« ElőzőTovább »
IN V E N T I O N S.
It is generally believed that the metal called at present tin was known and employed in the arts, not only in the time of Pliny, but so early as that of Herodotus, Homer, and Moses. This I will not venture to deny; but I can only admit that it is probable, or that the great antiquity of this metal cannot be so fully proved as that of gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and quicksilver.
Tin is one of those minerals which hitherto have been found only in a few countries, none of which ever belonged to the Greeks or the Romans, or were visited, at an early period, by their merchants. As it never occurs in a native state, * the
• Native tin never, or, at any rate, very rarely occurs. In the year 1765 a piece was supposed to be found, of which an account may be VOL. IV.
discovery of it supposes some accident more extraordinary than that of those metals which are commonly, or, at any rate, often found native. I cannot, however, attach inuch importance to this circumstance, as the ancients became acquainted with iron at an early period, though not so early as with copper. I inust also admit that tin might have been more easily discovered, because it is frequently found near the surface of the earth;
seen in the Philosoph. Transact. vol. Ivi. p. 35, and vol. lix. p. 47. also in Abhandl. der Schwedischen Akadem. vol. xxviii. p. 237. But the truth of this was denied by most mineralogists, such for ex ample as Jars in Memoires de l'Acad. à Paris, année 1770, p. 540. At first it was thought that quartz and spar could be observed on the piece found; but as these, on closer examination, were declared to be arsenic, the reality of its being native tin was more confidently. believed, as arsenic has little durability in the fire. I have in my possession scoriæ, from Goslar copper ore, the cavities of which contain crystallised arsenic, which of course must have several times withstood a roasting as well as a fusing heat. The crystals are foursided, but not regular pyramids. Soon after the above-mentioned piece of tin was found in Cornwall, some dealers in minerals sold similar pieces to amateurs at a very dear rate; but all these had been taken from roasting-places, where the tin exudes; and very often what is supposed to be tin is only exuded bismuth, as is proved by some specimens in my collection.
I shall here observe, that it may not be improper, in the history of tin, to show that it was believed more than two hundred years ago that this metal was found in a native state. Some instances are related by Mathesius in the ninth sermon of his Sarepta. Leipsic, 1618, 4to. p. 451 and 453. and by Pet. Albinus in Meisnischer Bergk-Chronik, Dresd. 1590, fol. 130. Native tin is mentioned also in Tollii Epist. itinerariæ, p. 98; and a piece, in a kind of yellow stone, from Malacca, was preserved in Richter's collection. See Museum Richter. p.75.