Cancrin (Cancrinus), Franz Ludwig von

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Cancrin (Cancrinus), Franz Ludwig von

(b Breitenbach, Hesse, Germany, 21 February 1738; d. St. Petersburg, Russia, 1812 or 1816),

mining, metallurgy.

Cancrin was descended from a mining family; when he was very young, his father moved the family to Bieber, Hesse, where he had become director of a mine. Cancrin received his primary education in the schools of Bieber, while his father trained him in mathematical and scientific subjects. Despite family tradition, Cancrin wished to study jurisprudence. Prince William of Hesse ordered the elder Cancrin to train one of his sons in the science of mining, however, and Franz Ludwig was chosen. He spent several years in these more advanced studies with his father and then from 1759 to 1762 attended the University of Jena, where he continued his mathematical studies and began his legal ones.

In 1764 Cancrin became a clerk in Hanau and in 1767 was made assessor in the revenue office there. At this time he also tutored Prince Frederick in mathematics and engineering and published his first book, Abhandlung von der Zubereitung and Zugutemachung der Kupfererze (1766), a treatise on copper smelting. He then moved on to become professor of mathematics at the Hanau Military Academy (from which he withdrew on the plea of ill health) and held sundry official positions, including director of the mint in 1774.

Despite the press of his civil offices, Cancrin found time (1773–1791) to write an encyclopedic work in twenty-one volumes that covered all aspects of the mining of metals and salt—including mineralogy, assaying, mathematics, and mechanics. This work brought him a European reputation; he was made a member of scientific societies in Giessen and Berlin, and in 1782 accepted an appointment as Regierungs-direktor of Altenkirchen from the margrave of Ansbaeh.

In 1783 Cancrin entered the service of the Russian empress Catherine II; his duties included management of the Staraya Russa saltworks. He spent the rest of his life in Russia. From 1796 he was assisted at Staraya Russa by his son (who became the famous Russian minister Count Georg von Cancrin). He was finally called to St. Petersburg, where he served as a financial officer and died almost unnoticed.


I. Original Works. Cancrin’s most important works include Abhandlung van der ‘Zubereitung and Zugutemachung der Kupfererze (Frankfurt, 1766); Beuhreibung dervorzüglichsten Bergwerke in Hessen, in dem Waldeckischen, an dem Harz, in dem Mannsfeldischen, in Chursachsen and in dem Saalfeldischen (Frankfurt, 1767); Erste Gründe der Berg- und salzwerkskunde, 21 vols. (Frankfurt, 1773– 1791); Beschreibung eines Cupolofens, als Anhang zur Schmelzkunst (Frankfurt, 1784; 2nd ed., Marburg, 1791); Gründliche Anleitung zur Schmelzkunst and Metallurgie (Frankfurt. 1784): Geschichte and systematische Beschreibung der in der Grafschaft Hanau-Münzenberg etc. gelegenen Bergwerke (Leipzig. 1787): Abhandlung von der Natur and Einrichtung einer Bergbelehnung (Giessen, 1788); Abhand-lung von der Zubereitung des Roh-Eisens in Schmiede-Eisen, auch des Stahleisens in Stahl, beides in einem Hammer mit Flammenfeuer (Giessen. 1788): Kleinetechnologische Werke, 7 vols, (Giessen. 1788–1811); Abhandlung vom Torfe, lessen Ursprung, Nachwuchs, Aufbereitung, Gebrauch and Rechten (Giessen, 1789); Abhandlung von dem Wasserrechte, 4 vols. (Halle, 1789–1800); Abhandlung von einer feuersparenden Fruchtdarre (Halle, 1790), 2nd ed. entitled Abhandlung von einer feuerfesten, am Brand sparenden Fruchtdarre oder Fruchtriege, mil einem Anhange, wie diese Darre zum Trocknen des Heues and Klees gebraucht werden könne Abhandlung von der Natur and Gebrauchdes Gyps-und Lederkalks (Giessen. 1790); Abhandlung von dem Bau einer neu eingerichteten pottaschensieberey Erste Gründe der Berg-, Cameral- and Bergpolizeywissenschaft (Frankfurt, 1791); von der Anlageund dem Bau unserer Stäudte etc. (Frankfurt, 1792): von der Anlage. Bau and Unterhaltung der Röuhrenbrunnen (Frankfurt, 1792): Abhandlung vom der recht. Anlage. Bau and verwalt ung der Ziegelhütten (Marburg. 1795); praktischeAbhandlung von dem Bau der Oelmühlen (Frankfurt Leipzig, 1798); Abhandlung vom Bau nicht rauchender feuerfester Schornsteine (Marburg. 1799); Abbildung and Beschreibung eines neuen Spleiss- and Treib-Ofens (Giessen-Halle. 1800); Abhandlung von der vorteilhaften Grabung, der guten Fassung and dem rechten Gebrauch dersüssen Brunnen, um reines and gesundes Wasser zu bekommen (Marburg, 1800; 2nd cd., (Giessen, 1804); Wie man das beste Eisen erhalten kann (Giessen-Halle, 1800); and Abhandlung von sehr vorteilhaften Brand sparenden Oefenund Kochherden (Marburg, 1808).

II. Secondary Literature. Biographical articles are “Franz Ludwig von Cancrin,” in H. E. Scriba, Biographisch-literarisches Lexikon der Schriftsteller des Grossherzogtums Hessen im 19. Jahrhundert, pt. 2 (Darmstadt. 1843).p. 112; F. W. Strieder. “Franz Ludwig von Cancrin.” in Grundlage zu einer hessischen Gelehrten-und Schriftstellergeschichte, II (Kassel Marburg. 1781), p. 108; Gü mbel. “Franz Ludwig von Cancrin,” in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, III (Leipzig. 1876), pp. 740–742; and WalterSerlo. “Franz Ludwig von Cancrin,” in Männer des Bergbaus (Berlin, 1937), p. 33.

M. Koch