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Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 04.11.2020 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

In these strange days, it’s hard to believe how different the world was, only a few weeks ago. Who imagined then, all the ways in which our lives would be impacted in the weeks after Tucson… As events evolve, it’s clear that it will be a while until all of us are once again together at a large international show, which makes it all the more important to enjoy a few memories of our most recent gathering and stay connected online. In that light, let’s travel back to Tucson…

Tracks

One of the best times of the year, the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral show is like no other time if the year for mineral people. It is gathering of countless thousands of mineral specimens!  OKOK… not just specimens… it is one of the mineral collecting community’s finest annual gatherings, with friends from all over the world converging on Arizona to catch up and share, and talk a lot about minerals (and even life beyond minerals, heaven forbid).

Cactus hills

Tucson is a great midwinter break for me and all of my northern friends – a chance to leave snow, ice and frigid temperatures behind for a bit. Instead of shades of white and grey, it’s blue skies, beige and every hue of green, not to mention the purple-blue shades of mountains all around the horizons.

I am lucky to be hosted by my friends David Joyce (davidkjoyceminerals.com) and Carol Teal, along with their dog Riley.

Carol, Riley, Dave

Riley and I have come a long way together – in the first year or two we knew each other, he had somehow failed to catch that I’m a dog person. I wasn’t speaking his language – I’m used to speaking Labrador Retriever. We’re sure good now though – he accepts me as a member of the pack.

Riley 1

We have an understanding that tummy rubs, ball throwing and treats are all part of the deal.

Riley 2

As always, Tucson was full of activity of all kinds, at shows spread out all over the city. It’s strange now to think that such a short time ago, COVID-19 was not a thought on many minds, and in Tucson there was virtually no visible indication of any difference – just lots of conscientious alternatives to handshakes and the occasional mask.

This year there was substantial movement of dealers and vendors around town. Of course this happens to some extent every year and the sands always shift over the longer term, as the individual shows and dealers evolve and migrate. Once upon a time, the Desert Inn was the place to be, and now it is no longer standing. Similarly, for many years, the show at the Best Western Executive Inn (also known as the “EI”) was the hub for a large number of dealers with the best selection of fie minerals. Years ago, the show moved to the Inn Suites (renamed the Hotel Tucson City Centre) and now the “EI” is closed and fenced for final demolition. In 2020, the Inn Suites completed its last contract year with the show organizers, and many dealers had already chosen to move to new venues. As for this show itself, the organizer is moving it to the Hilton Conquistador, up in Oro Valley – it remains to be seen what will happen at the Inn Suites next year. I’ve always really liked the setting at the Inn Suites and will miss the times when it was the major hotel show!

Inn Suites

Having said which, the larger development unfolding at the same time has been the development and opening of the “Mineral District” just off North Oracle, with the Mineral City show and other related venues all within a couple of blocks of one another.  The Mineral City venue hosts many excellent dealers and was greatly expanded into new buildings opened this year.

Meanwhile, another key spot in the Mineral District fully opened this year, as the conversion of the old La Fuente restaurant is now complete. It is the new main venue for Jewel Tunnel Imports (both the wholesale business and the selling of more of Rock Currier’s personal collection), as well as mindat HQ and the new location where you could have your favourites photographed by Jeff Scovil. Speaking of the new La Fuente, each restroom is particularly inclusive, inviting anyone:

Bathroom

Which makes a nice segue into a discussion of a few of the minerals in Tucson this year. Starting with JTI headquarters at La Fuente and Rock’s collection. As many of you will have seen in online reports, people lined up early in the morning to be able to see what was available. This was true for the original opening, and even to a lesser extent for each “refresh” opening, when they put out new material to fill spaces. Rock’s collection contained so many great high-quality pieces, including classic specimens, unusual localities and uncommon minerals and mineral associations.

Among the classics was this wonderful millerite from the Sterling Mine near Antwerp, New York – this is a fantastic specimen.

Millerite, Sterling Mine, Antwerp, Jefferson Co., New York, USA

Millerite, Sterling Mine, Antwerp, Jefferson Co., New York, USA – 6.6 cm

102543(2)(fov 1.6)Close-up of the same specimen

For unusual specimens from unusual localities, Rock had a small number of very cool hematite crystals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Great crystal forms!

Hematite, Kamoto Principal Mine, Kamoto, Kolwezi, Lualaba, democratic Republic of the Congo

Hematite, Kamoto Principal Mine, Kamoto, Kolwezi, Lualaba, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 3.2 cm

Moving on to recent finds at Tucson 2020, there were gorgeous new bournonites from the Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia. The locality has produced excellent bournonite specimens over the years, but the finds are have been sporadic, often years apart. The nature of the bournonite has varied from one find to the next, and some of the bournonite has been of modest lustre, sometimes dull, and of varying sharpness/definition. This latest find has produced sharp, lustrous bournonite crystals of the finest quality, exhibiting the classic “cogwheel” twinning.

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 5.2 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia
Field of view 3.5 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.2 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 2.3 cm crystal group

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.1 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 3.8 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

 Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.9 cm

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia

Bournonite, Viboras Mine, Machacamarca District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.1 cm

There has been a new find of beautiful prehnite from Morocco (it seems Morocco somehow always comes through!). In fact several localities in Morocco have produced fine prehnite specimens over the years, but I love the prehnite from Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco.

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, MoroccoPrehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco – 8.6 cm

This prehnite occurs with minor quartz crystals, including one small crystal on one piece that looks to me to be a faden. The prehnite crystal aggregates exhibit two principal habits, sometimes together on the same matrix: (1) radiating balls of crystals and (2) radiating fans of varying size and thickness. These specimens are quite different from most prehnite balls and aggregates, in that the individual crystals are easily visible and differentiated/separated from their adjacent neighbours – they are sharp and lustrous with individual terminations. The colour of these specimens is a pretty green – they are so nice!

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, MoroccoPrehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco – 9.1 cm

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, MoroccoPrehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco – 10.0 cm

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco

Prehnite, Taza, Fès-Meknès, Morocco – 5.8 cm

Also from Morocco, from a find at Mibladen that originally debuted at Munich last fall, are vanadinite specimens in a habit we only see once in a while, in some rather good-sized crystals for the species. These are the somewhat complex, somewhat skeletal-growth crystals, often in small aggregates. The colour and lustre varies, including on the same specimen, depending on the viewing angle. They are super-cool vanadinites.

