Colored Stones / Industry

GIA Acquires Rare Books Detailing the Largest Jade Collection in the World


The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has acquired a rare set of books that chronicle a private jade collection belonging to Heber Reginald Bishop (1840–1902), a noted 19th-century businessman and philanthropist. The Bishop Collection: Investigations and Studies in Jade is a two-volume set— limited to just 100 copies—that catalogs the jade collection of Bishop, who was an avid collector of antiquities. Jade was his last and most notable obsession.

The catalog, published in 1906, documents Bishop’s extensive cache. The other 99 copies can be found in private collections, museums, and libraries.

The collection began with Bishop’s purchase of the Hurd vase from Tiffany & Co. in 1878. Bishop’s jade collection—recognized as the most complete assemblage of jade objects in the world—was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it remains to this day.

“The acquisition of The Bishop Collection marks a special moment in the Institute’s legacy of procuring historic gemological material that adds to our wealth of knowledge and is accessible to all,” said Susan Jacques, GIA president and CEO, in a statement. “Mr. Bishop created his collection to share the wonder of jade, and we are thrilled to take the important step of making both volumes of this incredible work available to researchers, gemologists, and, eventually, the public.”

The set is now at the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center at the GIA headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. The Institute plans to create a free digital version of the work, which will be included in its digital library.

“These incredible books bring to mind what the philosopher Confucius meant when he wrote, ‘Jade is like virtue and its brightness represents heaven,’ said Robert Weldon, GIA director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center, in the same statement. “The beauty and level of detail represented in this catalog are truly one of a kind, and we are fortunate to add these volumes to our extensive library collection.”

The set acquired by GIA—number 85—was given to Bishop’s local library in Medford, Mass., where his family settled after emigrating from Ipswich, England, in the 17th century. The 100 sets cost $100,000 to produce back in the early 1900s, equivalent to just under $3 million dollars today.

Top: Display of The Bishop Collection: Investigations and Studies in Jade by Heber Reginald Bishop, 1906. From left, retired GIA library director Dona Dirlam, GIA president and CEO Susan Jacques, and current GIA library director Robert Weldon (photo by Emily Lane, courtesy of GIA).

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Kristin Young

By: Kristin Young

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