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January – June 2013 (published bimonthly)

June 2013 Newsletter

Larsons photo image
À votre santé… Bill and Will Larson attended the 1st China (Changsha) Mineral & Gem Show earlier this month. ICA held its 2013 Congress in conjunction. Above, ICA Ambassador to the USA Bill Larson, left, and son Will Larson, at one of the dinners for ICA, which included the CMGS VIPs. As Bill told us, “We were as usual cross-pollinating, in both areas—gems and minerals.” Bill made a presentation on Burma at the Congress. (Photo: George Shen)

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Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines @ 50: June 27–30, 2013

Ste-Marie poster image

As we noted last year, the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines show has been through some changes since its inauguration in 1962. Then it was a small, local affair—a “day of mines.” Two years later the fair was entitled “Cailloux” (stones) and it attracted a regional audience. By 1966 it had become an “International fair of Minerals, Gems and Fossils.” While it originally was attended only by professionals—and professionals still enjoy their trade-only days—two days are now open to the general public. The show in 2012 attracted more than 25,000 visitors and more than 900 exhibitors.

Last year, the show received its new name, the International Exhibition Mineral & Gem at Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. The exhibition celebrates its fiftieth year in 2013.

To get a taste, see:

This year, Bill, Will, and Carl Larson will attend the show along with friend and fellow gem dealer Mark Kaufman. They will follow that with a business trip to the gemstone center of Idar-Oberstein in Germany.

What: Mineral & Gem à Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines
June 27–30, 2013
Where: Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, France

We look forward to seeing you there. [back to top]

BlueCap: What’s Hot In Munich 2012

What's Hot In Munich image

Subscribers of The Mineralogical Record got a treat this month, when BlueCap Productions’ new What’s Hot In Munich DVD was included as a freebie.

If you’re not a subscriber, BlueCap now offers the DVD to the general public.

The Munich show, Mineralientage München, is Europe’s oldest mineral show, and last fall featured a special exhibition, African Secrets. The 2012 DVD is hosted by Peter Lyckburg, Bryan Swoboda, and special guest host David Wilbur.

Friends of Pala International get a 10% discount on any BlueCap order. Just enter the code  palaintl when you’re asked for it while ordering. [back to top]

Pala International News

Pala’s Featured Specimen: Tanzanite

This month’s featured specimen is a fine Tanzanite crystal that has great character with the small tanzanite crystal sidecar. Most of the back and edges of the specimen are encrusted with a fine white calcite, which is quite rare even though calcite is a fairly common associate mineral in the mine. Bring it home with you!

Tanzanite photo image
Tanzanite from Merelani, 7 x 3 x 1.5 cm. Inventory #20963. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Interested? Select the inventory number above, call or email us to inquire.

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If you missed it last year, see Will Larson’s First Voyage to Tanzania – Tanzanite – A Stone of Beauty on Pala International’s YouTube channel. See also Will’s written report on The Arusha International Gem, Jewelry and Minerals Fair, held in Arusha, Tanzania.

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Mineral and Mineralogy News

Virtual Museum Adds Exhibits

The Virtual Museum of the History of Mineralogy published its e-newsletter earlier this month. The museum now offers nearly three dozen Krantz crystallography catalogs. The catalogs were loaned by Ursula Müller-Krantz, director of Dr. F. Krantz, Rheinisches Mineralien-Kontor GmbH & Co. KG. That company bills itself as the world’s oldest geological warehouse. According to the firm’s website, in 1833, Adam August Krantz opened his mineral shop in Freiberg, home to the oldest university of mining and metallurgy in the world. In 1837, he had moved the business to Berlin, and from there to Bonn in 1850. Visitors to Bonn University’s famous earth sciences department would also visit Krantz’s impressive mineral collection at his mansion, which was surrounded by vineyards. After his death, the collection formed the core of the university’s mineralogical museum.

Rhombic Dodecahedron page image
Model for the demonstration of the form of the faces of the dodecahedron. the model was created by Friedrich Krantz’s teacher, Carl Hintze. (Image courtesy Virtual Museum of the History of Mineralogy)

There was an interim period of management by Krantz’s son-in-law, Theodor Hoffman with the aid of Carl Hintze, who eventually became professor of mineralogy in Breslau. There, August Krantz’s nephew, Friedrich Krantz, became Hintze’s pupil. When he completed his dissertation, Friedrich bought the business from Hoffman, who had no earth science background. The business flourished under Friedrich’s direction. He issued detailed catalogs of special collections and edited many collections of wooden crystal models; the largest contained 928 items—and is reproduced at the Virtual Museum.

Also mentioned in the Virtual Museum newsletter is an addition to the museum’s instrument collection, a Fuess Model IIa reflecting goniometer, a detail of which is pictured below. These instruments measure angles between crystal faces. The Fuess is in the collection of the Museum of Mineralogy, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania.

