Spruce Claim Pyrites are the finest in the USA, and among the finest in the world when at their best. Rarely do we get them with great aesthetics and no damage, though, due to the high altitude, remote location, and the hard rock mining. It is a great story, how these are collected. This remote locality is REALLY HARD to collect at, and the collecting season is short. Collectors must drop in by helicopter, rappel down, and collect off the precarious cliffs here. Thus, as you can imagine, good specimens are few and far between and most has minor damage (as this one, does, as well in a few spots). This is a fine, representative specimen, dominated by two complex Pyrite crystals which are accented by sharp, attractive Quartz crystals. The two large Pyrites are 5 cm each, and they have very good luster and striated faces. The largest Quartz is 4.2 cm. The piece looks good from all angles. As is often the case with brittle Pyrite, there are fractures in the piece. They simply cannot be helped in the mining process. Overall, the aesthetics and quality are very good on this specimen, and it is one of the few I have seen recently that are more than just representative examples in this size and price range.
Steward Mine, Butte District, Silver Bow County, Montana, USA
Cabinet, 11.5 x 9.5 x 7.0 cm
Enargite is a signature mineral species, indeed one of the 'Holy Grails', of the Butte District in Montana. This is fine, old-time combination piece is dominated by tabular Enargite prisms, accented with Pyrite crystals and a small amount of Quartz crystals, all on granite matrix. The striated Enargites range up to 1.7 wide, and most have a very good luster. The brassy and lustrous Pyrites range up to about .3 cm, and the infrequent Quartz crystals about the same. These are sought-after classics, and the aesthetics on this cabinet specimen are good. Better in person. Also, this is a rarely seen cabinet specimen from this classic old locality.
Huanzala Mine, Huallanca District, Huanuco Department, Peru
Cabinet, 11.5 x 7.8 x 3.2 cm
An absolute knockout of a piece, the Pyrite octahedrons on here are stellar. Sharp, lustrous, and with modified tips, they range up to 2.3 cm on edge. The pics tell the story here of just how aesthetic this cabinet piece is. It is NOT another one of the "usual sort" of pyrites which come out by the ton. Art Soregaroli edited the magnum opus book on Peru mineral specimens, and this is from his prized collection of miniatures and small cabinet sized Peru pieces, most of which he obtained himself down there in the 1980s and 1990s.
Pachapaqui District, Bolognesi Province, Ancash Department, Peru
Small Cabinet, 8.0 x 6.0 x 5.6 cm
An aesthetic and classic Pachapaqui, Peru combination specimen consisting of Manganoan Calcite, Pyrite, and Quartz. The Calcites are flattened rhombs, almost tabular in appearance, with a light pink color and soft, very attractive, flat luster. The Calcites rest on a spray of whitish, partially gemmy Quartz crystals up to 1.5 cm. Intermixed with the Calcites and Quartzes are lustrous, modified Pyrites up to .5 cm. Everything is in very good condition. This combination is classic, and it is BEYOND aesthetic because of the wreath-like configuration of the Calcites. Just an outstanding specimen! Art Soregaroli edited the magnum opus book on Peru mineral specimens, and this is from his prized collection of miniatures and small cabinet sized Peru pieces, most of which he obtained himself down there in the 1980s and 1990s.
Oploca vein system, Pirquitas Ag-Sn deposit, Rinconada Department, Jujuy, Argentina
Small Cabinet, 6.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 cm
Dark gray, metallic, divergent, lamellar aggregates of suredaite occupying a 3-4mm nearly solid band associated with bands of wurtzite and sphalerite. Coiraite as noted on the Matioli label could not be confirmed and is likely not present. University of Salzburg label, from the collection of Dr. Werner Paar, world expert on this species.
Huanzala Mine, Dos de Mayo Province, Huanuco Department, Peru
Miniature, 5.2 x 4.1 x 2.2 cm
Cronstedtite is an uncommon hydrous silicate that has a most unusual growth habit. If you look carefully, you can see that the Cronstedtite grows in conical-shaped crystals with a hexagonal outline. Reminiscent of reverse tapered Mica books, I would say. These black crystals, up to about 3 mm in size, have mirror-like terminations and are attractive in their own way. They are associated with two generations of Siderite: rhombs coated with a second-generation of botryoidal and rather lustrous Siderite. All on a matrix composed of Pyrite cubes and Arsenopyrite. A good, and unusual, combination piece from the famous Huanzala Mine in Peru. Art obtained most of his Peruvian specimens himself when down there for work or for research for the magnum opus on the Minerals of Peru, which he edited.
