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Wayne A. Thompson
(1950-    )

Wayne Thompson has been one of Arizona's best-known field collector/dealers for over 50 years, and pioneered the establishment of professional collector companies which could enter into specimen recovery arrangements with working mines that are otherwise off limits to mineral collecting. Over the years he has developed into one of the mineral world's most exclusive dealers, handling world-class specimens with discriminating taste and discretion.

Wayne Arthur Thompson was born in Phoenix, Arizona on September 2, 1950, the son of Alice Morton and Loren Carlton Thompson, an electrician. His mother was born in the mining town of Ajo, Arizona, where her father Arthur Morton (Wayne's grandfather) worked as a mining engineer at the New Cornelia mine. Wayne began collecting in the late 1950's, joined the Arizona Mineralogical Society at the age of nine, and also joined the mineral-oriented 4-H Club with his friend Les Presmyk. When he was ten he collected vanadinite underground at the Apache mine with his father and uncle, D. Wayne Thompson. He worked hard at three paper routes in order to earn money to buy specimens from local dealers such as Scott Williams, Dave New and Jim Meuller, and attended his first Tucson Show in 1960. In 1962 Wayne spent $250 (heavy money for a 12-year-old in those days!) for a collection of Tiger minerals he had been offered by Bob Jones. Graduating from Cortez High School in 1969, he worked his way through college by digging and selling minerals from many of Arizona's most famous localities. He attended Arizona State University as a Geology major, but left during his senior year to take part in a major specimen mining operation at the San Francisco mine in Sonora, Mexico—personally opening the first of the great wulfenite pockets there, a six-foot-long walk-in cavity thickly lined with spectacular lemon-yellow wulfenite crystals to 3 inches. He spent the next six months prospecting abandoned mines throughout northern Mexico, discovering many formerly unknown occurrences, and taking voluminous notes for future reference.

During the 1970's he collected extensively at the 79, Rowley, Red Cloud, Apache, Defiance, Flux, Grandview, Mammoth and Grand Reef mines. In 1974 Wayne formed his first professional specimen recovery company, Southwest Mineral Associates, and signed specimen-recovery contracts with Phelps-Dodge Corporation (at Bisbee, Morenci, Metcalf, and Ajo) and Kennecott Copper Corporation (operator of the Ray mine). As a result, he was able to recover tens of thousands of specimens of azurite, chrysocolla, dioptase, copper, cuprite and other minerals from these mines that would otherwise have gone to the crusher. He also collected four new mineral species (grandreefite, aravaipaite, laurelite and pseudograndreefite) at the Grand Reef mine, with collecting partners Bob Johnson, Ed Anderson, and Wayne's wife Laura. In Utah he leased the red beryl mine in the Wah Wah Mountains and collected many fine crystals.

In 1978 Wayne married jewelry artist Laura Estrada, who operates Shades of the Earth, a gemstone and jewelry business (she won the AGTA Spectrum Award). They became parents rather late in life; their daughter Stevia was born in 2001. In the 1980's Wayne spent more time purchasing specimens and collections for resale, which led to expeditions to Morocco, South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, Pakistan and most European countries in search of fine specimens. He initiated, or was active in, various specimen mining projects in Vera Cruz, Guerrero, and Sonora, Mexico; the Otjua mine in Namibia; chrysoberyl, topaz and brazilianite localities in Brazil; the De Maria gold mine in California; the Blanchard mine in New Mexico; the Bunker Hill mine in Idaho; the Merelani mine in Tanzania; and a new epidote locality in Kenya. In Arizona he owned or leased the Red Cloud, Old Yuma, Grand Reef and Veta Grande mines. From 1988 through to the present day, Wayne's agents and partners abroad have worked numerous pegmatites in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 1990 Wayne returned to the San Francisco mine in Sonora—for the fourth time—and began a four-year mining project with partners Ed Swoboda and James Horner. He also financed and organized the Westward Look Mineral Show, held a few days in advance of the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show since 2002. This show focuses on gathering together the top dealers and the highest-quality mineral specimens in a resort-style setting.

Today Wayne is going strong, with specimen mining projects in Mexico, Brazil, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and locations in the U.S., while maintaining a full-time purchasing presence in several of the world's most potentially productive countries.

MOORE, T.P. (2004) Famous mineral localities: The San Francisco mine, Sonora, Mexico. Mineralogical Record, 35 (6), 41-61, 65.
WILSON, W.E. (1976) Collector companies. Mineralogical Record, 7, 98-99.
WILSON, W.E. (1996) Bonanza at the Red Cloud mine. Mineralogical Record, 27, 347-354.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Wayne A. Thompson Wayne Thompson and his daughter Stevia
The Mineralogical Record - Wayne A. Thompson 58 x 94 mm,
(2006- )
(Label designed by Wendell Wilson)
The Mineralogical Record - Wayne A. Thompson 58 x 94 mm,
(2006- ) (Label designed by Wendell Wilson)
The Mineralogical Record - Wayne A. Thompson 58 x 94 mm,
(2006- )
(Label designed by Wendell Wilson)
The Mineralogical Record - Wayne A. Thompson 46 x 60 mm,
(2006- ) Label (designed by Wendell Wilson) for the collection of Wayne Thompson's daughter, Stevia.
The Mineralogical Record - Wayne A. Thompson 57 x 92 mm,
Label designed by Wendell Wilson, for Wayne's wife Laura.
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