Miniature, 4.6 x 2.8 x 2.7 cm
Wheal Neptune, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom
Ex. Sir Robert Ferguson
Lustrous, dark gray crystals of chalcocite, to 1.75 cm across, are aesthetically perched on a quartz matrix. This is a choice miniature by ANY standard, showing exemplary textbook-stereotypic chalcocites as you see in the old texts by Sowerby and Rashleigh from the 1800s. It is good on its own merits, and quite displayable even by modern standards! However, as a bonus, this specimen is from the 200-year-old Sir Robert Ferguson collection, and is accompanied by his old label. This collection turned up in a sealed room of the ancient family estate in Kirkaldy, Scotland when I was a grad student. I recall maxing out all my credit cards in 1997 to obtain money to purchase as much as I could of the smaller pieces from this famous collection (this was obtained at that time), from the dealer liquidating the collection for the Ferguson family which still lived in the same ancestral house. Sir Ferguson (1769-1840) was a member of the House of Lords from Kirkaldy, and owned a number of businesses including a quarry in his hometown of Raith. He traded minerals actively with the luminaries of his day and was well-mentioned in reviews of the mineral collections of Europe at the turn of the 1800s. He was very active from about 1780-1810, and even collected minerals and fossils in Montmartre with the great scientist Georges Cuvier, while held as a guest/prisoner-of-war in Paris during the Napoleonic era in 1803-1804! When Lord Elgin was away in Athens collecting the infamous Elgin Marbles now on display in the British Museum, Sir Ferguson spent rather a lot of time with Lady Elgin. This led to one of the most expensive divorces of the time, and a 10,000 pound gold penalty assessed upon Lord Ferguson. He stopped collecting, perhaps not coincidentally, around that time in 1810. His collection was put into storage before his death, and remained there until the sealed room was reopened in the 1990s. Crazy, but true.