Denver show 2007.
I'm pleased to report that 2007 was the first year since 2001--the year of 9/11--when attendance at the Denver Show increased over the previous year's. Sure enough, at the hotel and "Main" shows alike the crowds seemed thicker and busier than before, and by Show's end most dealers were saying that they'd had excellent sales. The harvest of what's-new mineral occurrences was merely mediumsized, but strong buzzes about important developments ongoing even now in Brazil, Mexico, China and other pinata-lands where those who swing sticks might always cause cascades of mineral riches, kept excitement high.
Meanwhile, autumnal Denver offered its usual gently cool, yet inspiriting, weather. And inside the Main Show, if you knew where to look, there was likewise comfort and ease: anyone, and any conversational gaggle of folks, was free to slouch on either of two soft, deep, brown leather couches facing each other across a coffee table in the booth shared by Rob Lavinsky's Arkenstone and Brian and Brett Kosnar's Mineral Classics. The civilized idea of such a take-a-load-off lounging station had never before been seen at the Denver Show, and I'd nominate Rob and Brian/Brett for some sort of Peace Prize for their thoughtfulness.
In Denver this time, as in Tucson in February, I found myself sadly missing Rod and Helen Tyson, whose Tyson's Minerals stand always had an array of Canadian items very well worth checking in on, including, for most shows, new finds from Rapid Creek and/or Mont Saint-Hilaire. The Tysons have found that doing the big U.S. shows is no longer cost-effective for them, and so we're left only with our memories of these friendly Albertans and their fine (and often surprisingly low-priced) Northern minerals. Likewise Beau Gordon (Jendon Minerals) is no longer offering his thumbnail wares at the show, having retired from mineral dealing to join the clergy, and Carter Rich has retired as well.
A cheerier species of change was manifest by the debut of newly "available" stocks from Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences in the Main Show booths of Collector's Edge and Kristalle. In the former, a couple of witty placards and two large window posters in 19th-century style enticed visitors to come in and see the intriguingly ancient Academy minerals themselves. (See the last page of the July-August 2007 issue for some historical background, or the July online installment of "What's new in the mineral world.") If you had the means, you could take home from Denver a simply smashing 19th-century Philly specimen of such things as Utah cuprotungstite, Peruvian gratonite, German kermesite, pre-Bolshevik Russian gem crystals and other historical treasures. In general, Collector's Edge had the Western Hemisphere specimens, Kristalle and Ian Bruce's Crystal Classics the Eastern Hemisphere ones. Both booths were crammed all day, every day, with gawkers, a very fair number of whom turned out to be buyers as well.
Let the tour embark, then ...
Collector's Edge (www.collectorsedge.com) also maintained a presence at Marty Zinn's hotel show, and in this room one could see specimens from a new discovery of creedite made earlier this year in the Henderson mine, Clear Creek County, Colorado. Pale purple microcrystals of creedite form dense drusy coverages and flat-lying sunbursts on a matrix of molybdenite-infused breccia--there's a sort of dreamy softness about the lilac druse patches in contrast to the prosaic brownish matrix. Many flats of miniature and small cabinet-size specimens emerged from the find.
At the Main Show, John Seibel of Seibel Minerals (firstname.lastname@example.org) had a nice lot of grossular specimens which he and others collected last summer in the Coyote Front Range near Bishop, Inyo County, California. John says that the outcrops of grossular/vesuvianite skarn in this region have been visited off and on since the 1980's by field collectors, but that these newest specimens are, at their best, the finest yet found; about ten flats in all were obtained. The miniature and small cabinet-size pieces offered in Denver (mostly for under $100) show sharp, mirror-faced, red-brown dodecahedral grossular crystals to a remarkable 6 cm forming vug linings in the hard, mottled greenish brown skarn rock. A few of the grossular crystals even have small gemmy areas, and all crystals are highly lustrous. Sure, you can hold out for the famous totally gemmy grossular specimens from the Jeffrey mine in Quebec or from Alpine occurrences in Italy (or even Pakistan--see later), but these California pieces have their own style of beauty.
