Springfield show 2003.
As I drove into the parking lot of the Eastern States Exposition Center in Springfield on Friday August 8th, I noticed a small crowd of people staring into the sky. I soon realized they were looking at a pair of nesting bald eagles perched atop a utility pole. At that point I wondered if Marty Zinn and his crew had placed a couple of bald eagle puppets atop the pole just to prepare us for being overwhelmed by nature, as we would be inside the show hall. But no, the eagles were real, just as were the great minerals, fossils and gems.
The featured mineral exhibit this year contained specimens from the collection of Rock Currier, well-known author, mineral dealer, raconteur and world traveler. The fifty or so cases were arranged geographically and by topic. There were cases full of choice mineral specimens from Bolivia, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Peru, Russia and Tsumeb; there was a case of mixed European specimens, and there were lots of cases of specimens from the United States. I drooled over choice minerals from Bisbee, Arizona; the Jeffrey mine, Arkansas; the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan; Tiger, Arizona; and various localities in California. There were individual classics from the eastern and western United States, and several cases were devoted entirely to single specimen types, e.g. microcline ("amazonite") and smoky quartz from Colorado or amethyst from Brazil and Uruguay. One specimen of amethyst and calcite from Artigas. Uruguay was recently featured on the cover of Rocks & Minerals (July/August 2003). Rock also brought several cases of California borates (I'm told they are his favorites) to our humid east coast, and to all appearances they survived the trip.
Of course, each browser among the Currier cases had one or two favorite specimens: it was interesting to hear comments such as "Wow, look at that tourmaline!" or "I'd like to own that California gold!" or "How about that freibergite on pyrite from Bolivia!" Yes, and how about those huge pyrite octahedrons from Huanzala, Peru, or those 5-cm doubly terminated ludlamite crystals from Bolivia, or those tetrahedrite crystals to 16 cm from the Morococha District, Lima Department, Peru? Not impressed? How about the 10-cm magnetite crystal from Russia, or the huge 5-cm leadhillite from Tsumeb, Namibia, which Rock said he purchased from a miner for $75.00? How about the Kongsberg, Norway wire silver specimen! How about the east coast and European classics! How about giving Rock Currier a standing ovation for bringing all those great rocks for us to see? Only one slightly nagging memory of this display remains with me: on the label for a doubly terminated 6 X 15-cm azurite crystal in the Tsumeb case, Rock had printed the word "azurite" followed by a question mark, and I never got to see Rock to ask him if the specimen is indeed azurite.
There were so many dealers to see at the show that I decided that the best way to proceed was to start at the dealer booth closest to the entrance and systematically weave my way through the aisles until I reached the last booth. Frank and Wendy Melanson of Hawthorneden were my first contacts, and spessartine from the Navigador mine, Conselheiro Pena, Minas Gerais, Brazil was the most prominent mineral at their stand. There have already been many different names given for this locality, but, according to Frank, Luis Menezes has verified "Navigador mine" as correct. The specimens I saw are irregular crystalline shapes up to 4 cm in the longest dimension, without matrix. They are reddish-brown and very gemmy, and seemed to be very popular with showgoers. In fact, by the end of the first day Frank had already sold most of his spessartine, he said. Frank and Wendy also featured microcline ("amazonite") of a medium-blue color, with crystals to 7 cm, from Konso, Sidamo, Ethiopia. One aggregate of solid crystals is about 30 cm across! They also showed me a specimen of amethyst with crystals to 20 cm from the Turt mine, Satu Mare, Romania: a dead ringer for one of the classic Guerrero, Mexico amethyst specimens.
At the booth of Excalibur Minerals I was shown specimens of nevadaite, a new copper mineral which has been approved but not yet published. The specimens consist of blue micro-spheres of nevadaite associated with microcrystals of fluellite and hewettite. They are from an already mined-out locality--the Gold Quarry mine, Eureka County, Nevada (see the article in the Mineralogical Record, Vol. 26, No. 5). Excalibur also had some gemmy diamond crystals, without matrix, from 1 to 5.5 carats; they are from the great diamond mine now being developed in the Canadian Arctic, the Ekati mine, Lac DeGras, NWT, Canada.
Gloria's Minerals (P.O. Box 263, East Hampton, CT 06424) was disbursing a large collection of calcite from various locations in India; the collection formerly belonged to Berthold Ottens, the author of the "Indian Zeolites" issue of the Mineralogical Record (Vol. 34, No. 1). Gloria was handling the specimens for Terry Huizing and, needless to say, there were many choice calcite specimens (single crystals and twins) in all sizes for sale.
