The Museum holds some 10,000 minerals. The bulk of the collection was assembled by a few avid collectors, all closely linked with Plymouth and the South West. These include Sir John St Aubyn (1758 to 1839), Sir William Serjeant (1857 to 1930), René Gallant (1906 to 1985) and The Richard Barstow(1947 to 1982) Collection.
Richard Barstow mineral collection
Richard or Dick Barstow (a mineral dealer living in East Cornwall) collected the majority of this collection from the mines and quarries in Devon and Cornwall. With over one thousand specimens of display quality, there are about 200 species represented, including some important rarities.
The collection also includes a comprehensive library of Cassiterite (tin ore) specimens from Cornish and Devon mines, which, together with the Serjeant collection of Cassiterite specimens, forms an important research collection of South West tin minerals. Many of the classic mining localities represented in the collection are now defunct and closed, thus making the material even more valuable as a reference and research collection.
During his life, Dick Barstow donated material to Plymouth Museum from 1973 until his untimely death in 1982 at the age of 35. The museum purchased a large proportion of his remaining estate in 1986 after public fund-raising for £76,000.
You can browse and search the Barstow Collection online, by mineral name.
St. Aubyn mineral collection
Consisting of over 1500 specimens, the collection contains material that Sir John St. Aubyn purchased from Richard Greene of Lichfield and Dr William Babington (previously owned by the Earl of Bute) as well as material from Europe. There are also some Cornish specimens which St. Aubyn may have collected, and a small micromount collection, which can be viewed on our online database.
Sir John’s position at Clowance, in the centre of the great mining district of Cornwall, and his other seat on the granatic pinnacle of St Michael’s Mount in the bay of Penzance, placed him in a position of geological and mineralogical advantage to obtain the finest specimens.
A smaller collection is also held at Saffron Walden Museum.