Vanadinite, Mibladen, Morocco

Vanadinite, Mibladen, Morocco – 3.7 cm
Vanadinite, Mibladen, MoroccoVanadinite, Mibladen, Morocco – 3.7 cm

One last entry from the African continent from me – welcome to my nightmare…

I include this next photo partly to show just how hard it is to secure fine mineral specimens. As many of you know, I’m very fond of the best of the prehnites, epidotes and good yellow stilbite balls from Mali. They are wonderful specimens and they make beautiful display pieces, adding colour and form to any display case. The prehnites and epidotes have been coming out for quite a few years now, and the good stilbites have been trickling out – I seek out excellent specimens, particularly of the stilbite which are so nice for the species. It has become evident that the problem is not that there aren’t any in the ground – rather, it’s what happens to them next. Many are thrown into sacks and buckets, then transferred to other containers with little or no packaging. This is a process no fine mineral specimen – but particularly stilbite – can be expected to survive… As an example, here’s a photo of an actual Mali specimen-packing job, arrived at Tucson for sale.

Bucket o' Mali

Bucket O’ Mali
(The specimens in this bucket are now completely damaged/destroyed and of no value to collectors of fine minerals.)

As an aside, I’ve been building a small collection of excellent Mali specimens for a future update – was only able to add a couple nice small pieces in Tucson (sadly, none from this vendor!), but there will be some really nice specimens coming in that update.

Moving on to Asia, some nice entries from localities that have recently been producing fine specimens. From Balochistan, Pakistan comes another new find of epidote fans and quartz. The epidote fans are sharp and very lustrous, with high-lustre terminations. Some are partially-to-fully included within quartz crystals, but this was uncommon in the material I saw. It’s too bad the percentage of fine specimens was not higher, as they are really beautiful combination-pieces, but most were badly damaged. I acquired a small lot of choice specimens.

Epidote and Quartz, Kharan, Balochistan, Pakistan

Epidote fans on Quartz, Kharan, Balochistan, Pakistan – 5.8 cm

For a few years, we’ve seen the lollingite specimens from the Huanggang mines (Inner Mongolia, China) that redefined the species. The best are the world’s finest by far (for example, John White’s – if you have not admired that one, it’s here). Specimens have never been plentiful and those pieces we do see available are damaged (I know, my common complaint from urban field-collecting expeditions…). I found a very small number of excellent specimens from one of my Chinese friends.

Lollingite, Huanggang Mines, Inner Mongolia, China

Lollingite, Huanggang Mines, Inner Mongolia, China – 4.6 cm

Also from China, over recent years we’ve seen some creedite specimens from Qinglong. In Tucson I acquired three with a light lavender hue – very pretty specimens!

Creedite, Qinglong County, Qianxinan, Guizhou, ChinaCreedite, Qinglong County, Qianxinan, Guizhou, China – 8.5 cm

And I’m going to finish with some specimens that some people might consider a bit less pretty, but given their rarity and where they come from, they are worthy of a grand finale. From one of Canadian dealer Rod Tyson’s expeditions to the Yukon several years ago, some excellent specimens of the Rapid Creek phosphate minerals were available in Tucson. Expeditions to this remote part of Canada have become difficult to arrange and have also become extremely costly of late (they require a lot of helicopter time). Rod feels it’s tough to predict what, if anything, will come out in the foreseeable future. For several of the species found at Rapid Creek, specimens from there are the best from anywhere.

Kulanite, Rapid Creek, Yukon, Canada

Kulanite, Rapid Creek, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada
Main ball of crystals 0.9 cm

Gormanite

Gormanite on siderite, Rapid Creek, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada – 3.2 cm

Of course the Tucson experience is about so much more than the minerals. Meals and maybe a couple beverages with mineral friends from all around the world, sometimes accompanied by music…

David Joyce Banjo

 David Joyce leading the songs with his banjo. (Not pictured: a bunch of us singing along..).

As happens every year, I am always already home before the main show and related festivities, so I obviously am not able to report on them. However, there was one important development in Tucson that I do not want to miss mentioning. This year is a special year as it represents the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Mineralogical Record. And of course, the Mineralogical Record was founded by John S. White (if you have not already, you can read about that here). This year in Tucson, a new award was unveiled and presented at a dinner held by Jordi Fabre and Jim and Gail Spann: John was the first recipient of what will be the annually-awarded John S. White Mineral Legacy Award For Excellence in Mineralogical Education. Every year from now the same wording will appear on the awards to future recipients – it will always be, in fact, the John S. White Mineral Legacy Award. John called it “the mother of all humbling experiences”.  Which is of course the kind of thing he’d say. He’s always been humble about those early days of the Mineralogical Record. But it’s pretty incredible to think that at 36 years old, with a young family and full-time job at the Smithsonian, he founded this magazine. So many mineral collectors owe a good part of their knowledge to the publication he created. So many serious collectors have the Mineralogical Record in their home. He has touched the lives of literally thousands and the award could not be more fitting.

John S. White Mineral Legacy Award

And on a final note about this beautiful part of Arizona, I confess that this beauty is an  aspect of the Tucson experience that I really did not take in properly for the longest time. Time on these visits is at such a premium – and it was especially so when I was taking time out of my last career to do it – there are so many minerals to see, so many mineral friends and so many good times together. Until recently, I never took the time to immerse myself in just how amazing this place is. I have Dave and Carol to thank for that, not only because they live in a beautiful little nature paradise, but also because they love to enjoy it. I thought I’d share a few photos from our time the Santa Rita foothills.

I swear I did not pay the deer and doves to pose – it’s naturally as idyllic as it looks..

Deer Dove

This is a great area for hiking (as long as you give the sharp plants lots of clearance!). Dave led the way…

Dave trail

Some of the plants are astounding. The Tucson show does not correspond with most flowerings, but looking at last year’s yucca and agave stalks… they are huge. Here’s a sense, with me for scale:

Yuccas and me

The stalks dominated the landscape in places, making for unusual and beautiful scenes.

Yucca stalks

And of course one can see such expansive vistas from the lookouts…

DaveRileyLookout

Riley catching up with Dave to take in the view…

Goodbye Tucson, til next time.

Sunset

 

As always, I love being away and I love coming home.

Bit of a temperature change from Tucson (20c/68F) to Bancroft that night…

Cold

(-22F…)

We had lots of snow once again this year, beautiful in an entirely different way from Arizona.

SnowTrees

And of course Rudy is in heaven in it…

Snow Rudy

Again this year the snowbank beside our house (known each year as Mt. Rudy) grew to a major height, width and depth – that’s Rudy (full-grown Labrador Retriever) for scale at the top with a normal-sized soccer ball in his mouth.

MtRudy2020

I’m happy to say that because I’m writing this so late this year, Mt Rudy is now much reduced in size, only about 5 ft high (it will be all melted in May). And as happens every spring, the lake is beginning to thaw. In the sun, there’s a bit of water on the ice on a warmer day, but I can see that as of now the ice at the margin of the dock is at least a foot thick…

Snow Lake

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 03.29.2020 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

I’ve added great new specimens in a new update of pieces from the Steve Szilard Collection (click here).  This update includes fine mineral specimens from all over the world.

