Denver Show 1997.
You might say that Marty Zinn's hotel show and the Main Show at Denver both came up gold this year. The usual sense of the cliche is nothing unusual for the former show, as hotel-room shoppers and gawkers found plenty, as usual, to bring them glows of contentment. But the theme of the Main Show this year actually was gold itself, and much that glittered in the long row of display cases really was gold (see later). It seemed that a special excitement informed everyone in the dense crowds - everyone, indeed, from the bussed-in schoolchildren (normally high-octane in any case), to the numerous pistol-packing security guards of professionally paranoid aspect, to the local news people who showed up on opening day, armed with cameras, notebooks, and the self-consciousness of local fame, to bring all that gold to still wider circles of attention. One very early morning in the hotel's downstairs breakfast area, as the mountain dawn came up all in gold, I saw the result of this media reconnaissance on the local TV news program: a chirpy few moments of pride in the richness of things to which the home mountains have given birth - the Colorado gold, of course, and very particularly the great Sweet Home mine rhodochrosite specimen in Bryan Lees' "That's Colorado" case (again, see later). There was, in summary, a general feeling that the Denver Show (meaning both shows) had labored mightily this year to outdo itself, and had succeeded.
To monitor these great international shows is, of course, not only to see what's proudly debuting here and now, but also to track which recent occurrences seem on the rise, and look promising for the future, and which seem dormant or past their primes. Here, then, is much of what this mineral newshound could glean in Denver, about a satisfying number of truly new things in mineraldom, and about where some other items of interest, one or two shows old now, seem to be in the market pipeline.
Unquestionably the most dramatic of the Main Show's commercial features was the extraordinary array of newly collected smoky quartz and microcline ("amazonite") specimens from Bryan Lees' workings at the Two Point mine (the same place as was called the "Two Point claim" last year), in Teller County, Colorado. This was a case of what's new/what's familiar duality, for these beautiful specimens have long been known, in a general way, from Colorado occurrences; revered in memory, for example, are the Clarence Coil/Richard Kosnar find of the 1970's, and the still earlier strike as preserved in the reconstructed pocket at the Denver Museum of Natural History. The new Two Point mine specimens are predictable combinations of fat, tapered, transparent smoky quartz crystals of dull to medium luster with blue-green blocky (untwinned) microcline crystals in lightly attached groups. But what makes these new pieces special is their size: perhaps a dozen specimens in the Collector's Edge booth had microcline crystals to 10 cm across and quartz prisms to 12 cm high, the whole groups, in a couple of instances, reaching to 25 cm. Another remarkable fact is the sheer intensity of the microcline color, which leaps out at you with an energy comparable to that of Bryan's best Sweet Home rhodochrosite reds. This color goes to the core of each microcline crystal (no wimpy whiteness in the interior regions that show on the side of plates), and mineral-aesthetic experts have not thus far come up with the single ideally pithy word for it; "classic blue-green" seems still the only available, if clumsy, term. The color is thought to be caused by trace-element lead, whose geochemical source in these simple pegmatites is somewhat of a mystery.
The pieces are skimpy in associated species, with only some small rosettes of glistening white albite (variety cleavelandite) here and there, although Bryan says that a 2-cm columbite crystal popped off one group during mining. (Bryan also had an incredible 6-cm columbite from the Cruziero mine in Brazil.) No white-surfaced microcline crystals were found in the pocket, although, given the richness of that blue-green color, you'd have to be truly weird to miss absent "whitecaps." The Collector's Edge booth held, in all, about a hundred outstanding groups, small to large cabinet size (this is no occurrence for thumbnail collectors), the very best of them priced in the low five figures, but they surely set quality records for this general material.
