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Springfield Show 1998.

Although I arrived fifteen minutes before the doors opened on Friday (August 7) at the giant Eastern States Exposition Building in West Springfield, Massachusetts, the extensive parking lots were already jammed, and irritable personnel in orange aprons were windmilling their arms at incoming cars; I had to park, finally, quite a hike away from the entrance. I don't have total attendance figures for the three days of this year's Springfield Show, but if you ask Marty Zinn for these figures I'm sure his answer will come with a smile. This edition of Springfield featured fewer side-show activities than in previous years (no "emerald mine" for the kids, for instance), but that, it would seem, was just to make room in visitors' psyches for the tremendous, single-mindedly exhaustive spread, in some 50 exhibit cases, of mineral specimens from the southern Illinois fluorite district. Surely this was the greatest gathering of fine minerals from this classic (and recently closed) locality ever assembled in a public place.

Naturally it's easy for anyone to enjoy simply looking at case after case of phenomenal fluorite, calcite, galena, sphalerite, witherite, strontianite etc. specimens from Illinois, but the real elite (i.e., Mineralogical Record subscribers) might have had the extra pleasure of finding here "in person" many specimens whose photographs appeared in the recent issue largely devoted to the area (Vol. 28, No. 1). In fact, the leading exhibit case, the only one facing outward onto the show floor, displayed a copy of this "Illinois" issue in its top-center, and the beautiful cover photo of Marvin Rausch's 13-cm blue fluorite group from the Minerva #1 mine floated just above the real thing. Filling out the rest of the case were seven more large classic specimens from Illinois.

To this super exhibit, Harvard contributed two cases, Ross Lillie's North Star Minerals contributed several more (I forgot to count these), and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Weisner and Mr. and Mrs. Roy Smith contributed respectively nineteen and twenty cases, each single case, bear in mind, filled with some of the finest calcite and fluorite (especially) specimens you'll ever see from anywhere. The Smiths' cases, particularly, furnished detailed labels and textual commentary on crystal habits, associations and individual mines, these last including such magic names as the Denton, the Annabel Lee, the Minerva, the Victory, the Lead Hill and others which you'll find in your trusty Illinois Issue. Except for a nice case by Marty Zinn on "Classic Minerals From the Eastern U.S." (with a 4-cm gemmy green terminated elbaite from "Haddam, Connecticut" - I'd bet a bundle that it is from the venerable Gillette quarry), there were no cases except the Illinois ones. The exclusivity didn't at all feel narrow, but rather like "an effort to make the show exhibits especially important"; the flyer goes on, justifiably proudly, to say that "The interest created by this approach to exhibiting has been exciting. Show management has received calls from Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, California and even Germany, asking about attending the 1998 show." I hardly need add that all Record-readers should consider attending the 1999 show too: its theme will be Garnets.

This show was also quite strong in the "What's New" department - a more generous appetizer for Denver than usual. To begin close to home, the Valentine talc mine at Harrisville, New York, has produced some interesting and very new (a couple of weeks old as of early August) feldspar-association specimens, brought to market by Rocko Rosenblatt of Rocko Minerals & Jewelry (Box 3A, Route 3, Margaretville, NY 12455). Rocko describes a series of pockets along a zone of contact between syenite and marble in the Valentine mine, these pockets lined primarily with hematitic quartz prisms to 10 cm long - and there are a few specimens, from miniature-size up to about 10 x 12 cm, showing these attractive, transparent red-dusted quartz crystals all by themselves in solid groups. Much odder, however, are perhaps 30 specimens, mostly miniatures, on which the quartz is coated with druses of pinkish gray orthoclase in acicular needles, sometimes localized in distinct 3-mm sprays, with interspersed micro-size green epidote crystals, and with, sitting lightly on top, snow-white opaque albite in compound, spiky, vaguely dogtooth-shaped crystals to 1.5 cm. Given the peculiar habits of the albite and orthoclase, these are distinctive and worthwhile feldspar specimens for one's cabinet (and not expensive to put there).

Dale P. Hewin of Hewin's Minerals (P.O. Box 93, Chartley, MA 02712) is a New England Yankee whose recent serious work is seeing to it that a classic mineral locality of The South is Rising Again: I refer to the rutile/lazulite/kyanite locality at Graves Mountain, Georgia, where Dale has been busy since the middle of winter. Although large, lustrous, single crystals and twins of rutile from Graves Mountain do tend sporadically to show up in small lots on the market, I don't think I have ever seen a spread of recently collected material as impressive as this: sharp, clean (after much laborious cleaning by Dale), highly lustrous red-brown crystals ranging from 2 to 5 cm, as individuals, as clusters of two or three, and as elbow twins, sometimes lightly implanted on iron oxide matrix; there are perhaps 40 first-rate pieces in all. The best rutile specimens sold for up to $1200, but very fine miniatures could be had for $300 to $400. Further, Dale had a swarm of loose, thumbnail-sized stalagmites - or pillars, or candledripping-columns, or dead tree trunks - of "turgite," all showing a vivid, many-hued iridescence on their brown skins. This is really a finely botryoidal goethite coated with hematite, and certainly the merest sideshow to the rutiles, but the iridescence can be quite colorful, and yes, I'm afraid that "cute" is the word for these little turgite Aladdin's Cave pickings. Finally, Dale had about 10 thumbnails and small miniatures of Graves Mountain kyanite in loosely intergrown, iron-darkened platy crystals, like little piles of far-gone autumn leaves.

