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Filer, Russell (1921- )

Russell Filer was born July 25, 1921 in American Falls, Idaho. His family moved to California when he was six, eventually settling in the town of Redlands where his father worked as a civil engineer for the Metropolitan Water District. While working in the desert on the electric transmission line and water conduit to Los Angeles, Russell's father had the opportunity to visit some of the working mines and bring home specimens for Russell.

In junior high school Russell joined an informal science group involved in mineral collecting; they took field trips to the Mesa Grande district, the Crestmore quarry, and other localities, and Russell's mineral collection began to grow. In 1933 he had his first mineral labels printed, reading "Russell Filer, 328 Myrtle St., Redlands, California." He placed ads and was soon doing business selling and trading minerals from boxes under his bed.

In 1937 Russell's parents built a motel on old Highway 99 west of Redlands, and because his father was interested in minerals, too, they constructed a separate building to serve as a rock shop. They had labels printed reading "J.C. Filer & Son, Rt. 1, Box 382, Loma Linda, California. Midway between Redlands and Colton, Highway 99-70." Later they changed the address to read "1344 Highway 99, San Bernardino, Calif."

A few years later Russell was drafted into the Army for four years, after which he attended the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Southern California, majoring in geology. He made numerous mineral trips to Mexico during summer vacations and holidays, collecting at Los Lamentos, Cerro de Mercado, Naica, and other famous localities. The Montana mineral dealer Ed McDole was one of his best customers and had a knack for arriving just as Russell was returning from a trip, so he could have first choice. After attending all of the classes in geology and mineralogy he left school to open his own mineral business under the name "Filer's," still at his parents' address of 1344 Highway 99.

In 1954 Russell took a boat trip through part of Europe, visiting Elizabeth Maucher's shop in Munich and Dr. F. Krantz in Bonn. In 1956 a woman named Alexandra Tillson walked into Russell's shop and bought $21 worth of minerals to illustrate a talk she was giving at a local church. She had been born in Franklin, New Jersey, where her father was acting superintendent of the famous Franklin mine. Russell and Alexandra were married soon after meeting (though he never did collect the $21), and moved into a new store of their own on Alabama Street west of Redlands. They lived there until 1970, when they moved to Yucaipa, California.

Alexandra was the country's first female graduate in Metallurgical Engineering (according to the A.I.M.E.) in 1938. The daughter of a mining family, she maintained an intense interest in minerals and mining throughout her long life, and assembled an extremely comprehensive collection of over 3,000 mining stock certificates that were auctioned off by Holabird Americana in 2000.

Russell is credited with two specimen photos in Richard M. Pearl's Handbook for Prospectors (1973), on pages 299 and 365.

Russell and Alexandra eventually retired from the mineral business, and currently live in Yucaipa.
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Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. 2022
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at

Russell Filer (1949)

40 x 67 mm

48 x 75 mm

50 x 75 mm

46 x 71 mm

49 x 74 mm

46 x 72 mm

54 x 60 mm