New British Update 03 May 2022

3 May 2022

WE are back after our extended weekend break following the Monday May Day holiday. Back with a vengeance with what we feel is a great selection of British small cabinet-size specimens. Being specific, all are from England and although none are rare species, we feature some nice historic pieces, a few rarely encountered crystal habits for their particular location and some collector’s favourites, Bovey Tracy Tourmaline for instance.

Serendipity occasionally dictates happy coincidence and this has manifested for me in this update. In a weekly Zoom chat last Wednesday evening with mineral friends, we discussed the leather bound catalogues recording the famous Henry Heuland auctions of the early nineteenth century, so have included such a specimen dating from an auction in 1832. Historical associations are just one of the many joys of mineral collecting, adding great interest as well as kudos to a collection. Another specimen with a nice history is a Cassiterite from Great Wheal Fortune at Breage in Cornwall, a specimen once owned by J.H. Collins, author of the classic A Handbook to the Mineralogy of Cornwall and Devon (1892). Many of you will own the facsimile of this book published by D. Bradford Barton in the 1969. I purchased my first copy while still a student back in 1975 for the then princely sum of £2.40. It remains a treasured possession despite now somewhat dogeared through use.

The ex. Henry Heuland specimen is, I have to admit, a Native Copper in Chrysocolla from Goonhilly Downs on the Lizard, Cornwall. It was Lot 44 in a Heuland Auction held in 1832 and was purchased by Isaac Walker (1794-1853), a British collector. Two very old unprovenanced labels accompany this specimen; the smaller most defiantly that of Walker and the other possibly of Heuland. The ex. Collins’ specimen is a heavily iron-stained matrix of massive Quartz and Killas with its top surface densely coated with 2 to 5 mm lustrous Cassiterite crystals varying between black and clove brown. It is accompanied by a Sir Arthur Russell label (unprovenanced but clearly in his handwriting and style) on which he notes the Collins connection.

Even though collector and dealer Richard Barstow was very much of the modern era, he has become equally as famous as any Victorian collectors and/or dealer since his all too early passing in 1982 aged just 35. We have an unusually coloured acidic lemon to mustard yellow Pyromorphite from Roughton Gill mine in the Caldbeck Fells of Cumbria with a Barstow green stock label. This probably indicates he collected it, given his extensive reputation of specimen recovery in this area.

Collectors of Cornish minerals know just how difficult it is to find well crystallised Cornish Galena. This example from Wheal Jane (3 Sub Level East) is a fine, roughly 3 cm part-cubic crystal sat in a matrix of Quartz, Arsenopyrite and Sphalerite. It’s a terrific example for Cornwall and will make a lovely addition to any Cornish Collection.

We usually feature one or two goodies from Wheal Gorland and today have Pharmacosiderite and Olivenite. Both are super small miniatures, the Olivenite being especially rich and lustrous.

Well worth a further look is a rather gorgeous purple Fluorite, a floater crystal from Blackdene mine in Weardale, measuring over 4 cm on each edge and displaying beautiful, quite gemmy outer edges and a deliciously mottled patchwork of purple, lilac and mauve.

Other beauties include double terminated Smoky Quartz crystals on Hematite with Specular Hematite and an excellent crystallised Calcite, both from Cleator Moor, West Cumbria. Close by from Mowbray mine near Frizington, a 9.4 cm tall gemmy to translucent barley yellow Baryte with creamy white Dolomite crystals. This splendid specimen is accompanied with a George L. English label (in almost pristine in condition) labelled “Barite (Phantom).”

There are lots of other super specimens to choose from, but I will close with a mention of the Woolly Farm Schorl Tourmaline from Bovey Tracy in Devon. This is one of England’s most iconic mineral localities and remains a firm favourite amongst many a mineral fiend today! Such a fiend may already have countless specimens from this historic locality, yet there is always room of just one more!

Small miniatures are a nice size of specimen to collect, not too big as to consume masses of space, yet large enough to study and enjoy without the assistance of magnification! Take a good look though our selection of 21 and we think you will discover many fine treasures. PT


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
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