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Denver Show 2000.

It seemed an unusually busy show this year, in part because of the rushes, thrills and general buzzing conniptions surrounding a few very new, very spectacular mineral finds. It must be said that general attendance, both at the hotel and Main shows, was somewhat off from that of past years, but it shouldn't have been, since those new finds--never mind the Main Show displays--were special indeed. For descriptions of the discoveries in question (oh, all right, I'll name the biggies right now: Moroccan erythrite, Afghanistan sodalite, Chinese pyromorphite), you'll have to be patient as I gawk my way through the usual What's-New World Tour... but suffice it to say that Denver was qualitatively strong on "very nice stuff" this year. Oh yes, and the ballroom dealers' enclave at the hotel has expanded also, into a generous new tent which one reached through one of the side ballroom doors. All aboard, then; no more than two bulging carry-off bags full of rocks per showgoer, please...

A new strike (in April 2000) of a very peculiar sort of gold was Nevada's chief contribution this year. The Olinghouse mine in Washoe County is now commercially inactive (in fact, bankrupt and litigation-haunted), but on 6030 Bench, 813 Pit, some seams in a greenish gray altered andesite yielded, when the calcite was etched away, pretty specimens showing delicate linings of filiform gold in lustrous, generous "nests" attached lightly to their matrix. This gold's color is pale, because silver content ranges between 5% and 30%, but under magnification the specimens turn into glittering dreamlands of cotton-candy-like mazes of interconnected wires, fibers and minute crystal shards. Perhaps a hundred specimens were being offered, from a few thumbnails (for around $75) up to a 9-cm "sandwich" of rock with a see-into seam running right down the middle for its full length ($1750). Marketing of these oddly beautiful specimens was being shared between Scott Kleine of Great Basin Minerals (3895 Lisa Ct., #C, Reno, NV 89503-1125), Ed Coogan of Coogan Gold Company (P.O. Box 1631, Turlock, CA 95381), and Piete Heydelaar and Debra Morrissette of Global Treasures (P.O. Box 3264, Quartzsite, AZ 85359).

At the Hecla-Newmont Rosebud mine, Humboldt County, Nevada, just before this mine closed in August, there were collected some 30 matrix specimens, toenail to small cabinet-size, showing miargyrite in little clusters of brilliant metallic black crystals on drusy quartz-lined seams in a gray altered rhyolite. Originally there was a white, sticky seam filling of dickite--this according to Casey and Jane Jones of Geoprime (11332 Hawthorne Ave., Hesperia, CA 92345), who were selling the specimens in a Holiday Inn room. The crystals of miargyrite are sharp, though only around 2 or 3 mm individually, the isolated clusters reaching 1.5 cm or so. Possibly some tiny pyrargyrite and pyrostilpnite crystals are in there too: Terry Wallace at the University of Arizona is working on it.

The only other U.S. item this time is a stash of top-quality rutile crystals from the famous locality at Graves Mountain, Georgia. It seems that Terry and Jean Ledford of Mountain Gems & Minerals (P.O. Box 239, Little Switzerland, NC 28749) struck a first big pocket in February of 1998; it was more than 2 feet across, and produced about 1000 specimens, some of them seen here, and some of them having been offered at Springfield in 1999. At Denver, the Ledfords had about 50 newly cleaned rutile specimens from this pocket, with sharp, highest-luster, blackish red crystals to 4 cm on edge, as loose singles and in big flashing blocky groups (the Houston Museum and John Barlow got the two best and biggest of this find). Then in December 1998/January 1999 the intrepid Ledfords broke into a second, almost as dramatic pocket, this time in a grayish greenish white pyrophyllite; specimens with hard felted pyrophyllite masses for matrix feature lustrous rutile singles and twins to 3.5 cm across. There were about 25 of t hese in Denver, toenail-size to 5 x 6 cm. Finally, the Ledfords had ten large single crystals of Georgia lazulite, dug in 1999: sandy, pale blue loose bipyramids with some adhering white mica/quartz dust. Subhedral to fairly sharp, and reaching to 5 cm, these are not pretty, but surely approach record size for this long-familiar material.

