Printer Friendly

Springfield show 2009.

[August 7-9]

Every year, before heading out to the Springfield show, I make plans to see or do something that is not show-related. When our daughter was young, planning was simple: we would usually spend a day or two at an amusement park before or after our visit to the show. With the passage of time, as tastes changed and our daughter matured, we made side trips to the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Harvard Mineralogical Museum or one of the New England states for a mini-vacation. After last year's failed attempt to find the geologic fault known as Cameron's Line, I decided this year to do something interesting, yet different: visiting several New England restaurants that I'd seen featured on the Food and Travel Channels so I could sample their signature menu items. Because my wife and daughter had prior plans, I was on my own; it was just me and my Chihuahua, Butterbean, two wild and crazy guys on their way to a mineral show. Little did I know (at the time) that my little dog, all nine pounds of him, would give me quite a scare, after we checked into our hotel, by running out of my room and into the lobby, then through two sets of automatic opening doors and into the parking lot (don't worry, he's still with us).


On the way to Springfield, in keeping with this year's tourist theme, I decided to stop at Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut to sample their hamburgers (Louis' is where the hamburger was invented circa 1900). At Louis' the burgers are served in the original fashion--on toasted slices of white bread with cheese, tomato or onion and without any condiments (mustard, ketchup or mayonnaise). I suggest you stop at Louis' whenever you are in New Haven, so you can sample their burgers and make a side trip to Yale University to view the mineral display there.

Eventually I arrived at the Eastern States Exposition Center on Thursday around 1:00 pm (the day before the show opened) and found that most of the dealers were already setting up. Each year Marty Zinn and his staff kindly allow me to review dealers' stock on set-up day, giving me the opportunity to evaluate what's available before the masses rush in on opening day. This year there were some noteworthy new finds but most of the excitement centered on the dispersal of two prominent collections--Don Olson was selling specimens from the collection of the late Ernie Schlichter, and Rob Lavinsky was selling pieces once owned by (the still very much alive) Robert Whitmore.

The Ernie Schlichter specimens, as offered by Donald K. Olson and Associates (, were mostly things which Ernie collected over a 50-year period from localities in the eastern United States. Prominent on the shelves was a suite of minerals from the Warren Brothers quarry in Acushnet, Massachusetts. This Alpine-type deposit produced fantastic specimens of apatite-(CaF), titanite, feldspar and quartz. Also offered was a suite of Maine minerals which included a fabulous slab of transparent watermelon elbaite from Mount Mica, Paris, Oxford County, Maine. Singular specimens of amethyst from Maine and Rhode Island, along with a choice miniature of Bristol, Connecticut chalcocite, encouraged dealers and collectors to rummage (a la Tucson) through flats of specimens.

Rob Lavinsky of The Arkenstone ( was likewise selling U.S. East Coast specimens, these from the Robert Whitmore collection. Prominent on the display shelves were Maine elbaites and two top-quality Russell, Massachusetts almandine specimens, respectively miniature and large-cabinet size.

Several weeks before this show I received an email from Mike Walter of Geologic Desires ( announcing the discovery of choice danburite crystals at the classic Dana locale of Russell, St. Lawrence County, New York. According to Mike, an upstate New York collector got permission to collect on the property for about five weeks earlier this year (2009). The result was a bonanza of specimens not seen since the deposit was discovered in the 1880s. The pale brown, opaque to translucent crystals were found in a gray pyroxene-rich rock; Mike's specimens are thumbnail-size single crystals and crystal groups on miniature-size matrix. The largest crystal measures about 2 X 5 cm.

Kevin Downey's dealership called Well Arranged Molecules ( was offering red wulfenite in thumbnail, miniature and small cabinet-sizes from a locality he gave as "Tuokexun, Tulufan Prefecture, Xinjiang, Uygur Region, China"--almost certainly these specimens are from the remote mine in the Kuruktag Mountains of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, as described by Wilson and Origlieri in January-February 2007. The tabular crystals (some with epitactic coatings of cerus-site) average 1 cm wide and are quite dramatic.


I bumped into John Veevaert of Trinity Minerals who directed me to several dealers who had new and interesting minerals. One of these was Dudley Blauwet of Mountain Minerals International who had his usual fine inventory of specimens from Pakistan and Afghanistan, including some specimens from Fargon Meeru, Kok-scha Valley, Badakhshan, Afghanistan, showing sharp greenish blue diopside crystals averaging 2.5 cm. The glassy, somewhat rounded crystals rest in white marble matrix; some have transparent areas with blue-green highlights.

Texas dealers John and Maryann Fender of Fender Natural Resources ( had some fine specimens from the Ojuela mine, Mapimi, Durango, Mexico. Of note were some richly colored specimens of copper-rich austinite. From dates on the old newspapers in which they were wrapped, John Fender concluded that they were found in the late 1970s. The crystal aggregates sit on the typical Mapimi limonite gossan matrix, their colors varying from beige to vivid green, with crystals averaging about 5 mm in size. The specimens (thumbnails and miniatures) are very clean and attractive and were selling quickly, but of course you can contact the Fenders to see what they might have left in their inventory.

Scott Wershky, Proprietor of Miner's Lunchbox, ( had some crystals of the rare rutile variety called "struverite" from Tsaratanana, Madagascar. According to John Veevaert (who bought all of Scott's stock), "struverite is a varietal name for the tantalum and niobium-rich form of rutile. These crystals have a very high percentage of tantalum (actually higher than their percentage of titanium) and a substantial percentage of niobium in the chemical formula." Struverite was originally described as a species in 1907, but in 2006 the IMA ruled that it is a tantalum-rich rutile. The loose, dark gray crystals in Scott Wershky's stock average over 4 cm; they are reasonably sharp, but have minor edge wear as is typical of rutile in general. Scott picked up the specimens at the 2009 Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines show.

