Sunday, August 16, 2015

The 2015 East Coast Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show

The experience of attending Martin Zinn's annual East Coast Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show at the Better Living Center of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachussetts is much the same from year to year and a high point for most  most serious East Coast collectors. This year's show ran from Friday August 7 through Sunday, August 9.  As always, we made a point of attending on Friday, which is less crowded and offers attendees a first shot at the bounty for sale. 

As at any large show, there are magnificent as well as ugly mineral specimens to see and to purchase from different dealers selling comparable material at prices all over the map with plenty of bargains in the mix.  The show also provides a great opportunity to catch up with mineral friends well as to learn about new East Coast finds.

Prominent among a limited number of such new East Coast finds available for purchase this year
were the amethyst crystals that Jason Baskin was offering at Jay's Minerals.  He had recently uncovered them from  a pocket in Windham County, Connecticut. Jason deferred on   information regarding a more specific locality in that county pending publication of an article he is writing for a major mineralogical publication. Mostly small single crystals  or aggregates of such crystals,  their color and clarity were impressive. Prices began at less than $10. This was the second year in a row that Jason has featured a new East Coast find. Last year's was a distinct genre of pyrope-almandine garnets in graphite from Erving, Massachussetts, of which he still had plenty in stock.

Another purveyor, Geologic Desires, can also be counted upon year after year to have its share of exclusive East Coast genres collected near its home base in St. Lawrence County, New York.  That's because owner Michael Walter has obtained exclusive privileges to collect on select private farms in that county.  These localities have yielded  an impressive supply of killer tourmaline (var.) dravite such as shown at left, as well as good peristerite, diopside, uvite, and hexagonite. Michael also has for sale an attractive selection of worldwide minerals.

The show is also certain to have at least a booth or two featuring private collections from which buyers can cherry-pick. This year, Lambert Minerals had such a booth, pretty much the entirety of which offered specimens from the collection once owned by Peter Duncan, a resident of Ottawa, Canada. Among them was the one pound, two ounce brazilianite cluster pictured at right.

For the greatest number of bargains, no other dealers could begin to compete with the hundreds of  keystone (that's half price) specimens offered by Dan and Diane Weinrich. Shoppers were scarfing them up as fast as Dan and Diane could pull them out of flats to place on tables adjacent to cabinets bearing world class specimens priced as high as $40 grand. The Weinrich's have  similar bargain tables each February at Tucson in a room adjacent to the lobby at the Tucson City Center Hotel (Inn Suites) during the two weeks before the action moves to the city's Convention Center. Always prominent among the Weinrich bargains are excellent specimens of calcite and chalcopyrite from the thousands they have been able to source from miners at the Sweetwater Mine at Viburnum Trend in Reynolds County, Missouri. Just as notable, though smaller and fewer in number, are  rare species that consistently find their way to these bargain tables. We  noticed  specimens of  keckite, bobdownsite, dickthomssenite, and shcherbakovite,

At this and numerous shows all over the world, German rare species dealer Gunnar Farber  always has available the widest selection of rare species, some obscure enough to be completely off the radar of the most knowledgeable collectors. Some have only  recently been approved by the International Mineralogical Association and subsequently  published.  Also, more than several specimens from various localities in Chile and at least one this year from Canada can always be found displayed for sale in front of a sign that reads "discovered by me."

Kristalle, which is based in Laguna Beach, California, is high-end to  the point that only the most well-heeled collectors are in a position to do more than gawk when checking out what's for sale in its glass cabinets.  However, at the far end of one cabinet were several specimens that we found to be inordinately affordable, Two were Pennsylvania pieces including the hemimorphite shown at left from Friedensville in Lebanon County's Saucon Valley. While far from comparable to the ubiquitous as well as spectacular hemimorphite specimens from several localities in Mexico, specimens of the quality pictured at right, when from Pennsylvania, are viewed by that state's cognoscenti as a treasure. Standing nearby was the well-known Pennsylvania collector Joe Polytka in the midst of taking notes for the article he writes about the East Coast show each year for Mineralogical Record.  He described the Friedensville hemimorphite pictured at left as "something you don't see anymore." The $60 price tag was a relatively miniscule fraction of the amount that Kristalle asks and is paid for the vast majority the specimens it offers for sale.

Numerous specimens at this show, mostly from high end dealers, are comparable in quality, value, and aesthetics to those in the 50 cabinet display that greets showgoers as they enter the building. These exhibits always represent a private collection of a renowned collector.  This year's display featured specimens from the personal collection of Marty Zinn,  promoter of this show and others, including the famous Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show in February at the aforementioned Tucson Hotel City Center (Inn Suites), It tends to stop many showgoers in their tracks as they enter. Others are more eager to keep moving to reach the bargains as soon as possible,  then enjoy the exhibits upon leaving.