[MSA-talk] Early mineralogy interest

Tony tony at excaliburmineral.com
Fri May 9 14:58:08 EDT 2014

I was hooked as a young boy when my older brother presented me with an Elba pyrite and a Kentucky stalactite on one of his rare trips home during military leave. As a city kid growing up in New York, I had never seen such things! My first Golden Book, followed by others, taught me some basics, but frequent trips to Walkers Minerals in New York City and the American Museum of Natural History expanded my horizons. Dave Seaman at the AMNH always had his door open, and he not only tolerated my many questions, but he even would show me how HCl would make calcite fizz, along with other neat tricks to help me identify specimens (imagine a curator doing that today???)

Dan O'Connell and Purfield Kent at CCNY were my first mineralogy professors years later, both astute mineral people and collectors themselves, and trips to collect New Jersey trap rock minerals during the construction of Interstate 80 were field trip highlights for me, significantly more rewarding than my earlier attempts at field collecting (digging garnets out of Manhattan schist in Central Park by using my boy scout knife!)

Were it not for those early mentors, I wouldn't be sitting on some 200,000 mineral specimens in my warehouse today!

Tony Nikischer
Excalibur Mineral Corporation
1885 Seminole Trail - Ste 202
Charlottesville, VA 22901-1160

Celebrating our 41st Year!

---- Original Message ----- 
  From: Ray Joesten 
  To: msa-talk at minlists.org ; JDemouthe at calacademy.org 
  Sent: Friday, May 09, 2014 1:45 PM
  Subject: [MSA-talk] R: early mineralogy interest

  On 5/8/2014 5:56 PM, Demouthe, Jean wrote: 
    Museums often gauge the public's interest in exhibits by how long people linger in a particular hall, and by the amount of finger and nose prints on the glass at the end of each day.  Halls of minerals always have more smudges than any other. 

    Jean DeMouthe

    Dr. Jean F. DeMouthe 
    Senior Collections Manager for Geology

    California Academy of Sciences

  There are so many common threads in our accounts of how we got started in mineralogy. The spectacular mineral hall at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco played an important role for me. On many a rainy Sunday afternoon, my folks would pack the kids into the station wagon and drive up the peninsula to Golden Gate Park to visit the museums.   Jean, a lot of those nose- and hand prints on the glass, 60 years ago, were mine!   The huge crystals of Japanese stibnite made a lasting impression on me, as they did with Peter at the AMNH, not to mention the big pyrite cubes and the gypsum crystal almost as tall as me.  My first interest in science was probably sparked by a local TV program, "Science in Action", hosted by Dr. Earl S. Herald, an ichthyologist at the California Academy of Sciences. So, I owe a lot to the California Academy. 

  And, of course, I still have my well-worn copy of Pough's Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals, a gift from Mom and Dad on my 11th birthday along with an Estwing rock pick - last seen on the roof of my Volkswagen somewhere in the Diablo Range in 1966.   Although I do not remember any instruction in science before high school, my Mom was a partner in nature study from the beginning.  Family vacations in the high Sierra, Death Valley, and beyond stimulated my interest in geology, and I always came back with mineral and rock samples that were displayed in the bedroom over a detached garage that I shared with my older brother, his model railroad, and various snakes, lizards, frogs, toads and the family dog.


Ray Joesten
Professor Emeritus
Chemistry and Geoscience
Email:  joesten at uconn.edu

Department of Chemistry            Center for Integrative Geosciences
55 North Eagleville Rd U-3060	   354 Mansfield Road U-2045
University of Connecticut          University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269-3060              Storrs, CT 06269-2045

Voice: 860-486-6643                
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