Much typically hard, slow, careful preliminary work by Collector's Edge lay behind the big payoff. Bryan Lees first noted the area, where no prospecting had yet been done, as far back as 1983 when he was a student at the Colorado School of Mines. He secured a lease in 1995, at which time the area was still untouched, and began an extensive geological survey and study to discover prime target zones for mining. The first heavy work filled six weeks in 1996, and yielded suggestive results that I briefly reported from last year's Denver Show. Within hours of beginning the first day's work of the new season this past June, the crew breached the 4 x 6-foot, 8-inch-high pocket from which all these new pieces came; it was named (and the labels all say so) the "Tree Root Pocket," as the roots of a big tree had penetrated it, gnawing down through the already collapsed ceiling of the pegmatite dome. Bringing out the big groups with minimal damage was fairly easy, but cleaning and preparing them was not: Rob Lorda and Bill Hawes, back in the Collector's Edge lab, took most of the specimens through seven separate acid treatments, then further scrubbed, trimmed and generally crafted them to their present glory. The crew will now begin probing beyond the now cleaned-out Tree Root Pocket, drilling and blasting through hard pegmatite. If their skill and luck remain as high as they've been, we might well see more outstanding groups like those in the photos here.
Meanwhile, three good new rhodochrosite pockets were hit at the Sweet Home mine this year, and the "classic" rose pinks with white quartz made a dynamite color-combo with the "classic" microcline greens and black quartz in that Main Show booth. A decision whether to mine yet another year at the Sweet Home is now pending, and won't be finally made until December. Some factors in the deliberation will be easier to handle than before, as Bryan Lees has now bought the Sweet Home mine from its previous owners.
Another large hole in the western American ground with exciting prospects is the Barrick Meikle mine near Carlin, Elko County, Nevada - a gold mine in the Carlin Trend, that has been brought into full operation within this past year. Casey and Jane Jones of Geoprime Earth Materials Co. (132 S. Encinitas Ave., Monrovia, CA 91016) made a recent fact-finding and specimen-scouting visit there, going underground and collecting about 25 fine barite specimens within 15 minutes before being asked to leave by the busy mine crews. These specimens are, at their best, truly beautiful and major barites, with sharp, slightly edge-modified tabular crystals to 4 cm. The crystals are highly lustrous, bright orange to yellow, transparent and gemmy with cleavage planes showing clearly; they form jumbled groups on a brown limonitic gossan material, and on white beds of subhedral calcite. A more attractive yellow barite would be difficult to find, and the specimens even when underground seem to cry out "newness": the miners report that the pockets were still filled with hydrothermal fluids when the drills breached them.
A thousand-odd miles away, at Elk Creek, South Dakota, the honey-brown, tapered, gemmy barite crystals which sit on yellow drusy calcite lining openings in gray chert concretions are, of course, not new . . . but that's only to say that Ken Roberts of Roberts Minerals knew just what he was looking for when he went collecting at this site in July of this year. The results he was offering at the Main Show are first-rate even for Elk Creek: cabinet-sized matrix pieces with prismatic 15-cm barite crystals with perfect chisel terminations, of richest color, standing up vertically and alone or else reclining in lazy subparallel piles on that yellow calcite. The specimens are almost entirely free of damage, and expertly prepared.
Now it's back again to the Geoprime room of Casey and Jane Jones, where we've just lately visited the Nevada barites, to see something sadder: the last of the now-famous Flambeau mine, Ladysmith, Wisconsin chalcocite crystal groups that we can ever plausibly call "new." These past three years of the Wisconsin chalcocite sensation have seemed short, and are now at an absolute end, for the Joneses report that the Flambeau mine not only has ceased operations but is about to be entirely backfilled. Mindful, then, that the 12 or so flats of thumbnail chalcocite specimens in the Geoprime room held soon-to-be "old," no longer "new," classics, I went all-out at the job of picking my thumbnail at last, and you should pick yours, too, if you get a chance. About two-thirds of the remaining crystal groups are golden colored and a third are of the iridescent blue kind, with the blue ones pricier, especially as the luster gets higher.
Rod and Helen Tyson of Tyson's Minerals had a couple of new, or new/old, Canadian items at the Main Show. For one, about 30 cabinet specimens of hematoid amethyst from the Diamond Willow mine, Thunder Bay, Ontario, represented the pick of the lot from collecting last summer, and they are the best of these darkly beautiful, utterly distinctive quartz specimens I have seen in some time. Flat plate sections of massive amethyst are blanketed with spiky beds of solidly intergrown crystal points, the points reaching 3 cm at the bases where they meet the plates, and all are deep rusty red, with very bright luster.
