Tucson show 2007.
When the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society staged its first Tucson show in early February 1955, there was only what is now known as the "Main Show" for visitors to look forward to. Gradually, over the years, the larger Tucson Phenomenon has evolved, as a gallimaufry* of satellite shows and events has grown up all around town, particularly on the west side. Thus monotony has been prevented and variety spawned. Every year there's something different about the hotel shows and other highlights surrounding the central event (now the climax of the entire commotion) at the Tucson Convention Center. Regular pilgrims will also mark personal switchpoints: I for example have been making it to the show since 1992, but 2007 was the first year in which both of my non-mineralogical children (now non-mineralogical young adults) were present at showtime. One hectic day, I was able to give them a general tour which I think they enjoyed, though it's hard sometimes to interpret ironic eye-rolling and mock-jocular commentary.
For the Mineralogical Record this was a year of change in hotel-show logistics: Mary Lynn Michela, our Circulation Manager, and her helpers were to be found at a table, not in the lobby of the Clarion hotel as previously, but in Wayne Thompson's room at the Westward Look Show. The table-space here was constricted, but Wayne's display cases full of big, gorgeous specimens hedged in the table spectacularly, and the room was constantly full of high-energy people, while Mary Lynn sold, and Wayne autographed, many copies of his Ikons book (subscribers received their softcover copies free with the Jan.-Feb. 2007 issue; the hardcover copies were selling briskly at $150). In this propitious spot Mary Lynn signed up a good number of new subscribers to our magazine, while I, for my part, helped introduce a bright child to the world of mineral dealing. Wayne's six-year-old daughter Stevia, accompanied by about fifty thousand stuffed animals and by several caregivers who entertained her while Wayne did business, put out a flat of thumbnail specimens of her very own, which Wayne encouraged her to try to sell at low prices of his suggestion. One of the specimens was a superb ilmenite "rose" from Pakistan, which I coveted. So while Wayne dealt with seriously well-funded grownups, Stevia dealt with me, and her first commercial transaction came to pass. Picking up that fine ilmenite from a supremely cute six-year-old was one of the highlights of my show.
Marty Zinn's Arizona Mineral & Fossil Show again shuffled its venues. Most of the (primarily) Russian, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian and Brazilian dealers who during the previous two years were to be found at the Smuggler's Inn had set up this year at a new hotel, the Quality Inn, Benson Highway, just off I-10 about four miles south of the InnSuites. Furthermore this was the final year of the show's residence in the Clarion hotel, downtown near Randolph Park, whose dealers presumably will be distributed next year among the other hotels, including the new Quality Inn. The InnSuites, with its seductive, orange tree-graced courtyard and its strategic location near the Convention Center, continued this year its development into the hub of the Zinn operation, with a greater proportion of high-end dealers than previously. And in Zinnland there was also the Ramada Hotel, primarily for fossil shoppers, and there was the likable little tent city, off Oracle near the Executive Inn, called the Mineral & Fossil Marketplace, for wholesalers and the bargain-minded.
Besides mentioning minerals seen in these hotels and at the Westward Look and "Main" shows, this report also will describe a thing or two seen at the small show at the Executive Inn, which ceased being a Zinn fiefdom after 2004. What always amazes me about the Tucson Phenomenon is that, like some benign fungus expanding endlessly under the wide forest floor, it is everywhere, including places one has not seen or guessed at. A full week before the hotel show began, for example, Ernesto Ossola was happily doing business in an unassuming complex of little rooms in a stockade-like concrete warehouse off I-10, well to the south of the familiar row of big show-hosting hotels; I hadn't known that this venue existed. Days later the kaleidoscopic action commenced at the major hotel shows along the freeway, as doubtless at show sites I've never yet been to, such as Tucson Electric Park and many a "marketplace" elsewhere in town, and lapidary and bead scenes and crystal-healing-happening vortexes all over this wide valley--nearly 50 individual shows all together! Maybe next year one will get around more ... could the Great Unexpected Specimen be repining uncared-for in some least-likely place? Very likely!
In the "what's new in minerals" department this show continued the past two or three years' trend of there being, in hard fact, quite little that's strictly new coming up on the market. But the show felt strong nevertheless, thanks to the plenitude of new specimen strikes at localities already known, renaissances of specimens from occurrences thought extinct, and new records set for quality and/or abundance at occurrences discovered, say, five or fewer years ago. For exciting examples, see below under California and Venezuela gold; California ferro-axinite; Thetford Mines, Quebec andradite; Ojuela mine, Mexico mimetite and hemimorphite; Peruvian rhodonite; Madagascar liddicoatite; Kazakhstan copper; Pakistan anatase and brookite; and many more.
Our embarkation point for the world tour is (oh boy) the Gold Country of California ...
John Emmett is a road-building contractor from Clovis, California who in 1994 became part-owner of the famous Colorado Quartz mine, Mariposa County, and began extracting specimen gold (he helped Bryan Lees in taking out the great "Dragon" gold specimen now familiar from images seen everywhere). In 1996 he purchased and began working the Mockingbird mine, on the same vein structure as the Colorado Quartz, and the 2006 Denver Show saw the appearance of a few fine gold crystal specimens he had dug there. These, though, were the merest hints of what John Emmett and co-owner Noble Sparks had already taken, in April 2006, from the third level of the Mockingbird mine, about 30 meters below the ground surface. In this zone, a seam of clay up to 25 cm wide follows a fold in a dike, and masses of crystallized gold weighing up to two pounds, associated with milky quartz and arsenopyrite and covered by earthy greenish fluorite, were found in a string of pockets. Twenty-six specimens from the find, of which about ten are thumbnails and the remainder are amazing miniature and small cabinet-size specimens, were debuted by Collector's Edge at the Main Show. The habit of some of the gold is dendritic to arborescent; some arborescent groups have rounded gold tetrahexahedrons to 2 mm resting on the tips of the "branches." Other specimens are clusters of sharp, deeply hoppered gold octahedrons to 1 cm; others are dominated by wire gold; still others show sponge gold as "matrix" for crystal groups; a couple of exceptional pieces have distorted dodecahedral gold crystals to 2 cm resting on quartz. On a very few specimens, gold crystals rest on arsenopyrite crystals. The gold in all of these specimens is a rich yellow, and all of it boasts exceptionally brilliant luster. According to Bryan Lees, the connected string of pockets in this "specimen mine" is now exhausted, but meanwhile the pieces shown at Tucson this year surely represent the greatest find of California gold in many a year, and, no question, the Mockingbird mine spread was the hit of the Main Show. All of the big specimens were in the "price on request" category, and were sold before you had time to ask, disappointing many eager would-be buyers.
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World-class specimens of ferro-axinite were found at New Melones Lake, Calaveras County, California, in 1981, and after a very short time they largely disappeared from the market. Beautiful, transparent, clove-brown ferro-axinite crystals exceptionally to 10 cm dominate an Alpine-type mineral assemblage found in tension gashes in volcanic and metamorphic rocks along the lake's spillway--see the article by Pohl et al. in the September-October 1982 issue. Around the turn of 2006-2007, John Seibel of Seibel Minerals (JohnSeibel@hotmail.com) took a crack at this "dead" locality and, with his fine field-collecting skills and maybe a bit of luck, managed to take out another 250 ferro-axinite specimens, most of which were for sale in his room at the InnSuites in Tucson. Highly lustrous, part-gemmy, classically ax-shaped, medium-brown ferro-axinite crystals to 5 cm form groups with colorless, transparent quartz prisms, the latter reaching 10 cm. Some specimens show ferro-axinite crystals wholly included in quartz. These handsome specimens range from about 4 cm up to hefty cabinet sizes, and the centerpiece of John's array was a wonderful piece 45 cm across. Mid-size specimens from the find could be had for low three-figure prices.