Dan and Shelley Lambert of Lambert's Minerals (156 Caithness St. E., Caledonia, Ontario, Canada N3W 1C6) are now busy renovating an old house they bought, but recently Dan somehow found time anyway to collect some very good, large hornblende specimens from the Bear Lake Diggings, Tory Hill, Ontario. The hornblende crystals are jet-black, show ideal monoclinic forms, and individually reach 15 cm long (!); they cluster in groups to 25 cm, with minor glassy gray-green apatite. In the best of these specimens, blocky 4 x 4-cm hornblende crystals make quite handsome groups.

Far up into the northwest Canadian boondocks, where the now-extinct mining town of Pine Point once thrived, the old Pine Point mine has been giving up to the Tysons of Tyson's Minerals some very nice examples of Mississippi Valley-type mineralization (this mine produced lead and zinc ores for 50 years before closing in 1984). Hydrothermal Pb/Zn veins in Devonian sediments yielded to the hard-digging Tysons such things as colorless to white to yellow to orange calcite in many habits, with sharp crystals to 7 cm in clusters to 17 cm; galena in sharp, lustrous cuboctahedrons in brilliant small groups; black sphalerite in crystals to 1.5 cm in groups of all sizes (but, sorry, no Tri-State-style chalcopyrite); and even gypsum in colorless to smoky gray translucent fishtail twins in parallel groups to 4 cm. The Tysons' offering at the Main Show was the first significant lot of these pretty specimens ever to reach the mineral market.

From Mexico comes another instance of an old find reintroducing itself as a hoard of just-released specimens, and what a hoard: I refer to the beautiful wulfenite and mimetite of the San Francisco mine, Sonora, this lot having been collected by Ed Swoboda in 1994. Andy Seibel (P.O. Box 2091, Tehachapi, CA 93581) had a casefull of specimens in his Holiday Inn room, and the flamboyance of this case roped many a passing tourist into that room from 20 or so feet away. There were about 30 pieces, toenails to small cabinet-size, priced from $50 to $3000, all showing paper-thin, totally transparent, square tabular wulfenite crystals of rich orange color; on them, of course, perch many little still deeper orange mimetite balls to a couple of mm across. Matrix, present only on the larger pieces, consists of a weathered white/red rock; most specimens are loose clusters of wulfenite crystals, with individuals to 2.5 cm on edge.

Dave Bunk had some new specimens from two famous old mines in Peru; let's begin with the Uchucchacua mine, Dos de Mayo Province, Lima Department. A few lovely thumbnails from this locality bristle with thin, spiky scalenohedrons of rhodochrosite all over black matrix, the crystals brilliantly lustrous, rose-pink and totally gemmy. Also from the Uchucchacua, bright single silver wires twist straight up out of the slightly rough, rounded faces of single metallic black acanthite crystals, in more thumbnail specimens. And there is one remarkable, loose, slightly rounded but still impressively sharp single acanthite crystal measuring 3 x 3 cm.

From the San Genaro mine, Castrovirreyna District, Huancavelica Department, Dave had an entirely new style of the fine silver specimens for which this mine has long been well known. In about a dozen thumbnail and small miniature specimens, and one measuring 5 x 5 cm, slightly bronze-tinted, lustrous silver "herringbone" growths, with plenty of branching spikes, grow in and around and through pale brown microcrystallized siderite; it is as if the latticework silver structures are struggling to emerge from a sort of siderite foam engulfing them. Dave said that this is an entirely new association-find at the San Genaro.

