Allan Fraser was born on July 31, 1959 in Orkney, North-West Province, South Africa, the son of Anna Elizabeth Audie and Robert Allan “Bob” Fraser. He spent his grade school years in Phalaborwa where his father worked as a metallurgist at the then newly developed Palabora mine. Bob had a small mineral collection from Palabora and this sparked interest in Allan for the hobby. In 1968, Bob accepted a job with the Cerro De Pasco Mining Company in Peru and the family settled in Cerro de Pasco, a large mining town in the central Andes. During their stay in Peru, the company transferred Bob to various other mines in the central Andes, including Casapalca and Cobriza. Bob was always on the lookout for mineral specimens brought to the surface by miners for Allan's developing interest in minerals.
The Cerro de Pasco area was surrounded by Triassic-Jurassic fossil-bearing limestone, and at age nine, during a school outing, Allan found a fossil shell, later identified as Myophoria pascoensis. Allan and his younger brother Sidney made regular trips into the hills to collect fossils and later found the best site to collect, a hill called Cerro Uliachin which overlooks the town of Cerro de Pasco.
Nelson Rivera was a family friend and also the mine geologist at the Cerro de Pasco mine; when an interesting mineral find was made there he would save specimens for Allan's growing collection. As gift for teaching his children English, Nelson presented Allan with a wooden box containing 24 individual compartments each with a mineral from the Cerro de Pasco Mineral District and a detailed label. Included was a specimen of gratonite, a rare type-locality species, bismuthinite, vivianite and a selection of pyrites among others. Nelson's mineral box is still in Allan's collection and it serves as a reminder to him about the roots of his passion for the hobby.
To further encourage his interest in minerals, Allan's parents gave him a copy of Herbert Zinn's handbook, Rocks & Minerals, for his 10th birthday. He used this small pocket guide so extensively that today its pages are coming apart; it always reminds Allan of how inspiring such a simple book and its painted mineral illustrations could be.
The Fraser family returned to South Africa in late 1973, where Allan attended the Jeppe Boys High School, graduatingin 1977. After High School he enrolled at the College for Advanced Technical Education (now the University of Johannesburg) and received a National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry. Following the completion of his studies Allan was conscripted into the South African Defence Force where he served two years (1982-1983) at the Army Engineers Corps (35 Engineer Support Unit) at Kroonstad. After his stint in the military, he went on to work as an analytical chemist for Matthey Rustenburg Refiners and later as laboratory manager at Sandvik Hard Materials. In 1991 he joined LECO Africa, a subsidiary of LECO Corporation USA, where he was involved in sales and applications of analytical instrumentation. He went on to serve on the board of directors of Panalytical (Pty) Ltd., for six years (2001-2007). In 2008 Allan founded Allan Fraser & Associates and is currently self-employed as a consulting analytical chemist. In 2013 Allan decided to improve his academic qualifications and on a part-time basis completed a master's degree (M.Sc.) in geology under the supervision of Professors Fanus Viljoen and Bruce Cairncross at the University of Johannesburg.
After returning from Peru, Allan's interest in minerals declined somewhat but it was reignited in the late 1990s when he met Bruce Cairncross and Jan Eklund, both local collectors who introduced him to the Witwatersrand Gem and Mineral Club (WGMC). Being involved with the WGMC put Allan in contact with other collectors and mineral dealers. The club was a huge boost to his knowledge in minerals and exposure to the hobby, so much that his mineral collection grew exponentially, from around 100 specimens in 1998 to over 4500 specimens in 2015. Over this period, the collection was trimmed and became diversified, with a new focus collecting local minerals, specifically from the Kalahari Manganese Field and other southern African localities. However, Allan's collecting interests have recently gone back to his mineral roots, so to speak, and he has built up a collection of over 200 fine mineral specimens from Peru.
Allan soon realized that to obtain better quality specimens he would need to increase his budget for minerals and he could achieve this by selling his excess mineral specimens. Thus in 2001 that he established an Internet mineral dealership, income from which has supplemented his collection ever since. He could now afford better quality pieces and at the same time he gained access to potentially better material for his own collection as he saw more material in bulk coming out of the local mines. Allan has taken many mineral buying trips to Namibia and in recent years has collected a suite of rare and interesting zinc phosphate minerals from the Skorpion mine, with a recent addition of 45 specimens from the Desmond Sacco collection from this locality. Allan also has had the opportunity to self-collect minerals from the Vergenoeg mine with his regular mineral collecting buddies, Bruce Cairncross, Henk Smit and Wolf Windisch. Most of the well-known southern African localities such as the Kalahari Manganese Field, Tsumeb, Erongo and Malawi are represented in the collection. However, there is also an emphasis on other, less well-known localities such as Palabora, Vergenoeg, Rosh Pinah and Pering.
Allan served as chairperson of the Witwatersrand Gem and Mineral club from 2001 to 2005 and was the editor of the South African Lapidary Magazine (the official publication of the Federation of South African Gem and Mineral Societies) from 2003 to 2012. His other interests include wildlife, photography, guitar and popular science. He is married to Ornella Paola Bracco and they currently reside in Bryanston, Johannesburg.
FRASER, A. (2015) Personal communication.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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