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Walter H. Wright

Walter H. Wright was born in New York on October 6, 1908, the son of Jessie and Walter S. Wright, a machinist. He grew up in Rochester and Pittsford, New York and graduated from the University of Rochester in 1932.

Wright eventually moved to New Mexico and established Adobe Crafters at Route 2, Box 431 in Santa Fe, first advertising a "get acquainted special" in Rocks & Minerals in May 1952; he specialized in "choice crystal specimens." In March 1955 he purchased The Original Curio Store on the main street in downtown Santa Fe, which had advertised itself as the oldest store in the U.S., "Established 1603." The shop had carried mostly Indian jewelry and old pots, but he pushed some of these aside in favor of mineral specimens, and created The Prospector's Shop. For a while he maintained both, as The Original Curio Store and Prospector's Shop at 201 W. San Francisco Street in Santa Fe. His main focus remained mineral specimens, mostly inexpensive ($1-$20), but he also carried gems, ultraviolet lamps, geiger counters, books, magazines and lapidary equipment.

In 1964 Wright made the biggest purchase of his career: the personal collection and reserve stock of the legendary field collector Edwin Over (1905-1962). It consisted of about 3 tons of specimens, including many choice examples of epidote from Prince of Wales Island, Alaska; azurite from Bisbee, Arizona; linarite from the Hansonberg District, New Mexico; opal from Virgin Valley, Nevada; smoky quartz from Pikes Peak, Colorado; and many others--the sales list ran to 5 pages. Wright advertised it for over a year in Rocks & Minerals, until the end of 1965. His labels note specimens as coming from the Over collection, and labels for his own personal collection carried his name when he sold it. The Prospector's Shop was purchased from Wright by Robert Ward, who renamed it "The Original Prospector's Shop." He published two ads in the Mineralogical Record in 1972, from a different address (75 West Marcy Street), offering "the finest in worldwide minerals." In the June 1972 Rocks & Minerals they published a single ad saying "The Original Prospector's Shop. Now Open At Our New Location. 75 West Marcy St., P.O. Box 179, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501. Specializing in minerals and gems of the 4-corner states and Mexico." No more ads appeared after that time.

In the June 1973 issue of Rocks & Minerals there appeared a notice headed "Prospector's Shop Changes Hands." It announced that Helen and Gerald Davies had purchased the shop (located at 112 Old Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe), and were restoring the original name of "The Prospector's Shop." The ad states: "With the basic foundation of the beautiful specimens collected and/or acquired by Walter Wright, the Davies plan to continue the operation of a shop where specimen minerals are tastefully displayed for the discerning enthusiast."

Walter Wright remained in Santa Fe after his retirement, at 107 Calle La Pena, and died there on February 11, 1998.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
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The Mineralogical Record - Walter H. Wright 48 x 78 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Walter H. Wright 39 x 65 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Walter H. Wright 50 x 88 mm,
Label for an Ed Over specimen
The Mineralogical Record - Walter H. Wright 51 x 88 mm,
Label for an Ed Over specimen
The Mineralogical Record - Walter H. Wright 46 x 73 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Walter H. Wright 51 x 77 mm,
Label for a specimen in Walter Wright's personal collection (probably post-1965)
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