's time, we may quote the following from Bermannus (p. 442): "The depths of our shafts forced us to invent hauling machines suitable for them. There are some of them larger and more ingenious than this one, for use in deep shafts, as, for instance, those in my native town of Geyer, but more especially at Schneeberg, where the shaft of the mine from which so much treasure was taken in our memory has reached the depth of about 200 fathoms (feet?), wherefore the necessity of this kind of machinery. Naevius: What an enormous depth! Have you reached the Inferno? Bermannus: Oh, at Kuttenberg there are shafts more than 500 fathoms (feet?) deep. Naevius: And not yet reached the Kingdom of Pluto?" It is impossible to accept these as fathoms, as this would in the last case represent 3,000 feet vertically. The expression used, however, for fathoms is passus, presumably the Roman measure equal to 58.1 inches.

[Pg 107][4] Cavernos. The Glossary gives drusen, our word drusy having had this origin.

[5] Purum,—"pure." Interpretatio gives the German as gedigen,—"native."

[Pg 108][6] Rudis,—"Crude." By this expression the author really means ores very rich in any designated metal. In many cases it serves to indicate the minerals of a given metal, as distinguished from the metal itself. Our system of mineralogy obviously does not afford an acceptable equivalent. Agricola (De Nat. Foss., p. 360) says: "I find it necessary to call each genus (of the metallic minerals) by the name of its own metal, and to this I add a word which differentiates it from the pure (puro) metal, whether the latter has been mined or smelted; so I speak of rudis gold, silver, quicksilver, copper, tin, bismuth, lead, or iron. This is not because I am unaware that Varro called silver rudis which had not yet been refined and stamped, but because a word which will distinguish the one from the other is not to be found."

[7] The reasons for retaining the Latin weights are given in the Appendix on Weights and Measures. A centumpondium weighs 70.6 lbs. avoirdupois, an uncia 412.2 Troy grains, therefore, this value is equal to 72 ounces 18 pennyweights per short ton.

[8] Agricola mentions many minerals in De Re Metallica, but without such description as would make possible a hazard at their identity. From his De Natura Fossilium, however, and from other mineralogies of the 16th Century, some can be fully identified and others surmised. While we consider it desirable to set out the probable composition of these minerals, on account of the space required, the reasons upon which our opinion has been based cannot be given in detail, as that would require extensive quotations. In a general way, we have throughout the text studiously evaded the use of modern mineralogical terms—unless the term used to-day is of Agricola's age—and have adopted either old English terms of pre-chemistry times or more loose terms used by common miners. Obviously modern mineralogic terms imply a precision of knowledge not existing at that period. It must not be assumed that the following is by any means a complete list of the minerals described by Agricola, but they include most of those referred to in this chapter. His system of mineralogy we have set out in note 4, p. 1, and it requires no further comment here. The grouping given below is simply for convenience and does not follow Agricola's method. Where possible, we tabulate in columns the Latin term used in De Re Metallica; the German equivalent given by the Author in either the Interpretatio or the Glossary; our view of the probable modern equivalent based on investigation of his other works and other ancient mineralogies, and lastly the terms we have adopted in the text. The German spelling is that given in the original. As an indication of Agricola's position as a mineralogist, we mark with an asterisk the minerals which were first specifically described by him. We also give some notes on matters of importance bearing on the nomenclature used in De Re Metallica. Historical notes on the chief metals will be found elsewhere, generally with the discussion of smelting methods. We should not omit to express our indebtedness to Dana's great "System of Mineralogy," in the matter of correlation of many old and modern minerals.

Gold Minerals. Agricola apparently believed that there were various gold minerals, green, yellow, purple, black, etc. There is nothing, however, in his works that permits of any attempt to identify them, and his classification seems to rest on gangue colours.

Silver Minerals.

Argentum purum in venis reperiturGedigen silber *Native silver
Argentum rudeGedigen silber ertz Rudis silver, or pure silver minerals
Argentum rude plumbei colorisGlas ertzArgentite (Ag2S)*Silver glance
Argentum rude rubrumRot gold ertzPyrargyrite (Ag3SbS3)*Red silver
Argentum rude rubrum translucidumDurchsichtig rod gulden ertzProustite (Ag3AsS3)*Ruby silver
Argentum rude albumWeis rod gulden ertz: Dan es ist frisch wie offtmals rod gulden ertz pfleget zusein White silver
[Pg 109]Argentum rude jecoris coloreGedigen leberfarbig ertzPart Bromyrite (Ag Br)Liver-coloured silver
Argentum rude luteumGedigen geelertz Yellow silver
Argentum rude cineraceumGedigen graw ertzPart Cerargurite (Ag Cl) (Horn Silver) Part Stephanite (Ag5SbS4)*Grey silver
Argentum rude nigrumGedigen schwartz ertz*Black silver
Argentum rude purpureumGedigen braun ertz*Purple silver

The last six may be in part also alteration products from all silver minerals.

The reasons for indefiniteness in determination usually lie in the failure of ancient authors to give sufficient or characteristic descriptions. In many cases Agricola is sufficiently definite as to assure certainty, as the following description of what we consider to be silver glance, from De Natura Fossilium (p. 360), will indicate: "Lead-coloured rudis silver is called by the Germans from the word glass (glasertz), not from lead. Indeed, it has the colour of the latter or of galena (plumbago), but not of glass, nor is it transparent like glass, which one might indeed expect had the name been correctly derived. This mineral is occasionally so like galena in colour, although it is darker, that one who is not experienced in minerals is unable to distinguish between the two at sight, but in substance they differ greatly from one another. Nature has made this kind of silver out of a little earth and much silver. Whereas galena consists of stone and lead containing some silver. But the distinction between them can be easily determined, for galena may be ground to powder in a mortar with a pestle, but this treatment flattens out this kind of rudis silver. Also galena, when struck by a mallet or bitten or hacked with a knife, splits and breaks to pieces; whereas this silver is malleable under the hammer, may be dented by the teeth, and cut with a knife."

Copper Minerals.

Aes purum fossileGedigen kupferNative copperNative copper
Aes rude plumbei colorisKupferglas ertzChalcocite (Cu2S)*Copper glance
ChalcitisRodt atramentA decomposed copper or iron sulphideChalcitis (see notes on p. 573)
Pyrites aurei coloreGeelkis oder kupferkisPart chalcopyrite (Cu Fe S) part bornite (Cu3FeS3)Copper pyrites
Pyrites aerosus
ChrysocollaBerggrün undPart chrysocollaChrysocolla (see note 7, p. 560)
schifergrünPart Malachite
Lapis aerariusKupfer ertz Copper ore
Aes caldarium rubrum fuscum or Aes sui colorisLebeter kupferWhen used for an ore, is probably cuprite*Ruby copper ore
Aes sui colorisRotkupfer
Aes nigrumSchwartz kupferProbably CuO from oxidation of other minerals*Black copper

In addition to the above the Author uses the following, which were in the main artificial products:

AerugoGrünspan oder SpanschgrünVerdigrisVerdigris
Aes luteumGelfarkupferImpure blister copperUnrefined copper (see note 16, p. 511)
Aes caldariumLebeterkupfer
Aeris flosKupferbraunCupric oxide scalesCopper flower
Aeris squamaKupferhammerschlagCopper scale (see note 9, p. 233)
Atramentum sutorium caeruleum or chalcanthumBlaw kupfer wasserChalcanthiteNative blue vitriol (see note on p. 572)

[Pg 110] Blue and green copper minerals were distinguished by all the ancient mineralogists. Theophrastus, Dioscorides, Pliny, etc., all give sufficient detail to identify their cyanus and caeruleum partly with modern azurite, and their chrysocolla partly with the modern mineral of the same name. However, these terms were also used for vegetable pigments, as well as for the pigments made from the minerals. The Greek origin of chrysocolla (chrysos, gold and kolla, solder) may be blamed with another and distinct line of confusion, in that this term has been applied to soldering materials, from Greek down to modern times, some of the ancient mineralogists even asserting that the copper mineral chrysocolla was used for this purpose. Agricola uses chrysocolla for borax, but is careful to state in every case (see note xx., p. x): "Chrysocolla made from nitrum," or "Chrysocolla which the Moors call Borax." Dioscorides and Pliny mention substances which were evidently copper sulphides, but no description occurs prior to Agricola that permits a hazard as to different species.

Lead Minerals.

Plumbarius lapisGlantzGalenaGalena
GalenaGlantz und pleiertzGalenaGalena
Plumbum nigrum lutei colorisPleiertz oder pleischweisCerussite (PbCO3)Yellow lead ore
Plumbago metallica
CerussaPleiweisArtificial White-leadWhite-lead (see note 4, p. 440)
Ochra facticia or ochra plumbariaPleigeelMassicot (Pb O)*Lead-ochre (see note 8, p. 232)
MolybdaenaHerdpleiPart lithargeHearth-lead (see note 37, p. 476)
Plumbago fornacis
Spuma argentiGlettLithargeLitharge (see note on p. 465)
Minium secundariumMenningMinium (Pb3O4)Red-lead (see note 7, p. 232)

So far as we can determine, all of these except the first three were believed by Agricola to be artificial products. Of the first three, galena is certain enough, but while he obviously was familiar with the alteration lead products, his descriptions are inadequate and much confused with the artificial oxides. Great confusion arises in the ancient mineralogies over the terms molybdaena, plumbago, plumbum, galena, and spuma argenti, all of which, from Roman mineralogists down to a century after Agricola, were used for lead in some form. Further discussion of such confusion will be found in note 37, p. 476. Agricola in Bermannus and De Natura Fossilium, devotes pages to endeavouring to reconcile the ancient usages of these terms, and all the confusion existing in Agricola's time was thrice confounded when the names molybdaena and plumbago were assigned to non-lead minerals.

Tin. Agricola knew only one tin mineral: Lapilli nigri ex quibus conflatur plumbum candidum, i.e., "Little black stones from which tin is smelted," and he gives the German equivalent as zwitter, "tin-stone." He describes them as being of different colours, but probably due to external causes.

Antimony. (Interpretatio,—spiesglas.) The stibi or stibium of Agricola was no doubt the sulphide, and he follows Dioscorides in dividing it into male and female species. This distinction, however, is impossible to apply from the inadequate descriptions given. The mineral and metal known to Agricola and his predecessors was almost always the sulphide, and we have not felt justified in using the term antimony alone, as that implies the refined product, therefore, we have adopted either the Latin term or the old English term "grey antimony." The smelted antimony of commerce sold under the latter term was the sulphide. For further notes see p. 428.

Bismuth*. Plumbum cinereum (Interpretatio,—bismut). Agricola states that this mineral occasionally occurs native, "but more often as a mineral of another colour" (De Nat. Fos., p. 337), and he also describes its commonest form as black or grey. This, considering his localities, would indicate the sulphide, although he assigns no special name to it. Although bismuth is mentioned before Agricola in the Nützliche Bergbüchlin, he was the first to describe it (see p. 433).

Quicksilver. Apart from native quicksilver, Agricola adequately describes cinnabar only. The term used by him for the mineral is minium nativum (Interpretatio,—bergzinober or cinnabaris). He makes the curious statement (De Nat. Fos. p. 335) that rudis quicksilver also occurs liver-coloured and blackish,—probably gangue colours. (See p. 432).

[Pg 111] Arsenical Minerals. Metallic arsenic was unknown, although it has been maintained that a substance mentioned by Albertus Magnus (De Rebus Metallicis) was the metallic form. Agricola, who was familiar with all Albertus's writings, makes no mention of it, and it appears to us that the statement of Albertus referred only to the oxide from sublimation. Our word "arsenic" obviously takes root in the Greek for orpiment, which was also used by Pliny (XXXIV, 56) as arrhenicum, and later was modified to arsenicum by the Alchemists, who applied it to the oxide. Agricola gives the following in Bermannus (p. 448), who has been previously discussing realgar and orpiment:—"Ancon: Avicenna also has a white variety. Bermannus: I cannot at all believe in a mineral of a white colour; perhaps he was thinking of an artificial product; there are two which the Alchemists make, one yellow and the other white, and they are accounted the most powerful poisons to-day, and are called only by the name arsenicum." In De Natura Fossilium (p. 219) is described the making of "the white variety" by sublimating orpiment, and also it is noted that realgar can be made from orpiment by heating the latter for five hours in a sealed crucible. In De Re Metallica (Book X.), he refers to auripigmentum facticum, and no doubt means the realgar made from orpiment. The four minerals of arsenic base mentioned by Agricola were:—

AuripigmentumOpermentOrpiment (As2S3)Orpiment
SandaracaRosgeelRealgar (As S)Realgar
ArsenicumArsenikArtificial arsenical oxideWhite arsenic
Lapis subrutilus atque ... splendensMistpuckelArsenopyrite (Fe As S)*Mispickel

We are somewhat uncertain as to the identification of the last. The yellow and red sulphides, however, were well known to the Ancients, and are described by Aristotle, Theophrastus (71 and 89), Dioscorides (V, 81), Pliny (XXXIII, 22, etc.); and Strabo (XII, 3, 40) mentions a mine of them near Pompeiopolis, where, because of its poisonous character none but slaves were employed. The Ancients believed that the yellow sulphide contained gold—hence the name auripigmentum, and Pliny describes the attempt of the Emperor Caligula to extract the gold from it, and states that he did obtain a small amount, but unprofitably. So late a mineralogist as Hill (1750) held this view, which seemed to be general. Both realgar and orpiment were important for pigments, medicinal purposes, and poisons among the Ancients. In addition to the above, some arsenic-cobalt minerals are included under cadmia.

Iron Minerals.

Ferrum purumGedigen eisenNative iron*Native iron
Terra ferriaEisen ertzVarious soft and hard iron ores, probably mostly hematiteIronstone
Ferri venaEisen ertz
Galenae genus tertium omnis metalli inanissimiEisen glantz
SchistosGlasköpfe oder blütstein
Ferri vena jecoris coloreLeber ertz
FerrugoRüstPart limoniteIron rust
MagnesSiegelstein oder magnetMagnetiteLodestone
Ochra nativaBerg geelLimoniteYellow ochre or ironstone
HaematitesBlüt steinPart hematiteBloodstone or
Part jasperironstone
SchistosGlas köpfePart limoniteIronstone
Pyrites argenti coloriswasser oder weisser kisMarcasite*White iron pyrites
MisyGel atramentPart copiapiteMisy (see note on p. 573)
SoryGraw und schwartz atramentPartly a decomposed iron pyriteSory (see note on p. 573)
MelanteriaSchwartz und grau atramentMelanterite (native vitriol)Melanteria (see note on p. 573)

The classification of iron ores on the basis of exterior characteristics, chiefly hardness and [Pg 112]brilliancy, does not justify a more narrow rendering than "ironstone." Agricola (De Nat. Fos., Book V.) gives elaborate descriptions of various iron ores, but the descriptions under any special name would cover many actual minerals. The subject of pyrites is a most confused one; the term originates from the Greek word for fire, and referred in Greek and Roman times to almost any stone that would strike sparks. By Agricola it was a generic term in somewhat the same sense that it is still used in mineralogy, as, for instance, iron pyrite, copper pyrite, etc. So much was this the case later on, that Henckel, the leading mineralogist of the 18th Century, entitled his large volume Pyritologia, and in it embraces practically all the sulphide minerals then known. The term marcasite, of mediæval Arabic origin, seems to have had some vogue prior and subsequent to Agricola. He, however, puts it on one side as merely a synonym for pyrite, nor can it be satisfactorily defined in much better terms. Agricola apparently did not recognise the iron base of pyrites, for he says (De Nat. Fos., p. 366): "Sometimes, however, pyrites do not contain any gold, silver, copper, or lead, and yet it is not a pure stone, but a compound, and consists of stone and a substance which is somewhat metallic, which is a species of its own." Many varieties were known to him and described, partly by their other metal association, but chiefly by their colour.

Cadmia. The minerals embraced under this term by the old mineralogists form one of the most difficult chapters in the history of mineralogy. These complexities reached their height with Agricola, for at this time various new minerals classed under this heading had come under debate. All these minerals were later found to be forms of zinc, cobalt, or arsenic, and some of these minerals were in use long prior to Agricola. From Greek and Roman times down to long after Agricola, brass was made by cementing zinc ore with copper. Aristotle and Strabo mention an earth used to colour copper, but give no details. It is difficult to say what zinc mineral the cadmium of Dioscorides (V, 46) and Pliny (XXXIV, 2), really was. It was possibly only furnace calamine, or perhaps blende for it was associated with copper. They amply describe cadmia produced in copper furnaces, and pompholyx (zinc oxide). It was apparently not until Theophilus (1150) that the term calamina appears for that mineral. Precisely when the term "zinc," and a knowledge of the metal, first appeared in Europe is a matter of some doubt; it has been attributed to Paracelsus, a contemporary of Agricola (see note on p. 409), but we do not believe that author's work in question was printed until long after. The quotations from Agricola given below, in which zincum is mentioned in an obscure way, do not appear in the first editions of these works, but only in the revised edition of 1559. In other words, Agricola himself only learned of a substance under this name a short period before his death in 1555. The metal was imported into Europe from China prior to this time. He however does describe actual metallic zinc under the term conterfei, and mentions its occurrence in the cracks of furnace walls. (See also notes on p. 409).

The word cobalt (German kobelt) is from the Greek word cobalos, "mime," and its German form was the term for gnomes and goblins. It appears that the German miners, finding a material (Agricola's "corrosive material") which injured their hands and feet, connected it with the goblins, or used the term as an epithet, and finally it became established for certain minerals (see note 21, p. 214, on this subject). The first written appearance of the term in connection with minerals, appears in Agricola's Bermannus (1530). The first practical use of cobalt was in the form of zaffre or cobalt blue. There seems to be no mention of the substance by the Greek or Roman writers, although analyses of old colourings show some traces of cobalt, but whether accidental or not is undetermined. The first mention we know of, was by Biringuccio in 1540 (De La Pirotechnia, Book II, Chap. IX.), who did not connect it with the minerals then called cobalt or cadmia. "Zaffera is another mineral substance, like a metal of middle weight, which will not melt alone, but accompanied by vitreous substances it melts into an azure colour so that those who colour glass, or paint vases or glazed earthenware, make use of it. Not only does it serve for the above-mentioned operations, but if one uses too great a quantity of it, it will be black and all other colours, according to the quantity used." Agricola, although he does not use the word zaffre, does refer to a substance of this kind, and in any event also missed the relation between zaffre and cobalt, as he seems to think (De Nat. Fos., p. 347) that zaffre came from bismuth, a belief that existed until long after his time. The cobalt of the Erzgebirge was of course, intimately associated with this mineral. He says, "the slag of bismuth, mixed together with metalliferous substances, which when melted make a kind of glass, will tint glass and earthenware vessels blue." Zaffre is the roasted mineral ground with sand, while smalt, a term used more frequently, is the fused mixture with sand.

The following are the substances mentioned by Agricola, which, we believe, relate to cobalt and zinc minerals, some of them arsenical compounds. Other arsenical minerals we give above.

[Pg 113]Cadmia fossilisCalmei; lapis calaminarisCalamineCalamine
Cadmia metallicaKobeltPart cobalt*Cadmia metallica
Cadmia fornacisMitlere und obere offenbrücheFurnace accretions or furnace calamineFurnace accretions
Bituminosa cadmiaKobelt des bergwacht(Mannsfeld copper schists)Bituminosa cadmia (see note 4, p. 273)
Galena inanisBlendeSphalerite* (Zn S)*Blende
Cobaltum cineraceum Smallite* (CoAs2)Cadmia metallica
Cobaltum nigrum Abolite*
Cobaltum ferri colore Cobaltite (CoAsS)
Liquor Candidus ex fornace ... etc.ConterfeiZincSee note 48, p. 408
Atramentum sutorium, candidum, potissimum reperitur Goselariae Goslarite (Zn SO4)*Native white vitriol
Spodos subterranea cinereaGeeler zechen rauchEither natural or artificial zinc oxides, no doubt containing arsenical oxidesGrey spodos
Spodos subterranea nigraSchwartzer zechen rauch, auff dem, Altenberge nennet man in kisBlack spodos
Spodos subterranea viridisGrauer zechen rauchGreen spodos
PompholyxHüttenrauchPompholyx (see note 26, p. 394)

As seen from the following quotations from Agricola, on cadmia and cobalt, there was infinite confusion as to the zinc, cobalt, and arsenic minerals; nor do we think any good purpose is served by adding to the already lengthy discussion of these passages, the obscurity of which is natural to the state of knowledge; but we reproduce them as giving a fairly clear idea of the amount of confusion then existing. It is, however, desirable to bear in mind that the mines familiar to Agricola abounded in complex mixtures of cobalt, nickel, arsenic, bismuth, zinc, and antimony. Agricola frequently mentions the garlic odour from cadmia metallica, which, together with the corrosive qualities mentioned below, would obviously be due to arsenic. Bermannus (p. 459). "This kind of pyrites miners call cobaltum, if it be allowed to me to use our German name. The Greeks call it cadmia. The juices, however, out of which pyrites and silver are formed, appear to solidify into one body, and thus is produced what they call cobaltum. There are some who consider this the same as pyrites, because it is almost the same. There are some who distinguish it as a species, which pleases me, for it has the distinctive property of being extremely corrosive, so that it consumes the hands and feet of the workmen, unless they are well protected, which I do not believe that pyrites can do. Three kinds are found, and distinguished more by the colour than by other properties; they are black (abolite?), grey (smallite?), and iron colour (cobalt glance?). Moreover, it contains more silver than does pyrites...." Bermannus (p. 431). "It (a sort of pyrites) is so like the colour of galena that not without cause might anybody have doubt in deciding whether it be pyrites or galena.... Perhaps this kind is neither pyrites nor galena, but has a genus of its own. For it has not the colour of pyrites, nor the hardness. It is almost the colour of galena, but of entirely different components. From it there is made gold and silver, and a great quantity is dug out from Reichenstein which is in Silesia, as was lately reported to me. Much more is found at Raurici, which they call zincum; which species differs from pyrites, for the latter contains more silver than gold, the former only gold, or hardly any silver."

(De Natura Fossilium, p. 170). "Cadmia fossilis has an odour like garlic" ... (p. 367). "We now proceed with cadmia, not the cadmia fornacis (furnace accretions) of which I spoke in the last book, nor the cadmia fossilis (calamine) devoid of metal, which is used to colour copper, whose nature I explained in Book V, but the metallic mineral (fossilis metallica), which Pliny states to be an ore from which copper is made. The Ancients have left no record that another metal could be smelted from it. Yet it is a fact [Pg 114]that not only copper but also silver may be smelted from it, and indeed occasionally both copper and silver together. Sometimes, as is the case with pyrites, it is entirely devoid of metal. It is frequently found in copper mines, but more frequently still in silver mines. And there are likewise veins of cadmia itself.... There are several species of the cadmia fossilis just as there were of cadmia fornacum. For one kind has the form of grapes and another of broken tiles, a third seems to consist of layers. But the cadmia fossilis has much stronger properties than that which is produced in the furnaces. Indeed, it often possesses such highly corrosive power that it corrodes the hands and feet of the miners. It, therefore, differs from pyrites in colour and properties. For pyrites, if it does not contain vitriol, is generally either of a gold or silver colour, rarely of any other. Cadmia is either black or brown or grey, or else reddish like copper when melted in the furnace.... For this cadmia is put in a suitable vessel, in the same way as quicksilver, so that the heat of the fire will cause it to sublimate, and from it is made a black or brown or grey body which the Alchemists call 'sublimated cadmia' (cadmiam sublimatam). This possesses corrosive properties of the highest degree. Cognate with cadmia and pyrites is a compound which the Noricians and Rhetians call zincum. This contains gold and silver, and is either red or white. It is likewise found in the Sudetian mountains, and is devoid of those metals.... With this cadmia is naturally related mineral spodos, known to the Moor Serapion, but unknown to the Greeks; and also pompholyx—for both are produced by fire where the miners, breaking the hard rocks in drifts, tunnels, and shafts, burn the cadmia or pyrites or galena or other similar minerals. From cadmia is made black, brown, and grey spodos; from pyrites, white pompholyx and spodos; from galena is made yellow or grey spodos. But pompholyx produced from copper stone (lapide aeroso) after some time becomes green. The black spodos, similar to soot, is found at Altenberg in Meissen. The white pompholyx, like wool which floats in the air in summer, is found in Hildesheim in the seams in the rocks of almost all quarries except in the sandstone. But the grey and the brown and the yellow pompholyx are found in those silver mines where the miners break up the rocks by fire. All consist of very fine particles which are very light, but the lightest of all is white pompholyx."

Quartz Minerals.

Quarzum ("which Latins call silex")Quertz oder kiselsteinQuartzQuartz (see note 15, p. 380)
SilexHornstein oder feursteinFlinty or jaspery quartzHornstone
CrystallumCrystalClear crystalsCrystal
JaspisJaspisPart coloured quartz, part jadeJaspis
CoticulaGoldsteinA black silicious stoneTouchstone (see note 37, p. 252)

Lime Minerals.

Lapis specularisGipsGypsumGypsum
Marmor alabastritesAlabasterAlabasterAlabaster
Marmor glarea Calcite (?)Calc spar(?)
Saxum calcisKalchsteinLimestoneLimestone
TophusToffstein oder topstein stalagmites, etc.Sintry limestones,Tophus (see note 13, p. 233)


AmiantusFederwis, pliant salamanderharUsually asbestosAsbestos
MagnetisSilberweis oder katzensilberMica*Mica
Bracteolae magnetidi simile 
MicaKatzensilber oder glimmer
[Pg 115]Silex ex eo ictu ferri facile ignis elicitur.... excubus figuris Feldspar*Feldspar
Medulla saxorumSteinmarckKaolinitePorcelain clay
Fluores (lapides gemmarum simili)FlusseFluorspar*Fluorspar (see note 15, p. 380)
Marmor in metallis repertumSpatBarite*Heavy spar

Apart from the above, many other minerals are mentioned in other chapters, and some information is given with regard to them in the footnotes.

[9] Three librae of silver per centumpondium would be equal to 875 ounces per short ton.

[10] As stated in note on p. 2, Agricola divided "stones so called" into four kinds; the first, common stones in which he included lodestone and jasper or bloodstone; the second embraced gems; the third were decorative stones, such as marble, porphyry, etc.; the fourth were rocks, such as sandstone and limestone.

Lodestone. (Magnes; Interpretatio gives Siegelstein oder magnet). The lodestone was well-known to the Ancients under various names—magnes, magnetis, heraclion, and sideritis. A review of the ancient opinions as to its miraculous properties would require more space than can be afforded. It is mentioned by many Greek writers, including Hippocrates (460-372 B.C.) and Aristotle; while Theophrastus (53), Dioscorides (V, 105), and Pliny (XXXIV, 42, XXXVI, 25) describe it at length. The Ancients also maintained the existence of a stone, theamedes, having repellant properties, and the two were supposed to exist at times in the same stone.

Emery. (Smiris; Interpretatio gives smirgel). Agricola (De Natura Fossilium, p. 265) says: "The ring-makers polish and clean their hard gems with smiris. The glaziers use it to cut their glass into sheets. It is found in the silver mines of Annaberg in Meissen and elsewhere." Stones used for polishing gems are noted by the ancient authors, and Dana (Syst. of Mineralogy, p. 211) considers the stone of Armenia, of Theophrastus (77), to be emery, although it could quite well be any hard stone, such as Novaculite—which is found in Armenia. Dioscorides (V, 166) describes a stone with which the engravers polish gems.

