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J. Kenneth Fisher
(1899-1981)

John Kenneth Fisher was born May 2, 1899 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jennie and Herbert Fisher, a machinist. Ken's first contact with geology came in 1912, at the age of 13, when he began studying the paving stones of local streets. He read up on the subject, but lost interest. Ken worked as a mechanic for the Midvale Steel Company in Philadelphia in 1918, and was hired as a schoolteacher in Upper Darby Township in 1926. The head of the English Department there, a Miss Elizabeth Morley, was an avid mineral collector and she fired his interest anew.

In order to validate his temporary teaching certification Ken enrolled for classes at the University of Pennsylvania, where he took mineralogy courses under Dr. Frederick ("Fritz") Oldach, grandson of mineral collector Frederick J.M. Oldach (1823-1905) (q.v.). Ken also joined the Philadelphia Mineral Society, where he met Charles Toothaker, Samuel Gordon and other influential collectors of the day. During the 1930's he collected at such famous Pennsylvania localities as the Wheatley mine, the Bridgeport quarry, Mineral Hill, Leiper's quarry, Cornwall, French Creek, Wood's mine, and many others. In 1930 Dr. Oldach took Ken on a collecting trip to Franklin, New Jersey where they met up with company mineralogist Lawson Bauer. The trip was so interesting and successful that Ken made trips there at least annually until Bauer died in 1954.

Ken also collected heavily in Maine during the 1930's. He met Stanley Perham (q.v.), Ike Skillen (q.v.), Martin Keith (q.v.), and collected at many of the great pegmatites there. In 1939 Ken and his wife Victoria moved to Delaware County, Pennsylvania. A transcontinental car trip in 1953 passed through interesting mineral localities in South Dakota, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada and Colorado. They specnt several summers collecting at such well-known Colorado localities as Mt. Antero, Leadville, the Sweet Home mine, Cripple Creek, Gilman, and Lake George. From 1959 to 1968 Ken and his family took annual collecting trips to Ontario, visitng localities such as Timmins, Cobalt, and Kirkland Lake, where they collected a total of 29 different minerals.

By age 70 Ken was beginning to work at reducing the size of his 2,500-specimen collection. He donated suites of specimens to Harvard University, Tokyo University, the University of Pennsylvania, the Franklin (New Jersey) Mineral Museum and the State of Pennsylvania. He then invited his collecting friends over, one at a time, and allowed them to purchase whatever specimens they wanted (he used the resulting funds to build a coin collection). Following his death in January 1981, his two sons held a day-long auction to dispose of the remaining specimens.

References:
FISHER, J.K. (1970) Fifty years or so with minerals. Mineralogical Society of Pennsylvania Newsletter. July-August, p.7-10; Sept-October 1970, p. 4-6.
FISHER, Herb (2012) Personal communication.
World War I Draft Registration records
Social Security Death Index
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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 - J. Kenneth Fisher
The Mineralogical Record - J. Kenneth Fisher 38 x 64 mm,
Label dated 1934
The Mineralogical Record - J. Kenneth Fisher 38 x 54 mm,
Label dated Nov. 1934
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