Goniometer Detail photo image

In March, when we published a Pala Presents reprint G. F. Kunz in which he describes the “lilac-colored” material that would bear his name, Elise Skalwold wrote us the following.

In our Gems & Gemology Spring 2012 paper we used Cornell’s classic two-circle reflecting goniometer to measure the inter-facet angles of cut diamonds. Normally used to measure angles between crystal faces, this unconventional application of a goniometer proved to be able to provide significantly better precision than non-contact optical scanners, the instrument most commonly used for this purpose today.

You’ll be interested to know that this particular type of goniometer, a Model A (ca. 1920) made by Stoe & Rheinheimer, was originally designed to fill a specific need: to measure the angles of a newly discovered gem mineral, the pink spodumene now known as kunzite. George F. Kunz’s crystals were SO big they couldn't fit in the earlier models of goniometer which had a much smaller working area.

Skalwold and Goniometer photo image
In preparation for demonstrating its use at the 40th Annual Rochester Mineralogical Symposium in April, Elise Skalwold is seen using Cornell’s two circle goniometer to measure a topaz crystal. (Photo: J.H. Edwards)

Two books have been added to the Virtual Museum. The first is a catalog of Iganz Edler von Born’s mineral and fossil collection, titled Index Fossilium (1772-1775). The second is Giovanni Antonio Scopoli’s Crystallographia Hungarica (1776), which was to survey all of Hungary’s minerals, but only the first volume ever was published.

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One of the plates from Scopoli’s survey of the minerals of Hungary. (Image courtesy Virtual Museum of the History of Mineralogy)

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BlueCap Streams Hoppel Collection

If you haven’t visited BlueCap Productions’ YouTube channel in a while, you’re in for a treat. Featured now are 360-degree views of the Hoppel Collection, which is being offered via Heritage Auctions on June 2. In March, BlueCap’s Bryan Swoboda was invited to Dallas to shoot a selection of specimens from the collection. Tucson-goers will recall its display at this year’s TGMS.

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Earlier this month, Heritage highlighted one of the specimens in the sale: La Madona Rosa, named for its resemblance to depictions of Our Lady. It was discovered in Brazil in the 1950s and is expected to bring in over $200,000. See it from all sides, with a detailed description, courtesy BlueCap Productions. [back to top]

Pala Presents

“Multum in Parvo”: The Mighty Force of the Tiny Jewel

Five articles about gemstones and mining in Southern California

Pala Presents title image

With Pala Presents, we offer selections from the library of Pala International’s Bill Larson, who will share with us some of the wealth of information in the realm of minerals and mineralogy.

In this edition of our newsletter we offer a companion to last edition’s quartet of articles on tourmaline in San Diego County: a quintet of writings on gems and minerals of Southern California.

Naturally, San Diego tourmaline takes center stage. But we begin with a 1903 article from Electrical World and Engineer, of all publications, that looks at mineralogical identification using radium, Roentgen rays and ultraviolet radiation. The study’s subject material is kunzite.

Our second offering is L. Douglas Sovereign’s article on gems and rare minerals of Southern California, from the Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, May 1905. He begins not by discussing gemstones, but by mentioning the large quantity of lithia in San Diego County; also noted is the availability of phosphorus and alumina. Moving on to gemstones, Sovereign compares the first stope of a mining area to “a grotto in Aladdin’s cave,” with “clusters of pink chrysanthemums on a background of lilac,” already named by miners as the “Bridal Chamber.” In a later section on kunzite, Sovereign quotes Charles Baskerville, who discusses his use of the techniques outlined in Electrical World, in regard to a particular type of spodumene. It was Baskerville, according to the Electrical World article, who first proposed that the material be named after G. F. Kunz. (Author Sovereign was mentioned in the Los Angeles Herald, May 5, 1905, as having been involved in “one of the largest mining deals in recent years [having] been consummated in Grass Valley, [involving] the Erie, Dublin Bay, McCarthy & Holland-Oliver [gold] mines… the purchase price is known to run up into six figures.”)

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The last hotel on the road to the mine. From “San Diego’s Gem Casket.”

Two months after publishing “Tourmaline in California” in September 1905 (which we offered last time), The Pacific Monthly included “Gem Mining in California,” which anticipated the discovery of diamond in San Diego County, based on the experience in Brazil of “tourmalines hav[ing] been found in connection with the topaz, amethyst and diamond.” The article, our third offering, includes an extended quotation from a report by G. F. Kunz on the Mesa Grande mining district.

