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Kevin Ward
(born 1966-    )

John Kevin Ward was born on October 8, 1966 in Petersburg, Virginia. His early years were spent growing up in Richmond, Virginia and Cold Spring, Kentucky, where his father, Haywood "Bill" Ward, a former police officer from Richmond with a masters degree in criminology and higher education, taught courses in criminology and served as chief of campus police at Northern Kentucky University. Bill was also a mineral and fossil collector. His mother, Barbara Ward, a graduate of the University of North Carolina with a bachelor's degree in business administration, attended the same university where she studied Elementary Education. It was during these formative years in the mid 1970's, that Kevin began to develop a strong interest in all things science, with a special interest in fossils and crystals since both could easily be found in the area. Many of his earliest memories involve family outings to nearby creeks where geodes could be found, and to dinosaur parks to search for fossils and bones. The area was so fossil rich that Kevin could easily find fossils in open fields within walking distance of his own home. He still remembers selling pieces of colored obsidian glass to third-grade friends for five cents.

Kevin's family moved to Mobile, Alabama in 1976, which eliminated his collecting opportunities since the area along the Gulf Coast is devoid of almost everything involving fossils and crystals. It was at this time that his interests shifted to art and coin collecting. While his mother completed her master's degree in education and taught third grade at a local elementary school, Kevin took numerous art courses and became one of the better known local artists in his age group. He was drawing comic strips and advertisements for local publications before even attending high school. At the same time, Kevin built a large coin collection and began trading and selling coins at local flea markets and shows. These early experiences became extremely valuable in later years.

After high school, Kevin attended the University of South Alabama where he studied art (including sculpture, photography, etching, lithography, and painting). At the same time, he was attending coin shows and conventions where he made college tuition money by dealing in rare coins. Kevin would frequently take summers off to travel the country and explore the western states; Colorado and Nevada were his favorites because of their mining and minting history. The correlation between mining and numismatics was once again sparking his interest in minerals, and when Kevin began to study geology during his second year at the university, his inclination toward mineral collecting resurfaced. He delved into mineralogy and mining history, and began to update his mineral collection with the help of a local mineral dealer. He visited mineral shows around the country while traveling more widely to all areas with mining history. He visited nearly a hundred abandoned mining towns from California to New Mexico to Montana over a five-year period, and submitted photos of them to online websites. Kevin graduated in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in Fine Art and Graphic Design and minors in History and Geology.

Since graduating, Kevin has field-collect mineral specimens at hundreds of localities throughout the West, and continues to do so at every opportunity. Some of his favorite memories are of collecting quartz in Montana, calcite in Utah, silver, galena, sphalerite, and amethyst in Creede, Colorado, azurite and malachite in Jerome, Arizona, gold in Wickenburg, Arizona, and wulfenite, mimetite and copper minerals in southern Arizona. His favorite mining ghost towns are Rhyolite, Nevada and Bodie, California (both protected areas where collecting is prohibited) as well as Hamilton, Nevada, and Garnet, Montana. Kevin found his mineral interests were matched by his passion for history and studied each town and mining district extensively.

In 1996, at the urging of his father and a mineral dealer at a local show, Kevin began to build his first website devoted to minerals. At first it was only planned to be a showcase for his personal collection and photography but the idea eventually evolved into a website which offered his own collection for sale to follow enthusiasts. In this sense, the concept of the revolving mineral collection was adopted. The website came online officially in July of 1997 at www.themineralgallery.com, and has since been joined by www.exceptionalminerals.com in December of 2000. It is through these two websites that Kevin has found the perfect outlet for his education in art, graphic design, photography, and geology as well as his passion for minerals. He continues to travel and add to his collection through mineral shows and field exploration and has personally owned and sold specimens from many of the finest collections in the world. His mineral photography is praised and has appeared in dozens of publications and websites over the years. Among Kevin's favorite books are Mineralogy of Arizona, Ghost Towns of Colorado, Peter Bancroft's Gem and Crystal Treasures, Preserving the Glory Days, Mining Camps of Nye County, Nevada by Shawn Hall, and Minerals of Cornwall and Devon by Embrey and Symes.

On a sidenote, although no longer a dealer of coins, Kevin's interest in numismatics remains strong and he just recently completed and sold one of the finest sets of Seated Liberty Dollars ever assembled during the 2007 FUN Show in Orlando, Florida. He is now in the process of assembling a complete early American dollar set from 1794 to 1803 and a collection of gold aurei and solidi representing every Roman and Byzantine Emperor from 44 BC to 1000 AD.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
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