New Europe Update 29 April 2022

28 April 2022

TODAY we stay with our European theme but have upped the specimens to small and medium cabinet size. It is safe to say all are aesthetic perhaps with the exception of two, an Alabandite and a Nagyagite and what these lack in beauty they compensate for in chemistry and rarity.

Our usual selection of 21 cover nine countries throughout continental Europe, with four different species from their type localities. There are many classics and a fair few which are lovely examples from localities seldom seen in the mineral market, one being lilac tipped green octahedral Fluorite crystals from Gelbe Birke mine in Saxony. Two of my favourites are the most common of species, Calcite and Sphalerite but, as every experienced collector knows, common species at their best can equal any more exotic or rare specimen. We’ll explore a bit deeper…

Let me indulge myself by beginning with the Calcite and Sphalerite. Said Calcite is from Příbram in the Czech Republic. Stacked nail-head crystals with deep salmon pink inclusions form a dome-shaped small cabinet specimen. The nail-head crystals are set horizontally, composed of flattened rhombic prisms displaying a three-fold trigonal symmetry, colourless and gemmy and averaging 8 to 10 mm in diameter. These stack vertically on top of one another forming pagoda-like towers made all the more aesthetic by their deep pink vertical cores. It’s a thing of beauty. As for the Sphalerite, this is from Trepča in Kosovo, composed of individual black Sphalerite crystals to 3.5 cm long with a fabulous bright metallic lustre. The intergrown Sphalerite crystals display simple to quite complex twinning crystal forms, with a partial preferential deposition of creamy Calcite crystals dusted over one side.

Our four type locality pieces are Alabandite and Nagyagite (separate specimens) both from Săcărâmb in Romania; a very rich Libethenite from Ľubietová in Slovakia and a magnificent Wulfenite from the Bleiberg District in Carinthia, Austria. Taking these in order, it has already been said the former two are the ugly brutes of the pack, yet both Alabandite (manganese sulphide) and Nagyagite (lead-gold-tellurium-antimony sulphosalt) always make good additions to a collection, I have certainly succumbed to both over the years! Libethenite (a copper phosphate hydroxide) occurs as glassy, highly lustrous tetrahedral crystals of intense deep bottle green, entirely lining every vug in this iron stained milky Quartz veinstone. The Wulfenite (a lead molybdate) is of museum grade. Its upper display face is a mass of large blocky tabular Wulfenite crystals to 1.7 cm on edge and typically 5 to 7 mm thick, of rich butterscotch grading to bright apricot orange. The Wulfenite crystals form as sandwich-like, layered tabular crystals often with a darker middle layer with lighter outer faces, these typically encrusted in tiny, spiky Wulfenite crystals. Bleiberg was an ancient mining district with mines known to have been working in the 16th century. The species was renamed in 1845 in respect of Franz Xavier von Wulfen.

This update includes four terrific Pyromorphites representing the Czech Republic, France, Germany and Italy. That from the Příbram Mining District displays vivid chartreuse to leaf green Pyromorphite crystals richly coating an iron-stained Quartz matrix. From Le Rossignol in the Centre-Val de Loire, two generations of Pyromorphite richly coat a thick plate of pale lemon and lilac Fluorite-rich matrix. The first phase of Pyromorphite deposition manifests as light clove-brown acicular crystals to about 5 mm. Clustered on their terminations are 1 to sub-millimetre second generation, light creamy-buff crystals. From the Heilige Dreifaltigkeit mine in Saxony the Pyromorphite crystals are a beautiful siskin-lime green whereas that from the rarely encountered Su Zurfuru mine in Sardinia, form a limey-apple green botryoidal coating of Pyromorphite within a highly vuggy Baryte matrix.

Another specimen of pure joy for me is a mass of Scheelite crystals encrusting a single Quartz crystal from the Cínovec/Zinnwald orefield, an ore deposit blissfully unaware of spanning the Germany-Czech Republic border! Many hundred and probably a thousand or more light caramel octahedral Scheelite crystals of up to 4 mm cover the six terminated faces and an area of approximately 5 x 4 cm on the broadest prism face of a Quartz crystal. Under SWUV the Scheelite fluoresces pale creamy white.

Quick mention must be made of several other specimens very worthy of your attention. Remember, you can investigate every specimen via the individual hyperlinks. Galena with Sphalerite and Quartz from Cavnic, Romania; excellent Chalcopyrite crystals from Friedrich-Wilhelm mine, Germany; Smoky Quartz with Cassiterite on Zinnwaldite from Cínovec/Zinnwald; wonderful olive green Smithsonite from San Valentín mine in Spain and a rather scrumptious mixture of limey yellow-green and mid to dark chocolate brown Andradite crystals from the Ocna de Fier-Dognecea District of Romania.

We’ll end with the biggest of today’s lot, a magnificent Quartz with Pyrite and Calcite from Cavnic in Romania. Many large milky Quartz crystals, the largest to 10 cm tall, surround colourless acicular Quartz needles interspersed with bright metallic gold Pyrite. The entire specimen is preferentially coated with tiny snow white Calcite crystals. It’s a real showstopper.

So there you have it, our selection of European specimens to study and peruse over this extended May Day holiday weekend. Next week we return to the British Isles, again mainly with cabinet size specimens. We use the term British Isles as this includes Ireland, the second largest island in the British Isles and the third in Europe. If you are having a three day weekend we hope you are able to enjoy it to the full and with good weather but do ensure some quiet time to enjoy our update and make those essential picks! PT

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

Tuesday 3rd May & Friday 6th May - British


If you'd like to see a video of any of the specimens listed above then please contact us at 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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