Lapis Judaicus. (Interpretatio gives Jüden stein). This was undoubtedly a fossil, possibly a pentremites. Agricola (De Natura Fossilium, p. 256) says: "It is shaped like an acorn, from the obtuse end to the point proceed raised lines, all equidistant, etc." Many fossils were included among the semi-precious stones by the Ancients. Pliny (XXXVII, 55, 66, 73) describes many such stones, among them the balanites, phoenicitis and the pyren, which resemble the above.

Trochitis. (Interpretatio gives spangen oder rederstein). This was also a fossil, probably crinoid stems. Agricola (De Natura Fossilium, p. 256) describes it: "Trochites is so called from a wheel, and is related to lapis judaicus. Nature has indeed given it the shape of a drum (tympanum). The round part is smooth, but on both ends as it were there is a module from which on all sides there extend radii to the outer edge, which corresponds with the radii. These radii are so much raised that it is fluted. The size of these trochites varies greatly, for the smallest is so little that the largest is ten times as big, and the largest are a digit in length by a third of a digit in thickness ... when immersed in vinegar they make bubbles."

[11] The "extraordinary earths" of Agricola were such substances as ochres, tripoli, fullers earth, potters' clay, clay used for medicinal purposes, etc., etc.

[Pg 117][12] Presumably the ore-body dips into a neighbouring property.

[Pg 118][13] The various kinds of iron tools are described in great detail in Book VI.

[14] Fire-setting as an aid to breaking rock is of very ancient origin, and moreover it persisted in certain German and Norwegian mines down to the end of the 19th century—270 years after the first application of explosives to mining. The first specific reference to fire-setting in mining is by Agatharchides (2nd century B.C.) whose works are not extant, but who is quoted by both Diodorus Siculus and Photius, for which statement see note 8, p. 279. Pliny (XXXIII, 21) says: "Occasionally a kind of silex is met with, which must be broken with fire and vinegar, or as the tunnels are filled with suffocating fumes and smoke, [Pg 119]they frequently use bruising machines, carrying 150 librae of iron." This combination of fire and vinegar he again refers to (XXIII, 27), where he dilates in the same sentence on the usefulness of vinegar for breaking rock and for salad dressing. This myth about breaking rocks with fire and vinegar is of more than usual interest, and its origin seems to be in the legend that Hannibal thus broke through the Alps. Livy (59 B.C., 17 A.D.) seems to be the first to produce this myth in writing; and, in any event, by Pliny's time (23-79 A.D.) it had become an established method—in literature. Livy (XXI, 37) says, in connection with Hannibal's crossing of the Alps: "They set fire to it (the timber) when a wind had arisen suitable to excite the fire, then when the rock was hot it was crumbled by pouring on vinegar (infuso aceto). In this manner the cliff heated by the fire was broken by iron tools, and the declivities eased by turnings, so that not only the beasts of burden but also the elephants could be led down." Hannibal crossed the Alps in 218 B.C. and Livy's account was written 200 years later, by which time Hannibal's memory among the Romans was generally surrounded by Herculean fables. Be this as it may, by Pliny's time the vinegar was generally accepted, and has been ceaselessly debated ever since. Nor has the myth ceased to grow, despite the remarks of Gibbon, Lavalette, and others. A recent historian (Hennebert, Histoire d' Annibal II, p. 253) of that famous engineer and soldier, soberly sets out to prove that inasmuch as literal acceptance of ordinary vinegar is impossible, the Phoenicians must have possessed some mysterious high explosive. A still more recent biographer swallows this argument in toto. (Morris, "Hannibal," London, 1903, p. 103). A study of the commentators of this passage, although it would fill a volume with sterile words, would disclose one generalization: That the real scholars have passed over the passage with the comment that it is either a corruption or an old woman's tale, but that hosts of soldiers who set about the biography of famous generals and campaigns, almost to a man take the passage seriously, and seriously explain it by way of the rock being limestone, or snow, or by the use of explosives, or other foolishness. It has been proposed, although there are grammatical objections, that the text is slightly corrupt and read infosso acuto, instead of infuso aceto, in which case all becomes easy from a mining point of view. If so, however, it must be assumed that the corruption occurred during the 20 years between Livy and Pliny.

By the use of fire-setting in recent times at Königsberg (Arthur L. Collins, "Fire-setting," Federated Inst. of Mining Engineers, Vol. V, p. 82) an advance of from 5 to 20 feet per month in headings was accomplished, and on the score of economy survived the use of gunpowder, but has now been abandoned in favour of dynamite. We may mention that the use of gunpowder for blasting was first introduced at Schemnitz by Caspar Weindle, in 1627, but apparently was not introduced into English mines for nearly 75 years afterward, as the late 17th century English writers continue to describe fire-setting.

[Pg 127][15] The strata here enumerated are given in the Glossary of De Re Metallica as follows:—

Corium terraeDie erd oder leim.
Saxum rubrumRot gebirge.
Alterum item rubrumRoterkle.
Argilla cinereaThone.
Tertium saxumGerhulle.
Cineris venaAsche.
Quartum saxumGniest.
Quintum saxumSchwehlen.
Sextum saxumOberrauchstein.
Septimum saxumZechstein.
Octavum saxumUnderrauchstein.
Nonum saxumBlitterstein.
Decimum saxumOberschuelen.
Undecimum saxumMittelstein.
Duodecimum saxumUnderschuelen.
Decimumtertium saxumDach.
Decimumquartum saxumNorweg.
Decimumquintum saxumLotwerg.
Decimumsextum saxumKamme.
Lapis aerosus fissilisSchifer.

The description is no doubt that of the Mannsfeld cupriferous slates. It is of some additional interest as the first attempt at stratigraphic distinctions, although this must not be taken too literally, for we have rendered the different numbered "saxum" in this connection as "stratum." The German terms given by Agricola above, can many of them be identified in the miners' terms to-day for the various strata at Mannsfeld. Over the kupferschiefer the names to-day are kammschale, dach, faule, zechstein, rauchwacke, rauchstein, asche. The relative thickness of these beds is much the same as given by Agricola. The stringers in the 8th stratum of stone, which fuse in the fire of the second order, were possibly calcite. The rauchstein of the modern section is distinguished by stringers of calcite, which give it at times a brecciated appearance.

[Pg 129][16] The history of surveying and surveying instruments, and in a subsidiary way their application to mine work, is a subject upon which there exists a most extensive literature. However, that portion of such history which relates to the period prior to Agricola represents a much less proportion of the whole than do the citations to this chapter in De Re Metallica, which is the first comprehensive discussion of the mining application. The history of such instruments is too extensive to be entered upon in a footnote, but there are some fundamental considerations which, if they had been present in the minds of historical students of this subject, would have considerably abridged the literature on it. First, there can be no doubt that measuring cords or rods and boundary stones existed almost from the first division of land. There is, therefore, no need to try to discover their origins. Second, the history of surveying and surveying instruments really begins with the invention of instruments for taking levels, or for the determination of angles with a view to geometrical calculation. The meagre facts bearing upon this subject do not warrant the endless expansion they have received by argument as to what was probable, in order to accomplish assumed methods of construction among the Ancients. For instance, the argument that in carrying the Grand Canal over watersheds with necessary reservoir supply, the Chinese must have had accurate levelling and surveying instruments before the Christian Era, and must have conceived in advance a completed work, does not hold water when any investigation will demonstrate that the canal grew by slow accretion from the lateral river systems, until it joined almost by accident. Much the same may be said about the preconception of engineering results in several other ancient works. There can be no certainty as to who first invented instruments of the order mentioned above; for instance, the invention of the dioptra has been ascribed to Hero, vide his work on the Dioptra. He has been assumed to have lived in the 1st or 2nd Century B.C. Recent investigations, however, have shown that he lived about 100 A.D. (Sir Thomas Heath, Encyc. Brit. 11th Ed., XIII, 378). As this instrument is mentioned by Vitruvius (50 - 0 B.C.) the myth that Hero was the inventor must also disappear. Incidentally Vitruvius (VIII, 5) describes a levelling instrument called a chorobates, which was a frame levelled either by a groove of water or by plumb strings. Be the inventor of the dioptra who he may, Hero's work on that subject contains the first suggestion of mine surveys in the problems (XIII, XIV, XV, XVI), where geometrical methods are elucidated for determining the depths required for the connection of shafts and tunnels. On the compass we give further notes on p. 56. It was probably an evolution of the 13th Century. As to the application of angle- and level-determining instruments to underground surveys, so far as we know there is no reference prior to Agricola, except that of Hero. Mr. Bennett Brough (Cantor Lecture, London, 1892) points out that the Nützliche Bergbüchlin (see Appendix) describes a mine compass, but there is not the slightest reference to its use for anything but surface direction of veins.

Although map-making of a primitive sort requires no instruments, except legs, the oldest map in the world possesses unusual interest because it happens to be a map of a mining region. This well-known Turin papyrus dates from Seti I. (about 1300 B.C.), and it represents certain gold mines between the Nile and the Red Sea. The best discussion is by Chabas (Inscriptions des Mines d'Or, Chalons-sur-Saone, Paris, 1862, p. 30-36). Fragments of another papyrus, in the Turin Museum, are considered by Lieblein (Deux Papyras Hiératiques, Christiania, 1868) also to represent a mine of the time of Rameses I. If so, this one dates from about 1400 B.C. As to an actual map of underground workings (disregarding illustrations) we know of none until after Agricola's time. At his time maps were not made, as will be gathered from the text.

[Pg 132][17] For greater clarity we have in a few places interpolated the terms "major" and "minor" triangles.

[Pg 137][18] The names of the instruments here described in the original text, their German equivalents in the Glossary, and the terms adopted in translation are given below:—

Latin Text.Glossary.Terms Adopted.
Funiculus Cord
HemicycliumDonlege bretleinHemicycle
Instrumentum cui indexCompassCompass
Libra stativaAuffsafzStanding plummet level
Libra pensilisWageSuspended plummet level
Instrumentum cui index AlpinumDer schiner compassSwiss compass

[Pg 139][19] It is interesting to note that the ratio of any length so obtained, to the whole length of the staff, is practically equal to the cosine of the angle represented by the corresponding gradation on the hemicycle; the gradations on the rod forming a fairly accurate table of cosines.

[Pg 142][20] It must be understood that instead of "plotting" a survey on a reduced scale on paper, as modern surveyors do, the whole survey was reproduced in full scale on the "surveyor's field."

[Pg 149]



igging of veins I have written of, and the timbering of shafts, tunnels, drifts, and other excavations, and the art of surveying. I will now speak first of all, of the iron tools with which veins and rocks are broken, then of the buckets into which the lumps of earth, rock, metal, and other excavated materials are thrown, in order that they may be drawn, conveyed, or carried out. Also, I will speak of the water vessels and drains, then of the machines of different kinds,[1] and lastly of the maladies of miners. And while all these matters are being described accurately, many methods of work will be explained.

Iron tools
A—First "iron tool." B—Second. C—Third. D—Fourth.[2] E—Wedge. F—Iron block. G—Iron plate. H—Wooden handle. I—Handle inserted in first tool. [Pg 150]
There are certain iron tools which the miners designate by names of their own, and besides these, there are wedges, iron blocks, iron plates, hammers, crowbars, pikes, picks, hoes, and shovels. Of those which are especially referred to as "iron tools" there are four varieties, which are different from one another in length or thickness, but not in shape, for the upper end of all of them is broad and square, so that it can be struck by the [Pg 150]hammer. The lower end is pointed so as to split the hard rocks and veins with its point. All of these have eyes except the fourth. The first, which is in daily use among miners, is three-quarters of a foot long, a digit and a half wide, and a digit thick. The second is of the same width as the first, and the same thickness, but one and one half feet long, and is used to shatter the hardest veins in such a way that they crack open. The third is the same length as the second, but is a little wider and thicker; with this one they dig the bottoms of those shafts which slowly accumulate water. The fourth is nearly three palms and one digit long, two digits thick, and in the upper end it is three digits wide, in the middle it is one palm wide, and at the lower end it is pointed like the others; with this they cut out the harder veins. The eye in the first tool is one palm distant from the upper end, in the second and third it is seven digits distant; each swells out around the eye on both sides, and into it they fit a wooden handle, which they hold with one hand, while they strike the iron tool with a hammer, after placing it against the rock. These tools are made larger or smaller as necessary. The smiths, as far as possible, sharpen again all that become dull.

A wedge is usually three palms and two digits long and six digits wide; at the upper end, for a distance of a palm, it is three digits thick, and beyond that point it becomes thinner by degrees, until finally it is quite sharp.

[Pg 151]

The iron block is six digits in length and width; at the upper end it is two digits thick, and at the bottom a digit and a half. The iron plate is the same length and width as the iron block, but it is very thin. All of these, as I explained in the last book, are used when the hardest kind of veins are hewn out. Wedges, blocks, and plates, are likewise made larger or smaller.

A—Smallest of the smaller hammers. B—Intermediate. C—Largest. D—Small kind of the larger hammer. E—Large kind. F—Wooden handle. G—Handle fixed in the smallest hammer. [Pg 151]
Hammers are of two kinds, the smaller ones the miners hold in one hand, and the larger ones they hold with both hands. The former, because of their size and use, are of three sorts. With the smallest, that is to say, the lightest, they strike the second "iron tool;" with the intermediate one the first "iron tool;" and with the largest the third "iron tool"; this one is two digits wide and thick. Of the larger sort of hammers there are two kinds; with the smaller they strike the fourth "iron tool;" with the larger they drive the wedges into the cracks; the former are three, and the latter five digits wide and thick, and a foot long. All swell out in their middle, in which there is an eye for a handle, but in most cases the handles are somewhat light, in order that the workmen may be able to strike more powerful blows by the hammer's full weight being thus concentrated.

[Pg 152]

A—Round crowbar. B—Flat crowbar. C—Pike. [Pg 152]
The iron crowbars are likewise of two kinds, and each kind is pointed at one end. One is rounded, and with this they pierce to a shaft full of water when a tunnel reaches to it; the other is flat, and with this they knock out of the stopes on to the floor, the rocks which have been softened by the fire, and which cannot be dislodged by the pike. A miner's pike, like a sailor's, is a long rod having an iron head.

[Pg 153]

A—Pick. B—Hoe. C—Shovel. [Pg 152]
The miner's pick differs from a peasant's pick in that the latter is wide at the bottom and sharp, but the former is pointed. It is used to dig out ore which is not hard, such as earth. Likewise a hoe and shovel are in no way different from the common articles, with the one they scrape up earth and sand, with the other they throw it into vessels.

Now earth, rock, mineral substances and other things dug out with the pick or hewn out with the "iron tools" are hauled out of the shaft in buckets, or baskets, or hide buckets; they are drawn out of tunnels in wheelbarrows or open trucks, and from both they are sometimes carried in trays.

Buckets for hoisting ore
[Pg 154]
Buckets for hoisting ore
A—Small bucket. B—Large bucket. C—Staves. D—Iron hoops. E—Iron straps. F—Iron straps on the bottom. G—Hafts. H—Iron bale. I—Hook of drawing-rope. K—Basket. L—Hide bucket or sack. [Pg 154]
Buckets are of two kinds, which differ in size, but not in material or shape. The smaller for the most part hold only about one metreta; the larger are generally capable of carrying one-sixth of a congius; neither is of unchangeable capacity, but they often vary.[3] Each is made of staves circled with hoops, one of which binds the top and the other the bottom. The hoops are sometimes made of hazel and oak, but these are easily broken by dashing against the shaft, while those made of iron are more durable. In the larger buckets the staves are thicker and wider, as also are both hoops, and in order that the buckets may be more firm and strong, they have eight iron straps, somewhat broad, four of which run from the upper hoop downwards, and four from the lower hoop upwards, as if to meet each other. The bottom of each bucket, both inside and outside, is furnished with two or three straps of iron, which run from one side of the lower hoop to the other, but the straps which are on the outside are fixed crosswise. Each bucket has two iron hafts which project above the edge, and it has an iron semi-circular bale whose lower ends are fixed directly into the hafts, that the bucket may be handled more easily. Each kind of bucket is much deeper than it is wide, and each is wider at the top, in order that the material which is dug out may be the more easily poured in and poured out again. Into the smaller buckets strong boys, and into larger ones men, fill earth from the bottom of the shaft with hoes; or the other material dug up is shovelled into them or filled in with their hands, for which reason these men are called "shovellers.[4]" Afterward they fix the hook of the drawing-rope into the bale; then the buckets are drawn up by machines—the smaller ones, because of their lighter weight, by machines turned by men, and the larger ones, being heavier, by the machines turned by horses. Some, in place of these buckets, substitute baskets which hold just as much, or even more, since they are lighter than the buckets; some use sacks made of ox-hide instead of buckets, and the drawing-rope hook is fastened to their iron bale, usually three of these filled with excavated material are drawn up at the same time as three are being lowered and three are being filled by boys. The latter are generally used at Schneeberg and the former at Freiberg.

[Pg 154]

A—Small wheelbarrow. B—Long planks thereof. C—End-boards. D—Small wheel. E—Larger barrow. F—Front end-board thereof. [Pg 155]
That which we call a cisium[5] is a vehicle with one wheel, not with two, such as horses draw. When filled with excavated material it is pushed [Pg 155]by a workman out of tunnels or sheds. It is made as follows: two planks are chosen about five feet long, one foot wide, and two digits thick; of each of these the lower side is cut away at the front for a length of one foot, and at the back for a length of two feet, while the middle is left whole. Then in the front parts are bored circular holes, in order that the ends of an axle may revolve in them. The intermediate parts of the planks are perforated twice near the bottom, so as to receive the heads of two little cleats on which the planks are fixed; and they are also perforated in the middle, so as to receive the heads of two end-boards, while keys fixed in these projecting heads strengthen the whole structure. The handles are made out of the extreme ends of the long planks, and they turn downward at the ends that they may be grasped more firmly in the hands. The small wheel, of which there is only one, neither has a nave nor does it revolve around the axle, but turns around with it. From the felloe, which the Greeks called ἀψῖδες, two transverse spokes fixed into it pass through the middle of the axle toward the opposite felloe; the axle is square, with the exception of the ends, each of which is rounded so as to turn in the opening. A workman draws out this barrow full of earth and rock and draws it back empty. Miners also have another wheelbarrow, larger than this one, which they use when they wash earth mixed with tin-stone on to which a stream has been turned. The front end-board of this one is deeper, in order that the earth which has been thrown into it may not fall out.

[Pg 156]

A—Rectangular iron bands on truck. B—Its iron straps. C—Iron axle. D—Wooden rollers. E—Small iron keys. F—Large blunt iron pin. G—Same truck upside down. [Pg 156]
The open truck has a capacity half as large again as a wheelbarrow; it is about four feet long and about two and a half feet wide and deep; and since its shape is rectangular, it is bound together with three rectangular iron bands, and besides these there are iron straps on all sides. Two small iron axles are fixed to the bottom, around the ends of which wooden rollers revolve on either side; in order that the rollers shall not fall off the immovable axles, there are small iron keys. A large blunt pin fixed to the bottom of the truck runs in a groove of a plank in such a way that the truck does not leave the beaten track. Holding the back part with his hands, the carrier pushes out the truck laden with excavated material, and pushes it back again empty. Some people call it a "dog"[6], because when it moves it makes a noise which seems to them not unlike the bark of a dog. This truck is used when they draw loads out of the longest tunnels, both because it is moved more easily and because a heavier load can be placed in it.

A—Small batea. B—Rope. C—Large batea. [Pg 157]
Bateas[7] are hollowed out of a single block of wood; the smaller kind are generally two feet long and one foot wide. When they have been filled with ore, especially when but little is dug from the shafts and tunnels, men either carry them out on their shoulders, or bear them away hung from [Pg 157]their necks. Pliny[8] is our authority that among the ancients everything which was mined was carried out on men's shoulders, but in truth this method of carrying forth burdens is onerous, since it causes great fatigue to a great number of men, and involves a large expenditure for labour; for this reason it has been rejected and abandoned in our day. The length of the larger batea is as much as three feet, the width up to a foot and a palm. In these bateas the metallic earth is washed for the purpose of testing it.

Buckets for hoisting water
A—Smaller water-bucket. B—Larger water-bucket. C—Dipper. [Pg 158]
Water-vessels differ both in the use to which they are put and in the material of which they are made; some draw the water from the shafts and pour it into other things, as dippers; while some of the vessels filled with water are drawn out by machines, as buckets and bags; some are made of wood, as the dippers and buckets, and others of hides, as the bags. The water-buckets, just like the buckets which are filled with dry material, are of two kinds, the smaller and the larger, but these are unlike the other buckets at the top, as in this case they are narrower, in order that the water may not be spilled by being bumped against the timbers when they are being drawn out of the shafts, especially those considerably inclined. The water is poured into these buckets by dippers, which are small wooden buckets, but unlike the water-buckets, they are neither narrow at the top nor bound with iron hoops, but with hazel,—because there is no necessity for either. The smaller buckets are drawn up by machines turned by men, the larger ones by those turned by horses.

[Pg 159]

Bags for hoisting water
A—Water-bag which takes in water by itself. B—Water-bag into which water pours when it is pushed with a shovel. [Pg 158]
Our people give the name of water-bags to those very large skins for carrying water which are made of two, or two and a half, ox-hides. When these water-bags have undergone much wear and use, first the hair comes off them and they become bald and shining; after this they become torn. If the tear is but a small one, a piece of smooth notched stick is put into the broken part, and the broken bag is bound into its notches on either side and sewn together; but if it is a large one, they mend it with a piece of ox-hide. The water-bags are fixed to the hook of a drawing-chain and let down and dipped into the water, and as soon as they are filled they are drawn up by the largest machine. They are of two kinds; the one kind take in the water by themselves; the water pours into the other kind when it is pushed in a certain way by a wooden shovel.

A—Trough. B—Hopper. [Pg 159]
When the water has been drawn out from the shafts, it is run off in troughs, or into a hopper, through which it runs into the trough. Likewise the water which flows along the sides of the tunnels is carried off in drains. These are composed of two hollowed beams joined firmly together, so as to hold the water which flows through them, and they are covered by planks all along their course, from the mouth of the tunnel right up to the extreme end of it, to prevent earth or rock falling into them and obstructing the flow of the water. If much mud gradually settles in them the planks are raised and the drains are cleaned out, for they would otherwise become stopped up and obstructed by this accident. With regard to the trough lying above [Pg 160]ground, which miners place under the hoppers which are close by the shaft houses, these are usually hollowed out of single trees. Hoppers are generally made of four planks, so cut on the lower side and joined together that the top part of the hopper is broader and the bottom part narrower.

I have sufficiently indicated the nature of the miners' iron tools and their vessels. I will now explain their machines, which are of three kinds, that is, hauling machines, ventilating machines, and ladders. By means of the hauling machines loads are drawn out of the shafts; the ventilating machines receive the air through their mouths and blow it into shafts or tunnels, for if this is not done, diggers cannot carry on their labour without great difficulty in breathing; by the steps of the ladders the miners go down into the shafts and come up again.

Hauling machines are of varied and diverse forms, some of them being made with great skill, and if I am not mistaken, they were unknown to the Ancients. They have been invented in order that water may be drawn from the depths of the earth to which no tunnels reach, and also the excavated material from shafts which are likewise not connected with a tunnel, or if so, only with very long ones. Since shafts are not all of the same depth, there is a great variety among these hauling machines. Of those by which dry loads are drawn out of the shafts, five sorts are in the most common use, of which I will now describe the first. Windlass
A—Timber placed in front of the shaft. B—Timber placed at the back of the shaft. C—Pointed stakes. D—Cross-timbers. E—Posts or thick planks. F—Iron sockets. G—Barrel. H—Ends of barrel. I—Pieces of wood. K—handle. L—Drawing-rope. M—Its hook. N—Bucket. O—Bale of the bucket. [Pg 161]
Two timbers a little longer than the shaft are placed beside it, the one in the front of the shaft, the other at the back. Their extreme ends have holes through which stakes, pointed at the bottom like wedges, are driven deeply into the ground, so that the timbers may remain stationary. Into these timbers are mortised the ends of two cross-timbers, one laid on the right end of the shaft, while the other is far enough from the left end that between it and that end there remains suitable space for placing the ladders. In the middle of the cross-timbers, posts are fixed and secured with iron keys. In hollows at the top of these posts thick iron sockets hold the ends of the barrel, of which each end projects beyond the hollow of the post, and is mortised into the end of another piece of wood a foot and a half long, a palm wide and three digits thick; the other end of these pieces of wood is seven digits wide, and into each of them is fixed a round handle, likewise a foot and a half long. A winding-rope is wound around the barrel and fastened to it at the middle part. The loop at each end of the rope has an iron hook which is engaged in the bale of a bucket, and so when the windlass revolves by being turned by the cranks, a loaded bucket is always being drawn out of the shaft and an empty one is being sent down into it. Two robust men turn the windlass, each having a wheelbarrow near him, into which he unloads the bucket which is drawn up nearest to him; two buckets generally fill a wheelbarrow; therefore when four buckets have been drawn up, each man runs his own wheelbarrow out of the shed and empties it. Thus it happens that if shafts are dug deep, a hillock rises around the shed of the windlass. If a vein is not metal-bearing, they pour out the earth and rock without discriminating; whereas if it is metal-bearing, they preserve these materials, [Pg 161]which they unload separately and crush and wash. When they draw up buckets of water they empty the water through the hopper into a trough, through which it flows away.

A—Barrel. B—Straight levers. C—Usual crank. D—Spokes of wheel. E—Rim of the same wheel. [Pg 162]
The next kind of machine, which miners employ when the shaft is deeper, differs from the first in that it possesses a wheel as well as cranks. This windlass, if the load is not being drawn up from a great depth, is turned by one windlass man, the wheel taking the place of the other man. But if the depth is greater, then the windlass is turned by three men, the wheel being substituted for a fourth, because the barrel having been once set in motion, the rapid revolutions of the wheel help, and it can be turned more easily. Sometimes masses of lead are hung on to this wheel, or are fastened to the spokes, in order that when it is turned they depress the spokes by their weight and increase the motion; some persons for the same reason fasten into the barrel two, three, or four iron rods, and weight their ends with lumps of lead. The windlass wheel differs from the wheel of a carriage and from the one [Pg 162]which is turned by water power, for it lacks the buckets of a water-wheel and it lacks the nave of a carriage wheel. In the place of the nave it has a thick barrel, in which are mortised the lower ends of the spokes, just as their upper ends are mortised into the rim. When three windlass men turn this machine, four straight levers are fixed to the one end of the barrel, and to the other the crank which is usual in mines, and which is composed of two limbs, of which the rounded horizontal one is grasped by the hands; the rectangular limb, which is at right angles to the horizontal one, has mortised in its lower end the round handle, and in the upper end the end of the barrel. This crank is worked by one man, the levers by two men, of whom one pulls while the other pushes; all windlass workers, whatsoever kind of a machine they may turn, are necessarily robust that they can sustain such great toil.