Recuerdo Vein, Huanzala Mine, Dos de Mayo Province, Huanuco Department, Peru
Small Cabinet, 7.5 x 6.4 x 4 cm
This is a striking Fluorite/Pyrite combination piece from Huanzala, one of the world's best localities for Pyrite, as well as these rarely seen combinations (see the 1997 MR Peru issue cover, for instance). The octahedral Fluorite is gemmy, very sharp, and up to 3 cm on edge. The Pyrite cubes are lustrous, gently striated, and have slightly beveled edges. The largest of the Pyrite cubes is 2.5 cm. In addition, there is a complementary coating of white Calcite crystals down the center of the specimen. The balance on this small cabinet is excellent. The eye-catching Pyrites provide a good background as the Fluorite octahedron rises out and above. The aesthetics are superb, and even better in person. Art obtained most of his Peruvian specimens himself when down there for work or for research for the magnum opus on the Minerals of Peru, which he edited.
This is a superb miniature of a very rare old US classic, in any kind of such aesthetic presentation and quality. The crystal is perched aesthetically on drusy, brassy yellow pyrite. It is a robust crystal with iridescent, bluish purple oxidation colors of the covellite, measuring fully 3.4 cm across. Slight contact/damage on the left edge does not materially detract from the quality of the specimen. Ex. Charlie Key collection (label from the 1960s) and Dr. Steve Smale collections. For my taste, this is as fine a miniature as I can imagine for a Montana covellite. It has color, form, contrast, and display style! Actually, it looks good from EITHER side, as well.
A SUPERB, incredibly sharp cluster of lustrous blades of Wolframite from old mining here back in the 1990s. The blades range up to 5.5 cm long and 2 cm wide, and the edges, seemingly beveled in appearance, are super-sharp. Associated with the Wolframite are crystals of Arsenopyrite up to 5 mm, Pyrite up to several mm, and small, subhedral Muscovite. The entire cluster has a Quartz crystal as a core. The only blemishes on the piece are small areas of contact, possibly from Muscovite. The overall geometry, balance, and aesthetics are very good, as you can see. For the size, it is among the best I have seen in terms of quality.
Atacocha mine,Cerro de Pasco, Pasco department, Peru
Cabinet, 13.9 x 11.5 x 5.0 cm
From the mines of Peru we have a very good, representative combination piece. The matrix is predominantly intergrown, crystalline Tennantite, and it is draped with Sphalerites and decorative Manganoan Calcites. The Calcites themselves are adorned with hundreds of lustrous Pyrite pyritohedrons. The light pink Calcite crystals are about 2 mm in size and they number in the thousands as they cover half the specimen in ridges and mounds. Of course, the Manganoan Calcite has a rich orange-pink fluorescence. This cabinet specimen is in excellent condition, and the balance and aesthetics are very good.
Nanisivik Mine, Nanisivik, Baffin Island, Nunavut Territory, Canada
Small Cabinet, 11.5 x 8.0 x 7.2 cm
A very rare , QUALITY, AESTHETIC cluster of undamaged, lustrous, brassy Pyrite blades that are pseudomorphed after Marcasite crystals. Some of these blades reach up to 4 cm across, and they uniformly have an excellent metallic luster. The surfaces of the pseudomorphs have fine parallel faces, almost strip-like, and some even create the appearance of an orthogonal, woven pattern. The Nanisivik Iron Mine on Baffin Island, Canada, north of the Arctic Circle, is famous for these crystals, among other specimens. This excellent, aesthetic piece has multiple display possibilities, and is much better in person, even. These are 20 years old now - they had to helicopter these out ! I saw them come out through a few mine geologists in the 1990s, and few good specimens had this kind of size or presence to them. This is one of the best I know of.
Main Stope, Sweet Home Mine, Mount Bross, Park Co., Colorado, USA
Cabinet, 12 x 5.6 x 1.5 cm
The Sweet Home mine is famous for its Rhodochrosite specimens, but it has produced some very fine Fluorites, as well. This Cabinet specimen is dominated by at least a hundred eye-catching, sky-blue Fluorite cubes that average 2-3 mm in size. Many are perched on the frosted, sharp Quartz needles, creating a dramatic combination. These Fluorites are actually gemmy and zoned, with faces that are frosted to translucent. There are some Pyrite crystals tucked down amidst the Quartz, as well as some other sulfides, possibly Tetrahedrite among them. This is a choice, inviting association specimen from the mine that produced the world's finest Rhodochrosites. Rare!
