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May-June 2014

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Connoisseur's Choice: Marshallsussmanite, Wessels mine, Kalahari Manganese Field, Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Mineral collecting is a bit like fishing—to build a good collection you need patience and a few lines out looking to get at least one bite. But the one way mineral collecting is really like fishing is with the stories of the “one that got away.” Every collector has at least one of these stories, and probably more than a few museum curators have one as well. The stories usually involve the collector seeing a specimen and walking away to think about its purchase, only to later find that it sold while the collector was making up his or her mind. Another story-line is that the specimen was just a smidge beyond what the collector was willing to pay.

Paul W. Pohwat is the collection manager (minerals) in the Department of Mineral Sciences at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution).

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