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Robert Henson
(1814-1864)

Robert Henson was born in England (probably London) in 1814. As a young man he worked as an assistant to James Tennant, who was at that time the manager of Sarah Mawe's mineral and shell shop in the Strand, London. When Tennant bought out Mawe's shop in 1840, Henson left to open his own company at 103 Strand, dealing in marble works and stone.

By 1855 Henson had broadened his scope to include mineral specimen dealing which he had learned under Tennant, and was referring to himself as a mineralogist. He dealt in mineral, rock and fossil collections of various sizes, mineralogy and geology books, and very large-size geological diagrams which he would sell or rent for classroom use, while continuing to carry items carved from marble (candlesticks, obelisks, vases, inkstands, watch stands, etc.). He moved his shop to 113 Strand in London in 1852. The address was 113A from 1855 until his death in 1864.

Robert's wife, Eliza Marie Henson, also became a mineralogist and mineral dealer, selling "Educational, geological, and mineralogical collections, and boxes for preserving collections of natural history." Following Robert's death she ran his business until her own death in 1873.

Robert and Eliza's son, Samuel Henson, was born in London on September 22, 1848. Samuel took over the family mineral business following his mother's death, moving it to 277 Strand in 1878-1888. From 1888 to 1914 his shop was at 97 Regent Street, and from 1915 to 1917 he was at 185 Norwood Road. His last known address (1918-1920) was at no.4 Elliott House in Thornton Heath.

Henson and his sister gave private lessons and evening classes in mineralogy. He was elected a member of the Mineralogical Society in 1879 and of the Geologists' Association in 1880. Henson never kept a large stock of minerals on hand, preferring instead to concentrate on a limited number of showy, high-value specimens and semi-precious stones. The most important collections he acquired for resale were those of Dublin collector Sir Maziere Brady (1796-1871) (mostly Irish minerals), the Chilean mining engineer Theodor Hohmann (1843-1897), and the British collector Isaac Walker.

Samuel Henson's wife, Fanny (ca.1838-1926), also had a good knowledge of minerals and assisted him in the business; she was also a member of the Mineralogical Society (1910-1917).

Samuel Henson gave up the lease on his shop in 1915, but continued dealing privately in a small way thereafter. He had built a small private collection of his own, which was purchased from his trustees following his death on June 9, 1930, by Sir Arthur Russell. His business and remaining stock were acquired by Gregory, Bottley & Company.

Reference:
COOPER, M.P. (2006) Robbing the Sparry Garniture; a 200-Year History of British Minerals Dealers. Mieralogical Record (in press).
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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 - Robert Henson 44 x 71 mm,
Strand address (1877-1888)
The Mineralogical Record - Robert Henson 39 x 61 mm,
Regent Street address (1888-1914)
The Mineralogical Record - Robert Henson 45 x 66 mm,
Regent Street address (1888-1914)
The Mineralogical Record - Robert Henson Small label glued to a specimen (Paul Forster specimen)
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