Also the Tysons had just two thumbnails of a lovely, bicolored grossular from the Jeffrey quarry, Quebec; they are from a single 6-inch pocket which, when collected in 1983, yielded a small handful of such thumbnails. Absolutely transparent grossular dodecahedrons to 5 mm are pinkish orange in their outer zones, but bright green in their cores; a "dreamy" effect comes from seeing the green through the orange in each crystal, a shimmering company of delicate green spots all over, but deep within, the lustrous little orange groups. Each matrixless group is about 1.5 x 1.5 x 2 cm. and both got instantly "spoken for" as I stood describing them in my notes - so it's not as if you can easily have one right now; it is just that you should know of this prettiest and probably rarest of all moods of Jeffrey mine grossular, should any more ever come to light.
On now to Mexico. First, Chris Wright of Wright's Rock Shop had a Holiday Inn room sporting about 25 large sword-cluster gypsum ("selenite") groups from an unspecified mine in Naica, Chihuahua. They start at generous cabinet sizes and reach up to 2 feet across, and were mined only weeks before the show. What really makes them noteworthy is that they are tinted smoky green, exactly like Alpine chlorite-included quartz, though the tinting substance in this case is unknown. These make dramatic "museum"-sized mineralogical spectacles. Also from Mexico were some excellent yellow-green mimetite groups from Santa Eulalia, offered by Blue Sky Mining.
As at Springfield, Chris also had some nice specimens of the bright pink grossular garnet crystals in mica-flecked quartz matrix which have suddenly gotten radically better than previously; many other dealers around the show had these too. From the man who mines them, Benny Fenn of Fenn's Gems & Minerals (P.O. Box 16285, Las Cruces, NM 88004), I got some clarification about the occurrence. The western slope of a mountain overlooking Lake Jaco is the "Lake Jaco" source that has long been worked for green, brown and white grossular crystals, as well as for tannish brown floater vesuvianite crystals; but the other, eastern, slope of the same mountain in the Sierra de Cruces range has, near its base, the prospect that Benny has only lately begun to work for the raspberry-pinks. Because the border between Chihuahua and Coahuila states runs along the ridgetop, the older garnets have always been labelled "Lake Jaco, Chihuahua," while these new ones are usually said to come from "Sierra de Cruces (no town or other handy feature being near the prospect), Coahuila." Benny reports that the country rock is a complex contact-metamorphic quartz/phlogopite/gamet/vesuvianite/calcite chowder, the calcite occurring in irregular veins and pods in the tougher material, so that when the grossular crystals occur frozen in the calcite, they may be brought to light by acid etching, reducing chances of damage. Even so, they tend to be already fractured in situ, so the hard fact is that even now, while we're seeing the products of the calcite veins, a top-class, damage-free crystal is extremely hard to find. I saw only a couple in Denver, among the thousands of matrix pieces of all sizes, at dozens of dealerships. Still, even with all the damage, these are very impressive crystals for their color, sharpness of form and aesthetic manner or perching on the white matrix. Let's hope that those calcite pods hold out for a while as Benny continues to work the prospect.
Rob Lavinsky of The Arkenstone (9244-A Regents Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037) was carrying around a couple of flats of miniature and small cabinet specimens of brilliant black schorl on microcrystallized feldspar from the Chacoya mine, Castrovirreyna Province, Huancavelica Department, Peru - these were most of the 80 pieces which, he said, were dug a couple of months ago. Most of the 1 or 2-cm schorl crystals are blocky and rhombohedral with prism faces, interestingly intergrown in radial aggregates, although a minority of the schorls are slender terminated prisms instead. The luster is high, and the deep jet-blackness contrasts well with the creamy white matrix covered with millimetric feldspar crystals. These are handsome specimens from an entirely new schorl provenance; more, Rob says, will be with him at the Pomona Show.