A third Peruvian excitement was to be found in the Main Show booth of Marshall Kovall of Silver Scepter Minerals (P.O. Box 3025, Kirkland, WA 98083). Marshall had just four specimens, mined last June, with dramatically large and fine chalcopyrite crystals: richly golden, slightly iridescent, just slightly rough-surfaced sphenoids to 3.5 cm on edge. They perch lightly on translucent fluorite, the fluorite looking at first glance simply greenish white and massive, but proving on closer inspection to be big, deeply etched fluorite crystals, one of them noticeably pinkish. Yes, the locality is the one that got headlines for pink octahedral fluorite about 15 years ago: the Huanzala mine, Ancash Department, Peru. These four specimens range between 4 x 5 and 8 x 12 cm--and Marshall says there's a good chance that more will appear.

Coming now to Brazil, we must spend significant time in the Holiday Inn room of Luis Menezes (R. Esmeralda, 534, Belo Horizonte - 30410 - 080 - Brazil), who brought several new things to Denver. One of these, which alone must have put Luis far over his carry-on weight allowance, was several huge (to 45 cm across), weird-looking specimens of muscovite on quartz and feldspar crystals from the Ouro Fino mine, Coronel Murta, Minas Gerais. On these, a first generation of muscovite makes twinned, offset, silvery-white diamond-shaped books, but over these is deposited a second muscovite generation in solid blankets of sparkling spheres, and this second layer is a rich yellowish brown. On cleaved areas the very sharp boundary between the two depositions and colors can be strikingly seen. The boulders were collected last summer.

Next, Luis had a good batch of rutile from Diamantina, Minas Gerais, found within the last few months. Lustrous, deeply striated prisms, brownish black but with nice red highlights, make parallel groups, with twinning showing on sharp terminal faces, and there are also a few small, cute V-twins. These all are thumbnails and small miniatures lacking matrix and associations, about 40 of them, for $50 to $200.

Near the older brazilianite prospects near Linopolis, Minas Gerais, is a new one being called the Telirio mine, and from here Luis had some nice new brazilianite with pale to medium-intense greenish yellow, prismatic to blocky crystals to about 1.5 cm; some specimens are loose clusters, while some have brazilianite crystals sitting up smartly on a matrix of snow-white albite crystals. Of these pieces there are about 40 in all, and they sell for $50 to $200. A greater surprise from the Telirio mine (or prospect, or ragged hole in the ground, or whatever it is) are some thumbnail-sized cyclic twins of beryllonite. Like beryllonite from elsewhere, these are not pretty, being milky grayish white and translucent, with wavy faces and a pearly luster. But the sixling forms are reasonably sharp, and the little specimens are very good indeed for the (rare) species. A second Denver dealer who had some of these beryllonite thumbnails, labeling them as being from the Pomarolli Prospect, Linopolis, was Steve Perry of Ste ve Perry Minerals (P.O. Box 136, Davis, CA 95617).

Dave Bunk played the Brazilian what's new/old game here, too, with some enormous and stellar, indeed world-class, specimens of titanite from a new strike last month at the long-famous locality of Capelinha, Minas Gerais. It seems I've hardly finished saluting Frank Melanson, from Springfield last month, for having some fine, small, old specimens of this material, but now here's Dave with lustrous, part-gemmy, deep yellow-green fishtail twins to 12 cm long! The twins show very little damage, and sit regally on a matrix of white feldspar and dark green epidote crystals. There were 20 such dramatic specimens here, and they were among the biggest hits of the show.

European pickings were slim this time, but for rare-phosphate enthusiasts there's a new find of scorodite from the Hemerdon Ball mine, Sparkwell, Devon, England--an old mine now being combed for specimens. Uli Burchard had just five pieces on consignment with The Virtual Show, and in-the-know Ian Bruce says that only a handful of others so far exists. The scorodite crystals reach about 5 mm, tops, but are sharp and crisp, nicely translucent, and liberally sprinkled about in small vugs in a matrix of hard, massive iron-stained white quartz; these measure from 2 x 4 to 6 x 6 cm. The scorodite color ranges from bright blue to deep grayish bluish green, and this ranging happens moreover within the same crystals, depending on incident light. It's not Tsumeb or Mexican scorodite, but it is probably third-best in the world.

