Archives

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 02.23.2018 | Filed under: Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)

 

It’s hard to believe that another Tucson has come and gone already. In the middle of a cold Bancroft winter, Tucson’s wonderful warm sunshine was sure welcome.

Santa Rita Foothills, Arizona Santa Rita Foothills, southeast of Tucson

I was very fortunate to be able to experience Tucson’s natural surroundings this year. I stayed with my good friend and collecting partner David Joyce (David K. Joyce Minerals), with Carol Teal and their dog Riley at their new place in the beautiful Santa Rita Foothills, southeast of the city.

DaveRiley2

 Dave and Riley on their sitting rock

In the foothills

Photo of me taken by Don Doell – Santa Rita Foothills, with Tucson in the distance

The Sonora Desert is a remarkable place in the world. In places, and at many times of year, it appears harsh and unforgiving. As to flora and fauna, the Sonora Desert gives the superficial impression that it is inhabited only by the hardiest very few species.

Saguaro SceneSaguaro Cacti

Immerse yourself in it a little, and the truth reveals itself – the variety of plants and animals is amazing (600 plant species and 200 animal species).  As with everything in life, the more quiet observation you do, the more you see. The foothills and desert areas around Tucson are full of life.

Deer 1

Deer paying a visit to Dave and Carol’s place

Cactus flower

Cactus bloom

Saguaro armSaguaro arm

On one of our mornings in the desert, the moon put on a show of its own.

Mesquite EclipseUnder the mesquite trees with the lunar eclipse before dawn, Santa Rita Foothills

The Minerals

OK OK. I know, we all really want to read about minerals. Of course, what Tucson means is the fun of midwinter urban field collecting, and there were lots of great specimens this year.

Some beautiful and interesting specimens have continued to come from Pakistan and Afghanistan. From Pakistan, the recent brucite specimens are super – some of the finest brucite I’ve ever seen. The Killah Saifullah brucite were first noted to me by John White after he saw a couple in Munich, 2016, and since then, the quality of the finest has greatly increased over those early days. It seems that most of these are occurring in very tight seams, or with a fragmented or brecciated matrix, and so most have contacts and grey spots around them. The colour of most of them is a cream-to-very-pale-yellow, but the best have a bright yellow hue. Many are very finely crystallized, but on some, like these ones, one can easily see many crystal faces. These Pakistan brucites are amazing for the mineral.

I’ve done my best to colour-balance them accurately (daylight, shade). I always do that anyway, of course, but some mineral specimens are susceptible to really skewing away from daylight appearance when photographed.

Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan
Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan – 6.1 cm

Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan

Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan – 7.2 cm

Brucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, PakistanBrucite, Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan – 3.2 cm

From Afghanistan, a small number of excellent specimens have continued to come from some of the best-known occurrences, and I just want to highlight one in particular. From Sar-e Sang, Dudley Blauwet has recently brought out a couple of particularly excellent diopside specimens, and I am including one here. Given that diopside is not an uncommon mineral, it’s surprising that great matrix specimens are so hard to find. This one is striking.

102113(1)(8.0)
Diopside, Ladujar Medam, Sar-e Sang River, Kokcha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan – 8 cm

Moving on to South America, there have been a couple of particularly interesting new finds. In Potosí, Bolivia, there has been a discovery of very pretty amethyst crystals. There isn’t more specific information about the locality at this time – I’m told that this is because it is in an unnamed area of Potosi, not near to any named settlement or geographic feature. The specimens were discovered by farmers, at the edge of a field area, bordering hills. These have somewhat similar habit and appearance to some of the amethyst crystals from Peidra Parada (Las Vigas), Mexico. They are sharp, with top lustre and excellent transparency. Some are doubly-terminated, and some show a great reverse-sceptre habit. These are really sweet – I only found them available from one person, and I acquired the nicest for the website.