Rocko Minerals and Jewelry (Box 3A, Route 3, Margaretville, NY 12455) had specimens of clinozoisite featuring yellowish brown crystal sprays to 2.5 cm (individual crystals average 1 cm) from near Huancavelica, Peru. The lustrous, wedge-terminated crystals are quite attractive and sit on a contrasting white quartz matrix; available specimens are thumbnail and miniature-size.
Jeff Fast of JBF Minerals (860-985-6321) had a variety of minerals from Mexico. Most prominent among them was calcite in butterfly-twinned crystals from Jose Maria Patoni, Durango, Mexico. Jeff, who self-collected the specimens in April 2003, told me that the locality is the one previously known as Rodeo, Durango, Mexico. Individual butterfly twins average about 4 cm wide and 5 mm thick, and are milky white to colorless and transparent. They are mostly off matrix, and loose twins and clusters range from thumbnail to small-cabinet size.
The guys at Toveco Specimen Mining (www.toveco.com) have continued to work at the William Wise mine, Westmoreland, New Hampshire in search of the well-known beautiful green fluorite that occurs there. Recently, as they mined deeper into the quartz vein, they uncovered white quartz scepters to 5 cm; in contrast to previous finds, these scepter crystals have smoky tips. As they mined deeper they encountered fewer but better green fluorite crystals. Who knows what the future holds, and what attractive new quartz/fluorite combinations will be found?
Bill Clark of Clark's Rocks and Jewelry, Coventry, CT (860-742-3169) had blue barite from a new location near Somers, Connecticut. The barite crystals suggest average-quality specimens from the old English localities, being composed of translucent blue or tan crystals, with individuals averaging 3 cm, in aggregates up to 7 cm. The location is on private property, but Bill hopes to do more exploration in the near future. Massive, granular purple fluorite was also found with the barite crystals.
A few years ago, Terry Ledford of Mountain Gems and Minerals (P.O. Box 239, Little Switzerland, NC 28749) began appearing at the major shows with an old hoard of green gemmy crystals of spodumene variety hiddenite from the classic locality of Hiddenite, North Carolina. The specimens in that lot, Terry said, were all collected many decades ago, but at Springfield this time Terry came up with about a dozen hiddenite crystals which he said had just been collected within the year. The crystals are all loose, and range from 1.5 to about 3 cm. They are very gemmy and typically hiddenite-green in color, and a few show distinctly curled tips. He promises to have even better ones at Tucson in February.
Val Collins of Mohawk Minerals had some specimens of henmilite from the type locality for this rare calcium copper borate: the Fuka mine, Bicchu Town, Kawakama County, Okayama Prefecture, Japan. The specimens were found in March 2003. The sharp, dark blue henmilite crystals are mostly micro-sized, and rest on massive white calcite matrix.
Lehigh Minerals (www.lehighminerals.com) had a large selection of epidote from the exciting new locality reported on from Tucson this year--the Northern Frontier Region, Kenya. Most specimens consist of singly terminated crystals without matrix, averaging 5 cm long but reaching a maximum of 7 cm.
Dudley Blauwet of Mountain Minerals International had his usual selection of goodies from Asia, including some nice specimens from Pakistan. Among the new items here are white microcline twins to 7.5 cm from Raikot, Chilas, Northern Areas, Pakistan. Dudley told me that about 70% of the crystals found are Carlsbad or Baveno twins, 10% are Manebach twins and 20% are untwinned crystals. Epidote sprays without matrix from Wadd, Baluchistan, Pakistan looked very similar to recent specimens out of Peru. The crystal sprays reach 4 cm in length and were found at a prospect very near the Iranian border. Prehnite stalactites (very pale green, and to 4 cm long) were recently found at Charman, Baluchistan, Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border; these prehnite specimens are not as attractive as those from the northeastern United States but would make good additions to a collection of Pakistan minerals. And Dudley had some nice doubly terminated crystals of lime-green herderite from Chhappu, Baltistan, Pakistan, near the border with China. These translucent crystals reach 2.5 cm, are usually free of matrix, and are quite attractive.
