Arthur Russell (c.1878 - 1964)

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Birthplace: Folkestone, Kent, UK
Death: Died
Occupation: mijn-ingenieur (1922) mineraal verzamelaar baronet of Swallowfield Park, Reading
Managed by: Diederik Mooij
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About Arthur Russell

mineraalverzamelaar Arthur Russell was born on 30 November 1878, and was to become the 6th baronet of Swallowfield Park, Reading [picture below]. He succeeded to the title on the death of his elder brother, George Arthur Russell in 1944.

Sir Arthur was educated at Eton and studied chemistry at Kings College, London. He subsequently took up an appointment with the London and South Western Railway. This continued the family connection with railways, and in later years the name plate from the engine Swallowfield Park was kept close to his mineral collection. He was later to work on British mineral resources, for instance he investigated the chromite deposits of the Shetlands.

It was from his mother Lady Constance Charlotte Elizabeth Russell* that Arthur first acquired his interest of mineral specimens. Indeed, Lady Constance had started out having elementary lessons in mineralogy from Miss Henson, sister of Samuel Henson the London dealer and had spent her pocket money buying specimens. It was her small collection that started the nucleus of Arthur's which was to become the most outstanding and comprehensive private collection of British minerals that had ever been made.

Arthur made his first visit underground in a working mine, at Wheal Providence, St. Ives, Cornwall, being about 8 years old at the time. Three years later he went underground at Botallack, thereafter he was to visit every mine in Great Britain and Ireland, and to go into every metalliferous mine in the British Isles that had been worked during his life time, with the exception of the Foxdale and Laxey mines on the Isle of Man. Much attention was devoted to both working and abandoned mines in the former of which whole days and nights were spent underground securing specimens that otherwise would never have seen the light of day. In this field Russell was outstanding, he had a keen eye for good specimens, especially for the rarer and more unusual species which tended to be overlooked. He paid great detail to mineralogical conditions and had an instinctive feeling for where minerals might be found. Russell had a great sense of humour and was a good mixer', getting on well with almost everyone and making many friends among mine and quarry managers, miners, and quarrymen. He was, in consequence, usually notified of any interesting discoveries in mines or quarries, and so was able to get hold of many fine specimens which might have otherwise been destroyed.

Over the years Russell acquired a considerable number of collections, some dating back to 1800 or earlier, many containing specimens no longer available in-situ. Among the more important were; Philip Rashleigh (1728-1811), John Hawkins (1761-1841), Edmund Pearse (1788-1856), Sir Warington W. Smyth (1817-1890), Baroness Burdett-Coutts (1814-1906), John Ruskin (1819-1900), Samuel Henson (1848-1930), J.H. Collins (1841-1916), and W. Semmons (1841-1915).

The Russell Collection contains many outstanding specimens, but special mention must be made of the excellent suites of chalcopyrite, chalcocite, fluorite, barite, pyromorphite and mimetite. One of Russell's unfulfilled ambitions was to write a book on the mineralogy of the British Isles, and his copious notes on the subject are now in the Mineralogy Department, The Natural History Museum, London. As Russell said It is my earnest hope and desire that this collection upon which I have bestowed so much loving care and so much of my life shall remain intact and be well cared for wherever it finds a resting place'.

On his death in February 1964, aged 86, the whole of his superb collection amounting to some 12,000 specimens was passed to The Natural History Museum, together with storage cabinets, maps, notes and many books by Russell's generous bequest, on condition that it will not be dispersed but kept as a British regional collection. The collection will remain his greatest memorial.

  • Genealogical records give his mother's last name as Elisa - Ed.

Further reading. Sir Arthur Russell. Obituary by Arthur Kingsbury. 1966. Mineralogical Magazine , 35, 673-677. Editorial by R.J. King in J. Russell Soc., 1(1), I (1982).

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Sir Arthur Edward Ian Montagu Russell's Timeline

1878
November 30, 1878
Folkestone, Kent, UK
1922
June 7, 1922
Age 43
Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands
1923
February 7, 1923
Age 44
1932
1932
Age 53
1933
December 16, 1933
Age 55
1964
February, 1964
Age 85
????