Benitoite on Natrolite
Gem Mine, San Benito County, California, USA
Cabinet, 13.8 x 9.0 x 5.3 cm
Ex. Jack Halpern; Dr. Peter Bancroft

An important USA cabinet piece: This is an exceptional and very large plate of benitoite from the heyday of mining here, collected by Peter Bancroft during his dozens of trips to the mine in the 1930s-1950s (as told by him in his 1984 classic Book, GEM & CRYSTAL TREASURES detailing those trips). I think the photos convey it is impressive in display size and impact, with two huge and fat crystals of deepest blue color standing straight up - each at 2 cm tall. These are not gray or gray-blue, but they are the classic old blue color that made this mine famous, and to which modern specimens found in the strip-mining project here a few decades ago pale in comparison (in color, and in size). This is the old style, now impossible to find on the market. I personally bought this from Peter Bancroft a few years before he passed away, and it had been among the last specimens he kept after selling his collection in the 1980s. It was in his home office for another 20 years, until it went to me - and then I sold it to Jack Halpern almost immediately. After 50 years of collecting, he had not a better big example of this ultimate of California classics in his own collection, and needed it. See the attached old photo from the collection room, showing the benitoite proudly displayed in one of the major cases, also featuring some of his best tourmalines. This large specimen has no repairs, no restorations, no modern lab cleaning that would probably improve the luster. It is "natural" much as it came off Peter's desk to me nearly 15 years ago.

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