Large specimens from this remote, and little-yielding barite deposit are most uncommon. This is in fact one of the few cabinet pieces of high quality that I have seen. While it does not have giant crystals, it DOES have 3 very fine medium-sized crystals of extremely high quality. The largest measures 5.5 cm and the widest is over 2 cm thick. All have perfect terminations, steep and pristine. Reamarkably, as these form in tight concretions and are almost impossible to gently extract, this piece is not repaired in the matrix or larger crystal. Only the smallest, leftmost crystal is repaired (and that, done cleanly). The specimen was exhibited at the 2008 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in the American Gem & Mineral Treasures exhibition, and is pictured in the book published in conjunction with the show: American Mineral Treasures. It is also pictured in the recap of the exhibition in the Mineralogical Record, May-June 2008. This was long in a private collection, surfacing just before the exhibition. The graded background shot is a Jeff Scovil photo, the one used in the book as stated above.
A stunning, absolutely gemmy cluster of sharp wulfenite windowpanes to 2.7 cm across, dusted with bright mimetite. The wulfenite on this specimen is NOT typical at all of the locale, being an unusual yellow-orange coloration instead of orange as most crystals from here. The 3-dimensionality of the piece is appealing, and its verynearly pristine quality is a miracle, given the fragility of such pieces.This was collected in the late 1960s, by Wayne Thompson. Specimens in this quality, and miniatures on matrix no less, are simply not often available.
ex. Tom Hall
ex. William Larson
The former owner referred to this as a "jolt of color" in his case. This ruby specimen GLOWS with intense color, the color they call "pigeon-blood red" over there. It has also an incredible, waxy but glassy lustre that is hard to describe and I think is unique to great corundums. The sum is, it glows and sparkles in a case, with even minimal lighting to backlight it. The color is also consistent throughout except only a very small crysatl portion; AND you can see the whole specimen is crystallized. Burma rubies of large size are commonly lumpy, but this shows incredibly intricate faces, particularly on the display view. It is a floater, complete all around, if somewhat irregular on the backside. I lusted after this piece as I recall, in Tucson around 2004 when Bill Larson deaccessed this from his extensive Burma collection (certainly the best American collection of gem crystals from that country) and put it out for sale in Tucson. It was the centrepiece of one shelf in his display, as I recall: Just for color, and to attract buyers in. I recall it was priced on request, and frankly I do not believe to this day he really thought it would sell that quickly and wanted to keep it in the end; but it sold three times over on the opening weekend of the Westward Look show. I thought about buying it myself then (a question of budget), and I went back later to negotiatebut it was already gone! 2 Years later, I found myself staring at it in a collection, and recognized it immediately. Now I have it back again, from the Tom Hall collection. Tom is a longtime collector, recently retired from working, who since the 1960s has specialized in colorful miniatures and small cabinet pieces of high quality, trying to obtain the best he could in this size range from major, classic finds. His collection was always small but filled with choice beauties such as this. The piece is a very large miniature at 5.5 cm, but if you tilted it back slightly for display it would meet "competition miniature" sizing. Joe Budd photo.
ex. Richard Kosnar
I had the great privilege of seeing the Kosnar family collection when I was a younger dealer, and out of all the fabulous classics that stuck with my mind as I left afterwards, the suite of windowpane gem wulfenites is probably what struck me the most. I had no idea such things existed from the Red Cloud Mine - very different from material of other pockets I had seen in gemminess and in the electric lustre of the crystals. Apparently, these had been collected in one small pocket by a field collector, Leigh Price, in 1967 - and simply tucked away in his and his friends' collections. The major crystal here is approximately an inch on each edge, and a little more than that measured across. It is so gemmy you can look into it, and has the highest glassy lustre i have EVER SEEN ON ANY WULFENITE SPECIMEN from any locality. The surface is like windexed glass, slick and glassy. The major crystal is totally pristine, too (the sidecar crystals have some minor contacts of no real significance but are generally showy and good on their display faces, as well). A subtle feature of teh large central crystal is the slight countouring of the front face. It is not perfectly flat, but rather has growth curves and patterns on it that reflect the light intricately. Again, I have never seen a wulfenite quite like it. This one, to me, is totally unique and I am told also was among the largest crystals found that day in 1969. As a final rallying point here, I should say that most Red Cloud wulfenite is in fact red-orange. This is the most intense red crystal, that I have seen, even more red than the famous Ed Over specimens of around 1930
ex. John Barlow
ex. Tom Hall
A stunning gem anglesite crystal with mirrorlike, shocking lustre and total gemminess and transparency. The photo is good, but even the skills of a top photographer do not do this glowing jewel justice. It really IS that good, in person. I have owned this fine miniature 3 times now, in back-and-forth dealing over the last 11 years since first buying it when the John Barlow collection was sold in 1998. It is featured in his book (page 314), in the chapter on major African locales. I lusted for this specimen when I first saw it in person and each time, I am stunned anew when I hold it again. It is simply that striking, in a way that the photo fails to do justice to. It sold back to me in each of two previous cases when it no longer fit with where a collector was going in style or size, no complaint about quality! I now have it back again, from the Tom Hall collection. Tom is a longtime collector, recently retired from first-chair violin for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who since the 1960s has specialized in colorful miniatures and small cabinet pieces of high quality, trying to obtain the best he could in this size range from major, classic finds. His collection was always small but filled with choice beauties. This piece, to me, really epitomizes the old material from Toussit, and I remember first seeing it in the John Barlow collection book and thinking the photo was exaggerated even then. It was not overdone and if anything the piece really IS better in person, and has always been one of my favorites from that massive collection, even amidst so many more expensive treasures he owned. Joe Budd photo. Ex-John Barlow, No. 2544, pictured in The John Barlow Collection.