Pachapaqui District, Bolognesi Province, Ancash Department, Peru
Large Cabinet, 16.1 x 9 x 5 cm
Fine, highly representative combination piece from Peru, specifically the Pachapaqui District. The initial plate of lustrous, striated Pyrites was generously ringed by sharp, translucent to gemmy Sphalerite crystals (up to 1.9 cm), along with Galena cubes. The final generation is hundreds upon hundreds of 3-4 mm of complex, light pink Manganoan Calcite crystals. One side of the piece is completely covered, while the presentation side has the many Calcites placed decoratively on and around the sulfides. As expected, the Manganoan Calcites fluoresce a brilliant orange. There are a number of cleaves on the Sphalerites from contacting, but by their very nature they blend in well, and the overall good aesthetics of this piece are not really affected.
Vitreous to resinous, orange-brown, pseudo-cubic crystals of jeanbandyite associated with frosted, white, subhedral to euhedral crystals and aggregates of crandallite with very local, rare, yellowish wickmanite crystals. The matrix consists of vuggy stannite with minor pyrite. LA County Natural History Museum (indicating Mark Chance Bandy collection) and A. F. Eadie Minerals labels add significance.
Julcani District, Angaraes Province, Huancavelica Department, Peru
Small Cabinet, 8 x 4.5 x 4.5 cm
Visually scintillating combination piece from the well-known Julcani District in Peru. The blades of Enargite are significant in size - the largest being 5 cm long - almost unheard of for here. These blades are coated or partially replaced by lustrous, drusy Pyrite. Centered among the Enargites, rising like a Phoenix, is a brilliant, highly modified Pyrite pyritohedron. The luster on this crystal is superb, and the growth is so differential that one part rises well above the others, looking almost like an elongated spinel twin (but not). The Enargites are superb, and they are so enhanced by the dazzling Pyrite. For something so seemingly simple, I find the aesthetics of this small cabinet to be enthralling. In person, with the geometry and the sparkle and metallic shine, it is really just incredible and leaps out at the viewer. One of my favorites in this collection!
This is the largest crystal of Pyrite from New Guinea that I have seen. The large, 5 cm cubic Pyrite has very good luster and a bright, golden color. The edges are beveled, and although there is a small amount of edge wear, the specimen overall is nonetheless exceptional for the locality and attractive for a pyrite by any standard. Former DeNatura specimen.
Merelani Hills, Lelatema Mts, Arusha Region, Tanzania
Miniature, 3.4 x 3.2 x 2.6 cm
Tsavorite and the gem green garnets from this mine are generally regarded as the world's best, in their size range. This impressively large Tsavorite Garnet crystal, measuring a full 3.4 cm across, blows the viewer away from across a room. It has COLOR and an amazing, glassy luster that together are rarely seen. This size for a Tsavorite is certainly uncommon, and the crystal glows a brilliant forest green color with no need for backlighting. The Tsavorite is gemmy throughout, although with some fracturing in the lower half and the upper half. A contact is present on the back, but it is otherwise complete. The presentation face is pristine and so perfectly smooth that it looks polished. Whether you approach this as a fine gem specimen or as a potential gem rough (heaven forbid), there is no denying the quality and aesthetics. Better in person, even, as the camera cannot capture the luster. 158 carats (about 33 grams).
This Pyrite, from the great Sweet Home Mine, is amazing no matter where it is from. It is composed of bright, golden striated cubes intergrown with Tetrahedrite and Quartz. The largest Pyrite cube is 2.1 cm, and the Tetrahedrite crystals range up to several mm and the Quartz crystals up to about 7 mm. At the time of the mining of the Rhodochrosite, other species were only seldom encountered, so many collectors in the mid-1990s snapped up specimens with Pyrites, Fluorites, and Tetrahedrites. They remain coveted, as are the Rhodos from there. A "Toenail" in size.