The young dealership of Bulgarian Minerals & Gem Company (128, Tzar Boris III blv. (complex Slavia) B1. 16 entr. B, Sofia 1618, Bulgaria) had an out-of-the-way booth at the Main Show fairly littered with recent products of the Madan and Laki mining districts in south-central Bulgaria. Here Dr. Ivan Pojarevski helped me see that there's hope yet for "competitive" specimens of gemmy green Madan sphalerite: a few small quartz/sulfide matrix specimens bear quite well isolated sphalerite crystals with fairly bright luster: it's not world-class sphalerite yet, but it's getting the right idea. Also from Madan come many specimens of the familiar spinal-twinned galena, huge plates of manganoan calcite crystals, and one quartz cluster with a Japan-law twin.

From the Droujba mine, Laki District, an appealing new kind of calcite was represented in this booth by at least 100 specimens in all sizes. Sharp scalenohedrons to 7 cm long are uniformly coated with a thin crust of siderite, such that the total effect is of dignified-looking groups of very pale brown, opaque, creamy-latte calcite dogteeth. On some of these groups a second calcite generation appears as translucent gray-white flattened rhombohedrons perched on the much larger scalenohedrons and in crannies between them. Too many specimens show ugly damage, but surely this will improve as collecting techniques do. And by the way, Keith Williams in his Main Show booth had maybe 50 nice thumbnails of these creamy-latte calcites from Laki.

I come now to the show-stoppingest of the Denver show-stoppers, the one that had crowds of beauty-mesmerized seekers pressing continually into the two relevant rooms in the Holiday Inn. If you can remember the brief influx in the market, about 14 years ago, of electrically bright and lustrous, deep red to magenta erythrite from Bou Azzer, Morocco, you are also aware that these vanished quickly, no more such world-class specimens having been found since 1986. Well, recent workings between June and September of this year on the same drift of the cobalt mine that produced the old killers have now produced some 2000 to 3000 more specimens just as good, or better! Christine Gaillard, working with Francois Lietard in the latter's Minerive dealership, brought about ten flats of erythrite specimens of all sizes to Denver. Pawing through the flats, elbows constantly elbowing other seekers, I found that good thumbnails could be had for around $200, fine cabinet pieces for low four-figure prices. The scene was similar in the room of Horst Burkart (Dornheckenstr. 20 D-53227 Bonn, Germany), where average specimen qualities and prices were just a bit lower than at Lietard's, although, surely, utterly wonderful erythrites could be had in either room (and isolated fine pieces in a few other rooms). The erythrite forms as parallel sheaves of very thin crystals, the sheaves wedging at their tips to delicate points. These sheaves may be loose, or may make jumbled clusters without matrix, or may rise at all angles from a dense black matrix of ore sulfides and arsenides (recall that the world's best skutterudite occurs at Bou Azzer, too). The color, as I've said, is a brilliantly lustrous magenta; on some matrix specimens there is a dusting of much paler pink-purple microcrystals of erythrite and/or roselite. The only problem is that at least some damage is almost always present, and is poignantly conspicuous: tiny bruises, especially on the wedge-tips of sheaves, stand out because of their lighter color and micaceous scaliness. To pick the "best" specimens from so many closely similar ones is a complex matter of weighing variables: styles of specimens, angles of sheaves, variations of brightness, matrix aesthetics, and, most of all, the damage issue, i.e. how many pale little dings one is willing to tolerate on an otherwise fine specimen. We may be pretty sure, anyway, that now's the time to try to pick up one of these lovely things; they are world's-best for what they are, and mineral beauty outdoes itself in them. I'll add finally that a small number of specimens of the related but much rarer species roselite, beta-roselite and wendwilsonite were also found this past summer at Bou Azzer; these tend to occur as simple, flat crystal druses on matrix, deep pink to deep purplish red. Ernesto Ossola and Chris Wright were among a few dealers who had verified specimens of wendwilsonite, a member of the roselite group in which Mg exceeds Co (the reverse being the case for roselite). Really finally on this topic, did you know that, as Francoi s Lietard vouches, "Bou Azzer" is Arabic for "fig tree"?

