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Bryce M. Wright (Jr.)

Like that of his father (q.v.), Bryce Wright Jr.'s education is unknown, the only certainty being that he did not have a degree. He had been working for his father in the mineral business for many years, and was entrusted with numerous buying trips to the Continent in the 1860's. He may have taken over the day-to-day running of the business before his father's death and certainly seems to have had his own customers by the early 1870s. When Bryce Wright, Sr. died in 1874 his wife Jane was principal heir and seems to have moved the family mineral shop to 37 Great Russell Street after her husband's death. Her son, Bryce Jr., had no doubt already been serving as proprietor during the last years of his father's life, and the transition went smoothly.

On taking over the business, the 25-year-old Bryce Jr. threw himself into it with gusto and between 1874 and 1880 invested considerable effort in improving it. He advertised regularly; published 15 articles, books, and collection catalogues from 1869 to 1894; and joined many of the most important British and European societies associated with the natural sciences and ethnography. In 1876 he moved back to his old and "now more extensive Premises 90 Great Russell Street" (presumably the shop had been refurbished since its previous occupation). He described his new shop as a "Mineralogical and Geological Museum." Spectacular ethnographic and fossil rarities graced the reopened shop, along with the "Finest & Largest Stock of Minerals in Europe." Early on, Bryce Jr. began to specialize in rough and cut gemstones, describing himself as "Mineralogist and Expert in Gems and Precious Stones." He offered fine natural crystals in the matrix, spectacular cut stones, and made special collections of gems and gem minerals for sale. He also sold all manner of items worked from a wide variety of minerals, rocks, semi-precious stones and ivory: polished slabs, cups, vases, necklets, caskets, netsuké, cameos, clocks, and table tops. And he carried on the serious interest in shells begun by his father. He also began styling himself "Mr. Bryce-Wright."

He was having trouble making ends meet by 1885, and in a few years was to sink into deep financial trouble. In the summer of 1887 his business failed. At his1888 bankruptcy sale he disposed of his entire business, right down to the desks, benches, books and shop fittings; the minerals (2000-3000 specimens) were sold on March 26 of that year. Following the bankruptcy Wright removed to new premises at "The Museum," Savile Row in the Summer of 1888. He advertised there "larger and more extensive Premises, suitable for his Mineralogical and Natural History Specimens." But he had no capital, and got into trouble pawning jewelry items he didn't own for cash (he was convicted of this crime but received a suspended sentence), and had developed a poor reputation for the manufacture of fake specimens, and the attribution false localities to specimens. He was forced to file for bankruptcy again in 1890, and died in 1895.


37 Great Russell St. (1874-1876)
38 Southampton Row (1874-1876)
90 Great Russell St. (1876-1881)
204 Regent St. (1881-1888)
26 Savile Row (1888-1890)
166 Wardour St., Soho (1891)
199 Wardour St., Soho (1892?-1895)

COOPER, m. p. (2006) Robbing the Sparry Garniture; A 200-Year History of British Mineral Dealers. Mineralogical Record (in press).
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
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The Mineralogical Record - Bryce M. Wright (Jr.) Bryce Wright, Jr. (courtesy of Robert Wright)
The Mineralogical Record - Bryce M. Wright (Jr.) Bryce Wright, Jr. (right) presenting a specimen to British Museum paleontologist Richard Owen in 1873; painting by Ernest Griset (1843-1907).
The Mineralogical Record - Bryce M. Wright (Jr.) 35 x 69 mm,
90 Russell St. address (1876-1881). The "FRGS" (="Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society") distinguishes the label from his father's at the same address in 1866-1874. The unhyphenated "Bryce Wright" dates the label to 1876-1878, after which it was hyphenated. This label is for one of the earliest apophyllite ("ichthyopthalmite") specimens ever found at Poona, India.
The Mineralogical Record - Bryce M. Wright (Jr.) 35 x 69 mm,
90 Russell St. address (1876-1881). The "FRGS" (="Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society") distinguishes the label from his father's at the same address in 1866-1874. Dated 1878 in pencil on the front.
The Mineralogical Record - Bryce M. Wright (Jr.) 35 x 66 mm,
90 Great Russell St. address, with the hypenated name, "Bryce-Wright"
The Mineralogical Record - Bryce M. Wright (Jr.) 35 x 69 mm,
90 Russell St. address, with the hyphenated name "Bryce-Wright"
The Mineralogical Record - Bryce M. Wright (Jr.) A set of specimens, sold by Bryce Wright from his shop at 90 Great Russell St., representing the ten minerals on Mohs' scale of hardness. (Photo courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection, New Zealand)
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