East Coast Gem & Mineral Show 2012

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View of the show from the balcony

Eric enjoys the show with collecting buddies Dick Holmes and Tom Klinepeter

After the chaotic confusion of Tucson, the East Coast Show (usually referred to as "The Springfield Show") was a delight, with all the dealers in a single, air conditioned venue, plus plenty of nearby parking. By the time the show started on Friday morning, the parking lot was already half full and there were long lines at the ticket booths. Organized by Marty Zinn and run by Laura Delano and a great crew, the show has grown into what is hands down the best mineral show east of Denver (and west of Tucson!). Pretty much anyone who is anyone east of the Mississippi in the mineral world showed up, giving me the chance to mingle with mineral collectors and dealers - especially the regional dealers who don't set up at Tucson or Denver. As has been the norm for several years, I discovered only a couple of truly new finds on display. Nevertheless, I turned up plenty of very fine, classic specimens from recently recycled collections, as this has become the source of some of the most interesting items available these days. For me, the best part of a show is handling the specimens and doing side-by-side comparisons of the pieces, labels and prices. Of course, I'm always on the lookout for a "wow" specimen among a bunch of "gee, that's interesting" pieces. I had a lot of fun talking minerals, haggling over minerals, drooling over minerals, and purchasing some choice pieces for our website. The highlights of these are detailed below.

The only significant material to surface that was new came from two finds: barite crystals found in Iowa, and tenorite crystals from Russia, both detailed below. In fact, neither was really new, meaning never before found at the locality, as both the Iowan and Russian localities have produced the same mineral before - just not in this quality/quantity. The new material came from very recent discoveries (the tenorite only 2 weeks before the show), and the dealers who had them didn't want to wait until Denver to introduce them (though I'm pretty sure there will be lots more of both available there). In addition, there were a few other noteworthy offerings that were worth looking at.

Barite - Iowa

5" Double Terminated Barite, Linwood Mine, Iowa

A large pocket lined with exceptional barite crystals was encountered at the Linwood mine about 6-8 weeks before the East Coast Show at the Linwood Mine, Buffalo, Scott Co., Iowa, USA. The pocket was underground, and one dealer bought the entire lot from the mine operator. The best of these specimens were proclaimed to be comparable to the famous English barites from Frizington, but though they are very, very good, in my opinion this is just marketing talk. These are arguably the best from this locality, which is also known for having produced very nice calcite crystals. Several dealers had specimens from the find, and the price tags varied enormously depending on who was offering them. One retail dealer devoted half of his full-size stand to this barite, though I didn't exactly see customers lining up to buy.

Tenorite - Russia

2.8" Tenorite, Tolbachik volcano, Russia

Less than 2 weeks old when it reached the show, record-setting best-in-the-world tenorite specimens were found in late July, 2012 by Russian dealer/collector, Dmitriy Belakovskiy. The new find was from a locality designated as the Second Scoria Cone (Northern Breakthrough), Big Fissure Eruption, Tolbachik Volcano, Kamchatka Oblast', Far Eastern Region, Russia. These were collected from fumeroles on the slope of the cone, which were active while he was collecting. In fact, Belakovskiy told me he had to abandon his collecting boots at the bottom of the hill, because the soles had melted! The crystals occur in a soft gray scoria matrix (a.k.a. volcanic cinder) that is very lightweight. Crystals are in two habits: needles and clumps of tabular scales. Dmitriy had an impressive selection of specimens with crystals to over 1cm - reportedly the largest and best ever found anywhere. The Tolbachik volcano first erupted in 1975, and built 4 scoria cones, the tallest of which is 650 meters. The first discovery of tenorite at this locality was the famous find made by Elena Bykova in 1996.

Mottramite - Mapimi, Mexico

5.6" Mottramite, Mina Ojuela, Mexico

One of the wholesale dealers at the show had 2 flats of the new world class mottramites from the Ojuela Mine at a surprisingly low price. I say surprising, because we saw material from the same find out in Tucson with price tags in the thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars. Luckily, we didn't buy any, because now we are able to sell pieces of the same quality for about 1/10 the price! Out in Tucson, quality and pricing for these remarkable new specimens of mottramite was all over the map. The ones I got have no damage to the surface, and almost no edge damage. They were positively identified as mottramite by the folks at the University of Arizona, who used X-ray diffraction and unit cell refinement. Specimens of mottramite of this quality haven't been available since the glory days of Tsumeb.