Steve Szilard is a well-known and highly respected Canadian mineral collector who began collecting in 1982. It may strike a chord with many of you that one of his first two mineral books was the Peterson Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals by Fred Pough – that was certainly true for me too (and my own copy sure looks as well used as it has been!). Steve is a skilled and accomplished field collector, having collected extensively in Ontario, as well as in almost all Canadian provinces and across the United States. Having travelled the world acquiring minerals in many countries, he has also attended many mineral shows – in particular, he has attended the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium for almost 30 years. Steve has a long record of mineral community involvement and contribution, having been with the Walker Mineralogical Club in Toronto since 1985 (and a member of the executive for many of the years since then) – he has also been a member of the Scarborough Gem and Mineral Club, the Kawartha Rock and Fossil Club and the Canadian Micro Mineral Association. As you might expect, given his mineral collecting career, Steve is incredibly knowledgeable about minerals and many mineral-related subjects. He has always been kind and generous with his knowledge. Steve has enjoyed assisting in the activities of a great organization, the Young Toronto Mineralogists Club, including talks, using binocular microscopes, and field trips. It is my pleasure to be able to share his collection with you.

Anglesite, Galena, Touissit, Touissit - Bou Beker District, Jerada, Oriental, Morocco

Anglesite, Touissit, Touissit – Bou Beker District, Jerada, Oriental, Morocco – 1.8 cm crystal

Arsenopyrite, Muscovite, Yaoganxian Mine, Yizhang Co., Chenzhou Prefecture, Hunan Province, China

Arsenopyrite on Muscovite, Yaoganxian Mine, Yizhang Co., Chenzhou Prefecture, Hunan Province, China – 4.2 cm

Bastnäsite - (Ce), Zagi Mountain, Hameed Abad Kafoor Dneri, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

 Bastnäsite – (Ce), Zagi Mountain, Hameed Abad Kafoor Dneri, Peshawar,
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan – 2.0 cm

Benitoite, Neptunite, California Gem Mine, Santa Rita Peak, New Idria Mining District, San Benito Co., California, USA

Benitoite, Neptunite, California Gem Mine, Santa Rita Peak, New Idria Mining District,
San Benito Co., California, USA – 6.6 cm

Brookite, Magnet Cove, Hot Spring Co., Arkansas, USA

Brookite, Magnet Cove, Hot Spring Co., Arkansas, USA

Calcite, Celadonite, Irai, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Calcite with Celadonite, Irai, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil – 11.3 cm

Calcite, Celadonite, Irai, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Same specimen as above, under UV light

Calcite, Irai, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Calcite, Irai, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil – 9.7 cm

Calcite, Irai, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

 Same specimen as above, under UV light

Calcite (Twinned), Elmwood Mine, Carthage, Smith Co., Tennessee, USA

Calcite (Twinned), Elmwood Mine, Carthage, Smith Co., Tennessee, USA – 7.3 cm

Calcite, Hematite, Santa Eulalia Mining District, Chihuahua, Mexico

Calcite, Santa Eulalia Mining District, Chihuahua, Mexico – 11.2 cm
Illuminated by UV light

Cassiterite, Viloco Mine, Loayza Province, La Paz, Bolivia

Cassiterite, Viloco Mine, Loayza Province, La Paz, Bolivia
Field of view 3.0 cm

Celestine, Sulphur, Machow Mine, Tarnobrzeg City Co., PolandCelestine on Sulphur, Machow Mine, Tarnobrzeg City Co., Poland – 8.1 cm

Celestine, Sulphur, Machow Mine, Tarnobrzeg City Co., Poland

Same specimen as above, under UV light

Celestine, Sulphur, Machow Mine, Tarnobrzeg City Co., PolandSame specimen as above, exhibiting phosphorescence after UV illumination

Celestine, Sulphur, Machow Mine, Tarnobrzeg City Co., Poland

Celestine, Sulphur, Machow Mine, Tarnobrzeg City Co., Poland
Field of view 3.5 cm

Celestine, Sulphur, Machow Mine, Tarnobrzeg City Co., Poland Celestine on Sulphur, Machow Mine, Tarnobrzeg City Co., Poland
Field of view 3.0 cm

Cerussite, Barite, Les Dalles Mine, Mibladen Mining District, Midelt, Morocco

Cerussite on Barite, Les Dalles Mine, Mibladen Mining District, Midelt, Morocco – 7.1 cm

Corundum var. Sapphire, Ratnapura, Ratnapura District, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri LankaCorundum var. Sapphire, Ratnapura, Ratnapura District, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka – 4.2 cm

Cuprite, Chrysocolla, Mashamba West Mine, Kolwezi Mining District, Lualaba, Democratic Republic of the Congo Cuprite on Chrysocolla, Mashamba West Mine, Kolwezi Mining District, Lualaba,
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dioptase, Altyn-Tyube Deposit, Kirghiz Steppes, Karagandy Province, Kazakhstan

Dioptase, Altyn-Tyube Deposit, Kirghiz Steppes, Karagandy Province, Kazakhstan – 4.8 cm

Dioptase, Altyn-Tyube Deposit, Kirghiz Steppes, Karagandy Province, Kazakhstan

Dioptase, Altyn-Tyube Deposit, Kirghiz Steppes, Karagandy Province, Kazakhstan – 2.7 cm

Elbaite Tourmaline, Chiar Mine, Sao Jose da Safira, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Elbaite, Chiar Mine, Sao Jose da Safira, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 3.8 cm

Epidote, Prince of Wales Island, Ketchikan Mining District, Alaska, USA

Epidote (twinned), Prince of Wales Island, Ketchikan Mining District, Alaska, USA – 4.2 cm

Ettringite, N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Ettringite, N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 4.3 cm

Fluorite, Sphalerite, Annabel Lee Mine, Hardin Co., Illinois, USA

Fluorite on sphalerite, Annabel Lee Mine, Hardin Co., Illinois, USA

Fluorite, Xianghualing Mine, Linwu Co., Chenzhou, Hunan, China

Fluorite, Xianghualing Mine, Linwu Co., Chenzhou, Hunan, China – 10.5 cm

Fluorite, Xianghualing Mine, Linwu Co., Chenzhou, Hunan, China

Same specimen as above, under UV light

Gypsum var. selenite with halite, Salinas de Otuma, Paracas, Pisco, Ica Dept., Peru

Gypsum var. selenite with halite, Salinas de Otuma, Paracas, Pisco, Ica Dept., Peru – 5.0 cm

Gypsum var. selenite with halite, Salinas de Otuma, Paracas, Pisco, Ica Dept., Peru