Commercial mining for metals ceased in 1954 in the Hansonburg district, Bingham, Socorro County, New Mexico, but collectors ever since then have been busy at several small claims in the district, most notably the Blanchard claim, wherefrom come distinctively blue-purple, cubic fluorite crystals associated with quartz, linarite-coated galena cubes and other pleasant things. Early in the second day of the Main Show, New Mexico field collector Ray DeMark dropped off in the booth of Rob Lavinsky's Arkenstone (www.irocks.com) a hoard of fine, large fluorite specimens representing the best of Ray's finds during these past four years or so. By "large" I mean the kind of specimens known old-fashionedly as "museum" pieces; I mean boulder-like hunks of limestone up to 60 or 70 cm wide and/or deep, with translucent blue-purple fluorite cubes to 3 cm on edge perching lightly all over rolling, drusy quartz-coated cavity linings. Of about 20 specimens in the lot, five are more than 30 cm across, and priced in four figures; the rest, for mid-three-figure prices, run down to about 8 cm. A few specimens feature sharp, tightly inter-grown cubes completely covering matrix, about two-thirds of the cubes being fluorite crystals, the rest being sharp (though somewhat rough-surfaced), lustrous gray galena crystals.
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Only a couple of thousand miles east-northeast of the Blanchard claim lies another classic, equally long-standing, fluorite locality: the White Rock quarry, Clay Center, Ottawa County, Ohio. As I first reported from the 2007 Tucson Show, an enormous pocket opened last Thanksgiving Day at Clay Center produced many hundreds of specimens showing lustrous yellow-brown, phantomed, intensely fluorescent cubic fluorite crystals, in sizes ranging from miniatures to giant cabinet pieces with crystals to 5 cm resting singly and in groups all over matrix. California dealer Don Olson (P.O. Box 858, Bonsall, CA 92003) has been selling the bulk of the discovery; his room at the Holiday Inn in Denver was dominated by Clay Center pieces ranging in size from petite thumbnails to more of the large-cabinet-size matrix specimens. The thumbnails show perfect, razor-sharp, single fluorite crystals perched lightly on transparent blue-white celestine blades: "fluorite on a stick," Don was calling them, as they look like lollipops promising rootbeer-like flavors to impulsive or playful lickers. Also worthy of a glance are Don Olson's glowing, gemmy orange thumbnails and miniatures of calcite, collected 30 years ago in the Irving Materials quarry, Anderson, Madison County, Indiana. The complex, rounded calcite crystals form contact twins, most of them off-matrix, to 7 cm across.
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Limestone has been taken for many decades from the Binkley & Ober quarry, East Petersburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and modest dolomite specimens have occasionally emerged--but never before of the quality of those dug last August by Skip Colflesh and marketed in the Holiday Inn ballroom, Denver, by Doug Wallace of Mineral Search (P.O. Box 1585. Little Elm, TX 75068). Doug had two flats of platy clusters of dolomite crystals, with or without matrix, from 4 to 12 cm across, with typically saddle-shaped individuals to more than 1 cm. The gleaming dolomite saddles are of the palest peach-pink, and in some of the plates they rise in loosely attached, pretty "towers": these specimens equal the very best of the same style from old Arkansas localities and from the Tri-State district. Doug also had a few celestine specimens recently collected in the Meckley quarry, Mandata, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (see the 1996 Denver report in vol. 28 no. 1). The new specimens are single, blocky, translucent, blue-white crystals to 3 cm, not as lustrous or generally as pretty as those of 1996 but signifying nevertheless that this locality is not yet finished. Skip Colflesh (of Hershey, PA) also collected these celestines--on August 12, 2007.
Leaving the U.S. and heading south brings us to one of the biggest excitements of Denver 2007. A new copper mine at Milpillas, between Nacozari and Cananea, Sonora, Mexico is just beginning to yield spectacular specimens of azurite and of malachite pseudomorphs after azurite; Rob Lavinsky had the best of the former, Evan Jones the best of the latter, in their respective booths at the Main Show. The azurite specimens are dense, shining, deepest blue cavity-linings of very sharp crystals to 2.5 cm, in miniature and small cabinet-size pieces of massive azurite/malachite matrix with some fringing areas of rust-brown gossan. The malachite pseudomorphs are sharp, tabular to blocky shapes reaching 3 cm, upstanding on miniature-size matrix, the surfaces of the (completely replaced) pseudocrystals being a lush and beautiful velvety green. Evan had about 20 of the pseudomorph specimens, measuring from 3 to 5 cm, and Rob had just five of the gorgeous azurites. One heard rumors of more azurites from the locality being held "in reserve" by several dealers, and Rob says that many hopeful dealers are now stampeding to the remote site. Could this be a reincarnated Bisbee or Tsumeb? In February, in Tucson, we may find out.
