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Mar. 16-22  |  Mar. 23-29  |  Apr. 13-19   |  Apr. 20-26  |  May 4-10   |  May 25-31

~ Week of May 25th, 2008 ~

Mineral Cabinet

After our recent move, Mandy's parents came out to visit us. Mandy's father is a master craftsman and designs and creates custom kitchens and furniture. He made us a fantastic mineral cabinet to our specifications. If any of you are in the market for a mineral cabinet, he can make you one in ANY possible way you could dream it up in order to suit your particular collecting focus, aesthetic preference, or scientific need! Given the fact that everything is custom made, there are options to fit every budget! Custom cabinets of any size can be delivered anywhere in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maryland. Further destinations would require freight shipping. Please feel free to contact me with any inquiries at mineralman999@yahoo.com

Mineral Cabinet Glass on 3 sides and mirror in the back This deep cabinet can hold 8+ tall flats and more

In our particular case, we had a classic mineral cabinet set atop two thumbnail drawers with a little table surface followed by two large specimen drawers and then a large cabinet below for storage. The display cabinet features glass on three sides, mirror back, adjustable glass shelves, and bright halogen lights with variable settings. It is truly a beautiful piece of furniture, constructed entirely from cherry hardwood it is certainly something that will last a lifetime.

Adjustable glass shelves and bright halogen lighting All cherry hardwood construction

Here is a side view of the top and bottom of the cabinet. Now we just have to fill it with specimens - that's the hard part. After moving several thousand specimens, sorting them out, finding them, and un-packing them is quite a process indeed...

Thumbnail drawers come ALL THE WAY OUT and hold 112 thumbnails each Can support up to 70lbs. and rolls out as smooth as a Cadillac

One of the features that we felt was important was the ability for the drawers to come ALL THE WAY out. I have seen some drawers in the past that solve this problem by simply "falling" out. I am sure many specimens have met a cruel fate thanks to that horrible design. These pulls can support 70 lbs. at least - and I don't think you could find 70 lbs. of thumbnail specimens even if they were all gold & platinum! Each of these thumbnail drawers holds 112 thumbnails (for a total of 224) with just the perfect amount of extra room to be able to pull them out with ease.

super heavy duty construction large specimen drawers

The same "all the way out" design is found in the large specimen drawers (which can fit more than two large flats of specimens). Of course these drawers can support the heaviest of specimens as well. All the drawers also have a very smooth, Cadillac-like ride with no jumps or jolts at the begining or end of the pull. A very important feature to us collectors, but unfortunately it is seldom seen for some reason.

Sunrise from our bedroom window - 5:28 a.m. Sunrise from our bedroom window - 5:32 a.m. Sunrise from our bedroom window - 5:38 a.m.

Well, aside from the delivery of the mineral cabinet, we have been delighted to find that the sun wakes us up every morning in a most spectacular way. This is the view from our bedroom window. By the time 7:00am rolls around, our bedroom is lit up like its noon!

You can see the duck in the background mean snapping turtle close up of the mean (and smelly!) snapping turtle

And, since no blog entry would be complete without a good anecdote...
Today, Mandy and I went for a bike ride around the neighborhood. When we were passing by a local lake we saw two people at the waterside who were pointing at something splashing around in the water. When we got closer we saw that it was a duck that appeared to be in distress. Apparently, this duck had a big snapping turtle hanging off of his foot! This snapping turtle just wouldn't let go and the duck really looked like he was losing the battle. Luckily the duck was close to the edge of the lake. We were able to break a long branch off a nearby tree and use it to reach the two of them. I quickly pulled them in close with the stick and pulled the turtle off. The duck (a mallard) took off like a bat out of hell the second he was free (you can see the duck in the inset in the first picture). However, I held on to the turtle for a quick photo op!

~ Week of May 4th, 2008 ~

Liroconite - Wheal Gorland, Cornwall, England Proustite - Chanarcillo, Chile Peridot - St. John's Island, Red Sea, Egypt

This week was a busy one for Mandy and I. We moved from our house in Manasquan, New Jersey, to a condo in Asbury Park, New Jersey. However we were still able to list a number of exciting auctions this week. In addition to our varied listings, I thought it would be fun to list a trio of true "old time" classic specimens - a liroconite from Cornwall, proustite from Chanarcillo, and a peridot from Egypt. All three of these specimens come from workings prior to the 1900's! You can click here to go to these auctions now!

