Harold MacMillan was once asked by a reporter what his biggest problem was – “events, dear boy, events”. And so after the floods in Haywards Heath two years ago, this year’s events were the introduction of a Saturday street market that completely blocked the main route to Clair Hall, and railway engineering works closing the Lewes to Haywards Heath line thus creating traffic congestion with herds of relief buses around the Station! However, the 2011 Show was well attended with over 600 present. Notable was the visit to the Show by Alan Barnes and Phil Taylor who had travelled down from Aberdeen!
As well as our members and visitors, we also attracted 40 dealers this year, including one or two new faces to our Show; Nicholas Schaffer came from Milton Keynes and Clive and Lynn Minker from Bedfordshire. Simon Rigby, who stood in for Bob Maurer last year, returned with his own table. Similarly J.C.Hofeld from Utrecht in Holland returned to establish his own table of microscope equipment. Allan Mortimer took over an “SMLS member/sellers table” this year from Peter Moore and so enjoyed it he wants to return next year. As many people probably already know, Mike Gough has decided to retire as a dealer so we do wish him well down there in Sidmouth.
Demonstrations & Displays
This year, after years of enjoying Derek Underdown’s lapidary demonstrations at the Show, we were pleased to welcome James Langdon, a professional stone cutter from Brighton, as his replacement. Interestingly, I noticed Derek sitting alongside James for some of the day introducing him to our Show visitors. Many thanks then to James – I think he enjoyed it! Also many thanks to our other colleagues, Terry Denny and Jo and Ivan Tingley in the junior workshop – every time I went into the room it was very busy with children vigorously polishing stones or carefully panning for gold. And finally a special word of appreciation to our members from around the country who get together each year to present a world class display of UV fluorescent minerals for us: Richard Belson, Martin Stolworthy, Simon Taylor and Bob Snoball who bring the large cabinets, UV lamps and specimens down from Norfolk; Gavin Malcolm who gets up at the crack of dawn and brings his specimens over from Hampshire and Michael Doel who drives down from High Wycombe with his specimens for the display.
The two major displays this year were focused on Welsh Mineral Classics and
Fossils: Before and After
WELSH MINERAL CLASSICS
Tom Cotterell accompanied by Andrew Haycock (Fig. 4) from the National Museum of Wales, mounted a fine display of Welsh minerals many of which brought back happy memories of collecting in Wales over several decades. Brookite from Prenteg; gold in quartz from the Prince of Wales mine, anglesite from Machan quarry, characteristically-faced calcite and baryte from Taffs Well and a very large pyromorphite from Bwlch glas which totally filled a dome. These were just some of the specimens from the comprehensive collection on view.
FOSSILS BEFORE AND AFTER
Phil James, chairman of the Southampton Fossil and Mineral Society put on an excellent display. This was not just an exhibition of superb fossils, but a collection of fossil specimens and photographs which explained and demonstrated the processes involved in preparing fossils from the rock in which they had been formed. (Fig. 5) The specimens were clamped tightly in position before using a hammer and chisel and air tools to remove the surrounding rock and leaving a magnificent fossil specimen. The photographs illustrated the various steps in this process. The prepared specimen of three cannon-ball ammonites in figure 6 is both an amazing scientific specimen as well as an aesthetic, natural sculpture. Magnificent.
The Show Talks
We had three very fluent and interesting talks this year, attracting attendances of 75, 65 and 55 visitors respectively. This section was kindly prepared by our expert reporters Roy Starkey and John Pearce.
, chairman of our sister club, the Southampton Fossil and Mineral Society started with a fascinating talk on Mary Anning’s fossils. Mary Anning (1799 – 1847) was a British fossil collector
and palaeontologist who became known around the world for a number of important finds she made in the Jurassic age marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis where she lived. These included the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified, the first two plesiosaur skeletons ever found; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany; and some important fish fossils. Her observations played a key role in the discoveries that belemnite fossils contained fossilised ink sacs and that coprolites, known as bezoar stones at the time, were fossilised faeces. Her work contributed to fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life. Mary had little formal education; her family lived in poverty and being a woman in those days, prevented her being accepted as a fully professional palaeontologist. Despite all that she is still remembered as contributing greatly to palaeontology.
