Calcite With Copper Ex. Bement Collection
Cabinet, 12.0 x 11.5 x 6.0 cm
Quincy Mine, Hancock, Houghton Co., Michigan, USA
Ex. Clarence Bement

AMNH Curator C. Gratacap described this piece in his 1912 book on the acquisition of the Bement collection with the American Museum as one of the finest dozen calcites in the thousands of specimens in the Bement collection. Firstly, the photos cannot do the piece justice. The photo is accurate for form, but does not capture somehow the full, vibrant life of the piece in person. It is simply beautiful in a case...all else here aside. In person, with light bouncing in and out of it, it is like a jewel and we rank it among the finest calcites to come to market from the old copper district of Michigan - comparable to the few such surviving treasures in major museums like the Seaman Mussum in upstate Michigan. The crystal is complete all around the display faces and PRISTINE as you look at it. It shows much sharper lines in person, and is only contacted on the back and cleaved on one upper-rear-facing edge only (not seen from the display in any case). The crystal is, as a bonus, twinned, which is very rare for the locality, not to mention the size. Again, in person this is more obvious, as it has a visible 3-dimensionality that pushes the twinning plane out at the viewer. This is an old piece from the turn of the 1900s or earlier. It is an antique classic that fits with modern aesthetic sensibilities, is a cabinet specimen, is outstanding just on its own merits, and has a great pedigree. This is a rare convergence and it makes the piece attain a rarified level of quality and desirability to my mind. It was notably in the collection of Clarence Bement, an industrialist and philanthropist whose collection was regarded by 1900 as the finest in the US. It was eventually purchased by JP Morgan and donated in 1910 to the American Museum of Natural History. A copy of the AMNH accession label is provided, showing that Bement bought the piece from dealer Lazard Cahn - the label dates to around 1900-1901, by street address for his business (see the Min Record archives at for more information). It was sold for $45 - a huge sum in those days for "just" a calcite, from a contemporary locality. So that shows you what was thought of it, even at the time. This piece was exchanged out from the museum in 1977 to Lawrence Conklin. He sold it to F John Barlow shortly after. It is shown in Barlow's book (1998), The F John Barlow Collection, on page 287. Barlow's editor for the copper chapter of his book is Marc Wilson, curator of the Carnegie Museum and an expert on the copper country minerals and history. Here is what he has to say: "This superb specimen consists of an outstanding, transparent, colorless crystal on minor matrix from the Hancock Mine...." So, in sum, it shows well, is cabinet sized, and was owned by 2 of the most prominent collectors of the last 120 years (with a long stay in a museum in between them). Since the sale of the Barlow collection in 1998, it has been in a private collection and not for sale until now, when the owner retired and sold some pieces off recently to me. Joe Budd photos