Danburite - Russell, New York Rose Quartz & Eosphorite - Plumbago Mt. Graphite Mine, Newry, Maine

There are also a pair of great North Eastern United States classics - a very fine example of crystalline rose quartz with eosphorite from Plumbago Mt. Graphite Mine, Newry, Maine and a cluster of complex danburite crystals from Russell, New York. Fine rose quartz specimens from Newry, as well as these old Russell danburites, are next to impossible to obtain on todays market. You can click here to go to these auctions now!

The Santander

Back to the subject of our move, this is a photo of the building we are in - The Santander. This building was built in 1929 and it has all kinds of neat architectural flair. We are still unpacking but things are gradually getting back in order.

This is the view from our bedroom - in the foreground you see Deal Lake and just beyond that is the Atlantic Ocean. We are approximately two blocks from the beach and Deal Lake, the small lake that seperates Asbury Park from Interlaken, is immediately across the street to the north. This view was not nearly as pleasant this morning however. There was a strong storm blowing in from the ocean that created giant whitecaps as far as you could see.

Deal Lake & Atlantic Ocean - View From Bedroom

Santander Courtyard Santander Lobby

Here is a picture of the courtyard and part of the lobby. You can see some of the building's more stylish details in these pictures. I am told that during the early 1940's, Fort Monmouth used this building for military housing when they were briefly overcrowded. Those soldiers must've thought they had died and gone to heaven! Of course this was before the building was converted to condos, but it was still considered a luxury hotel at the time.

Well, I guess that's it for now. Mandy and I will be on our way to pick up another portion of a collection we acquired later this week, so look for a new update coming soon!

~ Week of April 20th, 2008 ~

Franklin Show Franklin Show

This weekend Mandy and I went to what is known as "the Franklin Show." Technically it was the 36th Annual New Jersey Earth Science Association Gem & Mineral Show sponsored by the Franklin-Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society - but everyone just calls it "the Franklin Show." Mandy and I have been coming to the show for years and it is always a great time. There are many well-known East Coast dealers that attend the show and there is always a good showing of mineral "characters" too! Above is a view of the outdoor dealers area. If you can believe it, we talked to one of the dealers who actually slept in his car in order to get the best spot!

Just minutes after Mandy snapped this picture of me waving like an idiot, we ran into Chet Lemanski. Chet had just come from the "Garage Sale" over at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Mandy and I had been coming to mineral shows at Franklin for years now and we never knew about this mineral sale that goes on over at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum that is just a few miles away. Boy, was I jealous when I saw the specimens that Chet snatched up. The most impressive specimen that he showed me was a dazzling, cabinet-sized cubanite specimen that hosted what was probably a 2.5cm cubanite SIXLING beautifully centered on the matrix. Needless to say, the second I saw that Mandy and I made tracks to the museum!

Me waving to Mandy at the Franklin Show

Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Believe it or not, after all of our trips to Franklin over the years, we have never visited the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. On the premises there are numerous displays of old mining equipment, rows of mine cars lining "Joe Cilen Street" - the main road into the facility, a giant stamp mill that was hauled all the way from the Old Terrible Mine that was located in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, and all kinds of giant machine parts strewn about. Aside from giant artifacts, there are numerous bronze sculptures around the property. What is really fascinating about them is that they are very detailed in terms of the old mining equipment they are carrying.

If you look closely, you can see that there is a group of people congregated under that roof in the distance. This is where the museum's "Garage Sale" was being held. Unfortunately we got here too late and things were already quite picked over. However, they were putting out new material througout the day and there were numerous collectors hovering about like buzzards waiting for the next batch of material. Unfortunately we didn't have time to do this because we were meeting up with someone who had a collection for us of both worldwide specimens and an incredible suite of 40 or so Langban specimens. This acquisition will be going up on the site in the near future, just as soon as the Langban material goes out for further identification. There are some really incredible specimens in there so if you are a Langban collector feel free to send me an email if you'd like to know more about it.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum's 'Garage Sale'

Hey little kid!  You're comin' with me! The Scary Miner's Lair

Mandy and I got a great laugh out of this sculpture. It looked more like an illustration of "Stranger Danger" than that of an inquisitive young child being mentored by a kindly old miner. From this angle it looks as though this creepy miner was dragging a struggling child off to his lair in the deep, dark, underworld below. If I had seen this statue as a child I think it would've scared me away from the hobby!

