BECKER, George Ferdinand (1847–1919). Atlas to Accompany the Monograph on the Geology of the Comstock Lode and the Washoe District. Washington: Department of the Interior, 1882.
Folio (20 x 17 4/8 inches). Lithographed title-page. 17 double-page lithographed maps, most with printed colour, 2 full-page. Original publisher's brown cloth, gilt (worn and shaken).
Provenance: with the bookplate of the New York Public Library on the front paste-down.
Attractive geological maps of the land rich in a deposit of silver, in Nevada, U.S., named for Henry Comstock, part-owner of the property on which it was discovered in June 1859. Virginia City, Washoe, and other mining “boomtowns” quickly arose in the vicinity, and in 10 years the lode’s output justified establishment of a U.S. branch mint (closed in 1893) at Carson City. In the meantime, Republican leaders eager to add another loyal state to the Union used the probability that the lode would attract additional thousands to justify the admission of Nevada as a state in 1864. In the peak years of 1876–78, silver ore worth about $36,000,000 was extracted annually. Production declined sharply thereafter, and the rich lower levels of the lode were flooded in 1882. Virginia City and the other mining towns disappeared or became tourist attractions.
From 1875 till 1879 Becker was instructor of mining and metallurgy at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 1879 he became connected with the United States Geological Survey, and later was placed in charge of the California division of geology. In 1880 he was appointed special agent of the 10th census, and in 1882 was further appointed special agent in charge of the investigation of the precious-metal industries.
He was a leader in mining geology and geophysics, and for many years was the chief of the Division of Chemical and Physical Research in the United States Geological Survey. The investigations under his direction led to the establishment of the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
In 1896 he examined the gold mines of South Africa and at the time of the Spanish–American War was detailed to serve as geologist on the staff of General Bell with the army in the Philippine Islands.