A few of our favorite articles from Mineral News are displayed below, less photographs and graphics; copyrights held by the authors:

An Eternal Insult from the IMA: Hancockite Renamed for No Good Reason

Tony Nikischer
tony{at}excaliburmineral.com

The phrase "beating a dead horse" has come to symbolize a valiant but futile effort for an already lost cause, or an attempt to accomplish something that is known to be impossible. And so it is for championing the mineral once named hancockite, now abandoned for the more modern "epidote-(Pb)". But futility should not translate into submissive silence, and there has been a modest outcry from many, all apparently fallen on the deaf ears of the haughty International Mineralogical Association (IMA) and its chairman, Ernst A. J. Burke.

"So what's the big deal," you might ask? Mineral names come and go, some are discredited, some are redefined, some should never have been used in the first place; mineralogy continues to evolve. However, in the case of the distinctive and well known mineral hancockite, the name change had nothing to do with new science or new discovery. In fact, its inappropriate renaming seems to contradict long standing guidelines the IMA itself has promulgated over the years of its stewardship of mineral nomenclature. Some history:

Hancockite was described by noted mineralogist Samuel Louis Penfield in 1899. It was one of nearly two dozen species he either authored or analyzed on behalf of other well known mineralogists of his day like Brush and Dana. Penfield was a professor at Yale, and a competent scientist who brought many innovations to the field of mineralogy during his lifetime. As a young college student, Penfield was described as "a master of chemical manipulation and in the use of scientific apparatus of all kinds." He subsequently developed what is now known as the Penfield Method of water determination in minerals. And to his credit, this analytical technique is still widely used today by modern mineralogists, even after more than a hundred years of superior scientific instrumentation and development!

In addition to hancockite, Penfield described a number of other Franklin, NJ species (roeblingite, clinohedrite, glaucochroite, nasonite, leucophoenicite) while at Yale. As has been the custom of mineralogists for centuries, the describer of a new mineral provides the name to be applied to it (now subject to IMA approval). Penfield chose to honor Elwood P. Hancock (1836-1916), a prolific collector of Franklin minerals whose collection currently resides in the Harvard Mineral Museum. Hancock's is one of several private collections that forms an indispensable nucleus of scientifically and historically important Franklin holdings at Harvard. The honor bestowed on him by Penfield was neither frivolous nor undeserved.

Under the guise of bringing order to mineral nomenclature, the IMA has approved the renaming of hancockite to "epidote-(Pb)". For the sake of consistency only, a valid name has been arbitrarily replaced. There was no new study, no new science, just an affront to the historical record. So much for honoring Elwood's legacy!

In responding to the criticism that the name change generated, IMA chairman Ernst Burke was dismissive and responded:

"As for the more or less emotional sobbing on the disappearance of historical names: please take a good look at the compilations authored by Peter Bayliss and Jeffrey de Fourestier, and if you like to do so, please weep about all historical names which have been shown to be superfluous in the past 50 years!"

Of course, this argument is a red herring, a diversion that has little to do with the original objection raised by so many individuals. This was not a valid discrediting of a superfluous name as Burke implies. In legitimate cases of discredited mineral names, historical names are dropped when new science is undertaken that shows that a named mineral is, in fact, some other named mineral that has historic precedent, a mixture of other valid minerals, or simply a minor variety of another valid mineral. For example, we no longer use the mineral name "csiklovaite", because new research had shown it to be a mixture of tetradymite, galenobismutite and bismuthinite. This is not the case with hancockite and its undeserved successor epidote-(Pb).

At the time of its description, Penfield observed that the mineral hancockite was related to epidote but with a considerable amount of lead. One can refer to any number of standard mineralogical references over the last one hundred years and find that this fact has always been known. The decision to change a valid name, simply for the purpose of "fitting in" with a new classification scheme, has little merit. Hancockite has historical precedent, and it has not been appropriately discredited through scientific examination, and scientific examination would not find fault with its current definition and name! That is the issue avoided by Dr. Burke's derisive response. And while hancockite is not the only valid species to be summarily dismissed without scientific study by the current IMA regime, it has generated the most significant outcry.

