Donald Kay Olson was born in San Diego, California on June 30, 1938, and lived the first ten years of his life in nearby Ramona. When he was ten his family moved to Osseo, Minnesota, where he graduated from high school. He attended the University of Minnesota for over two years, and married Janet Weestrand in 1960, but his schooling was interrupted by a stint in the Army. Together Don and Jan had two daughters and two sons (and now have seven grandchildren as well).
Don worked for most of his career as a corrugated-cardboard-box salesman for Champion International. But he had acquired a love of minerals and mineral collecting around 1945, while a boy in California, through the influence of Alice Walters and her husband in Ramona, California—the owner of one of the finest quartz crystal collections in the world—and the passion never left him. While traveling around the Midwest on his salesman rounds he always took the opportunity to visit local mineral collections, especially in the Michigan Copper Country—he wrote an article on "Native silver occurrences in the copper mines of Upper Michigan" for the Mineralogical Record in 1986. He was also fond of the beautiful hematite-included quartz from the Soudan mine on the Minnesota Iron Range, the celestines from Michigan, and the fluorites from Ohio. His tastes have always been rather eclectic, outside of his love of Midwest minerals.
Don was an occasional field-collector in his younger years, when the opportunities arose, and collected at well-known localities such as the Grandview mine in the Grand Canyon, some of the Michigan copper mine dumps, the Cuyuna iron ranger, and the Thunder Bay amethyst mine. He built a fine collection of Midwest and worldwide minerals, including what was surely the finest suite of Soudan mine quartz that will ever be assembled. At its peak in the early 1980's his collection numbered around 1,000 specimens, primarily thumbnails and miniatures. He competed nationally in the thumbnail division in the early 1970's—and won first place at Detroit and at the Midwest Federation Show. A half-dozen of his specimens were illustrated in the Mineralogical Record in a "Photographic Record" column in 1976.
As a dealer, Don was already selling minerals at the Minnesota Mineral Club meetings in Minneapolis in the early to mid 1950's. He attended the Tucson and Detroit Shows regularly as a buyer, beginning in the early 1970's, and was one of the first three volunteers to help with the Mineralogical Record auction at the Tucson Show in 1976.
Don was transferred to Milwaukee in 1966, and around that time he established his part-time mineral business officially as Minerals International. Don and Jan divorced in 1984, and in 1985 he teamed up with Gloria Ludlum (nee King), a PhD mineralogist formerly married to Sandy Ludlum (Gloria and Sandy had founded the What-on-Earth store, a gem, jewelry, mineral and decorator-specimen dealership in Columbus, Ohio), and together they entered the mineral and gem business full-time as Donald K. Olson & Associates. During the mid 1980's to 1990 Don spent at least one month every year in Tsumeb, Namibia buying specimens, especially during the big dioptase boom in the late 1980's. In 1989 he and Gloria were married, and they moved to Bonsall, California in 1990 where they remain in business today, mostly selling at shows around the country (including Denver and the GJX Show in Tucson) where they deal in both mineral specimens and designer cabochons, gem carvings and faceted stones for jewelry artists.
WILSON, W.E. (1976) The Photographic Record: the collections of Donald K. Olson and Douglas K. Miller. Mineralogical Record,7, 164-168.
OLSON, D.K. (1986) Michigan silver: native silver occurrences in the copper mines of Upper Michigan. Mineralogical Record, 17, 37-48.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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Number of labels found: 6 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 6
(Tucson Show 1986)
(Tucson Show 1989)
||45 x 64 mm,|
Glendale address (1974-1983)
||49 x 75 mm,|
Glendale address (1974-1983)
||48 x 72 mm,|
Cedarburg address (1983-1989)
||57 x 86 mm,|
Bonsall address (1989-present)