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Still in California, we come to a really new find which may turn out to be this show's most promising--but is indeed so new that full details concerning it cannot as yet be disclosed. During the hotel show period, word came that two California field collectors, Keith Wentz and Seth Dilles, had just struck superlative specimens of linarite and caledonite in quartz veins in a weathered gray schist near or in the old Reward mine in southern California, not too far from the old Blue Bell mine near Baker, where nice specimens of these two rare and colorful Pb-Cu sulfates were collected in the early to mid-1970's. A session around Keith's truck's tailgate outside the InnSuites revealed about five flats of specimens, most of them showing bright blue linarite crystals lying flat in the open seams, some of them accompanied by blue-green, blocky crystals of caledonite, with tufts of acicular, bright green brochantite crystals to 2 mm. In the very few elite specimens, paper-thin, transparent linarite blades to 2.5 cm rise vertically from the veins, and brilliant crystals of caledonite, dark bluish green and somewhat resembling dioptase, to 1.25 cm, rest on matrix. Marcus Origlieri has verified the species identifications by Raman spectroscopy at the University of Arizona. The very topmost of these linarites and caledonites are now in "private hands," but a few good ones are being marketed by Rob Lavinsky of Arkenstone.
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Two lesser, but intriguing, items conclude the California rollcall. Last fall, during an annual mineral-club dig in the evaporite deposits of Searles Lake, San Bernardino County, Justin Zzyzx (of Tucson, and of the invaluable web compendium of mineral dealers called The Vug) extracted several dozen fine crystals of sulphohalite that were embedded in solid halite. Sharp, only slightly distorted, translucent, greenish gray, octahedral crystals, to 3 cm on edge, of the rare sodium sulfate-chloride-fluoride could be had for about $20 apiece in the InnSuites room of Alfredo Petrov (firstname.lastname@example.org). Transparent, colorless crystals of thenardite to 5 mm cling to the faces of a few of these crystals, and one busy 8 X 10-cm matrix specimen shows good crystals, not only of sulphohalite but also of hanksite, trona and borax.
It is always a good idea, even if your means enable you to buy things like Mockingbird mine gold specimens, to wander sometimes into the many hotel rooms where casual field collectors, just in from desert or mountains, offer modest wares which you might not have heard or read of before. In one such room in the Executive Inn show, that of Chris Lehmann (25627 Hwy 6, Benton, CA 93512), nice calcite (among other) specimens which Chris had dug were on view, and I picked up a pertly perfect, extremely attractive thumbnail for all of five dollars. The calcite specimens show sharp, lustrous, translucent, milk-white to pale yellow, low-angle "butterfly" twins to 2 cm rising from shallow cavities in soft, buff-colored marly limestone. Chris says that the calcite twins, as well as sharp, simple scalenohedral calcite crystals to 5 cm, have been collected for at least 30 years from outcrops in the Coyote Mountains, 4 miles north of the village of Ocotillo, in Imperial County. He had about 100 thumbnails and miniatures of the material. Also notable in this room were some specimens showing good, lustrous, red-brown, trapezohedral crystals of grossular to 1 cm in skarn matrix with pale green massive diopside, from an old tungsten property called the Chipmunk mine, Inyo County--a thumbnail of this would run you about $12.
At the open-pit Northumberland gold mine, Nye County, Nevada, major mining for gold commenced in the 1930's and commercial barite production began in 1964 (see the article on the Northumberland mine by Kokinos and Prenn in the special Nevada issue, Jan.-Feb. 1985). Good barite specimens from the Northumberland mine were fairly common on the market during the late 1980's and early 1990's, but little has been heard from the locality since then. Here, though, was a "renaissance" of older material at the Main Show stand of Harvey Gordon Minerals (500 Ballentyne Way, Reno, NV 89502), where about 100 large barite specimens were being offered. They are the contents of two huge pockets collected in 1963-1964, and only now coming to market. The specimens, ranging between 6 X 6 cm and nearly 60 cm (two feet!) across, are clusters of very sharp, thick-tabular barite crystals with wedge terminations, individually reaching 7 cm or so; many of the crystals perch lightly atop the clusters and thus show dramatically as doubly terminated. Some of the barite crystals, darkened by heavy inclusions, are gray and nearly opaque, while others are grayish yellow to orange, and translucent to transparent; a few show distinct phantoms. Jason Herrmann (Lithosphere Minerals) and Art Soregaroli were filling in at the show for the ailing Harvey Gordon, seemed to be moving these huge, heavy barite specimens briskly along to buyers.
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Southwestern U.S. collectors get their worldviews expanded when a new wulfenite locality not in Arizona or Mexico comes to light. Isaias Casanova of IC Minerals (email@example.com) had something for people like these at his stand at the Main Show--and placed a few preview specimens in the "what's new in minerals" showcase in the Clarion lobby during the hotel-show period. Isaias came into several flats--about 50 specimens, mostly miniature-size--of very good wulfenite collected by John Brugman in 1997 from the abandoned Harrington-Hickory mine, Milford, Beaver County, Utah. The wulfenite crystals are bright yellow-orange to medium-orange, transparent, very thin "windows" to 1.5 cm, loosely attached to pieces of soft, buff-colored sedimentary rock and canted at varying angles to this matrix; tiny yellow mimetite spheres are associated in some specimens. Loose, 2-cm cerussite twins of unprepossessing appearance were also included in the specimen lot. The best of the wulfenites (some of which went from Isaias to dealer Peter Megaw, firstname.lastname@example.org) were priced in the low three figures.
Like barite from the Northumberland mine, fluorite from the White Rock quarry, Clay Center, Ottawa County, Ohio is generally thought of as a thing of the past, but a specimen-strike in November 2006 in the quarry is now being said (by the striker) to represent the best find of "Clay Center" fluorite specimens of the last 50 years. Dave Bunk had a few dozen of the best pieces at the Main Show, and they are fine indeed, with lustrous, part-gemmy, pale brown to rich orange-brown, cubic crystals of fluorite to 5 cm on edge, intergrown with milky white, bladed celestine crystals to 4 cm long. Some of the specimens offered by Dave are single loose fluorite cubes of miniature size, but most of the fluorite/celestine crystal clusters are cabinet-size, the largest measuring 25 X 25 X 30 cm; prices are in the $500-$5000 range.
Indefatigable Terry Ledford of Mountain Gems & Minerals (email@example.com) hit another pocket of fine gemmy hiddenite (that is, chromium-green spodumene) crystals in May 2006 at the Adams Farm, Alexander County, North Carolina, and he was selling the pretty little green bolts in his room at the InnSuites. About 50 loose hiddenite crystals emerged from the pocket; they range in size from 1.5 cm ($100-$200) to a single one measuring 6.9 cm (POW). One remarkable 2-cm crystal (which Terry is keeping for now) has a rich, intense green color distributed throughout, whereas most of the rest of the crystals are pale to medium-green at the tips to almost colorless at the bases. At the same locality Terry unearthed about a dozen highly lustrous, red-brown single crystals and little crystal clusters of rutile. The rutile prisms are deeply striated and most are cavernous at the terminations. These small thumbnail-size specimens were selling for $30 each.
Connecticut also had something new/old to offer at Tucson: in the Clarion ballroom, Rocko Rosenblatt (firstname.lastname@example.org) had about 30 excellent specimens of prehnite from the O & G #2 (Silliman) quarry, Southbury, New Haven County. This crushed-stone quarry is still active, but collecting is sternly limited and policed, and Rocko's cache represents several years of effort by one collector. The pale green, silkily lustrous, botryoidal masses of prehnite range from small-miniature size to one measuring 12 X 12 cm ($200). Some of the prehnite has glittering coatings of colorless, transparent apophyllite crystals with individuals to 5 mm.
Excellent bright green crystals of andradite ("demantoid") have come at rare intervals from the Thetford Mines district near Black Lake, southern Quebec, about 60 km north-northeast of the much more famous Jeffrey mine at Asbestos. Mining for chrysotile commenced in 1958 at the Lac d'Amiante mine, now a huge open pit, and the best of its gemmy green "demantoid" crystals to date were found in 1997. In fall 2006 a young collector, exploring old dumps of the Lac d'Amiante mine, found about 30 andradite crystals, all single, slightly distorted dodecahedrons ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 cm, loose and devoid of any matrix or associated species. These crystals are of excellent quality and quite pretty, being lustrous, part-gemmy, and of a pleasant medium green hue. Quebec-minerals devotee Marco Amabili acquired the crystals, and at the Westward Look Show Giuseppe Agozzino was carrying around an impressive little boxfull of them. So far the specimens are being offered "privately" to selected buyers, but the mine is still operating and, of course, another such lucky find (who knows?) may well be pending.
