Largely self-educated, George F. Kunz (1856-1932) is considered the first gemologist and amassed several renowned mineral collections throughout his lifetime.
In this exhibition, view mineral specimens discovered during the early 20th century exploration of gem and mineral deposits in the U.S., collected by Kunz and purchased by Irénée du Pont prior to 1930. These specimens, many of them now extremely rare, served as the foundation for Mineralogical Museum’s collection when du Pont gifted them to the University of Delaware in 1963.
At an early age, Kunz collected minerals near his home in New Jersey and soon began trading with collectors in Europe. By the age of 14, he had assembled his first collection and sold it to the University of Minnesota.
Kunz, who became vice president of Tiffany & Co., traveled extensively to mineral localities in the U.S. and Europe and handled the marketing of many newly discovered gemstones. Many collections he assembled for Tiffany & Co. were displayed at world fairs and international exhibitions before being sold to individuals who later donated them to major museums.