A rare Western Australia CRYSTALLIZED gold, massing 780 grams! This remarkable crystallized nugget shows none of the signs of alluvial tumbling which characterise your standard Aussie nugget. CRYSTALS shoot out, all over it, giving a very interesting horizon in the shape of an "eagle," as its nickname suggests. This does not have the lustre of California material, but for Aussie it is insanely rare, big, and fine. The color is bright and indicative of a high purity! This piece is 5 inches across and is complete 360 degrees, all around and on both sides. It belonged to Hubert De Monmonier (1919-2007), and was donated by bequest to the University of Arizona Museum to add to their displays and to provide specimens for sale to establish an endowment fund for museum operations, in perpetuity. This was, to my mind, the best specimen they let go in the recent sale. It is rumoured to be the largest crystallized gold from South America and, to my admittedly limited knowledge, this is indeed the case.Joe Budd Photos
ex. Richard Kosnar
ex. Wally Mann
This specimen has the ULTIMATE luster for a manganite, just shockingly bright and shiny. For me, this is the prime criteria to start taking a Manganite specimen to the next level of quality, to the top tier. Next comes size�the crystals reach 4.3 cm in height. They are unusually isolated, perched above smaller crystals and dominant. Normally, they tend to be jumbled together. The piece is undamaged, elegant, and displays them with dominance. The luster is so bright, and the piece 3-dimensional, that it is hard to photograph. This find of the mid-1880s set the standard and still does, for the species. To date, nothing of near this quality has come from any other mine, for the species. I would say 130 years of modern mining is pretty good insurance on non-replication. This specimen has a long history. It was in the Budapest Museum, prior to WWII. An American collector named Hal Miller ended up with the piece, as part of a mineral collection gift from his Uncle (who was a mineral collector himself, and a soldier stationed there at the time). Miller kept the piece and other classics for decades before selling them to Colorado collector Richard Kosnar in the late 1980s. Kosnar , who specialized in the European classics himself, then kept the piece for over 20 years until he passed away a few years ago. At that time, this was sold by his family, through me, to Dallas collector Wally Mann. I have recently exchanged it back, and am happy now to offer it on the public market for the first time (ever!). This is a superlative example of one of the ultimate classics of mineral science and lore, and it happens to be a piece that runs in line with modern aesthetics and taste in beauty. The specimen is "black" only in the sense of a flat word that means nothing towards impact. It has to the eye, a color and a brilliance and a sparkle that transcends most every other example of this species I have seen (even ones that are much more expensive).Joe Budd Photos
Very rarely can one get a gem euclase on matrix, let alone a piece of this high quality. The crystal about 1.5 inches long, is glassy and dramatic, with a brilliant lustre and color that has to be seen to be believed. These few gemmy, matrix euclases from this emerald mine are rated as the best of species, and I would think this must be among the best matrix miniatures known. It came out around 2003-2004. It is, surely, in rarified company. .Joe Budd Photos. I have to admit i sold this perhaps 3-4 years ago, but just had it back for cleaning , base, and photography ; and so its only posted here for fun. This euclase is simply awesomely colorful, and impactful, in person.