took the audience on a whistle stop tour of a handful of his favourite mineral museums. The story began with a review of the sorry situation at Harlow Museum, with decaying specimens and no competent mineralogical / earth science curator on the staff, and then on to the Sedgwick Museum at Cambridge with 40,000 mineral specimens in the “warehouse”, and a small but nicely presented display in the public areas. We then journeyed on to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History with its wonderful cast iron and glass atrium, illuminated by daylight, briefly mentioning the fabulous Pitt Rivers ethnographic collections next door. Next we were up in the North Pennines at the Killhope Lead Mining Museum in Weardale with the superb spar box collection and wonderful display of fluorite specimens from the collection of David and Elizabeth Hacker. Suddenly we were in southern Spain at the Mollfulleda Museum of Mineralogy in Arenys de Mar about 30miles up the coast from Barcelona, a small provincial establishment with a nicely arranged display of a private collection, strongly featuring the minerals of Catalonia. Then it was back to the UK to pay homage at the Natural History Museum in London where sadly many of the newer displays have been poorly designed, badly lit and do not live up to their full potential. Finally we paused briefly to salute the recent European Classics exhibit at the Munich Show earlier this month before stopping off briefly at the Sorbonne Museum in Paris, aesthetically still one of the finest visual displays of top class, well-lit and stunning minerals anywhere in the world.
, Curator: Mineralogy Specialist at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales (NMW) in Cardiff stepped forward to give a superbly illustrated account of the renowned collection of Robert (Bob) King, now part of the collections of NMW, acquired by purchase in 1983. Bob’s interest in minerals began during his childhood in the 1930s, initially collecting in the East Midlands, but later diversifying into other parts of the UK. The Cumbrian iron mines, the North Pennines, and the Caldbeck Fells in the northern Lake District were some of his favourite collecting areas. Following the Second World War Bob worked for a time as a dairyman, later joining the Department of Geology at Leicester University. He became great friends with Professor Henry (Harry) F. Harwood, and after being appointed as curator in the Department of Geology at Leicester University he submitted a Ph.D. thesis entitled, “The Mineralogy of Leicestershire”. Harwood died in 1974, at the age of 88, and bequeathed nearly 6,000 specimens to Bob, some of which had been originally collected by Bob and given to Harwood over the years. Bob was all too aware of the importance of the collection he now owned and began to consider its long term future. Initially he intended bequeathing the British specimens to each respective National Museum, so the Scottish material to the Royal Scottish Museum, the Welsh to the National Museum of Wales and the English specimens to the Natural History Museum in London. In the early 1980s the National Museum of Wales approached Bob, to ascertain what his long term plans were regarding the future of his collection. This eventually resulted in the National Museum of Wales acquiring the whole collection by purchase in 1983, following an independent valuation. The main collection consisting of some 9000 specimens was accessioned straight into the museum’s main mineral collection. It contains the very best specimens from both the King and Harwood collections, and its acquisition transformed the National Museum of Wales’ mineral collection into one of national importance, with significant international classics.
After his early morning stint in the kitchen cooking bacon rolls,
kindly volunteered to act as our roving reporter whilst out among the dealers’ tables and record specimens that caught his eye; he had a good chat with many of the dealers and asked them which was their favourite specimen – i.e. the one they would most like to have/keep in their own collections. Accordingly reported below is a mixture of Nick’s personal specimen choice intermingled with dealer’s picks.
had a most attractive Wulfenite on Mimetite from the famous San Francisco mine, Mexico with transparent orange/yellow blades to 1cm.
of Crystal Classics had his usual varied display of high end specimens including a Dalmellington mine Baryte from Frizzington in Cumbria – a nice old timer with three elongate yellowy crystals to 15cm. He also displayed a rich Linarite from Penberthy Croft mine, St Hilary, Cornwall with a good covering of micro crystals. The specimen I would most liked to have taken home was a small cabinet sized Tetrahedrite from the Casa Palca mine, Huarochiri Province, Peru. A single crystal of Tetrahedrite to 3cm on edge sat aesthetically positioned on matrix, with small sparkling highlights of some other mineral scattered across it.
