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Lee Bridges
(ca.1940-    )

Lee Bridges, Arizona collector, was born in Bloomington, Indiana. He attended three years of a four-year program in Interior Design at the National Art Academy in Washington, , and worked as a printer/artist in Washington, DC. He opened his own print shop and worked part-time as a commercial artist. He met the curator, Paul Desautels, at the Smithsonian Institution, who helped him get started in his mineralogical studies.

In 1967 Lee moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to manage a print shop there. But he quit after three years and became a full-time field collector and mineral dealer, visiting countless old mines and localities in the desert to collect crystallized minerals. He began as a wholesaler to other mineral dealers, but in time he moved up to selling retain at mineral shows. In 1969 he began dealing and working in turquoise, and eventually started his "Gemstones West" business with $4,000 he had saved. The jewelry side of the business grew rapidly. In 1975 he opened a new, 1,100-square-foot sales room and manufacturing plant at 4138 N. Scottsdale Road in Phoenix, while still spending weekends out collecting minerals and evenings learning more about mineralogy. Despite the success of his jewelry business, his first love remained collecting crystallized minerals underground in Arizona's old abandoned mines.

GULLETTE, A. V. (1975) Crystal Trail Leads to Shop. The Arizona Republic, January 12, 1975.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
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