Monday, September 27, 2010

The Franklin-Sterling Hill Gem and Mineral Show

The 53rd Annual Franklin-Sterling Gem and Mineral Show, at least during my four mid-day hours there on Saturday, Sept. 25, drew serious mineral aficionados from far and wide. The most extensive action was out-of-doors. Ambiance was friendly, almost festive.

My only previous visit to the Franklin, Sterling Hill, Ogdensburg area in New Jersey was three years ago while heading home after squeezing as many different New England pleasures as possible into a week. All too briefly, I had toured the great Franklin Mineral Museum with its 5,000 minerals, then hammered away at a few rocks on the dumps below. Two years later, I became more intrigued with Franklin/Sterling Hill after inexpensively acquiring the micromounts pictured in the photomicrographs at left. Note that the accompanying contents of their labels declare combinations of such incredibly rare Franklin treasures as jarosewichite, flinkite, sclarite, and gageite. Do NOT hold me accountable for these identifications. I'm hoping that knowledgeable attendees at the 54th Desautels Micromount Symposium next weekend (Oct. 2, and 3) will share their thoughts. Meanwhile, input from readers relating to accuracies/inaccuracies are welcomed and solicited.

Before heading to Milford, PA, to spend Friday night, I first detoured through the Franklin, Sterling Hill, Ogdensburg area to gain bearings. At Franklin School, the show's site, a few vehicles were parked in a closed off parking lot. One was a van with its open rear hatch encircled by hunched over men, most likely dealers. In less than an hour, you could have found me hunched over the Bar Louis beneath the Hotel Fauchere in Milford, sipping a cocktail made with rye, stone pine liqueur, apricot cordial, pine buds, and lemon oil while waiting for my dinner of codfish stew and watercress/duck salad to arrive.

Saturday morning, dealer tables lined the paved area behind the school and extended well into the field adjacent to it. Nothing fancy, but reasonable prices and plenty of Franklin and Sterling Hill material for those passionate collectors who specialize in this niche---and plenty else of course. Indoors, the dealers were equally busy and would probably have been busier except for the unseasonably summery weather outside.

There was additional action at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum: it's garage sale with areas of $3 tables, $5 tables, and $10 tables. Most of the specimens laid out on these tables in old boxes and dusty plastic cases appeared to have long been in storage. Many were sans labels. Amidst a lot of junk were numerous true bargains awaiting collectors and low end dealers aware of what to look for.

Dinner with an auction was slated for Saturday night with the show resuming on Sunday. I missed all of that. So did Fred Parker, the only other Baltimore mineral person I encountered. He had set up shop with other dealers along the paved area behind the school. Later in the afternoon, he planned to leave in order to work a table closer to home the next next day at the Gemcutters Guild of Baltimore's 46 Annual Atlantic Coast Gem and Mineral Expo at the Howard County, Maryland Fairgrounds,

That's where I was at some point this final weekend of September the last two years and would have been again on Sunday morning except for not wanting to share a cold that came on overnight. On Sunday afternoons, however, I'm refusing to allow minerals to usurp whatever the Baltimore Ravens are up to, at least for the time being.

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