New Western Europe Update 23 February 2021

23 February 2021

Having toured the British Isles last week, we now continue our theme with Western Europe, but this time across the English Channel and into Continental Europe. Today we focus mainly on Switzerland and Germany, with brief visits to Spain and Austria.

As you would expect, our Swiss collection includes many fine Alpine minerals including Quartz, Anatase, Rutile, Hematite and Adularia, the transparent, colourless variety of potassium Feldspar. The selection from Germany is dominated by the sulphides and sulphosalts of Saxony, although the likes of Fluorite, Erythrite and Whewellite also make the grade. The study of minerals and mineralogy really began in Europe with the works of Georg Bauer (aka Georgius Agricola) who in 1546 published De Natura Fossilium (On the Nature of Rocks) and then, perhaps his more famous, De Re Metallica (On Metals) ten years later in 1556. Here are a few tasters of what today’s selection contains…

I have to start with a beautiful Quartz crystal from Bächenstock in Switzerland. Of ‘Rock Crystal’ quality, the entire prism and termination are perfectly transparent and colourless, lending ice-clear clarity to a showy Alpine specimen.

Hematite is known to form wonderful crystalline roses at some locations in Switzerland and we have three quite different examples; these are all from the Cavradi Gorge of the Curnera Valley, in the eastern canton of Grischun. One specimen has pseudohexagonal Hematite crystals measuring to 2.2 cm, forming a silver-graphite grey rosette perched on a stack of translucent colourless-pale grey Adularia crystals. These are lightly dusted with micro-crystalline, cucumber-green Chlorite and occasional colourless, terminated Quartz crystals.

A more unusual specimen is a delightful Potassium Feldspar crystal from Zillertal in Austria. The translucent, creamy equant multi-faced crystal has a pearly lustre with an opalescent schiller, more commonly known as a moonstone lustre. This 2.8 cm diameter crystal is attached to a little fine-grained Chloritic matrix, making a most attractive small miniature.

German classics include the silver containing species Acanthite, Argentopyrite, Pyrargyrite and Stephanite. One little beauty which must be mentioned is a fantastic Whewellite from the Ronneburg Uranium deposit in Thuringia, Germany. Whewellite is a rare mineral in itself, being a hydrated calcium oxalate however, this gorgeous crystal is elevated to a new level by the golden metallic inclusions it contains. Although not known for certain, it is likely these are the rare iron-nickel sulphide Smythite.

Just one more thing to mention… two splendid specimens of Flos Ferri, the coral-like variety of Aragonite from Styrian Erzberg in Austria, the world’s largest deposit of Siderite. In one specimen the snow-white Aragonite forms towering structures of interwoven rods, ram’s horns, curved stems and curly pig tails, creating a sculptural form of great aesthetic.

There are lot’s more specimens and species to look at in addition to those mentioned here, so take a break and make some quality time to do what we all like doing best – looking at minerals. Enjoy!

                                         

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Author: JH
Categories: Updates

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