|I have been interested in minerals since I was a teenager when I would travel with my parents to places in
the west. They gave me a copy of Fred Pough's book A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals which I would
leaf through as we passed through various states, searching for minerals to be found there. I was pretty sure
that most of these could be found at the side of the roads we traveled! At about that time my mom was in
college and met the curator of the geology museum there who gave me a bunch of mostly rocks and rough. Didn't
matter, I was hooked from that point on. In high school I interviewed for a summer internship with the
Indiana Geological Survey. Didn't get the job but thought about geology all along and even took some courses
when I was in graduate school.
I didn't really get started as a serious collector until I was in graduate school at Indiana University and another student re-awakened my interest. During that time I met Steve Rose and Lloyd Tate and did quite a bit of field collecting. Steve and I also bought a batch of Indian minerals from Hussein Tyebjee (in India) and I launched into a mineral business with Grace that lasted over 25 years.
Over the years we sold primarily to private collectors but some of our specimens ended up in notable museums:
We attended big trade shows in Denver, Pasadena, Tucson and Munich as well as smaller shows in places like Butte. We also sold from paper lists that we distributed periodically. Some of the specimens that were, or still are, in our collection are described below.
Azurite: Copper Queen mine,
Bisbee, Arizona. Formerly in the Jim and Dawn Minette collection. We purchased the specimen from Dan
Weinrich in 2011. The Minettes bought it from Rock Currier in 1972 when it was identified as a Chessy
specimen. Later identified as a Bisbee piece by Dick Graeme. I'm not convinced the locality is correct
as Bisbee. This is a very sharp, lustrous thumbnail specimen.
The photo was taken by Dan Weinrich. The specimen still resides in our collection.
Benitoite: Gem Mine, San Benito
County, California. Acquired this specimen from Buzz Gray (who mined it) in 1993 at the Denver Gem and
Mineral Show. Buzz was selling the specimen for Robert Gill who had previously owned it. The photo at
right was taken by Harold and Erica van Pelt. The pic was used in an article on benitoite for Rock and
Gem magazine (I think) written by Mike Gray (I think). I haven't been able to verify either. Gill had a
large collection of benitoite and Buzz told us that he considered this piece to be the best miniature.
Sold the specimen to the Collectors Edge in 2006. Current whereabouts not known.
Beryl var Aquamarine: Mt Antero, Chaffee
County, Colorado. We bought this single crystal from Jim Grika, who collected the piece, just after
the Denver Gem and Mineral Show in 1988. It was in a display of self-collected specimens and we were
lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time making the right offer. This is a very sharp and
complex crystal unlike any other I have ever seen. The specimen is a toenail sized piece with no matrix.
We have had a few offers for the piece but it remains in our collection.
Beryl var Aquamarine: This specimen of
aqua is borderline emerald. We acquired it in 1976 in Honolulu from Dieter Schupp whose father obtained
it in Brazil. Dieter listed the locality as Espirito Santo, Brazil. The specimen has a sawn base (whereupon
Rock Currier once asked me: "Why would anyone do that?") and a chip out of the main crystal on the back
but the brilliance is blinding. You can actually read through the largest crystal along the c axis!
Dieter's father was a gem cutter and probably bought the specimen to cut.
We had this specimen until the sale of our collection to Collector's Edge in 2006. Current whereabouts not known.
Chalcocite: Bristol Copper
mine, Bristol, Hartford County, Connecticut. A really classic and sharp little TN specimen. Formerly in
the Jim and Dawn Minette collection. We acquired it from Dan Weinrich at the Denver Gem and Mineral
show in 2011. His photo is shown to the right. This is an exceptional thumbnail specimen from a classic
It is still in our collection.
|Fluorite: Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France. Acquired in 1993 at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show from Julie and Merriam Zweibel. Julie said that he had recently bought it at a European mineral show. We had the specimen until 2006 when we sold our collection to Collector's Edge. It was purchased by Stuart Wilensky and is featured in volume 3 of Wilensky Fine Minerals on page 11, seen in the photo to the right.|
San Pedro mine, Santa Fe County, New Mexico. We
obtained this magnificent gold from Tony Otero in Socorro NM in July 1987. He had recently acquired it
from someone who was currently mining there. We had the gold until 2006, when we sold our collection
to Bryan Lees at the Collector's Edge. The piece was subsequently bought by Kevin Ward. The interesting
thing about this specimen is that it showed much less gold when we bought it and I spent a lot of time
etching away the calcite to release what was hidden underneath. The 'before' pic is shown to the left.
