About the project
British & Exotic Mineralogy
British Mineralogy and Exotic Mineralogy comprise 718 illustrations by James Sowerby in an effort to illustrate the topographical mineralogy of Great Britain and minerals not then known to it. Sowerby’s plates are some of the finest examples of hand-drawn mineral illustrations ever created. The detail and care with which these illustrations were created is incredible and worthy of close examination. See the samples below.
Accompanying each illustration is a detailed description, a list of similar names by other researchers, characteristics, and classification details.
Sources: British Mineralogy vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Exotic Mineralogy vols. 1, 2.
Illustrations were usually published on the first of a month with a varying schedule. Originally issued in many smaller parts called “numbers” between 1802 and 1817, some subscribers had them bound into volumes. Plotting the dates written below each illustration on a timeline as shown below highlights the frequency with which they were originally published. They were published with much more frequency during the first few years (once a month) then slowed to about once every other month.
125 plates did not have a complete, legible, or visible date, including 28 from in the latter half of volume five (based on their numbering, they were likely published some time in 1816) and all 97 plates of volume two of Exotic Mineralogy (likely published between 1813 and 1817).
- Plate from British Mineralogy
- Exotic Mineralogy