MinDat, an internet based website readily accessible in the public domain, includes many message boards. One such message board recently displayed a number of postings regarding the hancockite issue. In contrast to Dr. Burke's deflecting quote noted above, others have weighed in against such arbitrary nomenclature changes. One of my favorites, posted by Jeffery de Fourestier, author of the book Glossary of Mineral Synonyms (Canadian Mineralogist, Special Publication No. 2) stated:

"I find it deeply disrespectful to the original authors, the person for whom the original name was given, the mineral's longstanding stature (i.e. the what that defines it as a separate species hasn't substantially changed), and the original IMA voters that approved some of these names. All the conservatism that Spencer worked so hard to maintain seems spat upon with these types of unnecessary name changes. Placing minerals within proper groups…….is one thing, but destroying a valid mineral's original history by stripping it of a perfectly valid name seems to me to not be a valid contribution to the science." Others have chimed in with similar observations about the disrespectful and ill-advised nature of the changes. I couldn't agree more!

In the future, researchers will have to dig twice for complete and accurate data on such arbitrarily altered mineral names as "epidote-(Pb)", certainly no service to the science. The explosion of mineral groups, the growing understanding of structural relationships, and the question of how many minerals does it take to make a group, will certainly complicate and confuse fundamental mineral names as we know them. Many more major changes to mineral nomenclature are expected if this alarming trend of change for the sake of change continues.

Some supporters of the recent IMA pronouncements have suggested that collectors can just continue to call minerals by whatever names they want; what's the harm in that if everyone knows what they really mean? (After all, we are only collectors!) That position seems to be at odds with earlier IMA urgings to the collector community to abandon varietal and obsolete names in favor of scientific accuracy, that tune beaten into us since the early 1970's. Mineral collectors have largely taken this concept to heart, and most try to use proper terminology with regard to species names. By doing so, they have essentially avoided the complete mess that exists in the gemstone trade, where the emergence or use of a name is not closely controlled and is subject to a wide range of interpretations (witness the great nomenclature battles currently raging in the jewelry industry over use of the term "jade").

So, while the IMA certainly provides order, direction and a needed level of policing to mineral nomenclature, its recent attempts at retroactively forcing consistency for its own sake are both misplaced and inadvisable. After all, as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." So true.

Scientists, like mineral collectors, should be able handle a little mineral name inconsistency, resisting that compulsive urge to make everything neat, tidy and orderly. It's a nice wish, but let's not throw out the baby along with the bathwater. Instead, let's focus on preserving legitimate historical precedents, use parentheses in mineral names in a consistent manner, tidy up those nettlesome nomenclature problems that don't involve unwarranted, indiscriminant change, and finally, follow our own guidelines about proper mineral discrediting procedures.

In the meantime, get ready to change a lot of your mineral labels, as this new fetish, like the beaten dead horse, is not going away anytime soon.

 

Unexpected Treasures in Thin Section: Alexis A. Julien & Frank J. Keeley

By Tony Nikischer
Excalibur Mineral Corp.

When we purchased the excess stock from the Julius Weber collection in 2005 (see Mineral News Vol. 21, No. 12), we knew that it would take several years to fully unpack and sort through this lifetime of accumulated material. There were hundreds of boxes and trays containing partially mounted material, unmounted specimens, fossils and "mystery minerals" among the four truckloads of crates and boxes we crammed into our already over-crowded warehouse. Now, nearly two years later, we are still unpacking and stumbling across little treasures and surprises among the flotsam and jetsam of many decades of stockpiled "stuff".