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Ross Lillie of North Star Minerals showed me some great specimens from Romania--I'd call them "museum" specimens both for size and quality. One specimen of drusy brown siderite pseudomorphous after rhombohedral crystals of calcite, from the Turt mine, Maramures, Romania, is about 30 X 50 cm in size, the calcite crystals averaging 10 cm. Two giant specimens of this description were mined in 2001; the other one went to Harvard. Next, Ross showed me a phenomenal specimen of nagyagite from the type locality at Nagyag (now called Sacaramb), Romania. The specimen was collected in 1790 (!) and consists of more than 100 metallic gray-black, star-shaped nagyagite crystals to 1 cm on a sparkling pale pink carbonate matrix. The overall size of the matrix is 10 X 15 cm. When I asked Ross how he had acquired the specimen, he told me he had been "in the right place at the right time." So what else is new? A single specimen of gypsum from Cavnic, Romania was another show-stopper at the North Star dealership. The sharp, transparent and colorless crystal, 12 cm across, rests on a matrix of drusy quartz, and a quartz stalactite visibly penetrates the gypsum crystal. Lastly, I was shown a 10 X 15-cm drusy quartz matrix on which were perched numerous cherry-red realgar crystals to 2 cm. This Baia Sprie, Maramures, Romania specimen will soon be on display at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Fine Minerals International (Raiffeisenstr. 14, 83607 Holzkirchen, Germany) had several quartz specimens that caught my eye: one was a huge quartz scepter about 60 cm tall with pale brown mud inclusions. The head on this beauty is about 20 X 30 cm. The locality given was simply Minas Gerais, Brazil. Another scepter quartz, this one from Winterstock, Furka, Switzerland, sits on a chloritic matrix about 10 X 10 cm; the quartz crystal measures 3 X 10 cm and has a pale purple amethystine head. This is a one-of-a-kind piece, as is typical of Alpine locations.
Syed M. Shah of Hunza G. C. Corp had, in addition to his usual inventory of minerals from Pakistan, a fluorite specimen from a new location in Pakistan. The specimen consists of a pale greenish gray 2.5-cm octahedron, slightly rough-faced, on a white drusy quartz matrix. The specimen is from the Olter Valley, Hunza, Pakistan, not far from the more familiar "Hunza Valley" localities for fluorite.
Wright's Rock Shop had some choice fluorite crystals to 2 cm, in clusters mostly of miniature size, from Dal'negorsk, Russia. The crystals are lustrous, colorless and transparent dodecahedrons, and inside many of them are phantoms of cubic fluorite crystals outlined in milky white. Iouri Poustov of Moscow, Russia had similar specimens.
In the wholesale section, Luis Menezes had about 100 specimens, in thumbnail to cabinet sizes, of helvite from the Navegador mine, Conselheiro Pena, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The olive-green to pale gray-green, tetrahedral crystals sit isolated on white matrix and reach 1 cm.
Many other dealers had large inventories of singular outstanding specimens that were not from new finds: in this honorable category are Dan Weinrich, Kristalle, John Betts. The Mineral Cabinet, Larry Conklin, IC Minerals, Iteco, XTAL, Minerals America and others.
According to Marty Zinn and his staff, attendance was up about 35% over last year's Springfield Show. The full parking lot on Friday was ample proof that plenty of folks saw fit to come ... heck, even the two bald eagles perched near the entrance seemed to be interested in minerals that day.
At the 2004 show the featured exhibitors will be Dan and Dianne Kile of Aurora, Colorado, who will present their collection of outstanding field-collected minerals, worldwide mineral specimens, and mineralogical instruments, especially petrographic microscopes (Dan is the author of the monograph on the subject which went out with the November-December 2003 issue).
New York State Museum, Albany
On my way home I stopped at the New York State Museum in Albany (next to the state capital buildings) to look over their new exhibit dedicated to minerals found in New York state. Mining in New York is well past its heyday, of course, but the many fine minerals on display from the 19th and early 20th centuries are evidence of a rich past. The display is arranged both by region and by collector. There are cases of minerals on loan from Harvard, the Canadian Museum of Nature, Steven Chamberlain, and Ken Hollman, and from the Oren Root collection at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Don't expect to see azurite, wulfenite and other minerals from oxidized zones of orebodies here: if such minerals ever existed in New York they were pushed into the Atlantic Ocean during the last Ice Age. However, if minerals of sedimentary, metamorphic and plutonic origins are your bag, this is the place to visit. How about sea-green fluorite groups to 50 cm in diameter, or 15-cm spinel crystals? How about calcite crystal groups that have yet to be equaled, or celestine as gemmy as any found in Madagascar? How about a suite of the minerals of the Tilly Foster iron mine, New York? There are about 500 specimens on display from across New York that are not Herkimer diamonds. I suggest you see this eye-opening collection when you visit the Albany, New York area, or the Springfield Show in 2004. You will be impressed!
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|Title Annotation:||What's New in Minerals|
|Publication:||The Mineralogical Record|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2004|
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