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What's New and Cool at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show

Greetings from Denver! The 1998 show is my first time attending the Denver Show, which is the second largest gem and mineral show in the United States, eclipsed only by Tucson. Being a long time resident of Tucson, I've never had much incentive to travel to other shows. But this year I've come to Denver to assist three of Bob's Rock Shop's advertising sponsors with their Virtual Denver Show. In addition to performing technical production chores (and kibitzing while 'helping' the Shop's sponsors acquire rocks), I'll have some time to tour the show and show you some of what I saw and what's new at Denver. I already have the feeling attending this show is going to become an annual pilgrimage for me.

Like Tucson, but on a reduced scale, the Denver Show consists of a main show, held at the Denver Merchandise Mart, and several 'satellite' shows held at various locations. The most significant of the satellite shows for mineral collectors is The Colorado Mineral and Fossil Show, promoted by Martin Zinn Expositions, and held at the Holiday Inn on 4849 Bannock Street. Dealers at this show sell out of their motel rooms and also from a number of auxiliary tents set up on the motel grounds. While this show doesn't officially start until September 16th, you know what they say about the early bird getting two stones...

The Pseudomorph Collection of Ed Swoboda

Ed Swoboda, an accomplished collector legendary in mineralogical circles, released his pseudomorph collection for sale just prior to the Denver Show, and it was initially acquired by a small number of mineral dealers. In addition to Rob Lavinsky of the Arkenstone, another of those dealers was C. Carter Rich, who was showing this case of Ed's pseudos in his room at Marty Zinn's show at the Holiday Inn.

While this collection isn't a new find in the sense of being newly discovered material, it is certainly new on the market, and has generated a lot of excitement among collectors who appreciate interesting and fine pseudomorph specimens.

Pseudomorphs are true curiosities of the mineral world, displaying the characteristic form as to angles and general habit of a particular species but differing, sometimes radically, in chemical composition. Pseudomorphs are created by various mineralogical processes which include chemical alteration or substitution, and physical incrustation and infiltration. Some rockhounds specialize in collecting pseudomorphs, and their study has revealed significant information concerning the processes and conditions by which minerals form and the chemical composition of mineral species. Any connoisseur of pseudomorphs would find some to-die-for specimens among those in Ed Swoboda's collection, being dispersed at the Denver Show. Here's several that were offered by Carter Rich:

Above left is an amethyst after calcite from Artigas, Uruguay. A nice cabinet sized piece offered at $1500. I keep denying I'm a closet case amethyst freak, but this one's cool enough to make me reconsider that. The calcite crystal that the amethyst replaced is clearly evident in the shape of this specimen. Center is prehnite after anhydrite from Paterson, New Jersey. $125. Above right is a striking orangish red dundasite after crocoite from Dundas, Tasmania, offered at $750. Dundasite is a carbonate of lead and aluminum.

Above left is hydrocerussite after anglesite from Tsumeb, offered at $3500. Hydrocerussite is a rare lead carbonate of secondary origin. Above right is arsenopyrite after pyrrhotite from Santa Eulalia, Mexico. $450. Arsenopyrite is the principal source of arsenic.

Above left is malachite after azurite from Tsumeb, offered at $2000. Malachite and azurite are both cupric carbonates which commonly occur in association in the oxidation zone of copper deposits. Being from Arizona, I've seen some quite a few malachite after azurite pseudos, but I find this one particularly impressive in that it was one honk'n large azurite crystal before it altered into malachite.

Center is dioptase after cuprite from Reneville, Congo. $750. The characteristic shape of the original cuprite crystal is evident. Above right is lepidolite after elbaite from Barra Do Salinas, Minas Gerias, Brazil, offered at $2750. Yep, pretty pricey stuff. Quality minerals from a collection like Ed Swobodas's are not cheap. It's very doubtful they're going to decrease in value however....

Shown by C. Carter Rich Fine Minerals, PO Box 69, Aldie, VA 20105 Phone - (703) 327-6373

BTW, if you'd like to browse some more of the pseudomorphs from Ed Swoboda's collection, The Virtual Denver Show is offering quite a number of them online: Swoboda Pseudomorphs Page 1.

'Star' Emerald Crystal

Now here's an interesting emerald! Some of the coolest rocks you'll see at shows are kept under beds or in boxes and drawers under the display cabinets, out of sight until their owners pull them out to show them off. While accompanying John Veevaert as he was making some early bird Virtual Show buying rounds at the Holiday Inn, we were shown this 'star' emerald crystal, aka trapiche by Cal Graver, another dealer of John's acquaintance. This Muzo, Columbia emerald was about 1" x 3/4" and is shown atop a mag light which Cal used to illuminate the crystal and show off the characteristic star pattern. I'd seen lapidaried slices of trapiche before, but this was the first time I've seen a prismatic trapiche crystal.

New Wavellites from Mauldin Mountain, Mt. Ida, Arkansas

Wavellite is an orthorhombic mineral of secondary origin, a hydrous phosphate of aluminum. Crystals are rare and wavellite usually forms in hemispherical or globular aggregates with a radiated structure. Magnet Cove is one Arkansas locality well known for its wavellites. These specimens are from a new find at another Arkansas locality, Mauldin Mountain in Mt. Ida, Montgomery County. Scuttlebutt has it that specimens from this find are among the finest wavellites to come out of Arkansas.

Shown above left is a rather fine thumbnail which was priced at $30. Above right is a small cabinet specimen which wanted $65. At left is one of the nicer cabinet sized specimens I found after digging through a number of flats. It was asking $650.

Shown by Crystal Springs Mining and Jewelry Company, PO Box 40, Royal, Arkansas 71968 Phone - (501) 991-3557

New Humongus Amethysts from the Anahi Mine, Bolivia

Another new find which is apparently extensive are these uncommonly large Bolivian amethysts. These were ubiquitous at the Holiday Inn, and I saw clusters from grapefruit size to easily a meter in length. The crystals are very large, as you can see in the views of the specimen shown above. These amethysts were going from a hundred bucks or so up to five figures, depending on the size and condition of the specimens. The crystals are translucent and exhibit a very nice color. The particular specimen shown was being offered at $6,500 net.

I expect these amethysts to be popular in the same markets that the large and pricey Brazilian amethyst geodes appeal to. I think these clusters show off the amethyst crystals much better than the geodes, which encase the amethyst with an opaque shell that shadows and occults back lighted views though the crystals.

Shown by Crystal Springs Mining and Jewelry Company, PO Box 40, Royal, Arkansas 71968 Phone - (501) 991-3557

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