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IGA Lecture – 14 September 2022, 7pm: “Sir Arthur Russell and His Mineral Collection” by Roy Starkey (Scientific Associate, Natural History Museum, London)

14 September, 2022 @ 7:00 PM 8:00 PM IST


Fig.350 DSC_7635 BM.1964,R9273 Beryl with qtz and mica on granite, Slievenaglogh (Diamond Rocks), Sir Maziere Brady, 110x75x35mm

To the mineralogist and mineral collector Sir Arthur Russell needs little introduction. The honorific ‘Sir’ is not a knighthood for public service but the result of him becoming the 6th Baronet Russell of Swallowfield in Berkshire, a hereditary title created for his great-grandfather Sir Henry Russell (1751–1836). One might be forgiven for imagining that his family background would have bestowed upon him a comfortable lifestyle, but the reality was rather different. He was by nature a frugal person with the common touch, equally at home with miners and quarrymen as he was with the mine owners and landowners that paid their wages. This talk, which draws upon more than four years’ research for a recently published book, will provide an overview of Arthur’s family background, his contributions to the study of British mineralogy and the wonderful specimens contained within his collection.

Arthur was undoubtedly drawn to the beauty and wonder of natural objects. He collected minerals himself, acquired specimens from miners and made a remarkably thorough job of tracing and purchasing old collections. As a consequence, through his wonderful collection of minerals, we can travel back in time to places that are no longer accessible, and via the associated historical connections with earlier collectors, gain a sense of the value attributed to crystals and mineral specimens 250 years ago.

Largely self-taught, and with no formal scientific qualifications, he rose to become President of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland and was awarded several prestigious medals for his work in mineralogy. He rubbed shoulders and forged relationships with many famous mineralogists, and was a valued consultant to the mineral industries.

The story of how his collection came to be at the Natural History Museum in London is a tortuous one.

Minerals were his life and the talk will celebrate the diversity of colour and form, of chemistry and structure, and the rich geological and mining heritage of these small islands that Sir Arthur was proud to call his home.


Roy Starkey

Roy Starkey became interested in minerals at an early age, but growing up in the South of England (Cretaceous chalk) provided few opportunities to go field collecting. Later he was able to direct family holidays to areas of potential mineral interest – North Wales, the Lake District and Scotland. His brother and parents would all join in the hunt and pile up likely specimens for Roy to vet. At secondary school he was fascinated by anything to do with science (especially chemistry) and was an avid follower of the Apollo space missions. He went on to study geology at the University of Sheffield and subsequently followed a career in manufacturing industry in various operations and production management roles.

Roy has been an active member of The Russell Society (https://russellsoc.org/), the leading organisation for topographical mineralogy in the UK, for more than forty years, serving as Journal Manager, Vice-President, President and most recently General Secretary.

In 1981 he founded the British Micromount Society https://bms.mineralcollective.com/ and is the Society’s Honorary Life President. He was inducted into the Micromounters Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of his support for the micromounting hobby.

Roy enjoys researching and writing about mineralogy every bit as much as getting out and field collecting. He has published widely on British topographical mineralogy, including papers in the Mineralogical MagazineScottish Journal of GeologyProceedings of the Geologists’ AssociationProceedings of the Bristol Naturalists’ SocietyJournal of the Russell Society, and the Mineralogical Record.

More recently, Roy has self-published three books (see https://britishmineralogy.com/wordpress/ ): 1) Crystal Mountains – Minerals of the Cairngorms, 2) Minerals of the English Midlands and, most recently 3) Making it Mine – Sir Arthur Russell and his Mineral Collection. He is keen to share his experiences and to encourage other members of the mineral collector community to consider writing up their favourite areas or subjects, but sounds a note of caution – “You don’t do this to make money!” If all goes well, it should be possible to recoup the cost of producing the book.

In 2017, Roy was winner of the first Marsh Award for Mineralogy, in recognition of his huge contribution to the field of mineralogy https://naturalhistorymuseum.blog/2017/02/21/roy-starkey-wins-first-marsh-award-for-mineralogy/ and is currently a Scientific Associate at the Natural History Museum, London.

Date and Time: Wednesday, 14 September 2022, between 19:00 and 20:00 via Zoom.
To Register: please complete the registration form here (in case of issue, send an e-mail to info@geology.ie).
A Zoom link will be sent on the day to those who have registered