This is a superb example of the world class bournonite from Yaogangxian, which has redefined what a collector can own for the species. At the very top of its game, this mine's bournonites are, to me and most others, the most beautiful in the world. This piece has the top lustre (so bright and metallic , it looks unreal, like polished aluminum). It has a VERY slight surface oxidation that, in certain angles only, gives it a rainbow shimmering on the frontal surface. The crystallography is complex and geometric, showing a cogwheel -like form. Most bournonites of this size are broken off matrix, but this has a stunning association with water clear, gemmy quartz points.A quartz crystal impales the bournonite, too, making for an unusual accent in the middle of the specimen. It is simply difficult to convey in photos, though we have tried (Joe Budd photograph from the frontal view). I would say that for the quality and size, it would be hard to do better even in the next higher price range. This piece is of magnitude enough to be not upgradeable in any easy sense, and to represent among the best of the species from this mine. As an added note, the bournonites come from old tunnels mined out in the 1950s-70s and to obtain them, artisan miners must travel up to those old levels in the dark, through very dangerous and unsupported tunnels. The remainign bournonite is in the pillars, so pillar-robbing must be practices to retrieve them, leading to a weakening of the supports for the old levels. Sadly, this resulted in tragic deaths in 2007, when a number of miners died. The government clamped down on official access to those levels, I am told. Nevertheless, even if people go in and find more, so few have been found of this calibre
ex. Richard Kosnar
ex. Wally Mann
This is a superb example of classic topaz from the Ouro Preto region, referred to in the gem trade as "imperial topaz" for its orange color and brilliant lustre. The specimen is a complete crystal with great brightness and intensity, truly fine by any standard...AND it is ALSO doubly-terminated. Note the stark difference, too, in the termination styles! You dont see that very often! In fact, I've never had a good DT topaz from here above thumbnail size, myself. There are larger examples, but they reside primarily in the mine owner's company collection, sometimes showed on exhibit. This piece is of an older style aside from the dating via the label with it, and came out, thus, before the current near-monopoly on the region's imperial topaz production by the current owner. It was obtained in Brazil by collector/dealer Richard Kosnar on a trip in the 1970s, and is numbered #37 on a very old collection label that is preserved with the specimen (easily dated as it has his first wife's name on it). From Kosnar, it went to the well-known collection of former Dallas native Rick Rolater, who sold his collection (primarily to other local collectors in a famous free-for-all at his home) when founding the Discovery Stores in the 1980s. Wally Mann, also of Dallas, has owned it since.