Also from The Pacific Monthly—its March 1906 edition—Richard Keene waxes poetic regarding “the mighty force of the tiny jewel, humanity’s ‘Multum in Parvo’ [‘much in little’].” Turning to prose, in his “San Diego’s Gem Casket,” Keene discusses the roles of mining promoter, prospector and miner. He describes the gems and the mining areas, rounding it out with a description of a San Diego lapidary. The article is well illustrated with photographs from the San Diego Gem Company.

The last in our quintet, from the October 1911 Mines and Minerals, is “Himalaya Tourmaline Mine,” by John Cowan, who last time gave us “Tourmaline in California.” After reminding us, as he did last time, that “the accident of race or color is no bar to achievement in this country”—in the case of African-Australian-American J. Goodman Braye, in charge of the mine—Cowan takes us to the mine and through the mining process.

Access all the articles here.

  • “The Value of Radium, Roentgen Rays and Ultra-Violet Radiations in Mineralogical Determinations” from Electrical World and Engineer, 19 Sep. 1903
  • “Gems and Rare Minerals of Southern California” by L. Douglas Sovereign, from the Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, May 1905
  • “Gem Mining in California” from The Pacific Monthly, Nov. 1905
  • “San Diego’s Gem Casket” by Richard Keene, from The Pacific Monthly, Mar. 1906
  • “Himalaya Tourmaline Mine” by John Cowan, from Mines and Minerals, Oct. 1911

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— End June Newsletter • Published 5/31/13 —

April 2013 Newsletter

In this edition of Pala Mineralis we travel to Greenland and Poland, and travel back in time a little (to Tucson) and a lot (to SoCal).

Gemstones Collection photo image
Cool for kids. Pala International’s Will Larson, traveling in Japan, spotted this gemstone collection at a rest stop. (Photo: Will Larson)

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Eleventh Annual Sinkankas Symposium – Ruby

April 6, 2013, GIA World Headquarters and
The Robert Mouawad Campus, Carlsbad

The annual Sinkankas Symposium has been described by John Koivula as the “best gem mineral symposium in North America” and has a reputation for achieving sold-out enrollment. Some coaxing in that direction was needed last year, however, when the symposium topic was Topaz.

This year’s topic of Ruby, however surely will send the scalpers scrambling. Keynote speaker Richard W. Hughes will introduce the assembled experts who will cover a wide range of related topics. Hughes, most recently, is the editor of The Book of Ruby & Sapphire: From an unpublished 1936 manuscript by Col. J. F. Halford-Watkins. His 1997 Ruby & Sapphire is considered the standard reference on the subject. Hughes’s presentation deals with the stones that caused an international crisis and to this day are off-limits: Mogok’s pigeon’s blood rubies.

Sinkankas Symposium masthead image

Since the time of our last newsletter, added to the lineup is Elise Skalwold, who will be familiar to our readers. Elise will speak on “Dr. Allen Bassett and the Ruby Mines of Nepal,” a preview of a forthcoming article by the same name.

Ruby photo image
Macedonian Ruby, 7 x 6.5 x 5 cm, our featured mineral specimen for December 2011. This item has been sold. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Visit the Sinkankas Symposium website for speaker bios and abstracts of presentation topics.

  • Dr. George Harlow – Ruby from the Mogok Belt: Mineralogy and Geochemistry
  • Richard Hughes, keynote speaker – Pigeon’s Blood: Burma’s Mogok Ruby Mines
  • Bill Larson – Ruby Localities Shown in Brilliant Color
  • Shane McClure – Enhancements to Rubies – both Natural and Synthetic
  • Nathan Renfro – Faceting Ruby: The Implications for Optical Orientation on Color
  • Dr. George Rossman – Why Rubies are Red
  • Dr. James Shigley – Ruby Geology Localities
  • Elise A. Skalwold – Dr. Allen Bassett and the Ruby Mines of Nepal
  • Robert Weldon – A Photographic Quest for Pigeon’s Blood Red

The Sinkankas Symposium is organized by Roger Merk, and co-sponsored by the San Diego Mineral & Gem Society and the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). It will be held Saturday, April 6, 2013, at the GIA World Headquarters and The Robert Mouawad Campus, 5345 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008.


Registration is now closed. Join the San Diego Mineral & Gem Society mailing list to be kept informed about the next symposium; after submitting your email address, be sure to select the Sinkankas Symposium checkbox. Past symposia proceedings are available here. [back to top]

Pala International News

Pala’s Featured Specimens: Peridot from Pakistan and
Benitoite from California

Our first feature hails from the great peridot-producing region of Kohistan, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan—more specifically, the Supatt Mine. This area has produced a wide variety of material, from fine faceted stones to large crystals. Before Pakistan came online, large euhedral peridot crystals were extremely rare, mainly from Burma, but now we have more production coming from Pakistan. These rich deposits have only been producing fine specimens for 12–15 years and rival other localities as far as size, form, and numbers. This month’s feature is even more rare than the average single crystal. We have one large euhedral gemmy crystal situated at the end of a massive peridot matrix. It has a very aesthetic and intense green, with a little cluster of magnetite positioned in the bottom joint of the S-curve.

