M996X.2.229 | Geological hammer
About 1850, 19th century
3.2 x 19.8 x 40.1 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Hammer (5)
Keys to History
This geological hammer, used to rather rock samples, belonged to Sir William Dawson (1812-1899).
Dawson was a geologist who studied at the University of Edinburgh in the 1840s. He was devoted to the study of Earth, in particular, to the study of its surface and other parts and their history and evolution.
During the 1850s and 1860s, he undertook several field studies, notably in Nova Scotia, the province of his birth, and in different regions of Quebec. Discovered during his explorations were mineral deposits of coal, iron, copper and phosphate as well as specimens of glacial deposits and fossils. His subsequent examination under micrscope of the fossil animals and plants, and numerous scientific publications on his work, helped to make Montreal an international centre for the study of geology and paleobotany.
The hammer has an iron head cast to a sharp point for breaking off pieces of rock. The handle is inscribed with the words "Sir William Dawson's Hammer."
Sir William Dawson may have used this hammer for gathering specimens while doing fieldwork in Nova Scotia and in the Gaspé and Lower St. Lawrence regions of Quebec.
Geology was the most popular science of the mid-19th century.
Sir William Dawson was principal of McGill University from 1855 to 1893. A leading educator, he published some 350 scientific works during his lifetime.