Bancroft Gemboree 2013

Write By: tmmadmin Published In: Mineral Show Reports Created Date: 2015-01-23 Hits: 13438 Comment: 0

2.7" Sharp Flashy Gemmy Orange GROSSULAR GARNET Crystals Asbestos, Quebec

It is a ten hour drive from our home in Greenfield, MA to Bancroft, Ontario - the home of the Bancroft Gemboree. I drove up with a couple of buddies from the Keene, NH Mineral Club, as we planned to go collecting for three days after the show. I last visited this show in 1998 (15 years ago), when it was still a relatively small indoor/outdoor event. This year was the show's 50th anniversary, and they celebrated the event in style with dinners, speeches, etc. There was some rain in the morning of the day I attended the show, but by noon it was over and later the sky cleared.

What struck me first was that the show has nearly doubled in size, now occupying not only the original skating rink, but also the curling arena just 100 yards down the road. As before, parking was plentiful and free. This year the $8 admission fee also got you a lovely gold-colored 50th year pin along with entry to both buildings. Next to the hockey rink was an outdoor dealer area, featuring tailgaters with mostly self-collected specimens - many from local sites.

The outside of the curling rink

A curling vendor has the perfect gift for any field collector

The curling rink had several well-known mineral dealers with very attractive material - most notably grossular garnets and vesuvianite from the Jeffrey Mine in Quebec, and great zeolites from Nova Scotia. The Mineralogical Record article on the Jeffrey Mine had arrived at my house the day before I left for the show, so I was intent on finding some good specimens (I was not disappointed). Unlike the skating rink, the curling arena had almost no beads and jewelry. I was happy to spend several hours here picking out specimens and getting to know some of the Canadian dealers I had heard of but had not yet met. Doug Wilson from Nova Scotia had a particularly fine selection, including the best grossular garnets at the show plus a handful of reasonably priced old Francon Quarry, Montreal weloganites from the good old days when the mine was still operating.

The outdoor show area was busy all day long

Dick Holmes looks over a selection for self-collected specimens from Quebec

A couple of Quebec collectors display the fruits of their diggings

Here's one dealer's selection of minerals from Bancroft (which are not known for their stunning colors)

Dick Homes and Chris Garrecht examine a flat of Liscombe deposit neon green apatites

After lunch in Bancroft, we returned to the show and headed for the tailgating area outside the hockey rink. There were about 20 dealers set up under pop-up tents. My first stop was with the Flood brothers, who had dozens of boxes filled with slabs of shiny dendritic silver in safflorite or in löllingite. They had collected these themselves from a couple of the old mines in the Cobalt area, the biggest producer of silver in Canada's history. The best examples showed branching treelike formations of silver in the unpolished slabs (polishing them turns the silver black). Further along I found Rod Tyson, who had a nifty display of pyrite pseudomorphs after marcasite from Navisik, Baffin Island, Northwest Territories. There were a bunch of other dealers here, including a local collector who had self-collected native antimony from Ontario and native arsenic from British Columbia.

This is the Skating Club building, which was packed with mineral, bead, and jewelry dealers

Once I had completed my tour of the circle of outdoor dealers, I went into the hockey rink. I'd guess there were about 60 dealers inside, all set up with brightly lit displays. Of these, probably more than 40 were jewelry and bead dealers, which was a big change from my earlier visit. I had planned on spending more time here than in the other two venues, but in fact I finished my buying in under an hour.

A long line of Pee Wee Hockey banners attest to the accomplishments of the local club

Tony Gordian had a most interesting assortment of minerals that came from a collection he had bought. Included in the piles of boxes was one filled with Mt. St-Hilaire carletonite specimens - and several of them had actual crystals, not just massive smears. These came from the celebrated find back in the early 1990s, which produced the best ever found (and Mt. St-Hilaire is not only the type locality, it is also the only place carletonite has ever been found. He also had few nice grossular garnets from Asbestos, and rare morion beta quartz from Switzerland.

My buddy Dick Holmes says this guy had about as much interest in beads as he does

The Hawthorneden display was four tables long

After that we packed up, and then went to find dinner. We found a small fish fry that served excellent fried halibut that they buy as whole fish, and cut up. I also sampled something called poutine - a dish that is apparently Quebec's signature food. It was a messy pile of fries, topped with gravy, and melted cheese. It sounds disgusting, but was actually quite tasty. I recommend this place, but I'll pass on the poutine next time. We then headed for the lodge we stayed at - the Limerick Lake Lodge in Gilmour - where we unpacked our finds and played pool. This is a great place to stay if you like fishing camp style accommodations.