Likewise from Peru, a small lot of very good, newly mined axinite specimens from Espinal, Ica Department, were trying hard not to be upstaged by the microclines and rhodochrosites at the Collector's Edge booth at the Main Show. The axinite crystals are sharp, smoky brown, translucent to transparent blades to 5 cm, in aesthetic clusters without matrix. The luster is fairly bright in the best pieces, only medium-bright otherwise, and the general resemblance, I'd say, is more to the old axinite from the Obira mine, Japan, than to that from the French and Russian occurrences. There were about 20 miniatures to small cabinet-sized specimens available. Finally, there was Art Soregaroli's superb sellaite from the Huanzala mine, Huanuco province, Peru: a sharp, gemmy, colorless crystal measuring 2.1 cm.
Stashed away under Mike Bergmann's bed in his Holiday Inn room were about 20 superlative new vivianite specimens from the Huanuni mine, Oruro, Bolivia. On these cabinet-sized pieces, vivianite crystals to 12 cm long sit, mostly singly, on brown matrix of pyrite and phosphates which is further adorned with sharp, bright, glassy green ludlamite crystals to 1 cm. The vivianite has a lush submarine-green transparency better than which it is hard to imagine, and all major crystals are sharp and almost entirely free of damage. As a sideshow there's a small selection of miniatures consisting of loose sprays of radiating acicular vivianite crystals.
Mike Bergmann (Galena Rock Shop, 312 South Main St., Galena, IL 61036) also took pride in showing me what was left - three specimens - of an original small handful from a new Brazilian find of brazilianite, namely Sao Geraldo do Baixio, Minas Gerais. A small pocket dug in April yielded these sharp, lustrous, part-gemmy floater crystals, which can reach 10 cm long and are pleasingly fat, the equals of all but the best of the early brazilianite gem crystals from Corrego Frio. Tiny crystals of quartz, elbaite and hydroxlherderite adhere to one of the three brazilianite floaters.
Of the two or three Brazilian stories and rumors going around the show, the most intense concerned Wayne Thompson's aquamarine crystal that he had stashed under his bed. It is an incredible 20 cm long and 5 cm wide and thick, with lustrous side faces showing complex growth (or solution) hillocks, pyramidal modifications near the top, and a flat basal face. And it is completely gemmy and deeply colored, more green than aqua - a zillion carats' worth of prime gem stock. The locality, an unnamed prospect in Minas Gerais which never produced gems before, is being called the Medina prospect, after Medina, the nearest town. About two months ago a water-filled void several meters wide was unexpectedly breached, with this crystal and about 15 others (one or two, Wayne says, even better than this one) lying loose on the pocket floor.
Brazilian buzz #2 concerned a single beautiful azurite/malachite specimen from the Seabra copper mine, in Bahia. All I've been able to learn about this place is that it has turned out, only just recently, a few very good specimens of copper minerals, the best being the one I saw in the room of Ikon Mining (P.O. Box 2620, Fallbrook, CA 92088). The specimen is a 2 x 5 x 12.5-cm cluster of bright blue balls of azurite crystals, the 2-cm balls not too tightly packed, the luster uniformly bright. Near the bottom there is a very sharp line below which the balls, as if on a sudden whim, turn deep malachite-green; on the back are suggestions of gossany limonite matrix. You would certainly think that this piece is from Bisbee, or conceivably Chessy - but Brazil?
A much more prolific new Brazilian occurrence is a large strike of loose, twinned, often large, sometimes semi-gemmy, pale yellow amblygonite crystals from near Linopolis, Minas Gerais. Hundreds of these were to be seen all over the show, in sizes from small miniature on up, and the best single piece was hiding out with the giant aquamarine under Wayne Thompson's bed: a wedge-shaped 17-cm floater. In general the amblygonite crystals are sharp and lustrous, with interesting forms and prominent twinning planes and notches. But rarely do any interior areas attain gemininess, the color is wan, and there is usually chipping along the sharp edges. Let's hope the locality can do better in future days, but anyway this is the first good Brazilian amblygonite to show up on the market since the smaller and gemmier specimens of about 20 years ago (those, too, from "Linopolis"). Besides Wayne, the dealers in Denver who had the best and/or the most were probably Luiz Menezes and The Rocksmiths.