One such surprise recently uncovered was an assortment of old thin sections. For those unfamiliar with thin section preparation and use, there are a number of references available on the internet and in most geology libraries that will carry you through the basics. But in a nutshell, a rock is sliced to yield thin (~30 micron) slivers which are mounted on glass slides and then carefully polished, sometimes finished with a glass cover slip applied on top. When viewed though a petrographic microscope, particularly through plane polarized light, a riot of interference colors often leap out at the viewer. Much can be told about rock textures and mineral assemblages through the use of thin sections, and they are still widely used today by petrologists and field researchers.

What was exciting about these newly uncovered slides, however, was the fact that many of these appeared to be quite old, prepared with great care by petrology artists of many years ago. The history and provenance of mineral specimens are often anchored by the historic labels that accompany them, and the labels can often add more value to an acquisition than the specimen itself. Like the collecting of old mineral labels, there was considerable history to be found in these carefully labeled thin sections!

As an aside, most modern thin sections are rather antiseptic affairs: some provide only an etched number with meaning to the preparer only, others may include the name of the rock or mineral shown, some even with a locality as well. It is rare to find a nicely labeled sample that also gives some hint of who the preparer was. In the case of the Weber thin sections, their art and history proved as interesting as the specimens!

Among the many slides unearthed from the collection, there were about a dozen identified preparers, and I decided to try to find out more about each of them. Who were these people? When did they actively work on such painstaking chores? What tidbits of history and provenance could I add to the specimens that might increase their interest and/or value? One by one, some obscure (to me) names began to take on life:

Alexis A. Julien

The first name to be tackled proved to be a fascinating one. Julien was born in 1840 and was a graduate of Union College in Pennsylvania, receiving his A.B. degree there in 1859, later earning his A.M. from there as well. One of his early career exploits was resident chemist on the guano island of Sombrero, a tiny 95 acre rock that lies in the Lesser Antilles about 150 miles east of St. Thomas (Virgin Islands). The island was about one mile long and a quarter as wide, and Julien spent four years there during active phosphate mining in the early 1860's. Now known more for its lighthouse that guides ships passing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, Sombrero apparently provided other opportunities for the young Alexis Julien. He was subsequently commended for supplying bird samples to the Smithsonian and for dutifully reporting meteorological observations during his four years on the tiny island. It was remarked that "only a student of nature would be entrusted with the proper filling out of the "Registry of Periodical Phenomena" for the Smithsonian. One wonders if any of his ornithological samples from Sombrero still reside in the vast tombs of our National Museum!

However, Julien's main interest was rocks, not birds, and he returned to New York to take on a faculty position at Columbia University's School of Mines in 1865. He remained on staff for more than forty years, retiring in 1907. From 1895 until his retirement, he was also curator of geology at that prestigious school. It was during his tenure at Columbia that Julien came into his own as a well known "rock man".

His expertise was building stones, and it was he who coordinated that section of the tenth U.S. census that dealt with building stone use. He wrote extensively on the subject, using New York City's many buildings to describe the use, care and decay of many rock types. His piece de resistance was a lengthy series of articles published in the monthly The Manufacturer and Builder from 1890 through 1891 in which he dissected limestone, granite, gneiss, marble, sandstones and many other ornamental stones, discussed their uses, quarrying methods, durability and decay, as well as their preservation.

Alexis Julien also wrote and lectured extensively beyond his building stone expertise, discussing such topics as the glaciation of the Shawangunk Mountains, NY. (Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. III, 1883-84), volcanic tuffs of Challis, Idaho, and other western
localities. (Trans. of the New York Academy of Sciences, Dec. 1881), a study of the structure of fulgurites (Journal of Geology, Vol. 9, 190), examination of carbon dioxide in fluid cavities of topaz (J. Am. Chem. Soc.; 1881; 3(4) pp 41 - 53), dunyte-beds of North Carolina (Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History, Dec. 6, 1882), the fissure-inclusions in the fibrolitic gneiss of New Rochelle, N.Y. (American Quarterly Microscopical Journal, Jan.,
1879), and many other topics.

