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July-August 2010

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Ordinary Specimens Matter: The Canning Gold Collection

A brief obituary notice of Kenneth B. “Ken” Canning (1921–2005) appeared in the November/December 2005 issue of Rocks & Minerals and noted “that he especially enjoyed field collecting and specialized in gold specimens” (Huizing 2005). Canning's gold collection was recently donated to the Harvard Mineralogical Museum. This article is offered as an example of how the gift of a modest collection is truly useful to a museum—even one with a large and broadly comprehensive collection. It is also an appreciation of a friend of twenty-five years.

The Collector

Ken Canning of Burlington, Massachusetts, a plasterer by trade, was one of the better mineral collectors in the greater Boston area, an active member of the North Shore Rock and Mineral Club, and a part-time dealer doing business as “The Best of Canning.” He enjoyed field collecting and is locally noted for almost making a famous find. He dug an enormous hole at the Rist mine in Hiddenite, North Carolina. With his summer vacation over, he left for home without much to show for his efforts. The property owner took over the excavation and quickly made “Ken's” big emerald strike.

Dr. Carl A. Francis, a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals, is curator of the Harvard Mineralogical Museum.

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