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Masterpieces of the Mineral World.

A new book published by the Houston Museum of Natural Science, featuring the treasures of the mineral collection. Distributed by the Mineralogical Record.


Written by Wendell E. Wilson, editor-in-chief and publisher of The Mineralogical Record, and Joel A. Bartsch, president of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, with Mark Mauthner, associate curator of gems and minerals.

Photography by Jeffrey A. Scovil and Harold & Erica Van Pelt

The magnificent mineral collection housed in the Houston Museum of Natural Science is among the finest and best known in the world. Now the treasures of this unique repository are shown in beautiful full-page photographs that will seduce both the connoisseur of beauty and the student of natural history. The spectacular and rare specimens on display here, from a huge imperial topaz weighing more than 2, 000 carats to a 6.8-cm phosphophyllite crystal and crystallized gold clusters that are among the most highly coveted objects in the Mineral Kingdom, are true masterpieces, like the Rembrandts and Van Goghs of the natural world. Prized for their rare aesthetic qualities--their highly developed luster, color, size, and sculptural composition--as well as their often exotic provenances, these specimens have come to the museum from elite private collections such as that of Perkins and Ann Sams, and a remarkable, enormously valuable (anonymous) private collection just recently acquired. The majority of the specimens pictured have not been previously published, and many of the others have been rephotographed. All are accompanied by much more background information than was provided in the 1992 Houston Museum Supplement to the Mineralogical Record.

An introduction to the museum, its history and its collection is followed by an analysis of connoisseurship ("The Discerning Eye--What makes a mineral collectible?"). The history of aristocratic mineral collecting, from the 16th to the 20th centuries, is recounted ("A Royal Passion"). Eighty full-page color plates show the breathtaking highlights of the museum's collection, with each specimen described in full, its aesthetic qualifications analyzed, and its locality of origin described, often with interesting historical sidelights. Finally, a Selected Bibliography points the reader toward additional reading.

This book will be read with equal interest by seasoned long-time collectors and those new to the hobby. Produced in association with Harry N. Abrams, publisher of the widely known and respected Abrams art books, the paper, binding and production quality of Masterpieces of the Mineral World meet the same high standards. Size 9.5 x 13 inches, hardcover, 264 pages.

Sales benefit the Mineralogical Record and the Houston Museum of Natural Science 50/50

$75 plus $5 postage and packing to addresses in the U.S. ($15 elsewhere)

Order from: Mineralogical Record, P.O. Box 35565, Tucson, AZ 85740

Tel: 520-297-5709; Fax: 520-544-0815; E-mail:; VISA/MC accepted

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Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2006
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