The Mineralogical Record
The Mineralogical Record - Join us on Facebook!  The Mineralogical Record - Sign up for our newsletter

Charles Spang
(1809-1904)

Charles Spang (1809-1904)began collecting minerals around 1833, and was among the earliest Americans to do so. His grandfather, Frederick Spang, had pioneered iron manufacturing in western Pennsylvania and had purchased one of the oldest iron-smelting furnaces in North America. Charles' son, Norman Spang, was born in Etna, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in 1843. His interest in minerals no doubt came from his father In 1820 Norman's grandfather, Henry Spang, founded an iron works of his own. Perhaps this long-time family interest in iron and the iron ore minerals resulted in the family passion for mineral collecting. In any case, Charles Spang was a dedicated mineral collector with deep pockets; by the mid-1870's he began to cut back his collecting activities and turned the collection over to his son Norman.

Norman Spang was educated as an engineer and in due course became a partner in the family iron smelting and manufacturing firm of Spang, Chalifant and Company. He was also associated with Andrew Carnegie for a number of years. He continued building the family mineral collection until in 1875 it was valued at $45,000, and was probably the finest and most valuable private collection in the United States at that time. He began to entertain thoughts of selling, however, and in 1882 he allowed the prominent mineral collector Clarence S. Bement to pick whatever specimens he wanted from his 8,000-specimen mineral collection (for $22,500), before selling the remainder to the Philadelphia mineral dealer George L. English and company on 1890.

In the November 1890 issue of Mineralogist's Monthly English described the portion of the collection he acquired as follows: "It contains between 5,000 and 6,000 specimens, filling seventeen cases--193 drawers and eight glass-front cases, the latter containing many large, showy, and magnificent museum specimens." He offered it all as a unit for $10,000. He later announced that it had been acquired (for $8,000) by the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Other Spang specimens that were purchased by Bement were ultimately purchased from him by J. Pierpont Morgan and donated to the American Museum in 1900.

The mineral spangolite was named in Norman Spang's honor by Samuel Penfield in 1890. Norman Spang retired to Nice, France (as his father Charles had done) in the late 1890's. Around 1907 Norman Spang donated 100 specimens to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History; perhaps he had a core collection of his favorites, or perhaps he had been been unable to stop buying specimens after the dispersal of his collection in 1890. Norman Spang died in Paris in December of 1922 at the age of 79.

References:
PEARSON, C. L., and PETERS, J. J. (1988) Charles and Norman Spang, all-American mineral collectors. Matrix, 1, no.4, 49-56.
ANONYMOUS (1922) Obituary for Norman Spang, New York Times, December 9, 1922, p.13, col. 4
To contribute more information please E-mail us at: minrecord@comcast.net

[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of labels found: 6 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 6

The Mineralogical Record - Charles Spang Charles Spang
(1809-1904)
The Mineralogical Record - Charles Spang 44 x 67 mm
All Spang family labels are in the name of Charles' son, Norman Spang.
The Mineralogical Record - Charles Spang 36 x 59 mm,
All Spang family labels are in the name of Charles' son, Norman Spang.
The Mineralogical Record - Charles Spang 37 x 56 mm,
A label dated 1866.
All Spang family labels are in the name of Charles' son, Norman Spang. Judging by the date, this was probably originally a Charles Spang specimen inherited by Norman.
The Mineralogical Record - Charles Spang 36 x 57 mm,
A label dated 1871.
All Spang family labels are in the name of Charles' son, Norman Spang. Judging by the date, this was probably originally a Charles Spang specimen inherited by Norman.
The Mineralogical Record - Charles Spang Georg L. English's November 1890 ad in The Mineralogists' Monthly announcing his purchase of the Spang collection.
Contents copyright © 2017 The Mineralogical Record, Inc. All rights reserved.  
Graphic design of this website by Wendell E. Wilson. Website programming by ASPConnections.net