This piece looks carved. This fantastic gem crystal is unearthly in its gemminess and sharpness. It represents the ultimate quality level to which the collector can aspire, if funds are available , and sophistication allows appreciation of perfection at any size. I use the hyperbole not lightly, having see literally thousands of Pakistani aquas in the last 20 years. This one, mined a few years ago, is special. This piece jumps out, even still. It has an impact beyond its size, and a quality that places it in the top percent of a percentile of all the similar specimens mined. The associations with matrix and a slight garnet inclusion serve to enhance the sense of ethereal clarity and perfection of the crystal itself. It is , gram for gram for my tastes, one of the finest gem crystals I have held in my hand. Aside from a few very small natural growth contacts on the side, it is pristine and perfect all around and looks equally good from all 4 sides. The photos makes this look like a killer, and it is, but even their accuracy does not convey the piece's full impact in person. Joe Budd photos
ex. Marc Weill
At 10.5 pounds, this is a rather hefty single aquamarine crystal, of some stature. It has absolutely NO DAMAGE and is complete all around! To imagine such a heavy , big piece coming to market from this region without being damaged is difficult today. The piece has a glassy lustre and an intense color that is atypically nice for the locality. Although larger crystals are known, I have not seen another this size, showing such geometric perfection and quality in both color and lustre. The aquamarines from this locality are simply not often very gemmy , compared to aqua from Shigar Valley. That being said, and taking the size into account, this piece is more translucent than most large Nagar aquamarines, and of course has a deeper intense blue color than most Shigar aquas. It came out in the late 90s and was sold into the collection of Marc Weill. It is illustrated in the Mineralogical Record book on his collection (Jan-Feb 2008). Joe Budd photos
This superb large museum sized specimen showcases a gemmy, champagne-colored topaz crystal measuring 5.8 x 4.6 x 4 cm, dramatically shooting off of a matrix of associated white cleavelandite (in nice ballshaped aggregates), sharp golden muscovite, and lustrous clear quartzes. The combination of other species around the topaz highlights its color and symmetry nicely. The topaz crystal itself is absolutely unscathed by damage or dings on its edges, though it has a clean (i.e. invisible, but disclosed nonetheless) repair at its base (where the crystal disappears into the rock, it had naturally cracked in situ before it was mined). Aside from some trivial damage to the accenting quartz matrix, the display face is in good shape otherwise and presents as a 3-dimensional slope that lets the topaz rise for maximum height. A second, 4 cm topaz is laying diagonally at the foot of the major crystal. Note also the gemminess and lustre - while clarity and gemminess is common enough on these Pakistani topaz crystals, the shocking lustre here is atypical. It is top percentile, glassy and bright. Relatively fewer large topaz specimens seem to come out of the same pegmatites that produce beryls on end. And of the ones that do, fine matrix pieces are harder to get than for beryls or tourmalines, as well. Overall, this is about the size of a volleyball and it carries a LOT of impact. I have seen very few Pakistani topazes that enamored me so much as this one (in this size!). Mined in 2008. Joe Budd photos
ex. Dr. Edward David
Afghanistan ain't producing like it used to, the reasons being fairly obvious, I think. It is harder to get material out, but also it is harder to access deeper deposits given the lack of infrastructure and risk of setting up longterm mining here. Pristine, large tourmalines have always been rare, though. This is a really nice piece, complete all around with absolutely no damage, and with minor matrix attached as an accent. You can ask for little more in a tourmaline of this style! This style is extremely colorful, though they simply are not gemmy - but i'll say that in this size range this piece is more translucent (at edges) than most. The termination is spectacular and unusual, even for this locality, as it is glassy and features a unique and rare purplish coloration atop. This specimen was purchased in the early 1990s from dealer Herb Obodda , who was bringing out the best at the time. He sold it to his nearby neighbor and friend, longtime collector Ed David (a prominent scientist who was , among other things, President Nixon's White House Science advisor and helped usher along the Apollo moon landing program). Ed built a diverse large collection specializing in display-quality specimens of all sizes, particularly rich with examples of the gem pegmatites of Pakistan and Afghanistan because of his proximity to Obodda in the days they started to come out. I purchased this piece with Ed's 1000-piece collection in 2005, and set the specimen back in storage for the future. It has never been shown (or even, fully cleaned) til now.
ex. Bally Museum
This majestic large silver specimen is both elegant in form for the collector and significant for its size and impact. Wires of this thickness and size are very rare survivors of the heyday of these famous silver mines, quite visually distinct from recent material that came out around 2000-2002 from a modern find in the old tunnels of the linked mines of this district. It was found in the 1800s and was in the Bally Museum in Switzerland by the early 1900s. With the dissolution of that museum, it then went into a major private collection and has not been for public sale until now. This piece has style, not just size. It has such grace and presence, that the pictures simply do not convey it. The photos make it look spindly, when in person it conveys a much more robust feel. This is far beyond what you could normally expect to find on the market at any price (and yet, I think it is priced reasonably here, in all honesty) - a major piece, worthy of a top institution or collection.
