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T. L. Baskin
(1915-1987)

Thurman Leroy "T.L." Baskin, Jr., was a mineral and lapidary dealer in Middlesex, New Jersey. He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 4, 1915, the son of Mollie L. Hudson (1893-1930) and Thurman Leroy “Tom” Baskin, Sr. (1893-1984), an electrical engineer. T.L. and his wife Ethel E. Baskin (1915-1996) had three sons: Kermit LaMonte ("Monty") Baskin (b. 1939), Kevin Brett Baskin (1952- 2014) and Joel Thurman Baskin (b. 1946).

T.L. worked as a bookkeeper for a building construction company in the 1940s. But in the mid-1950s he read a story in Reader's Digest about tourmalines found in Oxford County, Maine, and that started his (and son Joel's) interest in minerals. The following summer the family took a vacation to Maine to collect. Their business formally started in November 1962 with the leasing of a 1400-square-foot retail space in the Middlesex Shopping Center in New Jersey.

All three sons participated or worked at T. L. Baskin and Sons. T.L. was the CEO and accountant, Monty was in charge of the showroom and advertising, Kevin, was in charge of manufacturing and distribution of their silver and gold jewelry products, and Joel was in charge of minerals, cutting rough, fluorescent minerals, and machinery. T.L. held business classes every Tuesday morning in which he would give his sons instruction in how to be successful.

They advertised in Gems and Minerals from July 1964 until May 1981, and also occasionally in Rock & Gem and Rocks & Minerals during that period. In 1970 the Baskin ad claimed that their catalog "covers the complete field of mineral collecting..." Mineral labels changed a bit over the years, with various printings, but always with the 732 Union Avenue address.

The Gillette quarry in Connecticut was a favorite collecting site, and they would dig there as a family, even including Ethel, who would go along on nearly all the collecting trips, primarily as the cook. The Baskins never operated a mine of their own; “we would just dig big holes that looked like a mine,” says Joel.

The family had a sales area at the Tucson Show every year starting in 1969, showing at the Desert Inn with minerals and gems. But by the time they moved to Flemington due to the great recession of the 1980s, the Corporation had mostly turned to jewelry and gems, and no longer dealt much in mineral specimens. Joel retired a few years ago, and Jason now buys and sells at Tucson but doesn't rent his own booth. Jason is the first official mine owner of the family; he owns the Red Embers mine in Erving, Massachusetts -- one of the only garnet mines east of the Mississippi.

Tucson is still an annual pilgrimage for Joel and Jason, and they still maintain the family mineral collection.

T. L. Baskin died in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 7, 1987.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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