17 gem crystals from the Big Pocket

In September, 2006 I attended the Franklin, NJ show for the first time, hoping to buy some quality specimens. I was not disappointed, as the tailgaters were out in force, and there was lots of great material to choose from. After picking up our purchases, Jeanne and I headed over to Ogdensburg, to the Sterling Hill Mine Museum. We had been given a tip that the museum was holding its annual gem and mineral sale to clear out some of its excess specimens, and we decided to go take a look. We perused the goodies laid out on tables in the picnic area, then introduced ourselves to president and co-founder Richard Hauck, who showed us around the storage warehouse. It is a fairly large metal building, packed to the rafters with flats and boxes of mineral specimens piled onto heavy metal shelving. The specimens were of every quality level, from 25¢ to hundreds of dollars, all donated to the museum since it first opened in 1990. Amongst the flats we discovered a box marked "Smoky Quartz, Lovejoy Pits, Conway, NH." The locality, now closed, had its heyday in the 1950s, producing superb specimens of pegmatite minerals such as smoky quartz, topaz, and amazonite. Inside the box were about 30 smoky quartz crystals plus a bunch of smaller shards, along with an envelope with the return address of Wesley Crozier of Fair Haven, N.J (who died in 2000). Written in big letters were the words, "Smoky quartz crystals Big Find - 1959". Inside was a hand written document, which was an account of finding the crystals, along with a list of the size, weight and gem percentage of each crystal. I negotiated an acceptable price with Hauck, and we brought the lot home.

by Eric Greene

 

INTRODUCTION

In September of 2016 I embarked on a private 10-day guided tour of the mining towns of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Why Brazil? If you love crystals and minerals, Brazil is the dream destination, sure to top your bucket list of must-see places in the world. The mineral tour was organized and led by Pedro Paulo Pinto, an experienced English-speaking guide who owns a travel agency in the colonial mining town of Ouro Preto. I was the only person on the tour, which included stops in some of the best-known mining towns in Minas Gerais, trips to a number of underground and open-pit mines, and visits to the shops and warehouses of over two dozen mineral dealers. This is my journal from the 18 days I spent on this amazing trip-of-a-lifetime for this mineral collector.

MINAS GERAIS

Minas Gerais is in southeastern Brazil, and its capital, Belo Horizonte, is about 250 miles NNW of Rio de Janeiro. Minas Gerais (which translates as "General Mines") is the fourth largest state in Brazil, and it is the country's best-known mining province, famed for its fine gemstone specimens of tourmaline, topaz, various members of the beryl group (emerald, aquamarine, morganite and heliodor), in addition to abundant quartz, (found in various forms including smoky quartz, citrine and rose quartz). The region's abundant pegmatite mines also produce other less well known gem minerals such as kunzite, chrysoberyl, euclase, and brazilianite. In addition, the state has huge reserves of iron and sizeable reserves of gold and diamonds, and is a major producer of milk, coffee and other agricultural commodities. It is about 1,300 miles south of the equator, and has a humid subtropical climate.

by Mike New

Photos and map by Eric Greene, Treasure Mountain Mining

Note: Have you ever dreamed of traveling to a foreign country and buying up and bringing home thousands and thousands of dollars of mineral specimens? I know I have, and in the process I've romanticized the trip into a series of exciting collecting adventures in fabulous localities in the most remote corners of the globe, where I buy the most fantastic and beautiful crystals for pennies. Alas, the reality doesn't come anywhere close to my fantasies (it never does, does it?), but I have been enjoying for several years the opportunity to be an armchair traveler when my friend Mike New heads to Mexico to buy minerals. Here is his latest report, which he has generously agreed to let us share with you. Enjoy! -- Eric

The Story of an Extraordinary Boulder Unearthed at Manhan River Mine, Easthampton, Massachusetts

by Eric Greene & John Marshall

6.1" Pyromorphite on Quartz - Manhan River Lead Mine,
Loudville, Easthampton, MA; collected in 1999

At heart, all mineral collectors are field collectors. So when someone finds an extraordinary specimen, the thrill can be shared by the entire mineral collecting community. And, as anyone who has experienced it can tell you, the precise moment of making an exceptional find is forever etched in your memory… well, usually. Occasionally, when a truly great specimen is found, the finder doesn't immediately realize the significance of what has emerged from the earth. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months before the true importance of the find is realized. This is such a story.


by Eric S. Greene

Having the chance to collect pyrite at Navajún, Spain has been #1 on my bucket list since I first saw specimens from Mina Ampliación a Victoria. Now, after a buying trip to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in France, my dream was about to come true. It was the 4th of July. My wife Jeanne and I were celebrating America's Independence Day by visiting the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, then heading south to Navajún to meet mine owner Pedro Ansorena Conde and dig for pyrite. The drive from Bilbao takes about 3½ hours on a superhighway that passes over and around rolling hills and mountains studded with state-of-the-art windmills and field after field of wine grapes, wheat and hops. The last 40 km of the trip takes over an hour because the road winds through small villages and up, down and around hairpin turns on the way to our destination.

After a brief shower in the morning, the skies cleared and it was partly sunny, cool and great collecting weather for out late September collecting trip to Sugar Hill, NH. The leaves had started to turn, and some areas were very colorful- especially west-facing hillsides that were covered with bright red, orange and yellow maples. Six of us from the Keene Mineral Club attended the club field trip.