Munich Show 2001. (What's New in Minerals).
I arrived in Munich along with American dealers Victor Yount and Carter Rich, fellow passengers on a slate-gray morning full of promise and excitement. We had come for the 38th annual Munich Show, which was not scheduled to open officially to the public until Friday, but set-ups were to start on Tuesday. The bus took us to the city center and a taxi then brought me to the charming Seibel Hotel to drop my luggage and clean up. Across the avenue disassembled tents littered the Theresienplatz like punctured dirigibles, testaments that Oktoberfest had just concluded.
Looking up the avenue one could see the old fairplex--the Messegelande--being torn down to make way for new highrises. I miss the charm and proximity of the original site of the Munich show. The new site, the Munich Trade Fair Center, is built on the grounds of the old Munich airport. It is an enormous complex of glass and steel, modern and convenient. An underground line easily whisks those of us who stay in downtown Munich to the show.
The Munchner Mineralientage ["Munich Mineral Days," www.mineralientage.de] is big: three halls of 25,000 square meters each, 740 dealers from 42 countries, 2.5 km of carpet, 3000 beer tables and special exhibit areas! Munich features minerals and fossils equally but of course my concern was with the minerals. I arrived at 10 a.m. on Tuesday Oct. 23 to spend the rest of the day searching out the new and exciting. Many people were setting up, so noise and confusion reigned everywhere.
I began in Hall B3, which was filled with dealers from producing countries like Morocco (24 of them were listed in the show catalog), China (16 listed), Russia and Peru (eight listed). These are mostly table setups without fancy booths, and with many dealers selling wholesale lots only. Several sellers there were offering tray after tray of vanadinite. The color has improved to a less brownish red since I described these Moroccan treasures in my St. Marie report. And fortunately the pieces had been wrapped carefully to avoid damage. Most are miniature or cabinet specimens with bright but small crystals up to 1 cm. Some fine examples were included and these sold rapidly, as there were already a dozen other American dealers floating about whom I recognized. Other Moroccan items of interest included erythrite miniatures with crystals up to 1 cm, some skutterudite specimens with crystals to 2 cm, roselite (or wendwilsonite?) crystal groups to 7 cm, small fine azurite roses, a few of the new golden apatites, and a scattering of cerussite and anglesite specimens. The best anglesites are bright yellow and undamaged; a miniature with a 4-cm main crystal was offered at $660. Sharp scorodite crystals to 2 cm on matrix were rare but available from the Aghbar mine, Bou Azzer, Morocco. The vanadinites were priced all over the place, from a few DM per piece to some costing many thousands. If one was willing to negotiate and buy a whole flat, a tremendous discount could be arranged.
China was represented by several dealers, both familiar and new. Lots of stibnite, fluorite, calcite, scheelite, and wolframite were available from the usual localities in all size and price ranges. And, as usual, the quality had suffered from poor local packing in China. Amazingly, however, some pieces had arrived in perfect shape. One of the Chinese dealers showed me a dark gray, mirror-bright 2-cm tetrahedron attached near the base of a long, white, slender quartz crystal growing out of a group of similar quartz crystals. Luckily I passed his test; correctly identifying it as a helvite crystal. It is excellent, though awkward in aesthetics, and would be difficult to improve by trimming; considering the $1,100 being asked, I decided to move on. Marty Zinn found another perfectly formed helvite on a smaller quartz cluster, the best I saw at the show, and took home a great prize. The other mineral of interest from China was fine inesite showing great promise. Large pink clusters up to 14 cm across composed of small crystals made attractive specimens, and here the prices were down from those I saw in St. Marie.
The most interesting new mineral of the show first appeared here in Hall B3, with Muhammad F. Makki (Matrix India, firstname.lastname@example.org), an Indian dealer on his first visit to Munich. He had a new find of green fluorapophyllite balls with an overgrowth of colorless apophyllite making for spectacular and beautiful specimens reminiscent of those mirrored spheres that used to hang from the ceiling in the discos of the 1970's! Alas, I arrived too late and saw only already-reserved pieces. The only thing to be done was to start the hunt for specimens which had already been sold, many of which were destined to be resold in other booths. Makki had only one large plate left unsold, a three-foot stilbite matrix with perhaps 25 5 to 6-cm apophyllite balls on it. He was asking what seemed like a hefty price, but after I declined it sold within a few hours to an American collector! Fortunately I found one of the dealers who had helped unpack this lot, and he sold me all of the 27 pieces he had for a fair price. Then the venerable K. C. Pandey (Superb Minerals India, email@example.com) showed up a little later and had some of the same. He explained that these are from a new area where fine minerals were formerly unknown. In the course of digging a well, this unique and rare pocket was encountered. He believed there would be only a few hundred total pieces, so I chased down what I could.