Falcacci stope, Rio Marina, Elba Island, Tuscany, Italy
Small Cabinet, 6.3 x 4 x 3.4 cm
Elba Pyrites are renowned for their attractiveness and size. This complex small cab is a mix of forms, creating an elongated crystal with several areas of fine, attractive striations. These areas add a lot of character and aesthetics to the crystal. There are two areas of contact, but they really do not detract from the overall aesthetics. A very unique Pyrite from a famous locality.
First developed in 1898, Gavorrano was one of Europe's most important, if not the most important, Pyrite mines for about 80 years. This intergrown set of crystals has lustrous, striated faces with the occasional smooth terminations. The aesthetics are terrific. It rather reminds me of a set of cliffs rising along the Mediterranean coast of Italy (no coincidence there), with the layer of Dolomite crystals represents plants along the crest of the cliff. Even better in person, this is a unique old classic with wonderful aesthetics. Complete all around front and sides, contacted in back. It displays vertically as shown.
Sub-Rosiclare Level, Annabel Lee mine, Harris Creek District, Illinois, USA
Small Cabinet, 8.3 x 7.3 x 3.2 cm
Outstanding Galena specimen from the Annabel Lee Mine, where sharp galena is unusual. The lustrous Galenas are sharp, lustrous, and they have attractively modified corners. The largest is 2.3 cm on edge. They rest on a bed of blue Fluorites, themselves resting on matrix. The Fluorites are silky up to 8 mm on edge, and are sprinkled with flashy Pyrites up to 1 mm. Around the edge of the matrix are Ruby Jack Sphalerites, and if you flip the specimen over, the reverse side is covered by lustrous and gemmy Sphalerites. To add even more interest, there is a band of light blue Fluorites that winds its way across the Sphalerites. Mined in 1986, this piece was found in a pocket that was 12' x 3' x 3'! Very fine aesthetics. RCL 1869
Merelani Hills, Lelatema Mts, Simanjiro District, Manyara Region, Tanzania
Cabinet, 12.5 x 8.5 x 5.2 cm
Pyrite from Merelani's tanzanite mines is now setting precedent as some of the world's best. This complex crystal habit, phenomenal luster, and size really give them impact. However, this piece has luster beyond any that I have yet seen - frighteningly bright, radiant metallic luster combined with a brightness that acts like a mirror when light hits certain angles. It looks like it has been plated in 24-karat gold. The crystal cluster is complete all around save for a trivial contact and a few absolutely trivial dings. It is 3-dimensional and hefty (1000 grams mass!) Minor graphite is associated at the base. This piece is simply stunning - it leaps out when on display and stands way above any merely representative status as a locality piece. Joe Budd photos.
Spruce Claim pyrites are the finest in the USA, and among the finest in the world when at their best. Rarely do we get them with great aesthetics and no damage, though, due to the high altitude and remote location. It is a great story, how these are collected after being dropped off by helicopter - see the book, American Mineral Treasures. Among many that were found, and it is few enough each year in the short mining season, this piece is spectacular for the sharpness and unusual habit of the pyrite and its central and aesthetic perch amidst quartz. The complex pyrite crystal measures 3 cm tall and is so lustrous and reflective that you can see your face in it like a mirror. It is undamaged, though on close glance there seem to be three teeny tiny divots in the crystal face that must be slight growth interruptions or contacts, but do not seem to be breaks. The piece overall is 360 degrees, sparkly, and displays dramatically without excess mass. Joe Budd photos.
Bethel Level, North End, Annabel Lee mine, Harris Creek District, Illinois, USA
Small Cabinet, 9 x 8 x 6 cm
This is a highly unusual specimen for several reasons! It is, most obviously, a notable, gemmy yellow Fluorite from the Annabel Lee Mine where this is the rarest color to obtain in saturated hue and with luster. The Fluorite is predominantly yellow, with an outer zone of light blue highlighted by another, narrow purple band around it. This emphasizes the yellow color, all the more. The main crystal is an impressive 6.5 cm, and the Fluorite has very good luster, gemminess, and color. There are numerous 1 mm-size Pyrites on the Fluorite, as well a dozen or so little Calcites on one face. The pyrite association is not only exceptionally rare, but also is beautiful. You almost never see such a contrast, from Illinois, and this piece is especially attractive (and sparkly!) for this reason. Interestingly, there is a highly fluorescent layer of Fluorite between the yellow and the blue. Any way you look at it, the effect is phenomenal. There is one small and lesser corner on the lesser of the crystals of the presentation face that is dinged, but otherwise the presentation side is in very good condition and the major crystal itself is almost entirely pristine. Even better and brighter in person, as it is hard to photo.
