Mineralogy Collection

Dr. Marian Lupulescu is the curator of the Geology Collections
and his research fields are Mineralogy, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, and Geology and Geochemistry of Ore Deposits.

The mineral collection of the New York State Museum contains approximately 30,000 specimens divided into two sub-collections. Roughly 10,000 of the specimens are in the "New York" collection and the remainder are in a "non-New York" collection representing world-wide localities. Virtually all minerals reported in New York are in the "New York" collection. These number about 270 species and varieties. Species from most classic, and now depleted, collection sites are represented as well as many unreported localities. The "non-New York" mineral collection is dominated by specimens from sites in the Americas but western Europe and southern Africa are fairly well embodied. Approximately 30% of known species are held in the collections.

The mineralogy collection is stored in steel "Lane"-type cases in the Cultural Education Center. Both sub-collections are organized according to standard chemical and crystal structural groups. Non-silicates and quartz are ordered in accordance with Dana's System of Mineralogy, Seventh Edition. Silicates are in the groups and order listed in Strunz, Mineralogische Tabelen, Fifth Edition. Species validity is based on Fleischer, Glossary of Mineral Species, 1991. However, discredited names and varieties have been retained in some cases due to local usage or historical significance.

The mineral collection contains specimens used for display, research, and reference. Multiple specimens of a given species from the same locality may be present in the collection to allow for study and exchange material. Acquisition of material is heavily accented towards New York specimens but additions of material from outside New York State are made to the collections if the specimen is of high quality.

The following is a partial summary of collections, contents and dates of acquisition. The specimens amassed by Lewis Caleb Beck during the course of research leading to the publication of the Report on the Mineralogy of New York in 1842 formed the nucleus of the mineral collection of the New York State Museum. It appears that he continued to add specimens to the collection for several years after the original survey of New York was completed. In 1851 and 1852 minerals and geological specimens from Mr. Franklin B. Hough were added to the collections. These were mostly specimens from St. Lawrence County. A small collection of Brazilian minerals and ores was presented to the Museum in 1865 by the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro through the Honorable Mr. Lisboa, Envoy Extraordinary of Brazil. In 1868, the collection of a Professor Pickett was acquired by the Museum. This collection was principally of fossils but did contain minerals of the Lockport Formation and from New England localities.

In 1870, specimens from Herkimer, NY were purchased from Mr. George W. Pine. In addition, some 400 additional specimens were purchased in one lot but the source was not identified. Among these latter specimens were some beautiful formations of flowstone from Ball's Cave in Schoharie County. A small number of pieces were added to the collection that year by Museum Director James Hall. Also in that year, 182 specimens of minerals, fossils, and historical relics were added to the Museums's holdings from Mr. Jeptha Simms. It is reported that few of the specimens from that collection were up to the grade of the Museum's mineral collection as it existed at the time. Finally in 1870, the collection of Dr. Ebenezer Emmons was purchased by the Honorable Erastus Corning and presented to the Museum as a gift. This collection consisted largely of specimens of New York minerals and some foreign occurrences. Among the former was a suite of calcite specimens from Rossie, NY. The non-New York material included specimens from the Hartz region in Saxony, Germany bearing labels of the Freiburg Mining School and dated 1848.

The collection of John Gebhard was purchased in 1873. This collection was, in the main, a local one. It consisted chiefly of fossils form the Schoharie Valley and minerals of the "water lime" formations i.e., minerals from the rocks used for natural cement. This collection also included specimens of calcareous minerals recovered from the caves in Schoharie County. In this same year the Van Rensselaer collection of fossils, rocks, and minerals was received by the Museum. It was in poor condition having been loosely packed in boxes and barrels.

An extensive general mineral collection was purchased in 1886 from Dr. George F. Kunz.   A smaller but significant collection of minerals from Westchester county was bought from him in 1888. Included in the 1886 purchase were the gem materials that formed the nucleus of the Museum's current gem collection. Also at this time, Kunz sold to the Museum several large fluorite crystal groups from Macomb, NY.