Dan and Shelley Lambert of Lambert Minerals (21 Halson Street, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada L9G 2S2) had their usual tasteful assortment of Canadian minerals old and new - one of each of these making the news this time. The "old" item, represented by just three miniatures collected 15 years ago, is phlogopite and fluorrichterite crystals in crisp open groups without matrix, from the famous Earle Occurrence, Monmouth Township, Wilberforce, Ontario. The phlogopite is as beautiful as phlogopite can get: rich yellow-brown and transparent, with high resinous luster, in crystals to 2 cm, the crystals complete on the basal as well as the prism faces. The fluorrichterite is seen as sharp, greenish gray, slightly splintery, blocky crystals to 2 cm, nestled among the phlogopite books. The Lamberts say that they are checking out this locality all the time in the hopes of getting new specimens as good as these older ones.

Then, too, the Lamberts had a handful of miniatures with rock matrix completely and thickly drused with white milky quartz, with, nestling sparsely amid the quartz, little pale violet partgemmy octahedrons of spinel to 1 cm on edge. The locality for these new, pretty and promising spinel specimens is the Cameron quarry, Carleton Place, Ontario.

The Springfield Show visitor is greeted, just past the ticket takers at the front door, by the stand of Wayne and Dona Leicht's Kristalle dealership, all the way from southern California... but this year if you had the presence of mind to get past the gold spread, you will have noticed immediately a few pretty pink specimens of bladed rhodonite from the Chiurucu mine, Huanaco Department, Peru, on the Leicht's open shelving. Peruvian rhodonite was a hot new item when I reported on it from Europe in 1989, and when Wendell Wilson likewise did so from Springfield in the same issue (vol. 20, no. 6); and then came vol. 21, no. 2, with a terrific specimen of the stuff on the cover. But that was the last we have heard of Peruvian rhodonite these past eight years. Now, not only the Leichts but also Wright's Rock Shop, I.C. Minerals and a few others around the Springfield Show had modest supplies, apparently from a newly struck pocket system in the Chiurucu mine. Specimens are plates from 4 to 10 cm across, blanketed with rounded aggregates of parallel-growth bladed crystals, with individual crystals to 1.5 cm. The chief differences from the older material are that (1) they are sometimes dusted with quartz microcrystals, for an attractive surficial glitter, and (2) unfortunately, the rhodonite color is much paler and milkier than in the deep rose-pink champs of the 1989/1990 strike. Clearly this occurrence bears watching, or rather a bit of refocused attention.

Also from Peru, specifically from the renowned Huallapon mine, Pasto Bueno, Ancash Province, some nice small cabinet specimens with needle quartz beds hosting translucent to transparent green, 3 to 4-cm compound octahedrons of fluorite (coarsely "stepped" crystals built of stacked cubes) could be had from Howard and Janet Van Iderstine of Cardinal Minerals (2 Tulip Lane, Huntington, CT 06484).

At an important show like this one we can hardly not expect to hear something new from Brazil, right? Christ Wright of Wright's Rock Shop had eight monstrous pieces, to 25 cm across, of epidote/quartz from a thus-far unspecified locality in Minas Gerais. They are great jackstraw groups of long, striated, lustrous, blackish green epidote crystals, most of them well-terminated, with many of the long, skinny prism faces preferentially dusted with clear quartz crystals. Most of these latter are tiny, coming in glistening druses, but some l-cm crystals stick up like teeth. A second style of specimen from the same occurrence is represented by two 30-cm-long, doubly terminated, slightly grayish transparent quartz crystals with epidote prisms to 8 cm long shot all through them - ends protruding from the quartz faces and prisms showing clearly inside. Chris said that the find is "very recent," so let's, again, keep a sharp lookout from the crow's nest when in Brazilian waters.

Not "new" anymore but still pretty thrilling is the renascence of superfine metatorbernite from the Margabal mine, Aveyron, France - see my last Denver report (vol. 29, no. 2) concerning the fine lot of thumbnails and of large plates brought in by Eric Asselbom (and see the photo of Ralph Clark's prize thumbnail). I mention these here again because, voila, another batch showed up at Springfield, courtesy of Leonard Himes of Minerals America (P.O. Box 540257, Orlando, FL 32854), who picked them up at the Ste. Marie-aux-Mines Show in late June. There are about 15 pieces, the larger ones (to 8 cm wide) composed solely, like the earlier ones, of loosely packed sheaves of tabular deep green crystals, the sheaves to 1.5 cm; a couple of terrific thumbnails also reposed at Leonard's stand.

