Smithsonite is a mineral, named after James Smithson, the founding donor of the Smithsonian. He was an English scientist who lived c. 1765-1829. In a secondary clause in his will, he left his fortune to the United States of America—a place he never visited—to create “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.”

The chemical name for smithsonite is zinc carbonate (ZnCO3), and it is one of a group of ores that yield the metal zinc. It was named in honor of Smithson because it was he who first identified the mineral in 1802.


  • Title: Smithsonite
  • Location: Magdalena, Socorro Co., New Mexico, United States
  • Type: Mineral
  • Rights: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws. http://www.si.edu/termsofuse
  • External Link: View this object record in the Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center
  • USNM Catalog Number(s): 143509
  • Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
  • Field: Mineral Sciences

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