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Ru Smith's Mindat Home Page

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Crystal Twins and the Northern English Mines

Registered member since 30th Jan 2011

Ru Smith has uploaded:
156 Mineral Photos
An interest in mineralogy (and many other aspects of the natural world) dates back to early days, age about 7, tramping across the Yorkshire Dales.

As a teenager in Leeds, I was inspired by two spectacular specimens (a huge tabular Silverband baryte and a large vivid blue Caldbeck linarite crystal on quartz druse) encountered in a small shop in the Merrion Centre, priced at a few pounds. Ted and Mary Smithson of Bardsey Bank Top would take me out collecting in the Dales. I also collected in Cumbria and Durham, and as a teenager wandering the US and Mexico by Greyhound bus brought back some extremely fine Chihuahua wulfenites, fluorites and rhodochrosites. The Silverband baryte and Caldbeck linarite, along with the Mexican minerals and a suite of other treasures (Welsh brookite, Cornish liroconite and so on) were lost along the way (left with a pair of friendly dealers, Don and Wally, and never retrieved - I had been feeling bogged down with worldly possessions). Perhaps I should have kept hold of those!

These days, my main mineralogical interests are:

1) the minerals of northern England, in part due to the family connection with the Westgarth Forsters (Westgarth the elder, 1738-1797, was my great-great-great-great grandfather);

2) crystallography and the phenomenon of crystal twinning (http://www.pbase.com/hajar/crystal_twins); and

3) the historical context of knowledge about minerals and the early days of collecting (the collections include a good number of specimens and labels from the late 18th and early 19th century)

The story behind the Northern England collection can be found here: http://www.pbase.com/hajar/british_minerals

A blog on Westgarth Forster and the northern England minerals can be found here: http://westgarthforster.blogspot.com/?view=magazine

I would highlight the stories on the 1818 green fluorites from Middlehope Shields (http://westgarthforster.blogspot.com/2014/11/glorious-green-fluorite-from-middlehope.html?view=magazine ); the 1888 find of Egremont calcite twins (http://westgarthforster.blogspot.com/2014/11/classic-cumbrian-calcite-twins.html?view=magazine ); and the Allenheads fluorites (http://westgarthforster.blogspot.com/2014/11/westgarth-forster-and-allenheads-mine.html?view=magazine)


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