Peridot Crystal photo image
Peridot crystal, 6 x 4.5 x 2.5 cm. Inventory #20962. (Photo: Jason Stephenson)

Our second feature is a stunning plate of razor-sharp benitoite crystals on a white natrolite and gray crossite matrix. It contains a couple dozen trigonal benitoites, ranging from white through sapphire blue, with some points almost black with intensity. There are even a few tiny joaquinite crystals scattered around. Benitoites haven’t really been mined properly in San Benito County (CA) in over a hundred years, but every once in a while collectors will liquidate some of their stash and we see a few fine pieces trickle out into the market. This piece is an exceptional small cabinet-size specimen.

Benitoite photo image
Benitoite specimen, 7 x 5 x 3 cm. Inventory #20961. (Photo Jason Stephenson)

Interested? Select the inventory numbers above, call or email us to inquire. [back to top]

Mineral and Mineralogy News

Greenland: Faltering Facets and Blacklight Fever

Last summer an unusual phenomenon occurred in Greenland. As reported by NASA, on July 12 three satellites determined that almost the entire surface of Greenland’s ice sheet experienced thawing at or near the surface—estimated at 97 percent. This is remarkable because just four days before, on July 8, the satellites noted a 40-percent melt rate. The average mid-summer rate is about 50 percent. In the thirty years of satellite observation, this was the most extreme instance of melt. Summit Station in central Greenland, two miles above sea level, also experienced melt, with the temperature on July 11–12 above or within a degree of freezing.

“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. “But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”

This observation, combined with a large iceberg calving event the week before at Petermann Glacier, and flooding days later at Kangerlussuaq, point to the complexity of cause and effect. The thawing coincided with a heat dome that “parked itself” over Greenland for days. Heat is one culprit, but the ice sheet itself contributes to its undoing. According to a NOAA report, Greenland is becoming less reflective of sunlight. Yes, “darker.” In the past, the ice sheet reflected “well over half” the sunlight it received, but that fell by nearly 20 percent in 2011—and not just at the sheet’s edges, but in the interior as well. The reason? The quality of the snow crystals has degraded.

As temperatures rise, snow grains clump together and reflect less light than the many-faceted, smaller crystals (see image below from a scanning electron microscope). Additional heat rounds the sharp edges of the crystals, and round particles absorb more sunlight than jagged ones.

Snow Crystals photomicrograph images
A freshly fallen snow crystal has numerous facets to reflect sunlight (left). Warming causes the grains to round at the edges and clump together (right). Click to enlarge. (Scanning electron microscope photos courtesy the Electron and Confocal Microscopy Laboratory, USDA Agricultural Research Service)

Sunlight has an effect on more than ice in Greenland. The Ilímaussaq alkaline complex, about 60 miles northwest of the island’s southern tip, produces what we’ll call “photophenomenal” mineral specimens. Take for instance blue sodalite, found on the southern shore of the locality’s Tunulliarfik Fjord. As shown below, this material begins to darken (or tenebresce) in filtered sunlight (long wave; LW). It becomes darker still when exposed to short wave (SW) light. A second specimen’s blue sodalite fluoresces bright orange under LW; the unknown matrix’s dark green is displayed under SW UV.

Blue Sodalite photo images
This blue sodalite comes from the southern shore of Greenland’s Tunulliarfik Fjord. Such material from other localities is not fluorescent. See the description of the photos above. (Photos: Mark Cole, MinerShop)

Mark Cole is the Tennessee-based proprietor of MinerShop, a website and rock shop devoted to rare fluorescent minerals, including those from Greenland, where he has collected his own specimens. See his account of his July 2008 “geo-adventure tour” during which he spent almost 30 days in the complex area. He and fellow travelers trekked to the Taseq Slope, on the north side of the fjord (see map on page 8 of this report from the Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin, 2001). A major find in the area was “Fantasy Rock,” a combination mineral containing “sodalite, tugtupite, analcime, chkalovite and many other minerals [that] create 6 and 7 color specimens with striking patterns.” Another area produces hackmanite “so sensitive to UV that it changes color even in the sunlight, and almost turns black under SW.”

Fantasy Rock photo image
Fantasy Rock, from the Taseq Slope, under SW illumination. The specimen contains tugtupite (red), chkalovite (blue, green), polylithionite (yellow) and analcime (bright blue). (Photos: Mark Cole, MinerShop)

As stated in the above-referenced Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin report, the Ilímaussaq complex contains a huge concentration of several rare elements, explaining the presence of about 220 minerals. Twenty-seven of these were discovered in, and first described from, the complex; nine of them are only found there.

