Carles Curto

Carles Curto


With thirty-three years behind me as mineralogical curator at the museum of Geology of Barcelona, I can affirm that minerals have been, and still are, the big passion of my life. Maybe not the only one (always, some evanescent loves become real ones) but it has been the most permanent and real passion for me.

Through mineralogy I meet very diverse people, characters both different and interesting, from the authentic mad, unable to see beyond their collection and afraid for the smallest bit of pyrite escaping their possession, to healthy people for whom minerals are the perfect complement to a personal, effective, familiar and productive life. From well known personages such as Joaquín Folch, Jiri Kourimsky and Abraham Rosenzweig, to name just three, to the most modest collector. From all of them I have always learned something.

If there is something I love especially about my job, it is the visits of boys and girls coming to the museum with their parents to resolve some of their mineralogical questions. Most of them are surprised (also their parents) because I attend to them directly and without waiting, and I always try to explain to them that it is, precisely, one of the aspects of my job and, in this sense, I pleasantly pay attention to both the most famous specialist visiting the collection and the most modest beginner. Of course, the young mineralogists never leave the museum without a new sample and a lot of simple advice.

Among the “special” (in the best sense) personages I met there is Jordi. I don’t remember when (maybe at the end of the Pliocene) or how (probably in some mineral show in Rockland), but Jordi obviously was (is) always passionate about minerals, he always brought something different, self-recollected samples, very precise information (in an epoch when localities, for example, seemed to be less interesting than the price on the labels) or always was interested in some features of the specimen that most of the dealers ignored. I regarded him as a “mineralogical animal,” really very rare at that time. In any case, every one of us has our own facets, we commonly agree in our appreciations and usually comment, not only our attraction for the merely esthetic qualities of a mineral, but on the morphological, crystallographic, chemical and genetic questions that the specimen offers. The mutual respect, both personal and professional, marked our relationship, which evolved slowly but surely and, actually, I like to refer to him as my friend.

One day, a little more than ten years ago, Jordi surprised me when he told me he wanted to create a web site to sell his minerals and he wanted to consult with me on some aspects of it. You must remember that ten years ago a web site (and especially a commercial web site) was something quite as strange as a UFO or, if the reader prefers, the essence of the essence of modernity.

The web site started with a growing success and, from time to time, Jordi requested from me some timely collaboration, as in working with him on the photography of samples. At that time the process was long and complicated. When Jordi prepared a new update I went to his office with my old and beloved Nikon F and the corresponding heavy equipment. Once finished with the session, of course, we had to develop the pictures and then came the hard digitalization of the positives.Now it is much easier with digital photography. However, I remember an especially pleasant session with San Andrés Mine Pyromorphite. Some of these pictures were lately published in Le Régne Minéral.

About three years ago, Jordi proposed that I collaborate in the texts of the web site (with the invaluable participation of J.S. White). Of course I had to be sure that there was no conflict in this with the exercise of my profession, but I quickly realized that, to the contrary, the intention of Jordi was to offer a more academic vision of the samples, if you accept the expression, which allowed me to offer more precise information to better inform the amateur. And I accepted. Museums exist thanks to collectors and, by extension, to advanced and specialized dealers, so in helping Jordi in this way I feel I am also helping museums.

Carles Curto

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