Gypsum var. Selenite, Santa Eulalia Mining District, Chihuahua, Mexico – 8.1 cm

Gypsum var. Selenite, Naica, Saucillo Municipality, Chihuahua, Mexico

Gypsum var. Selenite, Naica, Saucillo Municipality, Chihuahua, Mexico – 11.1 cm

Hemimorphite, Santa Eulalia Mining District, Chihuahua, Mexico

Hemimorphite, Santa Eulalia Mining District, Chihuahua, Mexico

Malachite, Chrysocolla, Mashamba West Mine, Kolwezi Mining District, Lualaba, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Malachite on Chrysocolla, Mashamba West Mine, Kolwezi Mining District, Lualaba,
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Pyrite, Canutillos Mine, Machamarcha District, Potosí, Bolivia

Pyrite, Canutillos Mine, Machamarcha District, Potosí, Bolivia

Pyromorphite, Daoping Mine, Gongcheng Co., Guanxi Zhuang A.R., China

Pyromorphite, Daoping Mine, Gongcheng Co., Guanxi Zhuang A.R., China – 3.3 cm

Pyrrhotite, Dal'negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia

Pyrrhotite, Dal’negorsk, Primorskiy Kray, Russia – 5.7 cm

Smithsonite, Kelly Mine, Magdalena, Socorro Co., New Mexico, USA

Smithsonite, Kelly Mine, Magdalena, Socorro Co., New Mexico, USA – 7.7 cm

Sphalerite, Dashkesan Deposit, Maly Caucasus, Koshkarchai Valley, Azerbaijan

Sphalerite, Dashkesan Deposit, Maly Caucasus, Koshkarchai Valley, Azerbaijan – 6.3 cm

Vanadinite, Taouz, Errachidia Province, Morocco

Vanadinite, Taouz, Errachidia Province, Morocco

Vivianite, Tomokoni Mine, Canutillos Subdistrict, Machacamarcha District, Potosí, Bolivia

Vivianite, Tomokoni Mine, Canutillos Subdistrict, Machacamarcha District, Potosí, Bolivia – 4.3 cm

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan – 4.3 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 09.19.2019 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

I’ve posted the second in a series of updates with superb specimens from John S. White’s collection (click here).

Most of you will likely know a bit about John, given that among his many accomplishments in the mineral world he is the founder of the Mineralogical Record, former curator of the U.S. National Mineral and Gem Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and author of two books and over 200 articles. I’ve written a short post about him with some great photos – hope you enjoy it! (click here)

Chabazite, Stilbite, Pune District, Maharashtra, India

 Chabazite on Stilbite, Road cut at Bavdhan, Pune District, Maharashtra, India – 6.2 cm

Elbaite Tourmaline, Momeik Township, Kyaukme District, Shan, Myanmar

Elbaite Tourmaline, Momeik Township, Kyaukme District, Shan, Myanmar – 5.4 cm

Epidote, Tormiq, Gilgit-Baltistan Road, N.A., PakistanEpidote, Tormiq, Gilgit-Baltistan Road, N.A., Pakistan – 4.3 cm

Epidote, Hachupa, Shigar District, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan Epidote, Hachupa, Shigar District, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan – 3.5 cm

Epidote, Maldeen, Ras Koh Mtns., Kharan District, Balochistan, Pakistan

Epidote, Maldeen, Ras Koh Mtns., Kharan District, Balochistan, Pakistan – 5.4 cm

Fluorapatite, Panasqueira Mines, Covillhã, Castello Branco, Portugal

Fluorapatite, Panasqueira Mines, Covillhã, Castello Branco, Portugal – 3.2 cm

Fluorapatite, Panasqueira Mines, Covillhã, Castello Branco, Portugal

Same specimen as above, under ultraviolet light

Fluorapatite, Kunar, Afghanistan

Fluorapatite, Kunar, Afghanistan – 6.5 cm

Fluorapatite, Kunar, Afghanistan

Same specimen as above, under ultraviolet light

Fluorapophyllite, 	Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

 Fluorapophyllite, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India – 7.3 cm

Fluorite on Quartz, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China

Fluorite on Quartz, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China – 10.8 cm

Hematite pseudomorph after magnetite, Payún Volcano, Altiplano de Payún Matru, Mendoza, Argentina

Hematite pseudomorph after magnetite, Payún Volcano, Altiplano de Payún Matru, Mendoza, Argentina – 5.9 cm

Hematite pseudomorph after magnetite, Payún Volcano, Altiplano de Payún Matru, Mendoza, Argentina

Hematite pseudomorph after magnetite, Payún Volcano, Altiplano de Payún Matru, Mendoza, Argentina – 6.1 cm

Hematite with Rutile, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil

Hematite with Rutile, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 4.5 cm

Hubnerite and quartz, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion, La Libertad Dept., Peru

Hubnerite and quartz, Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sanchez Carrion, La Libertad Dept., Peru – 7.6 cm

Hydroxyapophyllite, Prehnite, Fairfax Quarry, Centreville, Fairfax Co., Virginia, USA

Hydroxyapophyllite on Prehnite, Fairfax Quarry, Centreville, Fairfax Co., Virginia, USA – 15.1 cm

Ilvaite, Quartz, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China

Ilvaite and quartz, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China – 6.5 cm

Löllingite, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China

Löllingite, Huanggang Mines, Hexigten Banner, Ulanhad, Inner Mongolia A.R., China – 10.2 cm

Olmiite, N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Olmiite, N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 5.2 cm

Olmiite, N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Same specimen as above, under ultraviolet light

Pentagonite, Wagholi, Pune District, India

Pentagonite, Wagholi, Pune District, India
Field of view 2 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 08.18.2017 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

I’ve added a small number of excellent hematite specimens in this France Hematite Update (click here). I’ve had a few of these in the past, and have managed to obtain a few more. These hematites were excavated from a deposit in the hills just above the town of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. Specimens were collected from this small vein system in the 1970s and 1980s, and these beautiful hematite crystal groups date back to those workings.

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France – 8.6 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France
Close-up of the specimen above, field of view 2.5 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France – 7.3 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France
Close-up of the specimen above, field of view 3 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite with quartz, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France- 7.4 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France
Close-up of the specimen above, field of view 2.5 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France
Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France – 6.9 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite with quartz,  Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France – 5.7 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France – 6.9 cm

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France

Hematite, Brézouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace. France
Close-up of the specimen above, field of view 3 cm

Hematite, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace, France

Hematite, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace, France – 5.2 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 07.26.2017 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

 

In the heart of France’s Vosges Mountains, each June, Mineral World assembles at Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace, for what is always a great mineral show.

Alsace is a beautiful place, and this sure is a beautiful time of year.

Saint-Hippolyte, Alsace, France

Saint-Hippolyte, Alsace, with the Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg on the crest of the hill in the background.

SteMarie

Everywhere you look, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines is full of blooms in late June.

Lavender

Lavender is a common sight and scent in Alsace at this time of year.

Ste. Marie’s mining history dates to the 16th century. Located in the Val’D’Argent (“Valley of Silver”), the town was the hub for a vast number of mining operations over a few hundred years that ultimately left approximately 20,000 km of tunnels under and inside these valley hills.

