Charles Key has been a major force in mineral collecting for the past 50 years. His principal focus in recent years has been the minerals of the Tsumeb mine, Namibia, the Kalahari manganese fields, and other more recently discovered mineral-producing areas in Namibia.
There are three areas in which such collaboration can contribute to our science:
- Accumulation of large mineral collections from single localities, as these can be used for paragenetic studies
- Provision of high-quality crystals for crystal-structure work
- Discovery of new minerals
Charles Key has contributed in all three of these areas. He has been instrumental in both building and acquiring major locality-based collections from Africa and North America, and providing them to major museums, where they are available for both species-specific and paragenetic studies.
Charles has an eye for high-quality mineral specimens and for recognizing minerals in the field. This talent for unearthing good crystals has enabled him to contribute in a major way to the work of crystallographers. Moreover, he has also searched for (and found) crystals of specific minerals required by members of the crystallographic community.
Charles’ ability to recognize minerals by eye is legendary. Hence the comment “This one looks a little strange; it might be worth a look” has often preceded the discovery of a new mineral.