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Biographical entry Menge, Johann (1788 - 1852)

24 January 1788
Steinau, Hesse, Germany
Forest Creek, Victoria, Australia
Mineralogist and Geologist


Johann Menge was engaged by the South Australian Company as a mine and quarry agent in 1836-1838 and spent some years after that making frequent excursions to study soils and minerals in the region. He was eccentric and once refused an invitation to organise a mining company with British capital, because he was too busy planning a Chinese missionary college.


Born Steinau, Hesse, Germany, 24 January 1788. Died Forest Creek, near Bendigo, 1852. Technical assistant, then business associate, of Leonhard, who collected and sold geological specimens 1805-16, geological travels, learned several languages, religious publishing, Lubeck 1816-30, language teacher, translator for the British and Foreign Bible Society and preparation of a Chinese dictionary, England 1830-36, mine and quarry agent, South Australian Company 1836-38, various projects 1838-52, including frequent excursions to study soils and minerals, the introduction of plant seedlings, the use of irrigation and fertilizers and the settlement of the Barossa Valley by German immigrants. Published Mineral Kingdom of South Australia in 1840.

Published resources


  • Cawthorne, W. A., Menge the Mineralogist, Adelaide, 1859. Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Abbe, D. Van, 'A German Eccentric in South Australia, 1836-1852', Historical Studies, vol. 39, November, 1962. Details
  • Annells, Mal, 'Johann Menge, Mineralogist', Mineralogical News, Journal of the Mineralogical Society of South Australia, vol. 4, 1984, pp. 128-132. Details
  • Corbett, David W.P., 'Johannes Menge (1788-1852) - South Australia's First Geologist', Newsletter (Earth Sciences History Group), vol. 7, June, 1986, pp. 3-4. Details

Online Resources

McCarthy, G.J.