- Rhodochrosite With Manganite
- N'Chwaning I Mine, Kuruman, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
- Miniature, 4.9 x 4.3 x 3.4 cm
These treasured red jewels from the late 1970s and early 1980s finds here only turn up in old collections. This is a very balanced, 3-dimensional miniature with superb aesthetics and the best rich, cherry-red color. Unlike most of them which are rather damaged (due to the time they were collected, generally in haste), this has only one small tip missing. Small hematite crystals provide accent. It is, to those who know what they are looking at, just a very sophisticated example of one of the pre-eminent pockets of minerals in modern times. Joe Budd photos.
- Grossular Garnet
- Vesper Peak, Sultan District, Snohomish Co., Washington, USA
- Cabinet, 11.5 x 9.5 x 3.2 cm
Garnet from Washington state is one of those "holy grails" of collecting USA classics, but there are simply so few of any real value in a worldwide sense, compared to garnets from other locales. The best ones were said to have been collected by a team including Bart Cannon, back in the 1970s to early 1980s. This particular specimen was sold by Cannon in 1982 to collector Jack Halpern, who owned it for the following 34 years until exchanging it to me. It is simply stunning, with a unique robust color and a glass luster that these are famous for. However, I had never seen such quality of color AND luster in a specimen of this large size, before. Never cleaned or trimmed to modern standards, I have only gotten it back recently after a year in the lab.
- Rhodochrosite (shield crystals style, illustrated)
- N'Chwaning I Mine, Kuruman, Kalahari MN field, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
- Small Cabinet, 6.5 x 5.5 x 4.5 cm
Of all the specimens of rhodochrosite, and all the styles, produced by these rich Kalahari Mines in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this is among the most rare. These so-called "shield form" crystals came out of only one pocket, either in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and were never seen again. This particular specimen exhibits unusual aesthetics in that it has nice edges, whereas most are cleaved masses with broken edges showing, and this piece has combined good luster and excellent cherry color. On that fact, also, there are grades of quality even among pieces of similar color: Many have a backing of thick matrix or thick massive rhodochrosite, and so light does not transmit. This piece practically glows when backlit, and light transmits well through it. (Here it is shown with only moderate front and back lighting by halogen, but with a flashlight or LED behind it will have a deeper glow).
- Zagi Mountain, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, NWFP, Pakistan
- Cabinet, 11.0 x 5.5 x 4.0 cm
Zagi Mountain has produced what many consider the world's finest crystallographic examples of the species, and on this sharp specimen it is easy to see why. The stark symmetry and form, luster, and intense color of the crystals on this piece make it world class level for the species, but it is the arrangement and overall aesthetics with the banded granite make it a world class collectible display specimen for a rare species that normally, if we are bluntly candid, is not often at the caliber to be displayed in a case with "sexier" minerals. This is actually one of the finest overall examples I have seen of these finds when you take all the qualities of the piece together, and is a stunning specimen in person. The gemmy crystals measure to 1.8 cm wide and 1.2 cm thick (on the largest). This came out through Wayne Thompson some years ago, and has been in a private collection since then. No repairs.
- Mimetite and Wulfenite
- Ojuela Mine, Mapimi, Durango, Mexico
- Large Cabinet, 25.0 x 10.0 x 9.0 cm
Mimetite from the Ojuela Mine was always relegated to second class status compared to other locales, for decades. It just wasn't "sparkly" enough to compete with the specimens form a single 1969 pocket in Chihuahua state, and the clusters from here were not as crystalline as Tsumeb or other mimetites from around the world. However, in 2012, a single large pocket was hit which redefined the species from this locality and has given us a really different style entirely for the species, in quantity. Only a few Tsumeb specimens ever looked like this, in terms of shape (think, cauliflower), and they did not have such saturated color and luster. This specimen, like others from the pocket, has sparkle, intense color saturation, and a rare association with Wulfenite seen from only a few localities in the world. Taken together, we suddenly have superb mimetites of world class level from a mine which had only produced few before.
- Central Mine, Central, Keweenaw Co., Michigan, USA
- Large Cabinet, 38.0 x 23.0 x 9.0 cm
This important copper specimen is one of the single most significant coppers to come to market in my life and is from the mid-1800s heyday of mining in the Upper Peninsula. It has been preserved without damage or cleaning (which would ruin the ancient and natural patina) for over 100 years, probably closer to 150 years. For much of its life, it was in the basement of the Harvard Museum. Exchanged out to a private collector in the early 2000s because it was too big to display there, it certainly is a museum piece for other collections. Most such specimens were melted down at the time, as they were hard for miners to keep, and only the mine captains and managers had access to retrieve such large specimens as this at depth and bring them to the surface for museums or for sale (as a nice side business at the time). The Seaman Museum in the area hosts a large collection and has several large specimens of this magnitude.
- Apophyllite on Stilbite
- Momin Akhada well dig, Rahuri, Maharashtra State, India (2001)
- Cabinet, 17.5 x 9.0 x 9.0 cm
Out of all the finds of all minerals in all the world, when a collector says the words Disco Ball apophyllite, it can mean only one thing: one of under a few dozen of the great apophyllite specimens with complete spherical crystal clusters from one single find back in 2001. There is nothing else that comes close, no later find that compares, and nothing from any other locality. This piece, is one of the Ikons of an iconic pocket, not to lay it on too thickly. It was the finest complete ball on balanced matrix in its size, according to the Indian dealer who handled 90% or more of the pocket, and it is balanced and complete 360 degrees all around, without damage. It went immediately into the personal collection of Dr. Steve Smale, from whom I exchanged it some 15 years later.
