Scott J. Williams
Scott John Williams was born August 6, 1924, in San Francisco, the son of Cecil and Elsa Warnecke Williams. Scott attended the University of California at Berkeley, and in April of 1948, together with his friend David B. Grigsby, founded "Minerals Unlimited" at 2006 Durant Avenue in Berkeley (13-year-old Si Frazier, later a well-known mineral dealer in his own right, was their first part-time employee). Williams operated the company for six years before selling his interest in it to Ralph Merrill in March of 1954; Grigsby was hired by Ultra-Violet Products, and also sold his share to Merrill.
Scott then moved to Arizona where he eventually received his bachelor's degree in mineralogy and his master's degree in geography and geology at Arizona State University in 1965. While there he opened a new mineral business called the "Scott Williams Mineral Company" (in Phoenix from April, 1954 until December, 1954; in Scottsdale from 1955 to 1963). In early 1964 he and David New announced (in their February 1964 ad in The Mineralogist) the reorganization of the Scott Williams Mineral Company as "Southwest Scientific" in Scottsdale, with Williams continuing as "president and consulting mineralogist."
Scott's crowning achievement as a mineral dealer came in 1959 when he acquired in Germany the 4,600-specimen collection of a Frankfort chemist, Dr. Fahrenhorst (1890-1942); it was rich in classic European minerals. Werner Leiber helped Scott work out the deal, and soon the boxes started arriving four and five at time, sometimes many weeks apart. It was a two-generation collection (probably Fahrenhorst and his father) with wonderful old specimen labels from as early as the 1870s -- all with date and price noted on the back. The specimens were from localities worldwide, especially the famous European mines and Cornwall as well as other parts of England, and very high in quality. Williams also obtained many other collections over the years, including (according to his labels) those of W.P. Crawford, Buddy Miller (1956), Rapp (1057), W.G. Griffith, Walters (1958), and Peck (1958).
Ultimately, however, the partnership with New dissolved when New bought Williams out. (Southwest Scientific remained in Scottsdale until 1966, when New moved it to Sedona, Arizona, and later to Hamilton, Montana.) Williams gave up the mineral specimen business, moving to Nebraska where he took a position at Peru State University, teaching both geology and geography. While there he completed the doctorate program at the University of Nebraska with a dissertation on the mineralogy of southeast Nebraska. After a 25-year career at the university he retired in May of 1990 as professor emeritus.
In retirement his penchant for mineral dealing returned, and for a year (from June 1990 to June 1991) he helped his daughter, Julie Williams, operate "Julie's Minerals and Art" in Peru, Nebraska. In September of 1991 he re-opened the "Scott Williams Mineral Company" from his home in Oberlin, Kansas and operated it until his death on October 31, 1997. In his time Scott Williams probably handled more and better mineral specimens than any other western American mineral dealer. Scott was an active field collector for much of his life, and was a superb mineralogist in the old sense. He was reputed to be the very best at sight identification during his years in California, and was skilled in the use of old-fashioned tools of identification such as the blowpipe and the petrographic microscopes. The many catalogs he issued, all collector's items today, are models of thorough description.
JONES, R.W. (1998) Scott J. Williams, 1924-1997. Rocks & Minerals, 73 (2), 134.
SCHUH, C. (2005) History of Mineral Collecting in the United States, 1800-1950. Unpublished manuscript.
WILSON, W.E. (1998) Notes from the editor: Died, Scott J. Williams, 73. Mineralogical Record, 29, 82.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
|Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.|
Number of labels found: 22 | Labels being viewed: 17 to 22
||38 x 70 mm,|
Southwest Scientific in Scottsdale (1964-1966)
||38 x 71 mm,|
Label for a specimen in Scott's personal collection; Scottsdale address, 1954-1961.
||41 x 1 mm,|
Label for a specimen in Scott's personal collection, Scottsdale address 1955-1963.
||43 x 63 mm,|
Label for a specimen from Scott's personal collection (no address;1990's?).
||35 x 41 mm,|
Label for a specimen from Scott's personal collection, perhaps 1990's.
||36 x 42 mm,|
Label for a specimen from Scott's personal collection (1990's?)