skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Eduard von Eichwald   10 January 1872


I have the honour to send you a paper on the coasts of Manghischlak and Alaska and beg you inform me, whether Mrs. Gibb and Meek have not published something like it on the same object.1 I have read in the newspapers that the Americans send a Commission with a young geologue Mr. Dall in order to measure the coasts of Alaska and the aleutic islands2   Has this young man published anything on this object? I should like to send him also a copy of my paper, if I only could be informed, where he is to be found.

Allow me, dear Sir, to ask you to help me on one occasion. I shoud wish to sell my palaeontogical museum, consisting of about 35000 specimens, of all the formations of Russia on Europe and Asia, fossils plants and animals, among which are those coming from Manghischlak and Alaska and described by me in the present paper. The prize for all the collection is mille p. st.3

The most interesting are the brachiopoda coming from the vicinity of Petersbourg, from the silurian rocks, especially the Orthis, Orthisina, Spirifer, Terebra tube and others genres,4 forming only varieties and not real species or genres, as there are not to be found among them two individuals one like the other. This is the reason why I formerly thought that there were no species, but only varieties in the oldest primary neptunian rocks.5

I am with much respect | yours truly admirer Dr. d’Eichwald

Petersbourg   January 10 1872

Gagarin-street 12.


Eichwald refers to his Geognostisch-paleontologische Bermerkungen über die Halbinsel Mangischlak und die Aleutischen Inseln (Geognostic and palaeontological remarks on the Mangyshlak Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands; Eichwald 1871). The Mangyshlak Peninsula is on the Caspian Sea, and is now in Kazakhstan. There is a copy of Eichwald 1871, inscribed by the author, in the Darwin Library–CUL; the pages are not cut. Eichwald also refers to Fielding Bradford Meek, and possibly to George Gibbs.
William Healey Dall was appointed acting assistant to the US Coast Survey in 1871, with responsibility for surveying the Aleutian Islands and Alaskan coastal waters (ANB).
Prize: i.e. price. Mille p. st.: £1000 sterling.
Genres: i.e. genera. Terebra is a gastropod, not a brachiopod.
Neptunian: formed in a marine environment (Challinor 1978).


ANB: American national biography. Edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. 24 vols. and supplement. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999–2002.

Challinor, John. 1978. A dictionary of geology. 5th edition. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Eichwald, Eduard von. 1871. Geognostisch-paleontologische Bermerkungen über die Halbinsel Mangischlak und die Aleutischen Inseln. St Petersburg: Buchdruckerei der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften.


Sends paper on the coasts of Alaska.

Wishes to sell his large Russian palaeontological collection.

Wants to get in touch with American (Mr Dall), who is going to study geology of Alaskan and Aleutian coast.

Letter details

Letter no.
Karl Eduard (Eduard) von Eichwald
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
St Petersburg
Source of text
DAR 163: 13
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8155,” accessed on 24 January 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20