The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 231
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Colonel Eduard Harkort
ore, had instructed others-students and instructors-in the method,
and, by the end of his second year, had published a small handbook on
the use of the blowpipe for the quantitative analysis of silver ore. The
list of more than fifty professors and technicians at Freiberg named as
subscribers to the book attests to the significance they attributed to its
Shortly after completing his studies at Freiberg, Harkort was re-
cruited by the Mexican Company, one of about twenty-eight British
joint-stock associations organized by 1825 to exploit the fabled rich de-
posits of silver, gold, and other minerals in Mexico and South Ameri-
ca.6 Silver was the chief metal sought by the eight companies estab-
lished to conduct mining operations in Mexico. Like most of its sister
associations, the Mexican Company endeavored to employ European
methods and European technicians in the mining of Mexican silver.7
Virtually its entire staff of officers and technicians were German. In
February, 1827, forty Germans, including six mining officers, an engi-
neer, an assayer of ores, a physician and surgeon, nine miners, six
dressers of ores, and several assorted craftsmen, sailed for Veracruz
5The evaluations of Harkort's academic performance, submitted by his professors to
the governing board of the mining academy, and reports praising his new blowpipe tech-
nique, including a letter commending him to His Highness, Frederick August III, elector
and king of Saxony, are to be found in the Academic Archives, Freiberg, OBA File 9904,
Vol. 2, fols. 205-210, 212; Historical State Archives, Freiberg (OBA Freiberg), Rep. H,
Sec. 91d, No. 10,881/1 (Oct. 3, 1826), fols. 1-5; (Dec. 15, 1826), fols. 9-1o; (July 4, 1828),
fols. 20-21; (July 23, 1828), fols. 24-28, 36. Among Harkort's students was Carl Friedrich
Plattner, later professor of metallurgy at Freiberg, who is known today for having per-
fected the quantitative application of the blowpipe-a technique that he learned from
Harkort. See C[arl] Schiffner, Aus dem Leben alter Freiberger Bergstudenten und der
Lehrkdrper der Bergakademie (3 vols.; Freiberg, 1935-1940), I, 57, III, 11-12; Charles
Coulston Gillispie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (16 vols.; New York, 1970-
198o), XI, 33-34.
The title of Harkort's book was Die Probirkunst mit dem L6throhre, oder Versuch
einer Anweisung, wie man Erze, Mineralien und Histtenprodukte mit Hiilfe des L6throhrs
auf verschiedene Metallgehalte mit hinreichender Genauigkeit untersuchen kann. I. Heft:
Die Silberproben (Freiberg, 1827). The subscribers are listed on pages v-vii.
6The "mining mania" that prevailed in England at the time is described by Newton
R. Gilmore, "British Mining Ventures in Early National Mexico" (Ph.D. diss., University
of California, 1956), 7 (quotation), 9-27. See also J. Fred Rippy, "Latin America and the
British Investment 'Boom' of the 1820's," Journal of Modern History, XIX (June, 1947),
7Gilmore, "British Mining Ventures," 63-116; Robert W. Randall, Real del Monte: A
British Mining Venture in Mexico (Austin, 1972), 34-35.
At first, anyway, most of these companies attempted to employ the process of smelting
and the Freiberg, or barrel amalgamation, process for the reduction of silver ore, as
opposed to the traditional Mexican process of amalgamation in open courtyards, a pro-
cedure known as patio amalgamation. The Mexican Company and the Tlalpujahua Com-
pany, for example, recruited the majority of their mining and reduction specialists from
Germany. Gilmore, "British Mining Ventures," o16, 110i-11, 121-129, 134-142.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/279/: accessed March 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.