New British Update 24 September 2021

24 September 2021

TODAY’s selection of 21 contains many wonderful examples from some of Britain’s most famous localities, several of which are seldom seen for sale. Use of the terms “classic” and “iconic” are all too easy banded about, but in this case do really apply. Just mentioning a few will more than prove this: Leadhills, Wanlockhead, Boltsburn, Snailbeach, Rotherhope Fell, Caldbeck, Fallowfield and Chywoon. I could continue, but you get the idea!

As we have discussed previously, it is always exciting to include material from Leadhills and Wanlockhead in Scotland. However, collectors not familiar with the local geography have plenty of reason for confusion in the labelling of such specimens, so now is a good time to explain why. Located about 74 km southeast of Glasgow, the ore field spans the two adjacent villages of Leadhills and Wanlockhead, these being just 3 km apart with Leadhills to the north. It just so happens the county boundary crosses midway between the villages, with Leadhills residing in Lanarkshire and Wanlockhead in Dumfriesshire. If that were not enough, in more recent years the county names have been modernized to South Lanarkshire, and Dumfries and Galloway. As is often the case, specimens can only be attributed to the ore field as a whole, necessitating the collective term Leadhills-Wanlockhead. Hence the permutations for labelling become many, but hopefully you can now decipher why!

Having preached these nuances, we had better begin with the Leadhillite, Cerussite and Calcite from here. The Leadhillite is from Leadhills and forms substantial platy hexagonal crystals up to a magnificent 1.3 cm across. Needless to say, it is from its type locality and is without doubt a serious specimen of top museum quality. The Leadhillite crystals have formed on a lining of colourless-white, lustrous Anglesite crystals covering a crystalline matrix of colourless-creamy and blackish grey Cerussite. Although very minor, there are at least two tiny patches of crystallised turquoise green Caledonite.

The miniature Cerussite is also from Leadhills and is accompanied with an extremely old unprovenanced label. The specimen is composed of bundles of parallel acicular Cerussite crystals, often to about 2 cm in length, which are intergrown as a jumbled mass. The last of these three, a Calcite, is from Wanlockhead, and although not attributed, is most likely from New Glencrieff mine. The Calcite is translucent, grading inwardly to an opaque white core and although colourless to white, does have a delicate pinkish tinge. So characteristic of Calcite from Wanlockhead, the tiers of enveloping composite Calcite crystals all have nail-head terminations and drape the this magnificent large cabinet specimen in cascades of glistening terminated faces.

From Snailbeach mine in Shropshire, do take a look at the Calcite displaying well-developed rhombic crystals to 4 cm on edge, of a delicate lilac pink and coated in a thin translucent drusy Quartz. Cubic crystals of metallic silvery Galena up to 3.9 cm sit at each end together with occasional crystals of Sphalerite, Chalcopyrite and Pyrite. Also from Snailbeach is a richly intergrown mass of jackstraw Cerussite crystals with individual crystals reaching 5.5 cm. This fine cabinet specimen comes with a splendid old card label titled “Carbonate of Lead”.

From Boltsburn mine at Rookhope in Weardale we have a small cabinet specimen of intergrown gemmy mauve Fluorite crystals associated with well-formed golden biscuit coloured Siderite. Moving a little west, Rotherhope Fell mine, close to Alston in Cumbria, is probably the most difficult British classic location from which to acquire its famous Fluorites. Two part-crystals with edges measuring to 4.4 cm and 3.9 cm display zoning which can only be appreciated in our web photos. The near-surface layers are stunning with inter-banded indigo, pale blue and colourless Fluorite, grading to an inner core of intermixed purple, pale cherry-red and smoky mauve. Under LWUV the entire specimen fluoresces bright lavender, white and purple, with the colour banded zones clearly visible.

Amongst our many other classics, mention must be made of the Fluorapatite on Orthoclase from Chywoon quarry, close to Falmouth in Cornwall; a rich druse of lime green botryoidal Pyromorphite from the Caldbeck Fells; two stunning Witherites, from Nentsberry Haggs mine on Alston Moor and Fallowfield mine in Northumberland and from the Egremont-Frizington iron mining district, a lovely Calcite heart twin, a magnificent Baryte with Dolomite and a 14 x 8 cm plate of lustrous Specular Hematite with double terminated milky Quartz crystals.

Finally, as Columbo would say, "Just one more thing". A specimen form St. Agnes in Cornwall which aptly demonstrates even the simplest combination of minerals can produce something magnificent. Intergrown single and twinned crystals of metallic golden-brassy Chalcopyrite to 1.8 cm have formed on and around Quartz crystals of up to 5 cm tall, all embedded in a characteristic green chloritic matrix. A cabinet specimen which simply exudes “St. Agnes” and is a pure delight.

For all collectors of British minerals we feel sure you will enjoy today’s selection and maybe find one you’ve been long since searching for, especially given the rare locations. For everyone unfamiliar with what Britain has to offer, hopefully this gives you a taste, possibly even seducing you to start a British collection, no matter how modest. Enjoy looking through the selection and no matter what, you will see many examples of why collectors love Europe’s largest island so much. PT

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

Tuesday 28th September - Europe

Friday 1st October - Asia


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:

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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