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Fact sheet


Bournonite is a complex sulphide mineral containing copper, lead and antimony. It was first described in 1797 by Cornish gentleman-collector Philip Rashleigh, who included illustrated descriptions of two specimens in his publication Specimens of British Minerals. These specimens came from Wheal Boys, an antimony mine in St Endellion parish.  

In 1858, spectacular specimens of bournonite with distinctive ‘cogwheel-shaped’ crystals, were found at another Cornish mine, Herodsfoot, a lead and silver mine a few miles east of Lostwithiel.  Lostwithiel-based mineral dealer Richard Talling acquired the best of these specimens from the local miners and sold them on to mineral collectors and museums worldwide. This Herodsfoot specimen was almost certainly acquired by the Royal Institution of Cornwall in December 1858, one of a group of specimens purchased from Richard Talling for £8.10s.

Chemical Formula: PbCuSbS

Specimen no. TRURI: 801.908
Location: Herodsfoot 
Grid Reference: SW 212 600



Additional images
  • Bournonite and quartz 5 cm across
  • Bournonite and quartz 4.5 cm across
  • Bournonite and quartz 8 cm across
  • Bournonite and quartz 8 cm across
50.412591, -4.517903
About this collection

This Collection focuses on Cornwall and West Devon’s mineralogical and mining heritage.  The specimens it features are drawn from the collection of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (RIC) held at the Royal Cornwall Museum (RCM). 

This collaborative project involving the RCM, the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and The Open University explores how access to the RIC’s mineral collection and the stories it can tell can be widened using digital technology.  It includes radioactive minerals from Cornwall that would otherwise be inaccessible to the public for health and safety reasons.

Sample details

Category guide  
Category Guide
Refers to any word or phrase that appears in the individual rock names. Names are generally descriptive; they allow users to search for broad terms like ‘granite’ as well as more specific names such as ‘breccia’. However, the adjacent descriptions of the specimens captures a wider range of general words and phrases and is a more powerful search tool.
Refers to any word or phrase that appears anywhere in the descriptions of the specimens
Accessory minerals
Minerals that occur in very low abundance in a rock. They are usually not visible with the naked eye and contribute perhapssver, they often dominate the rare elements such as platinum group metals.
Rock-forming minerals
Minerals that make up the bulk of all rock samples and are also the ones used in rock classi?cation.
Selecting one or more period, for example 'Jurassic'.
A term used to group together related samples that are not already gathered into a single Collection. For instance, there is a ‘SW England granites’ theme that includes such rock types as granite, hydrothermal breccia, skarn and vein samples.
A general term used to label a rock sample. It is a useful way of grouping similar samples throughout a collection. Category names are often, but not exclusively, common rock names (e.g. granite, basalt, dolerite, gabbro, greisen, skarn, gneiss, amphibolite, limestone, sandstone).
The owner of the sample that appears in the collection. For example, NASA owns all the samples that appear in the Moon Rocks collection
We would like to thank the following for the use of this sample: