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Charles O. Fernquist

Charles Oscar Fernquist was born in Loa Born Ralso, Sweden on July 19, 1882, the son of Mina ("Minnie") and Andrew Fernquist, a carpenter. Charles, who was also a carpenter, came to America with his family in 1886. In 1908 he applied to become a naturalized citizen while living in Mass, Ontonogan County, Michigan. But he had relocated to Spokane, Washington by the time his petition was granted in 1911. In 1918 he was working as a ship carpenter for the Grant Smith-Porter Ship Company in Spokane, Washington where his parents lived. He never married, and appears to have moved about during his younger years. He has not been found on the 1900 or 1910 censuses, but is shown on the 1920 census living in Ranger, Texas and working as a house carpenter.

By 1929 Fernquist had returned to Spokane, and was already a member of the Mineralogical Society of America. He gave his address as "Public museum, 2316 First Avenue," where he served as curator of minerals (in a volunteer capacity?). In 1936 the Spokane Chronicle reported that "Members of the recently formed Geological Society of the Coeur d'Alenes were recent visitors in Spokane, where they inspected the mineral exhibit of Charles O. Fernquist at the public museum." A 1936 article reports that "Charles O. Fernquist, mineral curator of the Spokane museum, expects to attend a meeting in Olympia February 5, where it is proposed to organize prospectors and miners."

Fernquist first advertised in the classified section of Rocks & Minerals with a single ad in December 1932, offering mineral specimens from Washington and opal from Nevada, from his home address at 4108 N. Walnut Street in Spokane. In 1933 he published an article with Henry Dake in Rocks & Minerals entitled "Opal from the Columbia Plateau." He was President of the Columbian Geological Society in 1938 when it joined with six other clubs to form the Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies.

His next ad, in December 1939, offered specimens from his personal collection of "fine minerals" for sale, the result of "45 years collecting," which would put his beginning as a mineral collector around 1894, when he was 12 years old. That small ad ran through September 1941. A single small classified ad ran in June 1942, offering "Chinese carvings and cabochons in jade."

In September 1943 Fernquist announced the opening of "a new mineral store" in the central business district of Spokane, Washington, at W. 410 Riverside Avenue. He carried minerals, gemstones, Chinese carvings, books, fluorescent lamps and minerals, and lapidary materials. In March 1944 he announced the purchase of the entire mineral stock of Mineral Supply House, operated by Roy Redfield, and also the stock of Hatfield Goudey. In July 1944 he moved to larger quarters at 333˝ Riverside Avenue in Spokane, Washington.

Fernquist's December 1944 ad was particularly interesting. He announced his purchase of "the entire Seeber collection [see below] of native copper, silver, calcite with copper inclusions, datolite, analcite and associated minerals from the Michigan copper district. This is an old time collection," he said, "collected by a former mine superintendant over a period of many years. Nearly all are crystallized."

Fernquist's April 1945 ad in The Mineralogist stated: “I am forced out of business by an unreasonable and excessive increase in rent on my store. Taking effect on April first, until further notice I will be unable to continue in business, until such time as I find another desirable location.” However, by November 1945 he was advertising again, from the same address.

Fernquist self-collected much of his sales stock, and in 1945 wrote a brief article for Rocks & Minerals describing a collecting trip to the Little Giant mine in Idaho for pyromorphite. He wrote numerous articles for The Mineralogist between 1934 and 1951, mostly about gem minerals of Idaho and Washington. His ads were always intermittent, apparently running only when he had enough mineral specimens of a particular type to handle the hundreds of orders that would stream in. In May 1947 he offered a lot of specimens obtained during a trip through central Idaho. Other ads offered minerals from the Pacific Northwest, Gold Hill in Utah, and Butte, Montana. His ads ceased after 1947, when he turned 65—apparently he retired from business at that time.

Charles O. Fernquist died at the age of 94, on April 20, 1976, in Spokane.

U.S. Naturalization Records, 1911.
Washington Death Index.
Social Security Death Index.
U.S. Federal Census, 1920, 1930.
World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.
Rocks & Minerals advertisements.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Charles O. Fernquist Ad in Rocks & Minerals, May 1947.
The Mineralogical Record - Charles O. Fernquist Ad in Rocks & Minerals, June 1947.
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