Monday, August 23, 2010

Checking Out the East Coast's Biggest Show

Though a far cry from all that goes on in Tucson, the East Coast Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show, which happened August 13-15 at the Better Living Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts, is as big as it gets here in the eastern part of the United States. A great overview of what the show was like, expressed mostly in photos, is the subject of John S. White's 597th post at Jordi Fabre's FMF Minerals Forum and Discussion Board. Photography has to be the quickest and easiest way to communicate the essence of a show. As for me, once through the door and past the 50 case exhibition of minerals from Bill Larson's (Pala International) collection, I quickly became too loaded down with rocks for dealing with the camera.

My favorite of the 50 Bill Larson cases appears in our title image featuring topaz and aquamarine crystals from Burma (Myanmar). Because of a schedule that limited my attendance at the show to Friday, I had to miss Bill's talk on Satruday entitled "Mining, Minerals, & Gems from the Legendary Valley of Rubies, Mogok Burma." Much of the mineralogy---and for that matter the cuisine---from that country fascnates me. I'd be curious if Bill discussed when and how such a seemingly endless supply of great stones get out from under the oppressive military dictatorship that rules.

It's easy enough to imagine, though, how someone could smuggle out the faceted .047 carat johachidolite pictured at left. Purchased from my friend Cassandra at the Dudley Blauwet Gems booth, it reflects my penchant for acquiring species I've never heard of and still intrigues me more than a week later.

Despite emphasizing gems thus far, one of my favorite aspects of the East Coast Mineral, Gem and Fossil Show is its preponderance of mineral specimens over gems and fossils. On occasion and for a variety of reasons, even ugly minerals sometimes grab my interest. Should anyone deem it to be ugly, the reason for my most sizeable purchase this year, the 5" x 5" x 1" chunk of fluoro-potassichastingsite shown below at right, was that Alfredo Petrov convinced me that it could be the biggest specimen ever collected of this rare amphibole. Its type and only known locality is the Greenwood Mine, an old magnetite mine about a three mile hike through the woods near Woodbury Township in Orange County, New York. Fluoro-potassichastingsite is not, by the way, the longest mineral name I've ever encountered. Last October, my eBay store, Jake's Minerals sold a protomanganoferroanthophyllite micromount to a collector in France. Such rare amphiboles are generally not very expensive. Alfredo was also selling a protoanthophyllite piece of which the only known specimens were taken from a Japanese drill core sample. "Much of the value," says Alfredo, "is in getting it tested."

Meanwhile, and as this is written, another Martin Zinn Show, about which people in West Springfield were expressing tremendous enthusiasm, is happening in Cartersville, Georgia. Much as I'd like to be there, my office is in the process of becoming buried under rocks. I don't understand how the collectors and dealers who do so many shows with such frequency find the time to sort out all the booty that inevitably results.

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