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May-June 2016

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Chips from the Quarry

BLUES CONTINUED: Talk about your wintertime blues, nowhere were they more in evidence than at this year's February Tucson Show, where blue minerals were featured in accordance with the Shades of Blue theme. In this issue we focus on the springtime blues, with Alain Martaud's extensive lead article on the beautiful blue fluorites from France (see pages 212—232).

MEMORIES OF BANCROFT: It was in the early '60s, and we had just rolled into a campground in “the Mineral Capital of Canada,” Bancroft, Ontario. After a full day of collecting in the area, and with descending darkness, we were ready to call it a day, gather firewood, and have a relaxing evening. Our neighbors in the adjacent campsites, however, had other ideas: Were we interested in minerals? Would we like to do some night-time collecting? Well, um, yes and yes—and before we knew it, we had grabbed jackets and were scrambling into the back of a pick-up truck, along with a bunch of people we had never met before, and were bouncing along a washboard road under a pitch-black sky toward our destination: a nearby quarry to collect fluorescent hackmanite. Hackmanite? Newbie collectors that we were, we didn't even know what it was. Someone loaned us battery-powered ultraviolet lamps, someone else contributed boxes to fill with specimens. And then, as the “blacklights” were switched on, the locality, which had been shrouded in darkness, came alive with color and the rockpiles glowed with vivid shades of fluorescent pink, purple, violet, and orange. It was a spectacular sight. After all these years, much of the rest of the trip is rather hazy, but we'll never forget our first adventure field collecting for hackmanite.

Author Susan Robinson has her own, more recent memories of Bancroft, and she shares them with us in text and photographs beginning on page 242. Perhaps it's time to go back for another visit …

NOW DOWNLOADABLE: A collection of 101 of the rarest and most historically significant books on gems and jewelry is now available to the public through an extensive digitization project by the Gemological Institute of America's (GIA) Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center. The important works, which are downloadable for free, include major studies related to minerals, gems, and jewelry and span more than five hundred years—from 1496 to the present.

The debut of the collection online includes the digitization of the oldest book in the GIA's library, Pliny's Natural History (1496). Other highlights include Marbode's Book of Precious Stones (1511), Haüy's Treatise of Mineralogy (1801), Sowerby's British Mineralogy (1804—1817), Proby's British Mineralogy (1840), and Frémy's Synthesis of Ruby (1891). For more information, visit

The first twenty-one books digitized from the GIA library's rare book collection.
The first twenty-one books digitized from the GIA library's rare book collection.

DESERVING OF RECOGNITION: It seems every group, whether sports-, entertainment-, or business-related, carves out time to honor those individuals who have made significant contributions to its particular field of endeavor. Mineral collectors are no exception, with the annual February Tucson Show being the event of choice for presenting these awards.

The Best Paper Award: The Friends of Mineralogy (FM) named Dr. David London as winner of the Best Paper in Rocks & Minerals for 2015 for his article titled “Reading Pegmatites: What Beryl Says,” published in the March/April issue, pages 138—149. The announcement was made during the awards banquet and program at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®, this year held on Saturday, 13 February. In addition to the Award of Merit given to the author, the magazine received a grant of $200 in his name. As in the past, the check was deposited in the Rocks & Minerals Color Fund account. We thank FM for this significant annual recognition and congratulate David London on being selected for this honor.

David London (right) receiving the Best Paper Award from FM President Alex Schauss.

David London (right) receiving the Best Paper Award from FM President Alex Schauss.

The 2015 Carnegie Mineralogical Award: Dr. George Harlow was honored as recipient of the Carnegie Mineralogical Award for 2015. Harlow has spent his entire career (thirty-eight years) at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), in New York City, where he is currently curator in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He has an extensive history of academic research, most recently on the mineralogy, geology, and genesis of jadeite deposits in Mesoamerica. Other areas of significant research include the gem deposits of Burma and the mineralogy of diamonds. The latter resulted not only in scholarly publications, but also a special traveling exhibit for the museum (The Nature of Diamonds) and an accompanying book. Harlow also developed extensive special exhibits on gold and jade for the AMNH. His support of the science of mineralogy is seen in his publications, lectures, teaching, exhibit preparation, mentoring, and leadership in professional societies (this year he is vice president of the Mineralogical Society of America and is in line for the presidency in 2017). He has also been a consistent leader in the advancement of collection computerization, a subject that he has championed in the Society of Mineral Museum Professionals.

Through Harlow's leadership, the AMNH has consistently supported the collector community through strong participation in the major national gem and mineral shows. But perhaps his greatest service to specimen mineralogy lies in his nurturing of the AMNH mineral collection. During his tenure, the collection has grown from about 40,000 to some 114,000 specimens, of which more than 60,000 have been imaged for inclusion in the new database and web presence he is spearheading. He is also working toward a long overdue revamping of the mineral hall and exhibits at the AMNH.

Harlow is the twenty-ninth winner of the annual award, which recognizes outstanding contributions in mineralogical preservation, conservation, and education that match the ideals advanced in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems. Established in 1987, the award is underwritten by the Hillman Foundation. Nominations for the 2016 award should be directed to Marc Wilson (

George Harlow, recipient of the annual Carnegie Mineralogical Award.

George Harlow, recipient of the annual Carnegie Mineralogical Award.

The American Mineral Heritage Award: The American Mineral Heritage Award was established by the Mineralogical Record in 2012 to recognize a field collector whose personal discoveries in the Americas have contributed most significantly to the cumulative heritage of aesthetic and/or scientific mineral specimens preserved in museums and private collections worldwide. A panel of fifteen prominent mineral collectors, museum curators, and mineral dealers, under the direction of panel chairman Gene Meieran, chose Terry Szenics, of Long Island, New York, as this year's recipient of the award.

Although he has had a lifelong interest in mineral collecting, Szenics' first venture into serious specimen mining came in 1966—1967, when he, at the age of nineteen, leased the famous Pulsifer quarry in Maine and successfully recovered many world-class apatite specimens. Also in 1967 he rediscovered the “lost” diopside locality on the Calvin Mitchell farm in Dekalb Junction, New York. Then for the next several decades success followed success as he traveled the world discovering localities, investigating and working many occurrences and recovering superb, and in some cases rare, specimens, from California, Massachusetts, and Maine in the United States, to Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Venezuela. He also made buying trips to India, Pakistan, Morocco, and Nigeria. During his time in the field he discovered a total of six new mineral species: szenicsite, lemanskiite, christelite, gordaite, changoite, and herbertsmithite. In 1998, after many years of globetrotting, Szencis settled his family on Long Island, New York, although he was still visiting Chile on a regular basis.

In recognition of Szenics' lifelong commitment to minerals and his diligent field work discovering a great many important and beautiful mineral specimens in North and South America, he was presented with the 2016 American Mineral Heritage Award.

Terry Szenics, recipient of the annual American Mineral Heritage Award.

Terry Szenics, recipient of the annual American Mineral Heritage Award.

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 Minerals) did the same for the Museum Notes column. Donors to the Color Fund contributed toward color in the remaining columns and articles. All are thanked for partnering with Rocks & Minerals to support color photography in the magazine.

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