New British Update 07 January 2022

7 January 2022

HAPPY New Year! We are back today with a 50-specimen bumper British update after a three week break for Christmas and New Year. We really hope you also had a good time and have managed to successfully negotiate the current Omicron outbreak.

Perhaps the highlight of this holiday period has been the successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and its fascinating unfurling during its 932,000 mile journey. I always get the impression most mineral collectors also take a keen interest in such space projects; I think we have a common passion for exploring and forever learning more of the natural sciences. There remain 16 days to the JWST’s insertion into its L2 orbit and we are all excited as the days tick by.

Back on Earth we are also counting down the days to the grand opening of our new Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery at 465 W St Marys Road. About half of the Crystal Classics team are now in Tucson preparing for this and all our various Tucson show venues. It’s an exciting time, so do keep a lookout for our forthcoming postings regarding both the Gallery and our show events.

So, Tucson and space telescopes aside, what fine goodies have we today representing Britain and, I must add, Eire also. Because of our Holiday Hiatus we are compensating by presenting 50 specimens today then will return to our usual twice weekly updates of 21 specimens next Tuesday and Friday.

All bar three today are from England; that’s just how the cookie crumbles with little material from Wales or Northern Ireland at the moment. However, from the Leadhills-Wanlockhead ore field in southern Scotland we have fine specimens of Galena and Anglesite. The Galena is so characteristic of this locality with slightly curved crystal faces and comes with an old F. H. Butler (180, Brompton Road, London) label. The Anglesite forms several colourless transparent to translucent crystals of 4 to 5 mm lining a vug in a mixed Galena and rusty Quartz veinstone matrix. From Ireland (Eire), Britain’s close neighbour, a stunning Galena on Dolomite from the legendary find in the 1970’s at Mogul mine in the Silvermines District of County Tipperary. This is a sublime example with bright silver, well-formed cuboctahedral Galena crystals perched over near-vertical ribs of a white, finely crystallised Dolomite matrix.

There are so many lovely specimens it’s difficult to pick highlights, but here are just some. From the iron mines around Frizington in west Cumbria, lustrous stubby Quartz crystals, all of around 1.5 cm, sit on a thin plate of greyish-white Quartz covering remnant shell-like layers of brick-red Hematite. All the Quartz crystals are densely included with Specularite Hematite turning them near jet black.

Another black beauty is an intergrown group of opaque and lustrous Schorl Tourmaline crystals to 2.5 cm from the classic locality at Woolley Farm near Bovey Tracey in Devon. Such specimens were collected a little prior to 1817 when a near-surface pegmatite pocket was unearthed on the farm. Remaining in Devon do take a look at an excellent Siderite coating a Quartz crystal from Wheal Crebor at Tavistock Hamlets. This multi-terminated Quartz measures to 10.4 cm tall and is richly coated on three faces with dark brown, micro-crystallised Siderite plus four well-formed Siderite crystals to 1.6 cm.

Remaining in Devon, the George and Charlotte mine near to Tavistock is famous for Childrenite. This beautiful cabinet specimen is rich in bright lustrous gemmy to translucent Childrenite crystals coloured light tan to rich clove brown. These average 2 mm, but it also displays two intergrown exceptional crystals measuring to 4 mm.

While in this beautiful county, how about a visit over to the Wellswood district of Torquay and that once little-known headland named Hope’s Nose. This charming large thumbnail has a plate of pinkish cream Calcite, both sides of which display fine arborescent dendrites of buttery-rich metallic golden Native Gold forming linked sprays to 1.5 cm long. The Native Gold is readily visible, but under low (say, x5) magnification, the exquisite crystallised forms are revealed in detail.

Providing a bright splash of colour is a Botallackite on Connellite from Cligga Head at Perranzabuloe in Cornwall. The Botallackite, a hydrated copper halide, forms when chlorine-rich sea water reacts with copper within the lode which extends out into the Atlantic. Although Andrewsite was discredited as a true species in 1990, it remains one of those “must have” Cornish classics. Now determined as a mixture of Hentschelite, Rockbridgeite and Chalcosiderite, this miniature is from Wheal Phoenix at Minions near Linkinhorne in Cornwall and displays several spherulites of light green grey Andrewsite measuring to 2 mm diameter. Other Cornish classics include a beautiful blue, Bornite coated Blister Copper; a Wood Tin Cassiterite from the Bojewan Placers at Sancreed near St. Just, a superb druse of crystalline Tennantite from Wheal Jewel at Crofthandy in the parish of Gwennap and a Liroconite with Clinoclase from Wheal Gorland.

Before concluding this round-up, mention must be given to a terrific Calcite pseudomorphing after Aragonite from Torr Works quarry (aka Merehead quarry) at Cranmore in Somerset and a Parkinsonite in Mendipite for which Torr Works is the type locality. From Yorkshire we have a super Aurichalcite from Coldstones quarry and from Derbyshire, double terminated scalenohedral Calcite crystals from the ancient Magpie mine by Ashford-in-the-Water. Ending in west Cumbria, do look at the Calcite heart twin from Egremont and a stunning blue Fluorite on Dolomite from the Ullcoats-Florence mine.

Since I began writing this the JW Space Telescope has journeyed another 14,000 miles, if only we could reach our favourite mineral localities or shows so fast! Enjoy browsing today’s mega British selection and as always, we hope you discover that special something to add to your collection. PT

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

Tuesday 11th January - Europe

Friday 14th January - The Americas


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Author: JH
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