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George Washington Fiss

George Washington Fiss was born in Pennsylvania in March of 1835, and married Ellen Mehl in the Germantown district of Philadelphia in 1860. George was a manufacturer of worsted wool yarn, and lived on Green Street central in Philadelphia. His wife died shortly after 1870 and George lived thereafter with his daughters. He began collecting minerals probably in the 1870's, and around 1881 was among the first to begin mounting microscopic mineral specimens for study. In fact, he is considered (along with George G. Rakestraw) to be a co-founder of the hobby of micromounting. He first used small brass rings glued to glass slides, then changed to small 1-inch pasteboard boxes in the 1890's.

Fiss was a friend of the great collector Clarence S. Bement, and obtained many of his specimens as small trimmings from Bement's cabinet specimens. Around 1897 Bement began his own micromount collection, sharing the second-best pieces he acquired with Fiss, who did all of his mounting for him. This arrangement continued until around 1911, when Bement sold all 2,300 of his micromounts to Fiss, who kept the best examples for himself and replaced them with duplicates before reselling the Bement micromount collection to A.F. Holden in 1912. Holden later presented his collection to Harvard, where it is preserved today, except for a substantial number of duplicates which were distributed by Harvard to various micromounters of the day.

Fiss continued his work on microminerals until a few days before his death at the age of 90. Frank J. Keeley obtained Fiss's collection following his death. Much of Fiss's collection, as well as his microscope, accessories, and revolving table, later passed from Keeley to the Philadelphia Academy of Science, but some also found their way into the collection of the late Lou Perloff (probably via Harvard) and subsequently went to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

WIGHT, Q. (1993) The Complete Book of Micromounting. Mineralogical Record, Tucson.
WILLS, L.C. (1931) The preparation of micro mounts. Rocks & Minerals, 6 (4), 152.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - George Washington Fiss George Washington Fiss
The Mineralogical Record - George Washington Fiss 23 x 28 mm (lid) and 21 x 26 mm (base);
A micromount box with species, locality and number marked on the lid label, and owner and number marked on the base label.
The Mineralogical Record - George Washington Fiss George Fiss's original custom-made micromount cabinet, containing about 2,200 of his carefully labeled mounts. It was acquired upon his death by Frank Keeley, who later donated it to the Philadelphia Academy of Science. (Wendell Wilson photo)
The Mineralogical Record - George Washington Fiss A drawer from Fiss's micromount cabinet, containing 80 mounts. (Wendell Wilson photo)
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