New British Update 06 May 2022

6 May 2022

WE kick-off today with two announcements of important dates for your diary.

The Crystal Classics Summer Open Day here in East Coker, Somerset, will take place on Saturday, June 11. We always look forward to welcoming back all our regular customers and if you have yet to attend this event, then delay no further! It’s a fabulous day to meet old friends and make new, plus a Showroom busting with superb minerals. To book your place please email Debbie at or by phone 01935 862 673 to register your interest. 

Even sooner is the three-day Open Weekend event at the Crystal Classics showroom at the Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery, to be held across Friday to Sunday inclusive, May 13 to 15. This means the Tucson event is only ONE week away and that in East Coker will be here before you know it! So start planning now for these two exciting Mineral events welcoming you either side of The Pond.

Back to today, this update features 21 cabinet size specimens from Britain and Ireland. To clarify just what we mean by cabinet size, save the Cornish Amethyst, all fit into a 12.5 x 9.0 x 5.5 cm box and without exception, fill the box fairly well. The Amethyst is just a little bigger. I can make no pretence as to any specimen being even remotely rare in terms of species, but as for aesthetic and quality, well that’s a different matter. Casting my eye over the three flats is an absolute joy and I would happily have everyone in my collection. Although the minerals featured are all well-known species and from familiar localities, dismiss them at your peril!

Two which immediately strike me are a Pyromorphite from Roughton Gill and a Calcite from west Cumberland. It’s all too easy to think “same old, same old”, but you may well think differently once you’ve seen them! Another example is a nicely crystallised Scorodite from Hemerdon mine at Sparkwell in Devon; a specimen collected during Crystal Classics’ specimen mining operations at Hemerdon during 2006. Probably most collectors of British minerals own at least one of these, but that featured today is a rare example where the teal blue Scorodites are set against a microcrystalline druse of apricot orange Pharmacosiderite crystals. Right, you get the idea most of today’s specimens offer more than you first suspect, so let’s do our usual overview.

Without doubt the least common locality featured here is Rotherhope Fell mine on Alston Moor in east Cumbria. Due to the quality of its minerals and their tantalising scarcity, just the mention of this mine makes the devotee of British mineralogy prick-up their ears! This Quartz on Fluorite with Galena is a fabulous specimen, offering teasing glimpses of the underlying rich purple Fluorite.

From Trawnamoe mine in County Waterford, Ireland, we have a great example of Connellite, forming a rich post-mining deposit of intense deep sky to powder blue, a colour difficult to describe and photograph! Under low magnification the Connellite is seen to form earthy sheets, micro-botryoidal spheres and sinusoidal, flowstone-type ribands.

As already alluded to, the Pyromorphite from Roughton Gill in the Caldbeck Fells is nothing short of stunning. The upper surface of a Quartz veinstone is covered with small, light siskin-lime green, specular Pyromorphite crystals. I can only say it is a stand-out specimen which would sit proudly within any fine suite of Caldbeck Fells material.

Wheal Gorland features specimens of Cuprite on Native Copper and Chalcophyllite. The former is what I choose to endearingly describe as a beastly beauty; possibly not the most attractive of specimens but certainly something quite remarkable and different for the locality. The Native Copper is very much hidden by the Cuprite, which occurs as flattened squat cuboctahedral crystals commonly up to 1 cm wide and displaying a rich deep maroon beneath the typical metallic silvery patina. It’s a hefty old specimen with a definite charm! The Chalcophyllite forms a rich coverage of turquoise to bluish-green crystals exhibiting various shades of green according to the degree of hydration. The specimen also features small botryoidal patches of Malachite.

Another rarely encountered specimen is a super-rich Pseudomalachite cementing brecciated Quartz crystals, considered most probably to be from Old Gunnislake mine. Other rather lovely specimens to investigate further include a gorgeous gemmy yellow Hilton mine Fluorite; Sphalerite with Quartz from Nentsberry Haggs mine at Nenthead; great mauve-purple Fluorite crystals dusted with gemmy Quartz and tan Siderite from Allenheads mine in Northumberland and a tangle of intergrown Quartz crystals, overgrown by dark green Chlorite and yellowish-orange iron oxides from Hingston Down quarry at Gunnislake, Cornwall.

Let’s conclude this tour by mentioning four Cornish beauties. Kaolinite pseudomorphing after Orthoclase, commonly known as Pig’s Eggs, are common specimens from the China clay pits around St Austell. However, it’s not every day you see a 10 x 9 cm example of two intergrown pseudomorphs after Carlsbad twinned Orthoclase crystals. This beautiful specimen was collected by the late and much respected Maurice Grigg, a specimen which remained in his collection for many years.

Although Baryte is recorded in several old publications from Wheal Mary Ann at Menheniot, it has never been abundant. This specimen displays intergrown thick tabular Baryte crystals averaging 2 cm and up to 3 cm, over a matrix of zingy lemon-yellow Fluorite cubes, some to almost 4 cm on edge!

Despite the provenance of our banded Wood Tin habit of Cassiterite being limited to Cornwall, it is a superb specimen. Near-horizontal bands of sooty-black-grey Cassiterite are interbedded with milky-white massive Quartz, the top surface of which is covered with up-standing Quartz crystals heavily coated with micro-crystals of Dolomite and probable Siderite.

The China Clay Pits around St Austell have produced many fine Amethysts over the years. This example from the Rostowrack CCP on Hendra Downs by St Dennis is exceptionally good, both for the quality of its crystals and its good Amethyst colour. Many crystals exceed 2 cm in both height and width and display a patchwork of various shades of lilac through to purple. A sub-suite representing the minerals of the St Austell China District makes an important and fabulous addition to any collection of Cornish specimens.

I really feel this is a terrific selection of good quality specimens from around the British Isles which should offer something of interest to most of our followers. What could be nicer than treating yourself to a fine mineral specimen? Unlike James Bond, you only live once, so even if a sneaky purchase feels a tad daring, let caution go to the wind! Seriously, we hope you like today’s selection and do find items of interest. Enjoy your weekend and the minerals. PT

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

Tuesday 10th May & Friday 13th May - Beauty and the Beast


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Author: JH
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