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Joe Cilen

Joseph George Cilen (pronounced "sil-EEN") was born Joseph Cilencevicius on July 16, 1916, in an ambulance en route to the hospital in Paterson, New Jersey. When he was seven his family moved into a new house in Hawthorne (adjacent to Paterson), where Joe lived for the rest of his life, never marrying. He began collecting minerals in the mineral-rich Paterson area as a young boy, and it became the passion of his life. He served as a sergeant in the Army in 1941-1945, then worked as an inspector at Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical Corporation for the next 40 years until his retirement.

Joe was a universal collector who eventually accumulated well over 23,000 specimens. His species collection included 3,000 species, a remarkable total. He had extensive suites of minerals from the Paterson trap rock quarries; the Franklin-Sterling Hill, New Jersey mines; Tsumeb, Namibia; Långban, Sweden; old localities in the Tri-State area; Maine, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York—and practically everywhere else as well. He also had several thousand micromounts. Despite the enormous size of his highly varied collection, it was all well-cataloged and cross-referenced; each specimen had his number attached, and the original labels were carefully filed. He also collected mineral books and raised prize-winning chrysanthemums.

Joe was universally well-liked for his commitment, his enthuisiasm, his knowledge and his sense of humor. Following his death on January 21, 1997, his collection was purchased from his estate for $100,000 by New Jersey collector Steve Phillips, who kept certain suites and resold the remaining 600 flats of specimens to various dealers including Sharon Cisneros (Mineralogical Research)and John Betts.

BETTS, J. H. (1998) Joe Cilen (1916-1997). John Betts Fine Minerals website.
HAUCK, R. (1997) In memoriam—Joe Cilen (1916-1997). Rocks & Minerals, 72 (3), 181.
Social Security Death Index
World War II Draft Registration Records
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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