Becker, George Ferdinand; Geology of the Comstock Lode and the Washoe District. Text and Atlas. USGS Monograph 3, Washington, GPO. 1882.

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Becker, George Ferdinand; Geology of the Comstock Lode and the Washoe District. Text and Atlas. USGS Monograph 3, Washington, GPO. 1882. Quarto text, folio atlas. Text, pp. xvi, 422, 7 tinted plates, 33 figures. Atlas, 21 sheets including, title sheet, index sheet, and 19 plates of maps, mine plans, many colored and double page.


The set is complete and in the original brown cloth with gilt spine titles to text spine, gilt titles to cover of atlas. The bindings are tight and clean, titles bright. The text is very clean with no staining or foxing. A stamp of a mineralogical society is present but no library numbers exist. The atlas is clean and tight with the front inner hinge nicely repaired and restoration to upper portion of spine. Minor wear to the outer edge of the title and index pages. Owner’s private signature and small stamp present. A very good complete set. Seldom seen as a set. 


George Ferdinand Becker (1847–1919) was an American geologist and mineralogist. His most important work was in connection with the origin and mode of occurrence of precious metals ore deposits, especially those of the western United States.

Becker grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and as a youth took an early interest in the sciences. “…but I owe most, to Ägassiz, Peirce and Wyman who seemed to like to encourage me in scientific curiosity.” With this influence, Becker was to complete studies at Harvard University.

He graduated from Harvard University in 1868, studied at Heidelberg in Germany, receiving the degree of Ph.D. in 1869, and, two years later, passed the final examination of the Royal School of Mines in Berlin. From 1875 until 1879 he was instructor of mining and metallurgy at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1879 he joined the USGS and later was placed in charge of the USGS California division of geology. Becker was also appointed special agent in charge of the investigation of the precious-metal mining industry. In 1879 the noted geologist Clarence King became the Director of the newly consolidated USGS. Becker soon came under the influence of King. Soon after Becker made a reconnaissance of the San Francisco,  Utah, Eureka, Nevada, and Bodin, California mining districts. In 1880 he undertook a pioneering thorough reexamination of the rich Comstock District in Nevada. The purpose of the study was to try to gain a better understanding of the rich deposits, their occurrences and the effects of faulting on the distribution of those deposits. The results were published in 1882 in the major Monograph III. 

Becker provides descriptions of the ore deposits and their occurrence. He provides a discussion of the rocks showing that the lava propylene which had been considered the chief rock in the district actually were decomposing eruptives. The complex “distributed faults” or “step faults” of the district were mapped in detail. Suggestions were provided for the probable position of undetected ore bodies. The work remains a major contribution to our understanding of precious metal deposits, their formation and occurrence.