The German word 'Kobold' is the term for gnomes and goblins. It appeared for the first time in connection with minerals in Agricola's Bermannus (1530). The first practical use was in the form of zaffer or cobalt-blue. Zaffer will not melt alone, but accompanied by vitreous substances it melts into an azure colour and so used as 'Smalte' for glazed earthenware, for glass and china. Since 1470 the Saxony ore mountains, especially the Schneeberg district, was the most important supplier of cobalt ores. Main products of the 'Blaufarbenwerke' were zaffers (Safflor) cobaltoxides of different colours and smalte (Smalte) a mixture of cobaltoxides with quartz. The Electoral-Saxon blue colour was greatly appreciated. The Dutch managed in their country eight colour-mills and received the cobalt ores from Schneeberg; perhaps in the beginning of the 17th century no mills existed in Saxony. The first mill in Saxony was in 1635 in Pfannenstiel (Schneeberg district). The cobalt-resources were so profitable that the Elector of Saxony privileged the trade and imposed taxes. Private export was strongly prohibited. Cobalt-thiefs were hanged from the gallows. In 1654, 34 mines produced 264.6 t cobalt-ore with a value of 20,513 Dutch florins. Holland was the greatest trade partner. In the last years of the 18th century, the colour-industry in Saxony and Holland received from the districts of Annaberg and Schneeberg 300-400 tons cobalt-colour per year. Since the middle of the 19th century Saxony imported cobalt-ores from Norway, Italy and Hungary.

Scripta Geologica. Special Issue

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Naturalis journals & series

Hammer, P. (2004). [Proceedings of the VII international symposium 'Cultural heritage in geosciences, mining and metallurgy : libraries, archives, museums' : "Museums and their collections" held at the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Leiden (The Netherlands), 19-23 May, 2003 / Cor F. Winkler Prins and Stephen K. Donovan (editors)]: Das Sachsische Blaufarbenwesen und der Handel mit Kobaltf arben - nach Unterlagen der Bücherei der Bergakademie Freiberg. Scripta Geologica. Special Issue, 4(14), 108–117.