Back in Wayne Thompson's room again, we were wishing that we lived in France, because then we'd be closer to where the world-class pink fluorite and the superb torbernite specimens brought in this year came from. The fluorite specimens are recognizably from Chamonix, deep pink octahedrons over granite or smoky quartz crystals. They were found on August 7, 1997 (the moming of the Chamonix show), at Tour Noir, Argentiere, HauteSavoie. A single pocket produced about 25 top pieces, mostly matrix specimens already partly carved out by natural ice action. Although lacking the lustrous sparkle of the best of the Swiss pink fluorites, these are a very beautiful, deep rose-pink, and sometimes show slightly scalloped faces. The simple octahedrons reach 2.5 cm on edge, and occur in loose groups, on white granite, and as regal crowns on groups of gemmy smoky quartz prisms to 6 cm long. Eric Asselbom showed me THE thumbnail, and as I heard its price I heard also the gods' mocking laughter at me. It is a single, perfect, roseate, transparent, scalloped, 2.5-cm octahedron sitting up on a smoky quartz broken off at the base. Mon Dieu!
Eric Asselborn also brought out a box with about 10 thumbnails of truly the best-imaginable French torbernite, from a classic locality with a modern story: the Margabal mine, Entraygues, Aveyron Department. Each thumbnail group consists of deep green, lightly interlocked sheaves of micaceous torbemite crystals, the sheaves razor-sharp and even faintly lustrous. These are simply the classiest thumbnails of this material you could ever hope to see. Most people preferred them, in fact, to the several giant groups - to 20 cm across - consisting solely of thousands of smaller, dullerlustered torbemite sheaves all grown together. Eric says that just before the closure of the Margabal mine in 1959, almost 1.5 tons of torbernite ore were extracted from it, and there matters rested until a few months ago, when some adventurers found these new specimens, large and small, floating in the mud somewhere in the old mine. Wayne Thompson was offering six of the giants.
In the "International Dealers" alcove at the Main Show, Laszlo Palinkas of Stoneland Ltd. (Arany Janos str 16, H-1051 Budapest, Hungary) was showing off a nice little hoard of a kind of quartz which in Europe, I learned, is commonly called "diamonds of Maramures." Hailing from the renowned Herja mine, Maramures district, Rumania, the 2-cm quartz crystals occur as simple floaters and as lightly attached clusters, and do indeed suggest "Herkimer diamonds" except that they're milky-translucent and tinted slightly gray by inclusions of the same sulfosalts that turn calcite from the Herja mine nearly black. Inexpensive singles and miniature groups seemed irresistible fun-buys . . . so I made one, to help out my Herja mine suite, with its semseyite, berthierite and black calcite pieces. (Ah, how we like to glorify our random pickings of things by lining up our few diversely acquired pieces from the same place and calling it our "suite").
Emesto Ossola of Ossola-Mineraux (8 rue du Luxembourg, 30140 Anduze, France) is "Mister Morocco" these days, and he had two new Moroccan items. One, still more in the promise than in the accomplishment stage, is the native silver in massive proustite, of which Ernesto had a couple of (very heavy) hand specimens. The silver comes as bright, subhedral, 1-cm crystals and as twisted leaves pervading the faintly reddish metallic-black ore, in which proustite microcrystals may occasionally be made out. The locality is the Imiter mine (type locality for imiterite), central Shargo region, Morocco. It is an active silver mine from which we may hope to hear more someday. The other item, entirely different, is nepheline in very sharp, opaque, gray-white prismatic crystals to 2 cm long, with flat basal terminations, all jumbled together in jackstraw groups with dull-lustered, subhedral black schorlomite. The species-identity has been confirmed, Ernesto vouches, by several workers in Europe, and the sharpness of crystallization is exceptional for nepheline. Here there were about 15 acid-cleaned specimens, all in the small miniature size range. The locality is Jebel Aouli, a quarry in a highly weathered volcanic pipe ("Jebel" means "mountain") rising out of the desolate desert.