had his usual display of Cornish minerals, among which was an outstanding combination of Chalcopyrite on Tetrahedrite from the Herodsfoot Mine, Lanreath, Cornwall. The specimen was perfectly proportioned, about 15cm across, with some of the Chalcopyrite a lovely iridescent purple colour. Very covetable – but sadly already sold!
of Greenside Minerals had elected to go for the big specimen look this year with some super sized specimens for sale including a Baryte from Hilton Mine almost 0.6 metres across, with blades to 15cm. He also had a very nice big green Okoruso Fluorite, about 30cm square with crystals 2 to 3cm on edge. The last specimen to catch my eye was another large one – a purple Fluorite and Galena from Greenlaws Mine, Weardale, about 40cm across, with Galena and Fluorite crystals to 1.5cm.
, Cleobury Minerals, had several cabinets of fine quality minerals, including a range of newly mined Fluorites with Quartz from West Pastures Mine, Weardale. He also had an eye catching pseudomorph of Rhodochrosite after Calcite from the Cassandra Mine, Greece and an unusual Rose Quartz sceptre from Galilea, Minas Gerais, Brazil. There was a good display of various British and International fossils on show at
Richard Hawkes’ Stone Treasures
. These included an attractive block of Arnioceras ammonites from Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire (which now resides in my collection!). He also had an interesting fossil needlefish with intact needle, something that is very rare and that he had prepared in-house. The fish was about 10 cm long. Lastly he had an interesting specimen comprising three Ichthyosaur vertebrae on matrix from Lyme Regis – sadly this was one that got away as it had been sold when I returned later in the day.
Mike Brooke’s Broadstone Minerals
stand there was a good sized gold specimen from California, with dendritic crystals to 2 cm. Mike also had a Pallaflat Calcite with crystals to 2cm. My eye was particularly drawn to an aesthetic specimen about 5cm high of Cerrussite from Tsumeb, shaped like a Christmas tree. Mike also had some specimens for sale from the Pearl Freeman collection, including an interesting Linarite after Galena from the Blanchard Mine, New Mexico, USA: you could still see clearly the cubic Galena shape now replaced with sparkling deep blue Linarite. Finally, Mike had an attractive Ladywash Mine Fluorite with some cube edges highlighted in Marcasite.
In the corner,
was selling his new range of cabinets and lighting which looked perfect for mounting your display of best specimens. With Paul was
who had a small case of very select specimens, including a covetable Cavansite from Wagholi Quarry, India: the specimen comprised about 7 balls of beautiful sparkling Cavansite to 1cm that were aesthetically spaced on a Stilbite matrix. Colin Brough and I spent a good deal of time looking at the specimen and attempting to persuade Keith to sell at a knock down price – which, very sensibly, he didn’t!
of Gregory, Bottley and Lloyd had a very beautiful plate of Amethyst crystals from Vera Cruz in Mexico, with individual crystals to 2.5 cm showing a lovely purple colour. They also had a very large (30cm) deep blue Azurite from Morocco and a 30cm piece of Barytocalcite, with individual bladed crystals to 3cm from the 2nd Sun Vein, Admiralty Concession, Nentsberry Mine, Northumbria. You often see small bits of this mineral at shows, but this was a big and actually pretty looking specimen, unfortunately with too handsome a price for my budget.
was tucked away in the corner by the stage, selling a wide range of North of England and other minerals. He had a couple of small crystallised Welsh Golds to a couple of mm each – crystallised gold being almost unheard of from the UK. When I asked Ralph what his favourite specimen was he beckoned me behind the table and showed me a Beryl variety Aquamarine from the Mourne Mountains, Ireland. The crystal was a magnificent deep blue, about 6.5cm long and 1 cm wide in classic hexagonal prism shape. “Wow” was all I could say - only probably the best Aqua crystal ever to be found in Ireland. Ralph told me it came from the collection of Hodder Michael Westrupp (1820-1885) of Hornby Hall, Penrith, Cumbria. It was supplied to him in the 1830s by Patrick Dovan of Glassdrummond, Co. Down, Ireland. What a privilege to see such a rare and wonderful specimen. Sadly Ralph turned down my offer of a tenner for it!