Quartz, var. amethyst, Potosi, BoliviaQuartz, var. amethyst, Potosí, Bolivia – 5.3 cm

Quartz, var. amethyst, Potosí, Bolivia

Quartz, var. amethyst (reverse sceptre), Potosí, Bolivia
Field of view 1.5 cm

Quartz, var. amethyst, Potosí, Bolivia

Quartz, var. amethyst, Potosí, Bolivia
Field of view 2.5 cm

In Peru, there has been a new discovery of clinozoizite. I understand that the workings from which these were produced are only operational on a sporadic basis. The specific zone from which these specimens were recovered is apparently now done, and they have encountered a bit of epidote as the work has advanced. Excellent display specimens of clinozoisite are generally uncommon – one thinks of the famous finds at Alchuri in the Shigar Valley in Pakistan, and few other localities come to mind. These clinozoisite specimens are all clustered groups of crystals. I have seen no single isolated crystals. The crystals themselves are very sharp and well-defined, lustrous, with some twinned and some not.

Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Canete, Canete Province, Lima Dept., Peru

Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete,
Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru – 4.3 cm

Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Canete, Canete Province, Lima Dept., Peru Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete, Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru

Clinozoisite twin, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete,
Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru – 3.5 cm

Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Canete, Canete Province, Lima Dept., Peru Clinozoisite, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete, Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru

Clinozoisite twin, Cerro San Cristobal, San Vincente de Cañete,
Cañete Province, Lima Dept., Peru – 8.6 cm

I want to highlight one other great find that is relatively recent – the spectacular iron-cross twins of pyrite from Gachalá, Cundinamarca, Colombia, discovered about a year ago (I believe the ones available in Tucson were from the original find, as opposed to new production). The term “iron-cross twin” refers to twinned pentagonal dodecahedra, the edges of which cross at right angles. Well-defined iron-cross pyrite twins have always been uncommon and sought-after. Most are small, and often incomplete. These are quite large for iron-cross twins – they are pretty spectacular. One note about these: they have been mislabeled as goethite or limonite after pyrite. They are not pseudomorphs. In fact, they are pyrite, with a very thin surface layer of goethite.

Pyrite Iron Cross Twin, Gachalá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

Pyrite Iron-Cross Twin, Gachalá, Cundinamarca, Colombia – 5.0 cm

Over to Africa, some great specimens. In Tanzania, the Merelani occurrences continue to produce very fine specimens of a number of minerals, while a few specimens from finds in recent years have surfaced as well.

Merelani Diopside

 Diopside with graphite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 3.7 cm

MerelaniPrehnitePrehnite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 5.3 cm

From the finds in 2012-13, I managed to acquire a world-class alabandite crystal.

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania

Alabandite, Merelani Hills, Lelatima Mountains, Manyara, Tanzania – 6.8 cm

From Malawi, there have been more first class specimens available from the the occurrences at Mt. Malosa and Mulanje, including arfvedsonite, eudidymite and zircon.

Zircon, Mount Malosa, Zomba District, Malawi Zircon, Mount Malosa, Zomba District, Malawi – crystal 3.2 cm

Over the years, the very well-known almandine occurrence at Vrondolo, Madagascar, has produced some unusually fine crystals. This occurrence is a fair distance up a small mountain – it takes hours to reach it on foot. Most often, the crystals from here are slightly to heavily chipped when extracted, because they are found frozen in solid rock. However, I found a small recent group of specimens including crystals that grew into open spaces, as well as other crystals extracted in super condition. These are really nice garnets!

Almandine, Vorondolo, Antananarivo, Madagascar

 Almandine, Vorondolo, Antananarivo, Madagascar – 4.5 cm

Last from Africa, Morocco continues to produce excellent specimens of many minerals – the golden age of Moroccan minerals continues. Because these finds have been known generally or written up by others, I won’t dwell too much on them in this report – there will be many fine Moroccan specimens coming on the website over the next few months. However, I want to highlight some Imilchil material that I think is noteworthy. For some time, we have seen small dark garnet crystals from Imilchil. Some of these crystals have been found to be the titanium-rich garnet group member, schorlomite, while I’m told most analyzed specimens are actually titanium-rich andradite, not enough titanium to be schorlomite. A new find at Anemzi (the same Imilchil-area locality that produces the fine green fluorapatite crystals, and has produced nice magnetites) has produced some of the nicest of these dark andradite crystals I have seen from Imilchil. At their finest, the crystals are sharp with beautiful morphology, and a good number of the specimens are comprised of a stack of these crystals. Some specimens have small, sharp, octahedral magnetite crystals in association – they are sparse, but a neat pairing. Independent from the andradites, Anemzi has produced some sharp magnetites lately as well, making for very nice specimens.

