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Edward R. Swoboda

Edward Roy Swoboda, one of America's most prominent and successful field collectors, was born November 30, 1917 in Oakland, California, the son of Wilma Kindblad and Henry Swoboda, a storekeeper and telephone engineer for the Central Oil Company. By the age of eight Ed was already pestering his father to take him on mineralogical field trips. Around 1930 Ed teamed up with another local collector, Peter Bancroft (q.v.), and they worked a number of central California localities for specimens. On family vacations to the Rincon pegmatite district in San Diego County Ed also explored for minerals. Soon he was joined by Pete Bancroft, and they made many interesting discoveries. Ed and Peter spent two weeks of every summer vacation from 1935 to 1939 digging benitoite and neptunite in San Benito County.

Ed took classes at Long Beach Junior College (now Long Beach State College) for two years but dropped out in 1937 to earn money for more far-flung collecting excursions. By 1939 he had saved enough monry to take a long-anticipated trip to Brazil, where he signed on as a hoist operator at a gold mine, then moved on to prospecting on his own. Ed was still in Brazil when America entered the war in 1941. Reporting for what he thought would be military duty at the U.S. Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, Ed was instead assigned to accompany an expedition of U.S. geologists under the leadership of William Pecora, exploring for strategic minerals. Still in Brazil in 1945, he continued visiting important mineral localities, finding a wealth of gem species including fabulous brazilianite crystals (still the world's best). He eventually established his own business buying and selling mineral specimens and gem rough.

The years 1948-1949 found Ed in Mexico mining mineral specimens and gemstones. He moved on to French Equatorial Africa where he mined dioptase, then northern Rhodesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Kenya and South Africa. He went on to work at mines in Australia, Bolivia, Burma, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Peru, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Back in California, Ed purchased the Stewart, Tourmaline Queen and Pala Chief pegmatite mines, then transferred ownership to the Pala Properties International company which he formed in 1968 with partner Bill Larson (q.v.). Ed and Bill worked the deposits for tourmaline and other minerals. In 1972, at the Tourmaline Queen mine, they made the greatest tourmaline discovery in California history, the now-famous "blue-cap" tourmalines. In 1973 Ed returned to Mexico and spent three years mining for boleite and cumengite at the Amelia mine, Boleo, Baja California. After selling his interest in Pala Properties to Bill Larson in 1979, Ed purchased the mines back from the company, and eventually sold the Stewart mine to Blue Shepard. Ed is still the owner of the Tourmaline Queen mine. He then moved on to other projects, the most successful of which were the 1982 discovery of purple adamite at the Ojuela mine in Mexico, and the 1989 find of wulfenite and mimetite at the San Francisco mine in Mexico.

Ed accumulated several fabulous collections of minerals over the years. He sold his first collection in the mid-1960's to John Jago Trelawney (much of it later went to the Smithsonian). Acquiring several superb specimens from the collection of science fiction writer Arch Oboler in the mid-1970's, Ed started a second more sophisticated collection which, by 1982, number 245 exquisite cabinet-size specimens, plus many smaller miniatures and thumbnails. In that year he sold it all to Texas oilman Perkins Sams, whose collection ultimately went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 1984. Ed then began collecting pseudomorphs, building up a large and superb collection which he sold to a private collector in the late 1990's. Now approaching 90 years old, Ed is still energetic and enthusiastic about minerals, wheeling and dealing at every opportunity. He and his wife, Kum Ja, currently live in Beverley Hills, California; they have one son, Bryan, a director and producer of documentary films, and one daughter, Sumiya, a jewelry designer/manufacturer.

WILSON, W.E, (1997) Collector profile: Edward R. Swoboda. Mineralogical Record, 28, 449-456.
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The Mineralogical Record - Edward R. Swoboda Ed Swoboda
The Mineralogical Record - Edward R. Swoboda 38 x 77 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Edward R. Swoboda 38 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Edward R. Swoboda 38 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Edward R. Swoboda 38 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Edward R. Swoboda 37 x 77 mm
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