SteMarieHistory

Depiction of historic mining practices in the area of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines

If you are newer to the website and might not have seen prior Ste. Marie reports, I’ve written a bit more on the history in other years’ posts – there are some good photos as well, for example in the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2015 post (click here).

The Show

For a few days each year, this town is transformed, as mineral and gem people from every corner of the globe get together. The centre of town becomes its own little community with tent “streets” and alleyways in all directions.

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines Mineral Show

One of the many tent streets, with the Theatre venue in the background.

Although it is a gorgeous time of year in Alsace, 2017’s European heat wave made for some scorching days at the show. One popular way to beat the afternoon heat was the misting station they had installed for the show at the central hub-intersection, by the theatre.

Misting Towers

It was a great idea. Unfortunately for me, I was always carrying flats full of minerals when I passed this intersection… (cardboard mineral boxes and misting don’t mix!)

Of course, hot days can’t stop the quest… and there were some great finds this year.

There has been a large new find of red zircons from the Astor Valley, in Pakistan. A locality that has sporadically produced small amounts of material in recent years, this find produced a large number of pieces. However, from all I have seen, fine zircons are few. There are two key reasons for this. First, the zircons are enclosed within solid rock with other hard constituent minerals, such that many zircons were broken when they were collected. Second, and a much more prevalent issue, the zircon crystals seem to have formed more or less contemporaneously with most of the other minerals in the deposit – feldspar, biotite mica, and pyroxene – and as a result, most of the zircon crystals are not fully developed. Instead, most zircon crystal growth was interrupted by the growth of these other minerals, and therefore most zircons are simply incomplete, or malformed. And yet, among the well-over 1000 pieces I went through, there were a few super crystals. The colour ranges from hues of wine-red to intense, vivid deep red, with some occasional gradation to much lighter hues, almost colourless.

I’m including a few photos here, and to see more, I’m including a link below these.

Red Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan – crystal 3 cm across

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan – 2 cm crystal

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan – field of view 2 cm

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan – field of view 3 cm

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan – field of view 2 cm

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan – field of view

These zircon crystals fluoresce yellow under shortwave ultraviolet light.

Zircon, Astor Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

To see more of these zircon specimens, click here.

As a related aside, if you’ve read my mineral show posts before, you will likely have seen that I joke about shows as “urban field collecting”. So here is an example of one kind of urban field collecting. The Astor Valley red zircons arrived in metal shipping containers, and large numbers were as yet still packed up. Meaning… a few hours in the hot sun… I unpacked each and every zircon from this shipment, never knowing whether the next piece in hand might be a worthy specimen (and usually it was not!).

Urban Field Collecting

This sure isn’t so different from collecting on mine dumps: (1) Each piece you have in hand has no direct relationship to the one next to it. (2) Any piece can be great. and (3) If you don’t keep going through as much material as humanly possible, you will miss the good specimens. So, on you go…

Next, from the well-known locality, Paprok, Afghanistan, there has been new production of some excellent spodumene crystals. Many are bicoloured, light pink and green, while some are one colour or the other. Some of these are very nicely formed!

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan – 5.0 cm (photographed section)

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan – 4.5 cm (photographed section)

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan – 5.0 cm

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan – 4.0 cm (photographed section)

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan

Spodumene, Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan – 2.5 cm (photographed section)

A “new” find of clinochlore has come from Arrondissement Diako, Mali. I say “new” because they are new to us, but were actually collected a while back. The information relayed to me is that these were found six years ago by a geologist prospecting for economic ore minerals. The clinochlores were not considered specimens by the prospector, but have now been tracked down. A very soft mineral, excavated by a commercial prospector, you can imagine that most from the lot are not fine mineral specimens at all, but a very few are really nice, particularly under good lights, where the green becomes visible. Good clinochlore specimens are really not easy to come by, so I was really pleased to find these.

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.3 cm

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 4.0 cm

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 2.5 cm crystal

A few years ago, I managed to acquire a few hematite specimens from just outside the town of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines itself. These are the hematites from Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France. I’ve tracked down a few more. Specimens from this locality were collected in the 1970s and 1980s. These are really great, distinctive hematite specimens, from a now classic locality.

Hematite, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France

Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France – field of view 4.0 cm

Hematite, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France

Hematite with quartz, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France – 5.8 cm

Hematite, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France

Hematite, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France – 8.7 cm

Hematite, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France

Hematite, Brezouard Massif, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France – field of view 5.0 cm

The Show Exhibits

As always, the exhibits were fantastic. This year’s theme was Minerals and Volcanism, with cases dedicated to mineral specimens from volcanic deposits around the world. Of course, they featured many basalt-hosted specimens from localities around the world. Some of these are very well represented by specimens and photographs throughout the world – examples include the Deccan Traps in India and the beautiful amethysts from Artigas, Uruguay – while others are localities and minerals that we rarely see represented. With one exception, I’ve chosen to include photos of a few of the latter for this post. To me, that is often the most amazing part of the Ste. Marie exhibit experience.

Beginning with France, I loved the way this particular display was set up. It was dim, with LED illumination under the five specimens (four corundum crystals and an orange zircon), and did they ever jump to life!

Exhibit 1

From top left, clockwise: Two green-blue corundum crystals from Espaly-Saint-Marcel, Haute Loire (Collection of the Museum of Natural History, London);
Orange zircon from Riou Pezzouliou, Espaly-Saint-Marcel, Haute Loire (Collection of Alain Martaud);
Blue corundum, var. sapphire, from Riou Pezzouliou, Espaly-Saint-Marcel, Haute Loire (Collection of Alain Martaud); and
Blue corundum, var. sapphire, from le Coupet, Haute Loire (Collection of Louis-Dominique Bayle)

This is one of the world’s finest (if not the single finest) specimens of phillipsite. The cruciform twin at the top is about 2.5 cm, and the crystals are sharp and lustrous.

Phillipsite, Alter Stein Quarry, Allendorf, Hessen, Germany - Andreas Leinweber Collection.

Phillipsite, Alter Stein Quarry, Allendorf, Hessen, Germany (Collection of Andreas Leinweber)

This next one is not a rare mineral, but a really classy specimen from an unfamiliar locality.

Aragonite

Aragonite, Gergovy, Puy de Dome, France (Collection of Alain Martaud)

While we’re in Europe, a couple of true classics from Italy:

These are just gorgeous crystals for nepheline.

Nepheline

Nepheline, Mt. Somma, Campania, Italy – crystals to about 1 cm
(From the Struver Collection, 1888, in the Collection of the Museo Universitaria di Scienze della Terra, Italy)

And this vesuvianite is sharp with great lustre.

Vesuvianite

Vesuvianite, Latium, Italy – crystal about 1 cm
(From the Spada Collection, in the Collection of the Museo Universitaria di Scienze della Terra, Italy)

With apologies for the very poor photograph quality (white zeolites really need extra lights and/or reflectors), I wanted to include this specimen despite the photo, because the piece blew me away. It’s a superb analcime from any locality, but check out this locality!

