Smithsonite with James Smithson Medallion, by Unknown, 1995, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, Sample of Smithsonite, a carbonate of zinc named in honor of James Smithson, mineralogist and founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution, in 1832, three years after his death. In an 1802 paper, Smithson proved calamines were true minerals, not oxides of zinc as the renowned mineralogist l'abbe Rene Just Hauy (1743-1822) had claimed. The James Smithson medallion has been placed in front of the Smithsonite..