Monday, July 4, 2016

Chris Luzier and Another Great Maryland Collection

More fascinating Maryland minerals turned up on a recent visit to the home of  Chris Luzier. Chris is the Immediate Past President of the Gem, Lapidary and Mineral Society of Montgomery County, Maryland (GLMSMC). He is also curator of the historically significant suite of Maryland minerals that were once part of the long neglected collection of the  Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.  GMLSMC  obtained this suite from its former member Fred Parker before he moved from Maryland to New Mexico. Parker  had acquired the suite about eight years ago from Collectors Edge, one of  two high-end dealerships that had purchased the collection directly from the Academy for distribution. 

Mineral Bliss had cited these historic specimens in two previous posts after seeing them at the annual GLMSMC Show in Gaitherburg. The original purpose for our visit with Chris Luzier had been to cover them more thoroughly. As we looked over the GMLSMC specimens, Chris made comparisons to interesting pieces in the Maryland suite of his own collection. Two years ago, he displayed some of the better specimens from it at the annual March GLMSMC Show at Gaithersburg  in conjunction with the historic Academy Collection case. 

Maryland's diverse mineralogy has received relatively little attention and recognition in the many decades since Academy Suite was assembled. By displaying as well some of the better specimens in his personal collection, Chris was able to update the historical perspective of the former as well as demonstrate to mineral aficionados that Maryland still has minerals worthy of collecting. 

Many of these specimens were once part of Fred Parker's personal collection along with the historic Philadelphia Academy suite. They include pieces from long closed or lost localities. Some were collected by Parker himself.

In the above picture Chris holds remarkable specimens in each hand  In his right hand is massive magnetite from the historic Mineral Hill Mine in Carroll County.  Magnetite continues to be ubiquitous on remaining Mineral Hill dumps, some that date to pre-Revolutionary times, Massive magnetite boasting such sheen, however, has rarely been encountered at any Maryland locality in recent years. 

Chris has in his left hand a  solid chunk of massive chalcopyrite from New London in Frederick County.  It makes sense that chalcopyrite of such richness could have graced  ore veins extending through the phyllite-laced Wakefield Marble. These veins are known as the New London  (copper) Deposit and were worked  at the historic New London Copper Mine. In the 1960's, similar veins were uncovered at the nearby Farmers Cooperative Limestone Quarry, which closed in 1973. Could Chris be holding the largest Maryland chalcopyrite specimen  known to exist?. 

The brucite specimen at right from Hunting Hill in Rockville, Montgomery County, is similarly
notable.  Fred Parker collected it in September, 2003. Most of what little brucite that Hunting Hill and other less heralded Maryland localities produced is white in color, less crystalline, and mostly opaque. 

The brochantite specimen at left would be unremarkable were it not from Maryland.  As a Maryland example, however, it is noteworthy. Brochantite occurs at several Maryland localities through the Sykesville Formation as well as sparsely associated with other copper minerals in the Wakefield Marble. It is typically difficult to visually differentiate from malachite. Found at the Lehigh Cement Quarry in Union Bridge, this piece was once in the collection of Grant C. Edwards. Is there another example of Maryland brochantite around that's so distinct?

Ugly or not, todorokite was once plentiful at the Medford Quarry in Carroll County, Maryland. In earlier times, collectors assumed the material to be  a curious substance that soiled whatever it touched. They were unaware that it was the complex oxide species todorokite. Sometime later, Fred Parker noted on Mindat that Medford  had yielded  todorokite that was "world class" He personally collected the specimen pictured at right, 

In addition to his Maryland specimens, Chris  maintains an impressive Pennsylvania suite. His specialty is the fluorescent material for which Franklin and Ogdensburg, New Jersey are famous. Occasionally he sells duplicates on the Internet under the handle of  "Abraham Zincoln," in reference to the abundance of zinc bearing minerals from these localities. 

More than any other aspect of his hobby, Chris emphasizes his advocacy of mineral societies and organizations that provide collecting opportunities to members, especially those that seek to engage the interest of young people. He notes that the field trip privileges  that many working quarries so graciously provide to GLMSMC and other groups afford valuable public relations to the companies that own them.  In these times when so many of  Maryland's greatest localities no longer exist, Chris believes that such field trips provide the best opportuntity for  members of such groups to uncover collectable specimens that promote the ongoing study of Maryland's mineralogy.

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