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Another major what's-new was brought by master Brazilian dealer Luis Menezes (email@example.com) out of the Sapo mine, Goiabera, Minas Gerais, to a room in the Holiday Inn where eager crowds seemed always gathered around the swarm of 50 or so small specimens on Luis's glass shelving. Recall that the Sapo mine has recently yielded peculiar-looking specimens of what was at first incorrectly called chlorapatite and later identified as hydroxyl-apatite, as mottled gray-green, discoid crystals to 3 cm or so resting lightly on microcline crystals and cleavage blocks. Well, last July a remarkable pocket was opened which proved to harbor another apatite-group species, fluorapatite, in specimens of two entirely different appearances, some showing crystals of both types resting one upon the other. First, transparent, pale grayish yellow, elongated fluorapatite crystals form curving parallel aggregates, familiarly called "scorpions"; these aggregates are not especially attractive but many of the fluorapatite crystals are weirdly hollow, and the groups reach lengths of 25 cm. Second, and radically prettier, fluorapatite appears as highly lustrous, slightly beveled hexagonal-tabular crystals to 2.5 cm wide and tall and 1 cm thick, either as floater singles, floater clusters of two or three, or matrix pieces showing the pristine hexagonal tabs resting on the yellowish "scorpion" aggregates. These swanky crystals are mirror-faced, impeccably sharp, and deep green in their inner zones but nearly colorless in thin outer zones rimming them all around; some have little blossoms of white albite crystals clinging to the pinacoid faces. For the best of these thumbnail and small-miniature specimens, Luis was asking between $150 and $200--hence those eager crowds in his room, once word got around. Luis says he will probably have more Sapo mine fluorapatites of both types in Munich in October/November. Chris Wright of Wright's Rock Shop (www.wrightsrockshop.com) had a few more, superb examples in Denver.
Wright's Rock Shop also had a single specimen of a remarkable new style of calcite from the amethyst geode-mining area of Rio Grande do Sul, southernmost Brazil; Alvaro Lucio told me that he'd had a few specimens of this calcite as well, but had sold them before I got to his room in the Holiday Inn, and further, on set-up day at the Main Show I found Tony Kampf putting another specimen (even better than Wright's) into the display case of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. All parties were calling it "quartzlike calcite," and justly so, though the crystals are larger and yellower than the "quartz-like" ones emerging of late from the Dachang mine in China. The Brazilian specimens feature thick, lustrous, transparent, pale yellow prismatic crystals to 15 cm long, almost exactly mimicking typical quartz crystals, i.e. they are terminated by three dominant, high-angle rhombohedron faces, and there is a smaller, subordinate rhombohedron, and the prism faces show prominent horizontal striations. Only a closer inspection shows that the luster, internal cleavage cracks and general Gestalt is that of calcite, not quartz. The crystals rise from a matrix of celadonite-stained basalt. These large and dramatic specimens hail from the Getulio Vargas district of Rio Grande do Sul.
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In the Holiday Inn, Argentinian dealer Jorge Raul Dascal of Patagonia Minerals (firstname.lastname@example.org) had a freshly collected lot including record-size specimens of hematite pseudomorphs after magnetite. We first came to know this material in early 2003, when Jorge came to Tucson with whole tablesfull--thousands of specimens--of the metallic black clusters of octahedral pseudocrystals said to have come from a cinder pit near the Payun Matru volcano, Malargue, Mendoza Province, Argentina. The new specimens differ from the old in that the clusters reach 25 cm; they were collected (early in 2007) from a new site about 50 km from the old one. The lustrous octahedrons reach 5 cm on edge; all are quite sharp, and many are undistorted, others being skeletal and elongated in the familiar style.
