The forgotten uses of selenite

C. E. N. Bromehead
1943 Mineralogical Magazine and Journal of the Mineralogical Society  
We are apt to regard selenite or transparent gypsum as a useless mineral, apart from the very small quantity used in plates for microscope work. It is the object of this paper to show that from the first, to at any rate the seventeenth century in Europe and to the first half of the nineteenth in South America, considerable use was made of it. For the classical period the argument is based upon the identification of lapis specularis as mainly, if not entirely, selenite. Most translators render
more » ... e name as talc or mica, the first word probably a vulgar error for the second, while some admit gypsum to have been included; Bailey in his notes on Pliny considers that two passages suggest gypsum but gives the preference to mica, while Zeitler claims nearly all the passages referred to below for this mineral. Pliny is, of course, our chief authority: I give the relevant passages in Philemon Holland's translation as more in keeping with the greater part of this paper, adding notes and the original Latin where necessary.
doi:10.1180/minmag.1943.026.182.01 fatcat:o3fmycqu3rc6toscuvramfx77m