John and Robbie Lawson
of Moorland Minerals had as usual a good range of self collected material for sale, including a group of West Pastures Fluorites recently mined. They also had some very sparkly plates of Smoky Quartz form Auchenlosh Quarry, Dalbeattie with crystals to 1cm. Lastly, they had some cubes of Fluorite from Heights Mine in Weardale that were an attractive blue/turquoise colour. John is threatening retirement, citing “getting on a bit now”; we all hope he can keep his batteries charged a few more years yet!
David and Elizabeth Hacker
presented a nice range of classic UK North of England specimens together with aesthetic worldwide minerals. They were also selling off some of the specimens collected by Mick Cooper, especially Pyrrhotites, Cerrussites and Galenas. They had some Vanadinites from a new discovery at Mibladen in Morocco: what marks these out is the size of the individual crystals, with some to 2.5cm. Sadly these are not the classic red; more of a chestnut brown, but are lustrous and make excellent display specimens.
had his usual mix of mining ephemera for sale including an old leather miners’ hat from Belgium. On the minerals side, Nick had a lovely Chalcophyllite from Cornwall for sale, with a 5x4cm grouping of crystals including some rare blocky groups to 8mm. He also had an interesting range of specimens from Leadhills in Scotland, including Leadhilllite, and Linarite.
How many of us have vowed never to buy another Indian Zeolite and then visited
table. He would quietly ask “have you seen this before?” knowing full well you haven’t, and then you are hooked on yet another wondrous Indian specimen. His table displayed the usual range of quality specimens, but I was drawn to a Scolecite with Apohyllite specimen where the Scolecite was present as spheres to 7cm diameter alongside glassy green Apophyllite. There were also a further couple of covetable Apophyllite specimens on a red Chalcedony background from Lonavala. A little different were some glassy brown bladed calcites on Trachyte matrix, a recent find from Malad, a North Mumbai suburb (found when foundations for a new car park were being dug).
|Fig. 1 Alistair Napier’s competition entry||Fig. 2 Ivor Thurgood presenting Alistair |
with the trophy
|Fig. 3 Alistair with his exhibit and trophy||Fig. 4. Tom Cotterell (right) and Andrew Haycock|
with their Welsh Mineral Classics display
|Fig. 5 Phil James’ display: Fossils: Before and After||Fig. 6 3 Close-up of the three cannon-ball|
ammonites after preparation
Photos: John Hall
was selling off Fluorites and a few other minerals from his collection so that he and Elvire can increasingly just focus on Zeolites and Barytes. Allan had a specimen on the table which was simply mesmerising and attracted a crowd of admirers throughout the day: it was a 45cm specimen of purple Fluorite on sparkling drusy quartz from La Viesca, Asturias, Spain. Individual Fluorite cubes were up to 6cm, with internal zoning clearly visible.
was also selling off some of his own collection of North of England minerals, including a nice cabinet sized old time Wet Grooves Baryte specimen which is now in my collection. He also had a very nice 15 cm specimen of Hematite from San Marino in Italy with individual blades to 1cm.
of Unity Minerals had a lovely selection of Chinese Calcites (Ed: he always does!), North of England and Russian minerals amongst others. My eye was caught by a really nice twinned crystal of Cassiterite on a matrix of Muscovite, with Aquamarine Beryl. It was from the Xue Boa Ding Mine, Sichuan Province, China. It really was a fabulous specimen - and I was sorely tempted. I also liked a large set of Bournonite crystals showing the typical cog wheel pattern around the edges: this specimen was from the famous Les Malines Mine in France: the interlocking cogwheel crystals were up to 6cm. As if this was not enough temptation, Ian also had a really eye-catching Cuprite with native Silver and Copper from the Rubtsovskiy Mine in Western Siberia; the Cuprite comprised gemmy octahedral crystals to 2cm.
of G4 Gems had a good display of cut gemstones, including a very tempting 1.2cm pink Tourmaline from Nigeria, cut as a rectangular cushion and a lovely blue Sapphire, 1cm, cut as an oval brilliant.
was a new dealer at the show and had some very good quality specimens, beautifully laid out with hand written labels which gave the display a very uniform and aesthetic look. Among his specimens I noticed a 5x5 cm Calcite from Egremont with clear crystals to 3cm and a Mimetite from the Bonnie Mine, Northern Territory, Australia, with pale green crystals to 0.5cm. He also had a very nice Amethyst from Amatitlan, Guerrero, Mexico and lastly a good Erythrite from Bou Azzer District in Morocco, with good sized pink/red crystals.
