(Born: Switzerland, 22 January 1822; Died: Washington, D.C., U.S.A., 18 May 1885) Swiss/American chemist & metallurgist.
Erni was educated in an industrial school and the University of Zurich where he studied chemistry and other sciences. In 1848, he emigrated to the United States and found work as Benjamin Silliman's assistant in Yale's chemical laboratory in 1849. He became a professor of chemistry, mineralogy, French and German at the University of Tennessee in 1850, but resigned in 1852 due to overwork. In 1854, Erni went to the University of Vermont as professor of chemistry, toxicology and pharmacy in the Medical Department as well as professor of natural philosophy in the Academic Department. He took a position at Shelby Medical College in Nashville in 1859, but at the outbreak of the Civil War caused this job to evaporate. Hired as the first chemist in the Department of Agriculture in 1862, Erni studied the fermentation process and various soil types. In 1866, he became an examiner in the U.S. Patent Office, handling chemistry and physics inventions. President Grant appointed him consul at Basle, Switzerland in 1869. He remained there until 1878, when he returned to Washington, taking a succession of part time jobs. Erni was a founding member of the Chemical Society of Washington in 1884.
Biographical references: ABA: I 510, 196-198. American Chemists & Chemical Engineers: 1, 146-7 [by W.D. Miles]. Miles, W.D. and L. Kuslan, "Washington's first consulting chemist, Henri Erni", Records Columbia Historical Society 1966-1968, 66-68, (1969), 154-66, portrait. Rogers, A.C., Our representatives abroad. New York, Atlantic Publishing Co., 1874: pp. 274-5, portait. WBI.
1. English, 1867 [First edition].
Mineralogy Simplified: | A Short Method | of | Determining And Classifying | Minerals, | by means of | Simple Chemical Experiments In The | Dry And Wet Way. | Translated From The Last German Edition Of | F. Von Kobell, | With An Introduction To Blowpipe Analysis And Other | Additions By | Dr. Henri Erni, | Chief Chemist Department Of Agriculture. | [rule] | Philadelphia: | Henry Carey Baird, | Industrial Publisher, | 406 Walnut Street. | 1867.
8°: vii, -206 p., 3 folding tables.
Scarce. Originally written as an English translation of Franz von Kobell's Die Mineralogie [which see under Kobell] in 1867, Erni made the work his own producing several more editions to 1908.
Bibliographical references: NUC: 301, 139-44 [NK0214922].
2. English, 1885 [2nd edition].
Mineralogy Simplified. | Easy Methods Of Identifying Minerals, | Including Ores, | By Means Of The Blowpipe, By Flame Reactions, | By The Spectroscope, And By Humid | Chemical Analysis, | Based On Prof. Von Kobell's Tables For The | Determination Of Minerals. | With An Introduction To Modern Chemistry. | By | Henri Erni, A.M., M.D., | Late Professor Of Chemistry, Some Time Chief Chemist Of The United States | Department Of Agriculture. | Second Edition, Revised And Enlarged. | Illustrated By One Hundred And Twenty-One Engravings. | Philadelphia: | Henry Carey Baird & Co., | Industrial Publishers, Booksellers, And Importers, | 810 Walnut Street. | London: E. & F.N. Spon, 125 Strand. | 1885.
8°: xxiv, -395 p., 3 folding tables.
Bibliographical references: NUC. USGS Library Catalog.
3. English, 1908 [4th edition].
Mineralogy simplified. Easy methods of identifying minerals, including ores. By means of the blow-pipe, by flame reactions, by humid chemical analysis, and by physical texts. Fourth edition, revised, rearranged, and with the addition of entirely new matter, including crystallography, tables for the determination of minerals by chemical and pyrognostic characters. Philadelphia, Henry Carey Baird, 1908
12°: xxx, 414 p., 123 text illus.
Scarce. This edition has been issued in pocket size form for the `prospector and mineralogist'.
Bibliographical references: NUC.