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F. G. Hillman

Frederic(k) Gardner Hillman was born in the whaling village of New Bedford, Massachusetts, 60 miles south of Boston, on December 1, 1872, of Anna(bel) B. Eldridge (b. 1847) and George William Hillman (b. 1842). George, according to the 1880 census, was a “clerk in a mill office,” and in 1900 was a “supplier of mills.” Frederick established a home-based natural history business in 1888, at the age of 15, selling “archeological, ethnological, and geological specimens, minerals, shells, marine curios, old weapons, and specimens for collectors in all branches” from his parents address at 1036 Acushnet Avenue. His ad in the January 1895 issue of The Museum offered “25 varieties of minerals, worth from 5 to 35c each….$1.00.” He advertised thereafter in nearly every volume of The Mineral Collector, from February 1895 to 1908, often with full-page ads, and sometimes announcing auctions of specimens. Hillman, listed on the 1900 census as a “naturalist," married Sarah Emma Silva (1876-1962) in 1901 and settled in New Bedford at 63 Hillman Street; they had two children, Annabelle (1904) and John (1909).

In September 1903 Hillman took on two partners, Edgar Lord and Frank C. Barrows (probably financial backers), and formed a new company, Science & Arts Corporation, with a post office box address in New Bedford. They boasted, “We think we have the largest and finest supply of minerals in the world to draw from” – quite a statement with A.E. Foote and Ward's having ads in the same issue! Oddly enough, the January 1904 issue of The Mineral Collector contained an announcement saying, “We want a competent man to take charge of our mineral department. Can have option of conducting office in New York, Philadelphia, Boston or New Bedford. We mean business and invite correspondence from anyone genuinely interested.” Apparently no one was. Ads for the Science & Arts Corporation ceased with the April 1904 issue, and with the February 1905 issue Hillman was advertising under his own name again, from his home address at 63 Hillman Street in New Bedford.

Apparently Hillman's specimen business, though prosperous, became a side business when his father died in 1901; Hillman took over the family business under the name of "F. G. Hillman" (1912 New Bedford City Directoty). He listed his profession as a “supply agent for mills” (1910), “merchant, mill supplies” (1920) and “dealer, mill supplies” (1930). He appears in the New Bedford City Directories for 1932, 1940 and 1943, though he died on December 22, 1943. In 1943 he was still listed as an agent for mill supplies, and as secretary-treasurer for a fraternal organization founded in 1888 called the United Commercial Travelers of America (UCT), a non-profit benefit society formed for traveling salesmen.

Hillman wrote only one article for The Mineral Collector, in the March 1905 issue, rather touchingly describing “My wife's mneral collection” as follows:

“Owing to lack of room, the writer finds it necessary to keep his humble collection of minerals in boxes, packed and stored away. Some day we hope to have more room, when the boxes will be unpacked and their contents placed where they may be seen and enjoyed. In the meantime we manage to derive considerable pleasure from my wife's little collection, which is contained in a small glass-front cabinet with oddly arranged shelves, which is hung on one of the walls of our home. There is no attempt at scientific arrangement, and the various pieces have been selected solely on account of their attractiveness to the owner. There is a surprising range of color when the smallness of space is considered. The cabinet is 20 inches wide, 26 inches high, and 4½ inches deep, and within are contained [91 specimens]. … This little collection shows what may be done with a very limited space; and the mutual interest taken in it adds in no small degree to the enjoyment. … At odd moments, as the opportuinities occur it is hoped to increase this little gathering of bright and sparkling stones which help to banish care and to brighten the dullest of days.”

WWI Draft Registrations, 1917-1918
U.S. Federal Census, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
New Bedford City Directories
HILLMAN, F.G. (1905) My wife's mineral collection. The Mineral Collector,12 (1), p. 5-6.
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The Mineralogical Record - F. G. Hillman F.G. Hillman's ad in the January 1895 issue of The Museum.
The Mineralogical Record - F. G. Hillman F.G. Hillman ad in the March 1900 issue of The Mineral Collector."
The Mineralogical Record - F. G. Hillman Ad for Hillman's Science & Arts Corp in the March 1904 issue of The Mineral Collector.
The Mineralogical Record - F. G. Hillman
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