Andradite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco

Andradite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 7 cm

Andradite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco

Andradite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 3.5 cm

Magnetite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco

Magnetite, Anemzi, Imilchil, Er Rachidia, Morocco – 4.4 cm

My final mineral entry is from China. I feel that the find of fluorite from Fujian deserves a mention, even though China has produced so much fluorite over the years. These new ones are the fluorites that have been dubbed “tanzanite fluorite” by several dealers. These have been available since early 2017, and they were not widespread this year at Tucson. The ones available were quite expensive. This locality has produced a range of fluorite – the most tanzanite blue-purple is from the one 2017 find, while other blues and purple hues have been recovered as well. I’ve been told there is “no more” – of course!!! – and we’ve all heard that so many times before, so skepticism is certainly warranted! I personally will believe it when I see it. However, I didn’t see as much as I expected and hoped, so we’ll see. Moreover, most of the specimens I did see were significantly contacted and/or damaged. I believe this is not only reflecting the way they were collected (perhaps in some cases with less care than we’d like), but also due to the nature of the occurrence. Many of these seem to have formed in very tight and narrow spaces, and would have been exceptionally difficult to extract without any contacting issues. I think the overall story of this locality will be clearer over time. Given that there are several colour hues and crystal habits from this locality, so it seems likely there was more than one pocket. These are beautiful fluorite specimens!

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yonchun Co., Fujian, China

 Fluorite, Xiayang, Yongchun Co., Fujian, China – 5.3 cm

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yonchun Co., Fujian, China

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yongchun Co., Fujian, China – 3.4 cm

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yonchun Co., Fujian, China

Fluorite, Xiayang, Yongchun Co., Fujian, China – 5.2 cm

A Remarkable Emerald

My friend John White came upon a remarkable emerald specimen from Pakistan and I want to share a photo. I’ve never seen anything like it, and much more important, John (you likely know, the former curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s mineral collection) has never seen anything like it! It is available.

Beryl var. Emerald - Pakistan 28-1-25

 

 Beryl, var. emerald, Guijar Kalay Valley, Swat District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
The larger crystal is 3.5 cm tall.

Friends

Tucson 2018 was a great time, with lots of great friends and the beauty of the Sonora Desert. Thank you all!

3 shadows

Evening shadows  (I believe the order is Don Doell, me, John Betts)

Mineral Song Campfire

Mineral songs around the campfire, led by Dave (of course!)
From left: Malcolm Southwood, John Veevaert, John Betts, Don Doell, David Joyce and Angela Southwood

Thank you again Carol, Dave and Riley, for a wonderful time!

Carol Dave Riley

Until next year, so long, Tucson…

Palo Verde Sunset

Home! And… Rudy!

As great as it was, it’s wonderful to be home. The warm sun of the Tucson desert having recharged me, I’m happy to be back out in the winter woods.

Snowy Road, Bancroft, OntarioOur snowy woods, near Bancroft, Ontario

SnowWoods 2

Sunny winter morning, Bancroft, Ontario

And as many of you know, this means I’m back to once again sharing fun with young Rudy, our Labrador Retriever puppy.

Rudy McDougallDad, can I join you on the couch?

Rudy McDougall

First shipping run to Bancroft.
Dad, I’ll drive.

In only a couple of months he has transformed from tiny puppy to young dog. He’s gleeful about pretty much everything.

Rudy McDougallSnow? Love it!

Rudy is of course new to all this mineral business. Our founding Labrador Retriever, Emery, supervised all operations – he was the Chairman of the Afternoon Snooze Committee and comprised our IT Department, although he slept through most of our business operations. It will be a while until Rudy is ready to step into Emery’s higher roles, but he is a great little supervisor. For now, he is happy to be a particularly active part of all packing, shipping and particularly unpacking operations. He has delighted in founding our Playful Mayhem Department.

