Friday, April 27, 2012

Real Cerussite Magic

After 118 posts dating from  February, 2009, this is the first mention that in addition to collecting minerals, writing about them, and photographing them, I'm also a dealer with a store (Jakes Minerals) on eBay, under the handle "Bestyards." Selling minerals on the Internet is great way to  learn about as well as appreciate species, localities, mineralogy in general. It results from time spent through  research---I do a lot of it on Mindat---to ascertain that inventory descriptions are accurate, especially regarding species and locality.

So it was with the cerussite specimen pictured in our title picture next to its label. Was cerussite REALLY that rare at the Moose Mine? And for that matter, was the specimen actually collected at the Moose Mine in Butte, Montana?  After considerable research, uncertainty lingered. Mindat, for instance, listed but six species occurring at the Moose Mine, none of them lead bearing (as is cerussite). Nor did Mindat note a presence of cerussite at hardly any of dozens of localities in the  Butte vicinity. Out of 2,548 images of cerussite on the Mindat site,  not one was from anywhere near Butte.

So below is a copy of the listing I posted on Thursday, April 20, 2012:

The listing had not been posted for less than two days when the following note showed up in my eBay mailbox:

Dear bestyards,
He (Pequa Rare Minerals) was trying to give the dates that the Moose Mine was operating, not the date the specimen was recovered. It did come from 1880 workings, but I collected that specimen about 20 years ago along with a flat of specimens. The biggest piece I donated to the Montana Tech Mineral Museum. I traded the one you have to J. P. (4th best found) in return for a small Butte bornite xtl specimen. As to the locality, it is from the outcrop of a vein near the Moose shaft. As I was collecting the material, the ground under my feet began to shake, then a finger-sized hole appeared and dirt began to drop into it. I realized I was on top of a thin ledge of rock (called a crown pillar) that had been mined to within a few feet of the surface. I realized if I tried to dig any more the ground would collapse, and I would fall to my death into a large open stope. So yes, this is a real Butte cerussite. The small flat of specimens collected are the only ones known. 

The mining engineer who collected this unusual and obscure speciemen  20 years ago  had inadvertently  encountered its image amidst the millions on the Internet.  Though disdainful  of  the metaphysical claims sometimes accredited to various minerals, I'm hardly averse to the notion that working with minerals ushers more than its share of seemingly magical synchronicity. Here was just one example.

Needless to say I removed this Moose Mine cerussite specimen from the market immediately. It currently rests at a cherished spot in my main collection cabinet. Who was it, after all, who proclaimed that  if the label were correct, the specimen  "could be a treasure?"

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