Sunday, December 13, 2009

Additional Maryland Minerals at the Harvard Mineralogical Museum

This week's post follows through on the August 14 and October 2 posts about minerals collected in Maryland on display in the Harvard Mineralogical Museum. The August post made the following assertion regarding undisplayed specimens stored in drawers:

With over 4,000 specimens from the Franklin, New Jersey environs, and 7,000 New England pieces, it’s likely that Harvard has additional Maryland minerals. What a treat the prospect of snooping through those drawers. Next visit, additional time will be available, and I'll have researched the protocol.

Such a visit happened this past week, the end result of correspondence regarding the Bare Hills chromite/magnetite controversy discussed in our October 2 post. Thank you again Harold Levey for egging me on to write that questioning letter to the Harvard Mineralogical Museum's esteemed Curator Dr. Carl Francis. Ultimately, it led to his being kind enough to spend the major portion of a busy day showing me where the minerals are kept and arranging for me to photograph the Maryland ones.

In addition to the few pieces displayed under glass in the Gallery, Dr. Francis removed other Maryland minerals locked beneath them in wooden cabinets. From a spacious lab and study area in the Museum's basement, he selected more Maryland pieces from the thousands of specimens in drawers surrounding the desk where he sits in our title picture. After making a special trip to another building where the micromount collection is kept, he walked with me across campus to a house where rows of floor to ceiling drawers filled with hand specimens line the basement. There he made several trips up a ladder to fetch those from Maryland, the most interesting of which we carried back to the museum in a shopping bag for me to photograph.

Upon leaving just before dark, it was clear to me the day's experience was to be a source of substantial content for future Mineral Bliss posts. How welcome to have this material to share during an upcoming six week period where Holidays and extensive travel could easily supersede the kind mineralogical pursuits covered at Mineral Bliss that are normally a routine part of my life. Here are a few likely topics.

  • Maryland minerals on display in the Harvard Mineralogical Museum that were missed during our August visit.

  • Maryland minerals of special interest that are not on display.

  • Curious issues regarding the identification of several Maryland pieces.

Stay tuned.

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