In closing, while we are on the subject of Franklin, I just thought I'd mention that there is a fantastic rhodonite specimen from Franklin up for auction this week. Click Here for this week's auctions and check it out. And stay tuned, as I will be listing some exciting new acquisitions this Thursday night as well. Take care and talk to you soon!

Rhodonite with Calcite - Franklin, New Jersey

~ Week of April 13th, 2008 ~

Chalcocite - Mountain Con Mine, Butte, Montana

This week Mandy and I went to see and old friend, Bob Jenkins, down in Delaware. We ran into Bob at the Plymouth Meeting show in Pennsylvania two weeks ago. After learning that he was now willing to sell his personal collection we were very excited to get down to Delaware and check it out. Bob is a well-known authority on the mineralogy of Butte, Montana and had accumulated a very significant collection of mineral specimen from Butte - both in terms of its breadth and quality. To the left is a pristine, 2+cm crystal of chalcocite from the Mountain Con Mine in Butte, Montana - the deepest mine in the district.

Another fine specimen from the Jenkins Collection, this classic Butte beauty consists of a 3.5cm cluster of juxtaposed, razor-sharp, hexagonal blades of covellite aesthetically paired with golden pyrite crystals. In addition to classics like these, there are also an impressive array of Butte rarities, uncommon Butte district localities, uncommon pseudomorphs, rare combinations, and specimens that are just singularly unique.

Covellite and Pyrite - Butte, Montana

Quartz Pseudomorph after Enargite - Butte, Montana Quartz Pseudomorph after Enargite - Butte, Montana

This specimen is just incredible. It consists of a complex, 4.5cm cluster of quartz pseudomorphs after enargite and iridescent covellite pseudomorphs after enargite on a matrix of quartz crystals. We actually sold this specimen to Bob Jenkins years ago and now it is coming back to us again. Bob commented that it is the only one he has ever seen and it is an exceptionally rare pseudomorph in his experience.

Scheelite - Tae Wha Mine, Korea

In addition to the Butte Collection, Bob had also accumulated a respectable worldwide collection as well. I was particularly impressed to find this huge, old time Korean scheelite crystal. This stunning, 8cm scheelite crystal is from the Tae Wha Mine in South Korea. Absolutely classic material.

Aside from great worldwide classics, there are a number of rare locality pieces and rare species as well. Mandy was quick to bring this specimen to my attention. This specimen consists of a bright orange combination of rare ludlockite and leiteite crystals measuring approximately 3cm. In the upcoming weeks I will be adding a large number of specimens from the Jenkins Collection to both this website as well as our Ebay auctions. In fact, there are already a few specimens that snuck their way onto the newest worldwide gallery update.

Ludlockite with Leiteite - Tsumeb, Namibia

While the acquisition of the Jenkins Collection specimens were certainly the highlight of the week, we also had a few other exciting acquisitions as well. Below are three Rhodochrosite specimens from Japan, all from the Taguchi Mine in Mie Prefecture. These specimens will be offered for sale soon.

Rhodochrosite - Japan

They are all approximately the same size, being between 5-6cm.

Rhodochrosite - Japan

They are quite striking in person and their uniquely aesthetic characteristics are somewhat difficult to capture in the pictures.

Rhodochrosite - Japan

Mandy made me chuckle when she referred to them as rhodochrosite "ears."

Diamond - Crater of Diamods State Park, Arkansas

In addition to these rhodochrosites, Mandy and I were excited to receive a pair of diamonds from the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. Here is one of the crystals along with its corresponding certificate. Recently, there was a fantastic piece of investigative jounalism on www.fakeminerals.com about an individual who was attempting to defraud the mineral collecting public by bringing diamonds from India onto the property and "pretending" to find them himself and then sell them as coming from Arkansas. The article is a spectacular triumph over the kind of fraudsters that do damage to the hobby and science of mineralogy.

