Wednesday, April 24, 2019


After wandering around for nearly two weeks at the smaller ancillary Tucson shows the time came for the main event in the Convention Center (Thursday through Sunday).  I always try and attend the first day and did so this year.  As usual, a long line greeted us before the doors opened for attendees.  I buy very few minerals at the Convention Center since many/most of the specimens are larger and more expensive (and I have spent my allowance).  However, just walking around and looking/gazing at absolutely gorgeous specimens is enough to get the Adrenalin  pumping.  But one never knows as some dealers throw out a few cheaper ones that may not be selling online or their shop, and ones that might attract customers.  It often pays to be early in line on Day 1! And that is how I came to pick up a few other Arizona wulfenite specimens for my collection.

I probably have 80-100 photos of minerals exhibited or "for sale" in the main arena of the Convention Center; however, only a few of these will be displayed below.

Uncut gemstones are always a source of interest to me and I sometimes wonder what would happen if I were a faceter and messed up making a cut?  But raw gems are just as beautiful as cut  stones.

Heliodor is the golden-yellow variety if beryl (beryllium aluminum silicate).  Specimen from Zhytomor Oblast, Ukraine and priced at $45,000.

 Tanzanite is a blue to blue-violet gem variety of the the mineral zoisite (calcium aluminum silicate hydroxide). All tanzanite comes from Tanzania and "a significant percentage of ... crystals on the market have been heat treated ... to produce or enhance their color" (

Morganite is the pink variety of beryl (beryllium aluminum silicate).  Specimen collected in Brazil.

Aquamarine is the sky-blue to sea-green variety of beryl (beryllium aluminum silicate). Specimen from Gilgit District, Pakistan and priced at $12,000. 

 Agates are always popular in show displays.  I thought the polished Laguna Agates (Mexico) were especially attractive.

 Since the show theme was Wulfenite is Loved one would expect plenty of specimens and visitors were not disappointed.
The wulfenite is this specimen for the Hilltop Mine in Cochise County, Arizona, is a distinctive yellow color.  The Hilltop was a polymetallic surface and underground mine discovered and first worked in the late 1800s.

Wulfenite from the Red Cloud Mine, La Paz County, Arizona (southwest Arizona), produced some of the most famous and expensive crystals of any mine in the world.  The red tabs are especially valued by collectors.

The two specimens above are from The Glove Mine, Santa Rita County, Arizona. 
Enlargement of above specimen.  Note the thickness of the individual tabular crystals.

Gold is always popular in the display cases.  These specimen came from the Colorado Quartz Mine, Mariposa County, California.
This amethyst specimen with the "crawling" calcite was one of my favorites at the Main Show.  Collected in Brazil. 
Long time Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society member and collector Ray Berry was remembered in this nice display case.

This seemed to be something new this year. Bottled varietal wine with labels displaying prints of actual mineral specimens.  The amazonite and smoky quartz specimen pictured on the bottle was collected near Lake George, a few miles west of Colorado Springs. 

The above two photomicrographs are wulfenite crystals from the Glove Mine, Santa Cruz County, Arizona.  The crystals are orange to light butterscotch color and are thick, simple and sturdy tabs. The large crystal in the upper photo is ~2.5 mm thick and 1.0 cm in length.
In contrast to the specimen above, this stack of dainty, transparent, window-pane, bevel-edge crystals is from the 79 Mine, Gila County, Arizona.  It is a beautiful specimen but unfortunately the digital camera could not pick up the yellow color of the crystals (light reflection).  Width of stack ~1.2 cm.


Thursday, March 28, 2019


I always wanted to buy a real antique rock!

After wandering through the 22nd Street Show I decided to wander some more and headed to the wildest show in Tucson, the Kino Gem & Mineral Show over at the Kino Sports Complex.  This Show has always had a variety of sellers with goods often not expected at rock and mineral shows.  At one time there were numerous small sellers with tents and pickups with a variety of nice mineral specimens.  A few years ago, most were eliminated due to “space limitations.”  There are still plenty of dealers and many of the outside small tents have some bargains with the minerals. One of the larger tents houses an uncounted number of jewelry dealers while another has a variety of lapidary equipment. 
One can observe many items "for sale" at Kino including coon skin hats and animal skins, cattle hides and baby elephants as seen in the above pictures.  I was not allowed to take photos of the firearms.
This was a beautiful table made with polished slabs of labradorite (a plagioclase feldspar exhibiting a play of color).

Many stands had "large rocks" for sale.  I certainly could not have lifted one of these to the car!

This shop was quite bust selling less expensive sterling/gemstone jewelry.
Beads, beads and more beads at almost all of the Tucson venues.  However, I did not see a "big run" on buying as in some previous shows.  Is the bead frenzy slowing?

It was interesting to peruse the different booths selling jewelry.  Much of it seemed almost identical--pendants of amethyst, agate, sodalite, green stuff marked as chrysoprase, red stuff, blue stuff, dyed stuff, and glass.  However, the price varied tremendously between sellers.  At any rate it seemed a tough way to make a buck.

Since the theme of the 2019 Show is WULFENITE IS LOVED, I have tried to stick in information about each of the samples that I purchased at that particular venue.  One of the small tent dealers at Kino had some very nice small cabinet to thumbnail specimens including Arizona wulfenite. So, it was easy to plop down two bucks for some wulfenite crystals on barite collected from the Puzzler Mine down in Yuma County.  It was interesting to note that the specimen originally was collected by Shannon Minerals (David?) in the 1990s.

