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2007, Spiral
264 pages
Dimensions: 215 x 280
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Mineral Identification
A Practical Guide for the Amateur Mineralogist

English Language: English

Author: Donald B. Peck

Mineral Identification:
A Practical Guide for the Amateur Mineralogist
by Donald B. Peck

Back in the “old days,” before the ready accessibility of X-ray and microprobe analysis services for the mineral collector, we had to (gasp!) know how to do our own mineral identifications in our own home, on a desktop or workbench laboratory. Using comparatively simple tools and techniques which required a functional understanding of some rudimentary chemistry and physics, we performed our own tests to identify unknown species. In those days, that was the essence of being an “amateur mineralogist” rather than just a mineral collector. It was fun and educational.

With the changing trends in mineralogy and mineral collecting over the years, the practice of “classical mineralogy” has become virtually a lost art among the general population of collectors, and in fact is not much taught in University mineralogy courses anymore either. Even back in the 1960’s, my old chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Cowles, was quite disgruntled over the trend. He used to complain that, before the young upstarts could get their big fancy machines warmed up to do a chemical analysis, he could find the answer using just an eyedropper, a test tube and a couple of liquid reagents.

Every collector runs into identification problems from time to time. Sometimes, you have the sneaking suspicion that there is a simple analytical techhnique to answer the identification problem before you, but you just can’t remember it, nor are you sure where to look it up, or even whether you still have the necessary collection of ancient texts in your library. Well, now you need wonder no more. To the rescue comes the Mineralogical Record, lighting a candle in the darkness with the publication of Donald Peck’s unique manual, Mineral Identification, A Practical Guide for the Amateur Mineralogist.

In a succinct 262 pages, Peck provides a compendium of techniques for home identification using physical properties, crystal morphology, simple chemical analysis, and optical properties—all without utilizing a single machine in the six-figure price range. These lost arts of mineralogy have been gathered together from a dusty array of old books and publications that are now hard to find, even if you know what to look for. Nearly half the book consists of useful appendices covering reference works, instruments you can make yourself, reference tables, suppliers, and a shopping list of reagents and simple equipment for stocking your home lab. You can even make your own crystal models. And it comes with a CD full of additional information, all for just $35.

The book has a stiff, coated cover and a sturdy spiral binding that will lay flat on the workbench. Copies can be ordered via the Bookstore at, or by e-mailing the Circulation Manager at We don’t expect to make much, if any, profit on this publication, nor does the author. Publication is being carried out primarily as a service to the mineralogical community. So take the opportunity now to acquire this treasury of hard-to-obtain informaton all in one volume. The press run is limited, and we can’t guarantee how long we will be able to afford to keep it in print.

Wendell Wilson

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