In 1891, a collection with significant historic value was presented to the New York State Museum by the Albany Institute of History and Art. Among the contributors to this collection were Stephen Van Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, T. Romeyn Beck, John Gebhard, Lewis Caleb Beck, and Erastus Corning. Some few dozens of minerals were purchased from Mr. George English in 1896. A sizable exchange of specimens occurred in 1902 with the Egleston Mineral Museum of Columbia University. This same year is noted in the records as a very active collecting year for Dr. H.P. Whitlock of the Museum staff.

A donation of 286 specimens from Dr. Joseph Simms was received in 1903. A small but locally important collection of minerals from southeastern New York was presented to the Museum in 1904 by Mr. P. Edwin Clark. This collection included many fine quartz and ore specimens from Ellenville, NY. In 1907, approximately 400 specimens from Lyon Mountain, NY were donated by Mr. H.H. Hindshaw and over 100 Italian and Swiss specimens were given to the Museum by Mrs. J. V. L. Pruyn.

The collection of Mr. Chester D. Nimms was purchased in 1908. This collection comprised over 4000 specimens, a large portion of which were collected in New York State. The bulk of the New York material was from occurrences in St. Lawrence County. In 1909, an outstanding collection of minerals from the Sterling Mine in Antwerp, NY was purchased from Mr. R. S. Hodge. The materials were collected by Hodge during the many years that he was superintendent of that mine and, at the time, represented the best material from that locality.

In 1914, the collection of Dr. Silas Young was purchased. These specimens represented world-wide localities but were mainly from Orange County, NY and northern New Jersey. A further Egleston Museum exchange of New York State minerals is recorded in 1951 and, in 1917 Mr. Charles N. Mcgill (sic) donated a collection of over 100 geodes from the Illinois-Iowa region.

A hiatus exists in the collection records from the early part of the twentieth century until the late 1940s. It seems unlikely that the Museum's collection remained static during this period but no records exist of major mineral acquisition activity. During this time period, Museum staff members charged with responsibility for knowledge of minerals were involved in studies of the mineral industry and did not concentrate on mineral specimen acquisition per se. For example, Dr. David Newland of the Museum staff brought in many New York ore specimens during this general time period and the collection of native copper and copper minerals of Mr. Jonas Brooks was donated in 1930.

Chronologically, the next major collection to be accessioned was received in 1949 from Mr. John N. Trainer. This was an extensive collection of minerals from the Tilly Foster iron mine in Brewster, NY. In 1969, the Museum purchased a suite of New York minerals from Wards Natural Science Establishment. It is possible that this material was acquired by Wards from Williams College.

The Adam Geer collection of New York minerals was purchased in 1974. This was a large collection containing material from many exhausted localities. Of particular note are the celestine specimens from Chittenango Falls, NY. The new mineral geerite was described from material contained in this collection. A very important collection of minerals and gems was donated to the Museum in 1979 by Mr. Elmer B. Rowley. The collection included approximately 1000 New York specimens and 4000 samples from localities world-wide. This collection added greatly to the number of species held by the Museum as well as contributing a large number of display-quality specimens.

In 1984, the fossil and mineral collection of Dr. Monroe A. McIver was donated to the Museum. Primarily a fossil collection, the material included a number of noteable fluorite, quartz and tourmaline specimens. In 1991, a large suite of minerals from the zinc and talc mines of St. Lawrence County was accessioned. The minerals were collected by miners working in those mines and were presented to the Museum via Mr. Vernon Phillips. In 1994, a large collection of mineral specimens from the Adirondacks, belonging to the late Mr. Spencer Cram, was donated to the Museum by his family. A catalog is available.

Museum Open Tuesday-Sunday: 9:30 am to 5 pm | Carousel Hours: 10 am to 4:30 pm
Office of Cultural Education | New York State Education Department
Information: 518-474-5877 | Contact Us | Image Requests | Terms of Use
Join us on Facebook See us on YouTube See us on Flickr