Tread whim
A—Upright axle. B—Block. C—Roof beam. D—Wheel. E—Toothed-drum. F—Horizontal axle. G—Drum composed of rundles. H—Drawing rope. I—Pole. K—Upright posts. L—Cleats on the wheel. [Pg 163]
The third kind of machine is less fatiguing for the workman, while it raises larger loads; even though it is slower, like all other machines which have drums, yet it reaches greater depths, even to a depth of 180 feet. It consists of an upright axle with iron journals at its extremities, which turn in two iron sockets, the lower of which is fixed in a block set in the ground and the upper one in the roof beam. This axle has at its lower end a [Pg 163]wheel made of thick planks joined firmly together, and at its upper end a toothed drum; this toothed drum turns another drum made of rundles, which is on a horizontal axle. A winding-rope is wound around this latter axle, which turns in iron bearings set in the beams. So that they may not fall, the two workmen grasp with their hands a pole fixed to two upright posts, and then pushing the cleats of the lower wheel backward with their feet, they revolve the machine; as often as they have drawn up and emptied one bucket full of excavated material, they turn the machine in the opposite direction and draw out another.

Horse whim
A—Upright beams. B—Sills laid flat upon the ground. C—Posts. D—Area. E—Sill set at the bottom of the hole. F—Axle. G—Double cross-beams. H—Drum. I—Winding-ropes. K—Bucket. L—Small pieces of wood hanging from double cross-beams. M—Short wooden block. N—Chain. O—Pole bar. P—Grappling hook. (Some members mentioned in the text are not shown). [Pg 165]
The fourth machine raises burdens once and a half as large again as the two machines first explained. When it is made, sixteen beams are erected each forty feet long, one foot thick and one foot wide, joined at the top with clamps and widely separated at the bottom. The lower ends of all of them are mortised into separate sills laid flat upon the ground; these sills are five feet long, a foot and a half wide, and a foot thick. Each beam is also connected with its sill by a post, whose upper end is mortised into the beam [Pg 164]and its lower end mortised into the sill; these posts are four feet long, one foot thick, and one foot wide. Thus a circular area is made, the diameter of which is fifty feet; in the middle of this area a hole is sunk to a depth of ten feet, and rammed down tight, and in order to give it sufficient firmness, it is strengthened with contiguous small timbers, through which pins are driven, for by them the earth around the hole is held so that it cannot fall in. In the bottom of the hole is planted a sill, three or four feet long and a foot and a half thick and wide; in order that it may remain fixed, it is set into the small timbers; in the middle of it is a steel socket in which the pivot of the axle turns. In like manner a timber is mortised into two of the large beams, at the top beneath the clamps; this has an iron bearing in which the other iron journal of the axle revolves. Every axle used in mining, to speak of them once for all, has two iron journals, rounded off on all sides, one fixed with keys in the centre of each end. That part of this journal which is fixed to the end of the axle is as broad as the end itself and a digit thick; that which projects beyond the axle is round and a palm thick, or thicker if necessity requires; the ends of each miner's axle are encircled and bound by an iron band to hold the journal more securely. The axle of this machine, except at the ends, is square, and is forty feet long, a foot and a half thick and wide. Mortised and clamped into the axle above the lower end are the ends of four inclined beams; their outer ends support two double cross-beams similarly mortised into them; the inclined beams are eighteen feet long, three palms thick, and five wide. The two cross-beams are fixed to the axle and held together by wooden keys so that they will not separate, and they are twenty-four feet long. Next, there is a drum which is made of three wheels, of which the middle one is seven feet distant from the upper one and from the lower one; the wheels have four spokes which are supported by the same number of inclined braces, the lower ends of which are joined together round the axle by a clamp; one end of each spoke is mortised into the axle and the other into the rim. There are rundles all round the wheels, reaching from the rim of the lowest one to the rim of the middle one, and likewise from the rim of the middle wheel to the rim of the top one; around these rundles are wound the drawing-ropes, one between the lowest wheel and the middle one, the other between the middle and top wheels. The whole of this construction is shaped like a cone, and is covered with a shingle roof, with the exception of that square part which faces the shaft. Then cross-beams, mortised at both ends, connect a double row of upright posts; all of these are eighteen feet long, but the posts are one foot thick and one foot wide, and the cross-beams are three palms thick and wide. There are sixteen posts and eight cross-beams, and upon these cross-beams are laid two timbers a foot wide and three palms thick, hollowed out to a width of half a foot and to a depth of five digits; the one is laid upon the upper cross-beams and the other upon the lower; each is long enough to reach nearly from the drum of the whim to the shaft. Near the same drum each timber has a small round wooden roller six digits thick, whose ends are [Pg 166]covered with iron bands and revolve in iron rings. Each timber also has a wooden pulley, which together with its iron axle revolves in holes in the timber. These pulleys are hollowed out all round, in order that the drawing-rope may not slip out of them, and thus each rope is drawn tight and turns over its own roller and its own pulley. The iron hook of each rope is engaged with the bale of the bucket. Further, with regard to the double cross-beams which are mortised to the lower part of the main axle, to each end of them there is mortised a small piece of wood four feet long. These appear to hang from the double cross-beams, and a short wooden block is fixed to the lower part of them, on which a driver sits. Each of these blocks has an iron clavis which holds a chain, and that in turn a pole-bar. In this way it is possible for two horses to draw this whim, now this way and now that; turn by turn one bucket is drawn out of the shaft full and another is let down into it empty; if, indeed, the shaft is very deep four horses turn the whim. When a bucket has been drawn up, whether filled with dry or wet materials, it must be emptied, and a workman inserts a grappling hook and overturns it; this hook hangs on a chain made of three or four links, fixed to a timber.

Horse whim
A—Toothed drum which is on the upright axle. B—Horizontal axle. C—Drum which is made of rundles. D—Wheel near it. E—Drum made of hubs. F—Brake. G—Oscillating beam. H—Short beam. I—Hook. [Pg 167]
The fifth machine is partly like the whim, and partly like the third rag and chain pump, which draws water by balls when turned by horse power, as I will explain a little later. Like this pump, it is turned by horse power and has two axles, namely, an upright one—about whose lower end, which descends into an underground chamber, there is a toothed drum—and a horizontal one, around which there is a drum made of rundles. It has indeed two drums around its horizontal axle, similar to those of the big machine, but smaller, because it draws buckets from a shaft almost two hundred and forty feet deep. One drum is made of hubs to which cleats are fixed, and the other is made of rundles; and near the latter is a wheel two feet deep, measured on all sides around the axle, and one foot wide; and against this impinges a brake,[10] which holds the whim when occasion demands that it be stopped. This is necessary when the hide buckets are emptied after being drawn up full of rock fragments or earth, or as often as water is poured out of buckets similarly drawn up; for this machine not only raises dry loads, but also wet ones, just like the other four machines which I have already described. By this also, timbers fastened on to its winding-chain are let down into a shaft. The brake is made of a piece of wood one foot thick and half a foot long, projecting from a timber that is suspended by a chain from one end of a beam which oscillates on an iron pin, this in turn being supported in the claws of an upright post; and from the other end of this oscillating beam a long timber is suspended by a chain, and from this long timber again a short beam is suspended. A workman sits on the short beam when the machine needs to be stopped, and lowers it; he then inserts a plank or small stick so that the two timbers are held down and cannot be raised. In this way the brake is raised, and seizing the drum, presses it so tightly that sparks often fly from it; the suspended timber to which the short beam is attached, has several holes in which the chain is [Pg 168]fixed, so that it may be raised as much as is convenient. Above this wheel there are boards to prevent the water from dripping down and wetting it, for if it becomes wet the brake will not grip the machine so well. Near the other drum is a pin from which hangs a chain, in the last link of which there is an iron hook three feet long; a ring is fixed to the bottom of the bucket, and this hook, being inserted into it, holds the bucket back so that the water may be poured out or the fragments of rock emptied.

Sleigh for Ore
A—Sledge with box placed on it. B—Sledge with sacks placed on it. C—Stick. D—Dogs with pack-saddles. E—Pigskin sacks tied to a rope. [Pg 168]
The miners either carry, draw, or roll down the mountains the ore which is hauled out of the shafts by these five machines or taken out of the tunnels. In the winter time our people place a box on a sledge and draw it down the low mountains with a horse; and in this season they also fill sacks made of hide and load them on dogs, or place two or three of them on a small sledge which is higher in the fore part and lower at the back. Sitting on these sacks, not without risk of his life, the bold driver guides the sledge as it rushes down the mountain into the valleys with a stick, which he carries in his hand; when it is rushing down too quickly he arrests it with the stick, or with the same stick brings it back to the track when it is turning aside from its proper course. Some of the [Pg 169]Noricians[11] collect ore during the winter into sacks made of bristly pigskins, and drag them down from the highest mountains, which neither horses, mules nor asses can climb. Strong dogs, that are trained to bear pack saddles, carry these sacks when empty into the mountains. When they are filled with ore, bound with thongs, and fastened to a rope, a man, winding the rope round his arm or breast, drags them down through the snow to a place where horses, mules, or asses bearing pack-saddles can climb. There the ore is removed from the pigskin sacks and put into other sacks made of double or triple twilled linen thread, and these placed on the pack-saddles of the beasts are borne down to the works where the ores are washed or smelted. Wagons for Hauling Ore
A—Horses with pack-saddles. B—Long box placed on the slope of the cliff. C—Cleats thereof. D—Wheelbarrow. E—Two-wheeled cart. F—Trunks of trees. G—Wagon. H—Ore being unloaded from the wagon. I—Bars. K—Master of the works marking the number of carts on a stick. L—Boxes into which are thrown the ore which has to be divided. [Pg 170]
If, indeed, the horses, mules, or asses are able to climb the mountains, linen sacks filled with ore are placed on their saddles, and they carry these down the narrow mountain paths, which are passable neither by wagons nor sledges, into the valleys lying below the steeper portions of the mountains. But on the declivity of cliffs which beasts cannot climb, are placed long open boxes made of planks, with transverse cleats to hold them together; into these boxes is thrown the ore which has been brought in wheelbarrows, and when it has run down to the level it is gathered into sacks, and the beasts either carry it away on their backs or drag it away after it has been thrown into sledges or wagons. When the drivers bring ore down steep mountain slopes they use two-wheeled carts, and they drag behind them on the ground the trunks of two trees, for these by their weight hold back the heavily-laden carts, which contain ore in their boxes, and check their descent, and but for these the driver would often be obliged to bind chains to the wheels. When these men bring down ore from mountains which do not have such declivities, they use wagons whose beds are twice as long as those of the carts. The planks of these are so put together that, when the ore is unloaded by the drivers, they can be raised and taken apart, for they are only held together by bars. The drivers employed by the owners of the ore bring down thirty or sixty wagon-loads, and the master of the works marks on a stick the number of loads for each driver. But some ore, especially tin, after being taken from the mines, is divided into eight parts, or into nine, if the owners of the mine give "ninth parts" to the owners of the tunnel. This is occasionally done by measuring with a bucket, but more frequently planks are put together on a spot where, with the addition of the level ground as a base, it forms a hollow box. Each owner provides for removing, washing, and smelting that portion which has fallen to him. (Illustration p. 170).

Into the buckets, drawn by these five machines, the boys or men throw the earth and broken rock with shovels, or they fill them with their hands; hence they get their name of shovellers. As I have said, the same machines raise not only dry loads, but also wet ones, or water; but before I explain the varied and diverse kinds of machines by which miners are wont [Pg 171]to draw water alone, I will explain how heavy bodies, such as axles, iron chains, pipes, and heavy timbers, should be lowered into deep vertical shafts. Windlass
A—Windlass. B—Straight levers. C—Upright beams. D—Rope. E—Pulley. F—Timbers to be lowered. [Pg 171]
A windlass is erected whose barrel has on each end four straight levers; it is fixed into upright beams and around it is wound a rope, one end of which is fastened to the barrel and the other to those heavy bodies which are slowly lowered down by workmen; and if these halt at any part of the shaft they are drawn up a little way. When these bodies are very heavy, then behind this windlass another is erected just like it, that their combined strength may be equal to the load, and that it may be lowered slowly. Sometimes for the same reason, a pulley is fastened with cords to the roof-beam, and the rope descends and ascends over it.

Water is either hoisted or pumped out of shafts. It is hoisted up after being poured into buckets or water-bags; the water-bags are generally brought up by a machine whose water-wheels have double paddles, while the buckets are brought up by the five machines already described, although in certain localities the fourth machine also hauls up water-bags of moderate size. Water is drawn up also by chains of dippers, or by suction pumps, or [Pg 172]by "rag and chain" pumps.[12] When there is but a small quantity, it is either brought up in buckets or drawn up by chains of dippers or suction pumps, and when there is much water it is either drawn up in hide bags or by rag and chain pumps.

Chain Pumps
A—Iron frame. B—Lowest axle. C—Fly-wheel. D—Smaller drum made of rundles. E—Second axle. F—Smaller toothed wheel. G—Larger drum made of rundles. H—Upper axle. I—Larger toothed wheel. K—Bearings. L—Pillow. M—Framework. N—Oak timber. O—Support of iron bearing. P—Roller. Q—Upper drum. R—Clamps. S—Chain. T—Links. V—Dippers. X—Crank. Y—Lower drum or balance weight. [Pg 173]
First of all, I will describe the machines which draw water by chains of dippers, of which there are three kinds. For the first, a frame is made entirely of iron bars; it is two and a half feet high, likewise two and a half feet long, and in addition one-sixth and one-quarter of a digit long, one-fourth and one-twenty-fourth of a foot wide. In it there are three little horizontal iron axles, which revolve in bearings or wide pillows of steel, and also four iron wheels, of which two are made with rundles and the same number are toothed. Outside the frame, around the lowest axle, is a wooden fly-wheel, so that it can be more readily turned, and inside the frame is a smaller drum which is made of eight rundles, one-sixth and one twenty-fourth of a foot long. Around the second axle, which does not project beyond the frame, and is therefore only two and a half feet and one-twelfth and one-third part of a digit long, there is on the one side, a smaller toothed wheel, which has forty-eight teeth, and on the other side a larger drum, which is surrounded by twelve rundles one-quarter of a foot long. Around the third axle, which is one inch and one-third thick, is a larger toothed wheel projecting one foot from the axle in all directions, which has seventy-two teeth. The teeth of each wheel are fixed in with screws, whose threads are screwed into threads in the wheel, so that those teeth which are broken can be replaced by others; both the teeth and rundles are steel. The upper axle projects beyond the frame, and is so skilfully mortised into the body of another axle that it has the appearance of being one; this axle proceeds through a frame made of beams which stands around the shaft, into an iron fork set in a stout oak timber, and turns on a roller made of pure steel. Around this axle is a drum of the kind possessed by those machines which draw water by rag and chain; this drum has triple curved iron clamps, to which the links of an iron chain hook themselves, so that a great weight cannot tear them away. These links are not whole like the links of other chains, but each one being curved in the upper part on each side catches the one which comes next, whereby it presents the appearance of a double chain. At the point where one catches the other, dippers made of iron or brass plates and holding half a congius[13] are bound to them with thongs; thus, if there are one hundred links there will be the same number of dippers pouring out water. When the shafts are inclined, the mouths of the dippers project and are covered on the top that they may not spill out the water, but when the shafts are vertical the dippers do not require a cover. By fitting the end of the lowest small axle into the crank, the man who works the crank turns the axle, and at the same time the drum whose rundles turn the toothed wheel of the second axle; by this wheel is driven the one that is made of rundles, which [Pg 174]again turns the toothed wheel of the upper small axle and thus the drum to which the clamps are fixed. In this way the chain, together with the empty dippers, is slowly let down, close to the footwall side of the vein, into the sump to the bottom of the balance drum, which turns on a little iron axle, both ends of which are set in a thick iron bearing. The chain is rolled round the drum and the dippers fill with water; the chain being drawn up close to the hangingwall side, carries the dippers filled with water above the drum of the upper axle. Thus there are always three of the dippers inverted and pouring water into a lip, from which it flows away into the drain of the tunnel. This machine is less useful, because it cannot be constructed without great expense, and it carries off but little water and is somewhat slow, as also are other machines which possess a great number of drums.

Chain Pumps
A—Wheel which is turned by treading. B—Axle. C—Double chain. D—Link of double chain. E—Dippers. F—Simple clamps. G—Clamp with triple curves. [Pg 174]
The next machine of this kind, described in a few words by Vitruvius,[14] more rapidly brings up dippers, holding a congius; for this reason, it is [Pg 175]more useful than the first one for drawing water out of shafts, into which much water is continually flowing. This machine has no iron frame nor drums, but has around its axle a wooden wheel which is turned by treading; the axle, since it has no drum, does not last very long. In other respects this pump resembles the first kind, except that it differs from it by having a double chain. Clamps should be fixed to the axle of this machine, just as to the drum of the other one; some of these are made simple and others with triple curves, but each kind has four barbs.

Chain Pumps
A—Wheel whose paddles are turned by the force of the stream. B—Axle. C—Drum of axle, to which clamps are fixed. D—Chain. E—Link. F—Dippers. G—Balance drum. [Pg 175]
The third machine, which far excels the two just described, is made when a running stream can be diverted to a mine; the impetus of the stream striking the paddles revolves a water-wheel in place of the wheel turned by treading. With regard to the axle, it is like the second machine, but the drum which is round the axle, the chain, and the balance drum, are like the first machine. It has much more capacious dippers than even the second machine, but since the dippers are frequently broken, miners rarely use these machines; for they prefer to lift out small quantities of water by the first five machines or to draw it up by suction pumps, or, if there is [Pg 176]much water, to drain it by the rag and chain pump or to bring it up in water-bags.

Suction Pumps
A—Sump. B—Pipes. C—Flooring. D—Trunk. E—Perforations of trunk. F—Valve. G—Spout. H—Piston-rod. I—Hand-bar of piston. K—Shoe. L—Disc with round openings. M—Disc with oval openings. N—Cover. O—This man is boring logs and making them into pipes. P—Borer with auger. Q—Wider borer. [Pg 177]
Enough, then, of the first sort of pumps. I will now explain the other, that is the pump which draws, by means of pistons, water which has been raised by suction. Of these there are seven varieties, which though they differ from one another in structure, nevertheless confer the same benefits upon miners, though some to a greater degree than others. The first pump is made as follows. Over the sump is placed a flooring, through which a pipe—or two lengths of pipe, one of which is joined into the other—are let down to the bottom of the sump; they are fastened with pointed iron clamps driven in straight on both sides, so that the pipes may remain fixed. The lower end of the lower pipe is enclosed in a trunk two feet deep; this trunk, hollow like the pipe, stands at the bottom of the sump, but the lower opening of it is blocked with a round piece of wood; the trunk has perforations round about, through which water flows into it. If there is one length of pipe, then in the upper part of the trunk which has been hollowed out there is enclosed a box of iron, copper, or brass, one palm deep, but without a bottom, and a rounded valve so tightly closes it that the water, which has been drawn up by suction, cannot run back; but if there are two lengths of pipe, the box is enclosed in the lower pipe at the point of junction. An opening or a spout in the upper pipe reaches to the drain of the tunnel. Thus the workman, eager at his labour, standing on the flooring boards, pushes the piston down into the pipe and draws it out again. At the top of the piston-rod is a hand-bar and the bottom is fixed in a shoe; this is the name given to the leather covering, which is almost cone-shaped, for it is so stitched that it is tight at the lower end, where it is fixed to the piston-rod which it surrounds, but in the upper end where it draws the water it is wide open. Or else an iron disc one digit thick is used, or one of wood six digits thick, each of which is far superior to the shoe. The disc is fixed by an iron key which penetrates through the bottom of the piston-rod, or it is screwed on to the rod; it is round, with its upper part protected by a cover, and has five or six openings, either round or oval, which taken together present a star-like appearance; the disc has the same diameter as the inside of the pipe, so that it can be just drawn up and down in it. When the workman draws the piston up, the water which has passed in at the openings of the disc, whose cover is then closed, is raised to the hole or little spout, through which it flows away; then the valve of the box opens, and the water which has passed into the trunk is drawn up by the suction and rises into the pipe; but when the workman pushes down the piston, the valve closes and allows the disc again to draw in the water.

Suction Pumps
A—Erect timber. B—Axle. C—Sweep which turns about the axle. D—Piston rod. E—Cross-bar. F—Ring with which two pipes are generally joined. [Pg 178]
The piston of the second pump is more easily moved up and down. When this pump is made, two beams are placed over the sump, one near the right side of it, and the other near the left. To one beam a pipe is fixed with iron clamps; to the other is fixed either the forked branch of a tree or a timber cut out at the top in the shape of a fork, and through the prongs of the fork a round hole is bored. Through a wide round hole in the middle of a sweep passes [Pg 178]an iron axle, so fastened in the holes in the fork that it remains fixed, and the sweep turns on this axle. In one end of the sweep the upper end of a piston-rod is fastened with an iron key; at the other end a cross-bar is also fixed, to the extreme ends of which are handles to enable it to be held more firmly in the hands. And so when the workman pulls the cross-bar upward, he forces the piston into the pipe; when he pushes it down again he draws the piston out of the pipe; and thus the piston carries up the water which has been drawn in at the openings of the disc, and the water flows away through the spout into the drains. This pump, like the next one, is identical with the first in all that relates to the piston, disc, trunk, box, and valve.

Suction Pumps
A—Posts. B—Axle. C—Wooden bars. D—Piston rod. E—Short piece of wood. F—Drain. G—This man is diverting the water which is flowing out of the drain, to prevent it from flowing into the trenches which are being dug. [Pg 179]
The third pump is not unlike the one just described, but in place of one upright, posts are erected with holes at the top, and in these holes the ends of an axle revolve. To the middle of this axle are fixed two wooden bars, to the end of one of which is fixed the piston, and to the end of the other a heavy piece of wood, but short, so that it can pass between the two posts and may move backward and forward. When the workman pushes this piece of wood, the piston is drawn out of the pipe; when it returns by its [Pg 179]own weight, the piston is pushed in. In this way, the water which the pipe contains is drawn through the openings in the disc and emptied by the piston through the spout into the drain. There are some who place a hand-bar underneath in place of the short piece of wood. This pump, as also the last before described, is less generally used among miners than the others.

Duplex suction Pumps
A—Box. B—Lower part of box. C—Upper part of same. D—Clamps. E—Pipes below the box. F—Column pipe fixed above the box. G—Iron axle. H—Piston-rods. I—Washers to protect the bearings. K—Leathers. L—Eyes in the axle. M—Rods whose ends are weighted with lumps of lead. N—Crank. (This plate is unlettered in the first edition but corrected in those later.) [Pg 180]
The fourth kind is not a simple pump but a duplex one. It is made as follows. A rectangular block of beechwood, five feet long, two and a half feet wide, and one and a half feet thick, is cut in two and hollowed out wide and deep enough so that an iron axle with cranks can revolve in it. The axle is placed between the two halves of this box, and the first part of the axle, which is in contact with the wood, is round and the straight end forms a journal. Then the axle is bent down the depth of a foot and again bent so as to continue straight, and at this point a round piston-rod hangs from it; next it is bent up as far as it was bent down; then it continues a little way straight again, and then it is bent up a foot and again continues straight, at which point a second round piston-rod is hung from it; afterward it [Pg 181]is bent down the same distance as it was bent up the last time; the other end of it, which also acts as a journal, is straight. This part which protrudes through the wood is protected by two iron washers in the shape of discs, to which are fastened two leather washers of the same shape and size, in order to prevent the water which is drawn into the box from gushing out. These discs are around the axle; one of them is inside the box and the other outside. Beyond this, the end of the axle is square and has two eyes, in which are fixed two iron rods, and to their ends are weighted lumps of lead, so that the axle may have a greater propensity to revolve; this axle can easily be turned when its end has been mortised in a crank. The upper part of the box is the shallower one, and the lower part the deeper; the upper part is bored out once straight down through the middle, the diameter of the opening being the same as the outside diameter of the column pipe; the lower box has, side by side, two apertures also bored straight down; these are for two pipes, the space of whose openings therefore is twice as great as that of the upper part; this lower part of the box is placed upon the two pipes, which are fitted into it at their upper ends, and the lower ends of these pipes penetrate into trunks which stand in the sump. These trunks have perforations through which the water flows into them. The iron axle is placed in the inside of the box, then the two iron piston-rods which hang from it are let down through the two pipes to the depth of a foot. Each piston has a screw at its lower end which holds a thick iron plate, shaped like a disc and full of openings, covered with a leather, and similarly to the other pump it has a round valve in a little box. Then the upper part of the box is placed upon the lower one and properly fitted to it on every side, and where they join they are bound by wide thick iron plates, and held with small wide iron wedges, which are driven in and are fastened with clamps. The first length of column pipe is fixed into the upper part of the box, and another length of pipe extends it, and a third again extends this one, and so on, another extending on another, until the uppermost one reaches the drain of the tunnel. When the crank worker turns the axle, the pistons in turn draw the water through their discs; since this is done quickly, and since the area of openings of the two pipes over which the box is set, is twice as large as the opening of the column pipe which rises from the box, and since the pistons do not lift the water far up, the impetus of the water from the lower pipes forces it to rise and flow out of the column pipe into the drain of the tunnel. Since a wooden box frequently cracks open, it is better to make it of lead or copper or brass.

Suction Pumps
A—Tappets of piston-rods. B—Cams of the barrel. C—Square upper parts of piston-rods. D—Lower rounded parts of piston-rods. E—Cross-beams. F—Pipes. G—Apertures of pipes. H—Trough. (Fifth kind of pump—see p. 181). [Pg 182]
The fifth kind of pump is still less simple, for it is composed of two or three pumps whose pistons are raised by a machine turned by men, for each piston-rod has a tappet which is raised, each in succession, by two cams on a barrel; two or four strong men turn it. When the pistons descend into the pipes their discs draw the water; when they are raised these force the water out through the pipes. The upper part of each of these piston-rods, which is half a foot square, is held in a slot in a cross-beam; the lower part, which drops down into the pipes, is made of another piece of wood and is round. Each of these three pumps is composed of two lengths of pipe fixed [Pg 184]to the shaft timbers. This machine draws the water higher, as much as twenty-four feet. If the diameter of the pipes is large, only two pumps are made; if smaller, three, so that by either method the volume of water is the same. This also must be understood regarding the other machines and their pipes. Since these pumps are composed of two lengths of pipe, the little iron box having the iron valve which I described before, is not enclosed in a trunk, but is in the lower length of pipe, at that point where it joins the upper one; thus the rounded part of the piston-rod is only as long as the upper length of pipe; but I will presently explain this more clearly.

Suction Pumps
A—Water-wheel. B—Axle. C—Trunk on which the lowest pipe stands. D—Basket surrounding trunk. (Sixth kind of pump—see p. 184.) [Pg 183]
The sixth kind of pump would be just the same as the fifth were it not that it has an axle instead of a barrel, turned not by men but by a water-wheel, which is revolved by the force of water striking its buckets. Since water-power far exceeds human strength, this machine draws water through its pipes by discs out of a shaft more than one hundred feet deep. The bottom of the lowest pipe, set in the sump, not only of this pump but also of the others, is generally enclosed in a basket made of wicker-work, to prevent wood shavings and other things being sucked in. (See p. 183.)