Getting seriously into Africa now, we are not surprised to meet Gilbert Gauthier, emerging cheerfully out of the darkness, and again this year offering carrollite in exceptional small specimens from the "established" locality of Kamoto-Fond, Shaba, Zaire. "Fond" denotes an underground rather than open pit mine. These carrollire crystals, collected about 7 years ago, are occasionally simple cubes but usually are cuboctahedrons; they were found frozen in calcite veins in dolomite. Most available crystals are loose singles of small-thumbnail size; I saw only three matrix pieces out of a total of 20 or so specimens Gilbert had. The metallic luster is extremely bright, the forms sharp, and individual crystals can get to 1.5 cm across. Gilbert had the serious carrollites at the Main Show, although, surprisingly, somebody in a "jewel tunnel" tent outside the Holiday Inn had a handful of loose, incomplete, dinged crystals selling for quite a bit less than Gilbert's $100-$400 per specimen (this is still a pretty good deal for brilliant sharp crystals of this rare Cu/Co sulfide).
From Springfield this year I reported on my first learning experience with yet another good golden barite locality: the Rosh Pinah mine in southern Namibia, this an active zinc mine where the good barites have only been found during this past year. They are yellow-orange to deep orange, lustrous, and occur in solid coverages of tabular or prismatic crystals over a dark matrix. I heard, as well, about their "ghostly yellowy green" fluorescence from South African part-time dealer Ronnie McKenzie (P.O. Box 95403, Pretoria 0001, South Africa), who had about 50 thumbnails and small miniatures of this material in the International Dealers section.
Rocko Rosenblatt of Rocko Minerals and Jewelry (Box 3A Route 3, Margaretville, NY 12455) works with Clive Queit to market much good southern African stuff, and in his Holiday Inn room he had a flat of something quite new, and very recently mined, from the complex rare-earth pegmatite at Mt. Malosa, Zomba District, Malawi. It is the rare amphibole species arfvedsonite, in glistening black crystals to 2 cm, sometimes prismatic (resembling the well-known aegirine from the same place) and sometimes blocky. The blocky crystals are finely grooved, with a sort of chatoyant incipient fibrousness, and they are implanted on very sharp, chalky white microcline crystals to 4 cm, in stately groups: nice-looking white/black pieces. The flat held about 25 specimens, from thumbnailsized up to about 6 x 8 cm.
Now to keep a promise. In last year's Denver report I told you about the small lot of nice specimens of almandine in pegmatite matrix from somewhere in Madagascar; I couldn't get more locality data, but promised to do so in due course. Well, this year Fabrice Danet and Denis Gravier of Le Mineral Brut (Hauterive, 01640 Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, France) can say that the garnet diggings are in a pegmatite at a place 6 km southeast of Manandona and 30 km southeast of Antsirabe. The garnet species, they add, has been found to be an intermediate almandine-spessartine. These sharp, deep red trapezohedrons to 3 cm are as impressive its ever. perched smartly as they generally are on white matrix in all sizes. and this year there were at least a hundred such specimens for sale. The Bruts also had a nice relict hoard of last yearns gem zoisite (tanzanite), in loose thumbnail single crystals and parallel groups of two or three, the gemmiest specimens approaching $1000 in price, but a bright, sharp one with too much internal crazing for gem use ran only $129.
From Russia there is not much new this time around, though a one-of-a-kind specimen that Brad van Scriver showed me in the Heliodor dealership's room certainly rates a brief, drooly word. It is a brookite matrix specimen from the Dodo mine, Polar Urals, the lone crystal a gigantic 2 x 5-cm, paper-thin, doubly terminated plate, complete everywhere except where lightly attached; it is undamaged, and a beautiful transparent rootbeer brown. The matrix is a 15 x 15-cm dull greenish chloritized lump on which the brookite crystal lies flat, but with edges and both terminations elevated enough to show off that gorgeous color and transparency. Could this be the world's best brookite? Why not?
