Widmannstätten, Alois von Beckh- (1753-1849)

Alois von Beckh-Widmannstaetten was born in 1753 (13th July 1754 [3]) in Graz, Austria. He learned the printing art from his father Johann Andreas whose family had the exclusive right to print in the province of Steiermark. Alois sold his business to his competitor in 1807, the monopoly was lost in 1784 by the introduction of freedom of the press. In 1804 he was head of the spinning mill in Pottendorf, Austria.

From 1807 on he was in charge of the 'Fabriksproduktenkabinett', a private technology collection of Emperor Franz I. and a forerunner of the Polytechnic Institute. Widmannstaetten's name became famous for his discovery of the crystalline structure of iron/nickel meteorites (Widmannstaettensche Figuren) in 1808. He made the discovery by etching polished slices from an iron meteorite from Zagreb. Widmannstaetten made direct prints of the etched surfaces. These prints were published in 1820 by Carl von Schreibers, at whose institute he worked.

He also was active in aviation as well as in general science. Alois von Beck died in Vienna, Austria, on the 10th of June 1849. Other sources give his name as Aloys Beck, Edler von Widmannstaetten (or Widmanstetter), sometimes spelled with only one n.

1. Poggendorff, Vol. 2 (1863), p. 1315
2. Oesterreichisches Biographisches Lexikon, Vol. 1 (1957),p. 62-63
3. WEVERS, J., in: Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 14 (1981), p. 326-7
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