Rudy McDougall

What do you mean, my office chair is for “sleeping” while you work?

With lots of Tucson minerals to come, Rudy and I will do our best to get them online over the next few weeks!

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 08.23.2017 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

I’ve posted fun new specimens in this Mali Update (click here). This update features particularly good clinochlore crystals, and also specimens of prehnite, grossular and andradite specimens, with some distinctive finds and a couple of unusual Mali localities.

Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.9 cm

Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 2.3 cm crystal

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

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.5 cm

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

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.4 cm

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

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.6 cm

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

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – crystal 0.9 cm

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

Clinochlore, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 2.8 cm

Diabe Sira, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali

Grossular, Diabe Sira, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 9.1 cm

Andradite Garnet, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali

Andradite, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 4.0 cm

Andradite Garnet, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali

Andradite, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 4.7 cm

Epidote, Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Epidote, Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 2.9 cm

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

Prehnite with pargasite inclusions, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé,
Kayes Region, Mali – 5.3 cm

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

Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 6.4 cm

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

Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 5.7 cm

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

Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 5.4 cm

Grossular Garnet, Sibinndi, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Grossular, Sibinndi, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.0 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 10.01.2016 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)



I’ve added new specimens in this Mali Update (click here), including excellent prehnite, epidote, grossular and vesuvianite.

Prehnite on Epidote, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Prehnite on Epidote, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 6.5 cm

Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 4.3 cm

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

Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 4.8 cm

Prehnite, Epidote, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali

Prehnite on Epidote, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 5.1 cm

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

Prehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 1.8 cm ball

Grossular Garnet, Sandaré, Cercle de Nioro, Kayes Region, Mali

Grossular Garnet, Sandaré, Cercle de Nioro, Kayes Region, Mali – 4.7 cm

Vesuvianite, Sandaré, Cercle de Nioro, Kayes Region, Mali

Vesuvianite, Sandaré, Cercle de Nioro, Kayes Region, Mali – 2.6 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 09.11.2015 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

I’ve added some excellent yellow stilbites on the website in the new Mali Update (click here).

Beautiful yellow stilbite balls from Mali made their debut at Ste. Marie 2014. Although there has only been a small trickle of fine specimens since then, the deposit at Diamonkara has now once again produced a number of very fine pieces. As in 2014, moderate-to-significant damage was almost ubiquitous, and high-quality specimens like the ones in this lot are very uncommon. As a side note, although there has been a push to sell these as specimens of stellerite, none of the analytical work done to date has confirmed any stellerite identification, to my knowledge (and I am aware some analytical work has been done).

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, colourful display specimens of a mineral that is often pale and drab.

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite with prehnite and epidote, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 6 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 6.2 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 6.8 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite on epidote, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali
Field of view – 5 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite on pargasite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 4.6 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite on prehnite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali
Field of view 4.5 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.8 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 4 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 4.1 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.1 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite (deep colour) Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.1 cm

Stilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliStilbite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 3.1 cm

Prehnite, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, MaliPrehnite, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – field of view 5.5 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 10.23.2014 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

This Mali Update – October 2014 (click here) includes unusually fine balls of radiating green prehnite perched upon sharp, lustrous blocky epidote crystals. The specimens from this particular recent find are better defined and nicer than the typical ones from here. Also in this update are two more of the great yellow stilbites from Diamonkara.

100535(1)

Prehnite on Epidote, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 7.4 cm

Prehnite, Epidote, Mali

Prehnite on Epidote, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 8.3 cm

100541(1)

Prehnite with Epidote, Arrondissement Diako, Cercle de Bafoulabé, Kayes Region, Mali – 6.0 cm

100539(1)

Radiating groups of stilbite crystals, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Kayes Region, Mali – 7.2 cm

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 08.13.2014 | Filed under: Bancroft, Ontario, Latest, Mineral Shows | Comments (0)


If you’ve ever wondered about mineral shows as they used to be, the smaller-town affairs meant for all sorts of people – serious collectors, beginners and families alike – the Bancroft Shows offer a glimpse, going back to the first show, over 50 years ago. Even the name of our original show, the Bancroft Rockhound Gemboree (at first, named the Gem-Boree), harks to an earlier era in the evolution of mineral collecting. In an older incarnation, the Bancroft Gemboree was held a few kilometres north of town at the old Bird’s Creek fairgrounds…

Gemboree64

Gemboree, August 1964  (Archives of Ontario, RG 65-35-1, 8-H-1964)

Now the show is in Bancroft, with mineral-related activities to make up for the fact that there is no longer a ferris wheel.

