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Tom Palmer

Tom Duane Palmer was born in Kansas City, Kansas on March 9, 1937, the son of Lula Aline Miles and Dr. Frank Storm Palmer, a Texas-born veterinarian. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and, through the influence of his father who would often take him to visit mines, he started collecting minerals at the age of 7. He graduated from high school and attended college, earning a two-year A.S. degree in 1968 from San Jose City College. While in the military he also earned a degree in Chemistry from the U.S. Chemical Corp School at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, and took an X-ray Analytical Instrumentation course at the Philips X-ray Analytical School. Later in life he earned and an MBA from California Coast University in 1992 and a Doctor of Business Administration in 1999, just three years before he died.

Tom married Gale Haring and together they started Crystal Cavern Minerals in Livermore, California around 1972. They teamed up with California dealers Ken and Betty Roberts, and in 1976 the four of them moved to El Paso, Texas and set up shop. Tom, however, wanted to do business in bulk wholesale quantities, whereas Ken wanted to focus on high-value retail specimens, so after about eight months that partnership dissolved. Tom and Gale divorced in 1980 (she remarried, to Richard W. Thomssen, in 1982), and in 1981 Tom married Irma Araujo, and they continued the business together. She was helpful in his mineral operations in Mexico, especially the mining of black andradite garnets.

Tom dealt primarily in wholesale minerals. For a while he had a good connection at the Elmwood mine in Tennessee, and sold large numbers of calcites and fluorites. He later shifted his focus to Mexico, and also traveled to Brazil, importing large amethyst geodes and other minerals. Around 1986 he established a successful satellite show during the Tucson Show at the Travelodge (later Sheraton Pueblo Inn) across the street from the Desert Inn, under the organizational name of the Independent Mineral Dealers association.

Tom Palmer was a marathon runner in his spare time, and was very thin, with a big strawberry-blonde handlebar mustache. He contracted some form of cancer and died July 20, 2002. His widow still retains possession of his personal mineral collection.

Application for Social Security Account Number (1954)
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
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Number of labels found: 7 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 7

The Mineralogical Record - Tom Palmer Tom Palmer,
Tucson Show 1979
The Mineralogical Record - Tom Palmer 53 x 89 mm,
Label from Tom Palmer's personal collection in San Jose (early 1970's)
The Mineralogical Record - Tom Palmer 50 x 84 mm,
Label from Tom & Gale Palmer's personal collection (pre-1980)
The Mineralogical Record - Tom Palmer 43 x 51 mm,
Label for Crystal Cavern Minerals in Livermore (pre-1980)
The Mineralogical Record - Tom Palmer 59 x 52 mm,
Label for Crystal Cavern Minerals in El Paso (1981-2004)
The Mineralogical Record - Tom Palmer 44 x 51 mm,
Label for Crystal Cavern Minerals in El Paso (1981-2004)
The Mineralogical Record - Tom Palmer 57 x 89 mm,
Label for Crystal Cavern Minerals in El Paso, marked "Collection." On the back it says "Borras Collection, Soria, Spain 1980-1985"
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