Item Number: 000047JAMES DOUGLAS (1837-1918)
Two letters from an innovative mining engineer.
Type: Two signed letters
From: James Douglas
To: Robert Brent Keyser
Location: 99 John Street, New York
Size: 5 7/8 x 8 inches
Description: James S. Douglas was an engineer and businessman who made major innovations in copper mining and metallurgy. The January 6th, 1896, letter states:
“R. Brent Keyser, Esq.,
German & Calvert Sts.,
My dear Mr. Keyser:-
Will you please give me the name of the volume on Baltimore to which you contributed an article on the early history of your smelting works? I am putting together some notes on early copper smelting in this country and would feel very much obliged by you giving me what assistance you can.
The January 9th, 1896, letter states:
“Many thanks for the volume on Maryland and the supplementary information contained in your letter. I read both your father’s paper and your own with great interest. Do you know anything of the old smelting works at Perth Amboy? I can get information about the New Haven works, and I suppose the Revere Company can give me information about their old smelter.
Robert Brent Keyser was the son of William Keyser, and was a Baltimore industrialist. The letters are an interesting piece of copper mining and smelting history. The letters come from a collection of letters related to the Keyser family. The letters have folds, creases, paper clip impressions, and some light soiling/discoloration. There are a few handwritten notes by Keyser. See the scans below.
PICTURES (Note: The text "Baltimore Paper" does not appear on the actual item below. Scan: Letter 1 Scan: Letter 2 JAMES S. DOUGLAS
Below from Wikipedia:
James S. Douglas (4 November 1837 - 30 June 1918) was a Canadian mining engineer and businessman who introduced a number of metallurgical innovations in copper mining.
Douglas's Scottish-born father, Dr. James Douglas, was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. He had earned the reputation of being the fastest surgeon in town, capable of performing an amputation in less than one minute. Dr. Douglas transmitted his thirst for adventure to his son, taking him on numerous expeditions to Egypt and the Middle East in the mid-19th century. He brought back several mummies from these journeys, selling them to museums in North America. One of these, sold in Niagara Falls, was recently discovered to be the corpse of Ramses I.
James S. Douglas initially chose a different career from his father, studying to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church. He studied at Queen’s College, Kingston from 1856-1858, and later at the University of Edinburgh. By the end of his studies, however, Douglas had second thoughts: “When therefore I was licensed to teach, my faith in Christ was stronger but my faith in denominational Christianity was so weak that I could not sign the Confession of Faith and therefore was never ordained.” He was granted a license to preach, but never became an ordained minister. This secularism remained with Douglas all his life. He was primarily responsible for making Queen’s into a non-denominational University when he served as Chancellor in 1912.
In the 1860s, Douglas helped his father at the Beauport Asylum while studying towards a career in medicine. He worked as a librarian at the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, and later became the youngest president in the history of the Society. There, he presented numerous lectures to the Society’s members, the first on Egyptian hieroglyphics and mummies, and later ones on mining and geological issues.
This interest in mining and geology eventually supplanted his interest in medicine and Douglas embarked on a third career. In 1869, Douglas’ sci...