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Mineral collectors

a geevor sampler working underground taking a sample of rock with his pick

Cornwall has long been known for having a huge variety of minerals.

Vast quantities of copper, tin, arsenic and iron have been mined over the years along with smaller quantities of many other metals including lead, zinc, antimony, bismuth, cobalt, silver and uranium. For the last three hundred years Cornish mines and the minerals they produced has attracted collectors, both amateur and professional. In the early part of the 20th century several eminent men and women came to Cornwall to search for the occurrence of rare minerals, notably Marie Curie and Sir Arthur Russell. Marie Curie was seeking radioactive minerals for her research. Sir Arthur Russell was an eminent mineralogist who held one of the largest collections of British minerals.

At Geevor the samplers who, in the course of their work, visited most parts of the mine on a regular basis often noted the occurrence of rare minerals. One sampler in particular, Richard Barstow, became internationally known for his knowledge and collection of minerals obtained from local mines.

Richard Talling (1820-1883)

One of the best-known Cornish mineral collectors was Richard Talling of Lostwithiel. Talling had an enormous collection of fine and rare Cornish minerals and discovered a number of new minerals, including Botallackite - named after the nearby village of Botallack, where it was found.    

Philip Rashleigh (1729-1811)

During the 18th century Philip Rashleigh of Menabilly, near Fowey, put together a vast collection of Cornish minerals. Rashleigh recorded his mineral finds in great detail, and in 1797 and 1802 published the results in two volumes entitled ‘Specimens of British minerals selected from the Cabinet of Philip Rashleigh’. Much of the Rashleigh collection can now be seen at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro.

William Borlase (1696-1722)

Pendeen born Wiliam Borlase was an important Cornish archaeologist and mineral collector.   He described the wide variety of minerals found in the local mines in his books.

Geevor 'Samplers'

Geevor had its own mineral collectors, called samplers. They often noted the occurance of rare minerals.  On sampler, Richard Barstow, became internationally known for his knowledge and collection of minerals from the local area.

Dress the Miner


Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of David Wills collection held by the Geevor Archive

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