Lazarus Ercker's (* 1528 in
Annaberg, Saxony; † 1594 in Prague,
Bohemia) knowledge of
metallurgy derived from his extensive experience in the mining industry.
During the 1550's,
he supervised mining and foundry operations for several German
principalities, notably Dresden and
the publication of his magnum opus, the Beschreibung allerfürnemisten
vnnd Bergkwercks arten ("Treatise
on the Foremost Mineralogy and Metallurgy" ) (‡) (first edition 1574), Ercker
became director of mining affairs for the Bohemian Crown and Münzwardein
Master) in Kuttenberg, (now Kutná Hora, in the Czech Republic), a post he occupied
through the 1580's.
Beschreibung reviews methods for mining and refining
metal alloys, and discusses a wide variety of metallurgical equipment.
Ercker also describes
laboratory equipment and furnaces, making his text an important source of
information on early modern science.
Ercker seems to have been an opponent of alchemical procedures and beliefs;
his text does not refer to them.
(‡) also known as "Das große Probierbuch"