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Frederick A. Canfield
(1849-1926)

Frederick Alexander Canfield, one of America's leading mineral collectors of the early 20th century, was born April 7, 1849, at the Canfield homestead (called Ferromonte) in Randolph, near Dover, New Jersey. He was the son of Julia Ann Halsey (1817-1901) and Frederick Canfield (1810-1867), a mine superintendant. He attended private schools in Mendham and Chester, New Jersey and later the Newton Collegiate Institute. After graduating from Rutgers College in 1870 he went on to earn a degree in Mining Engineering from the Columbia School of Mines in 1873. Rutgers later awarded him an honorary PhD in 1914.

The nucleus of the Canfield family collection was originally formed by Mahlon D. Dickerson (1770-1853)(q.v.), who served as the Governor of New Jersey in 1815-1816, as a United States senator for 17 years, and as Secretary of the Navy for five years). Dickerson, "a practical man of business largely interested in the iron mines of New Jersey," was unmarried, and upon his death the collection passed to his nephew, the elder Frederick Canfield who, with his son Frederick A., expanded it. Like his father, the young Frederick became involved in iron mining, primarily in New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina. From 1885 to 1887 he worked at the Cerro de Potosí mines in Bolivia, where he also collected minerals and discovered a new species later named canfieldite in his honor. He also visited iron mines in Brazil in 1890. He collected both scientifically and aesthetically, and eventually accumulated 9,100 specimens, including 1,474 from Franklin, New Jersey.

Like his great-uncle, Mahlon Dickerson, Canfield never married, and lived most of his life alone on his family's estate, managing the Dickerson Suckasunny Mining Company. His latter years in particular were devoted almost entirely to building his mineral collection. He served as Vice President of the Mineralogical Society of America during the year 1922-1923, was a member of the Board of Managers of the Geological Survey of New Jersey for 17 years, and was also interested in history and genealogy. He died on July 3, 1926 (apparently of skin cancer); his only living relatives at the time of his death were two second cousins. Canfield bequeathed his entire mineral collection, plus a $50,000 endowment for its support and enlargement, to the Smithsonian Institution; under conditions of the will, the Smithsonian may not disperse any of his specimens.

Canfield's labels are remarkably consistent in design. The only time-related difference that can be discerned is that he inscribed the labels in slanted lettering up until the catalog numbers in the mid-4000's, and thereafter wrote in unslanted letters.

References:
ANONYMOUS (1898) Jersey in Cabinet; Those sons of the state who have been made famous in Washington. The Evening Times, Trenton, New Jersey, February 2, p. 8.
ROE, A. (1990) Frederick A. Canfield, his life and his mineral collection. Mineralogical Record, 21, 31-39.
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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 - Frederick A. Canfield Frederick A. Canfield
(1849-1926)
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick A. Canfield 47 x 64 mm,
One of Canfield's earliest labels, number 132, possibly for a specimen originally from the collection of Mahlon Dickerson. The "C" number was assigned by the Smithsonian.
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick A. Canfield 47 x 64 mm,
The "C" number was assigned by the Smithsonian.
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick A. Canfield 46 x 64 mm,
The "C" number was assigned by the Smithsonian.
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick A. Canfield 47 x 65 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick A. Canfield 47 x 65 mm,
The "C" number was assigned by the Smithsonian.
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick A. Canfield 54 x 86 mm
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