'Corundum var' ruby from Afghanistan
There are about 13,000 registered specimens in the mineral collections categorised by their chemistry and location. Most specimens are from worldwide localities but the collection includes a fine and significant collection of minerals from locations in Northern England.
One of the earliest collections acquired by the Earth sciences department was a bequest of the 15th Earl of Derby's mineral collection. This was collected by selected purchase from 1870 to 1892 and bequeathed to the museum in 1893. It was once described as; 'The most beautiful collection of agates and allied materials ever made'. Of the 782 specimens listed in the catalogue only 112 of these survive today as a result of wartime losses. Recently it was discovered that some of the Derby Agates were used to make viscometer jets for aircraft engine development during the latter part of 1940.
Large collections also came from the Wellcome Institute (1981) and the University of Liverpool (1986).
The finest collections are from Northern England and include those of Ralph Sutcliffe and Lindsay and Patricia Greenbank.
The mineral collections also include a collection from W. J. Lewis Abbott (of Piltdown Man notoriety) and a reference collection of cut stones and gem materials.