There is a lot to be said for these kinds of mineral shows, based in smaller towns – the Bancroft Area has beautiful scenery, wildlife and, of course, rocks!

LoonNest

Common Loon on nest (Bay Lake, just outside of Bancroft)

The Bancroft Shows

Although Bancroft on a snowy day in early December or late March is a very quiet little town, at many other times of year Bancroft is an outdoor destination, and the height of it all is the week of the Bancroft Shows!

Bridge Street

Bridge Street, Bancroft, during Gemboree weekend

When I say the “Bancroft Shows”, we have two separate annual gem and mineral shows, within one week. The large Rockhound Gemboree, in its 51st year, is held for four days, Thursday-Sunday, every year on the first weekend of August. The Bancroft Gem and Mineral Club also hosts a smaller show, on the last July Sunday that falls one week prior to the Gemboree – next year will already be our 20th year for the show.

It’s hard to come up with three more truly Canadian venues: the Bancroft Shows are hosted inside the Canadian Legion (the Club Show), the hockey arena and the curling rink (the Gemboree).

Starting the week off each year, the Club Show is a small non-commercial show, organized and run buy the members of the Bancroft Gem and Mineral Club. All proceeds go to funding the Bancroft Gem and Mineral Club Mineral Museum. Usual Suspects Wendy and Frank Melanson are key organizers of this fine local show.

F&W

It isn’t too hard to see what’s wrong in this photograph. (Not staged – he really was walking around like that for a couple of hours.)

The exhibitors at the Club Show are mostly local Ontario dealers and collectors, with some from further afield as well. As a result, this show often offers a “sneak peak” availability of what’s new and interesting in Canadian minerals. Over the years, lots of interesting things have shown up here!

Club Show

Club Show, before morning opening

Club members contribute to very fine mineral displays – this year featuring quartz.

George Thompson contirbuted an excellent display of Canadian Quartz, all the more impressive since several of George’s Canadian quartz specimens are already on display in his separate Minerals of Ontario display across the river in the Bancroft Gem and Mineral Club Museum! (For more about our new museum, click here.)  His show display, anchored by the giant Diamond Willow Mine amethyst (near Thunder Bay, Ontario), showcased fine quartz specimens from localities across the country, including Bathurst, New Brunswick, Boylston, Nova Scotia, Black Lake, Quebec, Kamloops, British  Columbia and  Emerald Lake, Yukon, among others.

GeorgeDisplay

Canadian quartz specimens from the collection of George Thompson.

Wendy Melanson put together a case of quartz from all over the world, with a central riser of beautiful amethyst specimens. The large one at back centre is from the Anahi Mine, La Giaba Distsrict, Sandoval Province, Santa Cruz Dept., Bolivia.

WendyDisplay

Quartz specimens from the collection of Wendy Melanson.

The Club show ends in the late afternoon with an event that is not to be missed if you can help it – Club member and professional auctioneer Mark Stanley conducts a mineral auction to benefit the Museum, and he is awesome! Always a lot of laughs, it is a good time.

A few days later, the town is host to the Rockhound Gemboree. The Gemboree is Canada’s largest commercial gem and mineral show, with displays of minerals, jewellery, and other mineral-related items (books, tools, historical mining artifacts). Of course, the Gemboree has a large indoor setup featuring many dealers at both venues (a very short walk apart from one another).

GemboreeGemboree, hockey arena venue, before the morning open

For those of you who appreciate details, in the photo above, you’ll see the fine netting to stop hockey pucks from hitting spectators, and also the row of colourful hockey victory banners hanging from the rafters. The boards around the perimeter of the ice surface are all hidden by the nice curtains (all in, you don’t feel like you should be wearing skates).