Cal Graeber (email@example.com) and his collecting team had a very good summer season at the Rogerley mine, Weardale, England, digging out gorgeous groups of deep sea-green, transparent, highly fluorescent fluorite, with cubic crystals to 4 cm on edge. At the Main Show, Cal had several miniature-size clusters with all the beauty one could wish for, and a couple of majestic plates to 20 cm across blanketed with crystals. According to Cal, these specimens came from the "Jewel Box" and "Rat Hole" pockets, the latter having been breached on the season's very last day.
This past year has seen the emergence of generous numbers of superb galena specimens from the well-known Kruchev dol mine, Madan district, Bulgaria, showing brilliantly lustrous, flattened spinel-law twins of galena crystals to 10 cm, with quartz, chalcopyrite and sphalerite. Ross Lillie of North Star Minerals (firstname.lastname@example.org) had plenty of these pieces, mostly miniature-size, in his room in the Holiday Inn. So I thought I had seen it all, Bulgarian galena-wise, but then in Rob Lavinsky's Arkenstone booth at the Main Show I had to rethink the whole business. According to Rob, and as later confirmed by Ivan Pojarewski of Bulgarian Minerals & Gems (www.bggems.com), a pocket discovered in March in the Djourkovo mine, Madan district, was the source of some quite amazingly odd specimens of galena--about 100 in all--whereon hollow cubic and cuboctahedral crystals to 3 or 4 cm perch upon massive gray, mixed-sulfide matrix. Picture the superstructural frame of a building under construction: these crystals consist only of their outer edges, as thin gray girders, and have no interiors, i.e. you can look straight through the crystal along any face-centered crystallographic axis, and see daylight. Others more wise than I may speculate on the growth (or dissolution) mechanism, but meanwhile all are agreed that these surreal specimens are absolutely unique. Rob had a handful of the very best, all miniature-size, and Dr. Pojarewski had a few more. The latter gentleman also showed me some small but nice barite specimens such as are starting to trickle from the Djourkovo mine and from one other mine in the Madan district: thick, simple-tabular barite crystals to 2.5 cm, translucent to transparent and palest yellow, some with phantoms, clustering on dark sulfide matrix.
When the brilliant groups of very thin, distorted hematite crystals from Morocco began to appear on the market in the early 1990's, the locality was misreported as "Djebel Nador, Algeria"; later lots, assigned to "Nador, Morocco" or to "Segangan near Nador," made splashes at major shows in the mid-1990's. The locality in question is actually the Ouichane iron deposit near the village of Segangane, 15 km southwest of the town of Nador, which itself lies 25 km south of the former Spanish enclave of Melilla, on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco. The superb hematites of this place have not been marketed in quite awhile, but at Denver this year Alain Martaud of Alain Martaud Mineraux (email@example.com) had representative pieces from a find of six months ago. Distorted, cavernous, brilliant black hematite crystals to 1.5 cm form loose clusters of small-miniature size, and there is one fine 8 X 10-cm piece with the hematite crystals sitting up on a white coating of drusy aragonite on matrix. Watch for more showy hematite specimens from this locality, and try not to confuse the place with Djebel Nador, Algeria (the type locality for nadorite, by the way).
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The more temperamentally hopeful among us have been hoping hard for new floods of fine specimens from the complex pegmatites of the Alto Ligonha district, Zambezia Province, Mozambique (see the thorough article in vol. 31 no. 6), where a new round of specimen-seeking has been underway for the past several years. So far there have been no "floods," but interesting small finds occasionally have reached the market. In Denver this year, Ross Lillie of North Star Minerals offered thumbnails and miniatures from a lot of about 35 microlite crystal clusters, mined in 2005 in the Naqisupa mine, Alto Ligonha. Fairly lustrous, opaque chocolate-brown, somewhat distorted microlite octahedrons to 2 cm form loose, tightly inter-grown groups with no associated species; these very nice little specimens were going for around $100 apiece in the North Star room in the Holiday Inn.
