The mineral collections are made up of 3 sets: general, Elban and gemstone. The most relevant specimens from an aesthetic and scientific point of view are on display, but the bulk of the material is in the section’s deposits. All the samples are catalogued and preserved so that they can pass on the precious information they carry.
The general collection is made up of minerals that arrived in the Museum at different times and from various parts of the world: some collections retain the name and surname of the collector who gathered them. As early as 1792, we can find in the catalogue of the collections over 11,000 inventory numbers relating to minerals, grown to over 40,000 samples of the current holdings. The various collections have strengths in some specimens: just to name a few, Ciampi for the specimens of Sardinia, Brizzi for the Apuan Alps, Ponis for the Brazilian minerals, while Giazotto has a unique aesthetic character.
The Elban collection is the most complete representation of the mineralogical richness of the island in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Particularly noteworthy are the specimens of tourmaline (elbaite), sometimes in association with colourless beryl, quartz, lepidolite and orthoclase. The portion of geode covered with 132 elbaite crystals, from Grotta d’Oggi, and the splendid pink tourmalines extracted in Facciatoia stand out alongside the four huge blocks of granite called the ‘four evangelists.
Finally, the gem collection brings together faceted and rough stones of gemmological value (natural, synthetic and artificial). There are 2 unique raw specimens in the world: the 151kg yellow topaz, which entered the Museum in 1947 through an exchange with the American collector Caplan, and an aquamarine of almost 100kg belonging to the Ponis collection.
Precious and non-precious stones flank these specimens in a rainbow of colours: from diamonds (including a 20-carat raw octahedron) to green (emerald), blue (aquamarine) and pink (morganite) beryl, from colourful opals to tourmalines.
Read more about the general mineral collections (English text at the bottom of the pages)
Fantoni, L., Poggi, L., From the ‘Real Galleria’ to the Imperial Royal Museum of Physics...
Fantoni, L., Poggi, L., From the Cabinet of Mineralogy to the Museum of Natural History
Scarpellini, A., An 18th Century Litho-mineralogical Collection
Poggi, L., Pratesi, G., Bindi, L., Collections and Collectors
In: Pratesi, G. (ed.), 2012. The Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence: The Mineralogical and Lithological Collections, Firenze University Press
Read more about pegmatite minerals (English text at the bottom of the pages)
Pratesi, G., Bonazzi, P., The Minerals of Pegmatites, in the work cited
Read more about the Elban collection (English text at the bottom of the pages)
Tanelli, G., Poggi, L., The Elban Collection, in the work cited