Recent Acquisitions & Ongoing Exhibitions

Mineralogical Museum
February 10-May 15, 2016

ONGOING: The Irénée du Pont Collection

Beryl (aquamarine), Marambaia Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil from the Irénée du Pont Collection (3 inches x 1 ¼ inches). Image courtesy Michael J. Bainbridge
Beryl (aquamarine), Marambaia Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil from the Irénée du Pont Collection (3 inches x 1 ¼ inches). Image courtesy Michael J. Bainbridge

The Irénée du Pont mineral collection, assembled primarily in the 1920s, was gifted to the University in 1964. Little was known about the history of this fine collection, which became the foundation of the University of Delaware Mineralogical Museum. The research of Curator Sharon Fitzgerald, recently published as a supplement to the Mineralogical Record (May/June 2015), has greatly enhanced our knowledge about the specimens and their provenance.

Although Mr. du Pont collected minerals from childhood, his first major purchase was a rounded, stream rolled topaz crystal weighing more than 19 pounds that he saw at Tiffany & Co. in New York in 1919. George F. Kunz, the Vice-President of Tiffany & Co., required Mr. du Pont to purchase an entire collection in order to have this crystal. For approximately a decade, Mr. du Pont added to his collection, buying from George Kunz and from George English of Ward’s Natural Science Establishment.

Some of the specimens in this collection can be traced back more than one hundred years to previous owners. The illustrated Mineralogical Record supplement can be purchased at the Museum located in Penny Hall on 255 Academy Street.

 ONGOING: Gemstones and Carvings

Blue Hen, carved of lapis lazuli and coral (2 ¾ inches)
Blue Hen, carved of lapis lazuli and coral (2 ¾ inches)

Although mineral specimens comprise the majority of objects in the Mineralogical Museum, gemstones and their natural crystals and carvings from minerals are currently on display. The skill of the carver can be seen in the small chimpanzee that is carved of one bi-color piece of agate. Other hardstone carvings such as the tiger eye lion with diamond eyes and the blue hen, appropriate for UD, can only be carved with diamond tools. Faceted stones are shown with examples of the natural mineral from which they are fashioned, giving the viewer a connection to their origins, otherwise difficult to imagine in viewing a single isolated gemstone.

NEW: Recent Acquisitions

Chalcocite, Flambeau Mine, Ladysmith, Wisconsin (5 inches x 5 ½ inches)
Chalcocite, Flambeau Mine, Ladysmith, Wisconsin (5 inches x 5 ½ inches)

The Flambeau Mine had a brief period of operation (1993-1997) for the extraction of copper, gold and silver, and was planned in compliance with Wisconsin’s new mining laws. A contract was given to Casey and Jane Jones to recover and preserve mineral specimens during the mining, so there is detailed information about specimens. The chalcocite shown was found August 15, 1996 from what was named by the collectors, the “Rocket Pocket.” After the mine closed, the 220 feet deep pit was totally filled and reclaimed as a park, a rare example of a mining company working with the community and collectors in responsibly managing resources and allowing for the preservation of the beautiful mineral specimens.

Crocoite, Adelaide Mine, Tasmania, Australia (3 ½ inches x 5 ¾ inches)
Crocoite, Adelaide Mine, Tasmania, Australia (3 ½ inches x 5 ¾ inches)

Crocoite is a rare red orange chromate of lead and is one of the most spectacular minerals in existence. Although it has been found in Russia and a few other localities, it is Tasmania that supplies the finest examples of the species. Crocoite was sporadically found there in the early 1900s, but the mine was operated mainly for the extraction of lead and silver. Mining at Adelaide for specimens began in the 1980s and continues today, although most of the recent specimens are of a fragile needle-like form, unlike the earlier more stable crystals like the one now at Delaware.

Pyromorphite, Daoping Mine, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China (3 inches x 4 ½ inches)
Pyromorphite, Daoping Mine, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China (3 inches x 4 ½ inches)

The Daoping lead-zinc mine has been in operation since 1957 but the bright green pyromorphite specimens first found in 1999 came on the market in 2000, with very few found after that. The newly acquired specimen at Delaware is very unusual in that it is on matrix.

Banner image: Crocoite, Adelaide Mine, Tasmania, Australia (3 ½ inches x 5 ¾ inches)

PROGRAMMING

Wednesday, March 16, 5-7 p.m.
Curator’s Talk and Reception

“Tales from the Underground”
Dr. Sharon Fitzgerald, Curator, Mineralogical Museum
Mineralogical Museum

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