According to Ward's web site, the gold may have also belonged to Ian Bruce who collected golds for a while.
Lead: Langban, Sweden. We acquired
this little crystallized lead from Phil Scalisi, a mathematics professor at Bridgewater State
University, via Bill Metropolis, in September 1989 at the Denver Gem and Mineral show. We had it until
we sold our collection in 2006. It was later resold at auction by the I. M. Chait Gallery and its
whereabouts are currently unknown.
My memory of what Bill said is that Phil knew a Swedish graduate student who brought several outstanding lead specimens from Sweden to the US that subsequently found their way into collections.
Just for reference, THIS was one of my favorite collection pieces. In fact, I tried to buy it back from the Collector's Edge but they didn't seem to know what happened to it and fiddled around and we wound up not getting it back. Oh well. This is a thumbnail specimen.
Pyromorphite: Bunker Hill mine,
Kellogg, Shoshone County, Idaho. We obtained this unusual specimen from Wayne Leicht of Kristalle in at
the Denver Gem and Mineral Show in 1990. We had the piece until 2006, when we sold our collection to
Bryan Lees at the Collector's Edge. It was later bought by Dan Weinrich. This is Dan's photo shown to
the left. This is a small cabinet specimen.
This was a collection favorite of mine.
|Quartz with Amethyst Scepters: Denny Mountain, King County, Washington. We bought this specimen in 1980 from Cal Graeber when he and Kerith came to Hawaii for a visit and to see Orlando Lyman in Hilo. These scepters can be pretty spectacular and they are not very common. This specimen isn't particularly special. I mention it here because our son Chris may have spotted it at the Smithsonian in their mineral exhibit. Not positive it was ours and no idea how it got there. Not really sure when we sold it, except that it was later than 1997, based on my collection inventory records. Maybe it went to Collector's Edge.|
These specimens were both mined by Collector's
Edge from the Sweet Home mine, Alma, Park County, Colorado as a part of a commercial specimen mining
venture that lasted several years. We obtained these two fom Collector's Edge as a part of a trade-sell
agreement for our collection in 2008. The specimen to the left is a small cabinet specimen and the one on
the right is larger.
Both specimens still reside in our personal collection.
Easily the most famous (infamous?) specimen we
have owned is the Mexican scorodite, shown in the Jeff Scoville photo to the left. It hails from the
Cabrestante mine, Concepción del Oro, Zacatecas, Mexico (Wendell E. Wilson, 2016, The el Cobre and
Cabrestante Mines, Mineralogical Record, vol 47, no 5, pp 585-603). We purchased the specimen
from Grace & McKee Caton in Honolulu, HI in 1980. They obtained the specimen when they lived in McAllen TX
from an el Paso mineral dealer. The source of this material was long contentious until it was (apparently)
settled by Wilson's article in the MR. The label provided to us by the Catons simply said Mexico. Later,
other sources, including the Romero Mineral Museum, described the mine as the el Cobre mine, Zacatecas.
That is how we catalogued the piece in our collection.
We had the specimen until 2006, when we sold the major part of our collection to Bryan Lees at the Collector's Edge. He subsequently re-sold it to the relatively new collector Scott Rudolph. This piece is shown on the cover of the Mineralogical Record issue referenced above, and shown to the right.
This was NOT my favorite piece in our collection. I was probably put off by the glamor it carried, so much so that visitors often couldn't see the other specimens. I always knew the value and am glad we had it for a bit but I wouldn't buy it back!
Kelly mine, near Socorro, New Mexico. We acquired this specimen from Tony Otero in 1987. Tony had mined
extensively at the Kelly many years before and, remarkably, still had a lot of really fine specimens.
We and Ken Roberts and Jim Minette all feasted on these specimens at various times.
This particular specimen was featured in Ron Gibbs' article (fig 15, photo taken before we bought it)
in the New Mexico issue of the Mineralogical Record (1989, vol 20, no 1), cover shown in the photo
to the right.
We sold it to the Collector's Edge in 2006. Local Denver collector/dealer Sandor Fuss bought it from them. This was another of my favorite collection specimens. It is a cabinet specimen.