Amethyst - Veracruz, Mexico

8.5" Amethyst, Veracruz, Mexico

Many people contend that the amethyst from the Piedra Parada locality in Veracruz, Mexico (incorrectly identified for decades as Las Vigas) is the most beautiful crystallized amethyst in the world. Actually, it's hard to dispute this considering the beauty of the highly aesthetic, gem clear spiky clusters of amethyst that are found there. Specimens from this classic locality all but disappeared from the mineral market for many years, but recent mining apparently met with some rather spectacular success. One of the wholesale dealers who specializes in Mexican minerals had just returned with a good selection of top-quality specimens from a large pocket that was opened jsut a few months before the show. We selected a few of his most choice pieces from the lot he brought to sell.

Malachite, Cornetite & Chrysocolla - Congo

7.5" Malachite & Cornetite mix over Chrysocolla, L'Etoile du Congo Mine, D.R.Congo

Max Mpoyi had acquired 2 extraordinary large cabinet specimens from the L'Etoile du Congo Mine, Lumbashi, Katanga Province, D.R.Congo, both in an extraordinary teal blue that is totally outrageously flamboyant. Saying that it is blue green falls way short of the mark, as the color has a luminosity and enthusiastic exuberance that is truly astounding. I picked the better of the 2 pieces, and was lucky enough to be able to trim it successfully.

Apatite - Maine

A couple of dealers showed up with recent discoveries of fluorapatite from Maine, though nothing even remotely approaching the purple apatites found at the Pulsifer Quarry many years ago. In the 2011 season the Durgin Prospect at the Mt. Marie quarry produced some clusters of small purple apatite, from the Memorial Day Pocket, and apparently a few more have been found this season. I also saw a flat of colorless apatites dug up at Mt. Mica this year, with crystals to about 3.8", on albite.

Chondrodite, Magnetite, Chlinochlore - Tilly Foster Mine, New York

I've been saying for a few years that some of the most interesting "new" material actually comes from old collections that are recycled, and this is a great example. My friend Ted Johnson was offering some historic specimens from the Tilly Foster Iron Mine, Brewster, New York. These all came from the Ron Jancuzzi collection, which has an unusual history. He built his collection over several decades, then sold it to Perham's of West Paris, ME. They sold some of the specimens, then in 2010 Ron bought the remainder of the collection back! Ted wad displaying them with Jancuzzi and the Perham's labels.

I talked with a dealer from Tennessee, who reported that the Elmwood Mine is back in business. However, before you get your hopes up, the sad news is that the mining company is dynamiting the pockets to discourage its employees from collecting specimens, and anyone caught bringing out specimens will be summarily fired. Reportedly there will no longer be any more of the company-run specimen auctions, nor will specimen recovery contracts be given out.

These are my hands-down favorites from all the goodies I discovered in Springfield this year. Follow the links to the ones we've already listed (note: if don't find them, it means they've already been sold).

Legrandite on Limonite Matrix - Mexico
Here is an outstanding specimen of the very rare arsenate mineral legrandite, featuring several large vugs in a sturdy reddish-brown gossan matrix that are filled with long, gorgeous, legrandite crystals. The elongated legrandite crystals are well formed and prismatic, and partly gemmy in spots. The color is a dark golden yellow, and long thin crystals have fair to good luster. The elongated crystals grow in divergent clusters and sprays on top of and sticking out from the matrix, reaching 2 cm in length, which is quite large for this species. The main vug, on top of the specimen, has a large spray that makes up a 190ยบ sunburst, with a smaller cluster featuring terminated crystals overgrowing one end of the semicircle. There is another pocket on the side that has several beautiful sprays, the best of which stands almost straight up, with more lustrous, sharply terminated crystals. Legrandite specimens from the fabled world's best 1970s find at Mina Ojuela are so hard to come by these days that you have to appreciate any specimen you can get; and, they only get more rare (and more expensive) with time. This specimen gives you a lot of legrandite for the price, especially with such large, sharp crystals on a very rich and very fine for the locality matrix specimen. Legrandite is highly valued by mineral collectors for its shiny lemon yellow color - not to mention its scarcity. Well crystallized legrandite is a Holy Grail species for most collectors. Seldom are specimens available, especially since legrandite is a relatively rare mineral, and is found in only a few localities. The best came from Mina Ojuela back in the 1970s, and no significant finds have been made since, making this mineral's rarity even rarer. This is another new treasure which I dug up at the East Coast Gem, Rock & Mineral Show.

