Logo MAC/AMC Mineralogical Association of Canada
Association minéralogique du Canada
Home | Online Store | Site Map | Contact Us

The Young people site
  • Minerals of Canada Poster


  • Print Version

    Read the following reviews on Special Publication 2



    Glossary of Mineral Synonyms by Jeffrey de Fourestier. Canadian Mineralogist Special Publication 2. Mineralogical Association of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 1999. 445 pp. ISBN 0921294441. US$50 (US$40 to MAC members)

    Back in 1997, The Canadian Mineralogist came out with its first Special Publication, Encyclopedia of Mineral Names by Blackburn & Dennen, ed. R. Martin (US$40 or US$32 to MAC members), which contained a comprehensive listing of 3800 mineral species, each given their chemical formula, first discovery, and a summary of various points of interest to the reader. However, as Jeffrey de Fourestier so aptly says in his introduction to the second Special Publication, Glossary of Mineral Synonyms: 'Over many years of collecting, one is bound to accumulate a number of specimens associated with old, discarded, discredited of uncommonly used names (not to mention names created for purposes of trade or simply to befuddle the collector).' How true. And it is with these befuddlements in mind that de Fourestier has carefully put together 432 pages of mineral synonyms, in alphabetical order, each entry accompanied by its IMA-approuved terminology in bold type, along with reference to any other synonym that may provide further enlightenment to the reader. Many vagaries are accounted for, including misspellings (does mellilite = mellite or melilite?), odiferous terminology (stinkfluss = fluorite), and unnamed or poorly defined minerals, which are listed at the back of the book. The volume is tastefully illustrated, at the start of each section, with a black-and-white drawing by Gregory Ivanyuk, and the overall typesetting is clear, if a little unimaginative. The lack of mineral formulae and other details means that, as its name would suggest, this volume cannot easily stand alone as a comprehensive mineral reference text, but should be used in conjunction with Special Publication 1 for many applications. The price for Volume 2 (US$50/40) is extremely reasonable, given the quality and quantity of material contained therein, and the book should be considered an essential text for libraries, mineralogical museums, and all serious mineral collectors.

    E. A. Dunworth
    Universitetet i Oslo


    Review published in Gems & Gemology, summer 1999, p. 158-159.  Glossary of Mineral Synonyms by Jeffrey de Fourestier, 442 pp., illus., Special Publication 2 of the Canadian Mineralogist publ. by the Mineralogical Association of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 1999. US$50

    With this book, the author has succeeded in compiling a glossary of undeniable utility for his intended audience of "private collectors, museum curators, researchers, and those in the gem trade." The more than 35,000 entries include an eclectic mix of synonyms, variety names, names of discredited minerals, names for synthetics, trade names, and more a-much-appreciated resource for those of us who have had to deal with cryptic mineral of gem names that eluded all of our deciphering efforts.

    Entries are organized in alphabetical order. In most cases, the synonym is linked to the currently accepted mineral species name, occasionally with brief modifying or explanatory information. The author had made a conscientious effort to follow the nomenclature guidelines of the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names (CNMMN) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA). The book is well printed and bound, and nicely (though sparingly) decorated with attractive black-and-white drawings of minerals. It is evident that the text has been carefully screened for typographical errors.

    The compilation is surprisingly inclusive. The bibliography lists many of the publications that the author scoured for names, which date from 1260 to 1998 AD; besides English, it also include texts in German, French, Spanish, and Latin, among other languages. When a name has been applied to several different materials, all are listed, and virtually every variation in spelling of a name is provided.

    Overall, this book is a marvelous resource, but it does have a few shortcomings. The conciseness of each entry makes it an excellent quick reference, but it often leaves the reader in want of more information. In particular, the significance and full meaning of some terms is not provided. Amethyst is also noted as being a synonym for corundum and beryl, but there is no mention of the fact that this usage is old and obsolete. Although I wanted to learn more about this, unfortunately no bibliographic references are provided for specific entries. It would also have been useful to include all accepted mineral species names as separate entries, regardless of whether they have synonyms. Thus, there is no entry for a mineral species (and rare gem material) without a synonym.

    In reviewing this book, I was reminded of a joke I heard many years ago. A young man, asked about the last book he read, responds, "There wasn't much plot, but the cast of characters was tremendous." Although he was actually talking about a telephone directory, he might just as well have been referring to the Glossary of Mineral Synonyms. However, you can probably get by without a telephone directory -there is always directory assistance- but anyone interested in gems and minerals will quickly come to rely on this book as an essential reference.

    Anthony R. Kampf
    Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
    Los Angeles, California


    Review published in American Mineralogist 85, 1570-1574, 2000, Glossary of Mineral Synonyms by Jeffrey de Fourestier. Canadian Mineralogist, Special Publication No. 2, Ottawa, Ontario, 1999. 448 p. Hardbound $50 ($40 for members of the Mineralogical Association of Canada).

    Nomenclature is a necessary and dynamic part of mineralogy. Thousands of names have been given to minerals and related materials since antiquity. Within the past forty years, effort by the International Mineralogical Association's Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names has greatly simplified and systematized mineral nomenclature and frequent editions of Fleischer's Glossary of Mineral Species make it easy to keep up-to-date with the names of valid mineral species. The really difficult aspect of mineral nomenclature is dealing with the superfluous, obsolete, and discarded names. To what are they equivalent? With more than 35,000 entries Fourestier's Glossary of Mineral Synonyms is by far the most comprehensive and most useful compendium of mineral synonyms ever compiled.

