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November-December 2011

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Chips from the Quarry

GOING TO THE SOURCE: While some dealers replenish their stock from wholesalers at shows, others travel directly to the source for their purchases, which often takes them to rather exotic locales. Think Morocco; think Vietnam. Both are the subjects of articles in this issue. Geologist/dealer Tomasz Praszkier describes a trip to Morocco for vanadinite, azurite, and erythrite, among other minerals the country is known for, and longtime gemstone and mineral dealer Dudley Blauwet takes us along with him on a Vietnam journey for tourmaline.

Caption: A group shot of most of the participants in the Mindat.org Conference, held in Poland this past summer. Jeff Scovil photo.

Caption: A group shot of most of the participants in the Mindat.org Conference, held in Poland this past summer. Jeff Scovil photo.

MINDAT MEMORIES: We can add Poland to the list of mineral locales with drawing power, for it proved to be a popular destination for more than one hundred collectors who headed there this past summer for the first-ever Mindat.org Conference. You can read about it in Alfredo Petrov's recap of the week's adventures, also in this issue.

Imagine, if you will, three days of field trips, followed by two days of illustrated talks, followed by a couple of days of workshops, with lunches and dinners (feasts!) as well as transportation, special surprises and treats, musical entertainment (bands, singers, and even a professional violinist), and vodka—lots of vodka—part of the package. Many of us at the conference came together as strangers, except for perhaps having names that were slightly familiar, but by conference's end, lasting bonds had been established. Who knew it would be so memorable. All I can say is “Morocco, here we come!” That's where next year's conference will be held, so you'll want to pay close attention as you read Tomasz Praszkier's article on the country, especially since he'll be part of the planning committee.

Caption: Singing before (not for) their supper was this impromptu musical group at the 2011 Rochester Mineralogical Symposium. From the left are Steve Chamberlain, Steve Kuitems, Kathy Dallaire (on base recorder), David Joyce (on guitar), and George Robinson (on piano). William Severance photo.

Caption: Singing before (not for) their supper was this impromptu musical group at the 2011 Rochester Mineralogical Symposium. From the left are Steve Chamberlain, Steve Kuitems, Kathy Dallaire (on base recorder), David Joyce (on guitar), and George Robinson (on piano). William Severance photo.

AND ON THAT NOTE: As mentioned above, music was an integral part of the Mindat Conference. It also made a spontaneous appearance at this year's Rochester Mineralogical Symposium in the lobby area outside the Saturday night banquet hall. During the cocktail hour a small group of attendees, some with instruments, gathered round the piano to harmonize on familiar tunes, with the rest of us humming along. As the applause died down and dinner was announced, everyone agreed that next year the piano must come into the banquet hall.

CONGRATULATIONS: In mid-September the New York Mineralogical Club celebrated its 125th anniversary. The occasion was marked with a dinner, silent auction, and lecture by Alan Bronstein of Aurora Gems. Those who were subscribing to Rocks & Minerals twenty-five years ago may recall the article on the club's 100th anniversary, and we thought that was a huge milestone. The article was written by the late Dorothy Stripp and appeared in the January/February 1986 issue. In addition to the club's history, Stripp included the following paragraph, which seems as true of clubs today as it was then:

One hundred years! How does one encompass in a short article a century of accumulated knowledge and prodigious activity? Just to list the accomplishments of one hundred years of membership would take more space than is available. Delving into the legacy of the past cannot help but leave the feeling that those were the halcyon years of mineral collecting, plus the inescapable fact that a century has made little change in human nature. The problems that plague earth science societies today are exacerbated by the dearth of collecting sites, but the human element remains the same, leaving those at the helm to deal with the complexities of the human ego. The eccentricities that delighted and frustrated in yesteryear remain with us today and will no doubt be present in all our tomorrows.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The Houston Gem and Mineral Society, in memory of Arthur E. Smith, and the Cincinnati Mineral Society underwrote color costs in the Connoisseur's Choice column; Maryanne and John Fender (Fender Natural Resources) did the same for the Museum Notes column, and donors to the Color Fund contributed to color in the remaining articles. All are thanked for their generosity in partnering with Rocks & Minerals to support color photography in the magazine.

In this Issue

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