Scarce 2 Volume Box Set The Diamond Mines of South Africa by Gardner Williams 2nd Edition 1905
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B. F. Buck & Company. New York:, 1905. Leather.
2nd Edition. 2 volumes. ix + xvii + 359pp + xv + 353pp.
This edition is revised, enlarged, updated and additionally illustrated.
Publisher's Black morocco leather with gilt titles on spines and with gilt floral and geometric pattern covers top edges gilt.
Photo portrait frontispiece of author. Vignettes and full plates (some in colour) and other illustrations throughout with many descriptive tissue guards.
Folding colour map at the end of volume 2.
Gardner F. Williams (14 Mar 1842 – 22 Aug 1922) was an American mining engineer and author, and the first properly trained mining engineer to be appointed in South Africa. In 1902 he published the 2 volume "The Diamond Mines of South Africa; some account of their rise and development." This work is still considered an important authoritative source today.
William's South African experience started when he became the manager in 1884 of the properties known as The Transvaal Gold Exploration and Land Company at Pilgrim's Rest, Mpumalanga, Africa.
After a year at Pilgrim’s Rest he resigned and went to Kimberley where he met young Cecil John Rhodes. The two men travelled to England on the same ship and spent many hours discussing the gold and diamond enterprises in South Africa. Rhodes was most impressed by his companion’s knowledge and enthusiasm, and he invited Williams to join De Beers Diamond Company. Under pressure from Rhodes, he agreed to forget about gold and move into the field of diamonds, and finally accepted an appointment as manager of De Beers in Kimberley in May 1887.
Williams immediately introduced wide changes in the mining methods at Kimberley. It had been the practice to dig haphazardly and to try to shore up the sides and roof of the diggings with masses of timber. Walking about was exceedingly dangerous and unpleasant, and there was a never-ending worry that the workings might collapse, with serious consequences for the lives of the workers and the financial success of the operation. Williams knew all about shaft-sinking and tunnelling and the use of explosives and, by the end of 1887, proper and relatively safe mining methods had been firmly established. Instead of haphazardly hoisting the ore from a large number of points, he arranged the mine so that all the ground could be concentrated at one point, and hoisted from one well-equipped level by a large winder. His methods were soon repeated on other mines, and on the Witwatersrand as well, and the Kimberley mines came to be known as the most advanced in the world.
In part due to these improvements in mining techniques, by 1889 Cecil Rhodes controlled the South African diamond mining industry, and fully 90% of world production.
Williams' talents spread far beyond mining. Rhodes had great confidence in his undoubted administrative skills and his talent for financial management, and drew him into the grand scheme of consolidating all the diamond mines under De Beers.
Williams laid the foundations for an excellent system of training apprentices at De Beers, a compulsory system which worked so well it was soon copied on the Witwatersrand. He had the miners’ welfare at heart and, in 1892, reduced the underground shift from 12 to 8 hours. He was one of the chief promoters of the South African School of Mines and was chairperson of its governing body for the years between 1896 and 1903, during which it functioned in Kimberley.
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