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Pacific Mineral Museum gold show. (Gallery Reviews).

[October 1--December 9, 2001]

The Pacific Mineral Museum in Vancouver, British Columbia first opened its doors to the public on January 22, 2000. On October 1, 2001 they mounted a remarkable show devoted to element 79. For this event they removed almost all of the permanent exhibits so as to provide ample space for the visiting exhibits. (Since the permanent exhibits were not in place at the time of my visit, a "Gallery Review" relating to them must be deferred to a later date.)

"Gold! A Celebration of Beauty, Passion and Treasure" surveyed the entire world of gold: properties, occurrence, mineralogy, mining methods, recovery, refining, coinage, jewelry, trading, fabrication for the sciences and art. Although Gold! was not a purely mineralogical show, any lover of native gold could not fail to be entranced by what man has done with the raw metal.

The museum's director, Mark Mauthner, did a remarkable job of assembling support for his show; among the contributors were Barrick Gold, Homestake Mining, Placer Dome, Newmont Mining, Teck, the World Gold Council, the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Royal Canadian Mint, N.M. Rothschild & Sons, and Natural Resources Canada. W.R. Danner contributed a surprising variety of specimens (some acknowledged as fake), coins, and artifacts to be exhibited. This list of supporters is in addition to the many sponsors of the Museum proper, who include Deloitte Touche, Battle Mountain Gold, Price-Waterhouse Coopers, Bank of Montreal, Northgate Exploration, and Cominco.

The entire second floor of the museum building (the usual exhibit space) was occupied by 45 glass cases and stands, of which nearly 25 contained mineral or ore specimens. Most of the specimens were, of course, native gold, but one case held examples of minerals that combine gold with other elements; one such specimen was Harvard's petzite on gold, which must be the world's best petzite. Another case had some beautiful specimens of other minerals recovered during gold mining, including Meikle mine barites [see vol. 30 p.187] and Twin Creeks mine orpiment [see vol. 30 no. 3 p. 187-196]. Extensive credit was given to Barrick Goldstrike Mines and Newmont Mining for arranging for the recovery of these specimens; such publicity is of positive benefit to the mineral world, since the visitors (and sponsors of) this show included much of the North American mining community--go thou and do likewise!

Harvard University provided six cases of their magnificent (mostly Burrage collection) gold specimens, as well as a few specimens scattered in other cases (petzite!). One old friend was the gold "horn" from the Groundhog mine, Gilpin, Colorado that was informally acclaimed as the finest gold specimen at the 1997 Denver Show where gold was the featured mineral. (This was before the discovery of the Colorado Quartz mine specimen known as the "Dragon".)

Wayne and Dona Leicht displayed a case of five specimens from Romania, Colorado, and California, including the Red Ledge mine "Corsage," and a second case of six specimens, all from Tuolumne and Placer counties, California Most of the specimens in the latter case are beautifully crystallized, especially a large leaf gold from "Christmas Pocket" at the Jamestown mine.

Bryan and Kathryn Lees had a case of classic Breckenridge, Colorado leaf and wire golds, all from eight different properties on Farncomb Hill. There was also, as might be expected, a number of fine Canadian, and especially British Columbia, golds on display. I was especially delighted to see another old friend: the gold-plated drill bit and the rock in which it had seized up, still bearing the bit's imprint in the mass of gold--this piece among others from the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

As a mineral collector, I am supposed to love natural specimens above all others, but I must confess that the high point of the show for me was the Kaminsky Collection of ancient Greek and Roman coins. Dr. Felix Kaminsky, a 1959 Moscow University graduate, has prospected and evaluated diamond deposits throughout the world, becoming in the process one of the most highly regarded experts on diamond geology and mineralogy. His work in geology has provided him with the resources to assemble a truly remarkable coin collection, of which he had 76 pieces on display, concentrating on the Hellenistic and Roman world, but including a number of Asiatic coins (would you believe a Genghis Khan dinar?) and also some European examples. Here they all were: the stater, solidus, and aureus, as well as the ducat, bezant, and zecchino. Here was the aureus of Gordianus II, who was killed two weeks after enthronement, the only other example of this coin residing in the British museum. And here was the father of them all, the first pure gold coin ever minted: King Croesus's heavy stater.

And then there were the bars: cast bars and minted bars, bars from three grams to the kilobar (1000 g), tola bars, tael bars, and biscuits and boats, baht bars and koban bars, pig bars and hologram bars. And in the last case, the ultimate gold authority, the London Good Delivery (LGD) bar; the bar used for serious gold deliveries.

The caption for case 12 could have been the title for the entire show: "Heckuvalottagold." This was truly a special exhibition that would have thrilled any mineral collector, regardless of his or her specialty.
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Author:Smith, Bill
Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
Previous Article:Abstracts of new mineral descriptions.
Next Article:Ralph Clark. (Collector Profile).

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