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Andrew Alden

Good Old Pough

By April 7, 2013

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Frederick Pough, author of the classic A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals, died on this date in 2006, aged 99. The little rock book he first published in 1953 has been a mainstay for generations of rockhounds and geologists. In my review, I said, "This old friend to generations of geologists and mineral hounds is both authoritative and readable--and includes physical and chemical tests for every mineral. If I had to discard all but one geology book, I'd keep my Field Guide."

Of course, it's still in print as the First Guide to Rocks and Minerals in the Peterson Field Guides series. But older editions can be found in used-book stores. That's where I found a deluxe leather-bound version, edged in gold leaf, of the fourth (1976) edition published as a "collector's lifetime edition" in 1985. So I passed along my previous copy, shown in this photo, and I hope it's teaching someone else what it has taught me.
Geology Guide photo


April 7, 2013 at 11:43 am
(1) Howard says:

Ah, yes–good old Pough. The cover is instantly recognizable, and I’ve known it from nearly as far back as my memory reaches, but it was never my favourite, probably because of the murky halftones and undersaturated colours of the plates. I finally bought my own copy (a 1960 3rd edition) only a few years ago, at a used book sale, just to say I have a copy of this classic. Flipping through it now, the “Generalized Map of Major Formations of North America” on the front endsheets seems positively idiosyncratic with its isolated tiny blobs of “plutonic rocks”, distinct from “Igneous rocks”, which says something about the progress of geologic theory.

My first geology book–I got it when I was about 6 and still have it, in severely abused condition–and one of my favourites, was the Golden Nature Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Herbert S. Zim.

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