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November-December 2017

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Thirty Five Years of Mineral Collecting and Still Counting, 2nd revised ed., by Ray Berry. Order online from 75 pages; 2016; $30 (softbound).       


This short, well-illustrated book by veteran field collector Ray Berry is the second revised edition of a shorter work first published in 2005. Berry, who passed away earlier this year (see In Memoriam, this issue) and his wife, Eloise, began collecting pegmatite minerals related to the Pikes Peak Batholith as novices in 1970. Their hobby flourished, resulting in a forty-five-year participation in the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society with strong support of the local Friends of Mineralogy chapter. Their finds are almost legendary, and, thankfully, good records of the when, where, and what of their collecting episodes were maintained and form the factual backbone of this book.

The book begins with acknowledgments, a complimentary foreword by Joe Dorris (well-known proprietor of Glacier Peak Mining and star of the TV show Prospectors), and a preface. There follows ten chapters, beginning with a short review of how Ray and Eloise came to arrive in Colorado from Detroit. Chapter 2 continues their introduction to Colorado, describing their discovery of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and their decades-long involvement with club management and the competitive exhibition of their finds. Chapter 3 covers their introduction to field collecting and the discovery of their first exceptional specimens. The hunt continues in Chapter 4 that documents the establishment of the Second Mesabi claim, a locality that was to produce many fine specimens including topaz, phenacite, and goethite. During the years of collecting the Second Mesabi claim, other localities were visited and productive areas discovered, all constituting the subject of Chapter 5. “Strange and Rare Finds” is the title of Chapter 6, a description of unusual minerals and associations, many of which awaited discovery until the Berrys purchased their first microscope. Included are descriptions of cassiterite, zircon, rutile, fluorite, and quartz pseudomorphs after siderite. Chapter 7 covers a series of finds in the Crystal Creek area of Teller County that took place in the mid- and late-1990s. Several unusually large and productive pockets are described. New sites were discovered early in the twentieth century and are aptly documented in Chapter 8. These localities, referred to by such colorful terms as Sportsman's Paradise, the Birthday Pocket, and the Bob and Ray No. 1 claim, produced fine smoky quartz, fluorite, white Manebach- and Bavino-twinned feldspars, and, of course, amazonite. Chapter 9 is devoted to the discovery and recovery of specimens from what Berry calls “The Last Hurrah Pocket.” This 2005 find produced many exceptional amazonite and smoky quartz specimens, some of which were prepared by Collector's Edge Minerals. The book closes with a simple one-page chapter titled “Enjoying the Fruits of my Labor.” Written at the age of eighty-eight, it is a fitting goodby to field collecting coupled with words of encouragement for those collectors still searching for those elusive Colorado pegmatite pockets.

The book is valuable in that it documents the progressive development of field-collecting skills and clearly demonstrates that perseverance and hard work do indeed pay off. It is well illustrated with more than ninety-five color figures that are dominated by author-taken specimen photographs augmented by a few people and locality shots and a single map. It is a good, informative book of the sort that should be written for other specimen-producing districts where a few dedicated collectors have made major sporadic finds through careful research and field work and have taken good notes and photographs. It is a worthwhile addition to any mineral collector's library. 


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