Darryl B. MacFarlane of Grenville Minerals (email@example.com) appeared at the InnSuites with most of the haul of roughly 2,000 specimens of molybdenite he mined in summer 2006 at the Moly Hill mine, La Motte, Quebec (this locality is sometimes called "Malartic," the name of the largest town of the region). The best of the specimens are excellent, showing sharp, brightly metallic molybdenite crystals to 4 cm across. The crystals are very thin, and tend to be slightly raggedy on the wide front faces, but all display sharp hexagonal profiles, and many stand up well from (though most, of course, lie flat on) the massive quartz matrix. Intermittently mined for decades, mostly for quartz, occasionally for molybdenum, Moly Hill may never before have turned out a better large lot of molybdenite specimens--and Darryl is to be credited with excellent specimen-preparation work. Sizes of the matrix pieces range from thumbnail to about 6 cm, and prices are generally under $100.
There is much to report from Mexico this time around. First up is a discovery not represented (as far as I saw) by any sizable specimen lots at Tucson--but late in 2006 the website of Jack Lowell's Colorado Gem & Mineral (cgmaz@Cox.net) offered a small handful of specimens, and a few loners were also in evidence here and there at the Show. I'm talking about loose, thumbnail and small miniature-size single crystals and clusters of turquoise pseudomorphs after apatite from the La Caridad mine, Nacozari de Garcia, Sonora. These are probably the best representatives of this rare pseudomorphic phenomenon yet found anywhere. The La Caridad is an open-pit copper mine where the turquoise pseudo-crystals are found in nodules, and many are discarded, mixed in with backfill, or otherwise lost. In 2006, however, about 100 pseudo-crystals were rescued and ended up with Jack. They are opaque and slightly rough-faced, with a bright, pleasant sky-blue color, and the best of them preserve very well the hexagonal-prismatic form of the original apatite crystals, and show pyramidal terminal faces. A few surfaces show microcrystals of chalcopyrite, molybdenite and muscovite. About $150 can purchase a superb 3-cm specimen. This locality, by the way, is distinct from one which lies about 50 km south of it: the Cumobabi mine near the village of Cumpas, from which similar turquoise pseudomorphs have emerged in the past.
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In late 2006, about 200 fine gypsum specimens were taken from a cave near a playa lake somewhere in the "Zone of Silence," a vast, nearly uninhabited region which sprawls for about 600 km north from Bermejillo to the Big Bend country of Texas (see pages 7 and 8 of the Ojuela mine special issue, Sept.-Oct. 2003). The gypsum specimens, brought out by Peter Megaw (firstname.lastname@example.org) and offered by him in the Clarion at Tucson, are huge groups--to 50 cm across. They consist of transparent and colorless to translucent and milky gray-white, fishtail-twinned crystals with serrations along their sides; some groups have no matrix while others rest on chunks of carbonate country rock.
The major attraction in the Clarion room of Peter Megaw--seen also in the Clarion ballroom with Benny Fenn (www.fennminerals.com) and (at Rob Lavinsky's Arkenstone booth at the Main Show) were large and dramatic specimens from a new strike of mimetite in the famous Ojuela mine, Mapimi, Durango. The mimetite forms thick botryoidal, stalactiform and (if I may say so) caulifloweroid encrustations on the walls of cavities in the typical earthy brown "limonite" gossan of the Ojuela mine. The most impressive specimens are cabinet-size chunks of gossan with deep openings that you look down into to see the walls bubbling thickly with the bright yellow mimetite. Yes, it is yellow (with some greenish or orangish tones), a fact which makes this pocket, found late in 2006, most unusual, for nearly all Ojuela mimetite which we are accustomed to seeing is olive-green, and specked with small yellow wulfenite crystals. Wulfenite is here, too, but only as microcrystals embedded in the gossan. Basically the new specimens consist solely of yellow mimetite covering "limonite." In the same (unspecified) area of the Ojuela mine, at about the same time, hundreds of very beautiful hemimorphite specimens were found, these consisting of sprays to more than 2 cm of lustrous white, bladed crystals rising from matrix, with tiny bright yellow spheres of mimetite around their bases. Gleaming specimens reaching 10 cm across could be had from Peter Megaw, as well as from wholesaler Mike New of Top Gem Minerals (email@example.com).
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The Ojuela mine--where the Spaniards began taking out ore in 1598--gave forth yet another surprise which showed up at Tucson this year. The rare Ca-Zn arsenate austinite was earlier known from the mine only as druses of acicular white microcrystals (see Sept.-Oct 2003), but just one month before Tucson 2007 the mineral was found as encrustations of densely packed, radiating groups of pale yellow to pale green acicular crystals to 5 mm, the crusts covering dark brown pieces of gossan to 15 cm across. Superficially the sparkling yellow crusts look like adamite, but Raman spectroscopy (once again performed by Marcus Origlieri at the University of Arizona) has shown them to be austinite. One remarkable 1 X 3.5-cm specimen is a flattened mass of bright yellow austinite sprays without matrix. About a dozen of these brand-new Ojuela austinite specimens (unpriced as yet) were to be found in the keeping of Rob Lavinsky at his Arkenstone booth at the Main Show.
The Naica district of polymetallic mines in Chihuahua checks in once in a while with outstanding specimens of green fluorite, as well as calcite, gypsum, galena, sphalerite and many rarer species, often in beautiful "combination" specimens. Late in December 2006, a big pocket in a mine in Naica gave up hundreds of specimens of fluorite/galena ranging from medium-miniature to medium-cabinet size. Individual pieces were to be seen at several dealerships around Tucson, but by far the biggest and best stash was to be found at the InnSuites with Chris Wright of Wright's Rock Shop (firstname.lastname@example.org). On these specimens, fluorite appears as transparent pale green to grayish green cubo-dodecahedrons to 7 cm (some of the crystals have chalcopyrite inclusions arrayed in odd pyramidal shapes), and galena co-stars effectively as sharp, lustrous cuboctahedrons to 6 cm (as well as a few sharp spinel-law twins). Tight knots of lustrous black sphalerite crystals adorn many of the specimens, too. Chris Wright was asking from $95 to around $1000 for these beautiful display pieces.
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We've long known gold from Venezuela as single, commonly very large, hoppered crystals said to be from the alluvial goldfields in the southern part of the country. But this year Collector's Edge, apparently not content with scooping the market with world-class California gold, also offered intriguing specimens of wire gold from La Gran Sabana, Estado Bolivar, Venezuela. "La Gran Sabana" will ring familiar, as this term is often given to denote the place where those slightly rounded gold crystals are taken from alluvium. However, this new occurrence, while lying nearby, is of the hardrock type: Collector's Edge has photos of miners taking the little gold specimens from pit workings where narrow quartz veins which host the gold come close to the surface. The find dates to January 2006, and so far about 50 specimens, from thumbnail-size to 8 cm, have made it to the U.S. At Tucson, Steve Behling and Tom Gressman were showing off many of them at the InnSuites and Westward Look respectively. The gold occurs as loose, bright, thick wires in varying configurations (e.g. just slightly curving, or bent over fishhook-style, or forming closed loops); a very few matrix specimens show the gold wires rising from massive "bull" quartz. The best of the thumbnails are priced in the mid-four figures.
In his room in the Clarion, Jaroslav Hyrsl (email@example.com), the ever-peripatetic Czech who is one of the world's top experts in Peruvian mineral occurrences, had a new one: superb realgar specimens from the Palomo mine, in the Huachocolpa ore district, Huancavelica Department, Peru. Jaroslav has written a short article on this little-known mine, which Mineralogical Record readers will see in good time; meanwhile suffice it to say that the Palomo is situated at an altitude of 5,000 meters, in a dry valley between the Julcani and San Genaro districts, and the last metal mining there took place between 1995 and 2000. Free-lancers now are digging for specimens, and the handful of realgar crystal clusters which Jaroslav brought to Tucson were taken out in early December 2006. They show opaque, very bright red crystals to 5 cm, most of them a little rounded, and a few notably hoppered. Bright yellow crusts of orpiment partially cover some of the crystal groups, and sharp orpiment epimorphs after realgar crystals to 2.5 cm occasionally have been found. The arsenic sulfides rest on massive black matrix of mixed sulfides in which lurk microcrystals of the rare mineral seligmannite (PbCuAsS3). These vivid red and red/yellow specimens, ranging in size from around 4 to 10 cm, clearly rank the Palomo mine as among the more significant realgar occurrences in the world.
