Schuh’s Annotated Bio-Bibliography

Return to main Biobliography page

CANFIELD, Frederick A.

(1849 – 1926)

(Born: 7 April 1849; Died: Dover, New Jersey, U.S.A., 3 July 1926) American mining engineer & mineral collector.

Canfield grew up in an environment surrounded by minerals. His father, Frederick Canfield, had gathered together a choice selection of minerals of the Franklin zinc mines and the son preserved them in their original cases has his father had originally arranged them in 1856. Both father and son were mining men, and their home was built in the midst of the iron mines.

After the death of his father in 1865, Canfield began his own collection of minerals and continued to add to it throughout his lifetime. Early on he specialized in the minerals of New Jersey, particularly those of the more prolific localities like Franklin and the zeolites of Bergen Hill and Paterson. Here were contained specimens of franklinite and gahnite as sharp octahedra measuring 5 inches on the edge. Besides his unique and rich suites of local minerals, Canfield's collection became a general one and ultimately grew to between 8,000 and 9,000 specimens. These he selected with great care and they were catalogued and labeled with great accuracy. Special attention should be given to the specimens he collected in Bolivia in 1885-7, including a rough single crystal of argyrodite 6 inches across and weighing 14 lb. Canfield bequeathed his mineral collection to the Smithsonian Institution together with an endowment of $50,000 to insure its care and continued growth. There it remains intact today. Few private collections have exceeded it completeness of fine quality of the its individual specimens. As regards the suites of minerals from its native state it was unmatched, and as a primary source of material it was used extensively by Charles Palache [1869-1954] in his famous monograph of the Franklin deposit which appeared in 1935.

Biographical references: ABA: I 252, 1-11. American Mineralogist: 12 (1927), 67-70, portrait. Cleevely, World Palæontological Collections, 1983: p. 76. Mineralogical Magazine: 21 (1927), no. 117, 231-2. Rocks & Minerals: 42 (1967), 952. Roe, A., "Frederick A. Canfield, his life and his mineral collection", Mineralogical Record, 21, (1992), 31-39. Sarjeant, Geologists, 1980: 2, 687. WBI.

1. English, 1888.
Catalogue of minerals found in New Jersey by Frederick A. Canfield. Trenton, N.J., 1888.

8°: [1]-23, 24a-b p. "Supplemental notes to the Catalogue of minerals found in New Jersey", p. 24a-b. Published as: New Jersey. Geological survey. ... Final report of the State Geologist, 1888, vol. 2, pt. 1.

Very scarce. An early (first?) list of the minerals found in the state of New Jersey compiled by its most knowledgeable expert.

Bibliographical references: NUC.

2. English, 1923.
The | Final Disposition | Of Some | American Collections | Of | Minerals | Compiled By | Frederick A. Canfield | Dover, N.J. | 1923.

8°: [1]-20 p. Brown printed wraps. Page size: 230 x 155 mm.

Contents: [1-2], Title page, verso blank.; 3, "Preface."; 4-20, "Collections."-in alphabetical order by the collector's last name.

Very rare. A fascinating compilation indicating the fates of many American mineral collections. Canfield, a first rate collector for his entire life, was in the habit of collecting notices about other mineral collections from newspapers, magazines and personal knowledge. Toward the end of his life, he privately published this accumulation, which in many instances is the only reference that a particular collection even existed.

Reprinted, 1990: "Final Disposition of Some American Collections of Minerals", published in The Mineralogical Record, 21 (1990), 39, 41-46. The complete text has been reset and included as an article.

Bibliographical references: NUC.