3.5" Legrandite on gossan, Mina Ojuela, Mexico (collected 1972)

Galena - Buick Mine, Missouri
This is an outstanding specimen of galena from the Buick Mine, Reynolds Co., Missouri. It is a single, very large cubic crystal of galena, measuring 3.5" on edge (about 6" tip-to-tip). The crystal, which sits on a bit of matrix, is pristine, with no damage anywhere. It has a nice, metallic, silver-gray color, and the surfaces are lustrous. The crystal faces have subtle raised growth hillocks in the cubic habit. And, perched on the top of the crystal are 2 transparent, very pale yellow, double terminated calcite crystals, to add a bit of sparkle and interest. This is the finest galena I have seen from the Buick Mine, a highly aesthetic, old-time specimen that came out in the 80's, when the miners were still allowed to collect specimens underground.

4.9" Silvery galena with calcite, Buick Mine, Missouri

Azurite - Milpillas, Mexico
This superb specimen of azurite from Milpillas features dozens of perfect, splendent crystals on both sides of the specimen, up to 15 mm, in a brilliant electric blue color. The faces of the crystals are super smooth, so they are brilliantly reflective and very flashy. The terminations of all the crystals are intact, and there is no damage (except along the bottom edge) - which is unusual for specimens from this location where the mine owners frown on collecting, so the miners are often a little hasty when they collect. This is as good a cabinet specimen of azurite as I have seen from Milpillas, which is no longer producing specimen, and is widely regarded as a serious rival to other classic localities such as Tsumeb and Bisbee.

3.5" Midnight Blue Azurite Razor Sharp Crystals Both Sides - Milpillas, Mexico

Polished Malachite - D.R. Congo
This is an extraordinarily beautiful, highly lustrous, polished display specimen of bull's eye malachite from the Congo. The malachite has been polished to reveal the intricate, alternating light and dark banding that is formed in concentric circles on each of the knobs of malachite. In between the knobs, the original smooth surface of the botryoidal malachite has been preserved. The banding on this piece is especially well defined, and there is no damage. This is a top quality example of this semiprecious gem material, and displays very well on the stand that is included with purchase.

11.2" Large Light & Dark Jungle Green Bulls Eye Polished Malachite - D.R.Congo

Purple/Blue Dichroic Halite - New Mexico
A dealer we know from the Tucson Show was set up in the wholesale area, and he had some very striking crystal cleavages of halite, more commonly called salt! The interesting thing about these was that they look purple under incandescent or fluorescent lighting, but in sunlight they looks blue, with deep blue/purple veins running throughout an almost colorless interior. These were collected this spring at the Intrepid Potash Mine, Carlsbad, Eddy County, New Mexico.

3.8" Dichroic Blue/Purple Halite, New Mexico

Manganite - Ontario
We found a couple of superb specimens of manganite from an old collection that featured lustrous black terminated crystals to almost 10 mm. The crystals are razor-sharp edges and display splendent luster. They came from the Caland Pit, Antitopan, Hutchinson Township, Ontario, Canada - an extinct open pit mine. Manganite from this mine is arguably the finest available outside of the Ilfeld locale in the Hartz Mountains of Germany.

3.1" Manganite, Ontario, Canada


Fred Wilda, Mineral Artist
In keeping with its tradition of featuring a single exhibitor, this year's East Coast Show focused on New England's own Fred Wilda. Wilda is a well-known and highly talented mineral artist, and he filled most of the fifty-plus display cases with his paintings as well as the specimens they depict, on loan from their owners. It was a special treat to see the paintings right alongside the specimens they depict, demonstrating Wilda's skill at capturing each specimen's color, luster, crystal habit, and beauty with astonishing accuracy.





A big thank you to our staff photographers Adam Caron & Geneve Rege for taking pictures at the show.











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