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.

FRONT SIDE: 5.8" Glowing Crimson Burning Embers ALMANDINE GARNETS in Graphite - Erving, MA (sold)


Many new mineral finds make their premiere appearance at one of the many mineral shows in Tucson, Arizona, every year in February.  But at the 2014 East Coast Mineral Show, a significant and dramatic new find of highly aesthetic specimens showed up for the first time (Polityka 2014).  It consisted of almandine garnet crystals embedded in a shiny, dark silver graphite matrix; these were collected at the Red Embers mine in Erving, Franklin County, Massachusetts.  The graphite matrix had been selectively removed from both the front and back sides to expose the garnets, allowing light to shine through them, revealing the glowing, vivid burgundy-red color of the transparent gem almandine.  These specimens caused a minor uproar and were an immediate success, judging by the buzz of the crowds blocking the aisles around the booth set up by Jay Baskin of Jay's Minerals, located in New Jersey. Throughout the building people were raving about this new material, which has an extremely high “wow factor.”  The next year at the 2015 East Coast Show, Baskin returned with a new supply of this material that he had prepared over the previous year.  Buyers again lined up to purchase specimens of this extraordinary new material, including major players such as the American Museum of Natural History, the Harvard Mineralogical and Geological Museum, Yale University, the University of Arizona, and others (Polityka 2015).