Suction Pumps
A—shaft. B—Bottom pump. C—First tank. D—Second pump. E—Second tank. F—Third pump. G—Trough. H—The iron set in the axle. I—First pump rod. K—Second pump rod. L—Third pump rod. M—First piston rod. N—Second piston rod. O—Third piston rod. P—Little axles. Q—"Claws." [Pg 185]
The seventh kind of pump, invented ten years ago, which is the most ingenious, durable, and useful of all, can be made without much expense. It is composed of several pumps, which do not, like those last described, go down into the shaft together, but of which one is below the other, for if there are three, as is generally the case, the lower one lifts the water of the sump and pours it out into the first tank; the second pump lifts again from that tank into a second tank, and the third pump lifts it into the drain of the tunnel. A wheel fifteen feet high raises the piston-rods of all these pumps at the same time and causes them to drop together. The wheel is made to revolve by paddles, turned by the force of a stream which has been diverted to the mountain. The spokes of the water-wheel are mortised in an axle six feet long and one foot thick, each end of which is surrounded by an iron band, but in one end there is fixed an iron journal; to the other end is attached an iron like this journal in its posterior part, which is a digit thick and as wide as the end of the axle itself. Then the iron extends horizontally, being rounded and about three digits in diameter, for the length of a foot, and serves as a journal; thence, it bends to a height of a foot in a curve, like the horn of the moon, after which it again extends straight out for one foot; thus it comes about that this last straight portion, as it revolves in an orbit becomes alternately a foot higher and a foot lower than the first straight part. From this round iron crank there hangs the first flat pump-rod, for the crank is fixed in a perforation in the upper end of this flat pump-rod just as the iron key of the first set of "claws" is fixed into the lower end. In order to prevent the pump-rod from slipping off it, as it could easily do, and that it may be taken off when necessary, its opening is wider than the corresponding part of the crank, and it is fastened on both sides by iron keys. To prevent friction, the ends of the pump-rods are protected by iron plates or intervening leathers. This first pump-rod is about twelve feet long, the other two are twenty-six feet, and each is a palm [Pg 186]wide and three digits thick. The sides of each pump-rod are covered and protected by iron plates, which are held on by iron screws, so that a part which has received damage can be repaired. In the "claws" is set a small round axle, a foot and a half long and two palms thick. The ends are encircled by iron bands to prevent the iron journals which revolve in the iron bearings of the wood from slipping out of it.[15] From this little axle the wooden "claws" extend two feet, with a width and thickness of six digits; they are three palms distant from each other, and both the inner and outer sides are covered with iron plates. Two rounded iron keys two digits thick are immovably fixed into the claws. The one of these keys perforates the lower end of the first pump-rod, and the upper end of the second pump-rod which is held fast. The other key, which is likewise immovable, perforates the iron end of the first piston-rod, which is bent in a curve and is immovable. Each such piston-rod is thirteen feet long and three digits thick, and descends into the first pipe of each pump to such depth that its disc nearly reaches the valve-box. When it descends into the pipe, the water, penetrating through the openings of the disc, raises the leather, and when the piston-rod is raised the water presses down the leather, and this supports its weight; then the valve closes the box as a door closes an entrance. The pipes are joined by two iron bands, one palm wide, one outside the other, but the inner one is sharp all round that it may fit into each pipe and hold them together. Although at the present time pipes lack the inner band, still they have nipples by which they are joined together, for the lower end of the upper one holds the upper end of the lower one, each being hewn away for a length of seven digits, the former inside, the latter outside, so that the one can fit into the other. When the piston-rod descends into the first pipe, that valve which I have described is closed; when the piston-rod is raised, the valve is opened so that the water can run in through the perforations. Each one of such pumps is composed of two lengths of pipe, each of which is twelve feet long, and the inside diameter is seven digits. The lower one is placed in the sump of the shaft, or in a tank, and its lower end is blocked by a round piece of wood, above which there are six perforations around the pipe through which the water flows into it. The upper part of the upper pipe has a notch one foot deep and a palm wide, through which the water flows away into a tank or trough. Each tank is two feet long and one foot wide and deep. There is the same number of axles, "claws," and rods of each kind as there are pumps; if there are three pumps, there are only two tanks, because the sump of the shaft and the drain of the tunnel take the place of two. The following is the way this machine draws water from a shaft. The wheel being turned raises the first pump-rod, and the pump-rod raises the first "claw," and thus also the second pump-rod, and the first piston-rod; then the second pump-rod raises the second "claw," and thus the third pump-rod and the second piston-rod; then the third pump-rod raises the third "claw" and the third piston-rod, [Pg 187]for there hangs no pump-rod from the iron key of these claws, for it can be of no use in the last pump. In turn, when the first pump-rod descends, each set of "claws" is lowered, each pump-rod and each piston-rod. And by this system, at the same time the water is lifted into the tanks and drained out of them; from the sump at the bottom of the shaft it is drained out, and it is poured into the trough of the tunnel. Further, around the main axle there may be placed two water wheels, if the river supplies enough water to turn them, and from the back part of each round iron crank, one or two pump-rods can be hung, each of which can move the piston-rods of three pumps. Lastly, it is necessary that the shafts from which the water is pumped out in pipes should be vertical, for as in the case of the hauling machines, all pumps which have pipes do not draw the water so high if the pipes are inclined in inclined shafts, as if they are placed vertically in vertical shafts.

Suction Pumps
A—Water wheel of upper machine. B—Its pump. C—Its trough. D—Wheel of lower machine. E—Its pump. F—Race. [Pg 187]
If the river does not supply enough water-power to turn the last-described pump, which happens because of the nature of the locality or occurs during the summer season when there are daily droughts, a machine is built with a wheel so low and light that the water of ever so little a [Pg 188]stream can turn it. This water, falling into a race, runs therefrom on to a second high and heavy wheel of a lower machine, whose pump lifts the water out of a deep shaft. Since, however, the water of so small a stream cannot alone revolve the lower water-wheel, the axle of the latter is turned at the start with a crank worked by two men, but as soon as it has poured out into a pool the water which has been drawn up by the pumps, the upper wheel draws up this water by its own pump, and pours it into the race, from which it flows on to the lower water-wheel and strikes its buckets. So both this water from the mine, as well as the water of the stream, being turned down the races on to that subterranean wheel of the lower machine, turns it, and water is pumped out of the deeper part of the shaft by means of two or three pumps.[16]

Duplex suction Pumps
A—Upper axle. B—Wheel whose buckets the force of the stream strikes. C—Toothed drum. D—Second axle. E—Drum composed of rundles. F—Curved round irons. G—Rows of pumps. [Pg 189]
If the stream supplies enough water straightway to turn a higher and heavier water-wheel, then a toothed drum is fixed to the other end of the axle, and this turns the drum made of rundles on another axle set below it. To each end of this lower axle there is fitted a crank of round iron curved like the horns of the moon, of the kind employed in machines of this description. This machine, since it has rows of pumps on each side, draws great quantities of water.

Rag and Chain Pumps
A—Wheel. B—Axle. C—Journals. D—Pillows. E—Drum. F—Clamps. G—Drawing-chain. H—Timbers. I—Balls. K—Pipe. L—Race of stream. [Pg 191]
Of the rag and chain pumps there are six kinds known to us, of which the first is made as follows: A cave is dug under the surface of earth or in a tunnel, and timbered on all sides by stout posts and planks, to prevent either the men from being crushed or the machine from being broken by its collapse. In this cave, thus timbered, is placed a water-wheel fitted to an angular axle. The iron journals of the axle revolve in iron pillows, which are held in timbers of sufficient strength. The wheel is generally twenty-four feet high, occasionally thirty, and in no way different from those which are made for grinding corn, except that it is a little narrower. The axle has on one side a drum with a groove in the middle of its circumference, to which are fixed many four-curved iron clamps. In these clamps catch the links of the chain, which is drawn through the pipes out of the sump, and which again falls, through a timbered opening, right down to the bottom into the sump to a balancing drum. There is an iron band around the small axle of the balancing drum, each journal of which revolves in an iron bearing fixed to a timber. The chain turning about this drum brings up the water by the balls through the pipes. Each length of pipe is encircled and protected by five iron bands, a palm wide and a digit thick, placed at equal distances from each other; the first band on the pipe is shared in common with the preceding length of pipe into which it is fitted, the last band with the succeeding length of pipe which is fitted into it. Each length of pipe, except the first, is bevelled on the outer circumference of the upper end to a distance of seven digits and for a depth of three digits, in order that it may be inserted into the length of pipe which goes before it; each, except the last, is reamed out on the inside of the lower end to a like distance, but to the depth [Pg 190]of a palm, that it may be able to take the end of the pipe which follows. And each length of pipe is fixed with iron clamps to the timbers of the shaft, that it may remain stationary. Through this continuous series of pipes, the water is drawn by the balls of the chain up out of the sump as far as the tunnel, where it flows but into the drains through an aperture in the highest pipe. The balls which lift the water are connected by the iron links of the chain, and are six feet distant from one another; they are made of the hair of a horse's tail sewn into a covering to prevent it from being pulled out by the iron clamps on the drum; the balls are of such size that one can be held in each hand. If this machine is set up on the surface of the earth, the stream which turns the water-wheel is led away through open-air ditches; if in a tunnel, the water is led away through the subterranean drains. The buckets of the water-wheel, when struck by the impact of the stream, move forward and turn the wheel, together with the drum, whereby the chain is wound up and the balls expel the water through the pipes. If the wheel of this machine is twenty-four feet in diameter, it draws water from a shaft two hundred and ten feet deep; if thirty feet in diameter, it will draw water from a shaft two hundred and forty feet deep. But such work requires a stream with greater water-power.

The next pump has two drums, two rows of pipes and two drawing-chains whose balls lift out the water; otherwise they are like the last pump. This pump is usually built when an excessive amount of water flows into the sump. These two pumps are turned by water-power; indeed, water draws water.

The following is the way of indicating the increase or decrease of the water in an underground sump, whether it is pumped by this rag and chain pump or by the first pump, or the third, or some other. From a beam which is as high above the shaft as the sump is deep, is hung a cord, to one end of which there is fastened a stone, the other end being attached to a plank. The plank is lowered down by an iron wire fastened to the other end; when the stone is at the mouth of the shaft the plank is right down the shaft in the sump, in which water it floats. This plank is so heavy that it can drag down the wire and its iron clasp and hook, together with the cord, and thus pull the stone upwards. Thus, as the water decreases, the plank descends and the stone is raised; on the contrary, when the water increases the plank rises and the stone is lowered. When the stone nearly touches the beam, since this indicates that the water has been exhausted from the sump by the pump, the overseer in charge of the machine closes the water-race and stops the water-wheel; when the stone nearly touches the ground at the side of the shaft, this indicates that the sump is full of water which has again collected in it, because the water raises the plank and thus the stone drags back both the rope and the iron wire; then the overseer opens the water-race, whereupon the water of the stream again strikes the buckets of the water-wheel and turns the pump. As workmen generally cease from their labours on the yearly holidays, and [Pg 192]sometimes on working days, and are thus not always near the pump, and as the pump, if necessary, must continue to draw water all the time, a bell rings aloud continuously, indicating that this pump, or any other kind, is uninjured and nothing is preventing its turning. The bell is hung by a cord from a small wooden axle held in the timbers which stand over the shaft, and a second long cord whose upper end is fastened to the small axle is lowered into the shaft; to the lower end of this cord is fastened a piece of wood; and as often as a cam on the main axle strikes it, so often does the bell ring and give forth a sound.

Rag and Chain Pumps
A—Upright axle. B—Toothed wheel. C—Teeth. D—Horizontal axle. E—Drum which is made of rundles. F—Second drum. G—Drawing-chain. H—The balls. [Pg 193]
The third pump of this kind is employed by miners when no river capable of turning a water-wheel can be diverted, and it is made as follows. They first dig a chamber and erect strong timbers and planks to prevent the sides from falling in, which would overwhelm the pump and kill the men. The roof of the chamber is protected with contiguous timbers, so arranged that the horses which pull the machine can travel over it. Next they again set up sixteen beams forty feet long and one foot wide and thick, joined by clamps at the top and spreading apart at the bottom, and they fit the lower end of each beam into a separate sill laid flat on the ground, and join these by a post; thus there is created a circular area of which the diameter is fifty feet. Through an opening in the centre of this area there descends an upright square axle, forty-five feet long and a foot and a half wide and thick; its lower pivot revolves in a socket in a block laid flat on the ground in the chamber, and the upper pivot revolves in a bearing in a beam which is mortised into two beams at the summit beneath the clamps; the lower pivot is seventeen feet distant from either side of the chamber, i.e., from its front and rear. At the height of a foot above its lower end, the axle has a toothed wheel, the diameter of which is twenty-two feet. This wheel is composed of four spokes and eight rim pieces; the spokes are fifteen feet long and three-quarters of a foot wide and thick[17]; one end of them is mortised in the axle, the other in the two rims where they are joined together. These rims are three-quarters of a foot thick and one foot wide, and from them there rise and project upright teeth three-quarters of a foot high, half a foot wide, and six digits thick. These teeth turn a second horizontal axle by means of a drum composed of twelve rundles, each three feet long and six digits wide and thick. This drum, being turned, causes the axle to revolve, and around this axle there is a drum having iron clamps with fourfold curves in which catch the links of a chain, which draws water through pipes by means of balls. The iron journals of this horizontal axle revolve on pillows which are set in the centre of timbers. Above the roof of the chamber there are mortised into the upright axle the ends of two beams which rise obliquely; the upper ends of these beams support double cross-beams, likewise mortised to the axle. In the outer end of each cross-beam there is mortised a small wooden piece which appears to hang down; in this wooden piece there is similarly [Pg 194]mortised at the lower end a short board; this has an iron key which engages a chain, and this chain again a pole-bar. This machine, which draws water from a shaft two hundred and forty feet deep, is worked by thirty-two horses; eight of them work for four hours, and then these rest for twelve hours, and the same number take their place. This kind of machine is employed at the foot of the Harz[18] mountains and in the neighbourhood. Further, if necessity arises, several pumps of this kind are often built for the purpose of mining one vein, but arranged differently in different localities varying according to the depth. At Schemnitz, in the Carpathian mountains, there are three pumps, of which the lowest lifts water from the lowest sump to the first drains, through which it flows into the second sump; the intermediate one lifts from the second sump to the second drain, from which it flows into the third sump; and the upper one lifts it to the drains of the tunnel, through which it flows away. This system of three machines of this kind is turned by ninety-six horses; these horses go down to the machines by an inclined [Pg 195]shaft, which slopes and twists like a screw and gradually descends. The lowest of these machines is set in a deep place, which is distant from the surface of the ground 660 feet.

Rag and Chain Pumps
A—Axle. B—Drum. C—Drawing-chain. D—Balls. E—Clamps. [Pg 194]
The fourth species of pump belongs to the same genera, and is made as follows. Two timbers are erected, and in openings in them, the ends of a barrel revolve. Two or four strong men turn the barrel, that is to say, one or two pull the cranks, and one or two push them, and in this way help the others; alternately another two or four men take their place. The barrel of this machine, just like the horizontal axle of the other machines, has a drum whose iron clamps catch the links of a drawing-chain. Thus water is drawn through the pipes by the balls from a depth of forty-eight feet. Human strength cannot draw water higher than this, because such very heavy labour exhausts not only men, but even horses; only water-power can drive continuously a drum of this kind. Several pumps of this kind, as of the last, are often built for the purpose of mining on a single vein, but they are arranged differently for different positions and depths.

[Pg 196]

Rag and Chain Pumps
A—Axles. B—Levers. C—Toothed drum. D—Drum made of rundles. E—Drum in which iron clamps are fixed. [Pg 195]
The fifth pump of this kind is partly like the third and partly like the fourth, because it is turned by strong men like the last, and like the third it has two axles and three drums, though each axle is horizontal. The journals of each axle are so fitted in the pillows of the beams that they cannot fly out; the lower axle has a crank at one end and a toothed drum at the other end; the upper axle has at one end a drum made of rundles, and at the other end, a drum to which are fixed iron clamps, in which the links of a chain catch in the same way as before, and from the same depth, draw water through pipes by means of balls. This revolving machine is turned by two pairs of men alternately, for one pair stands working while the other sits taking a rest; while they are engaged upon the task of turning, one pulls the crank and the other pushes, and the drums help to make the pump turn more easily.

Rag and Chain Pumps
A—Axles. B—Wheel which is turned by treading. C—Toothed wheel. D—Drum made of rundles. E—Drum to which are fixed iron clamps. F—Second wheel. G—Balls. [Pg 197]
The sixth pump of this kind likewise has two axles. At one end of the lower axle is a wheel which is turned by two men treading, this is twenty-three feet high and four feet wide, so that one man may stand alongside the other. At the other end of this axle is a toothed wheel. The upper[19] axle has two drums and one wheel; the first drum is made of rundles, and to the other there are fixed the iron clamps. The wheel is like the one on the second machine which is chiefly used for drawing earth and broken rock out of shafts. The treaders, to prevent themselves from falling, grasp in their hands poles which are fixed to the inner sides of the wheel. When they turn this wheel, the toothed drum being made to revolve, sets in motion the other drum which is made of rundles, by which means again the links of the chain catch to the cleats of the third drum and draw water through pipes by means of balls,—from a depth of sixty-six feet.

Baling Water
A—Reservoir. B—Race. C, D—Levers. E, F—Troughs under the water gates. G, H—Double rows of buckets. I—Axle. K—Larger drum. L—Drawing-chain. M—Bag. N—Hanging cage. O—Man who directs the machine. P, Q—Men emptying bags. [Pg 199]
But the largest machine of all those which draw water is the one which follows. First of all a reservoir is made in a timbered chamber; this reservoir is eighteen feet long and twelve feet wide and high. Into this reservoir a stream is diverted through a water-race or through the tunnel; it has two entrances and the same number of gates. Levers are fixed to the upper part of these gates, by which they can be raised and let down again, so that by one way the gates are opened and in the other way closed. Beneath the openings are two plank troughs which carry the water flowing from the reservoir, and pour it on to the buckets of the water-wheel, the impact of which turns the wheel. The shorter trough carries the water, which strikes the buckets that turn the wheel toward the reservoir, and the longer trough carries the water which strikes those buckets that turn the wheel in the opposite direction. The casing or covering of the wheel is made of joined boards to which strips are affixed on the inner side. The wheel itself is thirty-six feet in diameter, and is mortised to an axle, and it has, as I have already said, two rows of buckets, of which one is set the opposite way to the other, so that the wheel may be turned toward the reservoir or in the opposite [Pg 198]direction. The axle is square and is thirty-five feet long and two feet thick and wide. Beyond the wheel, at a distance of six feet, the axle has four hubs, one foot wide and thick, each one of which is four feet distant from the next; to these hubs are fixed by iron nails as many pieces of wood as are necessary to cover the hubs, and, in order that the wood pieces may fit tight, they are broader on the outside and narrower on the inside; in this way a drum is made, around which is wound a chain to whose ends are hooked leather bags. The reason why a drum of this kind is made, is that the axle may be kept in good condition, because this drum when it becomes worn away by use can be repaired easily. Further along the axle, not far from the end, is another drum one foot broad, projecting two feet on all sides around the axle. And to this, when occasion demands, a brake is applied forcibly and holds back the machine; this kind of brake I have explained before. Near the axle, in place of a hopper, there is a floor with a considerable slope, having in front of the shaft a width of fifteen feet and the same at the back; at each side of it there is a stout post carrying an iron chain which has a large hook. Five men operate this machine; one lets down the doors which close the reservoir gates, or by drawing down the levers, opens the water-races; this man, who is the director of this machine, stands in a hanging cage beside the reservoir. When one bag has been drawn out nearly as far as the sloping floor, he closes the water gate in order that the wheel may be stopped; when the bag has been emptied he opens the other water gate, in order that the other set of buckets may receive the water and drive the wheel in the opposite direction. If he cannot close the water-gate quickly enough, and the water continues to flow, he calls out to his comrade and bids him raise the brake upon the drum and stop the wheel. Two men alternately empty the bags, one standing on that part of the floor which is in front of the shaft, and the other on that part which is at the back. When the bag has been nearly drawn up—of which fact a certain link of the chain gives warning—the man who stands on the one part of the floor, catches a large iron hook in one link of the chain, and pulls out all the subsequent part of the chain toward the floor, where the bag is emptied by the other man. The object of this hook is to prevent the chain, by its own weight, from pulling down the other empty bag, and thus pulling the whole chain from its axle and dropping it down the shaft. His comrade in the work, seeing that the bag filled with water has been nearly drawn out, calls to the director of the machine and bids him close the water of the tower so that there will be time to empty the bag; this being emptied, the director of the machine first of all slightly opens the other water-gate of the tower to allow the end of the chain, together with the empty bag, to be started into the shaft again, and then opens entirely the water-gates. When that part of the chain which has been pulled on to the floor has been wound up again, and has been let down over the shaft from the drum, he takes out the large hook which was fastened into a link of the chain. The fifth man stands in a sort of cross-cut beside the sump, that he may not be hurt, if it should happen that a link [Pg 200]is broken and part of the chain or anything else should fall down; he guides the bag with a wooden shovel, and fills it with water if it fails to take in the water spontaneously. In these days, they sew an iron band into the top of each bag that it may constantly remain open, and when lowered into the sump may fill itself with water, and there is no need for a man to act as governor of the bags. Further, in these days, of those men who stand on the floor the one empties the bags, and the other closes the gates of the reservoir and opens them again, and the same man usually fixes the large hook in the link of the chain. In this way, three men only are employed in working this machine; or even—since sometimes the one who empties the bag presses the brake which is raised against the other drum and thus stops the wheel—two men take upon themselves the whole labour.

But enough of haulage machines; I will now speak of ventilating machines. If a shaft is very deep and no tunnel reaches to it, or no drift from another shaft connects with it, or when a tunnel is of great length and no shaft reaches to it, then the air does not replenish itself. In such a case it weighs heavily on the miners, causing them to breathe with difficulty, and sometimes they are even suffocated, and burning lamps are also extinguished. There is, therefore, a necessity for machines which the Greeks call πνευματικάι and the Latins spiritales—though they do not give forth any sound—which enable the miners to breathe easily and carry on their work.

Windsails for Ventilation
A—Sills. B—Pointed stakes. C—Cross-beams. D—Upright planks. E—Hollows. F—Winds. G—Covering disc. H—Shafts. I—Machine without a covering. [Pg 201]
These devices are of three genera. The first receives and diverts into the shaft the blowing of the wind, and this genus is divided into three species, of which the first is as follows. Over the shaft—to which no tunnel connects—are placed three sills a little longer than the shaft, the first over the front, the second over the middle, and the third over the back of the shaft. Their ends have openings, through which pegs, sharpened at the bottom, are driven deeply into the ground so as to hold them immovable, in the same way that the sills of the windlass are fixed. Each of these sills is mortised into each of three cross-beams, of which one is at the right side of the shaft, the second at the left, and the third in the middle. To the second sill and the second cross-beam—each of which is placed over the middle of the shaft—planks are fixed which are joined in such a manner that the one which precedes always fits into the groove of the one which follows. In this way four angles and the same number of intervening hollows are created, which collect the winds that blow from all directions. The planks are roofed above with a cover made in a circular shape, and are open below, in order that the wind may not be diverted upward and escape, but may be carried downward; and thereby the winds of necessity blow into the shafts through these four openings. However, there is no need to roof this kind of machine in those localities in which it can be so placed that the wind can blow down through its topmost part.

[Pg 201]

Windsails for Ventilation
A—Projecting mouth of conduit. B—Planks fixed to the mouth of the conduit which does not project. [Pg 202]
The second machine of this genus turns the blowing wind into a shaft through a long box-shaped conduit, which is made of as many lengths of planks, joined together, as the depth of the shaft requires; the joints are smeared with fat, glutinous clay moistened with water. The mouth of this conduit either projects out of the shaft to a height of three or four feet, or it does not project; if it projects, it is shaped like a rectangular funnel, broader and wider at the top than the conduit itself, that it may the more easily gather the wind; if it does not project, it is not broader than the conduit, but planks are fixed to it away from the direction in which the wind is blowing, which catch the wind and force it into the conduit.

Windsails for Ventilation
A—Wooden barrels. B—Hoops. C—Blow-holes. D—Pipe. E—Table. F—Axle. G—Opening in the bottom of the barrel. H—Wing. [Pg 203]
The third of this genus of machine is made of a pipe or pipes and a barrel. Above the uppermost pipe there is erected a wooden barrel, four [Pg 202]feet high and three feet in diameter, bound with wooden hoops; it has a square blow-hole always open, which catches the breezes and guides them down either by a pipe into a conduit or by many pipes into the shaft. To the top of the upper pipe is attached a circular table as thick as the bottom of the barrel, but of a little less diameter, so that the barrel may be turned around on it; the pipe projects out of the table and is fixed in a round opening in the centre of the bottom of the barrel. To the end of the pipe a perpendicular axle is fixed which runs through the centre of the barrel into a hole in the cover, in which it is fastened, in the same way as at the bottom. Around this fixed axle and the table on the pipe, the movable barrel is easily turned by a zephyr, or much more by a wind, which govern the wing on it. This wing is made of thin boards and fixed to the upper part of the barrel on the side furthest away from the blow-hole; this, as I have said, is square and always open. The wind, from whatever quarter of [Pg 203]the world it blows, drives the wing straight toward the opposite direction, in which way the barrel turns the blow-hole towards the wind itself; the blow-hole receives the wind, and it is guided down into the shaft by means of the conduit or pipes.

Ventilation Fans
A—Drum. B—Box-shaped casing. C—Blow-hole. D—Second hole. E—Conduit. F—Axle. G—Lever of axle. H—Rods. [Pg 204]
The second genus of blowing machine is made with fans, and is likewise varied and of many forms, for the fans are either fitted to a windlass barrel or to an axle. If to an axle, they are either contained in a hollow drum, which is made of two wheels and a number of boards joining them together, or else in a box-shaped casing. The drum is stationary and closed on the sides, except for round holes of such size that the axle may turn in them; it has two square blow-holes, of which the upper one receives the air, while the lower one empties into the conduit through which the air is led down the shaft. The ends of the axle, which project on each side of the drum, are supported by forked posts or hollowed beams plated with thick iron; one end of the axle has a crank, while in the other end are fixed four rods with thick heavy ends, so that they weight the axle, and when turned, make it [Pg 205]prone to motion as it revolves. And so, when the workman turns the axle by the crank, the fans, the description of which I will give a little later, draw in the air by the blow-hole, and force it through the other blow-hole which leads to the conduit, and through this conduit the air penetrates into the shaft.

Ventilation Fans
A—Box-shaped casing placed on the ground. B—Its blow-hole. C—Its axle with fans. D—Crank of the axle. E—Rods of same. F—Casing set on timbers. G—Sails which the axle has outside the casing. [Pg 205]
The one with the box-shaped casing is furnished with just the same things as the drum, but the drum is far superior to the box; for the fans so fill the drum that they almost touch it on every side, and drive into the conduit all the air that has been accumulated; but they cannot thus fill the box-shaped casing, on account of its angles, into which the air partly retreats; therefore it cannot be as useful as the drum. The kind with a box-shaped casing is not only placed on the ground, but is also set up on timbers like a windmill, and its axle, in place of a crank, has four sails outside, like the sails of a windmill. When these are struck by the wind they turn the axle, and in this way its fans—which are placed within the casing—drive [Pg 206]the air through the blow-hole and the conduit into the shaft. Although this machine has no need of men whom it is necessary to pay to work the crank, still when the sky is devoid of wind, as it often is, the machine does not turn, and it is therefore less suitable than the others for ventilating a shaft.