ex. John Barlow
This is THE RED BERYL SPECIMEN TO OWN, if money is no object and other treasures are too common. It is not cheap by any means, in fact it is an insane price. But, it is considered by many to be one of the finest and most unique American mineral specimens in existence, and the changes of ownership have required that it comes with a price to match. It was mined and sold directly to prominent collector F John Barlow in the early 1990s (and is listed in his book, page 357, as the world's foremost example of the species). He had a core suite of 14 remarkable specimens of which this was the most important, and spent a fortune keeping on top of the finds here to have the best assemblage possible from this unique site. The locality is currently defunct but until recently was attracting the attention of gemstone giants like Tiffany's for its novel mineral. This particular piece is featured prominently in many media, including the F John Barlow Collection Book, Lapis special issues on beryls, and probably any other work that references red beryl. Although it "disappeared" briefly and could not make the American Mineral Treasures exhibition in Tucson in 2008, it well should have been in that compendium case. However, the photo was still chosen as the lead specimen for the Red Beryl chapter of the companion book to that monumental exhibition, and is shown full-page on page 217 of American Mineral Treasures. I now have it in my own hands, and am proud to offer this world class specimen that i view as one of the top 10 US mineral specimens in existence. I feel truly privileged to be able to offer this for sale. It is a literal Van Gogh in our mineral world. I am biased perhaps as I LOVE this rock. i have always loved this rock...it's a freaking 2 inch red emerald on matrix after all! Joe Budd photo on the graded background
ex. Dr. Steve Smale
This famous piece was long held in the Steve Smale Collection, and was photographed many times. It appears in the Encyclopedia of Minerals, and has long been considered by most collectors I have talked to about it to be the epitome of the Mexican ludlamite find from the early 1980s. It has shockingly deep color saturation, which is not just an exaggerated color in the photo. It really IS somewhat more intense in color hue, and in lustre, than nearly all other ludlamites I have seen from this find over the years. All are in major collections, and few come up for sale. Along with a very few specimens from Bolivia, of different crystal morphology in any case, these are the world's best of species to many collectors. And yet, there are so few Mexican ludlamites of high quality that actually came out, and almost none available to the market (in contrast to the more recent Bolivian material). For the material, this would also be considered a very large crystal clustre, aside from its color and lustre qualities. The pedigree is a bonus, the publication a bonus, and I feel the piece is really valued and priced for its intrinsic beauty and quality compared to what else is out there. I believe this to be one of the top specimens of the species to which a collector could aspire to own, hands down. Joe Budd photo
ex. Dr. Steve Smale
This specimen is to me one of the most elegant fluorites I have ever handled. It has so much contrast: of the sharp cubic form so unlikely to be perched atop curving barites; of the stunning purple color set against a chalky white pedestal; and of the clarity and gemminess contrasted to the opaque barites on which this crystal sits. The piece is a very large miniature at 5.5 cm, but if you tilted it back slightly for display it would meet "competition miniature" sizing. Properly perhaps, it is a small, small cabinet piece. The crystal is 2.2 cm by 2 cm on front, and extends at most 2 cm deep to the rear. The back face is contcted , but the fluorite and barite are pristine on the display face, the three other sides. The specimen was perhaps for 2 decades in the miniatures collection of ultra-picky collector (i mean that as a compliment), Steve Smale, known for his finicky taste for pure perfection when at all possible. He exchanged it long ago to another local collector in the Bay Area, Steve Smith, from whom I have recently obtained it. I LOVE the rock. I think the one sharp picture (Joe Budd photo) says it all. This piece is simple but complex at the same time, full of subtlety, and leaps out to me. It is, admittedly, probably the most expensive Berbes miniature on the planet, but then I paid a lot to pry it out of the collection it was in, and I really do value it so highly in my estimation of its quality and visual impact.
This massively large, important specimen is one of the few giants removed from the famous Wuling mine by a team working exclusively for specimen recovery, in around 2003. It came to the US in its own shipping crate as a specimen perhaps 6 times the size and mass, from which this core of undamaged, pristine, remarkably aesthetic crystals was obtained. There is nearly zero damage to the specimen, and certainly none to any core crystals. No repairs, no unsightly breaks. It is a miracle that such a thing could come out intact and even at this reduced size after the trimdown, it weighs nearly 200 pounds. While too big for nearly all collectors, it is truly a "museum piece" in more than just words. Under half a dozen pieces of this size and calibre are thought to exist, including one that is actually twice the size, from the same pocket, that has now been donated to the American Museum of Natural History and resides in a place of honor in a front atrium, in its own showcase. People stand next to that piece, taking photos with the natural swords of stibnite cluster, all day long. Even my children notice the consistent line to take photos in front of it, when we visit that museum. This piece is of the same impact and , I think, even finer in overall quality and condition. Although stibnite is now perhaps all too common, this particular pocket and mine will be remembered as one of the major finds of China to date, and from it this piece will stand out. It was, until I obtained it in exchange, in the personal collection of the company that extracted and brought the pocket to the US. I do not often use the words "museum-sized" and "museum-quality" in the same description out of care because high quality does not always equate to large size (most often, it does not!). But in this case, the piece really is mindblowing and would be a prime centerpiece for any museum or major collection.
This is a natural jewel, a complete 147-gram floater aquamarine crystal from one of the most famous finds for beryl on the planet, really almost a legendary find as everybody wants one but so few specimen-quality pieces survived the cutter wheels. It is a barrel-shaped, classic Jaqueto aquamarine crystal...the best ones are just like this, tapering on the ends and with a big fat gem nodule in the middle. This locality is not in Minas gerais, but further north in Bahia, its own little deposit. This locality has produced some of the purest , most intense natural blue aquamarine for the gem trade in the past - and a few small pocekts of specimens as well. I showed this to a gem dealer friend, who routinely buys such things for cutting, and he told me that if the cut works ideally, there is a $10,000 gemstone in the central portion of this crystal. And, in that analysis, is why you see fewer and fewer of these survive as specimens when the cutting value is so easily obtained as gem rough. It also makes it difficult for dealers like me to buy these in Brazil, from old stashes, because we must compete and pay more than the cutting price to preserve the specimen.