He was also a member of many academic societies, and at one time was Vice President of the New York Academy of Science. For a New York City kid such as myself, little did I know that Julien was also a key player in the preservation efforts of one of this city's favorite monuments, the Central Park obelisk, commonly called Cleopatra's Needle (but having absolutely nothing to do with Cleopatra!) that sits directly behind the world famous Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The story of the obelisk itself is a marvelous one, as it is one of two that were constructed of Aswan pink granite circa 1450 B.C. They once stood on either side of the portals to the Temple of the Sun in the sacred city of Heliopolis on the Nile River. Weighing over 200 tons each, the obelisks remained in Heliopolis until the Romans, under Emperor Augustus, performed an engineering feat by shipping them intact down the Nile River to Alexandria circa 12 B.C. Egyptian antiquities, including the two obelisks, were traded to Great Britain, the United States and other western nations in exchange for foreign aid in the late 1870's. One of the obelisks now sits on banks of the Thames River in London, and the other arrived in New York in 1881.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation cites its arrival thusly: "The Obelisk's trip from Egypt to New York was a complicated engineering feat. The delicate moving process required laborers to inch the monument on parallel beams, aided by roll boxes and a pile-driver engine. It took nineteen days just to cross the 86th Street transverse road, and it took another twenty days to move it from Fifth Avenue to its resting place on Greywacke Knoll due to a winter blizzard. All together, it took one hundred and twelve days from the time the Obelisk touched upon the banks of the Hudson River until it reached this place. A huge crowd was on hand for the turning of the obelisk upright on January 22, 1881. A crowd of thousands stood in the snow to watch the event. As reported in the New York World, "Bonfires had been built on each side, and the scene was most picturesque as the huge mass of 220 tons swung majestically from the horizontal to the vertical position."
Julien, however, felt that the condition of the monument needed attention, and he urged that the obelisk be capped and the hieroglyphics be redone and gilded to mimic the splendor of the original work of some 3300 years earlier. He published a lengthy article entitled The Misfortunes of an Obelisk that appeared in the Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York, (Vol. 25, (1893) pp. 66-137), and repeated his urgings in New York Times letters well into 1898. These stirred a modest controversy in the city, as there was much resentment about the amount of money to be spent on such a lavish endeavor. Although the obelisk received several treatments consisting of hot paraffin coatings during this period, it was not until 1914 that a major restoration was undertaken.

Julien retired from his position at Columbia in 1907, and he died in Massachusetts on May 7, 1919 at the age of 79. Hence, a chance encounter with a few of his labeled thin sections has led to a greater appreciation of the man responsible for their preparation, and it has added significant value to what many might consider just antique curiosities. Who will remember the stories and accomplishments of men like Alexis Julien unless we research, preserve and re-tell them to others?

Frank J. Keeley

Another thin section preparer, F.J. Keeley, was the only one of this studied group to date his slides, the one shown here from December 8, 1908. Keeley was born in 1868 and was active as a naturalist in the true sense of the word, contributing papers and microscopical studies from biological objects such as diatoms to field collecting and chemical analysis of minerals and micromounts.

Keeley's interests were diverse, but all were centered around his proficiency with optical instruments. For example, in 1901, he presented a lecture on the History of Development of the American Microscope to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia where he was initially a conservator. Keeley also published articles about diatoms and other biological topics (eg. Eggs of a Mite in Empty Capsules of Orthotrichum pusillum - The Bryologist, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Mar., 1913), pp. 18-19). His abilities in optical mineralogy were also demonstrated in commentary found in such places as the Proceedings of the Academy in 1904 where it was stated that he had succeeded in showing that unknown crystal inclusions in quartz had double-refractive qualities that he determined by placing a section between two Nichol's. Micromounting became an intense interest as well, as we will see later.