Another important and beautiful discovery in Peru was evident to showgoers as soon as Luis Burillo (Urb. Pinar Canal, 24, 50007 Zaragoza, Spain) opened his door at the InnSuites. A large showcase in Luis's room was resplendent in rose-pink, as it held about 100 pieces from a new find of rhodonite at the little zinc (sphalerite) working heretofore known as the Chiurucu mine, Dos de Mayo Province, Huanuco Department. One of the mine's managers, who had come with Luis to Tucson, informed me that the Chiurucu mine is now called the San Martin mine (change your labels!). Gorgeously deep pink aggregates of bladed rhodonite crystals, the aggregates sometimes reaching cabinet-specimen size, from the Chiurucu mine were first found in 1989--see the great 13-cm specimen on the cover of the March-April 1990 issue of this magazine--and a few more were unearthed in 1998, but at neither of these earlier times did supplies prove generous or long-lived. In October 2006, according to the mine manager, several pockets located in veins along a contact between sphalerite ore and a surrounding skarn yielded about 400 new rhodonite specimens ranging widely in size and quality but including about 40 large, superlative pieces. Most of the specimens on hand with Luis Burillo are loose, delicate, rosette-shaped aggregates of small crystals, thumbnail and small miniature-size, and pale to medium-pink, looking like roses freshly plucked from their stems. These are priced at $50 to $150. The finest specimens from the new find show bundles of wide, flat, transparent pink to red rhodonite blades to 2 cm rising from matrix. Finally, a very few of the rosette-shaped aggregates have immaculately sharp and lustrous, thin, metallic-bronze pyrrhotite crystals to 1 cm resting lightly on them. Thus another locality for attractive material which prematurely had been judged extinct has now been revived. These new rhodonites from the Chiurucu (that is to say, the San Martin) mine, were a major hit of Tucson 2007.
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Time now to conclude the New World part of the tour by considering (as usual) varied attractive things from Brazil. First, although gold from California and Venezuela took center stage this year, it just would not do to ignore the nice, small thumbnail-size, groups of rough gold crystals from near the village of Alta Floresta in Mato Grosso state. Alvaro Lucio (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been bringing little swarms of these specimens to U.S. shows for several years now, and the ones he brought to Tucson 2007 are especially nice, with prices ranging from $100 to $1,400, depending mostly on sharpness of crystal edges. The crystal groups are found in clay layers in alluvium.
In 2002 (see the Tucson report in the May-June issue of that year), fairly good numbers of lustrous, gemmy and oddly colored elbaite crystals from the Baxao mine, Taquaral, Minas Gerais entered the market. The color-zoned prisms show areas not only of pink and green but also of yellow and rootbeer-brown, and all crystals seen in 2002 are etched, looking to some degree chewed-upon, in some cases almost bitten through. Well, the good news is that a pocket found in late 2005 in the Baxao mine yielded about 100 loose crystals, these having the same high luster, complete gemminess, and odd color scheme, but with no etching, meaning that all prism faces are mirror-smooth and that complex systems of pyramidal terminations are evident. These are very beautiful, and still wholly distinctive, elbaite specimens. Lone examples were scattered around the show, but the best selection was at the InnSuites with Greg Turner of Sacred Earth Minerals (email@example.com), where $100 or so could buy you a lovely 3-cm loose prism.
Specimens showing yellowish green, translucent, medium-lustrous, discoidal crystals of a mineral belonging to the apatite group emerged in late 2005 from the Sapo mine, Goiabera, Minas Gerais (see the report of the 2005 Munich Show, Jan.-Feb. 2006, and Dr. Federico Pezzotta's subsequent determination of the species as hydroxylapatite, published in the Letters column in the Mar.-Apr. 2006 issue). New crystals found in the Sapo mine in October 2006, although they look much like the older ones and rest, like those, on the surfaces of large microcline crystals, have been shown to be fluorapatite--this according to Luis Menezes (firstname.lastname@example.org), who brought a good supply of the new material to his room in the InnSuites. Pale bluish green, translucent, discoidal crystals to 1 cm have grown in thin, regularly offset stacks. Some of these aggregates are available as loose groups 3 or 4 cm long and less than 1 cm thick, but the big specimens show fluorapatite aggregates snaking across the faces of buff-colored microcline crystals to 30 cm wide. Prices for these peculiar fluorapatite specimens range from $20 for a large thumbnail to $500 for a large cabinet piece.
In his big airy room in the Quality Inn, Benson Highway--Marty Zinn's new-this-year acquisition--Carlos Vasconcelos of Vasconcelos (email@example.com), had laid out the contents of a spectacular new find, in December 2006, of brazilianite in the Telirio mine, Linopolis area, Minas Gerais. The elongated, wedge-terminated brazilianite crystals typical of the Telirio mine are familiar enough by now that this new find would not be noteworthy but for the exceptional quality of all the specimens and the amazing size of a couple of them: one specimen is a single, thick, gemmy, deep yellow-green brazilianite crystal measuring 2 x 3.5 x 5 cm, and one majestic "museum piece" is a lustrous, transparent, pale smoky quartz crystal measuring 15 x 32 cm, studded all over with beautiful gemmy brazilianite crystals to 4 cm. Carlos also had about 20 superb miniatures and small cabinet-size pieces with doubly terminated brazilianite crystals on white feldspar matrix; and from the same pocket find he had about 20 very fine specimens of hydroxyl-herderite, with lustrous, pale yellow-brown, diamond-shaped crystals to 5 cm in clusters to 12 x 12 x 12 cm. This is the most impressive lot of specimens from the Telirio mine I have seen in quite a few years. The miniature and small cabinet-size brazilianites were priced at $500-$1200.
There are still four significant Brazilian items remaining to be described. Two of these were with Alvaro Lucio in the InnSuites, and I had never seen the likes of either before. First, Alvaro had a small spread of lovely thumbnails showing thin, pale orange, gemmy, complexly terminated prisms of topaz protruding from ice-clear to slightly cloudy rhombs of magnesite, these from a single pocket opened last summer in the famous Brumado magnesite mine in Bahia state. The topaz crystals get to a bit more than 1 cm long, and some have partial dustings of glittering magnesite microcrystals. Alvaro also had a few thumbnails, found early in 2006 at a place called Gouveia, Minas Gerais, which he said are rutile pseudomorphs after anatase. Here recall that "Gouveia" was given as the locality for the peculiar anatase specimens of a few years ago, wherein steep bipyramidal crystals in parallel growth form loose, cathedral-like groups, many tinted a bright bronzy brown by rutile patinas (see my report from the 2003 Costa Mesa Show in Mar.-Apr. 2004). The new "Gouveia" thumbnails, by contrast, are isolated blue-black bipyramids to 2 cm, some having small red-brown rutile prisms lying flat on their faces. In other words, the major crystals look exactly like anatase itself (coming from France or Switzerland they would be extraordinary, record-size anatase crystals) and not like pseudomorphs of anything after anatase--but Alvaro seemed sure of his information. Can anyone help with this?
In the Clarion, Linus Keating of Arizona Lapidary & Gem Rough (firstname.lastname@example.org) had a few surprising crystal groups of sillimanite from a prospect now being developed somewhere in Minas Gerais. Translucent, faintly lustrous, smoky blue-gray, somewhat rough prismatic crystals of sillimanite to 3.5 cm form parallel groups; small gemmy areas may be seen in a few of the crystals. Linus had about 20 specimens of the material, one of which he put in the "what's new" case in the Clarion lobby. Obviously this occurrence must be called a work in progress, like that of the gemmy rhodonite crystals of Conselheiro Lafaiette, on which Linus is also working.