Ventilation Fans
A—Hollow drum. B—Its blow-hole. C—Axle with fans. D—Drum which is made of rundles. E—Lower axle. F—Its toothed wheel. G—Water wheel. [Pg 206]
In the kind where the fans are fixed to an axle, there is generally a hollow stationary drum at one end of the axle, and on the other end is fixed a drum made of rundles. This rundle drum is turned by the toothed wheel of a lower axle, which is itself turned by a wheel whose buckets receive the impetus of water. If the locality supplies an abundance of water this machine is most useful, because to turn the crank does not need men who require pay, and because it forces air without cessation through the conduit into the shaft.

Ventilation Fans
A—First kind of fan. B—Second kind of fan. C—Third kind of fan. D—Quadrangular part of axle. E—Round part of same. F—Crank. [Pg 207]
Of the fans which are fixed on to an axle contained in a drum or box, there are three sorts. The first sort is made of thin boards of such length and width as the height and width of the drum or box require; the second [Pg 207]sort is made of boards of the same width, but shorter, to which are bound long thin blades of poplar or some other flexible wood; the third sort has boards like the last, to which are bound double and triple rows of goose feathers. This last is less used than the second, which in turn is less used than the first. The boards of the fan are mortised into the quadrangular parts of the barrel axle.

Bellows for mine ventilation
A—Smaller part of shaft. B—Square conduit. C—Bellows. D—Larger part of shaft. [Pg 208]
Blowing machines of the third genus, which are no less varied and of no fewer forms than those of the second genus, are made with bellows, for by its blasts the shafts and tunnels are not only furnished with air through conduits or pipes, but they can also be cleared by suction of their heavy and pestilential vapours. In the latter case, when the bellows is opened it draws the vapours from the conduits through its blow-hole and sucks these vapours into itself; in the former case, when it is compressed, it drives the air through its nozzle into the conduits or pipes. They are compressed either by a man, [Pg 208]or by a horse or by water-power; if by a man, the lower board of a large bellows is fixed to the timbers above the conduit which projects out of the shaft, and so placed that when the blast is blown through the conduit, its nozzle is set in the conduit. When it is desired to suck out heavy or pestilential vapours, the blow-hole of the bellows is fitted all round the mouth of the conduit. Fixed to the upper bellows board is a lever which couples with another running downward from a little axle, into which it is mortised so that it may remain immovable; the iron journals of this little axle revolve in openings of upright posts; and so when the workman pulls down the lever the upper board of the bellows is raised, and at the same time the flap of the blow-hole is dragged open by the force of the wind. If the nozzle of the bellows is enclosed in the conduit it draws pure air into itself, but if its blow-hole is fitted all round the mouth of the conduit it exhausts the heavy and pestilential vapours out of the conduit and thus from the shaft, even if it is one hundred and twenty feet deep. A stone placed on the upper board of the bellows depresses it and then the flap of the blow-hole is [Pg 209]closed. The bellows, by the first method, blows fresh air into the conduit through its nozzle, and by the second method blows out through the nozzle the heavy and pestilential vapours which have been collected. In this latter case fresh air enters through the larger part of the shaft, and the miners getting the benefit of it can sustain their toil. A certain smaller part of the shaft which forms a kind of estuary, requires to be partitioned off from the other larger part by uninterrupted lagging, which reaches from the top of the shaft to the bottom; through this part the long but narrow conduit reaches down nearly to the bottom of the shaft.

Bellows for mine ventilation
A—Tunnel. B—Pipe. C—Nozzle of double bellows. [Pg 209]
When no shaft has been sunk to such depth as to meet a tunnel driven far into a mountain, these machines should be built in such a manner that the workman can move them about. Close by the drains of the tunnel through which the water flows away, wooden pipes should be placed and joined tightly together in such a manner that they can hold the air; these should reach from the mouth of the tunnel to its furthest end. At the mouth of the tunnel the bellows should be so placed that through its nozzle it can blow its accumulated blasts into the pipes or the conduit; since one blast [Pg 210]always drives forward another, they penetrate into the tunnel and change the air, whereby the miners are enabled to continue their work.

Bellows for mine ventilation
A—Machine first described. B—This workman, treading with his feet, is compressing the bellows. C—Bellows without nozzles. D—Hole by which heavy vapours or blasts are blown out. E—Conduits. F—Tunnel. G—Second machine described. H—Wooden wheel. I—Its steps. K—Bars. L—Hole in same wheel. M—Pole. N—Third machine described. O—Upright axle. P—Its toothed drum. Q—Horizontal axle. R—Its drum which is made of rundles. [Pg 211]
If heavy vapours need to be drawn off from the tunnels, generally three double or triple bellows, without nozzles and closed in the forepart, are placed upon benches. A workman compresses them by treading with his feet, just as persons compress those bellows of the organs which give out varied and sweet sounds in churches. These heavy vapours are thus drawn along the air-pipes and through the blow-hole of the lower bellows board, and are expelled through the blow-hole of the upper bellows board into the open air, or into some shaft or drift. This blow-hole has a flap-valve, which the noxious blast opens, as often as it passes out. Since one volume of air constantly rushes in to take the place of another which has been drawn out by the bellows, not only is the heavy air drawn out of a tunnel as great as 1,200 feet long, or even longer, but also the wholesome air is naturally drawn in through that part of the tunnel which is open outside the conduits. In this way the air is changed, and the miners are enabled to carry on the work they have begun. If machines of this kind had not been invented, it would be necessary for miners to drive two tunnels into a mountain, and continually, at every two hundred feet at most, to sink a shaft from the upper tunnel to the lower one, that the air passing into the one, and descending by the shafts into the other, would be kept fresh for the miners; this could not be done without great expense.

There are two different machines for operating, by means of horses, the above described bellows. The first of these machines has on its axle a wooden wheel, the rim of which is covered all the way round by steps; a horse is kept continually within bars, like those within which horses are held to be shod with iron, and by treading these steps with its feet it turns the wheel, together with the axle; the cams on the axle press down the sweeps which compress the bellows. The way the instrument is made which raises the bellows again, and also the benches on which the bellows rest, I will explain more clearly in Book IX. Each bellows, if it draws heavy vapours out of a tunnel, blows them out of the hole in the upper board; if they are drawn out of a shaft, it blows them out through its nozzle. The wheel has a round hole, which is transfixed with a pole when the machine needs to be stopped.

The second machine has two axles; the upright one is turned by a horse, and its toothed drum turns a drum made of rundles on a horizontal axle; in other respects this machine is like the last. Here, also, the nozzles of the bellows placed in the conduits blow a blast into the shaft or tunnel.

Ventilating with Damp Cloth
A—Tunnel. B—Linen cloth. [Pg 212]
In the same way that this last machine can refresh the heavy air of a shaft or tunnel, so also could the old system of ventilating by the constant shaking of linen cloths, which Pliny[20] has explained; the air not only grows [Pg 212]heavier with the depth of a shaft, of which fact he has made mention, but also with the length of a tunnel.

Descent into Mines
A—Descending into the shaft by ladders. B—By sitting on a stick. C—By sitting on the dirt. D—Descending by steps cut in the rock. [Pg 213]
The climbing machines of miners are ladders, fixed to one side of the shaft, and these reach either to the tunnel or to the bottom of the shaft. I need not describe how they are made, because they are used everywhere, and need not so much skill in their construction as care in fixing them. However, miners go down into mines not only by the steps of ladders, but they are also lowered into them while sitting on a stick or a wicker basket, fastened to the rope of one of the three drawing machines which I described at first. Further, when the shafts are much inclined, miners and other workmen sit in the dirt which surrounds their loins and slide down in the same way that boys do in winter-time when the water on some hillside has congealed with the cold, and to prevent themselves from falling, one arm is wound about a rope, the upper end of which is fastened to a beam at the mouth of the shaft, and the lower end to a stake fixed in the bottom of the shaft. In these three ways miners descend into the shafts. A fourth way may be mentioned which is employed when men and horses go down to the underground [Pg 214]machines and come up again, that is by inclined shafts which are twisted like a screw and have steps cut in the rock, as I have already described.

It remains for me to speak of the ailments and accidents of miners, and of the methods by which they can guard against these, for we should always devote more care to maintaining our health, that we may freely perform our bodily functions, than to making profits. Of the illnesses, some affect the joints, others attack the lungs, some the eyes, and finally some are fatal to men.

Where water in shafts is abundant and very cold, it frequently injures the limbs, for cold is harmful to the sinews. To meet this, miners should make themselves sufficiently high boots of rawhide, which protect their legs from the cold water; the man who does not follow this advice will suffer much ill-health, especially when he reaches old age. On the other hand, some mines are so dry that they are entirely devoid of water, and this dryness causes the workmen even greater harm, for the dust which is stirred and beaten up by digging penetrates into the windpipe and lungs, and produces difficulty in breathing, and the disease which the Greeks call ἆσθμα. If the dust has corrosive qualities, it eats away the lungs, and implants consumption in the body; hence in the mines of the Carpathian Mountains women are found who have married seven husbands, all of whom this terrible consumption has carried off to a premature death. At Altenberg in Meissen there is found in the mines black pompholyx, which eats wounds and ulcers to the bone; this also corrodes iron, for which reason the keys of their sheds are made of wood. Further, there is a certain kind of cadmia[21] which eats away the feet of the workmen when they have become wet, and similarly their hands, and injures their lungs and eyes. Therefore, for their [Pg 215]digging they should make for themselves not only boots of rawhide, but gloves long enough to reach to the elbow, and they should fasten loose veils over their faces; the dust will then neither be drawn through these into their windpipes and lungs, nor will it fly into their eyes. Not dissimilarly, among the Romans[22] the makers of vermilion took precautions against breathing its fatal dust.

Stagnant air, both that which remains in a shaft and that which remains in a tunnel, produces a difficulty in breathing; the remedies for this evil are the ventilating machines which I have explained above. There is another illness even more destructive, which soon brings death to men who work in those shafts or levels or tunnels in which the hard rock is broken by fire. Here the air is infected with poison, since large and small veins and seams in the rocks exhale some subtle poison from the minerals, which is driven out by the fire, and this poison itself is raised with the smoke not unlike pompholyx,[23] which clings to the upper part of the walls in the works in which ore is smelted. If this poison cannot escape from the ground, but falls down into the pools and floats on their surface, it often causes danger, for if at any time the water is disturbed through a stone or anything else, these fumes rise again from the pools and thus overcome the men, by being drawn in with their breath; this is even much worse if the fumes of the fire have not yet all escaped. The bodies of living creatures who are infected with this poison generally swell immediately and lose all movement and feeling, and they die without pain; men even in the act of climbing from the shafts by the steps of ladders fall back into the shafts when the poison overtakes them, because their hands do not perform their office, and seem to them to be round and spherical, and likewise their feet. If by good fortune the injured ones escape these evils, for a little while they are pale and look like dead men. At such times, no one should descend into the mine or into the neighbouring mines, or if he is in them he should come out quickly. Prudent and skilled miners burn the piles of wood on Friday, towards evening, and [Pg 216]they do not descend into the shafts nor enter the tunnels again before Monday, and in the meantime the poisonous fumes pass away.

There are also times when a reckoning has to be made with Orcus,[24] for some metalliferous localities, though such are rare, spontaneously produce poison and exhale pestilential vapour, as is also the case with some openings in the ore, though these more often contain the noxious fumes. In the towns of the plains of Bohemia there are some caverns which, at certain seasons of the year, emit pungent vapours which put out lights and kill the miners if they linger too long in them. Pliny, too, has left a record that when wells are sunk, the sulphurous or aluminous vapours which arise kill the well-diggers, and it is a test of this danger if a burning lamp which has been let down is extinguished. In such cases a second well is dug to the right or left, as an air-shaft, which draws off these noxious vapours. On the plains they construct bellows which draw up these noxious vapours and remedy this evil; these I have described before.

Further, sometimes workmen slipping from the ladders into the shafts break their arms, legs, or necks, or fall into the sumps and are drowned; often, indeed, the negligence of the foreman is to blame, for it is his special work both to fix the ladders so firmly to the timbers that they cannot break away, and to cover so securely with planks the sumps at the bottom of the shafts, that the planks cannot be moved nor the men fall into the water; wherefore the foreman must carefully execute his own work. Moreover, he must not set the entrance of the shaft-house toward the north wind, lest in winter the ladders freeze with cold, for when this happens the men's hands become stiff and slippery with cold, and cannot perform their office of holding. The men, too, must be careful that, even if none of these things happen, they do not fall through their own carelessness.

Mountains, too, slide down and men are crushed in their fall and perish. In fact, when in olden days Rammelsberg, in Goslar, sank down, so many men were crushed in the ruins that in one day, the records tell us, about 400 women were robbed of their husbands. And eleven years ago, part of the mountain of Altenberg, which had been excavated, became loose and sank, and suddenly crushed six miners; it also swallowed up a hut and one mother and her little boy. But this generally occurs in those mountains which contain venae cumulatae. Therefore, miners should leave numerous arches under the mountains which need support, or provide underpinning. Falling pieces of rock also injure their limbs, and to prevent this from happening, miners should protect the shafts, tunnels, and drifts.

The venomous ant which exists in Sardinia is not found in our mines. This animal is, as Solinus[25] writes, very small and like a spider in shape; it is called solifuga, because it shuns (fugit) the light (solem). It is very common [Pg 217]in silver mines; it creeps unobserved and brings destruction upon those who imprudently sit on it. But, as the same writer tells us, springs of warm and salubrious waters gush out in certain places, which neutralise the venom inserted by the ants.

In some of our mines, however, though in very few, there are other pernicious pests. These are demons of ferocious aspect, about which I have spoken in my book De Animantibus Subterraneis. Demons of this kind are expelled and put to flight by prayer and fasting.[26]

Some of these evils, as well as certain other things, are the reason why pits are occasionally abandoned. But the first and principal cause is that they do not yield metal, or if, for some fathoms, they do bear metal they become barren in depth. The second cause is the quantity of water which flows in; sometimes the miners can neither divert this water into the tunnels, since tunnels cannot be driven so far into the mountains, or they cannot draw it out with machines because the shafts are too deep; or if they could draw it out with machines, they do not use them, the reason undoubtedly being that the expenditure is greater than the profits of a moderately poor vein. The third cause is the noxious air, which the owners sometimes cannot overcome either by skill or expenditure, for which reason the digging is sometimes abandoned, not only of shafts, but also of tunnels. The fourth cause is the poison produced in particular places, if it is not in our power either completely to remove it or to moderate its effects. This is the reason why the caverns in the Plain known as Laurentius[27] used not to be [Pg 218]worked, though they were not deficient in silver. The fifth cause are the fierce and murderous demons, for if they cannot be expelled, no one escapes from them. The sixth cause is that the underpinnings become loosened and collapse, and a fall of the mountain usually follows; the underpinnings are then only restored when the vein is very rich in metal. The seventh cause is military operations. Shafts and tunnels should not be re-opened unless we are quite certain of the reasons why the miners have deserted them, because we ought not to believe that our ancestors were so indolent and spiritless as to desert mines which could have been carried on with profit. Indeed, in our own days, not a few miners, persuaded by old women's tales, have re-opened deserted shafts and lost their time and trouble. Therefore, to prevent future generations from being led to act in such a way, it is advisable to set down in writing the reason why the digging of each shaft or tunnel has been abandoned, just as it is agreed was once done at Freiberg, when the shafts were deserted on account of the great inrush of water.



[Pg 149][1] This Book is devoted in the main to winding, ventilating, and pumping machinery. Their mechanical principles are very old. The block and pulley, the windlass, the use of water-wheels, the transmission of power through shafts and gear-wheels, chain-pumps, piston-pumps with valves, were all known to the Greeks and Romans, and possibly earlier. Machines involving these principles were described by Ctesibius, an Alexandrian of 250 B.C., by Archimedes (287-212 B.C.), and by Vitruvius (1st Century B.C.) As to how far these machines were applied to mining by the Ancients we have but little evidence, and this largely in connection with handling water. Diodorus Siculus (1st Century B.C.) referring to the Spanish mines, says (Book V.): "Sometimes at great depths they meet great rivers underground, but by art give check to the violence of the streams, for by cutting trenches they divert the current, and being sure to gain what they aim at when they have begun, they never leave off till they have finished it. And they admirably pump out the water with those instruments called Egyptian pumps, invented by Archimedes, the Syracusan, when he was in Egypt. By these, with constant pumping by turns they throw up the water to the mouth of the pit and thus drain the mine; for this engine is so ingeniously contrived that a vast quantity of water is strangely and with little labour cast out."

Strabo (63 B.C.-24 A.D., III., 2, 9), also referring to Spanish mines, quoting from Posidonius (about 100 B.C.), says: "He compares with these (the Athenians) the activity and diligence of the Turdetani, who are in the habit of cutting tortuous and deep tunnels, and draining the streams which they frequently encounter by means of Egyptian screws." (Hamilton's Tran., Vol. I., p. 221). The "Egyptian screw" was Archimedes' screw, and was thus called because much used by the Egyptians for irrigation. Pliny (XXXIII., 31) also says, in speaking of the Spanish silver-lead mines: "The mountain has been excavated for a distance of 1,500 paces, and along this distance there are water-carriers standing by torch-light night and day steadily baling the water (thus) making quite a river." The re-opening of the mines at Rio Tinto in the middle of the 18th Century disclosed old Roman stopes, in which were found several water-wheels. These were about 15 feet in diameter, lifting the water by the reverse arrangement to an overshot water-wheel. A wooden Archimedian screw was also found in the neighbourhood. (Nash, The Rio Tinto Mine, its History and Romance, London, 1904).

Until early in the 18th Century, water formed the limiting factor in the depth of mines. To the great devotion to this water problem we owe the invention of the steam engine. In 1705 Newcomen—no doubt inspired by Savery's unsuccessful attempt—invented his engine, and installed the first one on a colliery at Wolverhampton, in Staffordshire. With its success, a new era was opened to the miner, to be yet further extended by Watt's improvements sixty years later. It should be a matter of satisfaction to mining engineers that not only was the steam engine the handiwork of their profession, but that another mining engineer, Stephenson, in his effort to further the advance of his calling, invented the locomotive.

[Pg 150][2] While these particular tools serve the same purpose as the "gad" and the "moil," the latter are not fitted with handles, and we have, therefore, not felt justified in adopting these terms, but have given a literal rendering of the Latin.

[Pg 151] The Latin and old German terms for these tools were:—

FirstIron tool=Ferramentumprimum=Bergeisen.
Iron block=Lamina=Plôtz.
Iron plate=Bractea=Feder.

The German words obviously had local value and do not bear translation literally.

[Pg 153][3] One metreta, a Greek measure, equalled about nine English gallons, and a congius contained about six pints.

[4] Ingestores. This is a case of Agricola coining a name for workmen from the work, the term being derived from ingero, to pour or to throw in, used in the previous clause—hence the "reason." See p. xxxi.

[Pg 154][5] Cisium. A two-wheeled cart. In the preface Agricola gives this as an example of his intended adaptations. See p. xxxi.

[Pg 156][6] Canis. The Germans in Agricola's time called a truck a hundt—a hound.

[7] Alveus,—"Tray." The Spanish term batea has been so generally adopted into the mining vocabulary for a wooden bowl for these purposes, that we introduce it here.

[Pg 157][8] Pliny (XXXIII., 21). "The fragments are carried on workmen's shoulders; night and day each passes the material to his neighbour, only the last of them seeing the daylight."

[Pg 166][10] Harpago,—A "grapple" or "hook."

[Pg 169][11] Ancient Noricum covered the region of modern Tyrol, with parts of Bavaria, Salzburg, etc.

[Pg 172][12] Machina quae pilis aquas haurit. "Machine which draws water with balls." This apparatus is identical with the Cornish "rag and chain pump" of the same period, and we have therefore adopted that term.

[13] A congius contained about six pints.

[Pg 174][14] Vitruvius (X., 9). "But if the water is to be supplied to still higher places, a double chain of iron is made to revolve on the axis of the wheel, long enough to reach to the lower level. This is furnished with brazen buckets, each holding about a congius. Then by turning the wheel, the chain also turns upon the axis and brings the buckets to the top thereof, on passing which they are inverted and pour into the conduits the water they have raised."

[Pg 186][15] This description certainly does not correspond in every particular with the illustration.

[Pg 188][16] There is a certain deficiency in the hydraulics of this machine.

[Pg 192][17] The dimensions given in this description for the various members do not tally.

[Pg 194][18] Melibocian,—the Harz.

[Pg 196][19] In the original text this is given as "lower," and appears to be an error.

[Pg 210][20] Pliny (XXXI, 28). "In deep wells, the occurrence of sulphurata or aluminosa vapor is fatal to the diggers. The presence of this peril is shown if a lighted lamp let down into the well is extinguished. If so, other wells are sunk to the right and left, which carry off these noxious gases. Apart from these evils, the air itself becomes noxious with depth, which can be remedied by constantly shaking linen cloths, thus setting the air in motion."

[Pg 214][21] This is given in the German translation as kobelt. The kobelt (or cobaltum of Agricola) was probably arsenical-cobalt, a mineral common in the Saxon mines. The origin of the application of the word cobalt to a mineral appears to lie in the German word for the gnomes and goblins (kobelts) so universal to Saxon miners' imaginations,—this word in turn probably being derived from the Greek cobali (mimes). The suffering described above seems to have been associated with the malevolence of demons, and later the word for these demons was attached to this disagreeable ore. A quaint series of mining "sermons," by Johann Mathesius, entitled Sarepta oder Bergpostill, Nürnberg, 1562, contains the following passage (p. 154) which bears out this view. We retain the original and varied spelling of cobalt and also add another view of Mathesius, involving an experience of Solomon and Hiram of Tyre with some mines containing cobalt.

"Sometimes, however, from dry hard veins a certain black, greenish, grey or ash-coloured earth is dug out, often containing good ore, and this mineral being burnt gives strong fumes and is extracted like 'tutty.' It is called cadmia fossilis. You miners call it cobelt. Germans call the Black Devil and the old Devil's furies, old and black cobel, who injure people and their cattle with their witchcrafts. Now the Devil is a wicked, malicious spirit, who shoots his poisoned darts into the hearts of men, as sorcerers and witches shoot at the limbs of cattle and men, and work much evil and mischief with cobalt or hipomane or horses' poison. After quicksilver and rotgültigen ore, are cobalt and wismuth fumes; these are the most poisonous of the metals, and with them one can kill flies, mice, cattle, birds, and men. So, fresh cobalt and kisswasser (vitriol?) devour the hands and feet of miners, and the dust and fumes of cobalt kill many mining people and workpeople who do much work among the fumes of the smelters. Whether or not the Devil and his hellish crew gave their name to cobelt, or kobelt, nevertheless, cobelt is a poisonous and injurious metal even if it contains silver. I find in I. Kings 9, the word Cabul. When Solomon presented twenty towns in Galilee to the King of Tyre, Hiram visited them first, and would not have them, and said the land was well named Cabul as Joshua had christened it. It is certain from Joshua that these [Pg 215]twenty towns lay in the Kingdom of Aser, not far from our Sarepta, and that there had been iron and copper mines there, as Moses says in another place. Inasmuch, then, as these twenty places were mining towns, and cobelt is a metal, it appears quite likely that the mineral took its name from the land of Cabul. History and circumstances bear out the theory that Hiram was an excellent and experienced miner, who obtained much gold from Ophir, with which he honoured Solomon. Therefore, the Great King wished to show his gratitude to his good neighbour by honouring a miner with mining towns. But because the King of Tyre was skilled in mines, he first inspected the new mines, and saw that they only produced poor metal and much wild cobelt ore, therefore he preferred to find his gold by digging the gold and silver in India rather than by getting it by the cobelt veins and ore. For truly, cobelt ores are injurious, and are usually so embedded in other ore that they rob them in the fire and consume (madtet und frist) much lead before the silver is extracted, and when this happens it is especially speysig. Therefore Hiram made a good reckoning as to the mines and would not undertake all the expense of working and smelting, and so returned Solomon the twenty towns."

[22] Pliny (XXXIII, 40). "Those employed in the works preparing vermilion, cover their faces with a bladder-skin, that they may not inhale the pernicious powder, yet they can see through the skin."

[23] Pompholyx was a furnace deposit, usually mostly zinc oxide, but often containing arsenical oxide, and to this latter quality this reference probably applies. The symptoms mentioned later in the text amply indicate arsenical poisoning, of which a sort of spherical effect on the hands is characteristic. See also note on p. 112 for discussion of "corrosive" cadmia; further information on pompholyx is given in Note 26, p. 394.

[Pg 216][24] Orcus, the god of the infernal regions,—otherwise Pluto.

[25] Caius Julius Solinus was an unreliable Roman Grammarian of the 3rd Century. There is much difference of opinion as to the precise animal meant by solifuga. The word is variously spelled solipugus, solpugus, solipuga, solipunga, etc., and is mentioned by Pliny (VIII., 43), and other ancient authors all apparently meaning a venomous insect, either an ant or a spider. The term in later times indicated a scorpion.

[Pg 217][26] The presence of demons or gnomes in the mines was so general a belief that Agricola fully accepted it. This is more remarkable, in view of our author's very general scepticism regarding the supernatural. He, however, does not classify them all as bad—some being distinctly helpful. The description of gnomes of kindly intent, which is contained in the last paragraph in De Animantibus is of interest:—

"Then there are the gentle kind which the Germans as well as the Greeks call cobalos, because they mimic men. They appear to laugh with glee and pretend to do much, but really do nothing. They are called little miners, because of their dwarfish stature, which is about two feet. They are venerable looking and are clothed like miners in a filleted garment with a leather apron about their loins. This kind does not often trouble the miners, but they idle about in the shafts and tunnels and really do nothing, although they pretend to be busy in all kinds of labour, sometimes digging ore, and sometimes putting into buckets that which has been dug. Sometimes they throw pebbles at the workmen, but they rarely injure them unless the workmen first ridicule or curse them. They are not very dissimilar to Goblins, which occasionally appear to men when they go to or from their day's work, or when they attend their cattle. Because they generally appear benign to men, the Germans call them guteli. Those called trulli, which take the form of women as well as men, actually enter the service of some people, especially the Suions. The mining gnomes are especially active in the workings where metal has already been found, or where there are hopes of discovering it, because of which they do not discourage the miners, but on the contrary stimulate them and cause them to labour more vigorously."

The German miners were not alone in such beliefs, for miners generally accepted them—even to-day the faith in "knockers" has not entirely disappeared from Cornwall. Neither the sea nor the forest so lends itself to the substantiation of the supernatural as does the mine. The dead darkness, in which the miners' lamps serve only to distort every shape, the uncanny noises of restless rocks whose support has been undermined, the approach of danger and death without warning, the sudden vanishing or discovery of good fortune, all yield a thousand corroborations to minds long steeped in ignorance and prepared for the miraculous through religious teaching.

[27] The Plains of Laurentius extend from the mouth of the Tiber southward—say twenty miles south of Rome. What Agricola's authority was for silver mines in this region we cannot discover. This may, however, refer to the lead-silver district of the Attic Peninsula, Laurion being sometimes Latinized as Laurium or Laurius.