Rest assured, the specimen you see here is indeed authentic and pre-dates any shenanigans mentioned in the article. We obtained this handsome gem from Jim Houran and it was originally found by Claud Dill. Jim Houran has what is likely the finest collection of Arkansas diamonds in private hands. The Houran Collection was on display at the Tucson show and it was nothing short of INCREDIBLE! Luckily, Jolyon Ralph of www.mindat.org did a terrific job of photographing the TGMS 2008 Crater of Diamonds Display for all of us to enjoy. This diamond specimen is currently up for auction on ebay starting at just one dollar - click here to bid now!

~ Week of March 23rd, 2008 ~

LuLu Temple

This week Mandy and I went to a small regional mineral show in Plymouth Meeting, PA. The show was held at a place called the "LuLu Temple" which is a Shriners' "mosque" near Philadelphia. We have been going to this show for years and it is always a good place to find great material.

Charles Wheatley PA Uranium Minerals

While there weren't too many displays at the show, there were a few things that caught our eye. One of those things was this picture of Charles Wheatley, the proprietor of the Wheatley Mine (as well as its namesake). The Wheatley Mine was originally opened around 1850 and was closed for good by 1920. It was a lead and silver mine and is perhaps best known among collectors for its classic pyromorphite specimens. Charles Wheatley was also a mineral collector - I am sure owning a magnificent pyromorphite locality was a great advantage in terms of trading!!! We aslo saw a display that featured several radioactive specimens and a book on radioactive specimens of Pennsylvania. Much to our dismay, there were no actual radioactive specimens from Pennsylvania in the display. But, as luck would have it, we found a francevillite from Pennsylvania at the show - how about that?!

Amethyst - Delaware Co., Pennsylvania Calcite - York Co., Pennsylvania

And of course, no respectable Pennsylvania show would be complete without a general display of Pennsylvania minerals. Of particular note were this amethyst from Delaware County and this calcite specimen from York County. It is difficult to fully appreciate them from these photos as there was no adequate lighting on the case. However, the amethyst was doubly terminated with pronounced, saturated violet color at each end and the calcite crystal was large, lustrous, and had significant clarity.

Here is a view of all the action at the show. Do you see any familiar faces in the crowd?

Where's Mandy?

Iron Stain Removers Solvents

Aside from attending the show, Mandy and I also looked at a private collection this week. All told we acquired a few hundred specimens this week. These specimens will be making their way onto the site and our ebay auctions in the upcoming weeks. However, it is not just a simple process of acquiring a specimen from an old collection, photographing it and selling it. Many of the specimens need significant preperation and cleaning before we sell them. We encounter specimens in all kinds of conditions. I thought it might be fun to share our techniques and some of things we've learned over the years. These are some of the more useful products that we use for various purposes.
  • "Rust Stain Remover" - The active ingredient is hydrofluoric acid. This product is used for, among other things, removing iron stains from specimens
  • "Iron Out" - The active ingredient is oxalic acid. This comes as a powder that is mixed with water in varying strengths. As the name implies, this is also used to remove iron staining
  • "Weiman Wax Remover" - This product is the best thing to use on very old, stiff, dried out, gooey, or otherwise decrepit mineral tack. Without this product, one risks either damaging the specimen or winding up in a situation where all the tiny bits of ancient mineral tack remain impossibly stuck in every nook & cranny of the specimen. After carefully removing any large mass of tack if possible, the specimen is left to soak in the wax remover. After a few hours the tack is dissolved and can easily be brushed away with a paintbrush. This product has been shown to be very safe in my experience and does no harm any species I've used it with - although I have never tested it out with water soluble species
  • Acetone - Acetone is the classic solvent for cyanoacrylate glues (like krazy glue, etc.) and other glues other than elmer's that are not water soluble
  • "Goo Gone" - Goo Gone is our "go to" product for removing relatively "fresh" mineral tack that is being stubborn or stuck in delicate areas (for example, a thin gold or silver specimen that you do not want to bend) or "gooey" areas left behind by stickers of any kind

Iron Out & Pyrite

Here is an example of a commonly encountered situation - iron oxide staining. In this case I have a pyrite specimen with minor hematite on the underside, from Elba, Italy. There is some minor iron staining on some areas that I hope to remove using the oxalic acid (Iron Out). I start by dissolving a small amount of Iron Out in a small amount of water. Since I am only planning on treating a small area of the specimen I will try to use a Q-tip to address the area rather than leaving it to soak in the solution (which is often needed for more extensive iron staining). I leave a few drops of solution to sit on the areas of iron stain. After a minute or so, I apply some pressure with the Q-tip and am able to rub the stain off with much success.

