New World Update 04 February 2022

4 February 2022

WE are maintaining a wide spread of worldwide mineral localities again today, although the main focus is on Europe. Top of the European list today is England with six specimens, followed by the Czech Republic and Germany each with three. Further afield we also visit Canada and Australia. Again we are pleased to include some quite rare species as we know how popular these are, especially with systematic collectors.

A systematic collector is one who assembles as many different mineral species as is possible and this number is forever growing. There are currently almost 6,000 recognised species and although this total is small relative to biological diversity, it is still a huge number to aspire to. Just for comparison and to put mineral species in perspective, there are for example, about 14,000 species of mushrooms!

The acquisition of rare mineral species is an ever up-hill struggle. The first 2,000 to 3,000 more common species are relatively easy, given time and effort. The next 500 become ever more elusive because of their scarcity and so this progresses, with increasingly exponential levels of difficulty! Take for example a new mineral discovered in material returned from the Moon by the Apollo missions. How does a systematic collector acquire one of these? With great difficulty or more probably, not.

Admittedly we don’t have minerals of such dizzying rarity, but I can mention upfront the likes of Agrellite, Alunogen, Bavenite, Hellandite-(Y), Joséite and Vigezzite. And for those interested in historic aspects of mineralogy, we again have some terrific old labels with some of today’s specimens. So, let’s take a quick look at what we have…

Being a little biased I’ll begin in England. We have three Weardale Fluorites, each of different pockets from UKMV’s current mining operations at the Diana Maria and Lady Annabella mines. Two fantastic emerald green Fluorites are from The Hidden Forest and Autumn Pockets (DM mine) and a fabulously colour zoned yellow and blue Fluorite from Jakub’s Pocket (LA mine). The Caldbeck Fells in Cumbria is one of the UK’s classic localities and from Carrock mine we have a thick silver curved blade of bright metallic Joséite, a comparatively rare bismuth-tellurium sulphide. Carrock mine was the only commercial tungsten mine outside of Cornwall and Devon. From Cornwall take a look at the Native Copper with Cuprite from Levant mine and a lovely, off-matrix twinned Cassiterite from St. Michael’s Mount. For those of you unfamiliar with this locality, St. Michael's Mount is a spectacular tidal island linked to the mainland by a short causeway, opposite Marazion and just east of Penzance. The underlying, highly mineralised granite, only manifests at surface on the southern, seaward side of the Mount where tin bearing veins run out to the sea.

Let’s discuss some of the rarities, starting with the Agrellite. This is a sodium-calcium silicate also containing fluorine, from its type locality in the Kipawa alkaline complex at Les Lacs-du-Témiscamingue, Québec. This opaque glassy block, 10 cm long, is a bluish grey cream with strongly crystallised foliation parallel to its length. Under LWUV the Agrellite fluoresces ethereal strawberry cream at about 25 cm from the source but hold the UV lamp close and it transforms to bright bubble-gum pink!

A rare combination specimen is that of Vigezzite with Bavenite from Pizzo Marcio, a mountain in the Piedmont Region of northern Italy. Vigezzite is a calcium-cerium-niobium-tantalum-titanium oxide and Bavenite a calcium-beryllium-aluminium silicate, but with a quite variable composition. These minerals are small yet readily recognisable, set in a matrix of snow white, pegmatitic Albite Feldspar.

The last rarity I will mention is a Hellandite-(Y), an extremely complex silicate containing the elements Ca, Al, Fe, Li, Be, B, Y and Yb plus, of course, silicon. This is from its type locality at Kragerø in Telemark, Norway. The Hellandite-(Y) forms a single crystal to 2.4 cm, half embedded in a plate of Feldspar. In LWUV the Hellandite-(Y) fluoresces pale, dull mustard yellow, very feint but just visible.

In the native element department we have a Native Gold from the Missinaibi area of the Sudbury District and a Native Silver from the Gowganda area, both in Ontario, Canada. The Native Silver pervades a pale peppermint green and cream veinstone matrix in which the Native Silver is so rich, it is this which binds the rock component rather than vice versa. Thick protruding sheets of Native Silver around the edges have a sharp, hackly texture and if flicked by thumb and forefinger, emits a clear metallic ring. It’s a heavy old specimen and it’s a showy specimen, great for display.

We include another specimen from the Mineral Collection of Archduke Stephan Franz Viktor of Hungary (1817 to 1867), not yet see before as a web specimen. This old-time large specimen of siskin sage green Pyromorphite is from Holzappel in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. From the Czech Republic, do look at the lustrous Cassiterite from Krásno, then a cockscomb flesh pink Baryte and fabulous miniature Calcite with Pyrite, both from Příbram. Also from around Europe, a Salammoniac with Alunogen from Hänichen in Germany; thick mats of hair-like Boulangerite on Rhodochrosite with Quartz from Trepča in Kosovo; Titanite from Tujetsch in Switzerland and a charming thumbnail pink octahedral Fluorite with Smoky Quartz from Bächistock, again in Switzerland.

It is a real mixture today with no particular theme, but why worry when it (hopefully) provides a great mix of localities and species to savour. The weekend is almost here, so enjoy exploring today’s 21 and with luck find something you’ve been on the hunt for! PT

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

Tuesday 8th February & Friday 11th February - British

                                         

If you'd like to see a video of any of the specimens listed above then please contact us at orders@crystalclassics.co.uk 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.

 

FORTHCOMING EVENTS AT THE TUCSON FINE MINERAL GALLERY

The Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery will be hosting two excellent events next week.

On Monday, February 7 the ‘Fine Mineral Forum’ will be taking place, which is an all day event featuring talks by Peter Megaw, Gene Meieran, Geoff Krasnov, Patrick Dreher and Jesse Fisher. Tickets are $20 and includes lunch.

This is then followed by ’Spann’s Favorites’ - a talk by Jim and Gail Spann about top pieces in their collection and why they consider them so, on Friday, February 11 at 7pm. Entry is free and includes dinner.

Spaces are limited to 48 attendees for both events, and will be issued on a first come, first serve basis, so you are advised to register early to book your place.

If you would like to attend either talk please email Debbie Boyer at debbie@tucsonfinemineralgallery.com to confirm your place.

Face masks are to be worn by all attendees.

 

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MINERAL WISH LIST

We also offer an additional service that enables you, as our customer, to contact us via orders@crystalclassics.co.uk with your mineral wish list to enhance your current collection, but are unable to find the right specimens on our website. We have 1000's of specimens in our general stock that do not appear online.

Author: JH
Categories: Updates

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