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January-February 2009

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Connoisseur's Choice: Brochantite

Blanchard Mine, Bingham, New Mexico

There once was a time when most green acicular copper minerals were routinely labeled brochantite, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of such specimens supposedly originating at what was then known only as the Blanchard mine, Bingham, New Mexico. Oh, for those simpler times. The level of collector sophistication has now rocketed past those days of many “brochantites,” and our ability to at least question what were surely nothing more than sight identifications is now more fine-tuned. The list of minerals that are green and at least occasionally occur in acicular crystals is in fact quite long, and although the once implied abundance of brochantite may be burned permanently into the minds of older collectors, confirmation of this rather simple species requires careful laboratory work. In the interest of documenting what is now known about the mineral’s occurrences and perhaps correcting a few labels, brochantite has been suggested as a Connoisseur’s Choice candidate. Consequently, a fine brochantite from the abovementioned Blanchard mine has been selected for this issue.
Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. He welcomes suggestions for this column and can be contacted at the addresses above.

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