The last (at last) among the Brazilian what's-news is a recent discovery of Japan law-twinned quartz at Santa Maria do Jetiba, Espirito Santo state--in fact, these loose crystals are not only Japan law-twinned, but manage to be sceptered and amethystine as well. About 30 specimens, from 3.5 to 8 cm across the wingtips, were to be found with Daniel Trinchillo (email@example.com), mostly in the big white "bargain tent" (of which more later) behind Daniel's house next door to the InnSuites. Several features fascinate about these crystals: whereas most Japan-law twins are highly flattened perpendicular to the long axes, these are quite thick in relation to width (a 3.5 cm-wide twin is 2 cm thick), and whereas colored Japan-law twins in general are extremely rare, all of these crystals have irregular zones and veils of purple, and many show smoky brown zones as well. And the loose twins really are scepter heads: they show remnants of stems which in most cases can be seen to continue behind the twins, as if the latter were mounted frontally upon the earlier growth of milky white to colorless quartz. Transparent, lustrous and sharp-edged, with shallow re-entrant angles, these are both attractive and decidedly "different" quartz specimens. They are the products of a big pocket hit in early 2006 in a pegmatite where, according to Daniel, production of specimens began about two years ago.
Before touring onward to the Old World I'll say a bit more about the yearly operation which Daniel Trinchillo conducts from his big white house next door to the InnSuites, since visiting there has by now become an important element of the Tucson Show scene, especially (though not exclusively) for well-funded collectors. At showtime Daniel throws open the outside gate, and visitors come in, pass a small cactus garden, cross a covered front porch, and enter two rooms full of mineral cases harboring premier specimens and some lapidary art. When the front door of the house is left open, the first of the rooms and its cases may be seen easily from the street, and the sight distracts and threatens to detour motorists driving south en route to the Main Show at the Tucson Convention Center. And during the hotel-show period few people, surely, can resist making the easy walk from wherever their car is parked at the InnSuites, around the corner, and into the treasure chamber. Behind the house, a wide courtyard runs up to the InnSuites parking lot, and a gate in the boundary fence is kept open during show hours. In this courtyard a huge white tent shelters rows of glass showcases bearing thousands of mineral specimens which, this year, were being offered at 50% off. Indeed the "real" prices of many specimens were not marked, and inquiries could bring very pleasant surprises. Many specimens in the tent were almost as "premier" as those in the house, and some were worthy of close and curious inspection (e.g. the Brazilian quartz specimens described above). Standouts in the bargain department included the dozens of fine specimens of brookite and anatase from Kharan, Baluchistan, Pakistan, many of which, when you asked, bore prices which thoroughly undercut those of any Pakistani dealers you might find selling the same stuff in their hotel rooms.
Not to spoil Daniel by overplugging him, but ... this year he was offering a special, high-tech service whereby collectors of cabinet-size pieces can have a customized Lucite base made for a specimen, the better to display and protect it. First you send for a slab of soft, foamy material; then you impress your specimen into it in preferred display orientation, and mail the slab (carrying the impression of your specimen) back to Fine Mineral Bases (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Greenwich, Connecticut. With a hand-held scanner and surface-imaging software, the three-dimensional depression is digitized and the computer file is sent to a model-maker who precisely reproduces the indentation in an acrylic pedestal in which the specimen will fit just right. Label information is engraved into the front of the base, and the finished item is mailed back to the customer. Daniel and his helpers were having a good time during the show, demonstrating the technology on a desk in that wide-open front room of the big white house, and they seemed to be signing up many interested customers, too. They also had a demonstration booth at the Main Show.
We pick up the tour in Europe, where only Portugal and Romania had anything new to say for themselves this year (as far as this reporter could see). From his new digs in the InnSuites, Jordi Fabre was selling specimens, miniature-size to 30 cm across, from a recent discovery of descloizite at the Preguica mine, Sabral da Adica, Moura, Beja, Portugal. This is a zinc mine, now closed, which was worked for about 10 years. Lustrous metallic black descloizite crystals to 5 mm form solid, sparkling druses on brown "limonite" with white calcite crystals, or, in other specimens, descloizite druses coat rods of solid descloizite to 4 cm individually, these forming interesting-looking branching groups. A good miniature of this material costs $100 to $150. I'll mention also that severely limited mining operations at Panasqueira, Portugal produced in January 2007 a few magnificent specimens of the famous fluorapatite of the locality. Giuseppe Agozzino was showing off two of these specimens in the Quality Inn room of the Geofil dealership (email@example.com). The better one is a 4 x 4-cm cluster in which lustrous, grayish purple, semi-gemmy, short-prismatic fluorapatite crystals are beautifully arrayed around a central 2 X 3.5-cm crystal.
The new item from Romania kept company with the pink Peruvian rhodonites in the InnSuites room of Luis Burillo. Luis reports that the great and renowned Herja mine near Baia Marie, Maramures, finally closed in December 2006, after who knows how many decades of yielding superb specimens of semseyite, stibnite, sphalerite, bournonite, fizelyite and other sulfides common and rare, as well as fine calcite, gypsum and quartz. Just a few days before the last working day a large pocket was opened which yielded about 30 of the best berthierite specimens ever found in the Herja mine, or anywhere else, for that matter. They are of miniature and cabinet-size, with flaring, flat, fanlike groups of bladed crystals of berthierite intermixed with long prisms of stibnite, and this substrate is partially covered by lawns of acicular berthierite crystals with fuzzy spheres of boulangerite to 5 mm topping the assemblage. Aggregated fans of berthierite/stibnite, dark gray with a brilliant metallic-velvety sheen, form specimens ranging between 8 and 25 cm tall, for which Luis Burillo was asking between $150 and $500.
As mentioned earlier, I found Ernesto Ossola setting up shop in an out-of-the-way venue a week before the hotel show began, and there he showed me much that was new and not a little that was mysterious from the great cobalt mines at Bou Azzer, Morocco. The prettiest stuff in the place, of course, was the pale to hot-pink cobalt-rich calcite, of which Ernesto had specimens of widely varying sizes and crystal habits and several (12, by his count) subtly varying hues of pink: other dealers around the show had pink Bou Azzer calcites too, but Ernesto's lot was the best, or anyway the most fun to peruse. He also showed me plenty of new fluorite specimens from El Hammam, Morocco, with transparent cubic crystals to 4 cm in colors ranging through apple-green, pale violet, and yellow, many crystals with partial coatings of drusy pyrite. Here also were some promising azurite specimens from "Azila," a new Moroccan locality, and five spiky, lustrous thumbnails of acanthite from the Imiter mine. Of most mineralogical interest, though, are Ernesto's many Bou Azzer specimens with little vugs and open seams tauntingly twinkling--as if daring you to give them names--with microcrystals of rare minerals, some of them possibly new to the locality. Of these, Ernesto felt fairly confident in naming scorodite, powellite, lotharmeyerite, and zincroselite, and he suspected that lavendulan, chalcophyllite and sainfeldite were present as well. It should not be long before someone does authoritative determinative work on this material. Ernesto Ossola now lives part of the year in Morocco and part in Tucson, and he is unfailingly effervescent on the topic of "interesting" new Moroccan finds, many of which he has unearthed himself.
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The famous Merelani district, Arusha, Tanzania is, of course, the place from which come the beloved blue-purple crystals of "tanzanite" (the gem variety of zoisite). Mineral collectors learned some years ago, when the relevant specimens first hit the market, that many tanzanite crystals occur in a mixed matrix of pale green, occasionally gemmy diopside and (of all things) metallic gray graphite. Now we learn that prehnite as well occurs in significant specimens in the Merelani district, where a fairly large number of pieces was found in September 2006. These are spheres and hemispheres of tightly intergrown prehnite crystals, each rounded aggregate showing a pattern of ridges (the edges of large crystals) on its upper surface. Some of the prehnite spheres and hemispheres came out as loose, thumbnail-size specimens, whereas in other cases the rounded aggregates perch on a matrix of diopside, graphite and quartz. All of these new specimens are quite pretty, as the prehnite is transparent, yellow-green, and highly lustrous. About 100 pieces (nearly all showing at least some damage, unfortunately) were offered at the InnSuites, for $65 each, by Zdenek Prokopec of Moldavite Mining (Parkan 105, C. Krumlov, 38101, Czech Republic), and about 20 more, these mostly undamaged and pricier, were in Rob Lavinsky's Arkenstone room at the Westward Look.
