200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 53: “Mineralogy Mania ”

« Time for Tea

Corresponding with Japan »

photo of minerals
Azurite specimens from the William Sansom Vaux Collection

Mineralogy Mania

Philadelphian William Sansom Vaux (1811–1882) learned to love minerals during his boyhood. His substantial inheritance enabled him to collect thousands of gorgeous minerals during his adult years. Acquiring minerals from Philadelphia and throughout the world, Vaux became one of the first major collectors to use aesthetics to guide his purchases.

A dedicated science enthusiast, Vaux was elected to Academy membership in 1834, later serving as an auditor, curator, treasurer, and vice president from 1860 until his death in 1882. Upon his passing, Vaux bequeathed his mineral collection—with the exception of a few specimens which he left to his nephew—to the Academy. The amazing minerals, which include fluorites, pyromorphites, calcites, azurites, stibnites, quartz, and more, were on display for many years in what is now the Academy’s Dinosaur Hall. Today we store them behind the scenes for safety and preservation.

What other important minerals reside at the Academy of Natural Sciences? Read story number 19 of our 200 stories to find out about our first major purchase!

Plan your visit, check out our new exhibits, and find out about upcoming activities.
Discover the past and explore the future of the natural sciences in our online exhibits.
Make a difference, browse our programs, and get involved with the natural world.