The pretty amethyst crystals from Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan, which the Heliodor folks had in Tucson (see my 1997 report) were here again and getting better. More of them, this time, are clearer and more deeply purple in the "good" zones, and they still sit up pertly on their flat shaly matrix. Thumbnails predominate, and your pocket change could buy a good one.
Mine 57 at Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan has lately produced some excellent specimens of bright metallic black djurleite: thin bladed crystals in edge-lying parallel bundles to 4 cm, streaked across surfaces of massive black djurleite (or chalcocite?). The Heliodor people had only four of these, large miniature to small cabinet size.
For a bit of entirely different Kazakhstaniana, the Czech dealership of KARP had some nice, small natrolite specimens from the Sokolovskoye quarry near Rudniy - the source of the orange stellerite balls and blocky yellow calcite crystals of recent years. In a dozen or so winsome thumbnails and small miniatures, the natrolite makes brightly sparkling radial tufts of tiny acicular crystals, the tufts to 2 cm across, implanted singly or in little grapebunches on a weathered gray rock, with sharp, tan, 2-mm chabazite and/or gmelinite rhombohedrons for garnish. A thumbnail of this material would only run you $10 to $20 (being, you see, for your evolving Sokolovskoye suite).
Dave Bunk had a new style of orthoclase collected last summer at Nieosla, Basha Valley, Baltistan, Pakistan - and Andreas Weerth and Herb Obodda said that they had some too, though Dave's were the only specimens I got to see. The (very unusual) color is a pale whitish green, and specimens consist of loose, blocky Carlsbad or Baveno twins, a few with sharp biotite books, in all sizes. Generally the crystals are milky to translucent, although Dave does have one 2cm faceted greenish gem. This is very nice, very unorthodox orthoclase. Dave also had some fine clusters of yellow-brown titanite with epidote crystals from Alchuri, Baltistan, Pakistan.
Who nowadays can think of Pakistan minerals without thinking of the intrepid Dudley Blauwet of Mountain Minerals International, and his way of coming up with something new nearly every time? This time it was a couple of dozen thumbnails and small miniatures showing excellent herderite crystals sitting on white weathered granite matrixes, from Bulochi, Gilgit-Skardu Road, Northern Areas, Pakistan. These are translucent grayish white blocky single crystals and twins to 2 cm, shiny and sharp, altogether first-rate for the species except perhaps for the paleness of color; the winningest thumbnail went for $200.
Although I generally don't like "reporting" on things I have not actually seen, I feel it my duty to pass on the well-attested fact that two specimens of hureaulite recently unearthed at Shengus, Pakistan are among the world's best examples of the species: a significant claim, considering how good the ones from Brazil can get. Beautiful pink prismatic crystals of hureaulite reaching 3 cm long are said to from aesthetic clusters . . . let's hold on until more appear.
Before leaving the Himalayas we should also mention Jack Lowell's superb petalite crystals to 23 cm, from Paprok, Afghanistan. The well-formed but somewhat corroded crystals are colorless and suprisingly gemmy.
One of those "evolving" what's-news caused much talk at the show, as specimens of it, sparse in Tucson, were abundant here. I refer to the beautiful butterfly-twinned, hematoid calcite crystals sitting on beds of likewise hematoid needle calcite . . . locality designations vary, but Debbie Meng of Debbie Meng's Minerals (P.O. Box 117, Marina, CA 93933) ought to be trusted, I'd guess, when she puts "Chenzhou, Hunan Province, China" on her own labels. At their very best these are smashing calcite specimens, the butterfly twins razor-sharp, precise and petite, and to 5 cm, as they rise from their needly beds, the transparency pure and clean where it can be seen under preferentially hematite-dusted faces. Qualities varied around the show, from the little bashed thumbnail-sized shards I saw in one of the outside tents, through the great pristine beasts of cabinet specimens offered by Debbie, by Danny Trinchillo of DeTrin Minerals, and by others. It must be said that prices varied rather crazily from here to there among dealers.
