BAM Biographies:   Dan Carlson


Dan Carlson. (with son Dexter) Dan spent his formative years in the suburbs of northern Kansas City, Missouri. In the mid 1960s, his first foray into natural sciences was the discovery of copious fossils in the local upper Pennsylvanian limestones. Crinoids, brachiopods, corals and bryozoans consumed him for the next couple of years, and he was going to become an invertebrate paleontologist until his uncle gave him his first mineral specimens. One of those, a drusy quartz on marcasite from the Viburnum trend, is still in his collection.

Dan met Don Raymond, a geology teacher at a local community college, and went to work for Don in the summer of 1977. Don's company, Earth Science Educators Supply, was one of the largest private/family owned mineral specimen supply companies in the US, second only to D. J. Minerals in Butte, Montana. Don Raymond had many connections in the Tri-state district and particularly in Colorado. Dan went on field and buying trips with Don and got to dig in the Tri-state mines as well as several Colorado and Kansas locations in the mid-1970s. Dan self-collected his first specimen, a perfect galena on sphalerite miniature, from a support column in a Tri-State mine, and was bitten by the self-collecting bug.

When Dan visited New Mexico Tech in the summer of 1978 to see if he wanted to attend college there, he discovered that many students had flat upon flat of self-collected minerals in their dorm closets. He didn't even bother to visit the other couple colleges he was considering - he had found his next home! He got a B.S in Geology from New Mexico Tech in 1981, but not before he had put in countless hours exploring the Kelly and Juanita Mines, as well as the entire Bingham area, and many other mines in the Magdelenas and around Socorro. He discovered the art of trading, and collected some of his best specimens from other students' collections. He also attended his first Tucson Gem & Mineral shows in 1979 and 1980, displaying both years, and trading many self-collected flats of linarite, smithsonite and hairy psilomelane to the dealers.

He moved to the Bay Area in 1981 and has lived on the mid-peninsula ever since. He attended a few BAM meetings in the early eighties, though he never officially joined. He sold off most of his mineral collection to Al McGuiness in 1986 to finance a trip to Central America. His mineralogy hobby lay dormant for a long time until, via his youngest sister, he acquired some in-laws in Tucson, and began going to the Tucson show again in the late 1990s. With the growth of mineral dealers on the internet in the late nineties, Dan got back into the hobby again, initially to re-acquire similar specimens to the ones he had sold off. He officially joined BAM in the mid-2000s, and joined Crystal Gazers about the same time.

Dan still enjoys an occasional field-collecting trip, but acquires a lot more specimens via a silver pick. The core of his mineral collection, inspired by his New Mexico Tech classes, has always been a systematic collection, but a lot of oddities and aesthetic specimens have crept in along the way. Dan particularly likes zircons and cassiterites, the former for their age, the latter for their density. In fact, anything transparent and dense always gets him excited. He is currently trying to talk a couple Russian companies into giving him a sample of the synthetic lead tungstate they grow for use as particle collision scintillators. No luck so far!

Dan is currently busy raising a new generation of mineralogists (just one, son Dexter, actually).

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