Genth's 1888 publication of the new mineral lansfordite was the result of Keeley's co-discovery of the mineral with D.M. Stackhouse, with Keeley credited for the chemical analysis of the mineral. He also described the Deal (L6) meteorite from Monmouth Co., New Jersey in 1920. He was clearly a man of many talents! In 1922, his one-time protégé, Sam Gordon, named the mineral keeleyite from the San Jose Mine in Bolivia in his honor. Unfortunately, it was later discredited by Vaux and Bannister in 1938 as identical to zinkenite.

Keeley was a man of some import, and he held the position of Curator of the Vaux Collection at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (the proverbial "now turning over in his grave" would certainly apply here based on the Academy's recent, shoddy treatment of its public trust!). He was a life member of the Academy, served as council member for many years, and was eventually elected to the Board of Trustees. In fact, Keeley was so well respected in microscopy circles that Simon Gage's Microscopy in America (1830-1945) treatise that was presented in the Transactions of the American Microscopical Society, (Vol. 83, No. 4), mentioned that Keeley was the first customer of the A.H. Thomas company. This new optical instrument company was a venture of Thomas, Lentz, Baush (of B&L fame) and others, all optical giants of their day. Touting Keeley as their first client was important to them, and it was a reflection of Keeley's own renown!

To many mineral collectors, Keeley will be remembered as a prolific micromounter, and he was posthumously elected to the Micromounters Hall of Fame in 1986. During his long and active career, he was a contemporary of Clarence Bement, G.W. Fiss, Lazard Cahn, and others, and he acquired many specimens from each of them, including significant biological collections such as the Smith diatom collection. Frank Keeley died in 1949, and his extensive collections were eventually left to the Leidy Microscopy Society in Philadelphia.

(To be continued…)

Deceased: Richard A. Bideaux - (1935-2004)

Tony Nikischer
tony@excaliburmineral.com

I once suggested to Dick Bideaux that I had spent an accumulated six months of my life in Room 120 of the Executive Inn in Tucson while participating at the annual show there. This was where we first met, and it was not uncommon at hotel shows for several hours to pass between individual sales during a lull in the action. The stupefying, dull times could weigh on one's sanity, and were it not for the many lengthy visits of Dick Bideaux and others like him, I would have quit the Tucson hotel show scene ages ago.

We talked about everything during those long visits, often several hours at a time over multiple days of the show. The candid picture of him that appeared in the Canadian Mineralogist newsletter earlier this year was taken in my Tucson room, a testament, and now sad reminder, to the hours we spent there together. While many knew and admired him for his mineralogical prowess, I often found myself intrigued by his astute and frequently blunt business sense, an uncommon trait among many "scientific types". As co-author of the now renowned Handbook of Mineralogy volumes, Dick was clearly the driving force and economic chief of that project. His focus and meticulous attention to detail were legendary. His offer to provide a $5.00 reward for any error found in the Handbook's 3600+ pages mirrored his commitment and belief in the quality of the work the team was producing, and all the while it supported the marketing strategy he had devised for the Handbook in an already crowded field.

Dick was a giant of man, both in physical stature and accomplishments during his sixty-nine years. Better left to more discerning and careful writers about his life (and there will be many in the months to come), I cannot recount his many contributions with great authority. But touching on a few that I knew about, it is clear that he influenced and impressed many: winning an award as a student at the very first Tucson Gem and Mineral show in 1955, being one of the founding members of the Friends of Mineralogy, a member of the first editorial board of Mineralogical Record, assisting Mike Fleischer in preparation of the first Glossary of Mineral Species, author of numerous articles in popular journals such as Mineralogical Record, Rocks and Minerals and Matrix, co-author of the Mineralogy of Arizona and, of course, the Handbook of Mineralogy. The list could easily consume this entire issue!