Horst Burkart, Francois Lietard and a few others--most notably Brad and Star Van Scriver of Heliodor--offered also some wondrous specimens from a new strike of vanadinite at the ACF mine, Mibladen, Morocco, hit in the first week of June (I'm told that specimens were available at July's Ste.-Marie-aux-Mines Show). Thousands of pieces were dug in all; the best in Denver showed pristinely sharp, simple hexagonal crystals to 1.5 cm across (and, exceptionally, almost as thick), and as vividly orange-red and lustrous as vanadinite gets. The crystals form in great plates, mounds, waveforms and towers to 20 cm, either with or without the familiar matrix of bladed white barite and earthy brown gossan.

Moving southward in Africa now, we come to the pretty gem crystals of raspberry-red elbaite trickling out from a place "near Oyo City," Nigeria; Dudley Blauwet of Mountain Minerals International was offering a handful of these at the Main Show. They are clearly alluvial crystals, being all loose, slightly rounded and minutely chipped; dull of luster, they are nonetheless well terminated and of a lovely shade of red offbeat for elbaite. Dudley says that these have been "known to" (i.e. devoured by) the gem trade for several years, but this is the first offering of natural crystals.

Helmut Bruckner of Exclusive Mineralien (Postfach 1342, D-79373 Mullheim, Germany) had the best specimens I have yet seen of aegirine from Mt. Malosa, Zomba District, Malawi: two deep flats with 17 pieces came with him to Denver. The best three of these specimens are also the biggest: majestic crossed-sword groups with individual lustrous black prisms to 18 cm long. The prisms are thick and sharply, complexly terminated, and they are lightly attached, making for an extremely dramatic effect. At the bases where the swords meet there are little helpings of 1.5-cm white microcline crystals and sharp, rich tan, 1-cm zircon crystals. The smaller aegirine specimens are nice too, but these three big ones are maxi-aesthetic. They were very recently mined; another shipment may make it to Helmut in time for Munich.

Dave Bunk starred again with about 20 miniature and cabinet-sized specimens of aquamarine with schorl on feldspar from the fast-developing locality of Bergsig 274, Erongo Mountains, Namibia. These are real stunners (especially the matrix specimens), with medium to deep blue, gemmy, simple hexagonal prisms of aquamarine to 3 x 3 x 8 cm, either as loose loners or rising from, or cuddled up against, the sharp, lustrous black schorl or creamy white feldspar euhedrons. One terrific 10-cm specimen had a special surprise: a few 5-mm, sharp gemmy cubes of bright green fluorite perching petitely on the feldspar! These Namibian aquamarines have been gingerly coming out lately (see my last Tucson report and the report following this one by Bruce Cairncross), but now seem to be claiming a very high place in the aquamarine pantheon; work is ongoing in the granite pegmatite outbacks of Namibia from whence they come.

There is a new, quite beautiful hematoid quartz now being collected on both the Namibian and South African sides of an arid borderland region called the Goodhouse Area (in Namibia) and Warm Baths (in South Africa); I learned about it, in the always-interesting International Dealers enclave of the Main Show, from geologist Colin Coiner (Fourways, Johannesburg 2055, Republic of South Africa). Local people discovered the huge crystal clusters about two years ago, but, Colin says, they're just now becoming a hot item in the South African mineral trade. The stout, tight groups of quartz prisms show individuals to 6 cm high and 4 cm thick; the transparent crystals have a bright glassy luster and are zoned in shades of pale to very deep brick red, with some amethystine areas. Here were about 20 specimens, from 5 to 20 cm across--all quite impressive but, unfortunately, all at least a little bit damaged as well. Further, Colin had a box of 3 to 5-cm specimens of transparent, lustrous, blocky topaz crystals to 2 cm i ndividually, with schorl and feldspar, from the Erongo Mountains, Namibia (presumably somewhere near the aquamarine sites).

