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De verzamelwoede van Martinus van Marum (1750-1837) en de ouderdom van de aarde

Promotor: F.J. van Lunteren, E. Jorin

Bert Sliggers
30 March 2017
Thesis in Leiden Repository

This study examines the provenance of the mineralogy and palaeontology collections of Teylers Museum in Haarlem. These objects, combined with the thousands of handwritten labels that have been preserved, most of which date from the 18th century, are silent witnesses to a largely forgotten world of collecting practices, classifications, academic networks, commercial practices, debates on the nature of fossils and the formation of the earth’s crust, and much more besides. My research is an attempt to reveal the world behind these objects, all of which were once collected for Teylers Museum by the first Director Martinus van Marum (1750-1837). It seeks to give the collection back its voice. Combining the financial records of the Teylers Foundation with the minutes of meetings held by the directors and Teylers’s Second Society, as well as Van Marum’s travel journals, written records of public lectures, correspondence, and other manuscripts made it possible to reconstruct his purchases and to match labels to objects. When the entirety of Van Marum’s geological endeavours is surveyed, he emerges as more of a follower of scientific developments than a knowledge producer. He published very few articles in this field, and the ideas he presented in them were seldom new and sometimes misconceived. His activities in geology were not on a par with his great achievements in physics and chemistry. However, by virtue of his positions in the Teylers Foundation and the Holland Society of Sciences, as well as his publications on plant physiology and static electricity, he was regarded as one of the most influential scientists of his day.