Mark Cole calls Ilímaussaq a “Geologist’s Mecca.” He told us:

I’ve traveled to Ilímaussaq almost every year for the past 12 years, with rock collecting groups ranging from 5 to 14 people. When we first started these tours there was a small bridge we had to cross to get to the Taseq Slope. On the later tours the glacial melt had made the river almost impassible—we had to resort to waders and ropes to get across; a sure sign of warming. The glacier into the valley where we collect has receded from view over the years.

Greenland as a whole is an invaluable natural resource, the health of which will affect ocean levels as well as carbon sequestration. As we approach the twenty-fourth Earth Day on April 22 (the first one was a reaction to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill), we can take a moment to reflect on the bounty we receive from the planet, as well as the precariousness of its wellness. [back to top]

Spirifer: “Recent finds in Strzegom, Poland – 2009–2012”

Geological Society “Spirifer” is the mineralogical organization based in Lwowek Slaski, home of Lwowek Crystal Days, Poland’s answer to the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines show. Yesterday the group posted a major story on the Strzegom granitic massif in southwest Poland, which has more than 40 quarries offering more than 90 species. The world economic crisis has halted much work in the quarries, but what is being produced is worth a browse. The article, by Andrzej Korzekwa and Tomasz Praszkier, is richly illustrated with photos and even streaming video. Scroll all the way for a beautiful photo by Jeff Scovil of an impossible twinned “and extremely distorted” floater of light-rose fluorite, from the Zolkiewka I quarry.

Spirifer screenshot

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Pala Presents

Tourmaline in California

A collection of four articles on the subject

Pala Presents title image

With Pala Presents, we offer selections from the library of Pala International’s Bill Larson, who will share with us some of the wealth of information in the realm of minerals and mineralogy.

Waldemar T. Schaller (author of Pala Presents article “Spodumene from San Diego Co., California”) on gem tourmalines from Southern California in 1904: “The gem tourmalines occur in rather large quantities, but are inferior to the Maine tourmalines both in color and in the brilliancy of the cut gems.”

John L. Cowan, in 1910, regarding the Mesa Grande Mine: “No other tourmaline mine in the world has ever yielded crystals at all comparable in beauty and value with the finer specimens obtained from this wonderful mine.”

Tourmaline Ad image
From the April 1907 edition of The Pacific Monthly mentioning the Mesa Grande Tourmaline and Gem Company.

Thus our readers will be able to compare and contrast a decade’s worth of writing on the subject in both the scientific and popular press. Access the four articles here.

  • “Tourmaline. California.” by David T. Day, Chief of the Division of Mining and Mineral Resources, from Mineral Resources of the United States
  • “The Tourmaline Localities of Southern California” by Waldemar T. Schaller, from Science
  • “Tourmaline in California,” an unattributed piece from The Pacific Monthly
  • “Tourmaline in California” by John L. Cowan, from Mining and Scientific Press

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Recycle Bin

Below are recent items from our sibling publication, Palagems Reflective Index, that will be of interest to mineralophiles.

Tucson Tales

Members of the Mineral Sciences staff of The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County attended the Tucson shows and documented much of what they saw, featuring it on their MinBlog last month. (Be sure to see Parts 2 and 3 also.) As you browse, you’ll see some Pala people (and Pala pals)…

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Monkey business. You won’t see this photo in the Natural History museum blog. Dealer Jean-Michel Laverrière, Bill Larson, and UPMC-La Sorbonne’s Jean-Claude Boulliard see, speak, and hear no evil. They promise. (Photo: Will Larson)

As noted in the blog, the Smithsonian Institution had its (un)usual presence at the GemFair. Not displayed, however, but featured in last month’s Smithsonian magazine, is the Dom Pedro Aquamarine. Curator Jeffrey Post called its size “unprecedented.” Originally part of a three-foot-long, 100-pound specimen, it was dropped by prospectors who found it in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in the 1980s. Only the largest piece was saved from jewelry cutting. In the 1990s it found its way into the workshop of German gem artist Bernd Munsteiner, who studied it for four months before spending six months on the carving. The Smithsonian display uses fiber-optic lenses and daylight-halogen bulbs to illuminate the 14-inch obelisk. See a complete photograph of the sculpture here. [back to top]