A great part of the Gemboree experience is that it also has the old-style, outdoor tailgating section for dealers. That’s where you’ll find a few familiar faces, including George Thompson, David K. Joyce and me.

GemboreeOutside

A quiet moment after two drops of rain had chased everyone inside for a few minutes

Yes, we’re at the mercy of the weather (which was fantastic this year!) but it’s worth the risk – what could be better than summer sun, fine minerals, friends, mineral talk and of course mineral music?

DaveSerenadeDave Joyce serenades some of his non-website minerals with an as-yet unnamed tune.  (Something about love and red dots.)

Mystery Mineral

One morning while innocently talking with people looking at my table, a woman stopped and asked me if I had any “Mystery Mineral”. A smart aleck might have replied “you tell me”.

But I could see that it was an earnest request and I explained that “Mystery Mineral” is not a mineral name, but rather a marketing name of some kind, so I was not sure what mineral she was looking for.

Mystery Mineral Woman: “No, that IS the mineral name: Mystery Mineral.”
R: [Pause]
MMW: “Aren’t you based in Bancroft?”
R: “Yes.”
MMW (now with edge of annoyance): “Well you SHOULD know all about it. It’s a new find, from very near Bancroft itself. If anyone should know, it’s YOU.”
R: “I promise you it is not a mineral name. Can you tell me what it looks like? Is it white or colourless and clear?”
MMW: “Oh so you DO know of it!”
R: “Does it form slender, pointed six-sided crystals?”
MMW: “Yes!”
R: “And can you tell me where you saw them?”
MMW: “At a store… [Ed. Note: the name of which suggested something to do with spiritual odysseys]”
R: “Hmmn…”

I don’t think she believed my diagnosis. People really do give common quartz all sorts of names in order to sell it.

I didn’t tell her “Mystery Mineral” might be my favourite to date.

Real Minerals

It’s been a quiet run in Canadian minerals lately, but it is always possible to find interesting things at the Bancroft Shows.

From Nova Scotia, beautiful zeolites and associated  minerals are still found from time to time.

 StilbiteChab

 Stilbite on Chabazite, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia – 4.5 cm

Natrolite

Natrolite ball (2 cm) on Analcime, Wasson’s Bluff, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia

Classics from Quebec are becoming increasingly hard to obtain, but there are usually a small number of good ones at these shows.

Vesuvianite

Vesuvianite with Diopside, Jeffrey Quarry, Asbestos, Quebec – 7.5 cm

Prhnite

Prehnite crystals (to 1.2 cm), Jeffrey Quarry, Asbestos, Quebec

Rutile

Rutile crystals to 1.2 cm, McGregor Lake, Outaouais, Quebec

Rhodo

Rhodochrosite and Elpidite, Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec – 6.5 cm

Titanite

 Titanite with diopside, Zec Bras-Coupé-Désert, Moncerf-Lytton, Outaouais, Québec – 5.5 cm

Stay tuned for Canadian mineral updates over the coming weeks.

Well, the Bancroft Shows are over until next year, but they usher in our late summer and early fall – the time of year that often affords some of the Bancroft Area’s best field collecting weather. Hope to see you in the trenches!

Posted by: Raymond McDougall on 07.18.2014 | Filed under: Latest, Recent Mineral Updates | Comments (0)

 

Beautiful new specimens from Mali, featuring yellow balls of stilbite crystals from Diamonkara, a new find. The Diamonkara workings are in the same general vicinity of the Arrondissement Diako which has produced the now well-known specimens of prehnite and epidote. Also new among these specimens is an exceptionally fine prehnite on epidote.  These specimens are now posted under Mali – July 2014 Update (click here).

100497(1)

Stilbite with Prehnite and Epidote, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Kayes Region, Mali – 6.9 cm

100494(1)

Stilbite with Prehnite and Epidote, Diamonkara, Bendougou, Kayes Region, Mali – 7.5 cm

100496(1) Stilbite , Diamonkara, Bendougou, Kayes Region, Mali – 6.9 cm

100509(1)

Prehnite on Epidote, Arrondissement Diako, Kayes Region, Mali – 5.9 cm