Keith D. Corrie - Collector Profile

21 November 2018

Collector Profile
KEith D. Corrie

Keith D. Corrie
(1945 - 2017)

 
Keith Corrie was born in Motherwell in 1945, his family later moving the short distance to Hamilton, just south of Glasgow.  His father ran a successful furniture making business with many family members skilled in the likes of cabinet making, French polishing, etc. Growing up, Keith developed a passion for science and music.  As his interest in chemistry developed, he also formed a swing/rock band named Del Corrie in which Keith played lead guitar.  The band became very popular in the Glasgow district with frequent engagements at weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvah festivities.  The band were particularly keen on the latter as the catering was always top-notch!  Keith was a highly talented and classically trained musician, totally accomplished on many instruments and regularly transposed music written for piano to guitar.

Aged 24, now fully qualified and working as an industrial chemist, Keith moved to Exeter and while working here in a laboratory, met Lynn.  During this period Keith re-formed his band, playing in and around Exeter and becoming regular performers at the famous Cat and Fiddle pub just outside Exeter.  Keith and Lynn married; had a son; the band flourished, and life moved blissfully on.  Then one day in 1984 a visit was made to Minehead; a day destined to change their lives forever!

While strolling along the beach Keith spotted and picked up a vuggy pebble containing a terminated quartz crystal.  He examined it with great care, then turned to Lynn saying, “From now on I’ll study how these are formed”.  That was literally it, and life was never the same again!

He researched the subject with typical diligence and began to actively field collect both minerals and fossils, often with his son, who took a keen interest. Favourite localities included satin spar from Golden Cap; wonderful fossil leaves from Radstock Pit near Bath; pyramidal quartz from Cannington Park; nail-head calcite from Dawlish Warren and “potato stones” from the Foster Yeoman Ltd. at Dulcote.  A good friend of Keith’s worked at Torr Works quarry in Somerset (another Foster Yeoman operation, known to collectors as Merehead quarry) and Lynn well remembers there being a ‘hotline’ between the quarry offices and their house.  If a blast revealed one of the famed manganese pods, potentially bristling with rare oxychlorides, Keith would receive a call instructing him to visit immediately.  Even if Lynn and Keith were entertaining friends, he would excuse himself and dash-off with a boot full of collecting equipment.

Once focusing more on minerals, Keith began corresponding and exchanging specimens with worldwide collectors and made good contacts at both the Chilean and Chinese Embassies in London.

In about 1970, only a year since that fateful day at Minehead, Keith discovered that minerals could be bought; a moment in our lives which we can probably all recall! His first purchased specimen was a Moroccan Endlichite (arsenatian Vanadinite) for the princely sum of £10; a mighty amount of money in 1970.  Armed with this revelation, Keith lost no time in dissolving the band and selling all equipment; drums, electric guitars, amplifiers, the whole shebang, releasing funds with which to finance specimens and petrol for collecting.

Through avid collecting and continuous exchange, much excess specimen material began accumulating.  If some of this could be sold, then the interest could become self-financing and so Corrie Minerals was formed.  Run jointly by Keith and Lynn, Corrie Minerals quickly became known for their fine aesthetic and high-quality worldwide specimens and their table was one of the first ports of call for many a collector at shows.

Corrie Minerals regularly attended many British shows, primarily Leicester, London Swiss Cottage and the Royal Horticultural Halls, Romford, Kempton Park, the Church Hall in Southampton and St. George’s Hall, Exeter.  Sadly, they did not ‘do’ Bakewell because this always clashed with continental venues.  Favourite shows in Europe included Munich, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Amiens, Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Liège and Zwijndrecht.  Lynn fondly recalls that when they attended the first show in Amiens (120 km north of Paris), all the French dealers clapped as they entered, simply delighted that a dealer had made the effort to attend from such a distance!

It should be remembered that throughout all this period Keith also had a full-time job and was continually studying, eventually gaining his LRSC (Licentiate of the Royal Society of Chemistry).  His initial work was with steroid chemistry for development of “the pill”. He then became specialised in chemical treatment of industrial effluent, eventually rising to Area Manager with Wessex Water Authority.

For the Corrie team to attend all these shows, especially the continental ones, Lynn remembers every trip was planned with military precision.  Keith always drafted a detailed schedule, copies of which were distributed to all the team (occasionally friends joined them) and strict instruction given on how the schedule must be adhered to; no ifs and no buts…!  Getting-up time, meal times and their duration, etc., etc. It’s easy to look at this now with distant amusement, but it did ensure the success of every trip and guaranteed that Keith was back at his desk first thing Monday morning.

Over the years Keith carefully built his own collection of contemporary worldwide minerals, renowned for its perfect and aesthetic specimens.  Once happily retired in Sidmouth, Keith converted a large and airy room for his library and mineral displays; a room any visitor to Sidmouth will always remember for its stunning impact and all-round perfection.

