Died, Julius "Julie" Zweibel, 83.
How did they get started in minerals? In 1971 they had seen a beautiful amethyst specimen at a friend's house, and then noticed a variety of attractive decorator specimens for sale by Astro Minerals in Bloomingdale's. Their interest piqued, they subscribed to Julio Tanjeloff's short-lived but spectacular magazine called Mineral Digest, and in the second issue they came across an eye-opening article about the minerals of Tsumeb, Namibia. The article was discouraging about prospects for actually visiting the mine and buying specimens, but they took a trip to South Africa anyway and were able to buy their first Tsumeb dioptase in Johannesburg. They then continued on to Brazil where they bought a ton (literally) of mineral specimens in Rio de Janeiro.
Shortly thereafter they met a mineral dealer named Marty Greifenberger, who sold them a few Tsumeb specimens in his shop. Julie noticed ten unopened boxes of specimens that had just been shipped to Marty from Tsumeb, and he purchased them on the spot, sight-unseen (by either Marty or Julie!). Marty drove the crates to Julie's house at 3 a.m., and after opening them the next day and covering a pool table with sparkling dioptase, the Zweibels were officially hooked on Tsumeb. They opened their new mineral business, called Mineral Kingdom of Woodmere, out of their home in Woodmere, New York in 1973.
Greifenberger then took Julie with him on a buying trip to Tsumeb, where Julie purchased the spectacular collection of a Mercedes auto mechanic in Tsumeb named Henckel. With their hoard of fabulous Tsumeb specimens as selling stock they became dealers at their first Tucson Show in Greifenberger's wholesale booth in 1973--where a memorable "feeding frenzy" by excited buyers took place. The Zweibels also met venerable Mexican mineral dealer Manuel Ontiveros at the Tucson Show, and purchased his personal collecton in 1974. With the support of fellow dealer Wall Lidstrom, and the encouragement of Smithsonian curator Paul Desautels, the Zweibels were finally given booth space in the retail section of the Tucson Show.
During their first few years in the mineral business the Zweibels developed an extremely fine personal collection by putting away about 175 of the best Tsumeb and Mexican specimens. In 1977 Julie won the prestigious Ed McDole Trophy for his mineral collection at the Tucson Show. In 1980 they sold the collection; Paul Desautels bought 99 of their specimens for the Perkins Sams collection, and the rest went to Dallas collector Jim Gibbs.
In 1980 the Zweibels moved their business to Houston, Texas (changing the name to Mineral Kingdom), and in 1987 they moved again, back to Bank Street in New York City. They retired to Pompano Beach, Florida in 1992 and ended their mineral business shortly thereafter. Julius died, after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease, on November 23 in Boca Raton, Florida.