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January-February 2015

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The American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 program competition. The winning programs are available to affiliated clubs from their regional program library.

Class 1—Educational Presentation, First Place: GarnetsAn Overview, approximately 40 minutes, DVD format, by Carol Devine, Lakeside Gem and Mineral Club (Northwest Federation).

Class 2—Field Collecting, First Place: Kentucky Agates, approximately 25 minutes, DVD format, by Susan and Jim Beck, Heart of Wisconsin Gem and Mineral Society (Midwest Federation).

Class 4—Just for Juniors, First Place with Honors: Can You Dig ItWhat is a Fossil? by Mei, Brandon, and Douglas Poy, Chicago Rocks and Minerals Society (Midwest Federation).

To participate in the 2015 AFMS noncommercial program competition, see the rules and guidelines posted at, or email me at for information. Winners receive a cash prize and national recognition.

Commercial presentations are encouraged to participate in the AFMS Excellence in Education competition. Details are also on the AFMS website.


Paul Pohwat's Connoisseur's Choice column on grossular (September/October 2014, pages 424–436) illustrates on page 430 a grossular from the Hunting Hill quarry, Montgomery County, Maryland. The caption reads that its fractured state is “typical of most specimens from here,” and “typical is the small size … compared to those from the Jeffrey mine or Eden Mills.” The left column on that same page goes on to describe crystals as “incomplete, as they lie somewhat flat on the rodingite matrix.”

Really? A small cadre of local collectors scoured Hunting Hill from about 1986 until it closed its gates to collectors in 2008. Throughout its history, Hunting Hill produced large numbers of seams and pockets of grossular, with the best specimens being surprisingly good, three dimensional, and not chipped/cracked. As shown in my article on Hunting Hill (Parker 2005), collectible grossular specimens and even faceted stones are preserved and treasured in many local collections, including those of George Konig, David Dinsmore, Jonathan Ertmann, myself, and others. Grossular crystals may exceed 1 inch, range in color from orange-red to clove-brown, may be gemmy to opaque, and can be attractively associated with diopside, calcite, clinozoisite, and other crystallized species. Thus, the chipped and fractured specimen in figure 13 of Mr. Pohwat's article should be properly described as “average.” Unfortunately, to local collectors this is not a surprise because Maryland has always been a forgotten orphan to the mineral collecting community.

The interested collector is referred to Jake Slagle's excellent and informative Internet blog “Mineral Bliss” ( for a thorough overview of Maryland's minerals from a collector's perspective. You may be surprised at the great gold, millerite, calcite, and schorl the state has produced, along with its Hunting Hill grossulars.

Columnist Paul Pohwat responds:

In reference to your letter let me say that I use what we have in the National Mineral Collection as the basis for most of the descriptions in my articles, occasionally beefed up with citations in the literature. In the case of Hunting Hill grossulars I also used my experience collecting at the quarry, admittedly not as extensive as yours, but I have collected there. That and what was in the collection are what I based my brief description on. If you or any of your other Maryland collecting friends would like to donate a specimen of Hunting Hill grossular to upgrade the Smithsonian's, we would be honored to accept it.


Parker, F. 2005. The minerals of the Hunting Hill quarry, Rockville, Maryland. Mineralogical Record 36 (5): 435–46.

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