Innes, John


Category: TCL Management and Staff Date of Birth: ???? Date of Death: 1992

John Innes was born and educated in Australia.  He was a passionate mineral collector from an early age,  and trained (and worked) as a geologist in Australia before relocating to Namibia as chief mineralogist for the Tsumeb Corporation in the late 1970s.

John’s contribution to mineralogy was immense, though apart from his junior authorship of a number of papers, it is largely unrecorded.  He was a junior author of many of the descriptions of the new minerals from the Kombat mine, but it was he who was largely responsible for recognising the importance of the unique manganese-rich facies there which yielded so many of the new species.  At Tsumeb, he was responsible for the recovery of countless specimens of the rarer minerals which the regular miners would not have recognised, and he is credited with the discovery of several new minerals including ferrilotharmeyerite, mathewrogersite, and zincroselite. He was a co-author of the 1986 paper describing the geology and mineralogy of the Tsumeb deposit (Lombaard et al., 1986), which still stands as the most comprehensive account of the mine geology.  He developed good working  relationships with several leading mineralogists, including Pete Dunn at the Smithsonian, and Paul Keller in Germany. 

John returned to Australia in late 1985, initially to his family home in Queensland, but then to take up employment with the CSIRO in Western Australia. Plagued with health problems for most of his adult life, he died under tragic circumstances in 1992.  

In mid 1992 I had a call from Desmond Sacco asking if I would be prepared to travel to Australia on his behalf to acquire some of John’s Tsumeb collection.  It turned out that John’s health had deteriorated severely and that he had decided to sell his collection to provide for his family.  Des put me in touch with Kevin Eatt, a colleague of John’s at CSIRO, who had power of attorney for John.  Sadly John did not recover, and the Zweibels beat Des to the collection.  They took the more aesthetic pieces, with much of the remainder passing to Australian collector Blair Gartrell.

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