Scheelite with Cassiterite
Mt Xuebaoding, Pingwu, Pingwu Co., Sichuan Province, China
Cabinet, 11.0 x 11.0 x 8.0 cm
Ex. Dr. Stephen Smale; Dr. Robert Lavinsky
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Scheelite from this now-diminished mine near the famous Panda Preserve in China simply is, beyond any question, the gold standard for the species. I have followed these for 20 years, since the mid-1990s, and they got better for awhile and then tapered off suddenly after the big earthquake of 2008. The mine is remote, and dynamite is not allowed. Just accessing the mine site is enormously difficult, and at high altitude with no good roads, even before the quake... Now, it is nearly unreachable. Once a tungsten mine under military economic priorities, it has lost importance and now it is worked artisanally, and with increasing difficulty. A new vein on the south face at lower elevation has produced some very different kinds of scheelite in style, and nothing to match the luster and gemminess of those from the main deposit such as this. This particular specimen is a superb example of the heyday of the late 1990's, and was purchased by Steve Smale in China at the time. As befits his impeccable taste in buying specimens, it is complete all around, beautiful, pristine or as near to as one can ask, and has a fine quality to it in terms of display. What makes this nearly unique is the rare association with cassiterite ON the scheelite. I have seen many specimens with nice scheelite and some minor associated cassiterite on the same matrix as the scheelites, or in close proximity. However, here, we have cassiterite crystals with stunning jet black color and glass luster, growing ON the scheelites. The scheelites reach 9 cm across and 6 cm on edge. It is really three dimensional and in remarkable condition. I reluctantly am parting with this as a duplicate of the species in my collection, though even after 20 years of collecting Chinese minerals I have no other combo piece of this sort. This has long been in my personal Chinese mineral collection and I exchanged it from Dr. Smale around 2005 and have owned it proudly for a decade, but I cannot keep every scheelite - though it is tempting. These really are the best in the world, and the mine just seems on its final gasps. Joe Budd photo. Comes with custom lucite base for display.