A vague, persistent, alarming rumor lately has whispered that the Russian government has tightened up on some laws controlling the export of at least some kinds of mineralogical/geological specimens. And indeed, at Springfield there was almost nothing new from Russia (for the exception, read on), and there was a sense of generally declining stocks even of older Russian material. However, no downside rumors or somber thoughts in the air seemed to bear any relevance whatsoever to the good cheer and abounding energy of a couple of Russians, Viktor Nikiforov and Aleksandr Zaytsev, who were ensconced at the stand of Jeff and Gloria Fast of Jeff & Gloria's Minerals (19 Oak Knoll Road, East Hampton, CT 06424). These gentlemen offered up great supplies of underpriced, unlabeled Dalnegorsk things - fluorite, calcite, axinite, pyrrhotite, datolite, galena - as well as green "prase" quartz and nice dark brown garnets from Sinya Rechka, the skarn locality to the north. Best of all, Viktor and Ateksandr topped off with a flat of something truly new from Dalnegorsk: about 20 newly collected miniatures of an odd and attractive siderite from the Nikolay mine. Specimens consist of perfect spheres, averaging 2 or 3 cm in diameter, attached lightly in twos, threes, etc., up to grape-clusters of ten, without matrix; the spheres are of a pleasant medium tan color, with surfaces composed of intricate fretworks of tiny lenticular blades (flattened rhombohedrons), and they glitter delicately from dustings of micro-size white calcite crystals. I have seldom seen more appealing siderites than these. Prices ranged from $12 for a small miniature to around $20 for the largest couple of clusters, around 4 x 4 x 5 cm.

Luckily, the former Kazakh S.S.R. is now the independent Republic of Kazakhstan, so no dour Russian bureauchic can threaten to impede our supplies of wonders from the great Dzhezkazgan copper mines: wire silver, chalcocite, tennantite, copper, the world's best bornite crystals, and other superlative supergene-metallics, to call the roll so far. At this show the Dzherkazgan scoop was a handful of thumbnails of exceptional crystallized stromeyerite (AgCuS) offered by Dudley Blanwet of Mountain Minerals International. This species comes as delicate spiky intergrowths of black, slightly irridescent, acicular and flakelike crystals averaging I or 2 mm, without matrix or associated species. We are not talking mineral beauty here: my ever-patient, ever-ironic wife surmised that the specimen 1 brought home was really something I'd scraped from the underside of my ancient Dodge Omni. But no (I told her), I'd been preceded at Dudley's by expert collectors Bill Smith and Bill Pinch, who both went away more than pleased with their stromeyerite thumbnails - and one of Pinch's that I got to see at Springfield has a peacock-iridescent V-twin of 5-mm stromeyerite laths. This is indeed an extraordinary occurrence of a seldom-seen silver species; I wonder what Dzhezkazgan will produce next.

From another ex-Soviet satrapy, namely (now) the Republic of Tajikistan, very fine golden yellow heliodor beryl has come intermittently during these past few years, and has been reported in this space. At Springfield this year there were, again, some top-grade gem specimens: about 20 loose crystals to 4.5 cm long, with sharp edges and lustrous prism and pinacoid faces, no matrix with any of them, the prisms either simple loners or parallel-growth groups. Christopher French of PaleoArt & Minerals (2 Lupine Lane, Titusville, NJ 08560) was selling these beautiful things as gem stock at $7/gram.

Finally, a very exciting news flash from Jiangshan, Guangdong Province, China: transparent, colorless, lustrous tabular crystals of apophyllite to 2 or 3 cm, in loose groups and as clusters perching demurely on quartz. Several dealers had these, but Dan and Jill Weinrich (16216 Copperwood Lane, Grover, MO 63040) had the best and the most; Dan said that perhaps 100 specimens in all had been dug within the past few months. The waterclear apophyllite tabs, when thick, may show very faint brown rims inside; when thin, they grow in parallel groups with regular offsets for a "rose" effect, on milky quartz crystals. Tiny manganbabingtonite and datolite crystals are also sometimes noted. Neither the Weinrichs nor anyone else seemed to know anything about what sort of occurrence this is, how promising for the future, how good the very best specimens are, etc., but my showsnooping instincts tell me that we may expect to see a major Chinese apophyllite locality unfold in the coming months.

This was probably the best Springfield Show I have yet attended.
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Title Annotation:mineral exhibition
Author:Moore, Thomas
Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Date:Jan 1, 1999
Words:2538
Previous Article:New Jersey Earth Science Show.
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