Snapshots from the Tucson 2001 Gem and Mineral Show
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Lucky Buddies

Most, but not all of the dealers at the Ramada Inn Show are fossil oriented. However, this show can be interesting for mineral collectors as well as a number of the fossil dealers there also sell mineral specimens, and I've seldom made rounds at the Ramada without finding some minerals that appealed to me. One dealer that I make a point of visiting each year is Eduardo Jawerbaum from Argentina, whose virtual acquaintance I first made on the old, now defunct Rockhounds email list. Nowadays Eduardo operates the Southern Minerals and Fossils and web sites, and in addition to his Southern Minerals and Fossils room in 180 at the Ramada Inn, Eduardo is also showing his meteorites in Room 105 at the Inn Suites Show.

New in Southern Minerals and Fossils' room this year were these snow white halites from Salar de Antofalla, Catamarca, Argentina. Halite [NaCl] is sodium chloride, aka salt and is undoubtedly one of, if not the first, mineral to be mined by prehistoric humans. At approximately 5" overall, the halite on matrix specimen shown above was one of the smallest displayed, but also one of the prettier to my eye due to the fractal habit exhibited by the cubic crystals, and I considered it a halite collector's bargain, wanting just a single $20 bill.

Halite is known to occur in colorless, white, yellow, orange, reddish, purple, and blue colors and sometimes fluoresces orange, reddish or greenish in UV light due to inclusions of organic material. Unfortunately I was not able to determine if this material fluoresces as the power pack for my UV died just before the Show so I wasn't able to bring it with while making my rounds.

The halite on matrix specimen shown above left was the largest displayed by Southern Minerals and Fossils. A floppy disk provides scale. It was about 15" overall and with a longest cube edge was about 1 1/4". This specimen wanted $300.

Also new in Southern Minerals and Fossils this year were these aesthetic, zoned fluorite on quartz miniature to small cabinet specimens from El Portezuelo, Sierra de Ascasti, Catamarca, Argentina. The specimen above displayed very nice honey colored crystals with a magenta outer zone. It measured about 2 1/4" overall and the longest cube edges are about 1/4" in length.

Here's another pretty El Portezuelo fluorite miniature, The specimen depicted above measured about 3 1/2" overall, also with longest cube edges of about 1/4" in length. I snagged both this one and the preceding 2 1/4" specimen, which I considered to be the creme de la creme of the lot after rifling through all the flats, for a price that would make any rock dealer weep tears of joy.

Since I've recently restricted my fluorite collection to specimens from the now defunct Illinois fluorspar district mines, these went at my cost+ to dealer friend Rob Kulakofsky who will probably offer them online at his Arizona Mineral Company web site. The + part of Rob's cost on these may be an as yet unspecified piece of gemstone material to cab for this ring in progress I'm making for myself. I carved the wax model and cast it in sterling silver as my first casting project in an introductory Old Pueblo Lapidary Club lost wax casting class I recently attended.

I figured to come by some rough for a stone that my ring likes during this year's show. Hmm, I wonder if Rob, who also operates the web site, has acquired any gem garnets that are big enough? Hey, I love this job... ;).

Here's another El Portezuelo fluorite on matrix, this one with crystals colored more to the purplish green. Most of the El Portezuelo fluorites shown by Southern Minerals and Fossils were colored more to this end of the spectrum rather than honey/magenta colored. This piece was about 5 1/2" overall and it wanted $40. I think this piece is an good example of a specimen that would benefit from matrix trimming and reduction in overall size by someone with a little courage and a good touch with a hydraulic breaker.

Shown above are several quartz after aragonite pseudomorphs from Las Plumas, Paso de Los Indios, Chubut, Argentina that came from about a dozen or so flats of these at Southern Minerals and Fossils. I think these pseudos have a high cool factor and I spent some time digging through all of them cherry picking in terms of their aesthetics and condition. The specimen pictured above left was my personal favorite and went home with me for my quartz collection. I came up with about 8 or 9 more pieces that I considered the best of the lot and also purchased on behalf of my friend Rob for Arizona Mineral Company, who donated one for one of this year's show report virtual door prize drawings. Thanks Rob!

I visited Southern Minerals and Fossils accompanied after breakfast by Tucson buddies Tom and Jerry who went on to browse in other dealer's rooms after I stopped to take the report pics above. Tom, who likes dinosaur parts and other old things, returned about 20 minutes later to look for me. While Tom was waiting for me to wrap up my visit with this dealer he got to digging around through some stacks of flats of specimens piled up on the bed and discovered an unresistible flat of fossilized Titanosauridae sp dinosaur eggshell fragments from the Allen Formation near General Roca, Rio Negro, Argentina that went home with him for $60.

As Tom is a maker and restorer of stringed musical instruments like violins and cellos by profession, not a rock dealer, and could have purchased just a couple of shell fragments here, I asked him what on Earth was he intending to do with an entire flat of them? While he said he was buying them in quantity as cool rocks to give away to friends and relatives, I can't help but wonder if Tom wasn't already subconsciously planning to reassemble and glue them all back together... Anticipating that this idea would eventually manifest itself, I shrewdly accepted and have saved these four fragments from Tom's flat. So if Tom winds up needing one of these pieces to complete his three dimensional jigsaw puzzle, I've got it and I will be glad to horse trade it back to him for a pretty fancy wood specimen stand custom made to specifications for one of my quartzes...

Now am I not a good buddy or what? ;)

Southern Minerals and Fossils Ramada Inn Room 180 - WWW: Southern Minerals and Fossils Email: C.C. 988, 1424 Buenos Aires, Argentina Phone: +5441.4921.1226 Fax: +5411.4924.7943

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