Convincing his father to begin a mineral business (Bideaux Minerals) in 1965 was testament to both Dick's interest in minerals and in his negotiating skills. They operated the shop together, Dick continuing on for a while after his father's death in 1978, and I delighted in his stories of marketing tactics, pricing and other minutia related to the mineral trade. He built a wonderful collection of high quality minerals, and I had both the pleasure and pain of occasionally selling him a good specimen, even in light of his near-physical aversion to paying a retail price for a just about anything. Being "in the business" forces one to act that way, he once confided in me. And yet, he was extraordinarily generous with his time and money, contributing to and supporting both the hobby and the science often.

Dick's beloved Mammoth-St. Anthony Mine near Tiger, Arizona yielded the new mineral bideauxite, named in his honor, which he found during his extensive study of the mineralogy there. He subsequently co-authored the paper on the new mineral yedlinite, also found at Tiger. He spoke at many mineral symposia around the country, sharing his knowledge of descriptive mineralogy, collecting lore and mining history. His collection of mineral labels was truly astounding, and I received both thanks and critiques for the many duplicates and orphan labels I sent to him. Always the instructor, he felt it was not only important to acknowledge a triumph, but also to educate as to why an item was rejected, ensuring better performance the next time. He was instrumental in helping me reach important decisions about The Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, and I eagerly sought out his advice and his approval.

We often talked of his grueling schedule during preparation and publication of the Handbook series. When Volume V was finally done, he had already begun work on updating Volume I, and he was unanimously appointed by the Mineralogical Society of America's Council as the editor of their newly established editorial office to update and maintain the Handbook of Mineralogy. It could not have been in better hands.

At last year's Tucson Show, I missed a party at Dick's house due to an FM commitment that evening. I regretted it then, more so now. That same Tucson week, I gleefully presented him with a claim for one of the few $5.00 Handbook rewards he would issue, this one for a substantive chemistry error in Volume V that had escaped all the elaborate programs he used for detecting mistakes that can creep into a publication of this size. The following afternoon, he awarded me one of the coveted checks, along with "the only hard copy of the corrected page in existence". I cherish them both to this day, and he was secretly delighted, I suspect, when I told him I planned to never cash his check.

I deeply miss this remarkable man, a collector, author and mineralogist I greatly admired and deeply respected. It is perhaps fitting that I will never return to Room 120 at the Executive Inn where Dick and I first met, choosing instead to move with Marty Zinn and others for a fresh start at the new Clarion Hotel for the 2005 Tucson show. Old and familiar Room 120 just would not have been the same without my friend Dick Bideaux to keep me company on those slow, lonely afternoons.

 

The Sid and Betty Williams Laboratory for Mineralogical Research
Established at the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy

By K.L. Nestorak
kln58@optonline.net

The Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, the not-for-profit foundation dedicated to mineral research, preservation and education, has announced the formation of The Sid & Betty Williams Laboratory for Mineralogical Research. The facility has been named for well-known mineralogist Dr. Sidney A. Williams and his wife, Betty Jo. Dr. Williams described over fifty (50) new mineral species during his career at Phelps Dodge and while a private consultant thereafter. He passed away in December, 2006. His extensive private laboratory from his consulting business, Globo de Plomo, has been donated to the Hudson Institute by his wife, Betty Jo, and it has been named both in memory of Dr. Williams and in gratitude for Mrs. Williams' unprecedented support of the Institute and its objectives.

Founder and Chairman of the Institute, Tony Nikischer, stated, "The donation of Dr. Williams' laboratory equipment will enable the Institute to achieve one of its long-term objectives well ahead of schedule: the establishment of a working laboratory for the mineral collecting community that will be able to offer below-market analytical identification services to this underserved group." Nikischer, who also operated Excalibur Mineral Company's analytical services facility until he elected to close it last year due to extensive backlogs and rising maintenance costs, indicated that an active search for a resident research scientist was underway, and that the Williams Laboratory was expected to come on line in 2009. In addition to the personnel search underway, sufficient funding to refurbish and upgrade the donated equipment to sound operating status is also being sought.

