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Minerals of the English Midlands

Starkey Midlands MineralsThis is an amazing book and a credit to the author. It has been a pleasure to review such an erudite and lavishly illustrated volume.

The book documents the rich mineralogical heritage of the Midland Counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire.

It begins with an overview of the history and geography of the area, which defines the character of the thirteen counties, followed by a lavishly illustrated chapter on geology and then a description of the mineral deposits.

Each of the counties mineral wealth is explored in the next thirteen chapters, all beautifully illustrated with colour photographs of mineral specimens and topographic features, with almost every image taken by the author who is a very competent photographer. There are also maps, diagrams and historical photographs that enhance the well-written and informative text.

The first county chapter is Cheshire, my home county, and was a delight to read. There is an excellent review of the salt industry, covering both mined salt and brine extraction (with many historic photographs of both), the subsequent subsidence caused by the industry, and the modern technology used in salt and brine extraction. Then follows a detailed account of the Alderley Edge copper mineralization, accompanied by the author’s delightful mineral photographs.

As I read this chapter, I found myself constantly looking up the references in the text. The reference section is an extremely useful feature of this book, running to 16 pages and making this volume the obvious starting place for any future researcher.

This thorough research is concluded by three very significant chapters on ‘Collectors and Collecting’, ‘Mineral Dealers’ and ‘Decorative Stones’. The first of these, as the author states, is not all-inclusive, but does give a historical overview and includes modern collectors. Then follows an overview of museum collections relating to these counties. The chapter on mineral dealers follows a similar format, starting with historical dealers and including some still active today. I was pleased to see listed and illustrated the premises of Gregory and Bottley—an establishment I frequented in the 1960s. The final chapter on decorative stones has some excellent photographs of Derbyshire’s unique ‘Blue John’.

This work has all the attractiveness of a quality coffee table book, but it is much more than that; it is a monograph it its own right and the result of meticulous research over many years. This book holds its head high as a genuine scientific work. I highly recommend it. All that is needed now is for someone to produce books of similar quality for Northern England, and Devon and Cornwall and our cup will certainly runneth over.

Reviewed by Richard Porter

MINERALS OF THE ENGLISH MIDLANDS, by Roy E. Starkey, 2018. Published by British Mineralogy Publications, Bromsgrove Worcestershire, UK. 426 pp. ISBN: 978-0-9930182-3-7 (pbk.) List Price: £35.00 ISBN: 978-0-9930182-2-0 (hbk.) List Price: £50.00 W: