Cinnabar on Calcite
Small Cabinet, 9.2 x 5.0 x 2.5 cm
Charcas, Mun. de Charcas, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

This is an old piece from the extensive collection of geologist Jean Behier, the "founding father" of modern Madagascar's georesources policies and a well known French collector. It came to market and drifted quickly into the Stoudt collection through dealers Alain Martaud and Dave Bunk, where I was stunned when I first saw it some years ago. I had no idea that Mexican cinnabar got so good! These sharp, gemmy crystals (some twinned) are cherry red and perched on contrasting white calcite matrix. You would think they were Chinese, but for the history and some subtle differences in matrix. I have never seen such large and gemmy cinnabars from any North American locale, though you see tiny ones from a few places (Texas, Alaska... rarely). The piece, as befitting its inclusion in this major display collection, is ALSO large and showy, as well as important. I value it highly, in part based on what I paid for it and in part because it is just so obviously frigging important! When one considers how much even mediocre China cinnabar costs, here you have something that has to rank among the best of the species from Mexico, for a fraction of China prices. It seems crazy, how undervalued some Mexican specimens can be. Joe Budd photos.