    The volume consists primarily of a 392 page multi-lingual list of names arranged alphabetically with the equivalent currently accepted mineral name of names given in bold type. For example: "Bleiglanz = Galena," "Bronzite = (a)(of Karsten) ferroan Enstatite, (b)(of Finch) Clintonite," and "Fool's Gold = (a) Pyrite, (b) Chalcopyrite." The list of mineral names is exhaustive and even whimsical: "Mcgillicuddyite = (of McKinstry) hypothetical mineral name." It also includes names of rocks, meteorites, glasses, natural and synthetic gem materials, resins, and hydrocarbons. Ice is even listed as a slang term for diamond. A unique feature particularly valuable for researchers working on potential new species is the 30 page appendix listing incompletely characterized minerals described under provisional names such as, Pd-Bi-Te no.5 = (of Cabri) inadequately described mineral MP60(1997)219 or Phase W = (of Ueno and Scott) inadequately described gallium iron sulfide CM32(1994)203.

    The large format and clear typography make the b ook easy to use. Ink drawings by Gregory Ivanyuk of mineral specimens from unfamiliar, mostly Russian, occurrences nicely complement the text. The two-page bibliography lists only the books and journals consulted in compiling this glossary. Except for the provisional names of incompletely described minerals, primary references to the first use of specific names are not given even though they may be cited (e.g., Finch, Karsten, and McKinstry).

    The great utility of Glossary of Mineral Synonyms arises from its inclusion of every term that might conceivably be read as a mineral name. It is certainly a must purchase for libraries, where it can be available to anyone dealing with mineral nomenclature in the broadest sense. For curators, collection managers, mineral dealers, and collectors who deal with mineral nomenclature daily, it should be a tool that is never out of reach.

    Carl Francis
    Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
    Harvard University
    Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, U.S.A.


    Review published in Rocks and Minerals 75, 64-65, 2000, Glossary of Mineral Synonyms by Jeffrey de Fourestier. Special Publication 2, Mineralogical Association of Canada (MAC), Ottawa, Canada, 448 pages; 1999; $50 Canadian (within Canada), $US50 (U.S. and overseas)(hardbound)

    To anyone interested in mineral taxonomy and nomenclature, whether from a professional viewpoint of from that of the amateur mineral collector, the advent of a new book correlating obsolete, foreign, local, or rejected names with those now accepted by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) must be welcomed with open arms. This work, an impressive volume designed as a companion to the recently published MAC special publication 1, Encyclopedia of Mineral Names, follows the same pattern as that book and contains an astounding thirty-five thousand entries cross-matched to their appropriate IMA designations.

    A great deal of work went into this volume. The author's linguistic abilities include English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Chinese, and his researches were carried out in libraries around the world. The result, as the introduction states, is information that is intended for "private collectors, museum curators, researchers, and those in the gem trade..." That puts it squarely in the realm of the readership of Rocks & Minerals. In fact, it pretty much requires readership at the level of the knowledgeable amateur because, as outlined below, it is a text that needs some interpretation to reach its full potential.

    The major section of the book is, as one might expect, an exhaustive alphabetical listing of "all names of material that could be ov has been misconstrued as a mineral." Each entry begins with the synonym, varietal, of discredited name in question in normal typeface, followed by an equals sign, then the modern, accepted name in boldface type. Where there is additional information, such as the name of the person responsible for the synonym, it is added in parenthesis, usually accompanied by "of." For example, the entry for pecherz reads: "Pecherz = a)(of Karsten) Uraninite [Pitchblende], b)(of Hintze) impure Cuprite." Square brackets designate such things as other synonyms. Group names, such as Biotite, are both boldface and italicized. As far as the modern names are concerned, the book follows the IMA guidelines (Nickel and Grice 1998), although the author does prefer to capitalize mineral names.

    In any research work of this nature, it is fair to say that there are bound to be some questionable calls. For the most part, the terms are relatively simple, suck as "Blockite = Penroseite." That's where the true value of this volume lies. If an old label reads "Blockite," there's a pretty good chance that the mineral so designated is penroseite. At the same time, while the thirty-five thousand entries are unquestionably of immense value in determining names, there is no denying that a certain amount of interpretation may be required from time to time. For example, there are twenty-eight possibilities for "Bleispiebglanze." To determine precisely what is meant by that term for any particular specimen of label, therefore, implies that other knowledge must be brought into play. The precise meaning may have to be worked out by a process of elimination through knowledge of locality, association, paragenesis, of whatever other factors may be available. As long as that is well understood, this book can be used to great effect.

    In compiling this listing, the author has had an impressive array of contacts with professionals. There is a preface by Dr. Hugo Strunz, recognizing the importance of the work as a helpful tool and quick reference. Acknowledged in the author's foreword are many others, including such notables as Dr. J. A. Mandarino, Dr. J. S. Coombs, Dr, Alexander P. Khomyakov, and the late Dr. Eugene Foord and Dr. Michael Fleischer.

    Each new section of letter of the alphabet is headed by a fine black-and-white drawing of a mineral specimen executed by Russian mineralogist and artist Dr. Gregory Y. Ivanyuk, a researcher at the Geological Institute of the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Apathy Murmansk Region).

    The book is rounded off with a bibliography of journals and texts, among which appear most of the major works concerned with mineral nomenclature in one way of another

    It would be hard to overstress the usefulness of a book such as this. While other books, such as those by Egleston (A Catalogue of Minerals and Synonyms, 3d ed., 1892) and Clark (Hey's Mineral Index, 3d ed., 1993) certainly exist, they are either out of date, incomplete, or very expensive. This is a much needed volume providing up-to-date information at a good price. If I have emphasized some aspects requiring special consideration, it is merely to ensure that the reader is aware that there are few absolutes in the world of nomenclature. It is affordable enough for individuals and institutions alike and deserves a place on any serious collector's shelf.

    Quintin Wight
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    © 2006 Mineralogical Association of CanadaLast update 2014-02-05