New World Update 08 July 2022

8 July 2022

IF your collection is partly governed by the particular size of a specimen, then we probably have something for everyone in today’s update of world-wide minerals. I better hastily add, we have no micromounts! Yet from a thumbnail Tsumeb Malachite to a large cabinet Příbram Calcite with Pyrite (an absolute stunner), all tastes in between are catered for. We do aim to please!

Even for the collector unconcerned with specimen dimensions, the layout of their collection may naturally differentiate into size categories, as this tends to be the most efficient way to house a collection. For someone like myself who prefers drawer rather than display cabinets, then little space is lost if, say, all micromounts are stored in one unit with the narrowest of drawers through to much deeper drawer units for cabinet specimen. Beyond this, display cabinets really come into their own or perhaps like many collectors, their largest specimens are placed on top of cabinets, bookcases or even, dare I suggest, the mantlepiece, if granted suitable permission! The main disadvantage of such open displays is they soon become dust-gathers and if not cleaned regularly, are harbingers of a more greasy, airborne deposit which is much more tenacious to remove. To be fair, unless drawers or display cases are hermetically sealed, such stubborn deposits do still coat the specimens, albeit at a much slower, imperceptible rate. Should a collection be sold following 50 years residing non-air-tight cabinets (or drawers) then they are usually dulled by such a thin film of grease and dust and so require cleaning. The collector is often oblivious to this, for like watching your garden grown each day, nothing seems to alter.

With a guaranteed selection of clean and bright specimens, let’s begin our overview with a stunning Marcasite from Vintířov in the Czech Republic. My word, what a beguiling specimen this is. A fine cabinet specimen, almost 10 cm long, of slivery-golden Marcasite forms a spear-like plate, edged with serrated, sawtooth habit twinned crystals and terminating with similar morphology. It is displayable (to say the least) form either side as both faces are equally beautiful and well crystallised. Marcasite twins are developed out from the spine of the parent crystal, adding a three-dimensional structure to the specimen. Just look at the photos, as further description cannot do it justice.

Another amazing piece for its twinned crystals is a Galena with Chalcopyrite from Herja mine; an old mine by the village of Chiuzbaia in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. Spinel law twins form long and narrow crystals ranging from 2 to almost 4 cm in length, all of steely silver with a highly reflective, bright metallic lustre. Adding extra appeal is that ‘melted’ look; a familiar habit from Romania, Bulgaria and many locations in the USA. Brassy, crystallised Chalcopyrite manifests in occasional patches where the Galena crystals are slightly separated. It’s a wonderful cabinet specimen.

Our two representatives from Tsumeb are said Malachite and a most attractive miniature Mottramite. Primary Malachite forms 1 to 2 mm, intergrown blocky crystals, with opposed feathered acicular ends. The crystals are dark bottle green, tending towards greenish black, while the acicular ends are bright emerald green. The Mottramite forms coliform mounds and fronds which rise vertically from a flat base. These are darkish forest green with a rusty speckled dusting, yet from the opposite direction, a preferential film of much brighter Mottramite creates limey-pistachio green highlights.

Other great pieces to look at in more detail include Spinel on Vesuvianite from the Lake Baikal Area in Eastern-Siberia; a tasty Wulfenite from Touissit; Fluorite with Chalcopyrite, Calcite and Quartz from La Viesca mine in Asturias, Spain; resinous Pyrochlore crystals from the Vishnevye Mountains in the Southern Urals and a lovely Arsenopyrite from Trepča, Kosovo.

For the many collectors keen of the minerals of central Africa, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR) we have a terrific Baryte with Malachite. The DCR is the second largest country in Africa and the Katanga Copper Crescent lies towards its southern tip, about 130 km north of the border with Zambia. Shangulowé is renowned for producing the best Baryte in the DCR and this specimen features a 3 cm tall, perfect, chisel-tip terminated Baryte crystal embedded in a rich, velvet-like crust of bluish green Malachite.

Reminding you there are many more specimens not mentioned is this write-up, let’s end with two of the largest in today’s update; the first, a Schorl Tourmaline from Erongo in Namibia. From Davib Ost Farm 61 at Karibib, equant, jet black Schorl crystals up to 4 cm are intergrow to form an 11 x 9 cm glistening, cluster, made all the more appealing by their complex, stepped faces and superb glassy lustre.

Then last, but far from least, the Calcite with Pyrite from Uranium Mine No. 21 at Háje, Príbram, in the Czech Republic. This has to be one, if not the, biggest specimen we’ve ever featured in these updates, measuring an overall 19 x 18 x 11 cm. Scalenohedral Calcite crystals rise from a flat base with one forming a towering, cathedral-like spire, 17 cm tall. All crystals are preferentially coated; first with a continuous layer of micro-crystallised golden Pyrite, then overlain by translucent, dark grey, nail-head Calcite crystals. The opposite sides of the large Calcite crystals are preferentially coated with rusty brown limonite. One fascinating feature, where a scalenohedral crystal has been naturally cleaved, is overgrowth with a later-stage nail-head Calcite crystal. It’s a specimen which tells its own story.

Again, a wide spread of species, locations and sizes characteries today’s selection; a selection we hope provides plenty of interest to look and read through; maybe including one or two which fill those yearning gaps in your collection. We appear all set for some record-breaking high temperatures here in the UK this weekend, a rare event for a typical British summer! With this unfamiliar prospect looming, may we wish you a good and mineral-filled weekend wherever you are. PT.

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

Tuesday 12th July & Friday 15th July - World


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Author: JH, PT
Categories: Updates

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