The collection was housed in ten modern aluminium and glass cabinets, three free standing and seven wall-mounted. These were all beautifully lit using the LED system Keith researched and designed with the late Paul Lowe.

Every specimen in his collection was carefully photographed, described, and enhanced with additional information such as maps, crystal diagrams, mine geology, etc.  These records built to form a superb set of elegantly bound dossiers which were always readily to hand in the mineral room.

Each specimen was carefully mounted on a clear acrylic block with an attached clear acetate label on which the species and locality were printed. Keith arranged specimens, all large miniatures or small cabinet size, according to their aesthetic impact rather than, say, chemistry or locality. He would consider the habit and colour most suited to adjacent specimens on display, to how a garden designer would select plants for height, texture and colour. A few specimens from the collection are appended to give a feel for the general scope and aesthetic of the collection.

Vesuvianite, Jeffrey Mine, Asbestos, Québec, Canada (mounted on acrylic block)
3.9 x 3.8 x 2.4 cm, Late K. D. Corrie Collection

One wall cabinet contained only contained self-collected baryte specimens from the local locality of Peak Hill, along the beach at Sidmouth; five photos of which can be viewed on mindat (www.mindat.org).  Keith always visited the site following rock falls and although more of a loner when collecting, did enjoy frequent visits to this site with David Green, with whom he jointly wrote the article on Sidmouth baryte for the UKJMM (Corrie & Green, 2003).  In all the years Keith and David collected here, they only ever found one bi-coloured specimen of blue and honey-brown baryte, in a 65 mm long crystal.  This is featured on page 31 in UKJMM, No. 23. David and Julie were regular visitors in Sidmouth and affectionately referred to Keith and Lynn as the ”Sidmouth Mining and Mineral Co.”

   

Baryte on Calcite, Peak Hill, Sidmouth, Devon, England
5.7 x 5.3 x 3.0 cm, Collected by and Collection of the late K. D. Corrie

Keith’s other interests included philosophy; chemistry; general science, its history and book binding.  His bookbinding skills were quite remarkable and he amassed a complete set of all necessary equipment.  Many examples of his very fine work could be seen amongst his extensive personal library; especially where he had bought an antique mining and mineralogy book that was falling apart and ended with a superb copy with leather binding and fine Italian boards.  Keith, along with Lynn, was a great dog lover and enjoyed many lovely photos around the house of their dearly loved pets of bygone years. Finally, it has to be said he was a reluctant gardener but did enjoy the more major garden projects involving design and construction work in their numerous homes over the years.

In 2017 Keith began feeling unwell and had to slow down his relentless pace and schedule.  He had been looking forward to his regular visit to the Crystal Classics Summer Open Day in June as he had seen a köttigite with parasymplesite from Mexico that took his fancy.  Unable to attend, his friend Rikk collected the specimen and kindly took it to Sidmouth that same day and Keith was delighted.  Poignantly, this was to be Keith’s very last specimen; the last in a very long succession since that first quartz crystal was picked up some 33 years earlier.

Following a very short illness, Keith sadly passed away later in 2017.  We will all remember him for his gentle nature and lilting Scots accent; as a true gentleman; his kindness; his powerful intellect and for the stunning minerals which he both sold to enhance our own collections and secured to build his own remarkable collection.

Some specimens from the late Keith D. Corrie Mineral Collection

Of the many hundreds of specimens in Keith’s collection, it is an impossible task to select but a few to enjoy here.  Hence, four random specimens are included which clearly show the beauty and diversity of Keith’s wonderful collection.  Keith’s collection was acquired by Crystal Classics Fine Minerals during 2018, many of which are now in the showroom in East Coker.

Legrandite, Ojuela mine, Mapimí, Durango, Mexico

5.8 x 4.3 x 3.6 cm, Late K. D. Corrie Collection

Wulfenite with Mimetite, Ojuela mine, Mapimí, Durango, Mexico
5.7 x 3.2 x 2.7 cm, Late K. D. Corrie Collection

Pyromorphite, Daoping mine, Gongcheng County, Guilin Prefecture, China
4.9 x 3.0 x 3.0 cm, Late K. D. Corrie Collection

Galena with Siderite, Nikolaevskiy mine, Dal'negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia
6.6 x 4.4 x 4.2 cm, Late K. D. Corrie Collection


Acknowledgements

Lynn Corrie is warmly thanked for her great enthusiasm, time and information towards writing this brief account and for supplying the photo of Keith.  Without Lynn’s help this could not have been achieved.

All images copyright Lynn Corrie (K.D. Corrie photo) and Crystal Classics Fine Minerals Ltd. (mineral specimen photos).


References

Corrie, K.D. & Green, D.I. (2003).  The Barite and Supposed Celestine from the Triassic Mudstone of Sidmouth, Devon in UK Journal of Mines & Minerals, No. 23, 27-35.

All specimen photographs are copyright of Crystal Classics Fine Minerals Ltd.

Author: HS & PT
Categories: Mineralogical Articles