Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lawrence Davis: Self-Collector

Lawrence Davis, 36,  moved to Baltimore in 2006 from the mineralogy hub of Asheville, North Carolina. An accomplished collector since his early 20's, he soon found himself prospecting in the company of such prominent Maryland collectors as Fred Parker and Jeff Nagy.

Lawrence's collecting style  is unique to the point that he eschews  the label of "field collector"in favor of "self collector." Much of the mineral bounty he has accumulated is still packed away in boxes within the recently purchased historic yellow farmhouse on Falls Road near Shawan where he lives with his wife and young daughter. For our recent visit he had laid out a few recently collected  large specimens on the back porch.  Inside, he had put aside a few smaller specimens. Quoting Fred Parker, he said: "It doesn't matter how large or small. It's  how perfect they are."

In truth, significance or distinction could be just as important to  Lawrence Davis. Proudly, he picks up a rather large chunk of trap rock with a  nondescript  looking vug. Difficult to distinguish therein is a dull cream colored apatite crystal that to classify as perfect would be an extreme stretch. He shows it because he believes it to be the largest known apatite crystal to have been collected at the popular Vulcan Quarry at Havre de Grace in Harford County.

He is particularly keen on unusual combinations. The tiny specimen at right features crystals of tourmaline (var.) schorl on a matrix of iridescent ilmenite. It is the kind of oddity that few would notice when prospecting. Lawrence picked it from a beach in Howard County.

One of the larger rocks on the porch is the  goethite specimen pictured at right. He collected it in 2009 at Maryland's Point of Rocks Goethite Locality, once known as the Washington Junction Ore Banks. Over the past three decades the site has eroded and become overgrown to the point that collectors have written it off as extinct. Since Lawrence was there,  a nature path has been constructed through the area, and collecting forbidden.   Lawrence is comfortable speculating that it could be the largest Point of Rocks  goethite specimen known to exist. Should there be any any that are larger, it is most  likely they were collected many decades ago and just as likely have become lost.

At left is a crystal of beryl (var.) aquamarine that revealed itself with the strike of a crack hammer to the face of a cliff near Henryton in Carroll County. It shows amazing clarity as well as color for a Maryland-collected piece and provided the faceted gem pictured below it. Unfazed by minor biotite mica inclusions, Lawrence takes great pride in having collected the crystal and now owning the first and only (known)  aquamarine gemstone cut from Maryland material.

When questioned regarding collecting technique, Lawrence simply advises: "Always keep your eyes on the ground."  An environmental consultant by profession, he spends a significant amount of time outdoors, having plenty of opportunity to do so.

A recent find  was the discovery of  a remarkable pegmatitic quartz crystal deposit. Most of the crystals from this find are considerably larger than the specimen pictured at right, which.uniquely features an unusual combination of clear quartz crystals growing on feldspar.

 Even when pressed repeatedly, Lawrence will not reveal where he found the  crystals except  "somewhere in the Marriottsville area." Though an avowed "self-collector,"he is not selfish. His reasoning relates to principal and preservation. Such previously unknown localities are fun to discover, but typically offer limited bounty that may soon disappear when word gets out.

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