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Wayne C. Leicht
(1939-    )

Wayne Carroll Leicht has been around the mineral collecting scene for over 60 years, and has been a mineral dealer since 1971. He was born in Washington, Missouri on January 22, 1939, the son of Olive Schlesinger (1914-1996) and Glenn Earl Leicht (1911-1984), a Lockheed Aircraft worker. Wayne moved with his family to California when he was in grade school, and was in third grade when Ruth Kirkby of the nearby Jarupa Mountans Nature Center came to his class to show minerals. The spark was lit and has never gone out. When the third grader was often missing from class he could be found on the pegmatite hillside behind the school collecting garnets.

During his early years Wayne was a member of the Delvers Gem and Mineral Society and the Searchers Mineral Society. He built his own faceting machine at age 14 but found that polished stones did not hold the same appeal as the natural specimens. After graduating from high school he went on to study at Cerritos College, then to the University of California in Long Beach, graduating with a degree in earth sciences. He soon landed a job with Aeronutronics (a division of Ford Motor Company).

Military service beckoned, however, and Wayne served his hitch as an officer with U.S. Army Intelligence based in Baltimore, Maryland. It was there he met his wife Dona and they have been married since 1964. While in Baltimore he attended Johns Hopkins University to study physics. It was also in Baltimore that Wayne first met Paul E. Desautels at the annual Baltimore Micromount Conference. Wayne and Dona were members of the Baltimore Mineral Society and were conference chairmen several times. It was with Paul Desautels, Neal Yedlin, Lou Perloff and Paul and Hilda Seel that Wayne really began to delve into mineralogy. The friendships with those remarkable people continued until their deaths. While on the East Coast Wayne and Dona collected minerals at as many localities as they could, from Florida to Maine.

Returning to his job at the Newport Beach, California offices of Aeronutronics, Wayne worked in low-temperature physics research and also acted as liaison for those super-secret sleuth agencies in Washington, DC, since he was one of the few employees to hold a top secret clearance. While with Aeronutronics he developed and patented systems that are still in use by those unnamed agencies.

Wayne joined the Mineralogical Society of Southern California and during his tenure as President for three years the society had it's highest membership, with standing-room-only at meetings. He was able to persuade people like Paul Desautels, Clifford Frondel, Pierre Bariand, Ole Petersen, Peter Embrey, John Sinkankas and most of the prominent mineralogists of the day to give lectures. Field collecting was an important part of MSSC and every weekend and holiday was spent in the field. Wayne took a particular interest in the Grandview mine in the Grand Canyon and made over 15 trips to the locality; he was instrumental in bringing two new minerals to light, later described as parnauite and grandviewite. Field collecting was not limited to the U.S. Wayne and Dona have been to Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Portugal, Thailand, Ceylon, Africa, China and Cuba.

Wayne's grandfather had a cabin in the gold country of California, and Wayne spent every summer from the time he was a small boy panning there for gold. It was the history of the California Gold Rush and gold itself that would become his life's passion. Paul Desautels invited Wayne to join him on an around-the-world trip to introduce him to the museums and collectors and give him that "push" to become a dealer. Wayne decided in 1971 to make minerals his livelihood, establishing the Kristalle mineral dealership in Laguna Beach, California, where it has been ever since. Kristalle began with the purchase of the Ernest Chapman collection and went on to purchase over 175 collections and still counting! With the purchase of the famous Crespi gold collection, Kristalle began to specialize in gold specimens and still does. Teaming up with the owners of the Eagle's Nest gold mine has brought (and continues to bring) an abundance of fine specimens to the market. Wayne has published many articles on California gold and has given lectures and television appearances around the world.

Wayne is among the most prominent private collectors of antiquarian books on mineralogy, western exploration, and the California gold rush. His library is considered one of the finest in the world, numbering over 6,500 volumes, and also contains the impressive library of Arizona history that belonged to the late Richard Bideaux. Wayne keeps a small personal collection of minerals with special emphasis on native elements. He and Dona also collect early California art. They live in Laguna Beach, California.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Wayne C. Leicht 38 x 63 mm
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