Balthasar Hacquet – a man of many talents

February 2nd, 2015

According to info received by, Slovenia Post is to issue a special stamp honoring Balthasar Hacquet – a man of many talents. The item depicts Balthasar Hacquet and is scheduled to be put into circulation on the 30th of January.

Born in France, Balthasar Hacquet came to Carniola in 1766 to take up a post as mine surgeon in Idrija. After moving to Ljubljana in 1773, he had a variety of jobs: teacher at the school of midwifery, chemistry lecturer and secretary of the Gesellschaft für die Ackerbau und nützliche Künste, a society for the promotion of rational agriculture.

He was also interested in several other fields, including geology, palaeontology, botany, ethnology and the Slovene language. He was an indefatigable traveller and keen hillwalker, a representative of Enlightenment thought and a physiocrat who was a staunch advocate of education and fought against popular superstitions and religious hypocrisy.

He published around 140 articles and papers on a variety of topics and, his most important work, the four-volume Oryctographia Carniolica oder Physikalische Beschreibung des Herzogthums Krain, Istrien und zum Theil der benachbarten Länder. This book, written in German and published between 1778 and 1789, discusses the physical properties of the Duchy of Carniola, Istria and parts of the neighbouring lands.

Outside Carniola he toured the main mountain ranges of Europe, ascended the Grossglockner (Austria's highest mountain) and was the second man to climb Triglav, Slovenia's highest mountain. He also visited much of the Balkans and central and eastern Europe. He compiled a "mappa litho-hydrographica" of Carniola with all the toponyms in Slovene, since he considered himself a Carniolan and a Slav.

He was the first to offer a scientific description of dolomite and supported the claim that the dissolution of limestone was the most important factor in the formation of karst landscapes. In 1787 he abandoned the "bigoted and unlearned Carniolans" and took up a teaching post at the University of Lviv.