[Pg 219]



ince the Sixth Book has described the iron tools, the vessels and the machines used in mines, this Book will describe the methods of assaying[1] ores; because it is desirable to first test them in order that the material mined may be advantageously smelted, or that the dross may be purged away and the metal made pure. Although writers have mentioned such tests, yet none of them have set down the directions for performing them, wherefore it is no wonder that those who come later have written nothing on the subject. By tests of this kind miners can determine with certainty whether ores contain any metal in them or not; or if it has already been indicated that the ore contains one or more metals, the tests show whether it is much or little; the miners also ascertain by such tests the method by which the metal can be separated from that part of the ore devoid of it; and further, by these tests, they determine that part in which there is much metal from that part in which there is little. Unless these tests have been carefully applied before the metals are melted out, the ore cannot be smelted without great loss to the owners, for the parts which do not easily melt in the fire carry the metals off with them or consume them. In the last case, they pass off with the fumes; in the other case they are mixed with the slag and furnace accretions, and in such event the owners lose the labour which they have spent in preparing the furnaces and the crucibles, and further, it is necessary for them to incur fresh expenditure for fluxes and other things. Metals, when they have been melted out, are usually assayed in order that we may ascertain what proportion of silver is in a centumpondium of copper or lead, or what quantity of gold is in one libra of silver; and, on the other hand, what proportion of copper or lead is contained in a centumpondium of silver, or what quantity of silver is contained in one libra of gold. And from this we can calculate whether it will be worth while to separate the precious metals from the base metals, or not. Further, a test of this kind shows whether coins are good or are debased; and readily detects silver, if the coiners have mixed more than is lawful with the gold; or copper, if the coiners have alloyed with the gold or silver more of it than is allowable. I will explain all these methods with the utmost care that I can.

[Pg 220]

The method of assaying ore used by mining people, differs from smelting only by the small amount of material used. Inasmuch as, by smelting a small quantity, they learn whether the smelting of a large [Pg 221]quantity will compensate them for their expenditure; hence, if they are not particular to employ assays, they may, as I have already said, sometimes smelt the metal from the ore with a loss or sometimes without any profit; for they [Pg 222]can assay the ore at a very small expense, and smelt it only at a great expense. Both processes, however, are carried out in the same way, for just as we assay ore in a little furnace, so do we smelt it in the large furnace. Also in both cases charcoal and not wood is burned. Moreover, in the crucible when metals are tested, be they gold, silver, copper, or lead, they are mixed in precisely the same way as they are mixed in the blast furnace when they are smelted. Further, those who assay ores with fire, either pour out the metal in a liquid state, or, when it has cooled, break the crucible and clean [Pg 223]the metal from slag; and in the same way the smelter, as soon as the metal flows from the furnace into the forehearth, pours in cold water and takes the slag from the metal with a hooked bar. Finally, in the same way that gold and silver are separated from lead in a cupel, so also are they separated in the cupellation furnace.

It is necessary that the assayer who is testing ore or metals should be prepared and instructed in all things necessary in assaying, and that he should close the doors of the room in which the assay furnace stands, lest [Pg 224]anyone coming at an inopportune moment might disturb his thoughts when they are intent on the work. It is also necessary for him to place his balances in a case, so that when he weighs the little buttons of metal the scales may not be agitated by a draught of air, for that is a hindrance to his work.

Muffle Furnace
Round assay furnace. [Pg 223]
Muffle Furnace
Rectangular assay furnace. [Pg 223]
Muffle Assay Furnace
A—Openings in the plate. B—Part of plate which projects beyond the furnace. [Pg 224]
Now I will describe the different things which are necessary in assaying, beginning with the assay furnace, of which one differs from another in shape, material, and the place in which it is set. In shape, they may be round or rectangular, the latter shape being more suited to assaying ores. The materials of the assay furnaces differ, in that one is made of bricks, another of iron, and certain ones of clay. The one of bricks is built on a chimney-hearth which is three and a half feet high; the iron one is placed in the same position, and also the one of clay. The brick one is a cubit high, a foot wide on the inside, and one foot two digits long; at a point five digits above the hearth—which is usually the thickness of an unbaked[2] brick—an iron plate is laid, and smeared over with lute on the upper side to prevent it from being injured by the fire; in front of the furnace above the plate is a mouth a palm high, five digits wide, and rounded at the top. The iron plate has three openings which are one digit wide and three digits long, one is at each side and the third at the back; through them sometimes the ash falls from the burning charcoal, and sometimes the draught blows through the chamber which is below the iron plate, and stimulates the fire. For this reason this furnace when used by metallurgists is named from assaying, but when used by the alchemists it is named from the wind[3]. The part of the iron plate which projects from the furnace is generally three-quarters of a [Pg 225]palm long and a palm wide; small pieces of charcoal, after being laid thereon, can be placed quickly in the furnace through its mouth with a pair of tongs, or again, if necessary, can be taken out of the furnace and laid there.

The iron assay furnace is made of four iron bars a foot and a half high; which at the bottom are bent outward and broadened a short distance to enable them to stand more firmly; the front part of the furnace is made from two of these bars, and the back part from two of them; to these bars on both sides are joined and welded three iron cross-bars, the first at a height of a palm from the bottom, the second at a height of a foot, and the third at the top. The upright bars are perforated at that point where the side cross-bars are joined to them, in order that three similar iron bars on the remaining sides can be engaged in them; thus there are twelve cross-bars, which make three stages at unequal intervals. At the lower stage, the upright bars are distant from each other one foot and five digits; and at the middle stage the front is distant from the back three palms and one digit, and the sides are distant from each other three palms and as many digits; at the highest stage from the front to the back there is a distance of two palms, and between the sides three palms, so that in this way the furnace becomes narrower at the top. Furthermore, an iron rod, bent to the shape of the mouth, is set into the lowest bar of the front; this mouth, just like that of the brick furnace, is a palm high and five digits wide. Then the front cross-bar of the lower stage is perforated on each side of the mouth, and likewise the back one; through these perforations there pass two iron rods, thus making altogether four bars in the lower stage, and these support an iron plate smeared with lute; part of this plate also projects outside the furnace. The outside of the furnace from the lower stage to the upper, is covered with iron plates, which are bound to the bars by iron wires, and smeared with lute to enable them to bear the heat of the fire as long as possible.

As for the clay furnace, it must be made of fat, thick clay, medium so far as relates to its softness or hardness. This furnace has exactly the same height as the iron one, and its base is made of two earthenware tiles, one foot and three palms long and one foot and one palm wide. Each side of the fore part of both tiles is gradually cut away for the length of a palm, so that they are half a foot and a digit wide, which part projects from the furnace; the tiles are about a digit and a half thick. The walls are similarly of clay, and are set on the lower tiles at a distance of a digit from the edge, and support the upper tiles; the walls are three digits high and have four openings, each of which is about three digits high; those of the back part and of each side are five digits wide, and of the front, a palm and a half wide, to enable the freshly made cupels to be conveniently placed on the hearth, when it has been thoroughly warmed, that they may be dried there. Both tiles are bound on the outer edge with iron wire, pressed into them, so that they will be less easily broken; and the tiles, not unlike the iron bed-plate, have three openings three digits long and a digit wide, in order that when the upper one on account of the heat of the fire or for some other reason has become damaged, the lower one may be exchanged and take its place. Through these [Pg 226]holes, the ashes from the burning charcoal, as I have stated, fall down, and air blows into the furnace after passing through the openings in the walls of the chamber. The furnace is rectangular, and inside at the lower part it is three palms and one digit wide and three palms and as many digits long. At the upper part it is two palms and three digits wide, so that it also grows narrower; it is one foot high; in the middle of the back it is cut out at the bottom in the shape of a semicircle, of half a digit radius. Not unlike the furnace before described, it has in its forepart a mouth which is rounded at the top, one palm high and a palm and a digit wide. Its door is also made of clay, and this has a window and a handle; even the lid of the furnace which is made of clay has its own handle, fastened on with iron wire. The outer parts and sides of this furnace are bound with iron wires, which are usually pressed in, in the shape of triangles. The brick furnaces must remain stationary; the clay and iron ones can be carried from one place to another. Those of brick can be prepared more quickly, while those of iron are more lasting, and those of clay are more suitable. Assayers also make temporary furnaces in another way; they stand three bricks on a hearth, one on each side and a third one at the back, the forepart lies open to the draught, and on these bricks is placed an iron plate, upon which they again stand three bricks, which hold and retain the charcoal.

The setting of one furnace differs from another, in that some are placed higher and others lower; that one is placed higher, in which the man who is assaying the ore or metals introduces the scorifier through the mouth with the tongs; that one is placed lower, into which he introduces the crucible through its open top.

Crucible Assay Furnace
A—Iron hoop. B—Double bellows. C—Its nozzle. D—Lever. [Pg 227]
In some cases the assayer uses an iron hoop[4] in place of a furnace; this is placed upon the hearth of a chimney, the lower edge being daubed with lute to prevent the blast of the bellows from escaping under it. If the blast is given slowly, the ore will be smelted and the copper will melt in the triangular crucible, which is placed in it and taken away again with the tongs. The hoop is two palms high and half a digit thick; its diameter is generally one foot and one palm, and where the blast from the bellows enters into it, it is notched out. The bellows is a double one, such as goldworkers use, and sometimes smiths. In the middle of the bellows there is a board in which there is an air-hole, five digits wide and seven long, covered by a little flap which is fastened over the air-hole on the lower side of the board; this flap is of equal length and width. The bellows, without its head, is three feet long, and at the back is one foot and one palm wide and somewhat rounded, and it is three palms wide at the head; the head itself is three palms long and two palms and a digit wide at the part where it joins the boards, then it gradually becomes narrower. The nozzle, of which there is only one, is one foot and two digits long; this nozzle, and one-half of the head in which the nozzle is fixed, are placed in an opening of the wall, this being one foot and one palm thick; it reaches only to the iron hoop on the [Pg 227]hearth, for it does not project beyond the wall. The hide of the bellows is fixed to the bellows-boards with its own peculiar kind of iron nails. It joins both bellows-boards to the head, and over it there are cross strips of hide fixed to the bellows-boards with broad-headed nails, and similarly fixed to the head. The middle board of the bellows rests on an iron bar, to which it is fastened with iron nails clinched on both ends, so that it cannot move; the iron bar is fixed between two upright posts, through which it penetrates. Higher up on these upright posts there is a wooden axle, with iron journals which revolve in the holes in the posts. In the middle of this axle there is mortised a lever, fixed with iron nails to prevent it from flying out; the lever is five and a half feet long, and its posterior end is engaged in the iron ring of an iron rod which reaches to the "tail" of the lowest bellows-board, and there engages another similar ring. And so when the workman pulls down the lever, the lower part of the bellows is raised and drives the wind into the nozzle; then the wind, penetrating through the hole in the middle bellows-board, which is called the air-hole, lifts up the upper part of the bellows, upon whose upper board is a piece of lead, heavy enough to press down that part of the bellows again, and this being pressed down blows a blast through the nozzle. This is the principle of the double bellows, which is peculiar to the iron hoop where are placed the triangular crucibles in which copper ore is smelted and copper is melted.

A—Broad little windows of muffle. B—Narrow ones. C—Openings in the back thereof. [Pg 228]
I have spoken of the furnaces and the iron hoop; I will now speak of the muffles and the crucibles. The muffle is made of clay, in the shape of an inverted gutter tile; it covers the scorifiers, lest coal dust fall into them and interfere with the assay. It is a palm and a half broad, and the height, which corresponds with the mouth of the furnace, is generally a palm, [Pg 228]and it is nearly as long as the furnace; only at the front end does it touch the mouth of the furnace, everywhere else on the sides and at the back there is a space of three digits, to allow the charcoal to lie in the open space between it and the furnace. The muffle is as thick as a fairly thick earthen jar; its upper part is entire; the back has two little windows, and each side has two or three or even four, through which the heat passes into the scorifiers and melts the ore. In place of little windows, some muffles have small holes, ten in the back and more on each side. Moreover, in the back below the little windows, or small holes, there are cut away three semi-circular notches half a digit high, and on each side there are four. The back of the muffle is generally a little lower than the front.

A—Scorifier. B—Triangular crucible. C—Cupel. [Pg 229]
The crucibles differ in the materials from which they are made, because they are made of either clay or ashes; and those of clay, which we also call "earthen," differ in shape and size. Some are made in the shape of a moderately thick salver (scorifiers), three digits wide, and of a capacity of an uncia measure; in these the ore mixed with fluxes is melted, and they are used by those who assay gold or silver ore. Some are triangular and much thicker and more capacious, holding five, or six, or even more unciae; in these copper is melted, so that it can be poured out, expanded, and tested with fire, and in these copper ore is usually melted.

The cupels are made of ashes; like the preceding scorifiers they are tray-shaped, and their lower part is very thick but their capacity is less. In these lead is separated from silver, and by them assays are concluded. Inasmuch as the assayers themselves make the cupels, something must be said about the material from which they are made, and the method of making them. Some make them out of all kinds of ordinary ashes; these are not good, because ashes of this kind contain a certain amount of fat, whereby such cupels are easily broken when they are hot. Others make them likewise out of any kind of ashes which have been previously leached; of this kind are the ashes into which warm water has been infused for the purpose of making lye. These ashes, after being dried in the sun or a furnace, are sifted in a hair sieve; and although warm water washes away the [Pg 229]fat from the ashes, still the cupels which are made from such ashes are not very good because they often contain charcoal dust, sand, and pebbles. Some make them in the same way out of any kind of ashes, but first of all pour water into the ashes and remove the scum which floats thereon; then, after it has become clear, they pour away the water, and dry the ashes; they then sift them and make the cupels from them. These, indeed, are good, but not of the best quality, because ashes of this kind are also not devoid of small pebbles and sand. To enable cupels of the best quality to be made, all the impurities must be removed from the ashes. These impurities are of two kinds; the one sort light, to which class belong charcoal dust and fatty material and other things which float in water, the other sort heavy, such as small stones, fine sand, and any other materials which settle in the bottom of a vessel. Therefore, first of all, water should be poured into the ashes and the light impurities removed; then the ashes should be kneaded with the hands, so that they will become properly mixed with the water. When the water has become muddy and turbid, it should be poured into a second vessel. In this way the small stones and fine sand, or any other heavy substance which may be there, remain in the first vessel, and should be thrown away. When all the ashes have settled in this second vessel, which will be shown if the water has become clear and does not taste of the flavour of lye, the water should be thrown away, and the ashes which have settled in the vessel should be dried in the sun or in a furnace. This material is suitable for the cupels, especially if it is the ash of beech wood or other wood which has a small annual growth; those ashes made from twigs and limbs of vines, which have rapid annual growth, are not so [Pg 230]good, for the cupels made from them, since they are not sufficiently dry, frequently crack and break in the fire and absorb the metals. If ashes of beech or similar wood are not to be had, the assayer makes little balls of such ashes as he can get, after they have been cleared of impurities in the manner before described, and puts them in a baker's or potter's oven to burn, and from these the cupels are made, because the fire consumes whatever fat or damp there may be. As to all kinds of ashes, the older they are the better, for it is necessary that they should have the greatest possible dryness. For this reason ashes obtained from burned bones, especially from the bones of the heads of animals, are the most suitable for cupels, as are also those ashes obtained from the horns of deer and the spines of fishes. Lastly, some take the ashes which are obtained from burnt scrapings of leather, when the tanners scrape the hides to clear them from hair. Some prefer to use compounds, that one being recommended which has one and a half parts of ashes from the bones of animals or the spines of fishes, and one part of beech ashes, and half a part of ashes of burnt hide scrapings. From this mixture good cupels are made, though far better ones are obtained from equal portions of ashes of burnt hide scrapings, ashes of the bones of heads of sheep and calves, and ashes of deer horns. But the best of all are produced from deer horns alone, burnt to powder; this kind, by reason of its extreme dryness, absorbs metals least of all. Assayers of our own day, however, generally make the cupels from beech ashes. These ashes, after being prepared in the manner just described, are first of all sprinkled with beer or water, to make them stick together, and are then ground in a small mortar. They are ground again after being mixed with the ashes obtained from the skulls of beasts or from the spines of fishes; the more the ashes are ground the better they are. Some rub bricks and sprinkle the dust so obtained, after sifting it, into the beech ashes, for dust of this kind does not allow the hearth-lead to absorb the gold or silver by eating away the cupels. Others, to guard against the same thing, moisten the cupels with white of egg after they have been made, and when they have been dried in the sun, again crush them; especially if they want to assay in it an ore of copper which contains iron. Some moisten the ashes again and again with cow's milk, and dry them, and grind them in a small mortar, and then mould the cupels. In the works in which silver is separated from copper, they make cupels from two parts of the ashes of the crucible of the cupellation furnace, for these ashes are very dry, and from one part of bone-ash. Cupels which have been made in these ways also need to be placed in the sun or in a furnace; afterward, in whatever way they have been made, they must be kept a long time in dry places, for the older they are, the dryer and better they are.

Cupel Moulds and Pestles
A—Little mould. B—Inverted mould. C—Pestle. D—Its knob. E—Second pestle. [Pg 231]
Not only potters, but also the assayers themselves, make scorifiers and triangular crucibles. They make them out of fatty clay, which is dry[5], and neither hard nor soft. With this clay they mix the dust of old broken crucibles, or of burnt and worn bricks; then they knead with a pestle the clay thus mixed with dust, and then dry it. As to these crucibles, [Pg 231]the older they are, the dryer and better they are. The moulds in which the cupels are moulded are of two kinds, that is, a smaller size and a larger size. In the smaller ones are made the cupels in which silver or gold is purged from the lead which has absorbed it; in the larger ones are made cupels in which silver is separated from copper and lead. Both moulds are made out of brass and have no bottom, in order that the cupels can be taken out of them whole. The pestles also are of two kinds, smaller and larger, each likewise of brass, and from the lower end of them there projects a round knob, and this alone is pressed into the mould and makes the hollow part of the cupel. The part which is next to the knob corresponds to the upper part of the mould.

So much for these matters. I will now speak of the preparation of the ore for assaying. It is prepared by roasting, burning, crushing, and washing. It is necessary to take a fixed weight of ore in order that one may determine how great a portion of it these preparations consume. The hard stone containing the metal is burned in order that, when its hardness has been overcome, it can be crushed and washed; indeed, the very hardest kind, before it is burned, is sprinkled with vinegar, in order that it may more rapidly soften in the fire. The soft stone should be broken with a hammer, crushed in a mortar and reduced to powder; then it should be washed and then dried again. If earth is mixed with the mineral, it is washed in a basin, and that which settles is assayed in the fire after it is dried. All mining products which are washed must again be dried. But ore which is rich in metal is neither burned nor crushed nor washed, but is roasted, lest that method of preparation should lose some of the metal. When the fires have [Pg 232]been kindled, this kind of ore is roasted in an enclosed pot, which is stopped up with lute. A less valuable ore is even burned on a hearth, being placed upon the charcoal; for we do not make a great expenditure upon metals, if they are not worth it. However, I will go into fuller details as to all these methods of preparing ore, both a little later, and in the following Book.

For the present, I have decided to explain those things which mining people usually call fluxes[6] because they are added to ores, not only for assaying, but also for smelting. Great power is discovered in all these fluxes, but we do not see the same effects produced in every case; and some are of a very complicated nature. For when they have been mixed with the ore and are melted in either the assay or the smelting furnace, some of them, because they melt easily, to some extent melt the ore; others, because they either make the ore very hot or penetrate into it, greatly assist the fire in separating the impurities from the metals, and they also mix the fused part with the lead, or they partly protect from the fire the ore whose metal contents would be either consumed in the fire, or carried up with the fumes and fly out of the furnace; some fluxes absorb the metals. To the first order belongs lead, whether it be reduced to little granules or resolved into ash by fire, or red-lead[7], or ochre made from lead[8], or litharge, or hearth-lead, or [Pg 233]galena; also copper, the same either roasted or in leaves or filings[9]; also the slags of gold, silver, copper, and lead; also soda[10], its slags, saltpetre, burned alum, vitriol, sal tostus, and melted salt[11]; stones which easily melt in hot furnaces, the sand which is made from them[12]; soft tophus[13], [Pg 234]and a certain white schist[14]. But lead, its ashes, red-lead, ochre, and litharge, are more efficacious for ores which melt easily; hearth-lead for those which melt with difficulty; and galena for those which melt with greater difficulty. To the second order belong iron filings, their slag, sal artificiosus, argol, dried lees of vinegar[15], and the lees of the aqua which separates gold from silver[16]; these lees and sal artificiosus have the power of penetrating into ore, the argol to a considerable degree, the lees of vinegar to a greater degree, but most of all those of the aqua which separates gold from silver; filings and slags of iron, since they melt more slowly, have the power of heating the ore. To the third order belong pyrites, the cakes which are melted from them, soda, its slags, salt, iron, iron scales, iron filings, iron slags, vitriol, the sand which is resolved from stones which easily melt in the fire, and tophus; but first of all are pyrites and the cakes which are melted from it, for they absorb the metals of the ore and guard them from the fire which consumes them. To the fourth order belong lead and copper, and their relations. And so with regard to fluxes, it is manifest that some are natural, others fall in the category of slags, and the rest are purged from slag. When we [Pg 235]assay ores, we can without great expense add to them a small portion of any sort of flux, but when we smelt them we cannot add a large portion without great expense. We must, therefore, consider how great the cost is, to avoid incurring a greater expense on smelting an ore than the profit we make out of the metals which it yields.

The colour of the fumes which the ore emits after being placed on a hot shovel or an iron plate, indicates what flux is needed in addition to the lead, for the purpose of either assaying or smelting. If the fumes have a purple tint, it is best of all, and the ore does not generally require any flux whatever. If the fumes are blue, there should be added cakes melted out of pyrites or other cupriferous rock; if yellow, litharge and sulphur should be added; if red, glass-galls[17] and salt; if green, then cakes melted from cupriferous stones, litharge, and glass-galls; if the fumes are black, melted salt or iron slag, litharge and white lime rock. If they are white, sulphur and iron which is eaten with rust; if they are white with green patches, iron slag and sand obtained from stones which easily melt; if the middle part of the fumes are yellow and thick, but the outer parts green, the same sand and iron slag. The colour of the fumes not only gives us information as to the proper remedies which should be applied to each ore, but also more or less indication as to the solidified juices which are mixed with it, and which give forth such fumes. Generally, blue fumes signify that the ore contains azure yellow, orpiment; red, realgar; green, chrysocolla; black, black bitumen; white, tin[18]; white with green patches, the same mixed with chrysocolla; the middle part yellow and other parts green show that it contains sulphur. Earth, however, and other things dug up which contain metals, sometimes emit similarly coloured fumes.

If the ore contains any stibium, then iron slag is added to it; if pyrites, then are added cakes melted from a cupriferous stone and sand made from stones which easily melt. If the ore contains iron, then pyrites and sulphur are added; for just as iron slag is the flux for an ore mixed with sulphur, so on the contrary, to a gold or silver ore containing iron, from which they are [Pg 236]not easily separated, is added sulphur and sand made from stones which easily melt.

Sal artificiosus[19] suitable for use in assaying ore is made in many ways. By the first method, equal portions of argol, lees of vinegar, and urine, are all boiled down together till turned into salt. The second method is from equal portions of the ashes which wool-dyers use, of lime, of argol purified, and of melted salt; one libra of each of these ingredients is thrown into twenty librae of urine; then all are boiled down to one-third and strained, and afterward there is added to what remains one libra and four unciae of unmelted salt, eight pounds of lye being at the same time poured into the pots, with litharge smeared around on the inside, and the whole is boiled till the salt becomes thoroughly dry. The third method follows. Unmelted salt, and iron which is eaten with rust, are put into a vessel, and after urine has been poured in, it is covered with a lid and put in a warm place for thirty days; then the iron is washed in the urine and taken out, and the residue is boiled until it is turned into salt. In the fourth method by which sal artificiosus is prepared, the lye made from equal portions of lime and the ashes which wool-dyers use, together with equal portions of salt, soap, white argol, and saltpetre, are boiled until in the end the mixture evaporates and becomes salt. This salt is mixed with the concentrates from washing, to melt them.

Saltpetre is prepared in the following manner, in order that it may be suitable for use in assaying ore. It is placed in a pot which is smeared on the inside with litharge, and lye made of quicklime is repeatedly poured over it, and it is heated until the fire consumes it. Wherefore the saltpetre does not kindle with the fire, since it has absorbed the lime which preserves it, and thus it is prepared[20].

The following compositions[21] are recommended to smelt all ores which the heat of fire breaks up or melts only with difficulty. Of these, one is made from stones of the third order, which easily melt when thrown into hot furnaces. They are crushed into pure white powder, and with half an uncia [Pg 237]of this powder there are mixed two unciae of yellow litharge, likewise crushed. This mixture is put into a scorifier large enough to hold it, and placed under the muffle of a hot furnace; when the charge flows like water, which occurs after half an hour, it is taken out of the furnace and poured on to a stone, and when it has hardened it has the appearance of glass, and this is likewise crushed. This powder is sprinkled over any metalliferous ore which does not easily melt when we are assaying it, and it causes the slag to exude.

Others, in place of litharge, substitute lead ash,[22] which is made in the following way: sulphur is thrown into lead which has been melted in a crucible, and it soon becomes covered with a sort of scum; when this is removed, sulphur is again thrown in, and the skin which forms is again taken off; this is frequently repeated, in fact until all the lead is turned into powder. There is a powerful flux compound which is made from one uncia each of prepared saltpetre, melted salt, glass-gall, and argol, and one-third of an uncia of litharge and a bes of glass ground to powder; this flux, being added to an equal weight of ore, liquefies it. A more powerful flux is made by placing together in a pot, smeared on the inside with litharge, equal portions of white argol, common salt, and prepared saltpetre, and these are heated until a white powder is obtained from them, and this is mixed with as much litharge; one part of this compound is mixed with two parts of the ore which is to be assayed. A still more powerful flux than this is made out of ashes of black lead, saltpetre, orpiment, stibium, and dried lees of the aqua with which gold workers separate gold from silver. The ashes of lead[23] are made from one pound of lead and one pound of sulphur; the lead is flattened out into sheets by pounding with a hammer, and placed alternately with sulphur in a crucible or pot, and they are heated together until the fire consumes the sulphur and the lead turns to ashes. One libra of crushed saltpetre is mixed with one libra of orpiment similarly ground to powder, and the two are cooked in an iron pan until they liquefy; they are then poured out, and after cooling are again ground to powder. A libra of stibium and a bes of the dried lees (of what?) are placed alternately in a crucible and heated to the point at which they form a button, which is similarly reduced to powder. A bes of this powder and one libra of the ashes of lead, as well as a libra of powder made out of the saltpetre and orpiment, are mixed together and a [Pg 238]powder is made from them, one part of which added to two parts of ore liquefies it and cleanses it of dross. But the most powerful flux is one which has two drachmae of sulphur and as much glass-galls, and half an uncia of each of the following,—stibium, salt obtained from boiled urine, melted common salt, prepared saltpetre, litharge, vitriol, argol, salt obtained from ashes of musk ivy, dried lees of the aqua by which gold-workers separate gold from silver, alum reduced by fire to powder, and one uncia of camphor[24] combined with sulphur and ground into powder. A half or whole portion of this mixture, as the necessity of the case requires, is mixed with one portion of the ore and two portions of lead, and put in a scorifier; it is sprinkled with powder of crushed Venetian glass, and when the mixture has been heated for an hour and a half or two hours, a button will settle in the bottom of the scorifier, and from it the lead is soon separated.