On to Asia ... and up into the Himalayas, and back, predictably, to Dudley Blauwet's Mountain Minerals International booth again at the Main Show. A new prospect at Sabsar, Rhondu District, Northern Areas, Pakistan, has lately been giving up some fine little hydroxylherderite specimens: either sharp, lustrous, loose wedge-terminated prisms, essentially colorless but tinted yellowish gray by inclusions, or else, in a small minority of the specimens, pale green doubly terminated hydroxylherderite crystals to 2 cm lying flat on a matrix of white feldspar and black schorl, some with tiny gemmy colorless topaz crystals too. These latter, green hydroxylherderites have only a medium luster and are translucent at best, but are very sharp, and thumbnail matrix specimens are well composed and appealing.

I noted from Springfield that Dudley Blauwet had also come up with several thumbnail-size loose crystals of gemmy brown bastnasite-(Ce) from a new find in Pakistan. At Denver, several more such world-class specimens of what's usually a dull, unattractive (if rare) complex rare-earth carbonate were escorted to market by Andreas Weerth (Hochfeldstr. 37, D-83684 Tegernsee, Germany), holding court as usual in the Holiday Inn. Andreas had six miniature matrix specimens with crude, opaque 3-cm bastnasite crystals (possibly interlayered with synchisite) lying flat in them; but also he had a few more of the loose, 2-cm, gem crystals. The locality is given as Chuliani, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan. While we are with Andreas, please note also his big specimens with large, pale pink translucent elbaite crystals to 10 cm, surrounded, where they meet their smoky quartz and feldspar crystal matrixes, by stilbite in solid coatings of typical bladed white crystals to 2 cm (in some of these pieces there are gray transparent s podumene crystals and bright yellow microcrystals of microlite too).

As I intimated earlier, one of the most surprising and most excitingly promising debuts at this show was of a radically new sort of sodalite from Afghanistan; Andreas Weerth and Herb Obodda share honors for these specimens (four of them with each dealer). The locality is the Kokcha Valley, Badakhshan: the place we've long known as the source of the world's only fine large lazurite crystals. Indeed, at first glance these new matrix sodalite specimens look much like the familiar lazurites, with rounded, bright blue isometric crystals embedded in massive white material. But in this new instance the white stuff seems to be forsterite, with opaque gray-white bladed forsterite crystals sometimes surrounding the blue blobs on these large (to 10 cm) pieces. The blue blobs, in turn, are sodalite, not lazurite, and the color in fact is a much paler shade of blue, and crystal edges may be quite sharp; a few are even translucent when backlit. The sodalite crystals reach up to 3 cm across, and there are up to 12 individu als on the largest of these specimens. For world-beating sodalite, these new ones easily rival--and look entirely different from--the quartz-encrusted crystals found several years ago at Ste.-Hilaire. Stay tuned!

Additionally, Herb Obodda had a couple of loose gemmy crystals of danburite from somewhere in Nuristan, Afghanistan. The prisms are 4 and 5 cm high, lustrous, gemmy throughout, and of a rich shade of orange such that they suggest the "Imperial" topaz of Ouro Preto, Brazil. One danburite is a blocky rectangular prism with a flat basal termination; the other is more rounded, with higher-order prism faces and a complex termination.

Again here at Denver, as at the previous Tucson Show, the country that proved most prolific of all in fine new occurrences was, you guessed it, China. All of the Chinese items I raved about in Tucson were here again, with the pyromorphite reaching new heights of quality and abundance (see later)--yet still there were a couple of new-new things too.

One of these is a new type of calcite from the Shizhuyuan mine, Hunan Province--a place known also for super specimens of bournonite, bismuthinite and stannite. The loose calcite prisms and parallel groups of prisms are utterly colorless and transparent; and, since their terminations have rhombohedron faces of unequal sizes, they look at first glance like "rock crystal" quartz. But no, they are calcite, recalling the most beautifully pellucid of the old English calcites; some have feathery red hematite inclusions near their bases. Their escort in Denver was Dr. Guanghua Liu of AAA Liu's Minerals (Franzosische Allee 24, D-72072 Tubingen, Germany).

