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William Earl Hidden
(1853-1918)

William Earl Hidden was born February, 16 1853 in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Abbie Angel and James Edward Hidden (whose occupation was listed in 1860 as "Billiard Saloon," and in 1870 as "Printer"). He attended the evening lectures on chemistry by Prof. Charles F. Stone at the Cooper Union from 1873-1876, and joined the New York Academy of Sciences in 1875. Although he was interested in the natural sciences, he first worked intermittently (and successfully) as a draftsman for the American Bank Note Company until 1884, and had strong interests in collecting and dealing in minerals, stamps and coins. Thereafter he worked primarily as a geologist, mineralogist and mining engineer. In 1883 he married Josephine Morton and together they had five children, only three of which survived infancy: Morton (1885), Irad (1891) and Abigail (1900).

In 1879 Hidden was commissioned by Thomas Alva Edison to travel extensively through North Carolina exploring for economically exploitable deposits of platinum for use in electric light bulbs. He failed to discover any platinum, but he did discover in Alexander County a new emerald-green gem variety of spodumene (later named "hiddenite" in his honor). Hidden formed a stock corporation (the Emerald and Hiddenite Mining Company) to exploit the hiddenite and emeralds found in the area. He was later a central figure in the exploitation of the Barringer Hill rare-earth deposit in Texas. In 1893 he named a thorium-uranium silicate "mackintoshite", after his collaborator, J.B. Mackintosh, but it was later discredited as thorogummite. Hidden profited by many of his discoveries, proving out various deposits and then selling them.

During his career he accumulated a substantial mineral collection which was so fine that it was said to be second only to that of Clarence S. Bement (which later went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York). The Hidden mineral collection is characterized by detailed catalog descriptions. He traveled to Europe a number of times between 1895 and 1897, perhaps to negotiate the sale of his collection. Hidden ultimately sold significant portions of his collection to the Imperial Natural History Museum in Vienna. The purchase of the collection was financed by Emperor Franz Josef I himself, and was perhaps intended as a mineralogical gift to the museum. The Hidden Collection in Vienna comprises some 2,560 catalogued specimens plus 646 duplicates. Hidden died, from heart trouble, on June 12, 1918, in Newark, New Jersey.

References:
KUNZ, G.F. (1919) Reminiscences of William E. Hidden. American Mineralogist, 4, 100, 128-129, 142-145.
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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 - William Earl Hidden 34 x 67 mm
The Mineralogical Record - William Earl Hidden 30 x 42 mm,
Label (front and back) for a specimen sold by Hidden and his partner J.B. Mackintosh in New York
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