There is also a flux which separates sulphur, orpiment and realgar from metalliferous ore. This flux is composed of equal portions of iron slag, white tophus, and salt. After these juices have been secreted, the ores themselves are melted, with argol added to them. There is one flux which preserves stibium from the fire, that the fire may not consume it, and which preserves the metals from the stibium; and this is composed of equal portions of sulphur, prepared saltpetre, melted salt, and vitriol, heated together in lye until no odour emanates from the sulphur, which occurs after a space of three or four hours.[25]

It is also worth while to substitute certain other mixtures. Take two portions of ore properly prepared, one portion of iron filings, and likewise one portion of salt, and mix; then put them into a scorifier and place them in a muffle furnace; when they are reduced by the fire and run together, a button will settle in the bottom of the scorifier. Or else take equal portions of ore and of lead ochre, and mix with them a small quantity of iron filings, and put them into a scorifier, then scatter iron filings over the mixture. Or else take ore which has been ground to powder and sprinkle it in a crucible, and then sprinkle over it an equal quantity of salt that has been three or four times moistened with urine and dried; then, again and again alternately, powdered ore and salt; next, after the crucible has been covered with a lid and sealed, it is placed upon burning charcoal. Or else take one portion of ore, one portion of minute lead granules, half a portion of Venetian glass, and the same quantity of glass-galls. Or else take one portion of ore, one portion of lead granules, half a portion of salt, one-fourth of a portion of argol, and the same quantity of lees of the aqua which separates gold from silver. Or else take equal portions of prepared ore and a powder in which there [Pg 239]are equal portions of very minute lead granules, melted salt, stibium and iron slag. Or else take equal portions of gold ore, vitriol, argol, and of salt. So much for the fluxes.

In the assay furnace, when it has been prepared in the way in which I have described, is first placed a muffle. Then selected pieces of live charcoals are laid on it, for, from pieces of inferior quality, a great quantity of ash collects around the muffle and hinders the action of the fire. Then the scorifiers are placed under the muffle with tongs, and glowing coals are placed under the fore part of the muffle to warm the scorifiers more quickly; and when the lead or ore is to be placed in the scorifiers, they are taken out again with the tongs. When the scorifiers glow in the heat, first of all the ash or small charcoals, if any have fallen into them, should be blown away with an iron pipe two feet long and a digit in diameter; this same thing must be done if ash or small coal has fallen into the cupels. Next, put in a small ball of lead with the tongs, and when this lead has begun to be turned into fumes and consumed, add to it the prepared ore wrapped in paper. It is preferable that the assayer should wrap it in paper, and in this way put it in the scorifier, than that he should drop it in with a copper ladle; for when the scorifiers are small, if he uses a ladle he frequently spills some part of the ore. When the paper is burnt, he stirs the ore with a small charcoal held in the tongs, so that the lead may absorb the metal which is mixed in the ore; when this mixture has taken place, the slag partly adheres by its circumference to the scorifier and makes a kind of black ring, and partly floats on the lead in which is mixed the gold or silver; then the slag must be removed from it.

The lead used must be entirely free from every trace of silver, as is that which is known as Villacense.[26] But if this kind is not obtainable, the lead must be assayed separately, to determine with certainty that proportion of silver it contains, so that it may be deducted from the calculation of the ore, and the result be exact; for unless such lead be used, the assay will be false and misleading. Tongs
A—Claws of the tongs. B—Iron, giving form of an egg. C—Opening. [Pg 240]
The lead balls are made with a pair of iron tongs, about one foot long; its iron claws are so formed that when pressed together they are egg-shaped; each claw contains a hollow cup, and when the claws are closed there extends upward from the cup a passage, so there are two openings, one of which leads to each hollow cup. And so when the molten lead is poured in through the openings, it flows down into the hollow cup, and two balls are formed by one pouring.

In this place I ought not to omit mention of another method of assaying employed by some assayers. They first of all place prepared ore in the scorifiers and heat it, and afterward they add the lead. Of this method I cannot approve, for in this way the ore frequently becomes cemented, and for this reason it does not stir easily afterward, and is very slow in mixing with the lead.

[Pg 240]

If the whole space of the furnace covered by the muffle is not filled with scorifiers, cupels are put in the empty space, in order that they may become warmed in the meantime. Sometimes, however, it is filled with scorifiers, when we are assaying many different ores, or many portions of one ore at the same time. Although the cupels are usually dried in one hour, yet smaller ones are done more quickly, and the larger ones more slowly. Unless the cupels are heated before the metal mixed with lead is placed in them, they frequently break, and the lead always sputters and sometimes leaps out of them; if the cupel is broken or the lead leaps out of it, it is necessary to assay another portion of ore; but if the lead only sputters, then the cupels should be covered with broad thin pieces of glowing charcoal, and when the lead strikes these, it falls back again, and thus the mixture is slowly exhaled. Further, if in the cupellation the lead which is in the mixture is not consumed, but remains fixed and set, and is covered by a kind of skin, this is a sign that it has not been heated by a sufficiently hot fire; put into the mixture, therefore, a dry pine stick, or a twig of a similar tree, and hold it in the hand in order that it can be drawn away when it has been heated. Then take care that the heat is sufficient and equal; if the heat has not passed all round the charge, as it should when everything is done rightly, but causes it to have a lengthened shape, so that it appears to have a tail, this is a sign that the heat is deficient where the tail lies. Hook
Small iron hook. [Pg 240]
Then in order that the cupel may be equally heated by the fire, turn it around with a small iron hook, whose handle is likewise made of iron and is a foot and a half long.

Next, if the mixture has not enough lead, add as much of it as is required with the iron tongs, or with the brass ladle to which is fastened a very long handle. In order that the charge may not be cooled, warm the lead beforehand. [Pg 241]But it is better at first to add as much lead as is required to the ore which needs melting, rather than afterward when the melting has been half finished, that the whole quantity may not vanish in fumes, but part of it remain fast. When the heat of the fire has nearly consumed the lead, then is the time when the gold and silver gleam in their varied colours, and when all the lead has been consumed the gold or silver settles in the cupel. Then as soon as possible remove the cupel out of the furnace, and take the button out of it while it is still warm, in order that it does not adhere to the ashes. This generally happens if the button is already cold when it is taken out. If the ashes do adhere to it, do not scrape it with a knife, lest some of it be lost and the assay be erroneous, but squeeze it with the iron tongs, so that the ashes drop off through the pressure. Finally, it is of advantage to make two or three assays of the same ore at the same time, in order that if by chance one is not successful, the second, or in any event the third, may be certain.

Shield for Muffle Furnace
A—Handle of tablet. B—Its crack. [Pg 241]
While the assayer is assaying the ore, in order to prevent the great heat of the fire from injuring his eyes, it will be useful for him always to have ready a thin wooden tablet, two palms wide, with a handle by which it may be held, and with a slit down the middle in order that he may look through it as through a crack, since it is necessary for him to look frequently within and carefully to consider everything.

Now the lead which has absorbed the silver from a metallic ore is consumed in the cupel by the heat in the space of three quarters of an hour. When the assays are completed the muffle is taken out of the furnace, and the ashes removed with an iron shovel, not only from the brick and iron furnaces, but also from the earthen one, so that the furnace need not be removed from its foundation.

From ore placed in the triangular crucible a button is melted out, from which metal is afterward made. First of all, glowing charcoal is put into the iron hoop, then is put in the triangular crucible, which contains the ore together with those things which can liquefy it and purge it of its dross; then the fire is blown with the double bellows, and the ore is heated until the button settles in the bottom of the crucible. We have explained that there are two methods of assaying ore,—one, by which the lead is mixed [Pg 242]with ore in the scorifier and afterward again separated from it in the cupel; the other, by which it is first melted in the triangular earthen crucible and afterward mixed with lead in the scorifier, and later separated from it in the cupel. Now let us consider which is more suitable for each ore, or, if neither is suitable, by what other method in one way or another we can assay it.

We justly begin with a gold ore, which we assay by both methods, for if it is rich and seems not to be strongly resistant to fire, but to liquefy easily, one centumpondium of it (known to us as the lesser weights),[27] together with one and a half, or two unciae of lead of the larger weights, are mixed together and placed in the scorifier, and the two are heated in the fire until they are well mixed. But since such an ore sometimes resists melting, add a little salt to it, either sal torrefactus or sal artificiosus, for this will subdue it, and prevent the alloy from collecting much dross; stir it frequently with an iron rod, in order that the lead may flow around the gold on every side, and absorb it and cast out the waste. When this has been done, take out the alloy and cleanse it of slag; then place it in the cupel and heat it until it exhales all the lead, and a bead of gold settles in the bottom.

If the gold ore is seen not to be easily melted in the fire, roast it and extinguish it with brine. Do this again and again, for the more often you roast it and extinguish it, the more easily the ore can be crushed fine, and the more quickly does it melt in the fire and give up whatever dross it possesses. [Pg 243]Mix one part of this ore, when it has been roasted, crushed, and washed, with three parts of some powder compound which melts ore, and six parts of lead. Put the charge into the triangular crucible, place it in the iron hoop to which the double bellows reaches, and heat first in a slow fire, and afterward gradually in a fiercer fire, till it melts and flows like water. If the ore does not melt, add to it a little more of these fluxes, mixed with an equal portion of yellow litharge, and stir it with a hot iron rod until it all melts. Then take the crucible out of the hoop, shake off the button when it has cooled, and when it has been cleansed, melt first in the scorifier and afterward in the cupel. Finally, rub the gold which has settled in the bottom of the cupel, after it has been taken out and cooled, on the touchstone, in order to find out what proportion of silver it contains. Another method is to put a centumpondium (of the lesser weights) of gold ore into the triangular crucible, and add to it a drachma (of the larger weights) of glass-galls. If it resists melting, add half a drachma of roasted argol, and if even then it resists, add the same quantity of roasted lees of vinegar, or lees of the aqua which separates gold from silver, and the button will settle in the bottom of the crucible. Melt this button again in the scorifier and a third time in the cupel.

We determine in the following way, before it is melted in the muffle furnace, whether pyrites contains gold in it or not: if, after being three times roasted and three times quenched in sharp vinegar, it has not broken nor changed its colour, there is gold in it. The vinegar by which it is quenched should be mixed with salt that is put in it, and frequently stirred and dissolved for three days. Nor is pyrites devoid of gold, when, after being roasted and then rubbed on the touchstone, it colours the touchstone in the same way that it coloured it when rubbed in its crude state. Nor is gold lacking in that, whose concentrates from washing, when heated in the fire, easily melt, giving forth little smell and remaining bright; such concentrates are heated in the fire in a hollowed piece of charcoal covered over with another charcoal.

We also assay gold ore without fire, but more often its sand or the concentrates which have been made by washing, or the dust gathered up by some other means. A little of it is slightly moistened with water and heated until it begins to exhale an odour, and then to one portion of ore are placed two portions of quicksilver[28] in a wooden dish as deep as a basin. They are mixed together with a little brine, and are then ground with a wooden pestle for the space of two hours, until the mixture becomes of the thickness of dough, and the quicksilver can no longer be distinguished from the concentrates made by the washing, nor the concentrates from the quicksilver. Warm, or at least tepid, water is poured into the dish and the material is washed until the water runs out clear. Afterward cold water is poured into the same dish, and soon the quicksilver, which has absorbed all the gold, runs together into a separate place away from the rest of the concentrates made by washing. The quicksilver is afterward separated from the gold by means of a pot covered with soft leather, or with canvas made of woven threads of cotton; the amalgam is poured into the middle of the cloth or [Pg 244]leather, which sags about one hand's breadth; next, the leather is folded over and tied with a waxed string, and the dish catches the quicksilver which is squeezed through it. As for the gold which remains in the leather, it is placed in a scorifier and purified by being placed near glowing coals. Others do not wash away the dirt with warm water, but with strong lye and vinegar, for they pour these liquids into the pot, and also throw into it the quicksilver mixed with the concentrates made by washing. Then they set the pot in a warm place, and after twenty-four hours pour out the liquids with the dirt, and separate the quicksilver from the gold in the manner which I have described. Then they pour urine into a jar set in the ground, and in the jar place a pot with holes in the bottom, and in the pot they place the gold; then the lid is put on and cemented, and it is joined with the jar; they afterward heat it till the pot glows red. After it has cooled, if there is copper in the gold they melt it with lead in a cupel, that the copper may be separated from it; but if there is silver in the gold they separate them by means of the aqua which has the power of parting these two metals. There are some who, when they separate gold from quicksilver, do not pour the amalgam into a leather, but put it into a gourd-shaped earthen vessel, which they place in the furnace and heat gradually over burning charcoal; next, with an iron plate, they cover the opening of the operculum, which exudes vapour, and as soon as it has ceased to exude, they smear it with lute and heat it for a short time; then they remove the operculum from the pot, and wipe off the quicksilver which adheres to it with a hare's foot, and preserve it for future use. By the latter method, a greater quantity of quicksilver is lost, and by the former method, a smaller quantity.

If an ore is rich in silver, as is rudis silver[29], frequently silver glance, or rarely ruby silver, gray silver, black silver, brown silver, or yellow silver, as soon as it is cleansed and heated, a centumpondium (of the lesser weights) of it is placed in an uncia of molten lead in a cupel, and is heated until the lead exhales. But if the ore is of poor or moderate quality, it must first be dried, then crushed, and then to a centumpondium (of the lesser weights) an uncia of lead is added, and it is heated in the scorifier until it melts. If it is not soon melted by the fire, it should be sprinkled with a little powder of the first order of fluxes, and if then it does not melt, more is added little by little until it melts and exudes its slag; that this result may be reached sooner, the powder which has been sprinkled over it should be stirred in with an iron rod. When the scorifier has been taken out of the assay furnace, the alloy should be poured into a hole in a baked brick; and when it has cooled and been cleansed of the slag, it should be placed in a cupel and heated until it exhales all its lead; the weight of silver which remains in the cupel indicates what proportion of silver is contained in the ore.

We assay copper ore without lead, for if it is melted with it, the copper usually exhales and is lost. Therefore, a certain weight of such an ore [Pg 245]is first roasted in a hot fire for about six or eight hours; next, when it has cooled, it is crushed and washed; then the concentrates made by washing are again roasted, crushed, washed, dried, and weighed. The portion which it has lost whilst it is being roasted and washed is taken into account, and these concentrates by washing represent the cake which will be melted out of the copper ore. Place three centumpondia (lesser weights) of this, mixed with three centumpondia (lesser weights) each of copper scales[30], saltpetre, and Venetian glass, mixed, into the triangular crucible, and place it in the iron hoop which is set on the hearth in front of the double bellows. Cover the crucible with charcoal in such a way that nothing may fall into the ore which is to be melted, and so that it may melt more quickly. At first blow a gentle blast with the bellows in order that the ore may be heated gradually in the fire; then blow strongly till it melts, and the fire consumes that which has been added to it, and the ore itself exudes whatever slag it possesses. Next, cool the crucible which has been taken out, and when this is broken you will find the copper; weigh this, in order to ascertain how great a portion of the ore the fire has consumed. Some ore is only once roasted, crushed, and washed; and of this kind of concentrates, three centumpondia (lesser weights) are taken with one centumpondium each of common salt, argol and glass-galls. Heat them in the triangular crucible, and when the mixture has cooled a button of pure copper will be found, if the ore is rich in this metal. If, however, it is less rich, a stony lump results, with which the copper is intermixed; this lump is again roasted, crushed, and, after adding stones which easily melt and saltpetre, it is again melted in another crucible, and there settles in the bottom of the crucible a button of pure copper. If you wish to know what proportion of silver is in this copper button, melt it in a cupel after adding lead. With regard to this test I will speak later.

Those who wish to know quickly what portion of silver the copper ore contains, roast the ore, crush and wash it, then mix a little yellow litharge with one centumpondium (lesser weights) of the concentrates, and put the mixture into a scorifier, which they place under the muffle in a hot furnace for the space of half an hour. When the slag exudes, by reason of the melting force which is in the litharge, they take the scorifier out; when it has cooled, they cleanse it of slag and again crush it, and with one centumpondium of it they mix one and a half unciae of lead granules. They then put it into another scorifier, which they place under the muffle in a hot furnace, adding to the mixture a little of the powder of some one of the fluxes which cause ore to melt; when it has melted they take it out, and after it has cooled, cleanse it of slag; lastly, they heat it in the cupel till it has exhaled all of the lead, and only silver remains.

Lead ore may be assayed by this method: crush half an uncia of pure lead-stone and the same quantity of the chrysocolla which they call borax, mix them together, place them in a crucible, and put a glowing coal [Pg 246]in the middle of it. As soon as the borax crackles and the lead-stone melts, which soon occurs, remove the coal from the crucible, and the lead will settle to the bottom of it; weigh it out, and take account of that portion of it which the fire has consumed. If you also wish to know what portion of silver is contained in the lead, melt the lead in the cupel until all of it exhales.

Another way is to roast the lead ore, of whatsoever quality it be, wash it, and put into the crucible one centumpondium of the concentrates, together with three centumpondia of the powdered compound which melts ore, mixed together, and place it in the iron hoop that it may melt; when it has cooled, cleanse it of its slag, and complete the test as I have already said. Another way is to take two unciae of prepared ore, five drachmae of roasted copper, one uncia of glass, or glass-galls reduced to powder, a semi-uncia of salt, and mix them. Put the mixture into the triangular crucible, and heat it over a gentle fire to prevent it from breaking; when the mixture has melted, blow the fire vigorously with the bellows; then take the crucible off the live coals and let it cool in the open air; do not pour water on it, lest the lead button being acted upon by the excessive cold should become mixed with the slag, and the assay in this way be erroneous. When the crucible has cooled, you will find in the bottom of it the lead button. Another way is to take two unciae of ore, a semi-uncia of litharge, two drachmae of Venetian glass and a semi-uncia of saltpetre. If there is difficulty in melting the ore, add to it iron filings, which, since they increase the heat, easily separate the waste from lead and other metals. By the last way, lead ore properly prepared is placed in the crucible, and there is added to it only the sand made from stones which easily melt, or iron filings, and then the assay is completed as formerly.

You can assay tin ore by the following method. First roast it, then crush, and afterward wash it; the concentrates are again roasted, crushed, and washed. Mix one and a half centumpondia of this with one centumpondium of the chrysocolla which they call borax; from the mixture, when it has been moistened with water, make a lump. Afterwards, perforate a large round piece of charcoal, making this opening a palm deep, three digits wide on the upper side and narrower on the lower side; when the charcoal is put in its place the latter should be on the bottom and the former uppermost. Let it be placed in a crucible, and let glowing coal be put round it on all sides; when the perforated piece of coal begins to burn, the lump is placed in the upper part of the opening, and it is covered with a wide piece of glowing coal, and after many pieces of coal have been put round it, a hot fire is blown up with the bellows, until all the tin has run out of the lower opening of the charcoal into the crucible. Another way is to take a large piece of charcoal, hollow it out, and smear it with lute, that the ore may not leap out when white hot. Next, make a small hole through the middle of it, then fill up the large opening with small charcoal, and put the ore upon this; put fire in the small hole and blow the fire with the nozzle of a hand bellows; place the piece of charcoal in a small crucible, smeared with lute, in which, when the melting is finished, you will find a button of tin.

[Pg 247]

In assaying bismuth ore, place pieces of ore in the scorifier, and put it under the muffle in a hot furnace; as soon as they are heated, they drip with bismuth, which runs together into a button.

Quicksilver ore is usually tested by mixing one part of broken ore with three-parts of charcoal dust and a handful of salt. Put the mixture into a crucible or a pot or a jar, cover it with a lid, seal it with lute, place it on glowing charcoal, and as soon as a burnt cinnabar colour shows in it, take out the vessel; for if you continue the heat too long the mixture exhales the quicksilver with the fumes. The quicksilver itself, when it has become cool, is found in the bottom of the crucible or other vessel. Another way is to place broken ore in a gourd-shaped earthen vessel, put it in the assay furnace, and cover with an operculum which has a long spout; under the spout, put an ampulla to receive the quicksilver which distills. Cold water should be poured into the ampulla, so that the quicksilver which has been heated by the fire may be continuously cooled and gathered together, for the quicksilver is borne over by the force of the fire, and flows down through the spout of the operculum into the ampulla. We also assay quicksilver ore in the very same way in which we smelt it. This I will explain in its proper place.

Lastly, we assay iron ore in the forge of a blacksmith. Such ore is burned, crushed, washed, and dried; a magnet is laid over the concentrates, and the particles of iron are attracted to it; these are wiped off with a brush, and are caught in a crucible, the magnet being continually passed over the concentrates and the particles wiped off, so long as there remain any particles which the magnet can attract to it. These particles are heated in the crucible with saltpetre until they melt, and an iron button is melted out of them. If the magnet easily and quickly attracts the particles to it, we infer that the ore is rich in iron; if slowly, that it is poor; if it appears actually to repel the ore, then it contains little or no iron. This is enough for the assaying of ores.

I will now speak of the assaying of the metal alloys. This is done both by coiners and merchants who buy and sell metal, and by miners, but most of all by the owners and mine masters, and by the owners and masters of the works in which the metals are smelted, or in which one metal is parted from another.

First I will describe the way assays are usually made to ascertain what portion of precious metal is contained in base metal. Gold and silver are now reckoned as precious metals and all the others as base metals. Once upon a time the base metals were burned up, in order that the precious metals should be left pure; the Ancients even discovered by such burning what portion of gold was contained in silver, and in this way all the silver was consumed, which was no small loss. However, the famous mathematician, Archimedes[31], to gratify King Hiero, invented a method of testing the silver, [Pg 248]which was not very rapid, and was more accurate for testing a large mass than a small one. This I will explain in my commentaries. The alchemists have shown us a way of separating silver from gold by which neither of them is lost[32].

Gold which contains silver,[33] or silver which contains gold, is first rubbed on the touchstone. Then a needle in which there is a similar amount of gold or silver is rubbed on the same touchstone, and from the lines which are produced in this way, is perceived what portion of silver there is in the gold, or what portion of gold there is in the silver. Next there is added to the silver which is in the gold, enough silver to make it three times as much as the gold. Then lead is placed in a cupel and melted; a little later, a small amount of copper is put in it, in fact, half an uncia of it, or half an uncia and a sicilicus (of the smaller weights) if the gold or silver does not contain any copper. The cupel, when the lead and copper are wanting, attracts the particles of gold and silver, and absorbs them. Finally, one-third of a libra of the gold, and one libra[34] of the silver must be placed together in the same cupel and melted; for if the gold and silver were first placed in the cupel and melted, as I have already said, it absorbs particles of them, and the gold, when separated from the silver, will not be found pure. These metals are heated until the lead and the copper are consumed, and again, the same weight of each is melted in the same manner in another cupel. The buttons are pounded with a hammer and flattened out, and each little leaf is shaped in the form of a tube, and each is put into a small glass ampulla. Over these there is poured one uncia and one drachma (of the large weight) of the third quality aqua valens, which I will describe in the Tenth Book. This is heated over a slow fire, and small bubbles, resembling pearls in shape, will be seen to adhere to the tubes. The redder the aqua appears, the better it is judged to be; when the redness has vanished, small white bubbles are seen to be resting on the tubes, resembling pearls not only in shape, but also in colour. After a short time the aqua is poured off and other is poured on; when this has again raised six or eight small white bubbles, it is poured off and the tubes are taken out and washed four or five times with spring water; or if they are heated with the same water, when it is boiling, they will shine more brilliantly. Then they are placed in a saucer, which is held in the hand and gradually dried by the gentle heat of the fire; afterward the saucer is placed over glowing charcoal and covered with a charcoal, and a moderate blast is blown upon it [Pg 249]with the mouth and then a blue flame will be emitted. In the end the tubes are weighed, and if their weights prove equal, he who has undertaken this work has not laboured in vain. Lastly, both are placed in another balance-pan and weighed; of each tube four grains must not be counted, on account of the silver which remains in the gold and cannot be separated from it. From the weight of the tubes we learn the weight both of the gold and of the silver which is in the button. If some assayer has omitted to add so much silver to the gold as to make it three times the quantity, but only double, or two and a half times as much, he will require the stronger quality of aqua which separates gold from silver, such as the fourth quality. Whether the aqua which he employs for gold and silver is suitable for the purpose, or whether it is more or less strong than is right, is recognised by its effect. That of medium strength raises the little bubbles on the tubes and is found to colour the ampulla and the operculum a strong red; the weaker one is found to colour them a light red, and the stronger one to break the tubes. To pure silver in which there is some portion of gold, nothing should be added when they are being heated in the cupel prior to their being parted, except a bes of lead and one-fourth or one-third its amount of copper of the lesser weights. If the silver contains in itself a certain amount of copper, let it be weighed, both after it has been melted with the lead, and after the gold has been parted from it; by the former we learn how much copper is in it, by the latter how much gold. Base metals are burnt up even to-day for the purpose of assay, because to lose so little of the metal is small loss, but from a large mass of base metal, the precious metal is always extracted, as I will explain in Books X. and XI.

We assay an alloy of copper and silver in the following way. From a few cakes of copper the assayer cuts out portions, small samples from small cakes, medium samples from medium cakes, and large samples from large cakes; the small ones are equal in size to half a hazel nut, the large ones do not exceed the size of half a chestnut, and those of medium size come between the two. He cuts out the samples from the middle of the bottom of each cake. He places the samples in a new, clean, triangular crucible and fixes to them pieces of paper upon which are written the weight of the cakes of copper, of whatever size they may be; for example, he writes, "These samples have been cut from copper which weighs twenty centumpondia." When he wishes to know how much silver one centumpondium of copper of this kind has in it, first of all he throws glowing coals into the iron hoop, then adds charcoal to it. When the fire has become hot, the paper is taken out of the crucible and put aside, he then sets that crucible on the fire and gradually heats it for a quarter of an hour until it becomes red hot. Then he stimulates the fire by blowing with a blast from the double bellows for half an hour, because copper which is devoid of lead requires this time to become hot and to melt; copper not devoid of lead melts quicker. When he has blown the bellows for about the space of time stated, he removes the glowing charcoal with the tongs, and stirs the copper with a splinter of wood, which he grasps with the tongs. If it does not stir easily, it is a sign that the [Pg 250]copper is not wholly liquefied; if he finds this is the case, he again places a large piece of charcoal in the crucible, and replaces the glowing charcoal which had been removed, and again blows the bellows for a short time. When all the copper has melted he stops using the bellows, for if he were to continue to use them, the fire would consume part of the copper, and then that which remained would be richer than the cake from which it had been cut; this is no small mistake. Copper Mould for Assaying
A—Iron mould. B—Its handle. [Pg 250]
Therefore, as soon as the copper has become sufficiently liquefied, he pours it out into a little iron mould, which may be large or small, according as more or less copper is melted in the crucible for the purpose of the assay. The mould has a handle, likewise made of iron, by which it is held when the copper is poured in, after which, he plunges it into a tub of water placed near at hand, that the copper may be cooled. Then he again dries the copper by the fire, and cuts off its point with an iron wedge; the portion nearest the point he hammers on an anvil and makes into a leaf, which he cuts into pieces.