Prospectors title image

“Prospectors,” a nine-part television series premiered March 26 on The Weather Channel. It follows Colorado gem mining families in the state’s mountains. (A second season already is being contemplated.) The series, produced by High Noon Entertainment, had its genesis when the company’s Scott Feeley shot video for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science regarding its famous “Diane’s Pocket” aquamarine, found in the Sawatch Range. (See our “Record Aquamarine Specimen,” December 2006.) The locality in question, Colorado’s Mount Antero, features prime gem fields, as was mentioned in Sunday’s Denver Post. While High Noon has more than 25 shows in production, Feeley told the Post that “Prospectors” was shot in the “most extreme” location of their experience, filming at 13,000 feet. Weather, of course, also threatened to factor in. Streaming video attests to the challenges faced by the crew. [back to top]

— End April Newsletter • Published 4/1/13 —

February 2013 Newsletter

In this edition of Pala Mineralis we look back on the life of Edward Swoboda as we look forward to the show where Ed rocked ’em a year ago.

Shows and Conferences

Tucson Time: February 5–17, 2013

We’re looking forward to the world’s greatest gem and mineral show in February. One-stop general information about individual shows can be obtained from the Tucson EZ-Guide.

Pala International will be represented in Tucson as follows. We look forward to seeing our many friends there. Visit the Pala International Show Schedule for future events.

Tucson Tasting

Wine Tasting image

Last year’s Pala International/ Wayne A. Thompson Fine Minerals wine tasting was such a hit, we’re extending it two hours and holding it a day later, on Saturday.

Coghlan Vineyard and Jewelers will be pouring their limited production 2010 Estate Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon. If the ruby on the label looks familiar, it is a Mogok specimen that was gifted to the award-winning Coghlans by the Larsons of Pala International.

Click the invitation at right for details.

For more on Coghlan, see our write-up from August 2011.

AGTA GemFair image

AGTA GemFair

Pala joins nearly 100 exhibitors for this annual extravaganza.

Event: AGTA GemFair
When: February 5–10, 2013
Where: Tucson Convention Center
Pala International Booth: 1016

The event website now features an interactive floorplan allowing you to see who is exhibiting by area of the convention center.

More than forty free seminars are offered by notables in the world of gemstones and pearls.

Pala International’s Bill Larson will speak on the topic “Back to Burma” on Wednesday, February 6, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. in the Mohave Room.


12th Annual Westward Look Mineral Show

Pala International and two dozen other world-class mineral dealers shack up at a Sonoran Desert resort.

Westward Look Show image

Event: 12th Annual Westward Look Mineral Show
When: February 8–11, 2013
Where: Westward Look Resort
Pala International Suite: 224

See Pala International’s page on the Westward Look Show site. See also this dealer map.


Ed Swoboda dvd cover image
The late Ed Swoboda was last year’s Sunday evening presenter and the event was captured by BlueCap Productions.


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59th Annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

TGMS is the largest gem and mineral show in the country. This year’s theme is “Fluorite, Colors of the Rainbow.”

Event: 59th Annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show
When: February 14–17, 2012
Where: Tucson Convention Center
Pala International Booth: Aisle 5 East


Fluorite photo image
From Pala’s Gabrièl Mattice: This year, the featured mineral for the Tucson Gem and Mineral show is Fluorite. This is my 9.53-carat pink fluorite from Chamonix, France. A clean, well-cut stone such as this is quite rare. Mia Dixon, our eagle-eyed photographer, took this great photo for me. Thanks Mia!

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Tucson Transit Tips

Many shows will offer their own shuttles. View your transit and parking options here. [back to top]

Tucson App Lacks a Little

But it’s free…

Forgot the opening hour of the AGTA GemFair? New to the shows and left your notes in the motel? Want directions to the Westward Look? In need of a gluten-free meal between jaunts? Looking for a gemstone? might be just the thing. Or not.

Take that first item above. Download the Tucson Gem Shows mobile app and click the Gem Shows icon, then the AGTA GemFair Tucson link. The show info is there, but the listing has it running February 1–5 (it runs Feb. 5–10), although the daily hours clue you in to the typo. Anyone can make a mistake.

iPhone photo image
As shown above, other features (some with their own glitches) include shuttle routes, parking, news and classes. The app is available for iPhone and Android platforms. You can take your own test drive at the app website.

Moving along… If you know generally the location of the Westward Look (north of Ina Road), find its point in the Gem Shows Map feature and use the Google map Get Directions button, allowing the map to find your present location. Oddly you are then taken to a list of destinations, having to select Westward Look again. But it does give you the directions.

Okay, about that gluten-free meal. Hit the Gem Show Dining icon and get an alphabetical list by type. Gluten Free has one entry, which takes you to an ad. Period. You’ll have to use your old-fashioned web browser to get a menu and/or directions.

To find a gemstone, the vendors that sell them and their locations, use Gem Finder. It’s a fairly straightforward list, but the locations could have been hyperlinked back to the Gem Shows list. And when you tap on a website link, the page is not scalable, so you’ll do a lot of L–R scrolling. A tip for Top Exhibits: we selected one and lost the navigation; it’s hidden, so you must touch the top of the screen to reveal it.