Analcime

Analcime, Kerguelen Islands, French Southern and Antarctic Lands – crystals to 5 cm
Collection of the Museum of Natural History, London

I mentioned one exception for a specimen from a more commonly represented locality, and this is from the abundant deposits in Rio Grande do Sul. It is spectacular! It glistens and sparkles throughout the cavity and was a favourite for many at the show.

Amethyst

Quartz, var. amethyst, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil – approximately 30 cm
Collection of the National Museum of Natural History, Paris.

And finally I’ll end with what was a great case, a display of specimens from volcanic deposits from the collection of French mineralogist René Just Haüy, generally regarded as the “father of modern crystallography”. These specimens are from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

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Found on antibioticspro.com that only with some antibiotics it is strictly prohibited to drink alcohol like metronidazole, tinidazole, trimethoprim and some more. But that for many others it can be actually ok, specially that few glasses of red wine can be actually even good. Can anyone prove this? Any personal experience?

ReneJustHauy

Until next year, so long for now to the beautiful towns and gardens of Alsace…

Window boxesSaint-Hippolyte, Alsace

Hollyhock

Saint-Hippolyte, Alsace

TwoTowers

Saint-Hippolyte, Alsace

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 11.15.2015 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve posted a new Brazil Update (click here), with superb, diverse specimens.

From the world famous morganite finds at the Urucum Mine, this crystal is likely from the 1973 pocket.

Beryl, var. Morganite, Urucum Mine,  Galileia, Minas Gerais, BrazillBeryl, var. Morganite, Urucum Mine, Galileia, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 7.9 cm

A one-of-a-kind specimen, this aqua-colours montebrasite crystal was found in a pocket in the 1970s. Most of the pocket material was etched and did not exhibit crystal faces.

Montebrasite, Lavra da Ilha, Taquaral, Itinga, Minas Gerais, BrazilMontebrasite, Lavra da Ilha, Taquaral, Itinga, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 3.9 cm

From a new recent find, a small pocket at Novo Horizonte produced a small number of remarkable crystals, sold to me under the label “synchysite”. Subsequent analysis by Don Doell has confirmed more about their identity. Having conducted semi-quantitative EDS at SGS Labs, Don found that these are in fact phosphate mineralization, and they are likely a combination of rhabdophane-(La), rhabdophane-(Ce) and possibly including monazite-(Ce). They appear to be pseudomorphs after a REE carbonate, probably in the parisite group, given that parisite-(La) has been found at Novo Horizonte in crystals with a similar aspect and appearance, at a similar time. They could also be after bastnasite-(La), which has been described from the locality. For now, I’m labelling them rhabdophane, pseudomorph after parisite, with the proviso that the above is the technically closest identification information to date. Thanks very much to Don for this analysis!

Synchysite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, BrazilRhabdophane pseudomorph after Parisite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 3.4 cm

Synchysite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, BrazilRhabdophane pseudomorph after Parisite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 2.6 cm

Synchysite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, BrazilRhabdophane pseudomorph after Parisite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 2.0 cm


Synchysite, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil Rhabdophane pseudomorph after Parisite – 2.4 cm

Also from Novo Horizonte, a tabular crystal of rutilated quartz, in superb condition and with bright prismatic golden rutile crystals:

Rutilated Quartz, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil

Rutilated Quartz, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil – 7.6 cm

From Brumado, excellent pleochroic crystals of uvite tourmaline, exhibiting purple hues at certain angles and greenish hues when viewed from other angles. The first two photographs below are views of the same uvite crystal from different viewing angles.

Uvite Tourmaline (Pleochroic), Magnesite,  Pombas Mine, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, BrazilUvite Tourmaline (Pleochroic), Magnesite, Pombas Mine, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, Brazil
Crystal 0.8 cm

Uvite Tourmaline (Pleochroic), Magnesite,  Pombas Mine, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, BrazilUvite Tourmaline (Pleochroic), Magnesite, Pombas Mine, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, Brazil
Same crystal as prior photo

Uvite Tourmaline (Pleochroic), Magnesite,  Pombas Mine, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, BrazilUvite Tourmaline (Pleochroic), Magnesite, Pombas Mine, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, Brazil
5.4 cm

Uvite Tourmaline (Pleochroic), Magnesite,  Pombas Mine, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, Brazil Uvite Tourmaline (Pleochroic), Magnesite, Pombas Mine, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, Brazil
Crystal 1.2 cm

Another unusual tourmaline for Brumado, green dravite crystals are quite uncommon.

Dravite Tourmaline, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, Brazil

Dravite Tourmaline, Magnesite, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, Brazil – 1.5 cm crystal

The update also includes specimens from other well-known finds and localities

Elbaite Tourmaline, Barra do Salinas, Coronel Murta, Minas Gerais, Brazil Elbaite Tourmaline, Barra do Salinas, Coronel Murta, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 2.9 cm

Brazilianite, Telirio Claim, Linoplois, Divino das Laranjeiras, Brazil

Brazilianite, Telirio Claim, Linoplois, Divino das Laranjeiras, Brazil
Crystals to 3 cm

Fluorapatite, Bertrandite, Faria Mine, Golconda District, Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Fluorapatite, Bertrandite, Faria Mine, Golconda District, Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Crystal 1.5 cm

Hematite (Iron Rose). Coluna Mine, Miguel Burnier District, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Hematite (Iron Rose). Coluna Mine, Miguel Burnier District, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Field of view approximately 4 cm

Hydroxylherderite, Morro Redondo Mine, Coronel Murta, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Hydroxylherderite, Morro Redondo Mine, Coronel Murta, Minas Gerais, Brazil – 5.3 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 07.11.2015 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

In this France Update (click here), I am including the first of the specimens from the 2015 Ste. Marie Show.

Despite the host country, the show is truly not full of French mineral specimens, given their relative scarcity, and the ones that are there are highly prized. Nonetheless, I was able to acquire a few excellent French pieces.

Beautiful deep golden barite crystals from a find at La Côte d’Abot, near Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne.

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France

 Barite, La Côte d’Abot, near Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France – 7.1 cm

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, near Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France – 4.3 cm

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, near Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France.

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, near Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France – 5.3 cm

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, near Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France.

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, near Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France – 4.8 cm

I also found a small stash of bournonite crystal groups from the contemporary classic locality, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon.

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France – 6.8 cm

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France – 6.1 cm

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France – 5.3 cm

From Buxières-les-Mines, there was one fluorite specimen that really caught my eye. We are used to seeing fluorite from occurrences where the habit is one of stacked cubes, but how often do we get to see stacked dodecahedra?

Fluorite, Buxières-les-Mines, Allier, Auvergne, France

Fluorite, Buxières-les-Mines, Allier, Auvergne, France – field of view approximately 3.0 cm

From an uncommon locality for fine mineral specimens, some brilliant, sharp alpine hematite.