Pyrite - Before Pyrite - After

On the left you can see that the pyrite crystal has a significant area of iron stain on the largest face. After treatment with the oxalic acid (in the form of "Iron Out") the pyrite crystal shows its gleaming metallic brilliance.

Rhodochrosite Rhodochrosite

An old, cruddy, box containing a barely visible mineral specimen. This is an all too common sight for us. Unfortunately buying "old" collections means buying all the "old" containers, mountings, and boxes that go along with them. This is typical example of what I have to do before a specimen goes up for sale.

Rhodochrosite Rhodochrosite

Upon removing the specimen from its old plastic box it is clear that the specimen is affixed to the styrofoam base with something other than mineral tack. I then carefully remove the majority of styrofoam with a small pair of nippers (small nippers are always close by as they are excellent for quick minor trim jobs). Careless removal of styrofoam, by just ripping a specimen off of it, has resulted in more than just one broken specimen.

Rhodochrosite Rhodochrosite

With most of the styrofoam removed, one can easily see what kind of glue we are dealing with. In this case it is clear to me that it is not a water-soluble "Elmer's" type glue, which usually has a slightly milky appearance. So I know I need to use acetone to remove it from the specimen. However, if you are not sure you can always try water first and if it doesn't work then dry it off and soak it in acetone. I have found that starting out with acetone on a water-soluble glue can make things more difficult for some reason.

Rhodochrosite Rhodochrosite

After letting the specimen soak in acetone for a little while, I remove it from the solution and use a stiff bristled paint brush to gently brush away the softened glue and remaining styrofoam. This process is repeated until all the glue is gone.


After all of this I gave the specimen a gentle cleaning with water and very soft brush to remove any old grime and remnants of the glue cleaning process. Here you see the end result - a lovely rhodochrosite specimen from.... a rare locale! I am giving a $25 dollar credit to the first person to successfully guess the correct locality. The locality only needs to be accurate down to the general region of that country - i.e. the equivalent of province, prefecture, state, etc. Just email your quess to mineralman999@yahoo.com

~ Week of March 16th, 2008 ~


To start things off, this is a picture I have been wanting to share for some time. One night while Mandy and I were working, we noticed this cute little fella staring at us through the window! This guy is literally just inches away from our window. He was just quietly perched there, casually looking in at us. He stayed there for a good hour or so - just watching us working on our mineral related tasks.

Drawbridge Manasquan Inlet

These two pictures are from right near our house here in Manasquan, New Jersey. On the left is the old Draw Bridge. It is on our street, about a block away and it is over 100 years old. On the right is a scene looking out the Manasquan Inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. When I was a teenager, I caught baitfish in these waters for sale at a local baitshop.

On March 1st & 2nd, the New York Mineralogical Society in conjunction with Tony Nikischer of Excalibur Mineral Corporation held mineral show in New York City. Here is a picture of Mandy riding on the train. The train takes us from within walking distance of our house, along the coastline, right into the heart of Manhattan.

Mandy looking out at the Raritan Bay from the train

Times Square Mandy and Mineral Superstar, Alfredo Petrov!

Here is a quick pic from Times Square on our walk from Penn Station to 57th Street where the Mineral Show was. One of the dealers at the show was friend and mineral genius extraordinaire, Alfredo Petrov. We are always excited to see Alfredo. His selection of rare species is a constant source of excellent and fascinating material. In addition to his fantastic material he has been an invaluable source of information and insights for us over the years.

In closing, I'd like to leave you with this picture of a "fluorite caterpillar." We sold this specimen several years ago and today it resides in the collection of Charlotte Sussman's Animal-Like Specimens along side the famous, and admittedly cuter, "Lavinsky Bear" schorl tourmaline specimen. This picture was lucky enough to be a "Photo of the Day" on www.mindat.org!

Fluorite Caterpillar

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