Bromell, Magnus von

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Bromell, Magnus von

known as Bromelius before being raised to the nobility in 1726 (b. Stockholm, Sweden, 26 March 1679; d. Stockholm, 26 March 1731)


Bromell was the son of Olof Bromelius, a prominent physician and botanist in Göteborg. During his studies in Holland, England, and France from 1697 to 1704, he acquired a thorough knowledge of medicine, anatomy, chemistry, and botany; in 1703 he became a doctor of medicine in Rheims. Returning to Sweden, Bromell practiced as a physician in Stockholm, where he periodically gave lectures as a professor of anatomy and in 1724 was elected head of the Collegium Medicum; about 1715 he lectured, as a medical professor, in natural history at the University of Uppsala. An accomplished chemist and mineralogist, he became associated with the Board of Mines, where, in 1720, he was named assessor and, in 1724, head of the chemical laboratory.

Bromell earned his scientific renown as a geologist and mineralogist. He was a passionate collector whose great natural history cabinet—some of it inherited from his father—contained a beautiful collection of ore, mineral, and fossil specimens that he described and partly illustrated. In his small Mineralogia (1730), which was also translated into German and which had considerable influence, Bromell classified, to a degree, minerals according to their chemical characteristics and thus became a forerunner of A. F. Cronstedt and later eighteenth-century mineralogists. His “Litographiae Svecanae specimen secundum” (1727–1730) is a pioneer paleontological work that describes a multitude of Swedish animal and plant fossils, including trilobites, ammonites, and corals from Gotland limestone.


I. Original Works. Bromell’s writings are “Litographiae Svecanae specimen primum et secundum,” in Acta literaria Sveciae, II (1725–1729) and III (1730–1734); and Mineralogia eller inledning til nödig kunskap at igenkienna… allahanda bergarter (Stockholm, 1730), trans, into German as Mineralogia et litographia Svecana, (Stockholm–Leipzig, 1740).

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Bromell are O. Hult, “Några anmärkningar om Olof och Magnus Bromelius,” in Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsskrift (1926); and G. Regnéll, “On the Position of Palaeontology and Historical Geology in Sweden Before 1800,” in Arkiv för mineralogi och geologi1 , no. 1 (1950), 1–64.

Sten Lindroth