Georg Brandt (1694-1768)

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Chemistry, Mineralogy
Swedish, English
Chemist, mineralogist
Georg Brandt

As there are six kinds of metals, so I have also shown with reliable experiments… that there are also six kinds of half-metals. I through my experiments, had the good fortune … to be the discoverer of a new half-metal, namely cobalt regulus, which had formerly been confused with bismuth.

Georg Brandt was a Swedish chemist and mineralogist who discovered cobalt c. 1735. He was the first person to discover a metal unknown in ancient times.


Brandt was born in Riddarhyttan, Skinnskatteberg parish, Västmanland to Jurgen Brandt, a mineowner and pharmacist, and Katarina Ysing. He was professor of chemistry at Uppsala University, and died in Stockholm. He was able to show that cobalt was the source of the blue color in glass, which previously had been attributed to the bismuth found with cobalt. He died on April 29, 1768 of prostate cancer.

About 1741 he wrote: "As there are six kinds of metals, so I have also shown with reliable experiments... that there are also six kinds of half-metals: a new half-metal, namely Cobalt regulus in addition to Mercury, Bismuth, Zinc, and the reguluses of Antimony and Arsenic". He gave six ways to distinguish bismuth and cobalt which were typically found in the same ores:

  1. Bismuth fractures while Cobalt is more like a true metal.
  2. The regulus of Shetz fuses with flint and fixed alkali giving a blue glass known as zaffera, sasre, or smalt. Bismuth does not.
  3. Bismuth melts easily and if kept melted, calcinates forming a yellow powder.
  4. Bismuth amalgamates with Mercury; the regulus of Cobalt does not at all.
  5. Bismuth dissolved in nitric acid and with aqua regia and gives a white precipitate when put in pure water. The regulus of Cobalt needs alkalies to precipitate, and then forms dark or black precipitates.
Best Known For: Discovery of cobalt
Fulfilled his Potential: Yes
Father’s Name: Jurgen Brandt
Father’s Occupation: Mine owner and pharmacist
Mother’s Name: Katarina Ysing
Citizen Of: Sweden
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Georg Brandt

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