So, in a pinch this app may be a convenience, but it could use some, um, polishing. The developer’s website states that apps for Las Vegas and Denver will be “Publsihing Soon!” (x2). [back to top]

Eleventh Annual Sinkankas Symposium – Ruby

April 6, 2013, GIA World Headquarters and
The Robert Mouawad Campus, Carlsbad

The annual Sinkankas Symposium has been described by John Koivula as the “best gem mineral symposium in North America” and has a reputation for achieving sold-out enrollment. Some coaxing in that direction was needed last year, however, when the symposium topic was Topaz.

This year’s topic of Ruby, however surely will send the scalpers scrambling. Keynote speaker Richard W. Hughes will introduce the assembled experts who will cover a wide range of related topics. Hughes, most recently, is the editor of The Book of Ruby & Sapphire: From an unpublished 1936 manuscript by Col. J. F. Halford-Watkins. His 1997 Ruby & Sapphire is considered the standard reference on the subject.

Sinkankas Symposium masthead image

Presentations will be made by regular Sinkankas Symposium contributors John Koivula and George Rossman. GIA’s John Koivula will present a pictorial tour of “The MicroWorld of Ruby,” in which he discusses the internal features that attest to the gem host’s paragenesis and provide tell-tale evidence of treatment or “manufacture.” Dr. Rossman, McMillan Professor of Mineralogy at Caltech, Pasadena, will discuss color in ruby and its relationship to the origin of color in the full range of various corundum gems.

Pala International’s Bill Larson, no stranger to the Symposium dais, will present “Ruby Localities Shown in Brilliant Color,” drawing on over fifty years of traveling the globe in search of fine gems and minerals. Dr. George Harlow, Curator of Minerals and Gems in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, will discuss “Ruby from the Mogok Belt: Mineralogy and Geochemistry,” regarding the various processes affecting this unique locality. Distinguished Research Fellow at the GIA laboratory in Carlsbad, Dr. James E. Shigley returns to the Sinkankas Symposium for a third engagement, this time to discuss worldwide localities of ruby as well as the conditions and environments of its formation. GIA’s West Coast director of gem identification services, Shane F. McClure, will speak on “Enhancements to Rubies – both Natural and Synthetic,” an important topic in the gem trade. Nathan Renfro, who is Lead Analytical Specialist of colored stones at GIA as well as being a skilled lapidary artist, will present “Faceting Ruby: The implications for Optical Orientation on Color.” This year, Robert Weldon, Manager of Photography and Laboratory Publications at GIA, will present a personal historical narrative, “Trio of Ruby Tales,” illustrated with his beautiful photographic images.

Ruby photo image
The Mogok Castle, now in the collection of Max and Jon Sigerman, was our featured specimen for February 2007. Doubly terminated, 81.2 grams, 56.0 x 26.5 x 23.8 mm. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul)

Visit the Sinkankas Symposium website for speaker bios and abstracts of presentation topics.

  • Dr. George Harlow – Ruby from the Mogok Belt: Mineralogy and Geochemistry
  • Richard Hughes, keynote speaker – tba
  • John Koivula – The MicroWorld of Ruby
  • Bill Larson – Ruby Localities Shown in Brilliant Color
  • Shane McClure – Enhancements to Rubies – both Natural and Synthetic
  • Nathan Renfro – Faceting Ruby: The implications for Optical Orientation on Color
  • Dr. George Rossman – Why Rubies are Red
  • Dr. James Shigley – Ruby Geology Localities
  • Robert Weldon – Trio of Ruby Tales

The Sinkankas Symposium is organized by Roger Merk, and co-sponsored by the San Diego Mineral & Gem Society and the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). It will be held Saturday, April 6, 2013, at the GIA World Headquarters and The Robert Mouawad Campus, 5345 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008.


Invitations to pre-register will be emailed out to last year’s attendees in early March; registration will be open to ALL beginning in mid-March. Registration forms for all will be posted on the Symposium web site beginning in mid-March. Join the San Diego Mineral & Gem Society mailing list to be kept informed; after submitting your email address, be sure to select the Sinkankas Symposium checkbox. [back to top]

Pala International News

Pala’s Featured Specimen: Fluorite from Russia

In accordance with this year’s Tucson Gem & Mineral Show we feature a clear fluorite from Russia. This fluorite is from Dal’negorsk, Primorskij Kraj, Russia, a classic locality for many fine, rare minerals.

