Monday, May 9, 2011

A Big Mineral Auction in Pennsylvania

The mineral collection of the late Joe Varady of Phoenixville, PA, went to auction in Hatfield, PA, at the Adlerfer Auction Company on May 7, 2011. This was six years to the day since the legendary auction of the Jay Lininger Collection. To the best of my knowledge, it was the most important mineral auction to have happened in this part of the country since.

A native of Phoenixville, PA, Joe Varady died of cancer at age 67 last August after more than a half century of collecting minerals. His roots alone, not to mention that he was outgoing, well-known, and very much liked in the region, would be sufficient to drop a strong hint regarding the minerals in his collection.

Perhaps no other collection in existence was richer both in quality and quantity of specimens from the classic localities of Southeastern Pennsylvania, namely the Wheatley, Brookdale, and Chester Mines of Phoenixville. Though Phoenxiville pieces dominated, there were plenty of lots from other Pennsylvania localities, as well as worldwide minerals. Regardless of locality, if any one particular species dominated, it was not unexpectedly pyromorphite.

Joe Dague, a prominent Pennsylvania collector/ dealer/consultant, had appraised the the collection and divided it into lots. Based on the amounts being bid, one might conclude that his numbers seemed high on the inexpensive lots and low on the more pricey ones, some of which featured world class Phoenixville material. Joe Dague knows as well as any of us how subjective the pricing of minerals can be relative to other collectables.

Quite telling were the huge amounts for which some pieces sold. Once out of money and while packing up to leave, I heard bids going as high as $2,200 for the anglesite pictured at left. A lot of bidders specialized in collecting minerals from southeastern Pennsylvania. While they know better than other collectors where and how to obtain them at reasonable prices, they also appreciate and value them more than most other collectors.

All in all, 400 lots ranging in size from one mineral to as many as perhaps 40 were sold. Pictures of them all are currently on the Internet as well as descriptions.

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