OK, Quartz is common. You can get it anywhere, right? But, I would argue that fantastic quartz specimens, even just "normal clear quartz," can be spectacular and deserve a place in any collection. They also impress the laymen much more than all our fancier species tend to. This is a REALLY REALLY NICE and totally perfect large crystal of spectacular gemminess and brightness for the size. It is pristine on the big crystal, and with just a few dings on the sidecars. It is a heavy, LARGE specimen that has great visual impact and deserves to be on its own pedestal or table for display. Personally, I am usually not a big fan of large quartz specimens, having seen tables and tables of them in the past. But every now and then, one stands out, and grabs me as I walk by what is often damaged material just for decorative purposes. This piece was mined in 2009.
An exquisite emerald specimen, simply "different" to my eye than so many others. It has a very castellated, complex multiple termination that to me looks like towers out of a fantasy movie made of gemmy green emerald. The color is a vivid, bright hue. Some collectors prefer darker colors, some lighter shades, and this is somewhere in between; and very vibrant for it. You can see the piece shimmering from across the room, as it also has sparkly lustre on both the calcite and the emerald associations. The piece is beautifully trimmed, to accentuate the 3-dimensionality of the emerald and of the adjacent twinned calcite, atop. The calcites are not just "matrix" here, but worthy in their own right, and the twin is particularly sharp and gemmy. Most collectors would probably go after your stereotypic emerald - a single crystal sticking out of matrix. My argument there would be that, however nice it may be (and price can be $5k-500k), the overall aesthetic is still the same, from piece to piece, on a general basis. THIS ONE, though, is subtly differrent to my eye and always stood out to me. I first owned it about 2004, and recently had a chance to exchange it back from the collectors (not for quality reasons, just simply as they broadened their tastes a bit to other species). Joe Budd photos.
This large specimen is a true historic classic, from one of the most important old gold districts in the USA. Pieces like this were generally mined in the late 1800s and very early 1900s, and not after. It is a complex mass of thick, intergrown gold crystals that weighs in at over 12 ounces, and is both weighty and volumetrically impactful in person. The large "rope gold" that extends out from the middle of the specimen is nearly 3 inches long! Pieces like this turn up very seldom, and only as old collections or museums turn over. While I have no old labels with this piece, it is undoubtedly an old one. I am told by Colorado experts that this is without doubt one of the finest examples extant, for size and quality, and furthermore that it may be among the top 3 or 4 examples of this magnitude in private hands.
This remarkable piece dates to the 1960s heyday of Brazilian pegmatites, when spectacular pieces were found more frequently near the surface than they seem today. The piece is from a famous old deposit, which today produces beryls but nothing so impressive as what you see here. The matrix of claeavelandite is actually typical of this region, and quite nice in its own right. The morganite, though, has KILLER color, really a hot pink and a form more associated with modern material from Afghanistan than anything from Brazil. Most people would immediately peg this as an Afghani piece, I would bet (and in fact this has happened). However, the giveways are the slightly different cleavelandite (more sharp and sparkly than Paprok material) and the coloration and style of the small tourmaline included in the morganite. The morganite itself is complete in about 95% of its display area, with only a small bit in one corner restored with matching epoxy. The morganite is VERY sharp, totally undamaged otherwise, and measures 4.5 INCHES (11.2 cm) across. Believe it or not, this piece came up from Brazil in the 1970s, in a suitcase, as a specimen that was triple this current size and mass at the time. A natural history collector purchased it from the Amsterdam Sauer Museum in Rio de Janiero in around 1976. This museum was both a display for the owner's well known personal collection and a storefront for selling specimens outright. Apparently, this collector simply put it on a coffee table where it sat, unappreciated by anybody in the core mineral community, for the next 30 years. After a tipoff, I bought the piece and had it trimmed down to its current, more aesthetic and balanced size. Still, at the weight of perhaps 20 pounds and the size of a decent watermelon, "trimmed down" has a whole different meaning here.
