The Lapworth Museum contains approximately 12,000 minerals with many specimens displaying stunning colours, shapes and crystal forms.
They were collected from many locations worldwide, but contain particularly fine examples from the British mining areas of Cornwall, Cumbria, Shropshire and Wanlockhead. The specimens include many from collections dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and from mines long since closed.
The collections include material from famous geologists, scientists, collectors and mineral dealers, and there is a large amount of archival material associated with many of the individual collections and specimens.
The main collection of minerals contains a number of very important individual collections:
William Murdoch Collection
Murdoch (1754–1839) was an associate of James Watt and Mathew Boulton at the Soho works in Birmingham, and was a brilliant engineer and inventor.
He was the pioneer of gas lighting and also invented a steam driven carriage but, was discouraged from developing this further by Watt and Boulton so this invention, that pre-dated Trevithick’s locomotive by 20 years, went generally unnoticed.
From 1779, Murdoch was involved with the installation of Watt and Boulton’s steam engines in the mines of Cornwall, and during the years he spent there collected many Cornish minerals.
The mineral collection (1200 specimens), his desk/cabinet, and an inventory of his collection dated 1826, were purchased by the Museum in 1945.
McLean Mineral Collection
McLean’s material is composed of two earlier, important collections.
The majority is from the mineral collection of Dr John Percy FRS (1817-1889) father of British metallurgy, and metallurgist at the Royal School of Mines from 1851. Percy acquired specimens from geologists, dealers and many of his former students from all around the world. A feature of the collection is the meticulous notes, descriptions and details that Percy recorded for each specimen. These include localities, prices, descriptions, and details of chemical analysis carried out on the specimens.
The remainder of the McLean Collection is made up of specimens from the collection of Col. J.W. Rimington (1832-1809). Colonel Rimington amassed a fine collection of minerals and other natural history specimens. Much of the material was sold at auction during 1891 and 1892. The Lapworth Museum has some fine specimens from the 1891 sale, and includes a catalogue of the sale, and prices paid for the specimens.
This collection consists of approximately 1000 specimens from the collection of J.G. Goodchild (1844–1906) and his son William. J.G. Goodchild was a geologist with the Geological Survey for forty years and for much of that time mapped areas within, and neighbouring, the Lake District.
He amassed a large mineral collection, added to by his son who was also with the Geological Survey for a while, with particularly fine examples from the Lake District area.
Mr Robert Jasper More (d.1903) was an MP who lived near Shrewsbury in Shropshire. He collected mineral specimens from the old lead mines of South Shropshire. These were exhibited at the British Association meeting in Birmingham during 1886, after which they were loaned, and later donated to Mason College. The collection is quite small, but the specimens are particularly large and fine examples.