Minerals of central and southern Africa are always well chaperoned at shows by Brice and Christophe Gobin of Gobin Mineraux (firstname.lastname@example.org). At the Main Show in Tucson this year the Gobins had a surprising number of large (10 to 15 cm across), gorgeous, recently collected specimens of intensely bright, yellowish green acicular crystals of cuprosklodowskite densely projecting from the walls of vugs in typical fashion. These classic specimens are the result of a lucky crack of a boulder by someone last fall on the dumps of the famous Musonoi mine, Shaba, Congo. And in their InnSuites room, Brice and Cristophe also had about 15 very attractive miniature fluorite/muscovite specimens from a find made in January 2007 in the Erongo Mountains, Namibia. Blue-green, transparent, medium-lustrous cubic and dodecahedral crystals of fluorite to 1.5 cm form tight floater groups on which sharp, bright yellow muscovite "books" to 1 cm are scattered. These are not to be confused with the recently found, bright green octahedral fluorite specimens from the Orange River area, South Africa (which the Gobins also had).
In the Clarion, Dr. Alexander Dikov of the Bulgarian dealership Intergeoresource Ltd. (email@example.com) had something rare from the Murrua mine, Alto Ligonha, Mozambique. Some of the pegmatites of this famous district are now being worked by Dr. Dikov for elbaite and other potential gem materials, but it must be said that the five big crystals of manganotantalite from the Murrua mine are strictly for mineralogists. They are sharp, medium-brown, opaque, blocky to short-prismatic, loose single crystals ranging between 3.5 and 5 cm, and who knows but what they hint at coming finds in the complex, rare earths-enriched pegmatites of Alto Ligonha (see the article by Dias and Wilson in Nov.-Dec. 2000).
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The liddicoatite crystals of Madagascar have been well known for a long time, and recently the wonderful large sheaves of deep red liddicoatite crystals from the Minh Tien pegmatite in Vietnam have somewhat overshadowed them, but the Madagascar material may be staging a comeback. Luis Burillo brought to his InnSuites room in Tucson, besides the Peruvian rhodonites and Romanian berthierites already described, a selection of small-but-choice liddicoatite specimens of two different styles, found of late at two different places in Madagascar. From Ambalahe, Manapa, near Betafo, come very lustrous, striated, short-prismatic liddicoatite crystals with trigonal terminations, mostly around 3 cm but exceptionally to 12 cm, loose or on pegmatitic matrix; these crystals are a very dark greenish brown to black but have rich red internal highlights, and on a few of their surfaces rest sharp, lustrous, snow-white dodecahedral crystals of londonite (the cesium analog of rhodizite first described in 2001) to 3 mm. From Tsarafara, Sahatany Valley come striated, lustrous, gemmy, color-zoned liddicoatite crystals to 5 cm which one might think are elbaite crystals (but Luis swears otherwise). Most of these have red tips and green middle zones, and some have as many as five distinct color bands, red and green alternating. The nicest of the Tsarafara specimens are the thumbnails and miniatures which show bright, gemmy liddicoatite prisms resting on or rising from translucent grayish quartz crystals. For the smallish examples of both types of liddicoatite specimens Luis asked prices from $100 to $400.
On the way out of Madagascar and Africa I must pause to salute the exquisite and unique, but so far extremely scarce, specimens in which brilliant metallic black, platy crystals of hematite have grown epitactically on likewise brilliant prisms, including elbow-twins, of red-brown rutile. The locality is a specimen-digging near the village of Tetikana, near the larger town of Ambatofinandrahana, south-central Madagascar. I mentioned these specimens in my report on the 2006 Ste.-Marie-aux-Mines show, and a Scovil photo accompanying that report showed what they look like (Sept.-Oct. 2006). In late June, when I saw him in France, Laurent Thomas of Polychrom France (firstname.lastname@example.org) expressed his ambition and hope to dig more such specimens, but by the time of the Munich Show he had not succeeded, and now in early 2007 he has still not succeeded, and at the InnSuites in Tucson he was selling off the last of the original hematite/rutile specimens.
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The former Soviet Union was very quiet this year. I will mention only two new/old things from Kazakhstan, both of which were to be found in the InnSuites room of an affable Czech dealer who spends much time in Central Asia, Konstantin Buslovich (email@example.com). Earlier show reports have mentioned the fine selections and good deals that Konstantin offers when it comes to copper specimens from the Itauz mine, Dzhezkazgan Oblast, Kazakhstan, and this time, again, he had several flats of these, including two flats of superb thumbnails priced between $15 and $35 each and one flat of miniatures priced between $100 and $150 each. A showcase held a few cabinet-size pieces, including a spectacular one 20 cm tall for $3000. These newest copper specimens were collected in the Itauz mine in November 2006. They are the usual stalk-like groups of flattened spinel-law twins, with no associations and with a nice dark coppery color, i.e. mercifully not over-cleaned. Konstantin's other noteworthy item was a last batch of specimens of the quartz colored red by hematite inclusions--"strawberry quartz"--which hails from what Konstantin says is a desolate outcrop about 120 km from Chemkent city, Chemkent Oblast, in southern Kazakhstan near the Uzbekistan border. "Strawberry quartz" crystals have been taken from this place since 1989, and have won the favor more of lapidarists than of specimen collectors, but both will now have to handle the fact that the outcrop is exhausted and no new crystals will be forthcoming. Konstantin had a few flats of very pretty clusters to 5 cm across: backlight one, and admire the translucent quartz crystals glowing, yes, strawberry-red.
In his InnSuites room and at the Main Show, Francois Lietard (firstname.lastname@example.org) offered about 25 loose, gemmy, striated, pale lilac-colored crystals of what he has been told is zoisite, from somewhere unspecified in Afghanistan. The crystals are somewhat crude, with raggedy terminations, but they certainly represent a new, almost kunzite-like look for zoisite (if that's indeed what they are; clinozoisite is a possibility too), and they have gem potential, and reach 20 cm long.
And great are the ongoing wonders of Pakistan. The extraordinary brookite and anatase specimens whose locality is given (quite consistently now, unlike at first) as "Kharan, Baluchistan," are arguably the finest specimens of both species yet found anywhere in the world, and they were seen commonly around the show, with all manner of dealers. The transparent brown brookite blades with internal hourglass patterns reach 3 cm long, and the lustrous, fat anatase crystals, not uncommonly to 2 cm, come in both blue-black and brown, and rest amid nests of tiny quartz crystals, as do the brookites. Also getting better with each major show are the clusters of brilliantly lustrous, short-prismatic, rootbeer-brown to maroon vesuvianite crystals from Alchuri, Northern Areas. Some of these crystals have odd white fringes around the basal pinacoid faces on both ends, and in one InnSuites room (that of Javed Iqbal of Hi-Tech, email@example.com), I saw pegmatitic matrix pieces hosting both vesuvianite and garnet (probably spessartine) crystals--an association "first" in Mr. Iqbal's experience (and mine). From Alchuri, too, have recently come about 300 loose, sharp crystals, to 2.5 cm, of chromium-rich diopside, several flats of which were on hand in the Clarion ballroom with John and Maryann Fender of Fender Natural Resources (firstname.lastname@example.org). The little prisms are gemmy deep green, and many are doubly terminated. They sold for about $30 apiece.
In his booth at the Main Show, Steve Perry (P.O. Box 136, Davis, CA 95617) had a few thumbnail-size crystal groups and larger matrix specimens showing complex, beautifully gemmy and lustrous, rich orange crystals of grossular to 1.5 cm. These look for all the world like specimens from the Jeffrey mine, Quebec, except that pale yellow, subhedral diopside crystals are associated in a few cases. Steve said he has it on excellent authority that the grossular specimens--about 200 of them in all--were found in fall 2006 in the "bastnasite pit" at Zagi Mountain, Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan. In their article on Zagi Mountain (May-June 2004), Obodda and Leavens write that dark honey-colored grossular crystals to 3.5 cm, some associated with diopside, come from a locality 30 to 50 km distant from Zagi but "labels on some marketed specimens have attributed them to Zagi Mountain, apparently to enhance their value." The authors also mention "cloudy, pale orange-brown crystals of grossular to 5 cm" from another nearby locality. Neither of these occurrences sounds quite right for Steve Perry's specimens, though, and we must assume for now that the latter do indeed represent an exciting new find at Zagi. Steve's best thumbnail cluster was priced at $500.
