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Roy Hopping

Roy Degrasse Hopping (he sometimes signed his middle name as De Graw) was born in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey on June 18, 1872, the son of Laura Degrasse and George Washington Hopping, a bookkeeper and dealer in hospital supplies. Roy had been interested in mineralogy from an early age, and is listed as a "mineralogist" in the 1892 Philadelphia City Directory and in the 1892 and 1893 City Directories for the District of Columbia. Probably he was attending college there. While at school he was elected secretary-treasurer of the Say Memorial Chapter of the Agassiz Association in 1893 or 1894. He had apparently studied mineralogy in college because he advertised in November 1895 to sell his Zentmeyer's student microscope (giving two addresses: Bloomfield, N.J. and 64 East 12th Street in New York City).

In January of 1896 an ad in The Mineral Collector indicates that the 23-year-old Hopping had been taken on by the well-known mineral dealer William Niven as a junior partner, operating as "Niven and Hopping" from rooms 504-506, on the fifth floor of the Liberty Building ar 123 Liberty Street in New York City. Niven had closed out his mineral business at 494 Sixth Avenue at the end of 1894, in preparation for an extended collecting trip to Mexico, and had then been gone about a year, but probably in late 1895 he appears to have returned and teamed up with Hopping. Unfortunately, Hopping seems to have suffered from chronic health problems, for the following month (February 1896) their ad announces apologetically that "Owing to the prolonged illness of Mr. Hopping, announcements and bulletins have been delayed, but we hope to have them ready very soon. Meanwhile Mr. Niven is daily attending to the wants of customers…"

Hopping recovered sufficiently to resume work later that year, and having completed his apprenticeship under Niven, he took over the business in October of 1896, when his ads announced the company name as "Roy Hopping, successor to Niven & Hopping," at the same address. His ads continued through July 1897, then ceased until March 1898, when they resumed with Hopping at a new address, 5 & 7 Dey Street. Ads for this address continued until December 1899, when Hopping announced his relocation to 129 Fourth Avenue, near Union Square, in rooms 35 and 36 on the third floor of the recently constructed Hancock office building, where he enjoyed nearly twice the space he'd had at his Dey Street address. He published bulletins periodically, in Autumn 1899, February 1900 and September 1900. Judging by his detailed and enthusiastic full-page ads, he handled a large and varied worldwide stock, with fine minerals arriving regularly in shipments from his contacts throughout Europe and America. He is listed as a "mineralogist" in the 1900 and 1902 City Directories for Union, New Jersey, living at his father's home. He published a 14-page booklet by James Talmadge in 1898, called Tables for the Blowpipe Examination of Minerals, and he also published a 67-page booklet of his own in 1900 called The Practical Study of Common Minerals; it originally sold for 60 cents.

In 1901, Alfred J. Moses gave a preliminary description of what he thought to be a new species of cubic red mercuric iodide from Broken Hill, New South Wales; the type specimen had been provided by Hopping in 1899. Moses stated that he felt it was distinct from coccinite, but did not name it (American Journal of Science, 12, 98-99). It was later called hoppingite or hoppingita by Gagarin and Cuomo in 1949, but the designation as a legitimate new species was discredited in 1951.

Hopping's last regular ad appeared in the December 1902 issue, and editor Arthur Chamberlain may have been concerned about his worsening health problems because he published a portrait photograph of Hopping as the frontispiece to that issue. An ad placed by Hopping's father in the April 1903 issue sadly announced the closing of the business: "My son, Mr. Roy Hopping, being in such poor health as to be totally incapacitated for business, I have taken charge of his business and will close it out as rapidly as possible." Hopping continued to publish his own short-lived magazine, American Minerals, from his home address at 3459 Walnut Street at least until October 1903.

Hopping survived his health problems and married Belle Hedden Joralemon (born 1879; died 1957) in New Jersey on April 3, 1903. They immediately moved to Manila in the Philippines in order for Roy to serve as Chief of the Mines and Metallurgy Department of the Phillippine Exposition at the St. Louis World's Fair (called the "Louisiana Purchase Exposition") in 1904. Having succeeded well at that task, he took a high-paying position with the Philippine Revenue Service. But his marriage became embittered, and he kicked Belle out of his house in 1908. She was forced to take a job locally as a schoolteacher, to support herself; she returned to America in 1909, filing for a divorce, which was granted in 1911 over Roy's objection. An announcement of the divorce in The San Francisco Call (August 24) stated that "Hopping is a member of the Columbia Club and the Elks' club of Manila, and his palatial home in Calle San Jose was for several years one of the best known centers of entertainment in the insular capital." Roy Hopping is not recorded on the 1910 U.S. Federal Census because he was still living in the Philippines, but Belle appears, under her maiden name, living alone in a boarding house in San Francisco, and working as a public school teacher.

Hopping returned from the Philippines in 1915, arriving in San Francisco by way of Hong Kong carrying six pieces of luggage. By 1917 he had found a job as a traveling salesman for the Crystal Bottling Works in Pocatello, Idaho, while living in Seattle. His 1917 passport application states that he was planning to visit Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Peru on commercial business. Perhaps he was planning to sell bottled goods in South and Central America while also collecting minerals to re-start his mineral business. He traveled just once to Central America, in 1918.

By 1920 Hopping had relocated to Santa Barbara, California and was working as a shoe salesman. Nevertheless, he appears to have continued his mineral business at some level, and moved briefly to Iowa. A 1924 Roy Hopping catalog is known (George Elling collection) which gives an address in Keokuk, Iowa. The Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1925 cites the acquisition of a suite of Keokuk Formation fossils from "Roy Degraw Hopping" of Keokuk.

But soon he was back living in California. On the 1926-1930 voter registration rolls, "Roy de G. Hopping" is listed as a "rancher" living in Three Rivers, Tulare County, California (with his mother Laura, his brother Guy, and Guy's wife Daisy). He appears again on the 1930 census, living in Kansas City, Missouri and working as a "café-man" in a café.

Hopping appears finally on the 1940 census for Los Angeles County, California, (at age 68 and "widowed") living at the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey. Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center dates back to 1888 when indigent patients from the Los Angeles County Hospital were relocated to what was then known as "the Poor Farm." Presumably he died at the hosital, but patient records there are destroyed after seven years, and so his death date remains unknown.

Specimen labels can be dated as follows: "Niven and Hopping," 1896; "Roy Hopping," 1896-1924+?.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Roy Hopping Roy Hopping
(Photo from his 1898 catalog)
The Mineralogical Record - Roy Hopping Roy G. Hopping
From The Mineral Collector, December 1902
The Mineralogical Record - Roy Hopping Hopping's 1898 Catalog
The Mineralogical Record - Roy Hopping Hopping's mineralogical study guide, published in 1900.
The Mineralogical Record - Roy Hopping 30 x 70 mm,
A Niven & Hopping label, 1896.
The Mineralogical Record - Roy Hopping 30 x 70 mm,
A Niven & Hopping label, 1896.
The Mineralogical Record - Roy Hopping 30 x 70 mm,
A Niven & Hopping label, 1896
The Mineralogical Record - Roy Hopping 34 x 68 mm,
A Roy Hopping label dated March 3, 1900
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