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The Tourmaline
History of Mt. Mica

Book Review ~ The Hamlin Set
Mineral News, Vol. 20, No. 8, August, 2004.
by: Tony Nikischer - email link
Excalibur Minerals
Mineral News

"The Tourmaline" - A.C. Hamlin, 1873
"The History of Mount Mica" - A.C. Hamlin, 1895

I spent much of my corporate life working in New York City on Irving Place near Union Square, once known for its many old book shops along Broadway and among the seedier side streets south of Fourteenth Street. I was fortunate to spend many lunch hours browsing at The Strand and a myriad of other obscure little shops hunting for mineral books and prints. It was there that I found my first copies of Dana's System, early hard bound volumes of American Mineralogist, handfuls of obscure nineteenth century mining prints from Harper's Weekly and elsewhere, and a host of other old titles and mineralogical delights that still grace my library today. I spent nearly twenty-five years of my mid-day breaks continuously searching among those dusty stacks, and in all those years of foraging, I never once found either of A.C. Hamlin's coveted works noted above. It was a testament to their rarity and small printings, and in that pre-Internet New York, copies were, indeed, impossible to find. Today, each title demands many hundreds of dollars, costing considerably more in terms of the time that must also be devoted to lengthy searches among on-line sources, book dealers and collectors worldwide. But now, there is an alternative!
Rubellite Press, the new publishing venture of Dr. Karen Webber and associates in New Orleans, has already produced some gratifying moments among collectors. Their Pegmatology book (see the review in March's Mineral News) has been well-received, and the latest effort, a reprinting with great fidelity of Hamlin's most noted works, will also find homes in many collectors' libraries.
These rare, classic works have been faithfully reproduced down to the smallest detail. Were it not for the small, gold-stamped Rubellite Press logo on their spines and the inserted front page that notes their reproduction, stumbling upon copies of both works in a dusty book shop would leave a collector breathless in exhilaration at the discovery!
The covers are gold stamped, hard bound, and heavily cloth covered. The color plates in both, particularly in the Mt. Mica title, are wonderfully done to precisely match Hamlin's paintings of the many exotic, multicolored tourmalines he wrote about. (It would be a major treat to see the actual crystals on your next trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as many of the illustrated specimens were noted as being in Harvard's collection when the book was written in 1895!)
The concept of antiquarian reprints is not new, but Rubellite Press's attention to detail is commendable for both of these fine works. Each is a triumph of faithfully reproducing two very scarce and collectible works. The publisher used original copies and digitally reproduced them on acid free paper, meticulously color matching covers, art work, cover embossing and color treatments from the originals.
The importance of these books lies more in their historical content than in the mineralogical information imparted. While the science of mineralogy has advanced significantly since the originals were published, there is no substitute for reading the original accounts of the significant discoveries involved here. So, if you have searched in vain for either of these highly sought-after titles, they can now be yours at a below market price!

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Last Updated: November 1, 2004
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