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Mineralogy of Arizona, 3d ed.

Many of the best topographical mineralogies are defined by political boundaries. In geological terms these boundaries are meaningless, but not to the mineral collector. Some of the most fanatical collectors use state or province boundaries to define what is an acceptable mineral specimen. Among the fraternity of "state" collectors, Arizona holds a special place. Every collector knows of Red Cloud wulfenites and Bisbee azurites, but Arizona's mineral heritage goes much deeper. The state is home to 809 different mineral species (at this time a record for any state), 76 of which were first identified in Arizona. These species, and much more, are documented in Mineralogy of Arizona, a reference work which belongs on every serious collector's bookshelf.

Mineralogy of Arizona, third edition (1977 and 1982 were the first two editions), contains so many revisions and additions that it is practically a new work. The book is divided into three parts: (1) history and description of Arizona's mining, mineral deposits, and mineralogy, (2) a catalog of mineral occurrences, and (3) reference materials, including maps of Arizona's mineral districts. The historical and descriptive chapters make this book an invaluable reference and bring to life the importance of minerals to the development of the state. For example, Arizona is derived from the Tohono O'odham Indian (Papago) word Arizonac, which was the name of a large ranch located east of the present town of Nogales. In 1736 the famous Bolas y Planchas de Platas (Balls and Plates of Silver) discovery was made on the ranch. This discovery caused Mexican prospectors to explore farther north, and the entire area took the name Arissona. The authors have compiled a whole chronology of the mineral development, which makes the book a real joy to read.

The Catalog of Arizona Mineral Occurrences is organized alphabetically - from acanthite to zunyite. Each entry contains a description of the mineral and its typical geology followed by a detailing of occurrence grouped by county. The authors document many occurrences with references to specific mineral specimens which are housed in one of nine museums. A list of "real" specimens to document localities is missing in most topographical mineralogies but is extremely useful to the researcher. A case in point is the type specimen of spangolite (a copper aluminum sulfate hydroxide chloride hydrate). The specimen resides in the Yale collection and is identified as being from "near Tombstone." Close examination of the specimen yields a mineral assemblage identical to known Bisbee material, suggesting that "near Tombstone" means 30 km to the southeast!

The maps of the Arizona Mineral Districts are significantly better than those in previous editions. Sixteen maps, based on counties or portions of counties, show the areal extent and name of some 240 mining districts. These maps are important in a state like Arizona, where much of the locality information in the literature refers to "districts" - and many of the district names have disappeared from modern maps.

Mineralogy of Arizona is illustrated by 60 immaculate color photos paginated in a central section of the book. The photographic quality is excellent and reproduces the mineral colors with remarkable fidelity. Wendell Wilson served as photographic editor, and it is clear that his long experience with mineral photography and color printing was invaluable when the book was going through the printing process. Many mineral books have suffered because the "color separations" (printing negatives for each color) were not graded by professional mineral photographers. One wishes that there were more photos in the Mineralogy of Arizona, especially of some of the rarer species. However, economy limited the number that can be reproduced with such high quality. None of the photos in the third edition appears in the earlier editions.

The only criticism of the Mineralogy of Arizona I have is the price structure. The softbound edition is $35 - a bargain! However, the hardback edition is more than twice as expensive at $75. This is an unusually large cost increment ($20 is much more standard) and serves as an impediment to purchasing the hardback. Most serious collectors would prefer the hardbound edition but will probably have to settle for the shorter-shelf-life softback version.

Mineralogy of Arizona has been extremely well researched and produced with remarkable care and attention to detail. It is one of the best topographical mineralogies in existence, and I heartily recommend it to any mineral collector. The fact that the art work is different from the previous editions means that serious Arizona collectors will want to own all the editions. The University of Arizona Press has produced only 6,000 copies of the soft-bound edition, and I expect that it will sell out in its first year.

Terry C. Wallace
COPYRIGHT 1996 The Mineralogical, Inc.
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Wallace, Terry C.
Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1996
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