Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Great Maryland Exhibits; Great Show

The Gem,Lapidary, and Mineral Society of Montgomery County's recent 51st annual show at the 4H building of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg raised what otherwise could be a tough question. Where else, and for that matter when, can one actually see first hand a wide range of different mineral species that were collected in Maryland?

The images above show a variety of Maryland species featured in an exhibit entitled Mines, Mineralogists, and Maryland. Each specimen is historically significant as determined by such criteria as locality, the person who collected it, and/or past ownership. Chris Luzier, the GLMSMC's president and enthusiastic curator of the display, has surrounded the specimens with images and memorabilia related to Maryland's mining history as well as to numerous renowned late mineralogists who collected, identified, and studied Maryland specimens.  The collection's previous owner was the prominent Maryland collector Fred Parker, who availed much of his Maryland collection  to GLMSMC before moving last year to New Mexico. Fred acquired the historic specimens from the well-known Collectors Edge mineral dealership, which in turn had acquired them when the Philadelphia Academy liquidated its hidden and neglected world-class mineral collection in 2007. Most of the specimens are from localities that no longer exist. It is unquestionably the ultimate historical display of Maryland Minerals

Pictured above is part of  an additional display of other Maryland collected minerals formerly part of the  Fred Parker Maryland collection. Therein are numerous species beyond those represented in the historic display. Many are from localities not included in the Mines, Mineralogists, and Maryland exhibit

At last year's show, a specimen of Harford County radiated actinolite in steatite prompted our March 24, 2014 post entitled "Historic Maryland Epiphany." This year a specimen appearing similar to an unidentified Hunting Hill serpentine rock in this writer's collection inspired a second, albeit less convincing, epiphany.  It interested me to note that Mindat refers to metaxite as a "synonym for chrisotile," A closer look could be in order. 
Pictured at left is another particularly eye-catching exhibit featuring specimens from the Fairfax Quarry in Centreville, Virginia. They are from the collection of GLMSMC member Jonathan Ertman. Referred to in our November 7, 2009 post as "Maryland's Mr. Hunting Hill Garnet," Jon has focused much of his attention in recent years on acquiring the no longer to be collected classic apophyllite/prehnite specimens for which Centreville is famous. It could be a reasonable conjecture that serious collectors from the Maryland/DC/Virginia area  crave this mineral specimen genre more than any other, possibly even those gemmy Hunting Hill grossulars,

Beyond the aforementioned and about 40 more exhibits on the first floor were numerous workshops, related to lapidary work as well a features to attract the interest of youngsters.  Dealers completely filled the second floor. The GLMSMC sets up the building this way each year, and it works great.

Most of the dealers are from or have strong ties in the region. The range of their offerings is sufficient to interest just about every kind of collector.  Their busiest time is  during the first several hours the first day of the show when aficionados eager for a grab at first pickings all but mob them. Notwithstanding, the pace remains busy, and the wide gamut of dealer offerings continues throughout the two days of this wonderful show. It's not to be missed.

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