The Puzzler is a relatively unknown mine for the production of wulfenite specimens; however, it is well known for its vanadinite specimens. The Puzzler is located in the Castle Dome District along the Gila River in southwestern Arizona and is but one of many small mines along the mountain front.  It is somewhat difficult to locate much information on the Puzzler.  As best that I can determine the most important minerals in the Castle Dome mines are “ the argentiferous galena-fluorite-barite fissure veins in Mesozoic metasedimentary rocks, closely associated with dike swarms [diorite porphyry].”  Much of the shallow ore shows mases of galena oxidized to cerussite and anglesite.  Vugs within the mrtasedimentary rocks house specimen vanadinite, wulfenite, mimetite and smithsonite.

Small cluster of wulfenite; matrix is mostly massive barite. Length of cluster ~7 mm.

 Wulfenite crystals across matrix.  Width FOV ~11 mm. 

Wulfenite crystals scattered across natrix.  Note the well defined crystal near upper left corner.  Unknown dark-colored mineral. The "white-to-clear" mineral may be cerussite or anglesite derived from oxidation of galena.  Width FOV ~ 11 mm. 

Dense cluster of wulfenite crystals, many very thin tabs.  Barite matrix is covered in this area with tiny calcite crystals a a small "blob" of purple ?fluorite.  Width FOV ~ 4 mm.

Although mining was occurring in the Castle Dome District long before Arizona Statehood, it was never an imports “rich” area, and it seemed a tough place to make a hard living.  For example, early miners thought that silvery galena was almost pure silver.  However, essays indicated on 30 ounces to the ton.  If that was not bad enough, the ore was carried over to the Colorado Rive north of Yuma, transferred to river boats and carried downstream to the Gulf of California, transferred to Clipper Ships sailing to a smelter in San Francisco.  Good ore (60% lead and $40 of silver) brought $90 ton at the smelter with transportation costs of $45 ton.  So, there was a profit, enough to keep small-time miners looking around for richer ore. In the first half of the 20th Century the Castle Dome mines also produced minor amounts of gold, fluorite, manganese and copper; however, good production records are unavailable, especially for smaller mines like the Puzzler (MinDat states from early 1900s to ~1952: 240 tons of ore-- 49% lead, 18 ounces silver per ton.  Above information on the Castle Dome District is from Keith, 1978.


Keith, S.B. 1978, Index of Mining Properties in Yuma County, Arizona: Arizona Bureau of Geology and Mineral Technology, Geological Survey Branch, Bulletin 192.

Wulfenite in the sky.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


One of the largest venues in the Tucson Shows arena is the 22nd Street Gem, Fossil, and Mineral Sow located near the intersection of I-10 and 22nd Street.  The Show has an extra-large center tent (835' x 100') with smaller, but large, adjacent tents on each end. The south end tent is the Showcase tent with carpeting, stage lighting, ten foot high modular walls and high end material.  The north tent is smaller and with only a couple of larger dealers (one wholesale only). I have not specifically counted vendors, but my estimate is ~325-350. It is also one of the few venues that advertises via billboards scattered around town, bus shelters, etc..  I would also say it has the most crappy and roughest parking around (and they charge to park).

The center tent is mighty large with 6 rows of vendors stretching the length and contains beads, mineral specimens, fossils, salt lamps, jewelry of all kinds ranging from junk to several tens of thousands of dollars, paintings, carved figures, and lots of other “stuff.”  Over the last decade it seems as if specimen dealers decrease in number each year.

If there are two items that are widely available in the 22nd Street tent they are beads and amethyst crystals.

This specimen, exhibited by Trebold Paleontology of Woodland Park, Colorado, was worth the visit.  Quetzalcoatlus northopi, collected in Texas, is a Cretaceous flying reptile with a wing-span of 33 feet.  The unknown photobomber gives a good idea on the height.
So, if one slowly traversed the three major long aisles and examined goods on either side a visitor might spend the better part of a day immersed in looking and spending.  However, I was more interested in examining mineral specimens so tended to skip the beads and other paraphernalia.  I did stop to visit a few of the vendors displaying vertebrate fossils since some fantastic specimens were available for sale.

As for buying, I was amazed to locate a nice thumbnail of wulfenite (lead molybdate) collected from Utah.  The specimen, in a perky box, was marked $30 but after a conversation the price was lowered to $5, something more in my range.  Evidently a solitary Utah specimen was not in great demand as this was Arizona and the hype was to buy Red Cloud wulfenite.  Short story—I left happy, really happy, since  Utah wulfenite is not  common on the mineral market.

Window pane, orange wulfenite crystals (notice the ghost "growth patterns in tabs on left margins) with tiny yellow-green crystals of mimetite (lead arsenate chloride).  Width FOV ~ 2.0 cm. 
The Harrington-Hickory Mine is west of Milford in Beaver County in the Star-North Star Mining District.  Originally claimed as a lead-silver-copper mine, it was worked from 1872-1875, 1900-1925, 1933, 1943-1949 and sporadically after 1962.  The host rocks for the metals were the carbonates of Permian Kaibab-Plympton Formations (undifferentiated), and thin shales of the Triassic Moenkopi Formation.  Mineralization was along contact zones with late Tertiary quartz monzonite and granodiorite igneous intrusions (Western Mining History, 2019).

The major hypogene ore was galena (lead sulfide) that had a high silver content.  I could not locate information about total production; however, the mine was not a significant producer.  Today it is best known for the magnificent tabs of orange to orange-yellow wulfenite although I am uncertain about current collecting or claims. 

                                        REFERENCES CITED

Western Mining History, 2019:  

There is color in Arizona other than wulfenite.