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Albert F. Holden

Albert Fairchild "Bert" Holden was born in 1866, the third of nine children born to Delia Bulkley and Liberty Holden. His mother was instrumental in founding the Cleveland School of Art, which later became the Cleveland Institute of Art. His father was an attorney and mining man who made his fortune in the silver mines of Utah, became an important art collector, and at one time was the owner of Cleveland's major newspaper, The Plain Dealer. The family moved to Salt Lake City before 1880, where Liberty Holden attended to his mining interests, and Albert attended school.

Albert Holden graduated from Harvard with a degree in Mining Engineering in 1888. Following graduation he rejoined his father in the silver fields of Utah. Some of Albert's mineral labels are marked "Salt Lake City" (other, presumably later, examples are marked "Cleveland, O."). In 1899, he purchased his father's mines in Bingham Canyon and organized the United States Mining Company to consolidate his interests. He also purchased the Centennial Eureka Mining Company, the Old Telegraph mine, and the Old Jordan and Galena Mining Company. Silver, gold, lead and copper ores were shipped from his many mines to his five-stack smelter on the banks of the Jordan River near the Great Salt Lake. By 1906 he had created the second largest mining and smelting trust in the world; a serious competitor to the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). In that year he also formed a company to operate gold and silver mines in Mexico, and made numerous trips there, acquiring hundreds of mineral specimens for his collection while doing business. He befriended Pancho Villa (probably financially), and consequently while other American-owned mines in Mexico were being plundered by Villa and his revolutionaries, Holden's properties were never touched.

As the output of Holden's mines increased, he built an even larger smelter at Bingham Junction and established the Unites States Smelting Company to operate it. He also purchased other smelting facilities, including the DeLamar Copper Refining Company of New Jersey and the Mammoth Copper Mining Company in California. The Mammoth mines at that time were the largest producers of copper in California. He also founded the Island Creek Coal Company to supply his furnaces. With his new smelters in full operation, his reduction works and his copper and lead refineries, Holden could compete with any trust, and became very wealthy. Today, Kennecott Copper Corporation's enormous Bingham Canyon mine in Utah incorporates the mines once owned by Liberty and Albert Holden.

In addition to being an enthusuastic mineral collector and a botanist, Holden was also a serious coin collector. He obtained the personal 1907 Ultra High Relief double eagle ($20 gold piece) owned by renowned artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens (it would later be the world's first gold coin to sell for more than $1 million) in 1907, directly from the family of sculptor Saint-Gaudens, who had designed the coin. Holden's daughter, Emery May, inherited it, and it became a centerpiece of the legendary coin collection she and her husband, U.S. Ambassador R. Henry Norweb, assembled over the decades.

Although Holden had considered bequeathing his estate to his alma mater, the untimely death of his 12-year old daughter, Elizabeth, inspired him instead to endow the Holden Arboretum in his home town of Cleveland, Ohio in her memory. However, he did also endow the mineralogy department at Harvard, and he donated his substantial mineral collection to Harvard in 1911; it is today preserved in its original cabinet in the Harvard Mineralogical Museum. Holden died of cancer in 1913 at the age of 46. The mineral holdenite was named in his honor by Charles Palache in 1921, and a species of lilac, syringa vulgaris, is named the "Albert F. Holden lilac" in his honor. The coal mining town of Holden, West Virginia also traces its name to him. He was inducted posthumously into the Mining Hall of Fame in 1990.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Albert F. Holden Albert F. Holden
The Mineralogical Record - Albert F. Holden 47 x 73 mm,
Salt Lake City address
The Mineralogical Record - Albert F. Holden 48 x 70 mm,
Cleveland address
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