Lee Shale's father, Solomon "Sol" Shalevetz, was an old-time Philadelphia diamond dealer who moved to California and operated downtown in the jewelry district in Los Angeles. Sol was born in Pennsylvania on August 25, 1907, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. He married Beatrice --- (1908-2001) in 1926, and began collecting minerals seriously in 1933. In 1943 he decided to become a mineral dealer, perhaps through the influence of his friend, the legendary mineral dealer Martin Ehrmann.
Peter Zodac wrote in October 1943: "Sol Shalevetz of Los Angeles, Calif., has been a collector [of minerals] for the past 10 years and has acquired a large stock of fine minerals. A small classified ad in Rocks & Minerals brought him so many replies that he has decided to branch out as a dealer, under the name of Shale's Mineral Supply." Ads in that issue (address: 220 W. 5th Street, Room 312. Los Angeles) offered cut stones and a variety of mineral specimens. The clasified ad Zodac referred to (in the July 1943 issue) had offered to exchange "very fine crystallized minerals" including California benitoite and pegmatite minerals, Tiger minerals from Arizona, and minerals from Mexico. Sol had also advertised a year earlier in the July 1942 issue of The Mineralogist, saying "Private collector wishes to exchange fine crystallized minerals and cut gems such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, aquamarines, zircons, topaz, amethyst, garnets, opals, etc. for fine crystallized minerals."
Lee M. Shale, Sol's son, was born in Pennsylvania in 1935. When Lee was in the Army and was stationed in Germany, he met and married Marianne, a German woman. Lee Shale took over Sol's business and ran the family shop at 9226 (and later at 9562) West Pico Boulevard, near Century City, beginning in 1957. Besides jewelry Lee also bought and sold mineral specimens, continuing the practice of his father. Around 1968 Sol sold his collection through Lee's shop; John White and Marion Godshaw were among the buyers, and Sol's tourmaline collection was acquired by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Sol died on March 28, 1996.
Rock Currier bought a lot from Lee in the early days. The Shales had a nice home in Beverly Hills and once had Rock out in the evening for a nice dinner and wine, and afterwards offered to sell him some high-quality specimens that Martin Ehrmann had just brought in. Rock bought a beautiful, small Tsumeb azurite which proved to be better than any azurite he was ever able to get on his many trips to Tsumeb; it remains in his collection today. Lee and Marianne eventually divorced and she became a successful gemstone and jewelry dealer herself.
Lee married a woman from Thailand who had connections there in the gem business and they ran the jewelry shop on Pico Boulevard until one of her relatives locked them out of the store and stole all their merchandise. Then, for a while, they ran a nice Thai restaurant or two. Their daughter became an ice skater who was very good and nearly made the U.S. Olympic team.
Shale's Minerals was a regular dealership at the Tucson Show for many years. Some years ago Keith Proctor had a briefcase full of gem minerals stolen at the Detroit Show, and about three years later some of the pieces were recognized in Shale's booth at the Tucson Show by French collector Eric Asselborn. Lee had purchased them innocently from the thief, who was tracked down and eventually brought to justice.
CURRIER, R.H. (2007) Personal communication.
U.S. Federal Census 1930
Califirnia Death Index
Social Security Death Indexhite
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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A label from the collection of Lee Shale's father, Solomon Shalevertz, sold in Lee's shop on Pico Blvd. in 1968.
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