Most of the Russians had older specimens of the "usual suspects," including some nice new Dal'negorsk minerals, but the majority of their items were fossils, gemstones, jewelry and objets d'art. Fine minerals are now quite rare from Russia. One fine sperrylite was available for the advanced collector, a cluster with crystals to 1.3 cm.
Several Peruvian dealers (there were at least eight of them listed in the show catalog as having booths) had fine wire silvers, some quite large, up to 18 cm, but many of these larger wires had already been offered at the Denver show. I saw a few small but nice Peruvian rhodochrosite specimens, as well as Japan-law quartz twins, but most of these had been sold before the show to regular customer-dealers.
The minerals in Hall B3 were almost all newly dug specimens, or at least specimens not previously offered at any mineral show. In Tucson or Denver, American collectors are accustomed to seeing the same minerals recycled or left unsold at many shows. I myself have suffered the embarrassment of having a fine mineral go unsold for several shows and having a friendly competitor sing happy birthday to the specimen! But the minerals in Hall B3 had mostly disappeared through sales or trades before 5:00 p.m. Sunday and the close of the show.
Working my way into Hall B2, I saw many familiar European dealers. Excellent booths were going up and, of course, they contained boxes and boxes of specimens. This hall was similar to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show at the Tucson Convention Center (the mineral side), with many individual unique specimens, both contemporary and classic. Many were recognizable from previous shows on both sides of the Atlantic. To bring Tucson into perspective, there was even a re-creation near the middle of this hall, of the "Old Desert Inn Bar" with lots of seats for meetings or drinks! Next to this area was the so-called "overseas section," which included many American dealers. Also here were Colombian, Brazilian, Namibian and Pakistani dealers; a great sign for international cooperation. Even though it had been just six weeks since the tragedy of September 11, four out of the six scheduled Pakistani dealers made it to the show.
In a middle row in Hall B2, about 50 shadow cases were being set up for special displays of unique collections. These private and museum displays are always one of the many highlights for visitors to the Munich Show, especially those from overseas. Here in Hall B2, because of the larger, more complex booths and the fact that these very dealers were often out shopping in Hall B3, set-up was progressing more slowly, and very few of the booths were ready to do any business yet on Tuesday. Also these first days are dedicated to becoming organized (if possible), so many dealers are not happy to show their minerals until they are ready to open, which all of us can understand.
Leaving Hall B2, I entered Hall B1, where the emphasis was on jewelry, beads, cut stones and art objects. There were many minerals, too, so the mineral collector had to check here also. These were mostly larger, more elegant, three-walled booths, and consequently many were still under construction. The special exhibits were in a special section of B1. This year the theme was caves. Many wonderful features resonated around this theme. For the mineral enthusiast the display area featured some 60 pieces from Martin Zinn's extraordinary stalactite-stalagmite collection. He has a potpourri of types including a 25-cm malachite and a 12-cm pyromorphite that would grace the finest collection. Any museum curator worth his salt should be sweet talking "The Marty" to try to get this collection on permanent exhibition. What a great crowd pleaser!
Inside a smaller showcase at the entry to this area was one of this year's finest Munich mineral specimens: a complex, 30-cm cluster of malachite stalactites owned by the French dealers Brice and Christophe Gobin. This specimen was reserved, but was shown to me before it went on public display, compliments of the new owner.
Also featured was a marvelous selection of specimens from Adalberto Giazotto's Mineral Museum in Pisa, Italy. He collects large specimens. To transport everything to the show a total of 41 shipping boxes were constructed, holding up to four pieces each, and weighing in altogether at 4000 pounds! I remember my first visit to his collection, seeing aquamarines three feet across and still gemmy! An amazing tour de force!
In a specially created theater a 15-minute 3-D show featured the peaceful underground world. Of special interest was the "Forum Minerale," surrounded by exhibits from all the major museums in Munich, and from the Museums in Bochum, Freiberg, Regensberg, Germany, from Graz and Vienna in Austria, and from Alistrati, Greece!
That was enough for one day, so I headed for "home" via underground, and then went off to a small favorite haunt of mineral dealers to have dinner. There I learned from German dealer Helmut Bruckner (Bruckner Exclusive Mineralien, postfach 1342, D79373 Mullheim) that he had received the rest of the famous Swethelm Collection. So over a meal of Schweinshaxen, I made an appointment to see him the next morning.