Astute mineral collectors have often been responsible for the initial discovery and, therefore, the ultimate description of new mineral species. With the number of affordable and accessible laboratories with mineralogically knowledgeable staff declining significantly, the collector community has had fewer and fewer avenues of reliable identification available. The Institute believes that the Sid and Betty Williams Laboratory for Mineralogical Research can dramatically change that situation. At no cost to the Institute, the Excalibur firm has agreed to notify all of its former analytical services clients of the new laboratory alternative once it is operational, and an immediate demand for identification services is expected. It is anticipated that the low cost services offered by the Institute will enable it to continue funding basic mineralogical research as well as a wide variety of outreach and education programs within the scope of its charter.

The donated equipment will provide SEM, EDX, XRF and XRD capability, in addition to a full optical mineralogy laboratory. Ancillary equipment, including Cahn and Berman balances, a Weissenberg X-ray goniometer, extensive Leitz accessories such as automatic grain counters and several stand-alone analytical computer systems will add even more capability over time. Combined with earlier equipment donations from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the British Antarctic Survey and others, the Institute expects to achieve a self-supporting operation by the end of the first year of laboratory operation. Further, classes in polarized light microscopy and other fundamental analytical techniques are under consideration, and the collector community will have an opportunity to develop some of the basic technical skills used in both modern and classical descriptive mineralogy. Hands-on courses are largely unavailable at reasonable cost, and the Institute plans to further leverage the Williams donation to develop such programs in a concentrated and focused manner at moderately low cost.

In addition to the extensive equipment donation, the Williams family also provided a comprehensive library of mineralogical publications, professional papers and reference works used by Dr. Williams during his long and productive career. Over one hundred linear feet of books alone were included. These will be added to the Institute's growing reference library. Complete sets of USGS topographic maps of many western states that filled tweo entire file cabinets were also included, as were large topographic and geologic maps of many foreign localities in which Dr. Williams did extensive exploration and field work. Over time, these important references will be cataloged and made available for study and use by the mineralogical community as well.

Included in the packed fifty-three (53) foot, special suspension tractor trailer that brought the equipment and library were scores of assorted flats of minerals that Dr. Williams was actively researching before his health declined. Because of Dr. Williams' acknowledged expertise in the scientific community, many specimens had been sent to him by such mineralogical notables as Fabien Cesbron (cesbronite), Richard Gaines (gainesite), Marjorie Duggan (dugganite), Dick Bideaux (bideauxite) and others, and Sid had spent many hours identifying samples for them. Some two hundred (200) specimens that had been X-rayed were subsequently designated as unknowns that could potentially be new species, and the Institute intends to continue the identification process on these samples once a resident research mineralogist has been brought on board. It will be a fitting tribute to Dr. Williams that some of his unknowns will subsequently be identified and described in the resurrection of his own laboratory.

The five-figure costs to crate and safely move this large and delicate donation nearly 3000 miles across country were paid for exclusively through donations to the Institute, supported by organizations such as the Franklin-Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society, Excalibur Mineral Corporation and a handful of individual donors. This large expense has strained the Institute's capability to fund the refurbishment and upgrading of the equipment, and financial donations are needed to bring the laboratory up to operating condition by 2009. Support from the collector, dealer and scientific communities is being sought for this purpose. Those organizations and individuals wishing to see the Sid and Betty Williams Laboratory for Mineralogical Research open its doors are urged to contribute to this effort. (Editor's Note: Mineral News will provide no-cost ad space for this purpose in each issue.)

The Sid and Betty Williams Laboratory is being housed in a portion of what is now know as "Building 15" in a warehouse complex used by nearly twenty (20) diverse service and manufacturing companies in Peekskill, New York. The printing firm that handles production of Mineral News, as well as the warehouse and offices of Excalibur Mineral Corp., are also tenants in the same complex. The mailing address of the Institute, PO Box 2012, Peekskill, NY 10566-2012, will remain unchanged. For those of you who would like to help make the laboratory an accessible asset for mineralogy, dig deeply!