Biographical Archive

Jean Miquel (1859-1940)

Last update: September 28, 2011

Citation format: Mignan, A. (2011), Jean Miquel (1859-1940). The Tricottet Collection Biographical Archive, at www.thetricottetcollection.com

Notice: The following text is based on Controverses géologiques sur le Cambro-Ordovicien de la Montagne Noire (France) à l'aube du XXe siècle: les contributions de Jean Miquel (1859-1940) by Alvaro and Vizcaino (2002).


His Life & Scientific Contributions

Jean Miquel, jurist by training and owner of the Barroubio winery1 (Languedoc, France), is an amateur naturalist who significantly contributed at the turn of the 20th century to the improvement of the geological knowledge of his region. The Languedoc has a rich geological setting, which makes it ideal for discoveries. Jean Miquel spent all of his life investigating geological sites surrounding the Barroubio domain2. His passion for natural history emerged from an encounter with the President of the Natural History Society of Béziers, Prof. Cannat, who teached him the basics of geology. Through his life, he found interest in geomorphology, botany, archeology, prehistory and agricultural science. Autodidact, he learned a lot from local researchers (Prof. de Rouville, Dr. Coulouma, Prof. Depéret, Prof Feaut). Miquel also corresponded with renowned European paleontologists, such as Gronwall, Barrande, Stubblefield, Howell, etc.

Miquel authored and co-authored numerous scientific publications in regional and national journals, with his first work on geology published in 1893. His most cited works are related to the stratigraphy and paleontology of the Lower Paleozoic, but he also studied more recent sites from Pardailhan, Minervois and Corbières. His research was regarded with high interest by the scientific community. His work focused on stratigraphy and he used fossils as potential stratigraphic markers. Several species are named after him.

Fig. 1: Une visite à Barroubio, Note sur les Collections de Préhistorique et de Géologie. Excursion de Mai 1932, a rare offprint about the Miquel Collections, described by Miquel himself.

Fig. 2: Catalogue of fossils from the Miquel Collection, including Lutetian of the Champagne region, Belgium and Great Britain, and Eocene of the Cotentin and Brittany regions. Latin names are neatly written by Miquel, probably after 1925. The Tricottet Collection houses four Miquel catalogues (see the Tricottet Collection Manuscript & Correspondence Archive).

His Collections

An idea of the size and variety of his collections is given in Miquel (1932) (Fig. 1). He indicates:

J'ai eu pour mes collections de préhistorique, une heureuse fortune: la nature avait mis à mes côtés, je pourrais dire sous ma main, aux Grottes de Bize, une réserve de richesses archéologiques exceptionnelles. (...) J'y ai trouvé (...) plusieurs milliers de bons éhantillons; j'ai conservé tous ceux qui pouvaient être utilisés comme documents scientifiques; avec les pièces les plus communes, j'ai pu me procurer, par des échanges souvent renouvelés, ma grande collection générale. Les trouvailles des Grottes de Bize comprennent encore (...) une vitrine, un tiroir, huit boîtes cataloguées, deux caisses de grosses pièces. (...) La Collection générale comprend en deux vitrines, cing tiroirs et cent trente boîtes cataloguées (...) l'ensemble du préhistorique de France et des pays voisins.3

La Géologie fait le géologue; les gisements fossilifères font le collectionneur. Barroubio est extrêmement favorisé à cet égard; il possède les fossiles de deux terrains uniques pour la France et trés rares en tout pays. (...) J'ai consacré à l'étude de cette géologie et à la recherche de ses fossiles, le meilleur de ma vie. J'y ai recueilli les matèriaux de cinq cents échanges de fossiles poursuivis pendant vinq-cinq ans; et c'est ainsi que j'ai pu réunir la collection générale dont l'importance a surpris tous mes visiteurs. Cette collection comprend cent quarante tiroirs et sept cents boîtes soigneusement cataloguées. 3

After 1925, Miquel spent most of his time cataloguing and labelling his old finds as well as other ones collected by workers on his domain and by colleagues. He traded part of his large collection of fossils with European museums and universities (Copenhague, Lille, Lund, Montpellier, Paris, Prague, etc.). In 1927, geology laboratories of Montpellier, Languedoc and of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN), Paris, bought what remained from the Miquel collection of fossils. This collection is described in detail by Thoral (1935). It should be noted that what was left from the Miquel Collection, including some manuscripts, was donated to the local museum of Minerve (Hérault, France). Cataloguing was done with a new numbering system in the 1950s (?) by Filhol4, a local prehistorian. The original numbers, preceding fossil names in the Miquel catalogues (Fig. 2), correspond to the number of the boxes where the specimens were originally kept.

