Carl Linnaeus to Carl Funck,
6 February 1761 n.s.
L2882. Carl LinnaeusCarl Linnaeus (1707-1778). Swedish.
to Carl FunckCarl Funck (1708-1783). Swedish. Baron,
Linnaeus writes a letter to Carl FunckFunck, Carl (1708-1783).
Linnaeus writes that he has seen fishing of pearl mussels at Kurkijaur, the most wellknown pearl fishing area in Lapland rivers and describes the technique. In order to find pearls the mussels have to be killed and destroyed: many thousands are killed without finding good pearls. Maybe one in every 1, 000 or 2, 000 mussels has a pearl.
This technique is not worth the effort.
Linnaeus writes that pearls in mussels are not natural but a sickness and that is might be possible to make mussels producing pearls artificially. This might also be profitable.
Linnaeus discusses possible ways of getting mussels to produce pearls and says that after six years the pearl is as large as a pea and after 12 years it is twice that size. He also discussed the economy of this business. Linnaeus estimates that one person can impregnate 100 mussels a day and another two persons can provide the impregnating material. Linnaeus says that all impregnated mussels will have pearls as long as they are returned to the rapids.
It is of the utmost importance to keep this method a secret as the same kind of mussels can be found in Austria, Switzerland and Scotland. If the method were to be used by foreigners the value of the pearl would fall. Linnaeus describes how to protect the mussel rapids.
Linnaeus continues that he has heard about people making gold but not about making pearls. He has, however, heard about a person asking for permission to build ponds for producing pearls in Finland, but he has no further information about the project [Linnaeus refers to the application made by Friedrich HedenbergHedenberg, Friedrich Swedish.
Linnaeus has not used his knowledge of producing pearls for his own profit. He has only made experiments with marine mussels that cannot produce the same high quality pearls as the pearl mussels. Linnaeus writes that he could have sold the pearl fishing method to a foreign country, but he prefers this method to stay within Sweden and he hopes that he will be economically compensated.