Here's the view of Limerick Lake from the front of the Lodge

Over the next 3 days we spent a day each visited collecting localities in the Bancroft area. These were Bear Lake Diggings in Monmouth, the Quirk Lake locality in Monteagle, and Titanite Hill in Tory Hill. I'll write something about the collecting part of the trip in a future newsletter - but first, I'll need to get my specimens out of the buckets and cleaned up! The Bancroft Gemboree bills itself as the biggest mineral show in Canada. If you are thinking about going to the show, I'd say one day will be more than enough time to see everything. I recommend being there for opening day, so you get first pick of what the dealers have brought. This show is especially good for finding really fine Canadian specimens, which are not generally available at other U.S. shows such as Tucson and Denver.



7.2" Sparkly Red Orange Gem GROSSULAR GARNETS on Matrix Asbestos, Quebec

I was especially on the lookout for some really superb grossular garnet specimens from the Jeffrey Mine because of the two excellent articles in the Mineralogical Record, July-August, 2013, which arrived the day before I left for the show. I was not disappointed. This is the finest specimens of grossular garnet from the Jeffrey Mine I have ever owned or offered for sale. The matrix is heavily covered with big, fat, glassy, gem dodecahedral crystals. This museum size and quality specimen features facet-like sharp crystals that are transparent, brightly reflective and flashy. The saturated reddish-orange color is the most vivid and richest imaginable. Since the mine closed in 2001, top quality pieces like this have become almost unobtainable.


1.5" Rich Royal Blue CARLETONITE Real Crystals Mt. St-Hilaire Late 1990s

This is an excellent specimen of well-crystallized carletonite with several nearly complete crystals growing in a vug, in a desirable, very rich cornflower blue color. It comes from the famous mid-1990s find by Gilles Haineult at the Poudrette Quarry in Mont Saint-Hilaire, which is the type (and only) locality where this very rare silicate mineral is found. Carletonite is found in marble xenoliths, typically as crystalline cleavage masses in white marble; only a handful of euhedral crystals have been found. Since the quarry is closed to collectors, there will probably never be any more specimens.


1.9" Nearly Flawless HERKIMER DIAMOND Crystal in Vug in 7.5" Matrix NY

Large Herkimer diamond crystals are almost always somewhat skeletal and have inclusions that make them imperfect. The 1.9" crystal on this matrix specimen is the clearest, most perfect, all gem crystal of its size that I have ever seen or owned. The crystal is gripped in the pocket it grew in by the grayish brown matrix, but both points of the doubly terminated crystal are clearly visible. This specimen came out of the Ace of Diamonds Mine, Middleville, Herkimer Co., New York. This mine (and its neighbor a few yards to the south) produce what are generally considered to be the finest, most desirable, clearest, and most cleanly crystallized Herkimer diamond crystals and Herkimer clusters in the world. I bought this highly aesthetic specimen from a Canadian couple who collect at the mine every year for several weeks. When I showed them my business card, the husband, Bill, slapped his head, grinned from ear to ear, and called his wife Ann over. "Honey," he said, this is Eric Greene. He and his wife Jeanne were the ones who made us hot tea and shared their tarp with us 20 years ago on a cold, rainy day at Hickory Hill Diggings in Fonda, NY!" Amazingly, he was right, for it was exactly 20 years ago that we first met, and this was the first time we had seen each other since. An event like this is what has convinced me to stop believing in coincidences.


3.1" Flashy Lime Green Terminated VESUVIANITE Crystals Asbestos, Quebec

This vesuvianite specimen is completely covered with flashing, gemmy, terminated crystals to 1.2" in a lively grass green color that is unusually rich for the species and for the locality. The crystals are quite gemmy, and very sharply formed, with smooth, highly lustrous sides and razor sharp edges and points. Fine specimens like this are now hard to find, because the mine is closed. Here is a fine specimen of vesuvianite from the now-closed Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec, Canada. The grossular from this locality is some of the finest in the world, and this specimen is a superb example. I acquired this specimen from a dealer at the Bancroft Gemboree Gem, Rock and Mineral Show. Minerals from the Jeffrey mine were the subject of two excellent articles in the Mineralogical Record, July-August, 2013.


3.5" Shiny LEAF SILVER Flattened Crystals on Matrix Ontario, Canada

This is an excellent specimen of "leaf" native silver - a formation that occurs when the silver crystallizes in thin sheets composed of silver crystals growing in a narrowly confined space. The silver sturdy, not flimsy, and is bright and very shiny. The silver sits on a safflorite matrix.