Also in the interesting-small-lots-from-major-localities department, Ivo Szegeny of KARP (www.karp.cz) had a few very nice miniature-size azurite crystal clusters from the Akche-Spasskiy mine in the great copper mining district of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Sharp, medium-blue, wedge-shaped, compound azurite crystals to 1.5 cm are gathered in rosette-shaped groups without matrix to 5 cm.
One of Rob Lavinsky's coups at the 2005 Tucson Show was a 3.1-cm, gemmy red crystal of the extremely rare species vayrynenite, reportedly from the Shengus area, Gilgit district, Pakistan; and in the 2007 Tucson Show report I noted seeing the "world's finest gem crystal" of vayrynenite in Herb Obodda's incredible case of Pakistani specimens at the Main Show. I was thus not entirely unprepared (though still duly impressed) when in Denver this year Jeff Fast of JBF Minerals (www.jbfminerals.com), having collared me in the hallway of the Holiday Inn and hauled me into his room, showed me about ten loose, sharp, singly and doubly terminated, bladed crystals of vayrenenite from less than 1 cm to 2.5 cm long, found only a month ago (he had not yet finished cleaning, let alone pricing them). He could say only that the crystals had come from somewhere in the Shigar Valley, in the Skardu district of Pakistan's Northern Areas--a different site than the one where Rob's specimen was discovered. And the color is different: Jeff's crystals are a soft, translucent medium-pink. And there is the matter of associations: Rob's crystal is "naked," but one of Jeff's has a euhedral, pale orange, terminated crystal of childrenite measuring about 3 mm clinging to one side.
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Dense and shape-shifting indeed are the fogs of Pakistani locality attributions. From the 2007 Tucson Show I reported on some beautiful clusters of gemmy orange grossular crystals, closely resembling those of the Jeffrey mine, Quebec, which Steve Perry (P.O. Box 136, Davis, CA 95617) had on hand. Steve was pretty sure that these specimens had come from the famous rare-earth pegmatite at Zagi Mountain, and after some waffling I went ahead and repeated this. At the Main Show in Denver this year, though, Dudley Blauwet of Mountain Minerals International (firstname.lastname@example.org) said that, no, the grossular specimens come from near the village of Mana, Bajuar Agency, Northern Areas, Pakistan, and Steve Perry (who knows that nobody Knows these things as Dudley does) graciously acceded, and promised to change his labels. The specimens are very lovely, with highly lustrous, completely gemmy, orange-red dodecahedral grossular crystals to 2 cm in intergrown groups, some with pale green, subhedral diopside crystals. Dudley had about 15 miniatures priced at $250 to $650.
Zeolites from the Deccan Plateau basalts of India seemed to be staying the course, but there was a nice selection of newly found quartz specimens in the Holiday Inn room of K. C. Pandey of Superb Minerals (www.superbminerals.com). These come, not from the Deccan Plateau at all, but from a heavily touristed region near the town of Kullu in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, which neighbors Indian-claimed Kashmir. The occurrence is giving up Arkansas-like groups of lustrous, transparent, colorless quartz crystals of conventional form but reaching 25 cm long, in groups reaching 45 cm. No major associated species are evident on these specimens, although some of the quartz crystals are included by tiny, bright red hematite platelets and/or microcrystals of pyrite.
Time now for another locality correction, this time concerning mysterious Myanmar (Burma). In my late-July online "what's new in the mineral world" column I showed a picture representing a recent find of attractive elbaite specimens--small groups of translucent, bright pink crystals, some blue-capped--which had appeared on a Chinese dealer's website. Answering my inquiry, the dealer had said that the specimens came from the "Gaoligangshan mine, Gaoligangshan Mountain," just on the Chinese side of the China/Myanmar border, and dutifully I repeated this in the online report. At Denver, however, Ivo Szegeny of KARP had a showcase shelf full of thumbnails and miniatures of what is clearly the same material, and he is certain (as is Dudley Blauwet and a couple of other reliable people) that the true locality lies in Myanmar; specifically, according to Ivo, it is Pyi-Gyi-Taung Mountain, near Let-Pan-Hla village, Mandalay district. Guanghua Liu's recent book Fine Minerals of China mentions that Gaoligangshan Mountain in western Yunnan Province, China, is indeed a place where mining of gem-bearing pegmatites is taking place ... but one recalls that the border region is wild, great numbers of ethnic Chinese live and do business in northern Burma, the Chinese are marketing minerals more aggressively all the time, and, in short, it's easy to see how Burmese crystals could be offered as Chinese ones, sometimes by design, sometimes just by the helpless increase of informational entropy. At any rate, the KARP specimens show prismatic elbaite crystals to 3 cm in loose clusters or resting on massive quartz/feldspar matrix or (better yet) on nice chalk-white crystals of feldspar, sometimes with fat, transparent, colorless crystals of quartz. Some of the elbaites boast a sprightly pink hue while other crystals are color-zoned grayish purple to pink; all are trigonally terminated and highly lustrous.
