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St Aubyn minerals reunited!

Friends reunited - A geode of flint lined with chalcedony. Saffron Walden Museum segment (left), Plymouth City Museum segment (right)

News from the St. Aubyn Project, from Jessica Shepherd

Geoscientist 19.1 January 2009

Readers of Geoscientist (July 2008, vol. 18.7, p10) were asked if they could help to identify the labels of a historic mineral collection in order to help the Plymouth City Musseum and Art Gallery to locate former specimens from the St Aubyn Collection.

In that same month, Helen Fothergill and Jess Shepherd of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery visited Saffron Walden Museum in Essex. Sarah Kenyon, the Natural Sciences Officer at the Saffron Walden Museum, had been in touch with Plymouth because they had 37 minerals that were donated to them by Sir John St. Aubyn in 1834. While at Saffron Walden, Helen and Jess examined the minerals before taking them away on a loan.

Celestite on a base of amber, Saffron Walden Museum portion (left), Plymouth City Museum portion (right) Back in Devon, Jess has since been looking through the loaned specimens, trying to match them up with the catalogues. While studying the specimens, she noticed that some of the minerals looked very similar to others in the Plymouth collection. After going through the drawers in the geology store, she managed to match two minerals from each museum so that they linked together (pictures). This has been a really exciting find, and the existence of labels along the joining line that date from roughly 1794–1815 show that these mineral halves may not have been placed next to each other for almost 200 years.