Let the likewise satisfying abundance, around Denver, of the new red sphalerite specimens (on which I and others have written before) from Hengyang, Hunan, China close out the survey. These, you'll recall, consist of drusy, coxcomby quartz surmounted by brilliant, complex, rounded clusters of dark red-brown transparent sphalerite crystals to 3 cm, and they are beautiful.
As I have said, the Denver theme-species this year was gold, and the fact that so many cases were filled with gold must surely account for the goggle-eyed look of spectators (not just the layman ones, either) that seemed a bit extra and special. My own eyes goggled most at the case of gold specimens from the John Barlow collection (while John himself was seated a few feet away, selling copies of his recent fine book). Indeed, for my money (I wish . . .), the two most impressive gold specimens on the whole show floor were two Barlow thumbnails of Santa Elena, Venezuela gold (both pictured in the book): a 2.75-cm, deeply hoppered floater octahedron, and an elbowy 2.5-cm group of sharp crystals of many intricate forms. [Editor's note: But then, the author is a thumbnail collector, and you know how they are.]
I will stipulate that there were many great gold specimens, in ten or so other cases devoted to gold, which ranged through a gamut of sizes - all the way up to "The Whopper," a hackly mass with minor quartz about a foot and a half long. Gold-case contributors included the California State Mining and Mineral Museum; the Denver Gem and Mineral Guild; the Colorado School of Mines; Wayne and Dona Leicht; the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum; the American Museum of Natural History; the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (surprisingly, "Gold in Virginia"); and Collector's Edge (fine Colorado gold specimens donated by several local collectors).
Other terrific cases on other themes, of course, abounded. The Houston Museum of Natural Science showed 12 fabulous native silver specimens from worldwide localities; the Natural History Museum of London showed English classics from the Sir Arthur Russell Collection. Bill Pinch put in an informative case describing, with abundant text, charts, photos and other visual aids, the characterization of the new Tsumeb species andyrobertsite, centering everything on the type and only known specimen, where the andyrobertsite is a beautiful deep blue 1.5-cm spray lying over deep green zincian olivenite. Oh yes, and Marty Zinn and Rock Currier had a flamboyant case of stalactites - thin, straight-up, super mineral specimens of, among many others, pyrite, malachite, prehnite, smithsonite, galena, apophyllite . . . a forest of little leafless mineral trees of every thinkable style and hue.
The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals displayed about ten amazing (and, to most show veterans, unfamiliar) specimens of gold, silver and platinum minerals. The centerpiece of the case (see cover photo) could be the best Siberian sperrylite specimen extant. It is a 5-cm lump of bright yellow etched chalcopyrite (and other sulfides) girdled by a belt of brilliant sperrylite crystals, most of which are near in size to the crowning 2-cm one on the top. Nor can I forbear to mention the flaring, brilliant red 10 x 12-cm Chanarcillo, Chile, proustite in this extraordinary case.
Finally, the "That's Colorado" case to which I alluded before held just four Colorado specimens, but it drew, I'd say, the heaviest crowds of all, since one of these specimens was the Sweet Home mine rhodochrosite that Bryan Lees calls "the ribbon": one of the top five or six Sweet Home pieces ever mined, and kept back by Bryan until its debut here. On it, about ten 3-cm, transparent, deep red rhodochrosite rhombs come together in a linked, wavy, indeed ribbonlike row which drapes itself over a small quartz/tetrahedrite matrix. The rhodochrosite crystals' sharpness, brilliance of luster, and gemminess attest (to those who follow Sweet Home arcana) that this piece is from the Good Luck Pocket strike that occurred right after the Denver Show of 1992.
This report is appearing an issue later usual, having been "bumped" by the Boleo Issue. By the time you receive it I will be putting the finishing touches on my 1998 Tucson Show Report for the next issue, having seen (I hope) even more glories. These are great times indeed to be a mineral collector! See you then.
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|Title Annotation:||What's New in Minerals|
|Publication:||The Mineralogical Record|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1998|
|Previous Article:||Mineralogy of the Saint-Amabile Sill.|
|Next Article:||Franklin Show 1997.|