Hopefully this gives readers a good vicarious tour of the show. Apologies to any dealers left out – it’s hard to cover every single table in detail. Maybe next year?
On reading through Nick’s very thorough report above, I think you will agree it gives an excellent flavour of the range and quality of the specimens on show (and for sale!) that are provided by our dealers.
The Show Competition: Self Collected Minerals from the British Isles
Mark Oddy invited six entrants to this year’s Competition and has provided a comprehensive report below. It should be noted that this was the first year that the Competition was dedicated to self collected minerals only; from the degree of interest in the entries shown during the day on the stage, it can be judged a real success, so well done Mark.
“The six invited entrants were Steve Burchmore, Don Ford, Dave McCallum, Alastair Napier, Martin Stolworthy and Mike Wood. The judge for this event, where only a 1st prize is awarded, was Ivor Thurgood. A short description of some of the notable minerals in each cabinet now follows:
. Steve travelled down from Yardley Hastings near Northampton and entered a cabinet of 28 mineral specimens from a wide variety of locations including Eire. The most eye-catching specimen in his cabinet was an enormous 60-70cm long thin slab of copper and cuprite which he excavated from New Cliffe Hill quarry in1994. From the same location came a large specimen of ore material coated with malachite and yellowy-green vesignieite, a rare barium-copper vanadate secondary mineral. From the Nant y Cagel (Eaglebrook) mine in central Wales a small but very bright dark blue linarite found in 1993 was on display together with a delicate feathery mass of millerite needles found at the Nant Helen open cast coal mine in South Wales. Returning to the Midlands, Croft Quarry was the source of a large 25cm specimen of individual calcite crystals after laumontite sitting on a bed of analcime and calcite. A collecting trip to Eire in 2009 produced a notable specimen of pale green wavellite spheres on dark shale collected from the well known Laharran Quarry at Minane Bridge in Co. Cork.
. We are very grateful that Don was able to enter a cabinet after a previous entrant had had to drop out at the very last minute. Don, a founder member of the Sussex Society, entered a cabinet of 36 specimens all collected from the South of England – specifically Kent, Sussex and Somerset. The Sandford field site in the Mendip Hills was the source of a specimen of ferruginous quartz and from the site of an old Roman mine in the same area Don displayed an example of Yellow Ochre which is a fine grained goethite or hematite. Dark brown columns of stalactitic goethite were outstanding on a piece of sandstone collected from the Washington sand pit in Sussex and from the same county came an example of chalcedony flint from Newhaven beach. There was an example of the typical baryte sprays found in nodules on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and Don also entered a specimen of celestine, a strontium sulphate mineral that forms a series with baryte, which he found in the Yate Quarry in Somerset.
. Dave who hails from Mexborough in Yorkshire is a well respected explorer of old mines and quarries (he recently guided a Sussex Society group in the Strontian mines in Scotland). As Dave was unfortunately unable to travel down to Haywards Heath due to pressure of work we were lucky that Dave Green – a collecting partner- was able to enter a cabinet of specimens collected on trips in the company of Dave McCallum. Outstanding specimens in this cabinet included a fine group of clear pale blue baryte crystals collected recently from Wet Grooves mine near Askrigg in Yorkshire and another group of honey brown tabular baryte crystals situated in calcite nodules gathered from cliff falls at Peak Hill, Sidmouth in Devon. The beach below the Cligga mine in North Cornwall has been the source of some remarkable botallackite finds in recent years and Dave had entered a typical example of beautiful mid green elongate crystals coating a sizeable piece of granite. Heights quarry between Eastgate and Westgate in Durham has been the source of magnificent green fluorite crystals in the past and Dave entered a beautiful dark green group of cubic crystals on matrix from this location.
