New British Update 08 February 2022

8 February 2022

THIS week we return to British minerals and include many well-known and popular localities. Cornwall, Devon, Cumbria and Derbyshire appear to dominate but also look out for two sneaky contributions from Yorkshire.

We feature five Calcites from around the country, everyone entirely different and providing a good insight into regional variations of this species.

Specimens from Cumbria divide between the Caldbeck Fells, north of Keswick and the west Cumbria iron mines, mainly between Frizington and Egremont. The Caldbeck Fells are in the north-eastern corner of the English Lake District and cover an area of around 10 square miles (25 km2). The mines exploited veins rich in copper, lead and silver and also produced arsenic and tungsten. The Caldbeck mining district has over 220 recorded mineral species yet is type locality to only one, Redgillite. Interestingly, Redgillite was first found, unsurprisingly, in Red Gill, a small tributary valley to Dale Beck and Roughton Gill. However, the specimen first described had been collected sometime later in nearby Silver Gill where it also occurs and so Redgillite’s type locality is in Silver Gill yet is named for the Red Gill. Confused? You really could not make this up! It is my hope one day that a new species will be discovered in Red Gill and named Silvergillite, so completing the circle of mineralogical confusion! Enough of this, it’s time to knuckle-down and review some of today’s specimens.

Beginning in the Caldbeck Fells we have a lovely lime green Pyromorphite from Roughton Gill mine with crystals varying from acicular to rice grain habit over a matrix of vuggy, rusty white Quartz veinstone. Another classic is a light powder blue Hemimorphite richly covering a Chalcopyrite and Quartz veinlet from Roughton Gill. The Hemimorphite forms as botryoidal hillocks and sharp acicular sprays. Moving south into west Cumbria and its famous iron mining region, we offer two Calcites, two Barytes and a Smoky Quartz on Hematite. Specimens of Smoky Quartz from west Cumbria are always lovely, but this really has that je ne sais quoi, it is simply a thing of beauty with an aesthetic which certainly ticks all the boxes for me. The specimen is dominated by two splendid large Smoky Quartz crystals, the bigger measuring 3.5 cm from tip to tip, surrounded by many smaller such crystals and a druse of black lustrous Specular Hematite (Specularite). I won’t describe the others here but do look at the Barytes and Calcites as they are all excellent examples which typify this region.

While in the north of England, a quick jump across the Pennines into Yorkshire takes us to Grassington and Boulby mine. Grassington is in North Yorkshire and from here we have a fine and unusual example of a slickenside displayed by a naturally polished plate of Galena. Slickensides form by frictional movement along a fault plane where the two opposing surfaces have rubbed against one another, so generating a naturally polished surface. Boulby mine is very near to the beautiful harbour and village of Staithes and is the second deepest mine in Europe at around 1,400 m. Gemmy, light greenish blue Boracite crystals measuring to 3 mm form a rich druse over the top faces of creamy yellow Magnesite with associated scattered crystals of orange red Hilgardite. The Boracite forms pseudo-cubic crystals and this miniature is from Panel 282 within the mine.

Derbyshire is a county perhaps not so well known for its minerals outside of the UK, certainly compared to Cumbria or Cornwall, although I could be completely wrong on this. No letters please! I grew up quite close to Derbyshire and here, together with Alderley Edge in Cheshire, is where I first started collecting. The three Derbyshire Calcites are from Bage mine at Cromford; Ladywash mine at Eyam and Millclose mine at South Darley, close to Matlock. Millclose was once a highly productive lead and zinc mine and from here we have a magnificent six-sided scalenohedral Calcite crystal with alternately broad and narrow faces, all with a glassy bright lustre. That from Ladywash is a group of two, double terminated Calcite crystals of semi-transparent golden amber. As is nearly always the case at Ladywash, the Fluorite contains inclusions of Pyrite and possibly other sulphides. From Bage mine (famous for its phosgenite and matlockite), we have a set of four double terminated scalenohedron Calcites found on the 238 ft Level (south) in February 1999. Our last Derbyshire piece is a micro-crystallised, light tan Hemimorphite from the 50 fathom Flats Level in Golconda mine at Hopton. This lovely small cabinet specimen was collected in October 1997 in which the Hemimorphite forms a sparkling hillocky druse of 1 mm crystals over a matrix of snow white massive Baryte.

Our round-up ends in the far southwest of England, back in the familiar counties of Devon and Cornwall. A Devon favourite, not to mention a real classic, is Schorl Tourmaline from Woolley Farm near Bovey Tracey. Specimens of Schorl were collected a little prior to 1817 when a near-surface pegmatite pocket was unearthed on the farm. This large miniature displays a group of opaque, lustrous and matt, jet-black Schorl Tourmaline crystals to 2.5 cm with minor Feldspar and Fluorapatite.

A quick summary of today’s Cornish selection includes Pharmacosiderite from Wheal Gorland; Blister Copper from Tincroft; Fluorite with Siderite and Chalcopyrite from Carn Brea mine; Goethite on Quartz with banded Amethyst from Levant mine; Chalcocite from Geevor and Wood Tin Cassiterite from West Wheal Kitty, St. Agnes.

It is always a pleasure to showcase a selection of British minerals and today we have covered some of the most important metalliferous ore fields in England. Use the hyperlinks to see more photos of each specimen together with full detailed descriptions. Perhaps you need to bolster a region of your British suite and with luck it might be today when a few gaps are filled. Enjoy looking through and, like The Terminator, we’ll be back on Friday with more. PT

                                         

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.

 

'SPANN'S FAVORITES' - A TALK BY JIM & GAIL SPANN

The Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery will be hosting a talk by Jim & Gail Spann this coming Friday at 7pm.

Titled ’Spann’s Favorites’ - the talk by Jim and Gail is about top pieces in their collection and why they consider them so. Entry is free and includes dinner at 6pm.

Spaces are limited to 48 attendees, 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 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
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