Uncharacteristically weak this time in really new items, China still hangs in there with fresh, or interestingly evolving, offerings from finds of the recent past. Collector's Edge had some gorgeous cabinet-size specimens of fluorite/calcite recently mined in the Xianghualing mine, Hunan, with the fluorite expressing itself as sharp, frosted, pale green octahedral crystals to 4 cm, the calcite as trigonal discoids to 6 cm, gray-white, translucent and lustrous. Berthold Ottens (email@example.com) had some specimens from the exciting Chinese find of euclase of which Tucson showgoers became aware in 2007. In Bert's room in the Holiday Inn one could see very fine thumbnail-size clusters as well as matrix plates to 15 cm across covered generously with the sharp, glassy, colorless euclase crystals up to 2 cm individually. And here now is yet another locality correction: Although in Tucson the locality given tentatively for the euclase was "Zhongyi mine, Jiangxi," Bert Ottens now says that the true locality--which he has visited--is the Piaotang mine, Daye district, Hubei. German-reading people who want a somewhat fuller account may refer to Bert's latest "Chinesische Tagebuch" (Chinese diary) entry in the May 2007 issue of Lapis.
Rhodochrosite from China is looking more impressive with each new appearance. In the Denver Holiday Inn room run by Wendy Zhou of Wendy's Minerals (www.wendysminerals.com) there was a handful of miniatures representing two styles of rhodochrosite found in a small private mine often designated, simply, as "Wuzhou": (1) loose, lucent, medium-pink, Mickey Mouse ear-shaped crystals free of associations, and (2) clusters of rhombohedral crystals with individuals to 3 cm, these recalling Sweet Home mine specimens, especially as some have crude crystals of greenish purple fluorite attached. Bryan Lees and Bert Ottens both say, by the way, that the mine in question is near Wudong (village) and Linbao (town), in Wuzhou Prefecture, Guangxi Province.
Also notable in the Wendy's Minerals stock are about 50 loose single crystals and small crystal clusters of pyromorphite from the now famous Daoping mine, Guilin, Guangxi Province. I wouldn't consider them as "what's news" except for the fact that the stout, deeply hoppered crystals are all of a quite intense hue of medium-green, have relatively low luster, and generally look different from specimens in the earlier runs of Daoping mine pyromorphite. Wendy may be correct in saying that they represent a new find in the mine (suggesting that the locality is not finished for specimens, as has been generally believed).
And Wendy's also obtained about 100 nice-looking calcite/pyrite specimens taken in July 2007 from an unspecified mine near the mineral-dealing center of Chenzhou, Hunan. On these giants, calcite appears as single and compound, translucent gray-white rhombohedral crystals to 12 cm on edge; there are loose single crystals, loose clusters of 2 to 10 crystals, and mounds of crystals on sparse dark gray matrix. The distinctive thing is that starry microcrystals of pyrite form perfectly straight bands, some wide, some narrow, along the outside edges of the calcite rhombohedrons, or following striations across their faces. These "museum"-size pieces with lustrous, whitish calcite crystals embraced manifoldly by glittering galactic arms are extremely attractive.