Phosphophyllite is one of the Holy Grails of mineral collecting. To get a good one, to even see a good one, is almost impossible. To get a LARGE and good one, that has some show value beyond being a killer little crystal , this is uncommon in the extreme! This specimen has a 2-INCH crystal cluster shooting starkly upright from a well-trimmed matrix. The color is phenomenal - the classic, and totally unique blue-green color with high saturation. The crystals are stacked like plates against each other, culminating in a very sharp and totally gemmy-clear termination atop. The crystal cluster seems to have grown in a thin seam, straight up or down as the case may be, and matrix which attached along the front has been carefully removed to leave a series of micro-faces where crystal growth was constrained, but this is not damage. A small bit of contact damage does exist, on the very left side of the cluster. The right side is terminated with outward-pointing faces showing nice patterns of crystallization on their surfaces, and just a slight bit of edge wear atop those side faces. The gemmy, stepped terminations are complete, and stand above the bulk of the cluster to really show off nicely. I have had in my life only 3 major phosphophyllites, and this is perhaps the best "bang for the buck" of them, in terms of owning something large and showy that does not completely break all price horizons (as other phosphophylites might), because I was lucky enough to buy this as a "fixer-upper" in need of a trim and clean. I cannot emphasize enough the uniqueness of the color, or the rarity of getting such a large and showy specimen of this incredibly rare, gem species. Most of them were found in the 1930s and 1940s, with jus ta small trickle turning up despite intensive efforts, in all the years since.
Here you have a dramatic, large, 3-dimensional specimen from a very rare and old find - literally a vertical tower of light gossan matrix completely smothered by sparkling balls of botryoidal mimetite. The color is a saturated yellow, nearly the best you can get for the locality and far more desirable than orange-yellow hues. It is brilliantly sparkling in light, and colorful and complete all around 360 degrees. In fact, this is one of the finer large mimetites from this find I have seen survive to this day, 40 years later. It would, to my eye, rank even higher than the well known pieces in the Romero Mexican collection, which I recently handled. The color is a very intense orangey-yellow hue. ALL such mimetites as this were collected in a single large find in end of 1968 and start of 1969 by Benny Fenn (right before the Tucson show of that year!), from a one-time pocket at a small prospect. It was literally a small prospect, not even a developing mine, and it never panned out or produced more specimens again. Despite attempts to find another mimetite pocket, no more ever came out after one release in 1969 , which was sold off at the Tucson show of that year. These remain unique in the world for their overall aspect; and large, colorful pieces like this are treasured by those who have them. Even at the time, this would have been considered exceptional for its size and all-around aesthetics. The color grade on this is very high, making it a choice specimen even among those of us who have seen many over the years.
ex. Ken Hollman
ex. Phil Scalisi
Grossular from Eden Mills is the standard to which other US localities must be compared. They have a richer, more red color saturation than material from Canada, and are quite distinct. Vesper Peak garnets have too dark a color in comparison - these are "just right" and not too dark, not too light. The brilliance and sharpness of these garnets is such that the piece looks carved...you can see, the photograph makes them look a little bit airbrushed, but this is not the case. They really are THAT sharp and symmetric.This specimen is unusual in the consistent color quality across the whole piece, the size of the crystals (to 1.8 cm), and in the fact that it is nearly a complete floater with no damage and only a small point of attachment on the lower backside. Tiny druses of quartz accent the 3-dimensionality of this piece, as well. It is, overall , a fullsized and competition quality miniature. This specimen was collected by Ken Hollman in 1969. For those who did not know him, Ken assembled one of the largest and most important collections of classic Eastern US material, and had excellent taste. He also was a consummate field collector and a particular expert on this locality. This was his favorite garnet specimen, out of the many he collected in his lifetime, as related to me by his friend Phil Scalisi (who owned the specimen until recently). Scalisi's label accompanies the specimen and relates that Hollman considered this "his very favorite Eden Mills piece. I exchanged it from Ken for several of my best Chessy Azurites."...and those were valuable pieces, I can say, having seen Hollman's extensive and important Chessy suite at one time. The specimen remained in Scalisi's collection for several decades, until its recent sale. Photo by Joe Budd
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