BAKER, Richard Thomas (1854-1941)


BAKER, Richard Thomas (1854-1941)
economic botanist
son of Richard Thomas Baker, was born at Woolwich, England, on 1 December 1854. He arrived in Australia in September 1879 and in June 1880 joined the staff of Newington College, Sydney, as science and art master. In June 1888 he obtained an appointment at the Sydney technological museum, and in 1901 succeeded J. H. Maiden (q.v.) as curator and economic botanist. In the following year he published an important work, A Research on the Eucalypts especially in regard to their essential Oils, prepared in collaboration with H. G. Smith (q.v.), second and enlarged edition, 1920. In 1908 Baker published a small work Building and Ornamental Stones of New South Wales, and in 1910, again in collaboration with H. G. Smith, another valuable piece of research, The Pines of Australia, was completed and published. In 1913 Cabinet Timbers of Australia appeared, and in 1915 two more books Building and Ornamental Stones of Australia, and Australian Flora in Applied Art. An important work, The Hardwoods of Australia and their Economics, was published with many illustrations in 1919. Baker retired from the technological museum on 30 June 1921 and in 1924 with H. G. Smith brought out Woodfibres of Some Australian Timbers.
Baker was lecturer on forestry at the university of Sydney between 1913 and 1925, was a member of the Royal and Linnean Societies of New South Wales, and published over 100 papers in their journals. He was a member of the council of the Linnean Society from 1897 to 1922. He was awarded the von Mueller medal by the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science in 1921, and the Clarke medal of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1922. He died on 14 July 1941. His work on the native timbers was of remarkable value.
Journal and Proceedings Royal Society of New South Wales 1942, p. 6; The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 1941; Annual Reports Technological Museum Sydney.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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