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William F. Davidson

William F. Davidson was born September 29, 1907 in Penrith, Cumberland, England. He began dealing in minerals professionally when a request from an American dealer for British specimens was forwarded to him by the British Museum. Up to that time his major income had been from the sale of second-hand clothing, a business which brought him into contact with many low-income miners. Sometimes he was able to exchange clothes and shoes for mineral specimens.

When he acquired good mineral specimens he would first select what he wanted to retain for his own collection, and would then offer the best of the rest to the British Museum before offering it elsewhere. Major customers for his mineral specimens included Prof. Henry F. Harwood (d. 1975) of Manchester, Scott Williams of Minerals Unlimited in California, Harry Sering of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Rayner's Opticians, London. The British collector and dealer Ralph Sutcliffe took much of Davidson's bulk stock for resale and exchange. During World War II Davidson supplied specimens of calcite, fluorite and scheelite for military research.

When Davidson's American customers requested greater variety in his regular parcels he would acquire specimens from Norway, Austria, and Italy to mix in. Some of the last included Sicilian sulfur specimens and Elba pyrite groups supplied to him by Italian collector Renato Pagano. He was a regular field collector in northern England, often in the company of collector Norman Thomson, at a time when few Britons had such an active interest. In their search for specimens they dug out many old mines that had been ignored for decades. The published results of their work (Davidson and Thomson, 1951) remains a useful source for the mineralogy and collecting history of Northern England.

Davidson died on October 20, 2002. His personal collection of minerals was ultimately sold to Minerals Unlimited.

DAVIDSON, W., and THOMSON, N. (1951) Some notes on the minerals of Westmoreland and Cumberland. North West Naturalist,. 23, 136-154.
COOPER, M.P. (2006) Robbing the Sprry Garniture: A 200-Year History of British Mineral Dealers. Mineralogical Record, Tucson, 358 pp.
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