This past November the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County received the exceptional mineral and gem collection of Hyman and Beverly Savinar. The Savinars had been strong supporters of the museum's Mineral Sciences Department since the early 1980s. Hyman died in 2003, Beverly in 2009. The terms of their trust provided for the collection to come to the museum. (An obituary for Hyman Savinar appeared in the November/December 2003 issue of Rocks & Minerals.)
Also in November Peter Greenfield donated a beautiful 2,594-carat faceted aquamarine gem, which ranks as the largest faceted aquamarine in the world. The rough crystal from which the stone was cut came from Minas Gerais, Brazil, and weighed 6,021 carats. The crystal was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution from Martin Ehrmann in the 1950s. David Wilber obtained the crystal in an exchange with the Smithsonian and subsequently sold or traded it to Gilbert Gauthier. In February 1979 Pala International purchased the crystal from Gauthier. Joanne McLean of Pala International spent more than five days expertly cutting the stone into its present form. Greenfield purchased the gem from Pala International in April 1979.
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Caption: Among recent donations to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County are this 2.75-inch-high elbaite on quartz (left, as featured on the November/December 2003 cover of Rocks & Minerals), from the Savinar collection, and this 2,594-carat faceted aquamarine (above). Anthony R. Kampf photo.
The Bowers Museum, in Santa Ana, California, currently has an exhibition of Gemstone Carvings: The Masterworks of Harold Van Pelt. For years Harold and his wife, Erica, have been famous for their gem and mineral photography. This exhibit of almost forty exquisite pieces highlights another of Harold's talents, his extraordinary ability as a carver of rock crystal and agate, a skill he has perfected during the past thirty-five years. Hundreds of hours have gone into each multifaceted sculpture, many of which are accented with gold and semiprecious stones. By working materials down to paper-thin walls he brings out the gorgeous colors of the agate and gives quartz the transparency of glass. This marks the first time the entire body of Van Pelt's work has been assembled for public view. A catalogue of the pieces is available. The exhibit runs through 1 May.
Caption: Above: Included with the Van Pelt carvings at the Bowers Museum is this carved agate drinking vessel with gold-capped nose with a hole to restrict the flow of liquid; called Agate Rhyton, in its entirety it is 6.5 × 6 inches and is displayed on a clear quartz stand. Also on exhibit (above right) is this 8.5-inch-high Faceted Quartz Egg resting on a 363-carat aquamarine pedestal. The quartz base sits on four 5-carat aquamarine cabochons. There are 416 triangular facets on the egg, which has been hollowed out so the walls are only 3 mm thick.
Five November marked the grand opening of the Gold Rush exhibition at the University of Bonn Mineral Museum in Germany. The special exhibit of eighteen cases was put together by the mineral curator, Renate Schumacher, and features gold from worldwide localities, including twenty-one specimens on loan from Wayne and Dona Leicht (of Kristalle in Laguna Beach, California), twenty-two specimens from the Natural History Museum of London, and several specimens from the Reich der Kristalle Museum in Munich, the Senckenberg collection in Dresden, and private collectors. Also featured are such topics as the geological conditions for the formation of gold deposits, the extraction and processing of gold from underground mines, gold in rivers, the various gold rushes, the properties of gold, gold in daily life, the effects of gold mining, gold coins, gilding, and cultural gold treasures in the Rhineland.
Caption: Poppelsdorfer Schloss, home of the University of Bonn Mineral Museum. E. Kleist photo.
Caption: A 1.5-inch gold specimen from Baja California, Mexico, on loan from Wayne and Dona Leicht. Robin Hansen photo.
Caption: Curator Renate Schmacher and Wayne Leicht. Doris Bode photo.
For a firsthand report and photos of the exhibit's grand opening party, see the Kristalle website (http://www.kristalle.com/news-story.php?id=79).
The exhibit runs through 10 July. Those going to the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines Show in June (23–26), might consider stopping at the museum as part of their itinerary; it's only a fourhour drive away.
During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, it was unheard of for a woman to collect minerals. However, the social status of women at that time didn't stop one Lady Henrietta Antonia, Countess of Powis, who assembled a fine collection of minerals from around the world at a time when such activities were dominated by men. Now this historic collection of minerals is on display for the first time at the National Museum Cardiff, in Wales, through the end of March.
COLOR SPONSORS for the Museum Notes column for 2011 are John and Maryanne Fender of Fender Natural Resources, Richardson, Texas.
Lady Henrietta Antonia, daughter of Henry Herbert, first Earl of Powis, married Lord Clive (later Lord Powis) in 1784. The exhibition describes, for the first time, the history of this forgotten collection that, having previously been housed at Powis Castle, was donated to Amgueddfa Cymru—National Museum Wales by the Earl of Powis in 1929. At that time it was uncertain who had created the collection, but the recent rediscovery of Lady Henrietta's original handwritten catalogues, dated 1817, revealed the true significance of the collection. They provide insight into how she acquired the minerals and the people she met and places she traveled; they also demonstrate how organized she was, with each specimen numbered and described.
The Amgueddfa Cymru—National Museum Wales operates seven museums across Wales, one of which is the National Museum Cardiff.
Caption: On display in Wales with the collection of Lady Henrietta Antonia is this 3.75-inch malachite specimen from Catherinberg, now commonly known as Ekaterinberg, Ural Mountains, Russia.