A totally gemmy, transparent, see-through topaz is the highlight of this fantastic combination piece, which has a striking balance of topaz and quartz, both nestled in crystallized cleavelandite. The topaz is 5 cm wide, 4 cm deep, and about 4 cm tall. It is PRISTINE. Not a ding on it and for that matter the rest of the piece is as close to pristine as you can wish, as well. In person, the topa zleaps out at you as a 3-dimensional jewel, transparent and brilliant like glass. You can see right through it to the quartz behind, the cleavelandite underneath, and the faceted terminations set against them. Topaz , on matrix, of this quality comes but rarely despite all the hunting and searching for these valuable gems. Most people consider this region to be the premier locality for champagne-colored topaz crystals of this style, and this piece epitomizes why. I purchased this in 2008 directly from a source in Peshawar, when it was much larger and needed to be heavily trimmed and cleaned. Joe Budd Photo (on graded background)
This impressive specimen features a sharp, doubly-terminated gem crystal from the so-called " Rocket Pocket", 10.8 x 1.4 x 1.2 cm in size, perched delicately on the side of a knoll of crystallized cleavelandite with sparkling purple lepidolite in the interstices. Collected around 2002, this was considered at the time, in the context of having most of the pocket contents laid out on a few giant tables to be sorted, to be one of the best of this style in its size range. It was kept back by one of the partners in the Pederneira Mining venture, and then sold to collector Irv Brown. He selected it, as I would have, because it has very unique aesthetics and, unlike most of these larger crystals which have 2-4 repairs, it has only one VERY clean, lock-fit repair to the tourmaline crystal. I obtained it in exchange from him in about 2006 and have held it since. The Pederneira is shut down for the moment, and in any case the pegmatite which hosted this particular pocket is completely gone and stripped of crystals at this point. While many came out during the brief heyday here, this piece has always inspired me , even though I have bought and sold more expensive examples in the meantime. As a bonus, I admire the contrast between the large crystal with pyramidal termination and the two smaller crystals flanking it, each with a flat-topped termination. The balance of the piece, the accents by the sidecar crystals, the combination of terminations, all make for a specimen that is, overall, superior in its size and price class. This piece has never before been offered publicly before, just changing hands by exchange twice since it was mined. Many specimens can be bought in the 10-20k range that in context really are not the "best of" in any manner for their localities. This piece, though, for just a little bit outside that range where so many more common pederneira pieces can be had, really does uplift itself by its own merit to the next level as both a collectible and an investment thus.
ex. Richardson Beard
The Smoky Hawk claim has, since about 2006 or so, produced amazonite and smoky quartz combination pieces that rival the famous Tree Root Pocket material of the late 1990s. Some of them, such as this piece, are more aesthetic to my eye because they have not only the super colorful amazonite in fake-looking, intense blue color, combined with smoky quartz: also, the best quartzes are generally gemmier and more translucent than the older Tree Root Pocket pieces. Moreover, on this piece, the quartzes (to 3 inches!) shoot up so starkly and dramatically, that it "makes" the specimen. In many such combination pieces, the smokies are undersized compared to amazonite, or vice versa. Or, the two are often in a more jumbly aggregate that is pretty and of high quality, but not really the kind of stark geometry that I favor. I like specimens best when you have crystals on crystallized matrix, and the two geometries are as different in color and crystallography as you see here. This piece has it all! Like nearly all such larger amazonite combination pieces, old and new finds both, this has a few repairs that would be considered par for the course, so long as they are well done and clean (which they are). This specimen sits nicely in the palm of your hand, spraying three-dimensionally to fill space. I obtained this specimen from the William Ferris collection by exchange, before that collection was sold off in 2007-2008. I owned the specimen for about 15 minutes before it was snapped up...seen in person, it REALLY does leap out at you, compared to most others. Mr. Ferris was the first owner, having acquired it directly from the company of Joe and Tim Dorris, the miners, several years previously. Since that time until now it has been in the Dallas collection of Rick Beard. I regard it , for the size, as one of my favorites of this classic combination in a price range that is expensive, admittedly, but still affordable to many collectors without going for megabuck pieces. NOTE CONTRIBUTED BY THE COLLECTORS, JOE & TIM DORRIS: Thanks for featuring the Night Hawk piece in your vault. My son, Tim, who is an avid fan called my attention to the posting. A bit of information: I found it on 29 June 2006. Only a few other pieces came from the pocket, all smaller and relatively insignificant. All showed the nice translucency which this Night Hawk piece exhibits. You can see from the attached photo, the pocket was quite small, less than a foot across. (so, a far more rare piece from a special pocket, still remembered 3 years later by the folks who dug it).
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