John Tym was born in Castleton, Derbyshire in 1829. He was a lessee of the Speedwell Cavern, part lead mine, part natural cavern, which is still a tourist attraction in the town today. He is first listed in the Derbyshire directories as a "spar worker & museum" in 1855, along with his father Michael (or Micah) Tym, who was "guide to the Blue John mine." They were still listed as museum proprietors in 1862, but John appears alone from the 1864 directory onward.
In 1876 Tym was hired as curator of the new museum of paleontologist J. Rooke Pennington (1844-1887) in Castleton. The museum was entered through Tym's Spar and Marble Shop. The building is easily recognizable by a high arched window (which makes visitors think it was once a chapel); this was designed to house Tym's Blue John (banded fluorite) window which took him five years (1890-1895) to construct in his leisure time and is now in the Stockport Museum. From his shop he sold:
"Collections for students at most reasonable prices, specially selected to illustrate Lyell's Student's Elements, Page, Dana, and other authors. Prices from £1 upwards. Collections of Derbyshire Minerals, and Fossils (Mountain Limestone, Yoredale series, coal, &c.) from 1s 6d upwards. A very large collection from all strata."
The contents of the Pennington Museum were put up for sale in 1883 but remained unsold until 1888 when they were bought by the Bolton Museum. In 1885 Tym was hired to curate the Stockport Museum collection when its curator was dismissed. He took his Blue John window with him when he moved to Stockport, and was to remain there until his death. Under his care the Stockport collection prospered. Tym was financed by the Stockport Corporation to collect specimens around the country. He lived on the premises with his wife, who was paid a small fee to operate the museum café. Tym died in Stockport on August 25, 1901. His obituaries unanimously declared him a knowledgeable, modest and genial man who was "never happier than when imparting information to visitors who manifested an interest in the collection under his charge."
COOPER, M.P. (2006) Robbing the Sparry Garniture; A 200-Year History of British Mineral Dealers. Mineralogical Record (in press).
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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