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From a well-digging at the village of Limbejalgaon, near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India comes a new style of Deccan Plateau calcite which excited marauding calcite collectors--e.g. Terry Huizing, who bought the best specimen from Dr. Arvind Bhale of Earth Science International (email@example.com), after Bhale had put the piece into the "what's new" case in the Clarion lobby. Dug in December 2006, these small-cabinet-size specimens show lustrous, transparent, pale yellow-orange to milky white calcite in odd-looking, featherlike aggregates which rise at varying angles from basaltic matrix; the individual "feathers," reaching 8 cm long, are thin, edge-serrated, parallel aggregates coming nearly to points. The delicate "feathers" densely populate the matrix plates, on which pinkish crusts of heulandite also host pale green, blocky fluorapophyllite crystals to 2 cm.
And what's a show report these days without news bulletins from China? Joining the already large, diverse family of Chinese fluorite types are a few large, skull-size specimens consisting solely of smooth hemispheres of purple fluorite without matrix. A couple of Chinese dealers in the hotel show had these, but the biggest three or four specimens I saw belonged to Rob Lavinsky of The Arkenstone, who was calling the very biggest of them "the turtle," since its size approximates that of the worst nightmare snapper you'd run from if you encountered it in a swamp. The fluorite itself is a translucent, luster-challenged bluish purple. The best locality designation that either Rob or I was able to elicit from the Chinese is "Jiangxi Province." Vastly prettier, though, are a couple of newly found specimens of spinel law-twinned fluorite from the great Yaogangxian mine, Hunan, showing flattened, transparent, palest lilac-colored fluorite twins to 3.5 cm rising from small matrixes coated with drusy pyrite. Rob Lavinsky is also handling these specimens.
There seems to be a bit of a locality-mystery surrounding some new Chinese specimens of acanthite offered by both Rob Lavinsky and Dr. Guanghua Liu of AAA Minerals (firstname.lastname@example.org). Dr. Liu, author of Fine Minerals of China (2006), says that the new acanthites are not from the Hongda manganese mine, Shanxi Province--by now a familiar locality designation--but rather were found in November 2006 in another mine, called the 66 Line mine, not far from the Hongda mine. Like the earlier specimens, the new thumbnails and miniatures which were on view in Liu's room at the InnSuites display nests of wire silver rising from dull gray, subhedral to euhedral crystals of acanthite. However, Rob has a 5 x 6-cm specimen, presumably from the "66 Line mine," which is quite different, and much prettier: a leafy-looking group of lustrous metallic gray, flattened acanthite crystals to 2.5 cm without matrix or associations.
Going into this show I was resolved to sleuth for examples of the superb new red wulfenite about which Wendell Wilson and Marcus Origlieri wrote in the recent China issue (Jan.-Feb. 2007)--the wulfenite, I mean, from the still-mysterious locality in the Kuruktag Mountains, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It turned out that the material wasn't that hard to find, for at the Main Show Rob Lavinsky had about 25 superb specimens, from small miniatures to a matrix plate 30 cm across. And in the big white house which neighbors the InnSuites (see above), Daniel Trinchillo had about 1,000 specimens of diverse sizes and qualities. And a dealer at the Executive Inn show, Lisa Li of Unite Zyl Int'l Inc. (email@example.com), had about 15 matrix specimens from 7 to 12 cm across, plus about 30 fine thumbnails (I picked up one of the latter for $20, though Lisa's prices for her larger pieces ran to the low four figures). As the pictures in the article show, the wulfenite crystals are typically thin-tabular and are found both in loose, jumbled groups and as thick coverages on earthy brown matrix material. In color the crystals range between medium-orange (Old Yuma mine) and intense orange-red (Red Cloud mine), and in size, as the article says, they generally top out at 4 cm on edge, although some of Dan's specimens boast crystals approaching 5 cm. Seeing all of these examples in Tucson suggests two upbeat observations: (1) this is, at its best, truly world-class wulfenite, and (2) thanks to the quantity of specimens, it is likely to be plentiful on the market for a while.
Concerning the final Chinese item, namely very fine euclase, available knowledge is much skimpier--and (to impart a positive spin, here) future prospects thus seem even more exciting. During the period of set-up of the "what's new in minerals" case at the Clarion, Jurgen Tron, who had been checking out the new Quality Inn-Benson Highway show venue, brought from there, to display in the case, a downright amazing thumbnail of euclase purportedly from a locality called the Zhong Yi mine, Jiangxi Province. Jurgen had found the specimen, with a handful of its lesser brethren, amid a sea of quartz and calcite on an "outside" table at the Quality Inn. The dealer gave his name as Zhao Hong, but Jurgen didn't get the dealership's name, and subsequently not even my spies were able to locate the little euclase hoard at the hotel. But the Scovil photograph here should convey why this little specimen was the hit of the "what's new" case. The euclase crystal, resting on a bit of brown matrix, is very sharp, lustrous, colorless and transparent, and measures more than 2 cm. Vielen Dank to Jurgen Tron for spotting this specimen and bringing it to the Clarion, and for generally helping out with "what's new."
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Given that this was Australia's year at the Main Show it's fitting that there are two Australian items with which to conclude the tour. Adam Wright of The Adelaide Mining Company Pty. Ltd. (www.theadelaidemine.com) showed up at the Main Show with hundreds of first-rate specimens of crocoite, ranging to large-cabinet size, from a huge pocket (called the Premier Pocket) which was hit in April 2006 in the Adelaide mine, Tasmania. See last October's posting of "what's new in the mineral world" on the Mineralogical Record website (www.MineralogicalRecord.com) for a picture of part of this luscious pocket in place. Tasmanian crocoite lives! and seems even to get more abundant with time. Then there is the fine chalcocite now beginning to trickle, not from the Telfer gold mine in Western Australia (these superb specimens were first seen in Tucson at the 2000 show) but from the Mammoth mine. Mount Gordon, 130 km north of Mt. Isa, Queensland. Here, thin-tabular, very sharp, metallic black chalcocite crystals reaching 1.25 cm (in specimens seen so far) cover matrix. The photo shown here comes from Rob Lavinsky, who was the only dealer at Tucson this year to have a line on the occurrence. Obviously this is one for the future, and (we hope) for future show reports in this space.
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One wearies a bit of hearing attempts at wordplays involving "Aussie," "mate," "down under," "outback," etc., but nevertheless the Main Show's Year Of Australia was the expected dazzlement of fine displays. Of course there were many cases--long rows of them--showing off Australian opal, fossils, and lapidary materials and art, but more to our point there were wondrous displays of crystallized Australian minerals, some very surprising and (therefore) educational. Minerals of Broken Hill, New South Wales was the exclusive theme of cases by the Smithsonian, the Broken Hill Geo Center, Milton Lavers, and Robert Sielecki. Most "educational" for me in the Broken Hill department were the Smithsonian's 7-cm cluster of sharp crystals of native antimony and stibnite, with bright metallic crystals of antimony to 1 cm, and, in the Natural History Museum of London's "general" Australian case, a matrix studded with sharp, brilliant blue cubes of boleite to 1.25 cm on edge, collected at Broken Hill, the label said, in 1894.
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Cases (besides the London museum's) which presented minerals from all over Australia included those of the Rice Northwest Museum, the American Museum of Natural History and Rob Sielecki. There was even a donor case showing minerals (mostly zeolites) from New Zealand. Cases on special Australian topics included several by the Western Australian Museum (niobium and tantalum minerals of Western Australia; minerals of Whim Creek; Australian gold nuggets and crystal specimens); Virginia Tech (Argyle diamonds and inclusions in same); Harvard (Australian gold); the Geological Survey of New South Wales and the Mineralogical Society of New South Wales (both showing assorted New South Wales minerals); Dehne McLaughlin and Paul Melville (minerals of the Northern Territory); and Adelaide Mining Company (a huge and dramatic case of crocoite from the Adelaide mine). Peggy Williamson toured me around the several cases she had helped mount for the University of Wollongong. Among these were "Australian Type Minerals," "Significant Australian Mineralogists," and a fascinating case called "Rare, Recent, Rescued," wherein were displayed, among other recently rescued rarities, two exceptional thumbnails of Telfer mine chalcocite, fine almandine specimens from Ireland's quarry near Broken Hill, and a 15-cm mass of native lead newly found somewhere in the Broken Hill workings. Six superb Australian golds were shown by Ian Bruce and Wayne and Dona Leicht ... and, mate, not even all of the cases just listed exhaust the Show's treatment of the Australian theme. As usual, my apologies to those who put in displays which space limitations preclude me from noting, or which I simply missed seeing.
