George Gibbs (mineralogist)

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Portrait of Colonel George Gibbs III thumb Colonel George Gibbs III (7 January 1777 in Newport, Rhode Island – 6 August 1834 at Sunswick, Long Island) was an American mineralogist and mineral collector. The mineral gibbsite is named after him.[1]

Colonel George Gibbs was the son of wealthy merchant George Gibbs II and Mary Channing Gibbs. In 1796, Gibbs was sent by his father to study the mercantile business in Canton, China. During his travels, Gibbs studied in Europe and went to Lausanne, Paris. In Paris he studied mineralogy with Heinrich Struve and bought Jean Gigot d'Orcy collection in 1804. Gibbs was fascinated by minerals and became friends with prominent leading European mineralogists: Francois Gillet de Laumont, J.F. d'Aubuisson, and Count de Bournon.[2]

He spent several years as a young man traveling abroad, and devoted much of his time and wealth to the collection of minerals. On his return to Rhode Island he brought with him the most extensive and valuable collection ever seen in the United States up to that time. It consisted of the collection of Gigot d'Orcy (1733–1793), containing 4,000 specimens, and that of Count Gregoire de Razumowsky, containing 6,000 specimens. These, with the results of his own gathering, formed a cabinet of more than 20,000 minerals. The collection was first exhibited in Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1805, Gibb's collection grew too large and he stored it in a house near his Newport mansion. The same year, the Governor of Rhode Island appointed Gibbs as "Aide de Camp" and given the title of Colonel. In 1807 Gibbs became friends with Yale Professor Benjamin Stillman and together they put an exhibit of Gibbs collection at Yale in 1811. In 1825, Gibbs sold his entire twenty-thousand specimen collection for $20,000 to Yale University. The funds were raised through the influence of Professor Silliman. Gibbs continued his interest in mineralogy, making extensive journeys and developing new mineral localities.

In 1822 he was elected vice-president of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, He published valuable papers both in the "American Mineralogical Journal" and the "American Journal of Science."

He married Laura Wolcott on December 27, 1810. She was the daughter of Oliver Wolcott Jr., secretary of the treasury during the administrations of Washington and John Adams and a student at Sarah Pierce's Litchfield Female Academy in Litchfield, CT.[3] Together they had four sons and three daughters. Their sons, George, Oliver and Alfred led notable lives.


  1. ^ - Gibbsite
  2. ^ "The Mineralogical Record - Label Archive". Retrieved 2016-08-16. 
  3. ^ "Litchfield Ledger - Student". Retrieved 2016-08-16.