Small Cabinet, 6.1 x 5.7 x 3.8 cm
Herodsfoot Mine., Liskeard, Cornwall, England
Ex. Ralph Sutcliffe
At 3 cm across, the crystal is large enough to make this overall very balanced specimen a world class example in its size range. The crystal has, despite its age (over 125 years old), only a few very minor dings and one slight contact atop (where it grew against something that made a minor dimple - but that is not damage per se). It has exceptionally sharp 3-dimensional form and is freestanding on the best kind of crystallized matrix you could ask from here (on quartz), and it has brilliant luster with an unusual slight iridescence to it. This natural iridescent patina proves the piece is au naturale, not cleaned by acids to look bright and stibnite-shiny by modern cleaning methods. Bournonite from the old mid-1800s finds in Cornwall was long considered the world pinnacle of the species by sophisticated collectors, for style and association. Truly, China has produced great bournonites in modern times, but the allure of these old classics still holds. The crystal habit and style is still unique, over 100 years later. Pieces like this were collected from the late 1850s through 1870s, according to books and records I am aware of. Very few of great quality were ever found, and oibviously fewer yet survive to be owned by private collectors, outside of museum holdings. This piece was once in the Ralph Sutcliffe collection of Cornwall Minerals in the 1980s, and later ended up in the collection of George Elling. For what is is, this is a hard thing to beat, and I would argue that nothing comparable can be found on the modern market in a normal year.