Hematite, L'Alpe d'Huez, Oisans, Isère, France

Hematite, L’Alpe d’Huez, Oisans, Isère, France – 10.1 cm

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Hematite, L’Alpe d’Huez, Oisans, Isère, France – field of view approximately 2.5 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 07.08.2015 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

Morning sun on cobblestones, flowers spilling out of window boxes, the sounds of church bells and songbirds, swallows dipping and weaving through the village, the smell of fresh baked goods wafting from the boulangerie… fine cheeses and wines, scenic hills of vineyards and lavender-filled gardens… I mean really, what could be better than France in June?

Riquewihr2

Minerals in France in June. (Obviously.)

The annual mineral show at Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines is so different from all others. Sure, we all love the large exciting mineral-filled halls and general mineral mayhem of the large shows, and the hotel shows in Tucson and Denver. But Ste Marie’s character and charm, from the theatre and the tent-lined streets within the show, to the town and the countryside beyond, make this an experience not to be missed.

Ste Marie is in Alsace, a region known for its beautiful small towns, distinctive architecture, hills, valleys and vineyards.

Riquewihr1Alsace village of Riquewihr

Beyond the gardens and planters, there are beautiful wildflowers.

Foxglove2

Wild foxglove (digitalis) at the edge of the forest

The woods and countryside are beautiful, home to a variety of animals. I wasn’t close enough for a good photo of the two deer grazing at the edge of the trees one morning, but I did catch this scene (granted, not so deep in the forest!)

StorksStorks, Alsace

The town of Ste Marie itself is situated in the heart of an historic mining district, the Val d’Argent (the Valley of Silver). This region’s mining history is remarkable, with underground mines dating to the 16th century. They say that within the greater valley and all its hills, there are more than 20,000 km of underground tunnels (!) – not sure how anyone would have calculated that, but even a lesser fraction of that would be astounding, as there is of course almost no evidence of this above-ground.

SteMarieShield

Such a great coat of arms.

Certain of these historic mines have been opened for organized visiting, and it’s well worth the time to go and explore. One such mine is Tellure. Major work has been done at this site to make it accessible to the public, with a modern interpretation centre and underground infrastructure to facilitate tours of small groups. Today, access to the old workings is via an adit which has been driven into the hillside to intersect older workings at various places – an amazing undertaking. This is well done – visitors experience workings of various vintages, from the 16th to the 19th century.

Most of the 16th century workings are irregular and require a small bit of clambering to walk through, as they were cut using only hand tools, advancing at an average of 15 cm per day in the hard rock areas. The workings from this era are narrow and not as high, as the miners were typically not as tall as we are today.

Tunnel16thc

An unusually straight 16th century working, through softer rock – this one is believed to have been exploratory, in search of the extension of the silver vein.

More recent workings were larger in scale, of course, as equipment and blasting were used.

Tunnel19thc

A section of 19th century workings, with supports.

Hoist

19th century hoisting apparatus

The museum at the Tellure interpretation centre includes many artifacts, although the collection of local minerals is currently very basic/elementary. A highlight at the Tellure interpretation centre was a temporary display – this year, a local collector of mining lamps had put on a super exhibit, absolutely first class in all respects.

Miner's Lamp, Saint-Marie-aux-Mines

 In the exhibit, many historical photographs were used together with the lamps, showing the given types of lamps
in use. Featuring the French symbol of the rooster, this lamp was used in the Val d’Argent.

OK, on to the main event – Ste. Marie 2015!

SteMarie

Ste. Marie – the river channel behind buildings and homes.

Of course, as one of the world’s premier mineral shows, Ste. Marie has the strengths that come with this reputation in Mineral World. Top dealers and smaller dealers from all over the world offer specimens of all kinds. In particular, Ste. Marie includes truly stunning thematic displays. At the same time, Ste Marie reflects other regular trends in Mineral World too – scarcity of new material and lots of high prices.

This year the show’s tents and exhibits opened under sunny skies, with lots to look through.

Tents

 One of the many tent “streets”.  There is no grid or obvious pattern to the layout (as it is in the old part of town)
so navigation back to that particular specimen you remember is a good challenge.

Theatre

The theatre rises above the surrounding tents. Hidden in the deepest shadows in the centre of this photo
is Alfredo Petrov, who was visible when I was waiting for the break in pedestrian traffic to take this shot.
Does he not want to be seen? What mineralogical secret has compelled him into the darkness?

If you’ve read other reports of mine from past shows, you may have noticed that I am regularly baffled by the torture to which some mineral specimens are subjected. It’s one thing to toss tumbled agates together, but here is the Ste Marie 2015 winner, for me – the two flats of reddish material at upper right and lower left.

TorturedCuprites

 Yes, this one is pretty low. Those are – or were – cuprite crystals from Rubstovskoe.
Sure, to be fair, they were undoubtedly not the top ones, but there were good
crystals among them and I just can’t see how this could ever be a good idea.

Searching the show, I found a few excellent things.

Despite the host country, the show is truly not full of French mineral specimens, given their relative scarcity. The ones that are there are highly prized. Nonetheless, I was able to acquire a few really interesting French pieces.

There are beautiful deep golden barite crystals from a find at La Côte d’Abot, near Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France. This was in fact a sizeable find however it seems that the pockets were either collapsed or at least partially collapsed well before human eyes ever reached them – many of the broken surfaces have faint recrystallization textures on them.  As in so many cases in mineral collecting, even the most careful of collecting cannot help specimens that were damaged by nature, so I did not acquire many, but the ones I did pick out are very cool specimens. Many demonstrate late-stage layered crystal growth, to create sceptres and capped sections – really neat crystallization patterns on these.

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France – 7.1 cm

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France

Barite, La Côte d’Abot, Saint Saturnin, Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France – 4.3 cm

I also found a small stash of bournonite crystal groups from the contemporary classic locality, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. As with the barites, many of the broken rear surfaces have faint recrystallization textures (and even micro crystals, in some cases) on them, and so again with these pieces there is the problem that many of them detached with just too little that was complete or in excellent condition. I did manage to come up with a very small number of great ones.

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France – 6.8 cm

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Bournonite, Les Malines District, Saint-Laurent-Le-Minier, Gard, Languedoc-Roussillon, France – 6.1 cm

From Buxières-les-Mines, there was one fluorite specimen that really caught my eye.  We are used to seeing fluorite from occurrences where the habit is one of stacked cubes, but how often do we get to see stacked dodecahedra?

Fluorite, Buxières-les-Mines, Allier, Auvergne, France

Fluorite, Buxières-les-Mines, Allier, Auvergne, France – field of view approximately 3.0 cm

One last item of interest from France – from an uncommon locality for fine mineral specimens, some brilliant, sharp alpine hematite.

