New British Update 25 January 2022

25 January 2022

HAVING visited South America, Africa and then Europe last week, today we hop over the English Channel and back to Britain. We know there are many collectors keen on British minerals, be they in the UK or scattered around the globe. Our aim is always to please, so here is your British fix!

Admittedly there are no particular rare species today but there are several highlights, one of which is the launch of a new Fluorite pocket, discovered in September 2021 by Jakub Sauermann at the Lady Annabella mine in Weardale. Jakub is a senior collector with UKMV, Crystal Classics’ sister company. Named for him, Jakub’s Pocket was but the size of a fooball. For those unfamiliar with a football, myself included, they are about 22 cm in diameter (8.7 inches), so it was a pretty small pocket! It produced a small number of Fluorite specimens of a distinct lemon to honey yellow with cornflower to sky-blue edges and colour zoning. They really are beautiful and today we have two to choose from. Life is much simpler when there is just one, this choosing between two or more specimens does make the whole collecting process hard work! Decisions, decisions!

If this gets you all fired up for a succulent Weardale Fluorite or two, we also have specimens from the Minty Cheesecake Pocket, again at Lady Annabella mine and from the Diana Maria mine, beautiful Milky Way and Truffle Pig Pocket specimens. It goes without saying, all these Weardale Fluorite’s fluoresce wonderfully under LWUV and just try looking at the Truffle Pig specimen in daylight. Its gemmy emerald green corners and edges glow blue with natural fluorescence making it even tastier than a truffle itself!

Also, a bit of a feature today is a selection of Cassiterites from five Cornish localities. These are Geevor mine at Pendeen; Wheal Pendarves at Killivose and Wheal Bounty at Beacon, both near Camborne; Wheal Coates at St. Agnes and Old Beam mine at Bugle, near to St Austell.

Remaining in Cornwall, we have a rare specimen of crystallised Galena on Quartz from Padstow Consols, an old mine by the coast, just over 2 km northwest of Padstow. Rather surprisingly, given Cornwall’s rich and diverse mineralogy, specimens of crystallised Galena are uncommon and in this specimen lead grey cubic crystals of Galena, up to 2 cm on edge, cover one end of a milky Quartz-Galena veinstone. From Greystone quarry at Lezant near Callington, do take a look at a well crystallised Pyrite with Quartz. The miniature Olivenite included today, although a modest specimen, is from the historic collection of Archduke Stephan (1817 to 1867). Archduke Stephan Franz Viktor of Hungary assembled one of Europe’s more extensive mineral collections, most of which still survives in various national museums. Some specimens have been sold or swapped over the years by museums and this is one. Labelled ‘Redruth, Cornwall’, this is obviously from Gwennap Parish, now the St. Day area, where such mines as Wheal Gorland, Unity and Muttrall once operated. This specimen is accompanied with an Archduke (Erzherzog) Stephan label incorporating his coat of arms. It measures 6.8 x 4.3 cm and has been trimmed across the top and left and right sides. It is understood these labels were trimmed by curators in the Museum of Natural History at Humboldt University, Berlin, so as to fit within their specimen boxes. Following his death, the Archduke’s collection was bought by Carl Rumpff, a German industrialist, in 1899. Sadly, within the same year of buying the collection, and with barely a specimen unwrapped, Rumpff died and the collection was donated by his widow to Humboldt University. This specimen is bears the Archduke catalogue number 130/7.

Heading up to west Cumbria we also have a Baryte with Dolomite from the Frizington mining district; Quartz with Specularite, the bladed variety of Hematite, from Egremont and a lovely colourless and gemmy Calcite crystal from Bigrigg mine, roughly midway between Cleator Moor and Egremont.

One-off localities include a terrific yellow Fluorite with Quartz from Blackdene mine, close to the village of Ireshopeburn in Weardale; crystallised Galena from Bonsall Moor quarry and Fluorite with iron sulphide inclusions from Ladywash mine, both in Derbyshire, and a large transparent tabular Baryte crystal from Hilton mine in Scordale, Cumbria. The latter was collected by Lindsay Greenbank in the early 1970s and comes with his collection label.

Last but not least, I quite often take the liberty of including a specimen from our neighbours over in Ireland. I always enjoy looking at specimens from Tynagh mine at Killimor in County Galway, not only for their exquisite beauty but perhaps because I was lucky enough to make an underground visit there in 1977. This was then Europe’s most advanced mine and over its years of operation clocked-up an impressive 94 species. This small cabinet specimen is a lovely example of electric azure blue acicular Azurite crystals up to 4 mm forming ribbons which criss-cross a massive, earthy-textured Malachite gossan.

If my counting is correct, that completes today’s 21. As mentioned, no rare species, but some rare and extraordinary finds. The new Weardale Fluorites are particularly exciting because of their striking colour combinations with stunning examples of zonation. This just goes to prove what fantastic specimens can still be found in Britain right now and who knows what this year’s mining activity at Diana Maria and Lady Annabella will bring. We hope you enjoy reading more about today’s specimens via the hyperlinks and will be back on Friday, this time with a selection from Germany. PT


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Author: JH
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