Early the next day I arrived to a busy sight. Most of the 700-plus dealers were now in the process of setting up. Chaos continued to rule, and it was hard to know where to start first. But I decided on Hall B2 because quality pieces were most often found here. Remember that for this report I cannot cover even a small portion of the vast number of mineral dealers individually. Hopefully we can point to several fine new finds, and leave you wanting to visit the Show yourself. Here are a few specific highlights, inspired in part by Jeff Scovil's superb photo selections.
I kept my appointment with Helmut and obtained, among other things, a classic Austrian dolomite. The collection he had acquired contained many American, Canadian, and Mexican specimens from 20 years ago. Across the ball, Namibia Minerals (firstname.lastname@example.org) had a new find of shattuckite from Namibia, some crystals reaching 9 mm. The Miner's Lunch Box had picked up a collection of new cuprosklodowskite from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The largest needle-like crystals are 3.5 cm and bright yellow-green in color. Down the aisle I was struck by a blue glow. Ian Bruce's Crystal Classics' booth (email@example.com) was filled in the back with azurite aggregates recently collected at Tsumeb. In addition, Ian had a 2.6-cm diamond octahedron from the Congo that would please anyone. From Sierra Gordo, Chile, he had new specimens of blue penfieldite. Francois Leitard (firstname.lastname@example.org) had several new items including twinned calcites up to 3.5 cm from Rio Grande do Sul. In high demand from him were translucent blue afghanite crystals in calcite, some 4 cm, from Sar-e-Sang, Afghanistan. He also had a few fine purple sodalite crystals up to 2 cm from the same area.
Several dealers in African minerals, including Erich Schmidt and Chris Johnston (email@example.com), featured some of the finest schorl crystals ever produced, including singles to 20 cm and clusters to 50 cm, some mirror bright and undamaged, all from the Erongo Mountains, Namibia. A few new aquamarines were still available from this locality, as well as some fine, single, blue jeremejevite crystals up to 4 cm. Namibia has also produced some interesting scepter quartz from the Orange River.
Madagascar is well on its way to becoming an important mineral-specimen source once again. Several dealers were present, including Robert Olivier Andrianavalona of Enterprise TDS (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Tropic Stone. An unusual amethyst scepter quartz from a new find in the Toamasina area is unique. Many fine Japan-law twinned quartz, corundum, beryl, tourmaline, and feldspar crystals were featured in both booths. Rare minerals, including the new species londonite, were also seen. There is great hope for more production.
Another African country about to surprise people is Mozambique. I visited there in 1971 and know the potential. Mozambique Minerals had etched morganite beryls to 12 cm, and some large and poorly-formed but gemmy greenish herderites to 10 cm. They also had a few of the famous large nodules of lepidolite from Alto Ligonha, along with various colored tourmalines from this famous district. Two perfect 3-cm columbite crystals from the Naipa pegmatite, and a 15-cm topaz also from Naipa were also on display. There is great hope for the future of Mozambique.
Various other new minerals got our attention. Ennio Prato (Via Aurelia 53, I-16031 Bogliasco (GE), Italy) had obtained a fine pargasite from Mogok, Burma. It is 3.8 cm and an excellent green, much better than any I have obtained or even seen, and I have been to Burma in conjunction with my gemstones business some 20 times. How does that happen? Easily! From Brazil, Marcus Budil (email@example.com) had some new green Pederneira mine tourmalines, many of which, while not large at 8 to 10 cm, were gem and unrepaired. Most of those produced have been heavily repaired according to his Brazilian partner. Colombian Emeralds Corp. had a nice selection of Muzo emerald specimens. The finest to my eye was a 3 x 4-cm cluster of emeralds asking $3000. They are direct from Colombia (they attend Tucson) and while they sell mostly cut emeralds, it is nice to see some good crystals being preserved from the cutting wheel.
Marx-Mueller featured some fine epidote crystals to 6 cm from the Zargos Mountains, in Iran. . . perhaps the next big surprise in the mineral community. From Europe there were several species of interest. Milarite from Austria in single crystals to 1 cm would make fine and rare thumbnail specimens. Christian Rewitzer (firstname.lastname@example.org) had many new and excellent Romanian bournonites from Baia Sprie. Rudabanya in Hungary also keeps us dreaming, with just a few more malachite pseudomorphs after cuprite; just enough to whet the apatite (sic).
After all this, my real appetite took me back to the culinary district of Munich to fortify myself for the next day when casual looking becomes impossible and elbows are the major experience, for Munich hosts more than 32,000 visitors! With this I bring the Munich report to a close. In the words of show organizer Johannes Keilmann: "This first Munich edition of the new century was, in a word, breathtaking! Sorry to everybody who was not able to attend!"
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|Publication:||The Mineralogical Record|
|Date:||May 1, 2002|
|Next Article:||Pasadena Show 20P01. (What's New in Minerals).|