Hematite, L'Alpe d'Huez, Oisans, Isère, France

Hematite with quartz, L’Alpe d’Huez, Oisans, Isère, France – 10.1 cm

Ste Marie regularly includes a large number of sellers from Morocco. However, one really has to dig to find truly excellent specimens – they are few and far between!

Bou Azzer has for many years been known as the locality for the world’s finest erythrite specimens, but specimens are sporadic, and the quality is usually poor (to be fair, this is a very soft mineral and hard to bring from mine to market without damage.) This year a seller had a small lot of erythrite specimens of exceptional quality.

Erythrite1(8.8cm)

 Erythrite, Bou Azzer District, Ouarzazate Province, Morocco – 8.8 cm

Erythrite2(xls to 1cm)

Erythrite, Bou Azzer District, Ouarzazate Province, Morocco – crystals to 1 cm

One other Morocco item – in my Tucson 2015 post, I mentioned some beautiful arite crystals from Bou Nahas. There has been a fair bit more material from this locality, but most of the barite groups and crystals are not particularly distinctive – and in fact I don;t find much of this material to be interesting. However, the isolated crystals and crystal pairs can be pretty special, and I found three more of those at the show – here’s one of them.

BariteBouNahas(5.0)

Barite, Bou Nahas, Oumjrane mining area, Alnif, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 5.0 cm

You may recall that the beautiful yellow stilbite balls from Mali made their debut at Ste Marie last year. There almost none of these in Denver 2014, and I saw no high quality ones in Tucson this year (maybe I missed them?), so I wondered what the story was. Early after my arrival in Ste. Marie, I caught up with the same sellers from last year and went through their specimens. It turns out that the one digging, known simply as Diamonkara, has produced a number of further specimens over the past year, and although most were damaged, I was able to acquire some excellent pieces.

If you read about Diamonkara on my site last year, or if you were in Ste Marie either last year or this year, you may have noted that there has been a push to sell these as specimens of stellerite. When I asked one of the sellers last year as to what had been done to confirm that identification, I was told that “they look like stellerite” (because they often occur in the habit of spherical aggregates). Clearly, that is not enough to label them stellerite – not to mention, there are wheat-sheaf aggregates and individual crystals of this material too.  So yet again this year in Ste Marie, the name stellerite was used. I am aware of one set of analyses that was unable to demonstrate that any of these are in fact stellerite – this is second-hand information, but it is certainly consistent with the prior identifications of stilbite from the deposits of the region.

As for the specimens themselves, the good Diamonkara pieces are absolutely some of the nicest and most distinctive stilbites I’ve ever seen from anywhere, with beautiful colour and form. They are perhaps not yet appreciated for what they are – these are striking display specimens of a mineral that is often pale and drab.

StilbitePrehnite(6cm)

Stilbite, prehnite and epidote from Diamonkara, Bendougou, Kayes Region, Mali – 6 cm

Of all of the minerals that have been caught up in the rise of specimen prices, sadly, elbaite tourmaline stands out. It would be hard not to love a fine tourmaline, but these days it is hard to find excellent quality tourmaline specimens that can be purchased for prices that can be justified by that love. In Ste. Marie I was fortunate to be able to acquire a small number of wonderful-quality specimens from the classic Pakistan locality, Stak Nala. The seller’s family had mined these very recently.

Elbaite Tourmalin, Stak Nala, Pakistan

 Stak Nala, Gilgit-Skardu Road, Northern Areas, Pakistan – 4.5 cm

Moving on from the dealers, the thematic displays this year were spectacular. The theme was minerals of the Alps, and many kinds of mineralogical environments were represented, including the classic alpine deposits and many others situated in the region. Just a couple of photos to give a glimpse:

RedFluorite

Fluorite, Massif de l’Aiguille Verte, Chamonix-Mont Blanc, Haute-Savoie, France – approximately 12 cm.
Collected by J. Couttet in 2004. Now in the Musée des Cristaux in Chamonix.

 Titanite

Group of twinned yellow titanite crystals – approximately 7 cm.

Jordanite

Famous (world’s finest) jordanite crystal from Lengenbach Quarry, Fäld, Finn Valley, Wallis, Switzerland –
approximately 7 cm. British Museum of Natural History collection.

Needless to say, I revisited the display area a few times, just to soak it all in.  The organizers and contributors did an amazing job – thank you!

Until next time, goodbye to the Val d’Argent.

Val d'Argent Val d’Argent, Alsace, France

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.26.2015 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve added some superb new specimens on the website in this week’s South Africa Update (click here).

A small pocket at the N’Chwaning II Mine recently produced some exquisite new inesite specimens. These are very sharp and intricate, and in superb condition. I was lucky to have the first chance at these and selected out only a few specimens, the ones I judged to be the best.

Inesite, N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, South AfricaInesite, N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 4.5 cm

N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South AfricaInesite, N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 5.0 cm

N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South AfricaInesite, N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 3.8 cm

This update also includes a couple of hematite specimens, including a brilliant, top, connoisseur-level specimen of ettringite and hematite together, which is ex Marshall Sussman – this is an absolute killer!

Ettringite, Hematite - N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South AfricaEttringite, Hematite – N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 6.7 cm

And finally in this update I have included some gorgeous green fluorite specimens from Riemvasmaak.

Fluorite, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, South AfricaFluorite, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 10.8 cm

Fluorite, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, South AfricaFluorite, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 8.3 cm

Fluorite, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Fluorite, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Field of view approximately 3 cm

Fluorite, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Fluorite and Quartz, Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Field of view approximately 4 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 11.27.2014 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

This South-Africa – Kenya Update (click here) includes a small number of excellent specimens. From South Africa, there are beautiful complex hematite crystals from the N’Chwaning II Mine. And from Kenya, there is a small group of the superb epidotes from Pakot, North Eastern Province, from the 2002 find.

Hematite, N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Hematite, N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 4.8 cm

Hematite, N'Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Hematite, N’Chwaning II Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa – 3.5 cm

Even though the finest quality epidotes from Pakot rank among the world’s finest, to date not much has been written about them. The find occurred in 2002 in North Eastern Province, which was known at the time as Northern Frontier District, or NFD. It is noted by Tom Moore in his write-up of the 2003 Tucson show (The Mineralogical Record, May-June, 2003, Vol. 34:3). The deposit, described as a metamorphic skarn, was worked by Wayne Thompson and the late, famous African mineral explorer Campbell Bridges. This is a remote area of Kenya, home to tribal communities and is sometimes a conflict region, so mineral specimen collecting is not an easy or frequent matter – this 2002 find was remarkable.

Epidote, Pakot, North Eastern Province, KenyaEpidote, Pakot, North Eastern Province, Kenya – 7.7 cm

Epidote, Pakot, North Eastern Province, Kenya

Epidote, Pakot, North Eastern Province, Kenya – this field of view shows approximately 4.5 cm of this crystal