- Mimetite (Gem Pocket, 1971)
- Tsumeb Mine, Otjikoto Region, Namibia
- Thumbnail, 2.4 x 1.9 x 1.2 cm
From the famous 1971 Gem Pocket, these crystals are the finest mimetites in existence in terms of sheer quality and there are only a handful that will ever come to market. The find has never been repeated or equaled and they remain iconic specimens in any collection. This is the most significant thumbnail specimen I have handled from the pocket, in decades of watching for them and only seeing a half dozen for sale of any caliber (less fat and gemmy than this, generally). The crystal is fat, balanced, and stunning in its gemminess. The luster is glassy, naturally. The main crystal is mostly translucent and has a sharp, lustrous and full termination.
- Mimetite (Green Pocket)
- Elura Mine, Cobar, New South Wales, Australia
- Small Cabinet, 9.0 x 6.0 x 3.0 cm
Mimetite from Australia is usually not considered among the world's great specimens for the species, and tends to be dull and drably colored but one particular pocket from the late 1980s has stood out and still stands the test of time. This remarkable pocket of green to yellow mimetite crystals came from an active silver mine, itself already unusual. Only a few specimens survived, and were of quality to go to collectors. I remember when they premiered at Tucson to huge excitement, and top collectors chased specimens down as they got dispersed. This is a very aesthetic small cabinet piece from that single rare find called the "green mimetite pocket," long in the collection of Martin Zinn and then another private collector, and so not on the market in several decades. It has rich, saturated color and a silky, unique luster that makes these readily identifiable from any other mimetite anywhere in all the world.
- Lily Mine, Ica Department, Peru
- Miniature, 5.0 x 4.5 x 4.0 cm
Atacamite is a rare copper species, and the previous "world's best" were found in Australia prior to 1900, at two locales. This small, remote copper and gem silica mine in the dry mountains of southern Peru, though, has matched and surpassed what we all thought for 100 years to be unbeatable status of the Aussie atacamites in our major museums. Also, the Peruvian crystals have better luster! The very best of the Peruvian atacamites are therefore worthy of consideration by any collector, for beauty and importance, though the pockets vary widely by quality and size. I have pursued these for the last 5 years as the trickle has come out. I held this piece back 2 years, waiting to see what else may come out, but it seems to have fizzled into irrelevance now in terms of more great specimens of this style.
- Elbaite Tourmaline
- Paprok, Nuristan, Laghman Prov., Afghanistan
- Cabinet, 11.0 x 7.5 x 5.5 cm
This is a very large, impressively beautiful, glassy and translucent, tourmaline with "freaky color" that is simply different than any other I have seen from these regions. It has deep raspberry colored zones, with hints of maroon and purple, saturated like no other piece we have seen. This is a major elbaite (multicolored tourmaline) crystal from the famous Paprok pegmatites. The top 2 cm of the crystal is actually quite translucent/gemmy and the color is much more uniform and richer than we can convey easily in natural light photos. It is certainly more impressive, and leaps out, more than most such robust single elbaite crystals from Paprok. ex.
- N'chwaning I Mine, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
- Small Cabinet, 12.0 x 8.0 x 4.0 cm
This specimen exemplifies the best qualities of the pocket, nicknamed the "wheatsheaves pocket," and was found circa 1980. The luster is fantastic, and the color is a rich cherry red. It just "sparkles" like few other minerals ever do. The piece is complete all around the periphery and without damage to the display face, though it is contacted on back. The bit of manganese ore showing through, really adds a welcome contrast to the solid plate of sparkling red. Specimens like this only come about once a decade, as old collections recycle to market.
- Pentagonite with Cavansite
- Wagholi Quarries, Wagholi, Pune District, Maharashtra, India
- Small Cabinet, 7.5 x 5.7 x 4.5 cm
Pentagonite is the rare (very much so) dimorph of Cavansite. This means that they are the same chemistry but are actually different crystal forms, and tus different species. As rare as pentagonite is (the first Indian specimens were only found many years after the first cavansites), it is even more incredibly rare to find the two species in close association as on this piece. The specimen hosts a magnificent large pentagonite "tree" 3 cm tall, nestled into a protective pocket of stilbite and basalt matrix. There are two pentagonite crystals of this size, and between them are several clusters of cavansite crystals to 1 cm. All is sparkly and beautiful!
- Beryl Var. Aquamarine
- Marambaia, Carai, Jequitinhonha Valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil
- Large Cabinet, 21.0 x 10.8 x 8.7 cm
An incredible large specimen weighing about 9 pounds with intense sea foam BLUE color. This is the classic color of really old Brazilian aquas, recovered in the 1920s-1950s primarily. Many of them were cut for gems and lapidary carving. Much of the best work was done in Idar-Oberstein. It is a miracle that this huge crystal, with lots of gem rough and carving value, survived! It was locked in a storage box by two previous owners, each for 20 years or more.
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