Bethel Level, North End, Annabel Lee mine, Harris Creek District, Illinois, USA
Cabinet, 10.4 x 7.5 x 6 cm
Glimmering, very attractive cabinet specimen with hundreds of Pyrite crystals, accompanied by a few Barites, populating a Calcite matrix. The Pyrites, a beautiful iridescent brick-red, have superb luster and range up to about 3-4 mm. The gemmy Barite blades are in a single cluster and are about 8 mm. The overall aesthetics of this piece are excellent, and the Pyrites most unusual and eye-catching. Even better in person! Ross Lillie notes on his label that the barite style dates the specimen to about 1985.
Miller's Ridge Area, Rosiclare Level, Annabel Lee Mine, Hardin County, Illinois, USA
Large Cabinet, 14.5 x 10.5 x 5 cm
This is of course a classic style of gemmy purple phantomed fluorite, for the location, but rarely seen in such a nicely trimmed-out specimen with a dominant crystal. Usually, you get little crystals in flattish plates. This is an appealing, large cluster of purple to blue Fluorite, accented with small Pyrite crystals for extra sparkle. The finely stepped faces have very good luster, and the largest of the crystals (5.2 cm) clearly show five color zones of phantoms within. That major, dominating crystal is RAZOR sharp. Despite the size of the specimen, it is nearly complete all around, and with only a small amount of edge wear in two spots. I have seen literally thousands of Illinois fluorites and this particular style, although classic and common in principle is just so hard to find in an exceptional cabinet piece. The sharp phantoms, the dominant single gem crystal among the rest, the rich color, and the accent of pyrite all combine to make this one "a notch higher" than the norm. All photos are shot with normal lighting, with a bit of backlighting, the phantoms will show even more dramatically. RCL 822
Covellite is considered one of the 'holy grails' by Italian collectors, and the Calabona mine produced very few of them in its historical mining (1850-1900). These blades range up to 3 cm across, and they have a muted metallic luster and iridescence due to alteration to Djurleite (which produces a black surface with minute sparkles that are not coming through in the photos). The replacement is unusual. There is associated Djurleite ps. Pyrite, along with Pyrite and Chalcopyrite. To quote a previous owner, "A picture of this specimen was published by Revista Mineralogica Italiana (2009), vol 2, as one of the best minerals at the 2008 Turin exhibition." It is very 3-dimensional, and is better in person. This is a piece from the noted Bonisoli collection in Italy.
Falcacci stope, Rio Marina, Elba Island, Tuscany, Italy
Miniature, 4.1 x 3.3 x 2.1 cm
Choice set of three sharp, lustrous octahedra (think the Great Pyramids) of Pyrite from Elba Island. The Pyrites line up very nicely, and the largest is 1 cm on edge. The matrix is hard clay, which is typical for the Falcacci stope of Rio Marina. Really elegant in its simplicity and a rare habit for Elba.
Striking Pyrite from Huanzala, one of the world's best localities for Pyrite. Each crystal has gorgeous, bright striated faces, with corners modified by the octahedron. The largest crystal is nearly 3.2 cm, and it rests on a matrix of perhaps a hundred smaller, equally brilliant, Pyrite crystals. The condition of the specimen, as well as the aesthetics, are superb. It is no wonder this was once in the collections of Marty Zinn and Herb Obodda.
Jinguashi Mine (Chinkuashih Mine), Ruifang, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Cabinet, 13.0 x 10.3 x 3.7 cm
Wormlike elongated clusters of splendent, brassy yellow pyrite totally cover a matrix of crystallized enargite, here. In some cases the pyrite clusters are at right angles to each other, standing out nicely and giving this a very 3-dimensional surface. In general, fine mineral specimens from Taiwan are uncommon and this is an extremely showy piece from a classic mine (now defunct). Ex Eugene Sensel collection, from David New in 1975
Toenail – A “gut feeling” but often overlaps between a large thumbnail and a small miniature
Miniature – Maximum 5.0 cm
Small Cabinet – Maximum 9.4 cm
Cabinet – Maximum 18.0 cm
Large Cabinet – Over 18.0 cm
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