The last bulletin from China concerns a handful of recently mined molybdenite specimens which were to be seen in the Main Show booth of Rob Lavinsky (Arkenstone). Fist-sized chunks of nondescript-looking "rusty" quartz matrix are veined by molybdenite, and many surfaces boast bright metallic gray hexagonal crystals overlapping in rosette-shaped aggregates to 7 cm across. Rob has been told that these specimens came from a mine now into its fifteenth year of exploiting molybdenum ore, called "Wuzhou" ... but see three paragraphs earlier for more precise terminology, for very likely this is the same place as that which produces specimens of rhodochrosite, as already recounted: Wudong in Wuzhou Prefecture, Guangxi Province.
Our touring ship comes to anchor at last in Australia. At the Main Show, Mike Bergmann (www.mikebergmannminerals.com) was showing off what was left of a group of about 40 elite crocoite specimens he had recently scored; by Main Show time only eight of them remained unsold. The specimens were dug 23 years ago in the Adelaide mine, Tasmania. The largest three are each about 30 cm across, and the other five are not much smaller. They show unspeakably delicate, bright red-orange, splintery, mostly hollow crystals (but many terminated) to 4 or 5 cm long, rising in airy jumbles from pieces of brown gossan matrix. Associated species include siderite microcrystals and earthy yellow mimetite patches. These are among the very best crocoite specimens I have ever seen.
As one passed through the turnstiles and entered the big central area of the Denver Merchandise Mart, one first encountered the wide case announcing the show theme, which this year was the minerals of the Leadville mining district, Lake County, Colorado. That first annunciatory case had a very well set-out array of fine, oldtime Leadville specimens from the collections of Dave Bunk, Ed Raines and the Colorado School of Mines. Two other adjacent cases down the aisle from it, put in by the same people, featured good things from the Alicante mining district and the Black Cloud mine. There were further cases aplenty devoted to Leadville minerals, artifacts, maps, history, lore ... their creators included (in no particular order) the American Museum of Natural History; the Colorado School of Mines; the California State Mining and Mineral Museum; Montana Tech Mineral Museum; Tom Hughes; and the North Jeffco Gem and Mineral Club. The University of Wollongong, Western Australia, compared the mineralogy of Leadville, Colorado to that of Leadville, New South Wales; likewise the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources compared New Mexico's Leadville mining district to Colorado's (guess what? the latter has better minerals).
The Smithsonian mounted a case showing miscellaneous Colorado minerals, including the big and wonderful "postage stamp" rhodochrosite from Silverton. Joe, Scott and Tim Dorris of Glacier Peak Mining showed superb Pikes Peak microcline and smoky quartz specimens, and, in another exhibit case, "before" and "after" microcline/quartz specimens, demonstrating what specimen cleaning and preparation work (as practiced by the masters at Collector's Edge) is all about. Some notable non-Colorado displays included a case of enormous, dramatic sulfide specimens (Rice Northwest Museum); "Minerals from Brazil with stories to tell," with Brazilian growth-oddities (Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History); an awesome Michigan silver, Michigan calcite enclosing copper, and Kongsberg silver (Cranbrook Institute); choice Himalayan and other Asian specimens (Dudley Blauwet); Pakistani miniatures almost as fine as those Pakistani thumbnails he had in Tucson (Herb Obodda); calcite (Al and Sue Liebtrau); and the highly encouraging "Grand specimens for under a grand" (Guy Lyman).
Then, of course, there was Keith Proctor's big knockout case--actually two big cases and one smaller one--with miscellaneous beautiful specimens from his collection, including whole long rows of aesthetically harmonious elbaites, aquamarines and golds. In the same mega-category there was Irv Brown's case of 20 top pieces, many of them, I noticed, new, or at least not shown before in his cases here or in Tucson. And finally, the case put in by members of the Mineralogical Association of Dallas was, I think, this group's best yet. You would have to be MAD to deny the dazzlement of such things as the Idaho ludlamite, Pakistani pink fluorite, Himmelsfurst mine wire silver, New Mexico smoky quartz Japan-law twin, etc., as tastefully laid out by these dozen or so Texas folks, quite a few of them fairly new to collecting and ever-electrified with enthusiasm: talking to them is a happy and cheering experience.
So long, podners, from Denver. The next report will be from Munich.
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|Title Annotation:||What's New in Minerals|
|Publication:||The Mineralogical Record|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2007|
|Previous Article:||Springfield Show 2007.|
|Next Article:||The museum directory.|