New Germany Update 11 March 2022

11 March 2022

OUR Tuesday update was from Austria and today we cross the border into Germany. German updates always provide a wide variety of mineral species and although today is no different, it seems like quite a different selection in terms of species and localities. Amongst our usual offering of 21 specimens we include three type localities, plus one specimen featured in Lapis.

The minerals representing their type localities are Boracite, Fluorapatite and Helvine. Boracite is a magnesium borate, first discovered on the Lüneburger Kalkberg, a hill now within the town of Lüneburg in Lower Saxony. The Lüneburger Kalkberg is the surface manifestation of an underlying salt dome. Salt, due to its low density and plasticity, is buoyant in the Earth’s crust and rises, so deforming overlying sediments into the hill we see today. Collectors of British minerals know all about the association of Boracite with the sodium and potassium salts in the English Zechstein at Boulby mine. We have two individual dodecahedral Boracite crystals from Lüneburg, incredibly sharp and gemmy crystals of light peppermint green.

The type locality of Fluorapatite is the mining area around Ehrenfriedersdorf, again in Saxony. This charming miniature has four distinct, thick prismatic crystals of semi-transparent to translucent Fluorapatite of pale sherry with hints of pale blue. They cluster around blackberry purple cubic Fluorite crystals to 1 cm on edge and colourless, gemmy acicular needles of Quartz.

Our third type locality is that for Helvine, a rare beryllium manganese silicate, from St. Richard mine (formerly the Friedefürst mine), just east of the town centre of Breitenbrunn, Saxony. The Helvine forms sharp, buttery lemon yellow tetrahedral crystals which richly line vugs in a Quartz-rich matrix.

Many collectors like to own specimens which have featured in books or magazines. I know some who place a small photo of the publication they appear in next to the specimen on display, a discerning nod which often prompts a riveting tale. Today’s Erythrite, from near the town of Schneeberg in Erzgebirge, Saxony, appears in the May 2010 edition of Lapis (Vol. 35, No. 5) on page 33. This fascinating article translates approximately into English as Ways to Noble Blue: Ceramic Blue Colours in Germany. This miniature displays a lovely cluster of cherry-red acicular Erythrite crystals amongst tiny Quartz crystals in a vuggy Quartz veinstone.

Before proceeding further, we have to declare two fabulous Native Silver specimens, both very different yet spectacular in their distinctly stunning crystal morphologies. We will begin with the much smaller of the two, from the Herzog Johann mine at Brand-Erbisdorf in the Freiberg District of Saxony. Most of the Native Silver takes the form of sooty black, gnarled, looping wires, with a few small crude cubic Native Silver crystals having formed on one side of the specimen. The Native Silver covers a 2 x 1 cm patch and one 1 mm thick wire extends to 2.5 cm above the matrix. It is a showy miniature, reminiscent of Kongsberg material.

Our second Native Silver is without doubt a complete showstopper. This is a seriously fantastic, large cabinet specimen of dendritic Native Silver, forming fronds which mask a good 80% of a sooty dark grey Native Arsenic matrix. This museum quality (and size) specimen is from Pöhla in the Schwarzenberg District of Erzgebirge, Saxony; probably from the Pöhla-Tellerhäuser mine. The geology and subsequent mineralisation at Pöhla is complex but may be simplistically summarised here as a succession of skarn, metasomatic, greisenization and hydrothermal processes. I estimate the Native Silver covers about 250 cm2, across all surfaces of the matrix, occurring as exquisite branching feather and fern-like plumes lying parallel to the matrix surface, yet proud of it, supported by successive underlying dendritic layers. None of the Native Silver is silver in colour, more a mottled mixture of reddish caramel burnished tan. Measuring almost 20 cm long, it’s a heavy specimen because of the considerable amount of Native Arsenic, a metal with a relative density (S.G.) of almost six times the weight of water.

Another large specimen is a beautiful Amethyst with Baryte and Quartz on Fluorite from the Wölsendorf Fluorite Mining District in the Upper Palatinate of Bavaria. This 18 x 12 cm plate of vividly coloured lilac to deep violet Amethyst crystals cover a matrix of sage green Fluorite. In the gullies between each Amethyst crystal meander riband-like trails of micro-sucrosic white Quartz crystals, highlighting each individual Amethyst crystal.

Summarising some of today’s other treasures, make sure you see the lovely smoky olive to creamy apple green Prehnite from Rauschermühle quarry at Niederkirchen; a great Nickelskutterudite from Schneeberg; a splendid Pyrite from the Bayerland mine at Pfaffenreuth; a fabulously crystallised Pyrolusite from Gremmelsbach and an excellent Allargentum from Shaft 371, the main shaft of the former Aue Mining Company in the Schlema-Hartenstein District of Saxony. Allargentum is a natural alloy of silver and antimony and this specimen is what I endearingly refer to as a beastly beauty! It may have attributes more akin to a beast, but what a gnarled, hackly delight it is, with the ropey appearance of a lava or slag. Metallic alloys form interesting subsets with the native element group and this terrific specimen will make a splendid addition.

Finally, check-out a really superb and very reasonably priced crystallised Rhodochrosite, from the famous Wolf mine at Herdorf in Rhineland-Palatinate. There is also a truly amazing Millerite with Baryte on Siderite from the Pfannenberger Einigkeit mine, close to Neunkirchen. The Millerite forms needle-like, metallic golden green crystals in radiating spheres, whose centres adopt a deep olive green hue surrounded by lustrous pale golden halos.

We really hope you find today’s selection from Germany fascinating, both from a mineralogical perspective and also the collector’s standpoint, including interesting species, localities and diverse deposit types. The weekend is almost upon us, hopefully allowing you time to ponder and choose, just one of the many joys of building a collection. We return next Tuesday with a British selection. I’ve had a sneak preview and already have napkins at hand to mop my salivating chops! PT

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

Tuesday 15th March - British

Friday 18th MarchEnglish Fluorite


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Author: JH
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