Here I would like to digress for a moment and bring your attention to an email I received after the show from Tony Albini, an active East Coast field collector. In 2008 Tony gained permission to collect at the famous Spinelli prospect in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Tony and Fred E. Davis surveyed the site with a portable gamma scintillometer and jointly discovered two previously unknown dumps. Their efforts were rewarded when they found samarskite as dark terminated crystals up to 2.5 cm. The best specimen, now in Tony's collection, sports two terminated, 2.5-cm samarskite crystals which sit in a matrix of red feldspar, with grains of columbite. A description of the Spinelli prospect, including accounts of its history and the details of Tony and Fred's investigation, will be presented at the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium in April 2010.

Every year some "new faces" sign on as dealers at the Springfield show. One of these new dealerships, with fine minerals, was John and Debbie Whitney's Rocks to Gems, 31 North Chester Road, Chester, Maine 04457. What makes John and Debbie's specimens special is the fact that they own the Trenton and Alice Staples quarries in Maine. As a result, they had gemmy aquamarine and heliodor beryl from the Trenton quarry and green elbaite (crystals and slices) from Mount Mica, Oxford County, Maine.

Excalibur Mineral Corporation had several flats of grossular from a new site in the Nightingale district, Pershing County, Nevada. The brownish crystals were discovered in July of 2009 by a local prospector, are up to 2.5 cm across and are associated with milky quartz crystals to 2.5 cm. Most of the crystals sit on matrix of massive grossular and/or milky quartz.

Ted Johnson of Yankee Mineral and Gem Company (yankeeminerals has a knack for coming up with specimens from classic locations. This year Ted was offering a variety of classic Colorado specimens, prominently including minerals from Pikes Peak and sulfides from various old mines in Colorado. Contact Ted if you are interested in, or specialize in, the minerals of Colorado.

Finally, at the show there were enough unique specimens to satisfy every collector's needs, wants and urges. Specimens were available in the retail and wholesale sections at every price and on every aesthetic and quality level. Of course, in any given year you will only know what's available if and when you attend the show. 1 suggest that my friends from Maryland and Virginia make an effort to get to the show; you will not be disappointed. If you live too far away to drive, you can always fly into Springfield or take Amtrak, which makes several stops each day in Springfield.

Every year, as most readers of the Mineralogical Record are aware, Mary Zinn recruits a private collector or collectors to exhibit at the Springfield Show. This year the collection of Jim and Gail Spann of Rockwall, Texas was featured and the display was set up at the show's main entrance. In the four years that the Spanns have been collecting minerals, they have built a collection that contains over 3,700 pieces, including many world-class specimens. The Spanns are active members of the Mineralogical Association of Dallas (MAD) and Gail is the current coordinator for the Association. Over 50 cases of mineral specimens from the Spanns' collection were on display, with every case containing impressive one-of-a-kind pieces. My favorite was a case of specimens which previously were featured on the covers of prominent mineral magazines. On display in this case was the famous Bristol, Connecticut chalcocite that appeared on the cover of Matrix, and the fine pink fluorite from Peru that appeared on the cover of the Mineralogical Record's vol. 28 no. 4--"Mines and Minerals of Peru." The central case, at the entrance to the Spanns' exhibit, contained one fine specimen from each of the continents, excluding Antarctica. Here was a huge amethyst group from Guerrero, Mexico, a fantastic pink fluorite from Pakistan, and equally impressive specimens from Brazil, Australia, Europe and Africa.

The Spanns are to be congratulated for building such a fine collection in so short a time. In Springfield this year, as in past years, Dave Bunk was responsible for coordinating and helping to set up the exhibit. Next year Bill Larson of Pala International will be the featured exhibitor. I am looking forward to seeing a myriad of gem crystals, especially from antique and classic locations. And I very much hope that Bill will bring along some of the classic east coast tourmaline and beryl specimens that he has in his collection!

Well, another Springfield Show is down in the books. I am very happy to say that I have attended the Show every year, from its inaugural date in the late 1980s until this year. On the way back to Pennsylvania I decided to continue the non-mineral theme by making another stop in New Haven, Connecticut. This time I was going to visit Pepe's and Sally's, two pizzerias that were featured in the Travel Channel's episode involving a search for the best pizza in America. Pepe's and Sally's have been friendly rivals since 1938 (Pepe's is the older establishment, having opened in 1925), with each pizzeria having its loyal followers, some of whom refuse to eat in that "other place." Over the years, celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Bill Clinton, John McCain and cartoonist Gary Trudeau have dined at both restaurants, and the restaurants have the pictures to prove it. Both restaurants bake their pizza in the traditional Neapolitan style (crust, sauce and fresh buffalo mozzarella) but allow you to add your favorite toppings. Before I left New Haven I sat in my car and polished off four slices of pizza, two from each restaurant. I shared the crust with Butterbean, who licked his lips and barked out his approval. As far as I'm concerned, both products were equally tasty, which clearly means that I should visit Pepe's or Sally's whenever I'm in the New Haven area.

Don't forget: the guest exhibitor next year will be Bill Larson; so mark your calendar if you want to see over 50 cases filled with fine minerals, gem crystals and faceted stones.
COPYRIGHT 2010 The Mineralogical, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:What's New
Author:Polityka, Joe
Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Previous Article:New Jersey show 2009.
Next Article:Denver Show 2009.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |