The Mineralogical Record
The Mineralogical Record - Join us on Facebook!  The Mineralogical Record - Sign up for our newsletter

Charles F. Gritzner

Charles Frederick Gritzner II was born in Montague, Michigan on January 14, 1908, the son of Jane Olivia Carey and Silas Arthur Gritzner, a real estate agent, architect and inventor. He married Laura Elizabeth Chamberlain in Michigan in 1933, and together they had five children: Frederick (1934-died in infancy), Charles Frederick “Fritz” Gritzner III (1936; he held an endowed chair at South Dakota State University, and is now a Distinguished Professor of Geography there), Janalyce Gritzner (1940; an artist and retired elementary school teacher), Jeffrey Allman Gritzner (1941; today an Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Montana) and Jervis (born disabled; living in a group home in Michigan).

As of the 1940 census, Charles was working as a landscaper in Newaygo, Michigan; during his years there he also worked as an estate manager—variously operating the family farm near Fremont, managing properties on Hess Lake (near Newaygo), and managing other assets. By 1949 he had relocated his family to Arizona, and began making plans to open a minerals business. He placed ads in the November-December 1949 and January-February 1950 issues of Rocks & Minerals magazine with the following text:

"Help! Help! Help! -–We wish to locate sources and supplies of quality minerals for the new rock and mineral business we are planning to open some place in this area. C.F. Gritzner, 441 Second Avenue, Yuma, Arizona."

By the May-June 1950 issue he had relocated permanently to 135 N. Sirrine Street in Mesa, Arizona. He operated “Gritzner's Arizona Desert Adventures,” offering periodic Arizona Desert trips to "ghost towns, old mines, and collecting areas," and published Gritzner's Geode, a newsletter and price list he referred to as "The friendly little mineral paper," advertising quality minerals, books, magazines, Mineralights (UV), rockhound specials, lapidary equipment, Geiger counters, nucleometers and other advanced prospecting aids. His 1954 ads emphasized "For the Collector of Beautiful Specimens."

Mineral collecting was typically a family effort. Many or most of the family outings and summer vacations were spent in collecting rocks and minerals. This was even true while the family was still in Michigan, prior to establishing the business in Arizona.

Gritzner published A Mineral Collector's Guide to the "Jade State": Wonderful Wyoming (1953), ten pages for 25 cents, and a second edition in 1953, 12 pages. No ads for Gritzner's Minerals appear after 1954, but he continued to operate Gritzner's Arizona Desert Adventures until his death in Tempe, Arizona on August 8, 1995.

The disposition of his personal mineral collection remains unknown; it may still be among the materials he stored, that have not yet been discovered by the family, but the opinion of family members is that he gave it all away or donated it somewhere. At least some of his seashell collection was donated to the paleontology collection at The University of Montana, and other specimens are held by his son.

Specimen labels from Gritzner's Minerals can be dated between 1950 and 1960. He had a special label for specimens he gave away as gifts.

Gritzner served as Executive Secretary for the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs from 1960 to 1970. He left the mineral business upon assuming responsibility for the Commission, which he helped create. In retirement, he also developed a joint state and federal ex-offender program.

To contribute more information please E-mail us at:

[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of labels found: 6 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 6

The Mineralogical Record - Charles F. Gritzner
The Mineralogical Record - Charles F. Gritzner 51 x 72 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Charles F. Gritzner 51 x 72 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Charles F. Gritzner 51 x 72 mm
Label for a gift specimen (1950-1954)
The Mineralogical Record - Charles F. Gritzner 61 x 72 mm, label for the specimen shown below
Courtesy of Karl Warning
The Mineralogical Record - Charles F. Gritzner Copper specimen accompanying the above label (courtesy of Karl Warning)
Contents copyright © 2019 The Mineralogical Record, Inc. All rights reserved.  
Graphic design of this website by Wendell E. Wilson. Website programming by