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

Frederick "Rick" L. Smith

Frederick Ludlow Smith III, well-known New Jersey mineral dealer in the 1970s, was born August 13, 1939, in Short Hills, New Jersey, the son of Louise Francis and Augustus Whitehead Smith, a building contractor. Rick was named after his uncle and his grandfather, all Sons of the American Revolution. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1963, and married Shelagh D. Cann.

Smith entered the mineral business sometime in the mid to late 1960s. He is listed as "New Jersey Mineral Supply" in a 1966 directory, at the same address (1 Short Hills Ave., Short Hills, New Jersey) as he used in ads in the 1970s. Smith was among the early mineral dealers — including his older competitor, Martin Ehrmann — to visit Tsumeb, South-West Africa (now Namibia) after the second oxidation zone was discovered there.

Smith specialized in expensive, very high-quality specimens for exclusive, elite clientele, often working in partnership with his good friend Charles Key under the business name "Earth Science Industries" (noted on labels simply as "E.S.I."). The rare Tsumeb mineral ludlockite was named jointly for Frederick Ludlow Smith and Charles Locke Key in 1970, in recognition of their discovery of the mineral.

Smith also advertised under the grandiose name of "Earth Science Division, Ludlow, Smith & Cann" (Cann referring to his wife) in the early 1970s. His January-February 1971 ad in the Mineralogical Record, giving the company address as 1 Short Hills Avenue in Short Hills, New Jersey, stated: "Shop opens April 1." Of course, that could have been an April Fool's Day joke; the address in following ads through July-August did not change.

After a hiatus, ads for "F. L. Smith Minerals" appeared in the March-April 1974 through January-February 1975 issues of the Mineralogical Record.. The first two were intended to be humorous, tongue-in-cheek ads written by Smith and Smithsonian curator John White, though not every reader got the joke, and some people were outraged. The ad was headed "Catering to your needs…" and offered: "Minerals expertly repaired – Suitable matrix supplied for loose crystals – Old labels faithfully copied – Indistinguishable copies made of your favorite specimen – Broken crystals artfully terminated – Pornographic and scatological specimens our specialty – Minerals for Zodiacs, anniversaries, Bar Mitzvahs. – We assemble "Famous old collections" to order. Reply in confidence." In his November-December 1974 ad Smith boasted:

"There may be an active mineral dealer who has supplied more fine display specimens to the U.S. National Museum and the British Museum (Natural History) than I have … it isn't likely. There may be an active mineral dealer who has supplied more really fine display specimens in the best U.S. private collections but that's not likely either …"

Ads for Ludlow, Smith & Cann resumed briefly in November-December 1977 and ran for three issues (giving only a post office box address), offering matrix diamonds from the Myr Pipe, Yakutsk, Russia. No further ads appeared.

Rick Smith retired from the mineral business in the late 1970s and lived in Spain for some years before returning to the U.S. and settling again in New Jersey. He died of lung cancer on December 20, 2014.
To contribute more information please E-mail us at:

[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2020)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of labels found: 4 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 4

The Mineralogical Record - Frederick
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick
The Mineralogical Record - Frederick
Contents copyright © 2020 The Mineralogical Record, Inc. All rights reserved.  
Graphic design of this website by Wendell E. Wilson. Website programming by