AGMS History 1950 – 2017

by | Mar 3, 2017 | History

Written in 2015 by Cathy Brandt, Historian

Recently a scrapbook from the 1950’s of the Austin Gem and Mineral Society was found in the faceting room closet. As historian I found the contents very interesting and thought I’d share some of the club’s past with others.

By the 1950’s rock hunting was considered the third largest hobby in the world. Therefore it’s not surprising that the Austin Gem and Mineral Society started in 1950. Meetings were held at the Austin Public Library on the 2nd Thursday of the month. Many times the Geology Department of the University of Texas hosted the meetings. At that time the local newspaper would include the names of every person who attended and by 1952 members were hosting “Open Houses” for others to see collections and all of these attendees were mentioned in the paper also. Think how different it is now a day to get our name in the local media.

The topics presented at meetings were varied. One presentation was an expedition to the South Pole in 1948 and another was a geologist’s view of Saudi Arabia. They covered minerals of Arkansas and fluorescence. I thought a film of aluminum manufacturing was an interesting topic.

The club auction was held in 1952 to raise money in order to purchase a post card printer. Wouldn’t you love to find that at the club today?

The club held an annual holiday party which included a sing along and a gift exchange. I think the sing along books might still be at the clubhouse. Please note the exchange was listed as a “rock”. Many of the articles spoke of the abundance of topaz in Mason County. Wonder if anyone exchanged that particular find?

The club was busy having their annual picnics, which were held on the polo grounds in Zilker Park. They had swap tables and demonstrations, plus a picnic supper provided by all who attended.

The first annual show was held on November 10 and 11, 1951, at the Austin Public Library. Show hours were Saturday 1-9 and Sunday 1-6. Members displayed gems from “foreign countries”, semi-precious stones, fossils, rough and faceted stones, and fluorescent rocks. There was no admittance fee and the paper reported 1400 people attended.

In 1951 AGMS had 60 members and by 1955 had well over 150. We seem to maintain that number still today.

It’s nice to see that in 2017 we plan on continuing some traditions, such as a swap meet, auction and show. Anyone interested in the sing along?