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John H. Caswell
(1846-1909)

John Henry Caswell was born in New York City on December 27, 1846, the son of Mary Haight and John Caswell, owner of Caswell & Company, tea merchants. [Note: John the elder was born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1797, and left Newport at the age of 14 to go to work with his uncle, Robert Buloid, at his retail store in New York City. Robert had formed a partnership with a Mr. Finch and the store was named Buloid & Finch. After Robert's death in 1822, John went into partnership with Mr. Finch and the store changed its name to Buloid & Caswell. Later after Mr. Finch died the store changed names again to John Caswell & Co.]

In 1865 John Henry Caswell graduated from Columbia University with an A.B. degree, and then attended the world-famous Mining Academy in Freiberg, Germany (1865-1868). On his return to the United States, he became assistant in mineralogy and a lecturer in petrography at the School of Mines, Columbia University. During his summers, he visited the mines of Colorado, Nevada and California, and in 1875 he collected in the Black Hills. His father died in 1871, and he married Mary Blanding Curtiss at Trinity Chapel in New York in 1872. In 1877, he gave up his position to devote his attention to business affairs. In his later years, he held a number of positions of public responsibility in New York.

Caswell built throughout his lifetime an admirable and large collection of approximately 5,000 mineral specimens containing some choice examples. It was often his habit to write on the back of his labels the name of the dealer or collector from whom he obtained the specimen. Most prominent among these was Albert H. Chester (q.v.), a personal friend; one label's reverse states that the specimen (a Sterling Hill tephroite) was "collected by J.W. Manley for A.H.C.-J.H.C.," that is, for both Albert H. Chester and John H. Caswell together. Other names, sometimes only surnames, noted on the backs of some labels include the following (click on the links to go to those pages), giving a glimpse of the sources of specimens for collectors around the turn of the century:

J. Adenau
A.C. Beatty
Emile Bertrand
Blatz
C.A. Bolton
H.C. Bolton
Oberbergrath August Breithaupt
George J. Brush
Wm. Butterfield
Lazard Cahn
W. Cotheal
W.M. and M.H. Courtis
Mrs. H.G. Crooke
J.W. Deems
Rev. R.T. Cross in Denver
Thomas Egleston
Eimer & Amend
Dr. John Elsner
English (George L.)
Walter F. Ferrier
A.E. Foote
Dr. A. Frenzel in Freiberg
Genf
Prof. Guiscardi in Naples
Arnold Hague
Hamilton College
Henry G. Hanks, San Francisco
H.G. Hauls in San Francisco
G.W. Hawes
F.G. Himpler in Hoboken
A.D. Hodges
Chester Igelstrom
C.A. Jay
Julian
Keitel in Berlin
J.F. Kemp
August and F. Krantz
G.F. Kunz
Mabru
J.Hulme Maghee
T. (or F.) L. Nason
John Strong Newberry
Wm. Newberry
Chester D. Nims
Northup
E.E. Olcott
C.R. Orcutt in San Diego
Peck
A.H. Petereit
W. Petry in Los Angeles
Dr. Poore
F. Prince Jr.
H.B. Cornwall at Princeton
Reigart
Lyman Rhoades
Washington A. Roebling
Prof. O. Root in Clinton (N.Y.)
Rutgers College
Frank A. Salmons in San Diego
Theodor Schuchardt in Görlitz
Senf
Ebenezer Seymour
Louis Stadtmüller
"Inspektor Stehle" of Munich
T.W Tarr in Los Angeles
G.W. Tyler
Franz Wiedemann in Munich
William S. Valiant at Rutgers
Reigant Wappler
Rev. J. Weaver
R.M. Wilke
Zinkeisen

A few are also dated, the dates ranging from 1865 to 1909.

Caswell died on October 26, 1909 and is buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City. His widow presented his mineral collection to Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, in April of 1911; it remained there until the late 1970's when it was discarded, rescued and dispersed by Ronald Bentley and Russell Behnke. Steven Chamberlain (q.v.) obtained the New York specimens from Caswell's collection and is currently preparing to donate them to the New York State Museum.

Reference:
SCHUH, C. (2005) History of Mineral Collecting in the United States, 1800-1950. Unpublished manuscript, Tucson.
CHAMBERLAIN, S.C. (2005) Personal communication.
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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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Number of labels found: 7 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 7

The Mineralogical Record - John H. Caswell 40 x 68 mm;
On the reverse is handwritten "Chester" (i.e. acquired from Albert H. Chester).
The Mineralogical Record - John H. Caswell 40 x 69 mm;
On the reverse is handwritten "A. H. Chester" (i.e. acquired from Albert H. Chester).
The Mineralogical Record - John H. Caswell 40 x 68 mm;
On the back is written "Nasau."
The Mineralogical Record - John H. Caswell 40 x 68 mm
The Mineralogical Record - John H. Caswell 40 x 67 mm
The Mineralogical Record - John H. Caswell 27 x 33 mm;
On the reverse is handwritten "$5.00"
The Mineralogical Record - John H. Caswell 35 x 45 mm
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