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John Melhase

John Melhase, mineral collector and professional geologist, was born in Hannibal, Missouri on June 18, 1885, the son of Al Melhase, and graduated from Oregon State College in 1908. He then continued his studies in geology and mineralogy at Stanford University and the University of California. He began his formal career as a geologist in 1914, working for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and continued to work for them for the rest of his life. During the course of his work he traveled extrensively through the Western states and prepared many reports on mines and mineral deposits for the railroad. He was also a member of many geological and mineralogical societies. He lived most of his life in California, where both he and his wife Margaret served as President of the Thousand Oaks Parent-Teachers Association in the 1920's and ‘30's (they had a daughter named Margaret).

Melhase, a resident of Berkeley, California, was one of the founders of the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and served as its first president. He was also a charter member of, and one of the organizers of, the Northern California Mineral Society He was widely known for his work in promoting California earth science organizations, and he gave freely of his time to present numerous programs before these groups. It was he who first expressed a wish that some way might be found to keep the historic Golden Bear Gold Nugget in California. He also wrote numerous articles for Rocks & Minerals, The Oregon Mineralogist and The Mineralogists, including a thorough series on the mineral localities of Nevada.

John Melhase passed away April 9, 1938, of a sudden heart attack while on a geological survey. At the time of his death, his collection was considered to be the second finest private mineral collection on the Pacific coast (first being that of Magnus Vonsen). He had about 2,000 showy display-quality specimens, 3,000 smaller study specimens and over 500 single crystals sealed in individual glass tubes for easy handling and examination. Most of his specimens were small cabinet sized or smaller. The collection was donated by his widow to the California Academy of Sciences in 1977.

DAKE, H.V. (1934) John Melhase. The Oregon Mineralogist, 2 (8), 2.
DAKE, H.C. (1937) Leading California collection; outstanding cabinets described. The Mineralogist, 5 (), 29-103.
DAKE, H.C.(1938) John Melhase. The Mineralogist, 5 (1), 20-21.
ZODAC, P. (1938) John Melhase, June 29, 1885–April 9, 1938. Rocks & Minerals, 13 (6), 181.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - John Melhase 40 x 65 mm
The Mineralogical Record - John Melhase 40 x 64 mm
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