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Gunnar Bjareby
(1899-1967)

Alfred Gunnar Bjareby was born in Forslovsholm, southern Sweden on February 11, 1899 and began collecting minerals at the age of ten, after having seen the collection of a local 12-year-old. He peddled his bicycle to quarries and outcrops where he and his friend could find specimens and try panning for non-existent gold. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1923 and settled in the Boston area, spending much of his spare time studying the minerals in the Harvard Mineralogical Museum and the (now gone) New England Museum of Natural History. He collected at many sites in the Boston are which are now closed, and joined the Boston Mineral Club in 1937, to take part in their organized field trips to famous mines and quarries, and to associate with the great mineralogists of Harvard (Palache, Berman, Frondel, Hurlbut) while they were in their prime and actively field collecting.

During the last 30 years of his life Bjareby accumulated one of the finest private mineral collections in New England at that time. He was an avid micromounter with a huge collection containing over 1,000 species, and over 1,000 specimens from the Palermo mine alone. He was also a charter member of the Micromounters of New England (formed in 1966, a year before his death), and was inducted into the Micromounters' Hall of Fame in 1985.

Bjareby was also an accomplished artist by profession, specializing in oil-on-canvas paintings, murals for private homes and commercial establishments, illustration and sculpture. He received training at the Museum School in Boston in the 1920's, then traveled to Paris to study at the Academie Julian. He exhibited paintings at the Paris Salon in the Spring of 1933, and then returned to Boston. He frequently traveled to Gloucester and Rockport where he painted beautiful plein air scenes of the landsape and fishing industry of the time. He exhibited larger studio versions of these oils at museums and artist associations in Boston, Gloucester and Ogunquit, Maine, and received a number of awards at various exhibitions.

After his death in June of 1967 the bulk of his collection was purchased by a private collector in Chicago, Glenn D. Commons, and his micromounts went to the University of Chicago. The Commons collection was later purchased my mineral dealer David H. Garske. Researchers at the University of Chicago came across a specimen Gunnar had collected at the Palermo mine in 1947 and marked as being of questionable identity; the microcrystals proved to be a new species, which Paul Moore and others named bjarebyite in 1973, proclaiming Bjareby to be "among the most outstanding of 20th-century amateur mineralogists."


CARES, S., and CARES, J. (1977) Personality sketch: Gunnar Bjareby 1899-1967. Mineralogical Record, 8, 129.
BJAREBY, [A.] G. (1959-1965) Fifty years of mineral collecting. Rocks & Minerals, Part I: v.34, 202-205. Part II: v.35, 3-8. Part III: v.36, 129-132. Part IV: v.36, 459-462. Part V: v.37, 565-568. Part VI: v.39, 353-356. Part VII: v.40, 491-493. Part VIII: v.40, 645-647.
FALK, P. H. [ED.](1999) Who Was Who in American Art. 400 years of artists in America. Second edition. Three volumes. Madison, CT: Sound View Press.
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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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The Mineralogical Record - Gunnar Bjareby Gunnar Bjareby
at age 24
The Mineralogical Record - Gunnar Bjareby 41 x 64 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Gunnar Bjareby 50 x 58 mm
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