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January-February 2013

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Chips from the Quarry

FEELING THE PULL OF TUCSON: Once the Christmas and New Years' holidays are past, thoughts turn to Tucson and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, which, in its own way, is a worldwide holiday for collectors. Even though for many it means long hours in a sales booth in a nonstop, three-week work marathon, the show has the feel of a holiday. Pick your passion—minerals, fossils, or gems—and you'll find it at one or more of the conglomerate of forty-plus satellite shows as well as at the Main Show, which takes place at the Tucson Convention Center 14–17 February.

Caption: Fluorite, as shown on this postcard, is the Illinois state mineral, an honor bestowed upon it in 1965, when fluorspar mining was a multimillion-dollar-per-year industry in Illinois. Fluorite is also the featured mineral at the 2013 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. The postcard was provided by John Taylor and published with permission from the Illinois State Geological Survey.

FLUORITE SHOWCASED: Fluorite, with its rainbow of colors, is this year's featured mineral at the Main Show, and, as such, fluorite exhibits from museums, dealers, groups, and private collectors will abound. Further, fluorite will be pictured on the traditional show poster, will be the theme of a specially designed, free coloring book for kids, and will be the topic of the annual mineral symposium cosponsored by the Mineralogical Society of America, the Friends of Mineralogy, and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society.

Fluorite is also the subject of the articles in this issue, which was planned with show-goers in mind. A last-minute addition to the article line-up was the first-person account of the now-famous immense fluorite specimen found this past summer that was just too spectacular not to include. And so, fee-fi-fo-fum, beginning on page 12, you can read all about the “Weardale Giant,” from its discovery by the UK Mining Ventures team at the Rogerley mine in Weardale, County Durham, England, to its journey to Tucson as a special display at the show.

Caption: An immense fluorite specimen, the Weardale Giant, on 19 July 2012, after initial washing to remove the mud coating but before the limestone was trimmed. The specimen is approximately a meter across and is estimated to have weighed a half-ton when recovered. The photo was taken outside the Rogerley mine in daylight and shows the intense blue color caused by the fluorite's daylight fluorescence. Jesse Fisher photo.

AROUND TOWN: After fifty-eight years, the annual show extravaganza that takes over the city is as much a part of Tucson as cacti, mariachi music, and margaritas. Likewise, its many associated activities have become part and parcel of the Tucson experience as well, activities such as Collector Day at the Westward Look Resort on Ina Road, home of the Fine Mineral Show. This year the event is scheduled for Saturday, 9 February, from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., and will display specimens from the collection of Kevin Brown from Dallas. The following evening, on 10 February, is the Sunday social, at 6 P.M., and program, at 7:30, at the resort, with speakers giving updates on specimen mining at the Adelaide (Australia), Rogerley (England), and Oceanview (United States) mines.

Another well-established tradition is the reception at the Flandrau Science Center and University of Arizona Mineral Museum, this year being held Thursday, 7 February, beginning at 5:30 P.M. The title of the exhibition being featured is Crystalline Treasures: The Mineral Heritage of China. A soft-covered catalogue with the same title will be available. In attendance will be a delegation of Chinese dignitaries; speakers include Dr. Robert Downs, Dr. Guanghua Liu, Bert Ottens, Dr. Rob Lavinsky, and the Mining Minster of China. Specimens in this special exhibit are on loan mainly from the collections of Bill Pinch and Dr. Lavinsky, supplemented by those from Jim and Gail Spann, Bill Larson, and Wendell Wilson. Refreshments, provided by Dr. Liu, will be Chinese delicacies. (Please note that although the exhibit runs from 30 January until 15 December 2013, the reception is by invitation only.)

Also drawing its share of show-goers is the annual Mineral Madness Sale and Family Fun at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, this year being held the weekend of 19–20 January. This is an opportunity for everyone, from novice to serious collector, to learn about minerals and to find new treasures for their collection. In addition to thousands of specimens being offered for sale, there are mineral activities for the entire family all around the museum grounds. Plus there's the added bonus of viewing the museum's excellent mineral collection.

Two Friends of Mineralogy (FM) events will again take place at Martin Zinn's Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show at the Hotel Tucson City Center (formerly the InnSuites). The FM general meeting and social is planned for 4 P.M. on 12 February, and the FM board will have a breakfast meeting at 7:30 A.M. on 15 February. (As last year, large dinosaur replicas will grace the hotel's courtyards; by “large,” we're talking a 26-foot T-rex, as just one example!)

WORTH CELEBRATING: In commemoration of their twenty years of publishing, in English, about Russian localities and minerals, Michael Leybov and Ludmila Cheshko, of Moscow, will be toasted at a wine-and-cheese reception at the Riverpark Inn Hotel on South Freeway Road from 7 to 9 P.M. the evening of 8 February. Friends and well-wishers are invited to join in the celebration, which includes jazz entertainment, complimentary valet parking, and more than a few surprises. Festivities will be held in the Courtyard of the International Fine Mineral Building at the Pueblo Gem and Mineral Show. Readers will recall that author Dona Leicht wrote about this dedicated, energetic pair in her “People Behind the Publications” series in the September/October 2011 issue (“Behind the Scenes at Mineralogical Almanac,” pages 408–412).

WE GET AROUND: You'll be able to find the Rocks & Minerals' booth at three locations again this year. We'll be set up in the Ballroom at the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show in the Hotel Tucson City Center from 2 through 12 February, when we move to the Main Show, which opens on the 14th. The evening of 10 February we'll have a table at the Sunday evening program at the Westward Look Show.

MUNICH, A LOOK AHEAD: This is just a reminder to reserve 25–27 October for the Munich Show, which will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2013, with gold as its main attraction.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks are extended to the many authors, reviewers, and photographers who contributed their time, energy, and expertise to this special fluorite issue. In addition, we thank William Besse for preparing custom maps for several articles and Mark Mauthner for providing color-match prints for many of the photographs.

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. Donors to the Color Fund contributed toward color in the remaining articles. All are thanked for their generosity in partnering with Rocks & Minerals to support color photography in each issue of the magazine.

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