Bryan Lees' Collector's Edge crew--especially Ken Roberts--have lately been scouting around in China, and one result has been about 12 cabinet-sized, outstanding wolframite and two ditto stannite specimens from the Yaogangxian mine, Hunan. The better of the stannites, displayed in the Collector's Edge case at the Main Show, is probably the best stannite specimen in the world: two 6-cm, lustrous metallic gray, flattened crystals lying symmetrically on either side of the bottom of a transparent terminated quartz prism about 18 cm high.

For more humble seekers, though, the Collector's Edge folks also brought in about 100 excellent small specimens (mostly thumbnails and toenails) of the beautiful purple fluorite from the Shangbao mine, Hunan, occasionally seen before in scattered examples. All of the fluorite crystals are predominantly cubes, but with dodecahedron faces bevelling the cube edges; they are transparent, and range in color from pale lilac to deepest purple. Best of all, brilliant little pyrite cubes and little quartz needles are apt to be sprinkled on and included in many of the fluorites. A top-class, aesthetically dramatic thumbnail will run you around $100.

I have a strong finish this time, involving what must be many thousands of the new Chinese pyromorphite specimens, in all sizes and qualities, which were seen everywhere around both Denver shows: a great green gushing specimen flood, with the promise of still more waves to come. Let's first address the issue of the locality, the confusion about which I mentioned in my Springfield report. Several people claim authoritative knowledge regarding the place, and there are some apparent contradictions, but since all informants are surely at least partly right, the overlap-summary of data I gleaned is as follows. A mountain near the town of Yangshuo, near the city of Guilin, in the province of Guangxi, contains an old lead mine now being worked both for ore and specimens, with two main adits coming in from opposite sides of the mountain; the mine is called the Daoping. As we know, pyromorphite specimens from here have been trickling out for the last two or three years, and now, with so many different dealers' lots t o look at, it's clear that the pyromorphite has varied from pocket to pocket, or perhaps zone to zone. The first major lot, taken out about two years ago, has the palest colored crystals with the brightest luster: these are brilliant, Spanish-style, yellow-green hexagonal barrels to 2 cm or so, or, more rarely, milky pale green spikes and barrels and sheaves, sometimes on white quartz matrix. As mining has gone on, the color has darkened, the luster has decreased, and specimen sizes have greatly increased: here we are talking about huge, lush plates of medium-green crystals, suggesting thick lawns in rainy summers--and some specimens reach 25 cm across. In the very latest batch, mined two or three months ago, the crystals are a paler yellow-green again, may reach 3 cm long, and are faintly zoned, and actually translucent: backlit, they glow gorgeously in lime-green throughout the prisms. In general the best of this pyromorphite is turning out to be among the world's finest, and new lots may well continue to h it the market. To credit all of the Denver dealers who had this material is tricky, as dozens of dealerships had at least some of it, so to name names is really to talk about specialties: e.g., Wayne Thompson and Collector's Edge had the biggest and most dramatic green-lawn specimens, while the Rocksmiths at the Main Show had diversities of nice little thumbnails. But I must say that the most generally impressive--and, on the whole, lowest priced--array was to be found in the Holiday Inn room of Mike Bergmann. Here was a large glass case simply flaming with about a hundred top-class pyromorphite specimens of every style (though Mike is especially proud of having scored so many of the newest, translucent kind). As a postscript I'll mention that the only place where I saw any specimens of other species from this locality was at the Rocksmiths' stand, where two small clusters of iron-stained white cerussite crystals hid out. These are nothing special for cerussite, but may dimly promise that the Daoping mine wil l turn out, in time, other lead-bearing things besides pyromorphite in noteworthy specimens.

And that concludes the tour.

