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Southwest United States Turquoise History Blog

Julius Lippman Tannenbaum

April 22, 2017

During the Great American Turquoise Rush, in a field of colorful characters, one person stands out as being just about everywhere turquoise and other gemstones were being mined. That person was Julius Lippman Tannenbaum who at the age of seventeen immigrated from Mansbach, Germany to New York City in 1868. In 1877, Tannenbaum founded the jewelry company of L. Tannenbaum & Company which focused on diamonds and other gemstones and by 1891, Tannenbaum moved into the mining  side of the gemstone trade and formed a partnership with Hungarian immigrant Gyulo Armeny of the Armeny & Marion pen manufacturing company. Together, the two men leased the Emerald and Hiddenite spodumene mine in North Carolina but reneged on the deal when the operation proved to be unprofitable. However, the two  had made a verbal agreement that they would be partners in any future mining operation that either of them undertook. Armeny soon became part of the Azure Mining Company in Grant County, New Mexico and he did send samples of the turquoise produced to Tannenbaum who rejected the material as low grade, but when the company became extremely successful, Tannenbaum wanted his share. The dispute went to court and after several lengthy trials, Armeny was ordered to make an accounting to Tannenbaum, but Armeny had managed to hid his assets in the company and visible restitution was never made! Tannenbaum was furious and decided that he would develop his own gem mining business and through proxies and agents was soon involved in turquoise mining in the Jarrilla Mountains and Burro Mountains of New Mexico, Courtland, Arizona, the Turquoise Mountains of San Bernardino County, California and Royston, Nevada.  While working the California turquoise mines, Tannenbaum became involved in tourmaline mining in San Diego County and was soon furnishing a booming tourmaline demand in China. His Himalaya Mining Company bought the Royal Blue mine in Nevada and produced large volumes of turquoise, but someone wasn’t paying the bills and it all came crashing down around 1910. Debts were called in and assets including his home were sold off to pay off debts. His wife Rachel died in 1912 and Lippman himself died in December of 1914 at the age of 63. From the date that the Himalaya Company bought the Royal Blue turquoise mine, no taxes were paid and the property was sold for back taxes in 1915.

Philip Chambless at the Himalaya Turquoise Mine, May 1996.

The old Himalaya Turquoise mines in San Bernardino County, California.

Book Title: The Great American Turquoise Rush 1890-1910

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