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Among the non-Australian displays were huge spreads of beautiful mixed specimens by Keith and Mauna Proctor, Bill and Elizabeth Moller, the Royal Ontario Museum (14 fine pieces from the recent Louise Hawley Stone Bequest), the Houston Area Mineral Society, the "Mineral Minions of Arizona," and Steve Smale (wonderful miniatures here, my favorite having been an antique pale lilac 5 x 5-cm anhydrite crystal from the Simplon Tunnel, Switzerland). Then there were cases devoted to worldwide pyrite specimens (a bright, shining array of superb small pyrites from the Jim Bleess and Phil Richardson collections); Alpine cleft minerals of the Northern Areas, Pakistan (Bill and Carol Smith); Indian zeolites (Carnegie Museum); the Ben Frankenberg Bisbee collection (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County--see curator Tony Kampf's article in July-Aug. 2006); Bisbee azurite (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum); mixed Bisbee specimens (Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum); fluorite from the North Pennines Orefield, England (Jesse Fisher and Joan Kureczka); "Olde English" (8 superb English specimens from the collection of Wally Mann); five enormous Indian fluorapophyllites (Georges and Diego Claeys and Arvind Bhale); assorted calcites (University of Arizona Mineral Museum); calcite twins (Gene and Doris Wright); the history of copper collecting at the Chino mine, New Mexico (New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources); minerals of the U.S. (11 extraordinary specimens from the collection of Irv Brown); native elements (the Mineralogical Association of Dallas); andradite specimens from Alamos, Sonora, Mexico (self-collected by Marty Houhoulis); and a fine small case about Arizona mining history, with old postcards and stock certificates, miners' lamps, Bisbee specimens, etc. (the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, Ogdensburg, New Jersey--!).
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As usual, there were a few cases crying out for more extended description. Rob Lavinsky put in a big case of quartz specimens from the Orange River, Namibia region, these just acquired by him from the Charles Key collection. In fact this was a Janus case which faced two ways, one side being red (hematite-included quartz) and one purple (amethyst). Along the same lines, Marshall Sussman had a big case packed with specimens, mostly scepters, from his superb collection of southern African quartz. In a single large case Daniel Trinchillo showed a single very large specimen: a pegmatite phantasmagoria measuring about 2 x 2 x 3 feet, from the Pederneira mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil. It has totally gemmy, deep green, terminated elbaite crystals to 25 cm bristling all over a cluster of giant, transparent, pale citrine quartz crystals with greenish white crested mounds of "cleavelandite" albite. Gene Meieran's "Colored Beryl" case wowed crowds with its giant gem crystals and, backstage center, a breathtaking matrix aquamarine specimen with a jumble of vibrant gem prisms to 14 cm long rising from a chunk of white pegmatitic matrix. From Bryan and Kathryn Lees' personal collection of "Colorado Classics" there were 36 world-beating items including a fantastic Breckenridge gold, the famous "Barlow" wire silver specimen from the Bulldog mine, a "rabbit-ear" Mount Antero aquamarine on matrix, a superb enargite from the Longfellow mine, fabulous rhodochrosites from the Sweet Home and other Colorado mines, and so on. This collection was shown first in glass cases set up in the lobby of the Westward Look Show, but only for one day, so it was a pleasure to see it ensconced again for four whole days at the Tucson Convention Center.
Finally, and especially for fellow thumbnail/toenail enthusiasts, I'll mention Herb Obodda's personal collection of thumbnail and small-miniature specimens from Pakistan and Afghanistan. This was just a small case (with two pictures of Herb, in native Hindu Kush garb and toting mean-looking defensive weapons), and was placed inconspicuously in the hall, but most of the little specimens were well-nigh unbelievable. They included a gemmy, vibrantly reddish purple 1.5-cm euhedron (on matrix) of sodalite; a pristine, bright orange, wedge-terminated childrenite; the world's finest gem crystal of vayrynenite; a 1.5 x 3-cm, totally gemmy bastnasite-(Ce) prism; a gemmy pink, 2.5-cm pezzottaite crystal from Afghanistan; a small but screaming bright yellow stibiotantalite crystal; a superb emerald cluster from Pakistan, and more--45 pieces in all. It was enough to make a thumbnail collector think about switching to baseball cards or lawn ornaments.
The TGMS awards for the best Australian thumbnail, toenail, small cabinet and large cabinet specimens were won respectively by Carolyn Manchester, Ralph Clark, Claudia Watson and Gene Reynolds. Elsewhere in the best-specimen "regionals" category, Evan Jones won the Romero Trophy for best Mexican specimen, and Steve and Carol Maslansky snagged the Richard Bideaux Award for best specimen from Arizona.
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An emotional moment in the Saturday night awards ceremony came when Rob Lavinsky presented checks for sums ranging up to $500 to several young collectors who had put cases in at the Main Show. Rob explained that it was his intent, not only to encourage the rising generation, but to memorialize two now deceased mentors, Carlton Davis and Bill Cook, who had helped, encouraged and educated him during his own novice years as a mineral collector.
Two special awards were presented, and gracious speeches made by their winners. Marie Huizing, managing editor of Rocks and Minerals magazine, was given the American Mineralogical Society's Distinguished Public Service Award, and the Mineralogical Association of Canada's Pinch Medal for contributions to the science of mineralogy went to Lazslo and Elsa Horvath. Awards for the best educational cases went to Georg Gebhard (individual) and the California State Parks Department (institutional). Not at all surprisingly, the Friends of Mineralogy award for best article in the Mineralogical Record in 2006 went to Bruce Cairncross and Uli Bahmann for their huge monograph on Erongo Mountains, Namibia mineralogy which filled nearly the whole of the September-October 2006 issue. The Friends also bestowed the award for the best 2006 article in Rocks and Minerals on Mark Mauthner and Carl Francis, and the award for the best 2006 ExtraLapis English article on Ross C. Lillie.
Only two cases vied this year for the Desautels Award for "best rocks in the show"; Mark Weill won it for his fabulous case, but not without friendly/stiff competition from Jack Halpern, whose case was right next door to Mark's. Jack's not inconsiderable consolation prize was the Lidstrom Award for best single specimen in the show--his extraordinary fist-size zoisite (tanzanite) crystal from Tanzania.
This year's Carnegie Museum of Natural History Mineralogical Award for contributions to mineralogical preservation, conservation and education went to Richard C. Whiteman of Ontonagon, Michigan, in recognition of Mr. Whiteman's decades of devoted work in specimen recovery from the mines of Michigan's "copper country," his work in training teachers of geology and mineralogy, his operation of the Great Lakes GeoScience Press, and many similar endeavors all tending towards the enrichment of mineralogy in the U.S.
NEXT YEAR ...
A truly special and unprecedented theme is planned for Tucson 2008: America's best mineral localities of all time. It will feature an extensive series of invitational group-cases devoted to the very best specimens from 50 (or so) of the greatest mineral localities of the United States, selected from private collections and public museums worldwide. A 350-page coffee-table book will be released at the same time (now being prepared by a team of authors and photographers headed by the project's organizational chief Gene Meieran, publisher Gloria Staebler and senior editor Wendell Wilson) whose chapters will describe the collecting and specimen-production histories of all 50 places. It promises to be spectacular beyond words, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see so many treasures of the (American) mineral world all in one place. May the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society count on your attendance?
*Ed-in-Chief note: Yes, I had to grab for the dictionary on this one too.
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|Title Annotation:||What's New in Minerals; Tucson Gem & Mineral Society exhibition|
|Publication:||The Mineralogical Record|
|Date:||May 1, 2007|
|Previous Article:||Lawrence H. Conklin: a half-century of dealing in minerals.|
|Next Article:||Millington, New Jersey.|