Carlos do Prado Barbosa – 1917-2003

Carlos do Prado Barbosa – 1917-2003 – In Memoriam

Luis A. Menezes

The mineralogical community has lost one of its most beloved members, Carlos Barbosa, a Brazilian mineral dealer, who died in April 2003.

Carlos do Prado Barbosa was born on 7 January 1917 in Alfenas, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. In 1939 he graduated as a chemical engineer from the University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, and in 1943 he obtained a degree in mineralogy at the National College of Philosophy in Rio de Janeiro. After receiving the latter degree, he was employed by the National Institute of Technology in Rio de Janeiro until his retirement in 1972. Most of his work there revolved around the recycling of gold. During that time, Carlos damaged his lungs from the inhalation of toxic gases. Through the years, this health problem worsened and eventually contributed to his death.

Carlos first attended the Tucson Show back in 1972 or 1973, and he quickly became known as a supplier of fine and rare Brazilian mineral specimens. He did extensive research on Brazilian mineralogy. He was the main supplier of superb minerals from the famous Brumado mine, Bahia State, helping to prevent countless uvites, quartz Japan-law twins, hematites, dolomites, and magnesites from being crushed and transformed into refractory bricks. Carlos also identified and rescued from destruction numerous rare species, such as chernovite-(Y), agardite-Y, florencite, woodhouseite, and svanbergite, among many others.

Carlos extensively studied the mineralogy of pegmatites, particularly those in Minas Gerais, around Linopolis, Galileia, and at the Golconda mine (where he recovered the most spectacular bertrandites ever found).

He also did research on the mineralogy of the extremely rare platinum-palladium minerals from the Caue iron-ore deposit at Itabira, Minas Gerais, where independent miners were digging palladium-bearing gold from the tailings of that huge mine. In addition to supplying the mineral market with outstanding samples of gold, which he rescued from being smelted, he identified, saved, and brought to the market samples of palladseite, arsenopalladinite, and native palladium.

His keen eyes and knowledge of mineralogy led to many significant discoveries. Anywhere in Brazil where something interesting was to be found, Carlos had the skill and the intuition to go after it and rescue it from anonymity and destruction. Even in the last months of his life, with his health badly compromised, he kept searching for new discoveries. His last package to the University of New Orleans arrived last January in his trademark shipping box. It contained some new samples that he wanted to learn more about. Among these last finds was a black crystal of synchysite-Nd he had just gotten from Linopolis!

Carlos did much of his preliminary mineral identification by classical wet chemistry. Once he had identified the major chemical components, he would go through his Fleischer’s Glossary of Mineral Species and narrow down the choices to just a few, Which could then be further pinpointed by considering morphology and physical properties. He was fond of telling the story of a mineral he had analyzed and which he then searched for, page by page, in his Glossary, only to find the match on the very last page! It was zunyite!

Meeting Carlos at his room in the Executive Inn during the Tucson Show was always a much-anticipated experience. He was invariably full of life and excitement about new mineral discoveries and also, with a twinkle in his eyes, was full of funny stories and those complex riddles he was so fond of baffling visitors with. Carlos is well remembered for his great sense of humor and his characteristic quotes, such as the one we all loved to hear when someone was looking for a discount–“… For you, double price!” and “… $5,000, not for sale!” when he just did not want to sell a fine specimen that he had grown attached to.

Carlos deserves to be honored as one of the most important Brazilian mineralogists of the last century, as well as an important Brazilian dealer of mineral species. He was counted as a friend by many people in the mineral business, and he will be missed by all of us who had the good fortune to interact with and learn from him.

He died on 17 April of pneumonia and, according to his wish, was buried at the tiny cemetery of Linopolis, where he will stay close to the minerals be loved. May there be many rare minerals in the Brazilian Heaven, Carlos!

Luis A. Menezes is a mineral dealer specializing in rare and fine Brazilian minerals, especially pegmatite species.

Alexander U. Falster is a scientific research technologist at the University of New Orleans.

William B. “Skip” Simmons is a professor of mineralogy at the University of New Orleans:

Luis A. Menezes

R. Esmeralda, 534

Belo Horizonte 30410-080, Brazil

Alexander U. Falster and William B. Simmons

Department of Geology and Geophysics

University of New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana 70148;

COPYRIGHT 2003 Heldref Publications

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group