“Sir Arthur Russell and His Mineral Collection”
By Roy Starkey (Scientific Associate, Natural History Museum,
Sir Arthur Russell (1878–1964) was one of the last ‘great’ self-taught
mineralogists. He amassed a high-quality mineral collection, rose to become
President of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and was
awarded several prestigious medals for his mineralogical research. He rubbed
shoulders and forged relationships with many famous mineralogists, and was a
valued consultant to the mineral industries. This talk draws upon more than four
years’ research for a recently published book, tells of how minerals were his life,
and will celebrate the diversity of colour and form, of chemistry and structure, and
the rich geological and mining heritage of these islands that Sir Arthur was proud
to call his home.
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 Magazine, Scottish Journal of Geology, Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, Proceedings of the Bristol Naturalists’ Society, Journal 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.