Others stir the molten copper with a stick of linden tree charcoal, and then pour it over a bundle of new clean birch twigs, beneath which is placed a wooden tub of sufficient size and full of water, and in this manner the copper is broken up into little granules as small as hemp seeds. Others employ straw in place of twigs. Others place a broad stone in a tub and pour in enough water to cover the stone, then they run out the molten copper from the crucible on to the stone, from which the minute granules roll off; others pour the molten copper into water and stir it until it is resolved into granules. The fire does not easily melt the copper in the cupel unless it has been poured and a thin leaf made of it, or unless it has been resolved into granules or made into filings; and if it does not melt, all the labour has been undertaken in vain. In order that they may be accurately weighed out, silver and lead are resolved into granules in the same manner as copper. But to return to the assay of copper. When the copper has been prepared by these methods, if it is free of lead and iron, and rich in silver, to each centumpondium (lesser weights) add one and a half unciae of lead (larger weights). If, however, the copper contains some lead, add one uncia of lead; if it contains iron, add two unciae. First put the lead into a cupel, and after it begins to smoke, add the copper; the fire generally consumes the copper, together with the lead, in about one hour and a quarter. When this is done, the silver [Pg 251]will be found in the bottom of the cupel. The fire consumes both of those metals more quickly if they are heated in that furnace which draws in air. It is better to cover the upper half of it with a lid, and not only to put on the muffle door, but also to close the window of the muffle door with a piece of charcoal, or with a piece of brick. If the copper be such that the silver can only be separated from it with difficulty, then before it is tested with fire in the cupel, lead should first be put into the scorifier, and then the copper should be added with a moderate quantity of melted salt, both that the lead may absorb the copper and that the copper may be cleansed of the dross which abounds in it.

Tin which contains silver should not at the beginning of the assay be placed in a cupel, lest the silver, as often happens, be consumed and converted into fumes, together with the tin. As soon as the lead[35] has begun to fume in the scorifier, then add that[36] to it. In this way the lead will take the silver and the tin will boil and turn into ashes, which may be removed with a wooden splinter. The same thing occurs if any alloy is melted in which there is tin. When the lead has absorbed the silver which was in the tin, then, and not till then, it is heated in the cupel. First place the lead with which the silver is mixed, in an iron pan, and stand it on a hot furnace and let it melt; afterward pour this lead into a small iron mould, and then beat it out with a hammer on an anvil and make it into leaves in the same way as the copper. Lastly, place it in the cupel, which assay can be carried out in the space of half an hour. A great heat is harmful to it, for which reason there is no necessity either to cover the half of the furnace with a lid or to close up its mouth.

The minted metal alloys, which are known as money, are assayed in the following way. The smaller silver coins which have been picked out from the bottom and top and sides of a heap are first carefully cleansed; then, after they have been melted in the triangular crucible, they are either resolved into granules, or made into thin leaves. As for the large coins which weigh a drachma, a sicilicus, half an uncia, or an uncia, beat them into leaves. Then take a bes of the granules, or an equal weight of the leaves, and likewise take another bes in the same way. Wrap each sample separately in paper, and afterwards place two small pieces of lead in two cupels which have first been heated. The more precious the money is, the smaller portion of lead do we require for the assay, the more base, the larger is the portion required; for if a bes of silver is said to contain only half an uncia or one uncia of copper, we add to the bes of granules half an uncia of lead. If it is composed of equal parts of silver and copper, we add an uncia of lead, but if in a bes of copper there is only half an uncia or one uncia of silver, we add an uncia and a half of lead. As soon as the lead has begun to fume, put into each cupel one of the papers in which is wrapped the sample of silver alloyed with copper, and close the mouth of the muffle with charcoal. Heat them with a gentle fire until all the lead and copper are consumed, for a hot fire by its heat forces the [Pg 252]silver, combined with a certain portion of lead, into the cupel, in which way the assay is rendered erroneous. Then take the beads out of the cupel and clean them of dross. If neither depresses the pan of the balance in which it is placed, but their weight is equal, the assay has been free from error; but if one bead depresses its pan, then there is an error, for which reason the assay must be repeated. If the bes of coin contains but seven unciae of pure silver it is because the King, or Prince, or the State who coins the money, has taken one uncia, which he keeps partly for profit and partly for the expense of coining, he having added copper to the silver. Of all these matters I have written extensively in my book De Precio Metallorum et Monetis.

We assay gold coins in various ways. If there is copper mixed with the gold, we melt them by fire in the same way as silver coins; if there is silver mixed with the gold, they are separated by the strongest aqua valens; if there is copper and silver mixed with the gold, then in the first place, after the addition of lead, they are heated in the cupel until the fire consumes the copper and the lead, and afterward the gold is parted from the silver.

It remains to speak of the touchstone[37] with which gold and silver are tested, and which was also used by the Ancients. For although the assay made by fire is more certain, still, since we often have no furnace, nor muffle, nor crucibles, or some delay must be occasioned in using them, we can always rub gold or silver on the touchstone, which we can have in readiness. Further, when gold coins are assayed in the fire, of what use are they afterward? A touchstone must be selected which is thoroughly black and free of sulphur, for the blacker it is and the more devoid of sulphur, the better it [Pg 253]generally is; I have written elsewhere of its nature[38]. First the gold is rubbed on the touchstone, whether it contains silver or whether it is obtained from the mines or from the smelting; silver also is rubbed in the same way. Then one of the needles, that we judge by its colour to be of similar composition, is rubbed on the touchstone; if this proves too pale, another needle which has a stronger colour is rubbed on the touchstone; and if this proves too deep in colour, a third which has a little paler colour is used. For this will show us how great a proportion of silver or copper, or silver and copper together, is in the gold, or else how great a proportion of copper is in silver.

These needles are of four kinds.[39] The first kind are made of gold and silver, the second of gold and copper, the third of gold, silver, and copper, and the fourth of silver and copper. The first three kinds of needles are used principally for testing gold, and the fourth for silver. Needles of this kind are prepared in the following ways. The lesser weights correspond proportionately to the larger weights, and both of them are used, not only by mining people, but by coiners also. The needles are made in accordance with the lesser weights, and each set corresponds to a bes, which, in our own vocabulary, is called a mark. The bes, which is employed by those who coin gold, is divided into twenty-four double sextulae, which [Pg 254]are now called after the Greek name ceratia; and each double sextula is divided into four semi-sextulae, which are called granas; and each semi-sextula is divided into three units of four siliquae each, of which each unit is called a grenlin. If we made the needles to be each four siliquae, there would be two hundred and eighty-eight in a bes, but if each were made to be a semi-sextula or a double scripula, then there would be ninety-six in a bes. By these two methods too many needles would be made, and the majority of them, by reason of the small difference in the proportion of the gold, would indicate nothing, therefore it is advisable to make them each of a double sextula; in this way twenty-four needles are made, of which the first is made of twenty-three duellae of silver and one of gold. Fannius is our authority that the Ancients called the double sextula a duella. When a bar of silver is rubbed on the touchstone and colours it just as this needle does, it contains one duella of gold. In this manner we determine by the other needles what proportion of gold there is, or when the gold exceeds the silver in weight, what proportion of silver.

[Pg 255]
The needles are made[40]:—

The1stneedle of23duellaeof silver and1duellaof gold.
"2nd"22""2duellaeof gold.
[Pg 255] "9th"15""9""
"24th"pure gold

By the first eleven needles, when they are rubbed on the touchstone, we test what proportion of gold a bar of silver contains, and with the remaining thirteen we test what proportion of silver is in a bar of gold; and also what proportion of either may be in money.

Since some gold coins are composed of gold and copper, thirteen needles of another kind are made as follows:—

[Pg 256]The1stof12duellaeof gold and12duellaeof copper.
"13th"pure gold.

These needles are not much used, because gold coins of that kind are somewhat rare; the ones chiefly used are those in which there is much copper. Needles of the third kind, which are composed of gold, silver, and copper, are more largely used, because such gold coins are common. But since with the gold there are mixed equal or unequal portions of silver and copper, two sorts of needles are made. If the proportion of silver and copper is equal, the needles are as follows:—

"3rd"14"5"  5"
"5th"16"4"  4"
"7th"18"3"  3"
"9th"20"2"  2"
"11th"22"1"  1"
"13th"pure gold.

Some make twenty-five needles, in order to be able to detect the two scripula of silver or copper which are in a bes of gold. Of these needles, the first is composed of twelve duellae of gold and six of silver, and the same number of copper. The second, of twelve duellae and one sextula of gold and five duellae and one and a half sextulae of silver, and the same number of duellae and one and a half sextulae of copper. The remaining needles are made in the same proportion.

Pliny is our authority that the Romans could tell to within one scripulum how much gold was in any given alloy, and how much silver or copper.

Needles may be made in either of two ways, namely, in the ways of which I have spoken, and in the ways of which I am now about to speak. If [Pg 257]unequal portions of silver and copper have been mixed with the gold, thirty-seven needles are made in the following way:—

"3rd"127  5
"4th"1381/2 21/2
"7th"1471 21
"9th"14511/244 8
"10th"15611/2 21/2
"11th"156  3
"12th"1551/2 311/2
"13th"166  2
"18th"1744 211/28
"19th"1841 11
"20th"1840 2
"21st"1831 21
"22nd"19211/2 11/2
"24th"19211/282 4
"25th"203  1
"28th"2121/2 11/2
"29th"212  1
"31st"2211 1
"33rd"221 8 11/24
"34th"23 11/2  1/2
"35th"23 18 1/24
"36th"23 14 1/28
"37th"pure gold.

[Pg 258]

Since it is rarely found that gold, which has been coined, does not amount to at least fifteen duellae gold in a bes, some make only twenty-eight needles, and some make them different from those already described, inasmuch as the alloy of gold with silver and copper is sometimes differently proportioned.

These needles are made:—

"2nd"156 4211/28
"3rd"1551/2 311/2
"4th"1661/2 111/2
"6th"16411/283 4
"8th"175 4111/28
"10th"1841 11
"11th"184  2
"12th"1831 21
"13th"19311/241 8
"15th"19211/242 8
"16th"203  1
"17th"202  11
"18th"202  2
"19th"2121/24 18
"20th"21111/241 8
"22nd"22118 1/24
"23rd"2211  1
"24th"2211/24 18
"25th"23 11/24  8
"26th"23 11/2  1/2
"27th"23 18 1/24
"28th"pure gold

Next follows the fourth kind of needles, by which we test silver coins which contain copper, or copper coins which contain silver. The bes by which we weigh the silver is divided in two different ways. It is either divided twelve times, into units of five drachmae and one scripulum each, [Pg 259]which the ordinary people call nummi[41]; each of these units we again divide into twenty-four units of four siliquae each, which the same ordinary people call a grenlin; or else the bes is divided into sixteen semunciae which are called loths, each of which is again divided into eighteen units of four siliquae each, which they call grenlin. Or else the bes is divided into sixteen semunciae, of which each is divided into four drachmae, and each drachma into four pfennige. Needles are made in accordance with each method of dividing the bes. According to the first method, to the number of twenty-four half nummi; according to the second method, to the number of thirty-one half semunciae, that is to say a sicilicus; for if the needles were made to the number of the smaller weights, the number of needles would again be too large, and not a few of them, by reason of the small difference in proportion of silver or copper, would have no significance. We test both bars and coined money composed of silver and copper by both scales. The one is as follows: the first needle is made of twenty-three parts of copper and one part silver; whereby, whatsoever bar or coin, when rubbed on the touchstone, colours it just as this needle does, in that bar or money there is one twenty-fourth part of silver, and so also, in accordance with the proportion of silver, is known the remaining proportion of the copper.

The1stneedleis made of23parts ofcopper and1of silver.
"24thof pure silver.

[Pg 260]

The other method of making needles is as follows:—

The1stisof15 1
"3rd""14 2
"5th""13 3
"7th""12 4
"9th""11 5
"11th""10 6
"13th""9 7
"15th""8 8
"17th""7 9
"19th""6 10
"21st""5 11
"23rd""4 12
"25th""3 13
"27th""2 14
"29th""1 15
"30th"" 1151
"31stof pure silver.

So much for this. Perhaps I have used more words than those most highly skilled in the art may require, but it is necessary for the understanding of these matters.

I will now speak of the weights, of which I have frequently made mention. Among mining people these are of two kinds, that is, the greater weights and the lesser weights. The centumpondium is the first and largest weight, and of [Pg 261]course consists of one hundred librae, and for that reason is called a hundred weight.

The various weights are:—

2nd=50    "
3rd=25    "
4th=16    "
5th=8    "
6th=4    "
7th=2    "

This libra consists of sixteen unciae, and the half part of the libra is the selibra, which our people call a mark, and consists of eight unciae, or, as they divide it, of sixteen semunciae:—

11th=4    "
12th=2    "

Weights for Assay Balances
[Pg 262]
The above is how the "greater" weights are divided. The "lesser" weights are made of silver or brass or copper. Of these, the first and largest generally weighs one drachma, for it is necessary for us to weigh, not only ore, but also metals to be assayed, and smaller quantities of lead. The first of these weights is called a centumpondium and the number of librae in it corresponds to the larger scale, being likewise one hundred[42].

The1stis called1centumpondium.
"3rd"25    "
"4th"16    "
"5th"8    "
"6th"4    "
"7th"2    "
"8th"1    "
"11th"4    "
"12th"2    "
"13th"1    "

The fourteenth is the last, for the proportionate weights which correspond with a drachma and half a drachma are not used. On all these weights of the lesser scale, are written the numbers of librae and of semunciae. Some [Pg 262]copper assayers divide both the lesser and greater scale weights into divisions of a different scale. Their largest weight of the greater scale weighs one hundred and twelve librae, which is the first unit of measurement.

2nd=64    "
3rd=32    "
4th=16    "
5th=8    "
6th=4    "
7th=2    "
8th=1    "
9th=1selibra or sixteen semunciae.
11th=4    "
12th=2    "
13th=1    "

As for the selibra of the lesser weights, which our people, as I have often said, call a mark, and the Romans call a bes, coiners who coin gold, divide it just like the greater weights scale, into twenty-four units of two sextulae each, and each unit of two sextulae is divided into four semi-sextulae and each semi-sextula into three units of four siliquae each. Some also divide the separate units of four siliquae into four individual siliquae, but most, omitting the semi-sextulae, then divide the double sextula into twelve units of four siliquae each, and do not divide these into four individual siliquae. Thus the first and greatest unit of measurement, which is the bes, weighs twenty-four double sextulae.

[Pg 263]The2nd=12double sextulae.
"3rd=6    "         "
"4th=3    "         "
"5th=2    "         "
"6th=1    "         "
"7th=2semi-sextulae or four semi-sextulae.
"8th=1semi-sextula or 3 units of 4 siliquae each.
"9th=2units of four siliquae each.
"10th=1  "        "         "

Coiners who mint silver also divide the bes of the lesser weights in the same way as the greater weights; our people, indeed, divide it into sixteen semunciae, and the semuncia into eighteen units of four siliquae each.

There are ten weights which are placed in the other pan of the balance, when they weigh the silver which remains from the copper that has been consumed, when they assay the alloy with fire.

The1st=16semunciae = 1 bes.
"2nd=8    "
"3rd=4    "
"4th=2    "
"5th=1    "       or 18 units of 4 siliquae each.
"6th=9units of 4 siliquae each.
"7th=6    "        "
"8th=3    "        "
"9th=2    "        "
"10th=1    "        "

The coiners of Nuremberg who mint silver, divide the bes into sixteen semunciae, but divide the semuncia into four drachmae, and the drachma into four pfennige. They employ nine weights.

"2nd=8    "
"3rd=4    "
"4th=2    "
"5th=1    "

For they divide the bes in the same way as our own people, but since they divide the semuncia into four drachmae,

"7th"=1drachma or 4 pfennige.

The men of Cologne and Antwerp[43] divide the bes into twelve units of five drachmae and one scripulum, which weights they call nummi. Each of these they again divide into twenty-four units of four siliquae each, which they call grenlins. They have ten weights, of which

the1st=12nummi = 1 bes.
"2nd=6   "
"3rd=3   "
"4th=2   "
"5th=1   "    = 24 units of 4 siliquae each.
"6th=12units of 4 siliquae each.
"7th=6   "       "
"8th=3   "       "
"9th=2   "       "
"10th=1   "       "

And so with them, just as with our own people, the mark is divided into two hundred and eighty-eight grenlins, and by the people of Nuremberg it is divided into two hundred and fifty-six pfennige. Lastly, the Venetians divide the bes into eight unciae. The uncia into four sicilici, the sicilicus into thirty-six siliquae. They make twelve weights, which they use whenever they wish to assay alloys of silver and copper. Of these

the1st=8unciae = 1 bes.
"2nd=4    "
"3rd=2    "
"4th=1    "   or 4 sicilici.
"8th=9    "
"9th=6    "
"10th=3    "
"11th=2    "
"12th=1    "

Since the Venetians divide the bes into eleven hundred and fifty-two siliquae, or two hundred and eighty-eight units of 4 siliquae each, into which number our people also divide the bes, they thus make the same number of siliquae, and both agree, even though the Venetians divide the bes into smaller divisions.

This, then, is the system of weights, both of the greater and the lesser kinds, which metallurgists employ, and likewise the system of the lesser weights which coiners and merchants employ, when they are assaying metals and coined money. The bes of the larger weight with which they provide themselves when they weigh large masses of these things, I have explained in my work De Mensuris et Ponderibus, and in another book, De Precio Metallorum et Monetis.

A—First small balance. B—Second. C—Third, placed in a case. [Pg 265]
[Pg 264] There are three small balances by which we weigh ore, metals, and fluxes. The first, by which we weigh lead and fluxes, is the largest among these smaller balances, and when eight unciae (of the greater weights) are placed in one of its pans, and the same number in the other, it sustains no damage. The second is more delicate, and by this we weigh the ore or the metal, which is to be assayed; this is well able to carry one centumpondium of the lesser [Pg 265]weights in one pan, and in the other, ore or metal as heavy as that weight. The third is the most delicate, and by this we weigh the beads of gold or silver, which, when the assay is completed, settle in the bottom of the cupel. But if anyone weighs lead in the second balance, or an ore in the third, he will do them much injury.

Whatsoever small amount of metal is obtained from a centumpondium of the lesser weights of ore or metal alloy, the same greater weight of metal is smelted from a centumpondium of the greater weight of ore or metal alloy.



[Pg 219][1] We have but little record of anything which could be called "assaying" among the Greeks and Romans. The fact, however, that they made constant use of the touchstone (see note 37, p. 252) is sufficient proof that they were able to test the purity of gold and silver. The description of the touchstone by Theophrastus contains several references to "trial" by fire (see note 37, p. 252). They were adepts at metal working, and were therefore familiar with melting metals on a small scale, with the smelting of silver, lead, copper, and tin ores (see note 1, p. 353) and with the parting of silver and lead by cupellation. Consequently, it would not require much of an imaginative flight to conclude that there existed some system of tests of ore and metal values by fire. Apart from the statement of Theophrastus referred to, the first references made to anything which might fill the rôle of assaying are from the Alchemists, particularly Geber (prior to 1300), for they describe methods of solution, precipitation, distillation, fusing in crucibles, cupellation, and of the parting of gold and silver by acid and by sulphur, antimony, or cementation. However, they were not bent on [Pg 220]determining quantitative values, which is the fundamental object of the assayer's art, and all their discussion is shrouded in an obscure cloak of gibberish and attempted mysticism. Nevertheless, therein lies the foundation of many cardinal assay methods, and even of chemistry itself.

The first explicit records of assaying are the anonymous booklets published in German early in the 16th Century under the title Probierbüchlein. Therein the art is disclosed well advanced toward maturity, so far as concerns gold and silver, with some notes on lead and copper. We refer the reader to Appendix B for fuller discussion of these books, but we may repeat here that they are a collection of disconnected recipes lacking in arrangement, the items often repeated, and all apparently the inheritance of wisdom passed from father to son over many generations. It is obviously intended as a sort of reminder to those already skilled in the art, and would be hopeless to a novice. Apart from some notes in Biringuccio (Book III, Chaps. 1 and 2) on assaying gold and silver, there is nothing else prior to De Re Metallica. Agricola was familiar with these works and includes their material in this chapter. The very great advance which his account represents can only be appreciated by comparison, but the exhaustive publication of other works is foreign to the purpose of these notes. Agricola introduces system into the arrangement of his materials, describes implements, and gives a hundred details which are wholly omitted from the previous works, all in a manner which would enable a beginner to learn the art. Furthermore, the assaying of lead, copper, tin, quicksilver, iron, and bismuth, is almost wholly new, together with the whole of the argument and explanations. We would call the attention of students of the history of chemistry to the general oversight of these early 16th Century attempts at analytical chemistry, for in them lie the foundations of that science. The statement sometimes made that Agricola was the first assayer, is false if for no other reason than that science does not develop with such strides at any one human hand. He can, however, fairly be accounted as the author of the first proper text-book upon assaying. Those familiar with the art will be astonished at the small progress made since his time, for in his pages appear most of the reagents and most of the critical operations in the dry analyses of gold, silver, lead, copper, tin, bismuth, quicksilver, and iron of to-day. Further, there will be recognised many of the "kinks" of the art used even yet, such as the method of granulation, duplicate assays, the "assay ton" method of weights, the use of test lead, the introduction of charges in leaf lead, and even the use of beer instead of water to damp bone-ash.

The following table is given of the substances mentioned requiring some comment, and the terms adopted in this book, with notes for convenience in reference. The German terms are either from Agricola's Glossary of De Re Metallica, his Interpretatio, or the German Translation. We have retained the original German spelling. The fifth column refers to the page where more ample notes are given:—

Terms adopted.Latin.German.Remarks.Further Notes.
AlumAlumenAlaunEither potassium or ammonia alump. 564
AmpullaAmpullaKolbA distillation jar
AntimonyStibiumSpiesglasPractically always antimony sulphidep. 428
Aqua valens or aquaAqua valensScheidewasserMostly nitric acidp. 439
ArgolFeces vini siccaeDie weinheffenCrude tartarp. 234
Ash of leadNigrum plumbum cinereum Artificial lead sulphidep. 237
Ash of musk ivy (Salt made from)Sal ex anthyllidis cinere factusSalalkaliMostly potashp. 560
Ashes which wool-dyers useCineres quo infectores lanarum Mostly potashp. 559
AssayVenas expeririProbiren
Assay furnaceFornaculaProbir ofen"Little" furnace
AzureCaeruleumLasurPartly copper carbonate (azurite) partly silicatep. 110
[Pg 221]BismuthPlumbum CinereumWismutBismuthp. 433
BitumenBitumenBergwachs p. 581
Blast furnacePrima fornaxSchmeltzofen
BoraxChrysocolla ex nitro confecta; chrysocolla quam boracem nominantBorras; Tincar p. 560
Burned alumAlumen coctumGesottener alaunProbably dehydrated alump. 565
Cadmia (see note 8, p. 112)  (1) Furnace accretions (2) Calamine (3) Zinc blende (4) Cobalt arsenical sulphidesp. 112
CamphorCamphoraCampffer p. 238
Chrysocolla called borax (see borax)
Chrysocolla (copper mineral)ChrysocollaBerggrün und SchifergrünPartly chrysocolla, partly malachitep. 110
Copper filingsAeris scobs elimataKupferfeilichApparently finely divided copper metalp. 233
Copper flowersAeris flosKupferbraunCupric oxidep. 538
Copper scalesAeris squamaeKupfer hammerschlag oder kessel braunProbably cupric oxide
Copper minerals (see note 8, p. 109)
Crucible (triangular)Catillus triangularisDreieckichtschirbeSee illustrationp. 229
CupelCatillus cinereusCapelle
Cupellation furnaceSecunda fornaxTreibherd
FluxAdditamentumZusetze p. 232
Furnace accretionsCadmia fornacumMitlere und obere offenbrüche
GalenaLapis plumbariusGlantzLead sulphidep. 110
Glass-gallRecrementum vitriGlassgallenSkimmings from glass meltingp. 235
Grey antimony or stibiumStibi or stibiumSpiesglasAntimony sulphide, stibnitep. 428
Hearth-leadMolybdaenaHerdpleiThe saturated furnace bottoms from cupellationp. 476
Hoop (iron)Circulus ferreusRingA forge for cruciblesp. 226
Iron filingsFerri scobs elimataEisen feilichMetallic iron
Iron scalesSquamae ferriEisen hammerschlagPartly iron oxide
Iron slagRecrementum ferriSinder
Lead ashCinis plumbi nigriPleiascheArtificial lead sulphidep. 237
Lead granulesGlobuli plumbeiGekornt pleiGranulated lead
Lead ochreOchra plumbariaPleigeelModern massicot (PbO)p. 232
Lees of aqua which separates gold from silverFeces aquarum quae aurum ab argento secernuntScheidewasser heffeUncertainp. 234
Dried lees of vinegarSiccae feces acetiHeffe des essigsArgolp. 234
Dried lees of wineFeces vini siccaeWein heffenArgolp. 234
[Pg 222]LimestoneSaxum calcisKalchstein
LithargeSpuma argentiGlette
LyeLixiviumLauge durch asschen gemachtMostly potashp. 233
MuffleTegulaMuffelLatin, literally "Roof-tile"
OperculumOperculumHelm oder alembickHelmet or cover for a distillation jar
OrpimentAuripigmentumOpermentYellow sulphide of arsenic (As2S3)p. 111
PyritesPyritesKisRather a genus of sulphides, than iron pyrite in particularp. 112
Pyrites (Cakes from)Panes ex pyrite conflatiSteinIron or Copper mattep. 350
RealgarSandaracaRosgeelRed sulphide of arsenic (AsS)p. 111
Red leadMiniumMenningPb3O4p. 232
Roasted copperAes ustumGebrandt kupfferArtificial copper sulphide (?)p. 233
SaltSalSaltzNaClp. 233
Salt (Rock)Sal fossilisBerg saltzNaClp. 233
Sal artificiosusSal artificiosus A stock flux?p. 236
Sal ammoniacSal ammoniacusSalarmoniacNH4Clp. 560
SaltpetreHalinitrumSalpeterKNO3p. 561
Salt (refined)Sal facticius purgatus NaCl
Sal tostusSal tostusGeröst saltzApparently simply heated or melted common saltp. 233
Sal torrefactusSal torrefactusGeröst saltz p. 233
Salt (melted)Sal liquefactusGeflossen saltzMelted salt or salt glassp. 233
ScorifierCatillus fictilisScherbe
SchistSaxum fissileSchifer
Silver minerals (see note 8, p. 108)
SodaNitrum Mostly soda from Egypt, Na2CO3p. 558
Stones which easily meltLapides qui facile igni liquescuntFlüsQuartz and fluorsparp. 380
SulphurSulfurSchwefel p. 579
TophusTophusTopsteinMarl?p. 233
Venetian glassVenetianum vitrum
VerdigrisAerugoGrünspan oder SpanschgrünCopper sub-acetatep. 440
VitriolAtramentum sutoriumKupferwasserMostly FeSO4p. 572
White schistSaxum fissile albumWeisser schifer p. 234
Weights (see Appendix).

[Pg 224][2] Crudorum,—unbaked?

[3] This reference is not very clear. Apparently the names refer to the German terms probier ofen and windt ofen.

[Pg 226][4] Circulus. This term does not offer a very satisfactory equivalent, as such a furnace has no distinctive name in English. It is obviously a sort of forge for fusing in crucibles.

[Pg 230][5] Spissa,—"Dry." This term is used in contra-distinction to pingue, unctuous or "fatty."

[Pg 232][6] Additamenta,—"Additions." Hence the play on words.

We have adopted "flux" because the old English equivalent for all these materials was "flux," although in modern nomenclature the term is generally restricted to those substances which, by chemical combination in the furnace, lower the melting point of some of the charge. The "additions" of Agricola, therefore, include reducing, oxidizing, sulphurizing, desulphurizing, and collecting agents as well as fluxes. A critical examination of the fluxes mentioned in the next four pages gives point to