New Czech Republic Update 25 February 2022

25 February 2022

WE enjoyed looking at Romanian minerals on Tuesday and today we travel north west to the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has borders with, in clockwise order, Austria, Germany, Poland and Slovakia and is a country with a reputation for some world-class mineral localities.

Probably the mining district around the town of Příbram is its best known specimen source, a town whose history is steeped in rich mining history going back hundreds of years. Much of this country’s mineral wealth is associated with the Bohemian Massif and the Western Carpathians whose mineralisation is primarily of Variscan age, similar to that of Cornwall and Devon in southwest England.

This selection contains no particularly rare minerals but is rich in many highly aesthetic specimens and excellent examples of their type from localities in and around Příbram plus other mining areas further afield. Specimens range from miniatures to large cabinet size and from modern classics to those clearly once part of long since dispersed antiquarian collections. Let’s delve a little deeper to see just what is in store…

I’m tempted to begin with our one faceted item, a stunning gemmy, slightly acidic, pastel lemon Aragonite from Cícov Hill in Bohemia. Weighing 17.5 carats, this rare and very difficult to facet stone has an emerald cut, being rectangular with truncated corners and under LWUV fluoresces bright smoky lemon-white. The Grossular Garnet from Žulová in Moravia may not be gemmy or even translucent, but with lustrous cinnamon-red crystals to 3 cm, is a real eye-catcher! The crystals are of complex form whose bevelled modifications to the prism edges cause the crystals to look and feel slippery, polished and rounded, giving the specimen great tactile appeal.

With the analogy already made to mineralisation in SW England, we have many Czech specimens very akin to those in Cornwall and Devon collections, including Cassiterite, Olivenite, Pyromorphite, Tetrahedrite and Jamesonite. The Cassiterite is from Horní Slavkov and from a fine granular pegmatitic matrix containing purple Fluorite, colourless Topaz and creamy Feldspar, emerge four large Cassiterite crystals, the largest to 3.3 cm and all displaying prism faces with a dazzling lustre, more like polished glass than a metal oxide! The Tetrahedrite, from Příbram, has excellent sharp, bright metallic, silvery grey crystals to 1.2 cm in a biscuit-coloured Siderite. Associated with the Tetrahedrite are minor brassy Chalcopyrite and micro-crystals of gemmy-translucent burnt orange-red Sphalerite. Pyromorphite is always a collector’s favourite and this charming miniature is from the Vojtěch mine in Brezové Hory, a district within Příbram. A narrow, elongated open pocket is completely lined with drusy Pyromorphite ranging from lime-green to lemon-mustard-yellow.

If you are looking for a larger size specimen, then how about a Smoky Quartz at an impressive 21 cm tall? This crystal is from the granite pegmatites at Dolní Bory in Moravia and is a magnificent example of what is sometimes termed sprouting or hypo-parallel quartz, in this case where four prism faces are covered in secondary Quartz crystal overgrowths, all aligned parallel to the primary crystal. Each one of these has a deep smoky termination and bright glassy lustre, making it a fine example of this crystallographic habit and a wonderful display piece.

Three cabinet specimens, two Pyrites and a Marcasite, leap out from this selection, each because of their striking aesthetics. One Pyrite is from Stříbro in the Plzeň Region and forms micro-crystals of cubic, light golden Pyrite with a brilliant, mirror-like lustre overgrowing black Sphalerite crystals of 1 to 4 mm, also with a bright metallic lustre. This association covers at least one third of a drusy crystallised undulating bed of milky grey micro-crystals of Quartz and is extremely attractive.

The Marcasite is a fine cabinet specimen, displaying multiple arrays of twinned arrowhead, metallic light golden crystals developed in and over a pinkish beige, fine grained calcareous matrix of either chalk or marl from Vintírov in the Karlovy Vary Region. The twinned crystals form arms measuring to almost 7 cm and display a superb variety of twinning habits. These include nested unidirectional arrowheads, horizontally branching spears and forms resembling a flattened Christmas tree, graduating from broad horizontal branches at the base to a narrow and pointed apex.

The other Pyrite is an outstanding group and relatively large cabinet specimen of Pyrite coating Calcite and is an absolute treasure. It would look stunning in any cabinet and could also sit equally comfortably as a fantastic Christmas decoration of towering golden spires or a forest of glistening fir trees! From Uranium Mine No. 21 at Háje near to Příbram, the Calcite crystals form tall, narrow elongated scalenohedral prisms of translucent off-white to smoky mid-grey. It appears these crystals lay horizontally in a pocket because the thick coating of brassy golden Pyrite preferentially covers only one side of all the Calcites, indicating their in-situ ’way-up’ orientation.

There are many other fine specimens for you to enjoy and consider amongst these highlighted above. If you are unfamiliar with Czech mineralogy then, although only a snapshot, today’s update will give a hint of the diversity and beauty of what this country has to offer.

We remain in Europe next week with a British and then a French update and, similar to today, showcasing some of the classic minerals both these neighbouring countries are famous for. Enjoy our Czech selection and no matter what your collecting perspective is, we hope you find many items of interest. PT

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

Tuesday 1st March - British

Friday 4th MarchFrench

                                         

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.

 

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Author: JH
Categories: Updates

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