New Tsumeb Update 27 August 2021

25 August 2021

FRIDAY is here once again and we continue our theme of minerals from Tsumeb, that most iconic of mines.

As many of you will know, Tsumeb is in Namibia or, more officially, the Republic of Namibia, a large country adjacent to the Atlantic coast in southwest Africa. When the initial evaluation of the Tsumeb orebody began in the late 1800’s the country was under German rule and is generally referred to as German South West Africa.

At the end of World War I, under the Treaty of Versailles, the country was renamed South West Africa (SWA), now a possession of South Africa. All Tsumeb collectors will be familiar with SWA appearing on old labels of specimens mined during this period. Following a long struggle for independence, in June 1968 the UN General Assembly declared South West Africa be renamed Namibia. Many collectors will own labels attributed to each of these periods, hence providing likely time frames in which individual specimens were recovered.

As always in today’s selection we have both ubiquitous and rare species from Tsumeb, although often the more common are the more aesthetic, typically because they tend to crystallise as larger specimens whereas rarer species quite often tend to be small. So let’s dive in and see what’s on offer…

We’ll begin with some aesthetics, so let’s start with one of my favourites, a simple yet delightful ex-matrix Anglesite crystal from the Marshall Sussman Collection, a perfectly terminated translucent crystal of ethereal sky-blue tinted white, but not of uniform colour, having some parts bluer or whiter than others. Although not an approved mineralogical term, this specimen has a dreamy quality, not a description I would often use!

Another piece of eye-candy is a Mimetite on Malachite. Spherical rosettes of leafy emerald green Malachite with each rosette individually highlighted by a narrow yet distinct halo of black matrix. Scattered over the Malachite are 5 to 8 mm diameter delicate acicular sprays of pale whitish-lemon Mimetite. No further description is needed, it is fantastic! And while on super-aesthetics, do look closer at the large Azurite crystal, some 5.6 cm tall, with an opaque deep royal blue prism whose thinner outer faces and edges twinkle electric blue. The faces on one side are mirror smooth while the opposite faces and terminations are pitted by natural etching, resulting in a very beautiful effect.

Today’s rarer species include Schaurteite, a calcium-germanium sulphate; the rare iron arsenate Schneiderhöhnite; a lovely Hedyphane and Stottite with Zincian Siderite. All are very good examples of their species, displaying good crystal coverage rather than more typical tiny crystals. I’m not sure why, but Hedyphane is one of those species you probably think is in your Tsumeb collection but might well not be! This miniature is a lovely example composed of stalactitic creamy-tan Hedyphane crystals to 2 cm tall covering a Dolomitic matrix. Hedyphane is a calcium-lead arsenate and these spiky composite crystals with a glassy bright lustre are first class.

Another fairly rare species at Tsumeb is the red lead oxide Minium. The specimen we have of Mottramite and Calcite has lustrous deep orange-red Calcite crystals who owe their colour to Minium inclusions. These contrast against sparkling, almost velvety dark olive-green Mottramite making this a beautiful and fascinating specimen. Stottite is one of those must have minerals from Tsumeb and that in today’s update is a lustrous, sharply formed crystal measuring to 4.5 mm with characteristic rich brown to yellowish zones. Abundant circular, translucent yellow blocky micro-crystals of Zincian Siderite are in abundant association with the Stottite making this an excellent large miniature or small cabinet specimen, it’s just on the dividing line!

A brief round-up of other fabulous specimens, mainly cabinet specimens I add, includes a lovely limey-grass green Austinite; a terrific Olivenite with Gartrellite; Calcite phantoms with Mottramite; sharply crystallised Tennantite with Quartz; a stunning Dioptase and a fine blue-green translucent specimen of Cuprian Smithsonite.

We have looked at how Namibia’s name has changed during the operating life of Tsumeb, a period of almost 100 years. When we have a similar update later this year, we’ll look at how the mine’s name evolved under different ownership and parent companies, so shedding a little more light on mineral labelling from the beginning to the end of the 20th century.

We hope all you dedicated Tsumeb collectors out there will find many specimens of interest and for those of you who don’t do Tsumeb, material may be of related interest to your own collection, be this say from just a type locality perspective. Enjoy and for our UK followers, have a great August Bank Holiday weekend. PT

Here is what you have to look forward to in next week's update:

Tuesday 31st August & Friday 3rd September - Little & Large


If you'd like to see a video of any of the specimens listed above then please contact us at and we'll be happy to assist you. We endeavour to respond to all enquires within 24 hours during weekdays, however at the weekend it might take us a little longer to respond.



Crystal Classics, and our sister company UK Mining Ventures, will be in attendance at the following shows for the remainder of 2021:

Colorado Mineral and Fossil Fall Show 2021
Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Convention Center 15500 E 40th Ave, Denver, CO 80239, USA

Hardrock Summit 2021 - Evolution
Colorado Convention Center, Four Seasons Ballroom 700 14th St, Denver, CO 80202, USA

The Bakewell Rock Exchange 2021
Lady Manners School, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1JA, UK

The Munich Show 2021
Exhibition Center Messe München, WEST Entrance, Munich, Germany

The Sussex Mineral & Fossil Show 2021
Haywards Heath College, Harlands Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1LT, UK

Crystal Classics Winter Open Day 2021
No.1, The Old Coach Yard, East Coker, Somerset BA22 9HY, UK



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Author: JH
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