This gleaming specimen of leaf silver (also called vein or sheet silver) on a safflorite matrix comes from the Miller Lake Everett Mine, Haultain Township, Gowganda, Timiskaming District, Ontario, Canada. Good specimens of leaf silver crystals like this are rare and hard to find. I selected this specimen from a collector who was set up outside in the "swap" area at the Bancroft Gemboree Gem, Rock & Mineral Show. He is a hard-core collector, who mined this piece himself.

Silver from Ontario is famed for being some of the richest ever found. The Cobalt Silver Rush started in 1903 when huge veins of silver were discovered by workers building a railroad line in northern Ontario. Within a couple of years Cobalt was one of the largest silver producing regions in the world. Unfortunately, the good ore ran out fairly rapidly, and most of the mines were closed by the 1930s. There have several attempts to reopen the mines over the years, including one during WWII and another in the 1950s. Today there is no active mining in the area.


4.6" Pale Yellow WELOGANITE Crystals on Matrix Francon Quarry, Montreal Canada

Here is a superb matrix specimen of weloganite, with a tapering crystals laying in a vug. The piece comes from the Francon quarry in Montreal - the type locality and the only place that produced good crystals. The crystal forms an elongated double-terminated prism that tapers to terminations at both ends. The sides of the pastel yellow crystals resemble stacked layers. The Francon quarry stopped operating in 1981, though it remained open to visiting mineral clubs until the late 1990's. It will probably never be worked again, since it is right in the middle of Montreal, is owned by the city, and is in a residential district.


4.7" Bright SILVER Ore as Dendrite Crystals in Nickeline & Safflorite Cobalt, Ontario

This specimen is a gleaming slice of dendritic silver taken from a chunk of ore from the O'Brien Mine in the the Cobalt area of Ontario. The piece also contains nickeline and safflorite. The slice is unpolished, which is the way you want it, because polishing spreads the soft silver over the surrounding ore and obscures it from view. On the other side, native silver crystals stick out of the matrix. The industrious collector I bought this from had found old, rich chunks of silver ore when they dug through the dirt in localities such as ore houses and the ends of conveyor belts. They then use metal detectors to find pieces the silver. This slab was hand-picked from a large lot, and only the top 10% were chosen.


1.2" Shiny Brilliant Electric Neon Chrome GREEN GROSSULAR Crystals Quebec

This is a very fine specimen of electric green chrome grossular garnet from Quebec. The jewel-like, gemmy crystals are sharply formed dodecahedrons, with faces that have a glassy, flashy luster. Though the crystals are small, this is in fact a superior example of this now hard-to-find mineral from the Black Lake Mine in Saint-Joseph-de-Coleraine, Les Appalaches RCM, Chaudiere Appalaches, Quebec, Canada. The vivid green color results form chromium which is included in the crystal structure; chromium is the same element that causes the green color in emeralds.


2.2" Sparkling Midnight Blue LAZULITE Crystals to 4 mm Rapid Creek Yukon

Here is a high quality specimen of deep inky blue lazulite, with very well formed, monoclinic crystals that look like tabular prisms. The crystals are brightly lustrous, translucent, and have sharply defined faces and edges. Except for the small area at the bottom, the crystals are pristine. This is the premiere mineral from the Rapid Creek phosphate deposits, which are now closed.


2.3" Rare Phosphate AUGELITE Sharp Green Crystals Rapid Creek, Yukon

This outstanding specimen of augelite, a rare phosphate mineral from Rapid Creek, Yukon, features sharp monoclinic crystals with great luster in a delightful pastel, minty green color. The flashy crystals are translucent and gemmy, and cover most of the surface of the matrix. This piece was mined at the now-closed Rapid Creek Claim, Big Fish River, Dawson Mining District, Yukon, Canada. Many people consider this the premiere locality in the world for augelite.


.8" Dark Gold Octahedral WARDITE Crystal Rare Phosphate Rapid Creek, Yukon

The color on this excellent thumbnail specimen of the very rare phosphate mineral wardite is a rich gold. The crystal is a pseudo-octahedron that is highly lustrous and very sharp. This is a very good specimen of this uncommon phosphate species. It comes from the famed Rapid Creek Locality, Yukon Territory, Canada, which is ow closed. This locality is widely recognized as having produced some of the finest wardite crystals in the world. We purchased this from a dealer who had bought it direct from the miner.

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