New British Update 19 July 2022

19 July 2022

AS promised, our updates this week are minerals from the British Isles, specimens of which are hugely popular with a large number of overseas collectors as well as all those here in the UK.

We are taking a slightly different tack in that a fair number of high-end, more expensive, specimens have been selected with the total in both updates limited to 15. All budgets are catered for and for specimens perhaps out of your reach, then it costs nothing to look and enjoy. Just glancing over today’s picks, so many truly classic specimens jump out, providing a showcase of just what good British material is still available. The terms ‘classic’ and ‘iconic’ are all too readily banded about these days, but in this case it is true!

One superb aspect of our wonderful hobby is the historic connotations of so many specimens and their localities. The collector who drinks-up such knowledge is all the richer for it. Whatever the historic background, this helps place a specimen in context, providing an insight to its past life. We, as mineral collectors, live in an era when most of the specimens in our collections were probably mined within the past 250 years, with many much less than this. We may feel this is in the distant past, but if these specimens are to survive for the next few thousand years, passed on from collection to collection, future collectors will look back at us and think we were there at the beginning of their discovery, or at least within touching distance. Hence, every scrap and mere morsel of information we can preserve with a specimen will be treasured by future generations way ahead; when 2022 is just another dusty year in ancient history!

Removing my philosophical hat, let’s review and tempt you with some of today’s goodies, but not forgetting to mention some associated history. Virtuous Lady mine, close to the picturesque Devon village of Buckland Monachorum, has produced some of Britain’s most enigmatic and sought after specimens since several well documented discoveries were made in the 1800s. We have a fantastic specimen displaying a 10 cm tall, milk-white terminated Quartz crystal with Arsenopyrite and Siderite. Three to four Quartz faces are entirely encrusted by overgrowths of botryoidal Siderite and scattered over the exposed white faces are occasional hemispheres of mid-chocolate brown Siderite, adding a spotty effect. Attached to the base is a 5.0 x 3.5 x 2.0 cm mass of whitish-silver Arsenopyrite crystals with a metallic lustre. A slightly larger, yet near-identical specimen in The Arthur Russell Collection of British Minerals (held in the Natural History Museum, London) may be see on pages 69 (fig. 112) and 328 (fig. 652) of Roy Starkey’s Making it Mine: Sir Arthur Russell and his Mineral Collection. This stunning new book is available from Crystal Classics priced only £40 plus p&p. This is a magnificent specimen; one which will make an important addition to the very finest of collections.

The next British classic is a stunning, vivid deep sky to duck egg blue, botryoidal Hemimorphite from Roughton Gill mine in the Caldbeck Fells of Cumbria. At almost 9 cm long, this specimen is not unlike that shown on page 42 of The Lindsay Greenbank Collection: Classic Minerals of Northern England, published by the Mineralogical Record in Jan-Feb 2010, as a supplement to Vol. 41, No. 1. Covering a characteristic matrix of iron stained, milky Quartz vein-stuff, the Hemimorphite forms druses of tiny crystals covering the botryoidal surface. This surface appears smooth and slippery, but is rough, more like sandpaper (glasspaper) to the touch.

OK, for everyone waiting for a Liroconite, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. This very fine and rich small cabinet specimen is from its type locality at Wheal Gorland in the parish of Gwennap, Cornwall. Excellent blue to blueish-green, wedge-shaped Liroconite crystals richly line five prominent vugs across a good area of the display face of a rusty to cream Quartz gossan matrix. A large central Liroconite crystal measuring 6 mm is exceptional, while most crystals are in the 1 to 2 mm range. Specimens such as this were most probably mined during the early years of the mine as they were found in the shallower, near-surface oxidised zone of the orebody, so dating the specimen to the mid to late 1700s.

Another beauty from the Caldbeck fells is a Linarite from Red Gill mine in Swinburn Gill, a tributary of Roughton Gill. A substantial, terminated, bladed Linarite crystal measuring to 7 mm dominates a 1.5 x 1.5 cm vug. This is surrounded with other smaller, terminated Linarite crystals and crystal sections in association with a Cerussite pseudomorph after Leadhillite, pale green Brochantite and Cerussite. Glued to the specimen is an extremely old handwritten label, some of which is missing, but the following wording is still clearly visible: “Cupreous Sulphate” and “Caldbeck Fells, Cumberland”.

Others which must be mentioned include a rich Chalcotrichite from the Camborne-Redruth mining district; a magnificent Bornite from Carn Brea mine, Illogan; Bournonite with Quartz from Herodsfoot mine; two fine Barytes from west Cumbria and a Witherite from Nentsberry Haggs mine on Alston Moor.

We’ll round-off with fanfare of favourites! An ex. Sir Arthur Russell Clinoclase from Wheal Gorland; a fabulous Schorl with Fluorapatite from Woolley Farm and, from one of my favourite localities, a gorgeous cluster of equant Sphalerite crystals on Quartz from Great Laxey mine, north of Douglas on the beautiful Isle of Man. How do these grab you?

That’s it! I need to stop writing and enjoy a long lie down with a suitably chilled G&T in hand. Not because of today’s all time UK record-breaking temperatures of over 40 C in some places, but the thought of all these mouth-watering British classics; it’s all a bit too much! Enjoy, for this is a wonderful opportunity to add some amazing British specimens to your collection. PT.

                             

If you'd like to see a video of any of the specimens listed above then please contact us at orders@crystalclassics.co.uk 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.

 

EAST COAST GEM, MINERAL & FOSSIL SHOW 2022

We return to West Springfield, Massachusetts for the East Coast Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show which takes place on Friday, August 12 through to Sunday, August 14. Admission for the show is $10.00 (Under 13 free with adult) and Crystal Classics will be located at space 129 in the shows retail section. Doors open 10am-6pm on Friday and Saturday and 10am-5pm for the Sunday.

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Author: JH, PT
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