Sir, Reading Geoscientist , December/January, 26.11, my particular attention was drawn by the article Tools of the Oldest Profession by Douglas Palmer .
During fieldwork in the Cantabrian Mountains (N. Spain) I had the bad luck to break my hammer’s hickory shaft. Far away from the possibility of buying a new one (not to mention that my student allowance was gone already!) a local blacksmith offered to repair the hammer by first making 2 extraordinary iron pins and using these to reconnect the shaft to the head. With this hammer all my subsequent fieldwork was done.
In the 1990s that I met, at a geological conference, Giselle d’Ailly - a Dutch painter (once married to the mayor of Amsterdam) who had been asked by our Royal Geological Society here in the Netherlands to paint a portrait of her farther – none other than Willem van Waterschoot van der Gracht, godfather of geology in our country.
Willem van Waterschoot van der Gracht (1873-1943) studied Law, Geology and Mining respectively in Amsterdam and Freiburg (after his stay at the Jesuit College, Stonyhurst, in the UK).
Giselle asked me if it would be a good idea to paint her father in field gear. After some discussion we agreed - and then she said: “But - I don’t have a hammer, which he always carried with him when doing fieldwork’. I replied - “Don't worry I will bring you mine!”.
The finished portrait was presented to the Geological Survey when their new building was opened by the Royal Prince Clause in 1990 in Haarlem.
You can imagine that we all were very pleased with this portrait, which is shown on the biography of van der Gracht, written by a good friend of mine (picture).
Nowadays the portrait hangs in the building of the Survey in yet another new building in Utrecht, with the real hammer also on display next to it. (I was asked to donate the hammer so the visiting public could see how a used hammer looks like!).
Dr Henk J W G Schalke, Oegstgeest.