Of course, some mighty fine things were to be ogled in the display cases at the Main Show this year, but first a word about a fine small collection of silver minerals on show at one of the stands, and about the collection's creator. Jack Schissler of Bisbee, Arizona, was a mineral collector, mining engineer, gold prospector, World War II fighter pilot, mayor of Bisbee from 1982 to 1984, and, I gather from the front-page article about him in the Bisbee Daily Review, a much-beloved southwestern "character" whose death in March of this year was a sad event for many good people. Gene and Jackie Schlepp of the Tucson dealership of Western Minerals now have the job of selling Jack's silver-species collection, but before doing so they wanted to show it off to the Denver crowds, and what a show it was: about 50 smallish but outstanding specimens mounted on black styrofoam bases in the rear area of the Schlepps' booth. Highlights included wonderful thumbnails of Pribram proustite and polybasite; thumbnails of Peruvia n proustite and pyrargyrite; amazing miniatures of Romanian hessite and nagyagite; acanthites from everywhere; and, best of all (to my taste anyway) a 4 x 6-cm cluster of loosely joined, brilliant spheres of miargyrite crystals from the Little Anna mine in Colorado. (Miargyrite from Colorado?? But this has to be one of the finest miargyrites from anywhere.) Many thanks to the Schlepps for sharing this exquisite little collection with everyone before selling it off.

Naturally, many of the display cases presented Colorado themes. Among these were a casefull of self-collected Colorado pieces by Robert Stoufer of Ouray; the Ouray County Historical Society's case of fine Colorado specimens recently donated by John Marshall of Dedham, Massachusetts; and Harvard's case of manganese-bearing Colorado minerals. The San Juan Mountains (being the show theme) came in for lavish treatment in several more cases: one by the Colorado School of Mines, one by Benjy and Liz Kuehling, and three by Dave Bunk, in a partial reprise of his Colorado-collection performance at Springfield. And there was much, much else in the way of Colorado minerals too.

Among the displays on other themes that grabbed me were show-stopping specimens from the Houston Museum and from the Rice Northwest Museum; new Nevada minerals from the Los Angeles County Museum; old Franklin, New Jersey, pieces from the Pennsylvania State University Earth and Science Museum; four magnificent specimens from Collector's Edge (including that Chinese stannite); minerals (and geology) of the Mogok District, Burma, from the American Museum of Natural History; and the Smithsonian's millennial/antiquarian case showing specimens that have reposed in the U.S. National Collection since 1900, with a bit of their histories explained. Irv Brown and Wendell Wilson let us look at some of the best of their terrific specimens (large ones and small ones, respectively). The Society of Mineral Museum Professionals, under the heading "Minerals Under 40," displayed really good specimens purchased by various people over the last two years for under $40 (it can be done!).

But I've saved my most elaborate gushings for an amazing and creative case by Bill and Carol Smith called "A Good Day at Black Rock," wherein about 40 black "rocks" spoke of top quality and highest taste. I have seen the Smiths' collection a couple of times, yet many of these pieces were unfamiliar to me, and are thus, I guess, very recently acquired. Among the standouts of standouts here were a huge Ilfeld, Germany, manganite; two likewise huge bournonites, from Peru and Cornwall; two kingly South African hematites and a major Swiss "Eisenrose" hematite; an insanely bright cluster of Dal'negorsk sphalerite crystals; a 3.5-cm Swedish native lead with truly sharp 1-cm crystals; and even a black Tsumeb smithsonite, with sharp elongated rhombohedrons to 3 cm. Who says black minerals can't be exciting?!

On opening day of the Main Show, every grownup is always a bit unnerved by the dense crowds of boisterous schoolchildren set loose, careening, about the show floor; but some of them are tomorrow's great collectors, and must be lovingly encouraged and tolerated. I can think of nothing else even faintly negative to say about the pleasure and thrill of this great show (and yes, Marty, I mean the hotel show too).

I am finishing this report just in time; dusk again is coming in at the fourth-floor window, and I must be packed and ready to leave the hotel tomorrow at 7:00 A.M. Let me invite anyone who has not yet made it to Denver to do so soon ... it's a wonderful tour through the World According To Minerals. See you next year.
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Title Annotation:minerals
Author:Moore, Tom
Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:Springfield Show 2000.
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