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Arthur Chamberlain

Arthur Chamberlain was the editor and publisher of the first important mineral magazines in America, beginning with The Exchangers' Monthly in 1885-1890, changing the title to The Mineralogists' Monthly in 1890-1893, and then publishing The Mineral Collector from 1894 to 1909. He also edited William Goldthwaite's Minerals magazine for a short time in 1893. His long-time associate and friend Albert C. Bates described him this way: "A five foot one bundle of American energy. By trade a printer. A collector of minerals from boyhood—quiet, loyal and conscientious."

Arthur Hale Chamberlain was born in New York in August 1856, the son of Deborah Bugbee and Thomas Chamberlain, a British-born printer. In 1880 Arthur and his two sisters were all working as compisitors, and his brother Thomas Jr. was working as a printer, probably for their father's printing company, in Jersey City, New Jersey. By 1885 when he started his first magazine for collectors, his younger brother Thomas had taken over the management of their father's printing company. Arthur married Minnie B. in 1892.

None of Chamberlain's magazines ever made any money, but he continued publishing them anyway, out of a love for minerals, and for the friends and acquaintances it brought him. He set all the type himself, and worked on the magazines in the evenings and holidays so as not to interfere with his regular printing business. He also dealt extensively in minerals, and it may be that the magazines were financially supported in part by his mineral dealing. From the very first volume in 1885 his ads show that he was already a well-established dealer with an extensive stock of "choice mineral specimens for amateurs, students, schools and colleges, from England, Germany, and all parts of the United States." He also assembled custom collections on demand. He took extended collecting trips, had collecting agents sending him specimens from various localities, and even purchased claims and hired miners to mine specimens for him (as he did at Herkimer, New York). He occasionally dealt in facetted stones, and up until 1889 he also dealt in curios of various kinds (medals, coins, botanical specimens, ethnographic objects, mummy cloth and beads, birds' eggs, fossils, rattlesnake rattles, and even frescoes cut from the walls of villas in Pompeii). One wonders how much time he was able to devote to the printing business.

Chamberlain issued his last magazine in 1909, citing health problems. He appears on the 1930 census as a roomer living in Manhattan, still citing his occupation as a printer. A 1936 letter from Gilman Stanton to William Nevin (Roland Harrison files) states that Chamberlain continued to pay his dues for the New York Mineralogical Club into the 1930's, the last time being June 2, 1932, so he most likely died during the 12 months thereafter, at the age of about 76. What became of his mineral collection is unknown.

BATES, A.C. (1909) Sundry notes. The Mineral Collector, 15 (12), 184-185.
BATES, A.C. (1916) Arthur Chamberlain and his magazines. The American Mineralogist, 1 (1).
CHAMBERLAIN, A. (1909) Valedictory. The Mineral Collector, 15 (12), 191-192.
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The Mineralogical Record - Arthur Chamberlain 50 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Arthur Chamberlain 50 x 76 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Arthur Chamberlain Chamberlain's ad in the March 1886 issue of The Exchanger's Monthly.
The Mineralogical Record - Arthur Chamberlain Chamberlain's ad in the May 1895 issue of The Mineral Collector.
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