The Tricottet Collection houses four original catalogues (Fig. 2) and two specimens from the Miquel Collection, which did not make it to the various European museums and universities. These are a fragment of Alveoline limestone from the Lutetian of Barroubio with handwritten label (Figs. 3-4) and small Auricula shells from the Lutetian of Brittany, glued on a specimen card, also handwritten (Fig. 5). Miquel (1932) explains that small specimens are glued on cardboards, white or green, to avoid mislabelling. He also adds that it gives a nice aspect to the collection, then composed of 12,000 of these cards5!

Fig. 3: Alveoline limestone, Middle Lutetian, found 300 meters from Barroubio (TC bio2). See label in Figure 4.

Fig. 4: Handwritten label from the Miquel Collection (TC bio2).

Fig. 5: Some Auricula shells from the Lutetian of Brittany, glued on a green specimen card, also handwritten (TC bio2).

References from the Tricottet Library

Miquel, J. (c. 1920s), Lutétien du Bassin de Paris (suite). Handwritten collection catalogue, 7 pp.

Miquel, J. (c. 1920s), Lutétien de la Champagne, Lutétien de la Belgique, Lutétien de la Grande Bretagne, Eocène du Cotentin, Eocène de Bretagne. Handwritten collection catalogue, 8 pp.

Miquel, J. (c. 1920s), Lutétien Nummulitique de l'Egypte. Handwritten collection catalogue, 1 pp.

Miquel, J. (c. 1920s), L'Oligocène du Bassin de Mayence et du Limbourg. Handwritten collection catalogue, 4 pp.

Miquel, J. (1932), Une visite à Barroubio, Note sur les Collections de Préhistorique et de Géologie. Excursion de Mai 1932, 6 pp.

Wanted references

Alvaro, J. J. and D. Vizcaino (2002), Controverses géologiques sur le Cambro-Ordovicien de la Montagne Noire (France) à l'aube du XXe siècle: les contributions de Jean Miquel (1859-1940). Geodiversitas, 24 (4), pp. 725-752

Miquel, J. (1893), Note sur la Géologie des Terrains primaires du département de l’Hérault, Saint- Chinian à Coulouma. Bulletin de la Société d’Études scientifiques naturelles de Béziers, 16, pp. 100-113

Miquel, J. (1894), Note sur la Géologie des Terrains primaires du département de l’Hérault, Le Cambrien et l’Arenig. Bulletin de la Société d’Études scientifiques naturelles de Béziers, 17, pp. 1-36

Miquel, J. (1895), Note sur la Géologie des Terrains primaires du département de l’Hérault, Essai de stratigraphie générale. Bulletin de la Société d’Études scientifiques naturelles de Béziers, 18, pp. 1-28

Miquel, J. (1898), La vallée du Jaur, Cantons de St- Pons et d’Olargues. L’agriculture générale et les arbres à fruit. Imprimerie du Commerce, Béziers, 14 pp.

Miquel, J. (1905), Essai sur le Cambrien de la Montagne Noire, Coulouma - L’Acadien. Bulletin de la Société géologique de France (4e série), 5, pp. 465-483

Miquel, J. (1910), Essai sur les terrains cambriens de la Montagne Noire, L’Acadien supérieur. Bulletin de la Société d’Études scientifiques naturelles de Béziers, 32, pp. 1-9

Miquel, J. (1912), Nouvel essai sur la Géologie des Terrains primaires du département de l’Hérault, Classification des terrains siluriens. Bulletin de la Société d’Études scientifiques naturelles de Béziers, 34, pp. 1-48

Miquel, J. (1933), Le Bassin de la Cesse. Imprimerie de la Charité, Montpellier, in-8°, 84 pp.

Thoral, M. (1935), Contribution à l'é́tude paléontologique de l'Ordovicien inférieur de la Montagne Noire et révision sommaire de la faune cambrienne de la Montagne Noire. Imprimerie de la Charité, Montpellier, 362 pp.

Footnotes:
1. It is said that, descendent of a rich family of Pardailhan, Miquel preferred spending his time at his passion than at taking care of the family winery. He spent money easily and traveled a lot. When money was lacking to pay his workers, he offered them small portions of his land. It took two generations to rebuild the Barroubio domain. His winery produced the Muscat variety of grapes, among others.
2. Village of Saint-Jean-de-Minervois, formerly Pardailhan.
3. English translation coming soon.
4. Spelling to confirm.
5. Miquel (1932) notes: "Les petites espèces, qui se mêlent si facilement et perdent ainsi toute leur valeur, sont collées sur des cartons blancs ou verts qui forment des ensembles d'aspect gracieux. Il y a en ce moment douze mille cartons, et ce nombre s'étendra assez rapidement".