Charles Hatchett FRS (1765-1847), chemist and discoverer of niobium

W. P. Griffith, P. J. T. Morris


Charles Hatchett, the discoverer of the element now called niobium, was the son of a famous coachbuilder, and delivered in person one of his father's coaches to Catherine the Great. It was partly this journey to St Petersburg that stimulated his lifelong interest in chemistry and mineralogy. Using an American mineral in the Hans Sloane collection of the British Museum dating back to 1753 he showed that it contained a new element, which he called columbium. The original specimen on which he worked is now in the Natural History Museum, London. In the decade 1796–1806 he made several other chemical discoveries, but later returned to his father's business and became a noted collector of books, paintings, musical instruments and musical manuscripts.

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