. Alastair, who was a first time entrant, entered a cabinet of 39 specimens
(Figs. 1 and 3) collected from a wide geographical spread of British locations. Prominent among the minerals was a group of four specimens of pink rhodochrosite encrusting limestone from Durnford Quarry near Bristol. This very attractive material was found in March 2007 and as well as the rhodochrosite, some of which had replaced calcite, there were additional scattered crystals of magnetite and wulfenite on these specimens. Also from the Mendips there was a large undamaged 3-4cm crystal of cerussite found in 1991 in the oxidised zone of a Cu-Mn-Pb deposit within the Carboniferous Limestone in Merehead quarry. There were three notable specimens from Scotland including a large apple green botryoidal prehnite from Loanhead quarry near Beith found in 2010, a hexagonal crystal of beryl on matrix found in April 2011 at the Mica mine on the little visited Knoydart Peninsula and a superb specimen of cubo-octahedral galena crystals on cockscombe baryte collected in 2002 from the dumps at the Strontian mine.
. Martin is a member of the Norfolk Mineral Club and he came down not only to enter this Competition but also with other Norfolk colleagues to mount the ever popular display of fluorescent minerals – so he was a busy man! Prominent in his cabinet was a large 20cm sawn and polished ammonite in calcite collected from the Crimplesham quarry in Norfolk. There were two good examples of cubic yellow fluorite from the Hilton mine near Appleby in Cumbria collected in 1981 and a further fluorite group from Milltown quarry near Ashover in Derbyshire. Petit Tor near Babbacombe in Devon was the site where Martin had collected a specimen of pink tabular baryte in 1996 and venturing further west Martin had displayed a large piece of china clay source rock covered in cassiterite crystals found in the Rostowrack pit at St.Dennis, Cornwall.
. Mike, a previous entrant, travelled from Harrogate in Yorkshire and entered a cabinet of 29 zeolite and associated mineral specimens collected in the Isle of Skye. Mike is probably the pre-eminent collector of Skye zeolites and his cabinet collection showed why. The less well known coastal location of Sgurr nan Cearcall provided a fine example of green prehnite lining a cavity in the Tertiary basalt and there was also a mass of quartz crystals from the same site. The beach at Sgurr nam Boc was the source location for four outstanding specimens, namely a large stilbite, an apophyllite with stilbite, a pink mass of heulandite crystals and a lustrous pale green blocky apophyllite on chabazite. A locality in the south of the Duirinish Peninsula, Biod a Mhurian, has produced some of the best calcite specimens collected on Skye and Mike duly displayed one such specimen of blocky penetration twins on a matrix of smaller drusy crystals.
. As mentioned above, the judge this year was Ivor Thurgood, a mineralogist whose collecting days stretch back decades, a sometime Editor of Mineral Kingdom/ Realm and a progenitor of earlier mineral shows. Prior to the presentation of the 1st prize, Ivor commented on the very high standard of all the entries and the difficulty of selecting a winner. Nevertheless after careful deliberation, and on the basis of the variety of minerals, their quality and the overall appearance of the cabinet collection, Ivor judged the winner to be Alastair Napier and duly presented the prize to Alastair, the 7th recipient of this award (Fig. 2).
I would like to place on record my sincere thanks on behalf of SMLS to all the entrants for taking the time to assemble their specimens, transport them to the Show and thus provide a worthy spectacle for the public to appreciate the attractions and rewards of mineral collecting, and hopefully be encouraged to join the hobby.”
From the above reports it will be clear that we had yet another busy show with lots to see, people to meet, specimens to buy; the refreshments area was also very busy this year catering for several hundred lunch snacks. Reports back from the dealers indicated fairly brisk trade and we had 79 visitor questionnaires completed. Analysis of these confirmed a wide-ranging enjoyment of all the features of the Show, but especially the displays and talks; again mention was made this year of how friendly and helpful the dealers were in explaining features of their specimens. The winner of the prize draw this year was Miss Stenna Urban from Chelsea, who receives a classic Indian specimen consisting of glassy apophyllite prisms on chalcedony.
Finally, thanks from the Show organizing committee, Mark Oddy, Colin Brough and me to the 50+ members and friends who gave up time to help us prepare and run the Show this year.