Fluorite photo image
Fluorite & Galena from Dal’negorsk, 7 x 5.4 x 5 cm. (Photos: Mia Dixon)
Fluorite photo image

This ice cube-like fluorite is crystal clear with a couple of phantoms inside and several penetrating secondary cubes. It’s a very pristine cluster with virtually no damage. The specimen is highly elevated by a massive galena crystal as the matrix: one large, complex euhedral galena with a couple of smaller ones on the bottom. There is a trace of chalcopyrite running through the base as well. This is a stunning specimen with the great contrast of metal and ice, also quite a heavy piece—another property that is quite appealing when held.

This piece is not for sale individually; it is part of a large Russian collection that Pala has been putting together in ernest since 1994. The collection also includes museum pieces exchanged in the 1970s from institutions such as the Smithsonian and École des Mines de Paris (ParisTech).

Interested? Call or email us to inquire. [back to top]

New on the Blog: Esmeralda Mine – All Systems Go!

Just before Christmas, Pala staffer Jason Stephenson accompanied fellow staffer John McLean to the Esmeralda Mine, Jason not having visited the mine since the late summer of 2011. In his new blog entry, Jason show-and-tells about the improvements to the mine infrastructure. And the mine had a couple of other visitors…

Bobcat photo image
Caught on camera. Above, a highgrader is spotted near the mine. Below, streaks of tourmaline in the pegmatite. (Photos: Jason Stephenson)
Pegmatite photo image

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Mineral and Mineralogy News

Thomas Painite

Thomas P. Moore, who pens the occasional and always interesting What’s New in the Mineral World? at Mineralogical Record, is no stranger to painite. He knew about its discovery in the 1950s in Burma, with only two then-known crystals, with more of the material surfacing in the mid-2000s. (Some of this history is covered in Bill Larson’s “Painite Comes to Pala” on

What he didn’t know was imparted via a link on to The Corunduminium, William Heierman’s website, which many moons ago we billed as a “corundum collector’s nirvana.” As Moore points out in the December 17, 2012 edition of his report, Heierman has but one article on the website that doesn’t deal exclusively with corundum, and the subject is painite, which is associated with corundum. It’s featured prominently on the Corunduminium’s Burma page and is nicely illustrated with corunda (sorry…) cohabiting with painites.

Painite Crystal photo image
Fine terminated painite crystal weighing 31.33 ct. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul; Crystal: Pala International)

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Rare Teaching Tool Offered

Cabinet and Book photo image

In January, just after we featured photographer Sarah Oros in the fifth in our FotogFocus series (see below), we received the following notice from Sarah’s father, Mark Oros. Mark is a lapidary artist in Ithaca and member of the newly founded Finger Lakes Mineral Club. He is offering a mineral collection produced by George O. Simmons. Price upon request from Mark Oros via Pala International.

According to his Mineralogical Record biographical profile and census records, George Owen Simmons (1843–1918) was a Brooklyn, New York-based mineral dealer whose day job was salesperson for a rubber goods and shoe factory. His mineral collecting began when he was 24. In 1890 he was listed as an associate member of the geology, microscopy and mineralogy departments of the Brooklyn Institute; associates also included George Kunz and Francis H. Pough (father of Frederick). In June of that year, selections from Simmons’s and Kunz’s collections were featured in the mineralogy department’s first annual exhibition of 6,000 specimens. (Later in 1890, after it was reorganized as the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the academy began planning the Brooklyn Museum.)

By at least the early 1880s Simmons was advertising the sale, from his home, of mineral specimens as well as collections such as the one offered by Mark Oros.

The “Student’s Complete Mineral Collection”

George O. Simmons sold this mineral collection in the 1880s and 1890s. To my knowledge, this is the only known example of this collection and it remains intact with all 300 specimens.

Cabinet photo image
The cabinet locked, above, and unlocked below. The cabinet measures approx. 16" wide when open and 10" tall. (Photos: Mark Oros)
Cabinet photo image

Along with the mineral collection comes the following:

  1. Original antique oak cabinet housing the minerals in 6 drawers of 50 specimens each.
  2. The original mineral collection manual identifying each specimen by numbered label, hand-written location of origin and page number of the specimen as found in the Manual of Mineralogy and Petrography by James D. Dana. The manual is enclosed in an acid-free preservation portfolio.
  3. The 1888 sixth edition of Manual of Mineralogy and Petrography by James D. Dana. The mineral collection manual and this book cross-reference each other for easy access to the mineral descriptions.
  4. The first edition of the 1883 publication Talks on Minerals by Edmund S. F. Arnold, M.D. (pictured below). In the back of this book, there is an advertisement for the “Student’s Complete Mineral Collection” along with a listing of all 300 specimens.
  5. Portfolio containing the original manual and various copies of documents pertaining to the “Student’s Complete Mineral Collection” and about George O. Simmons as a mineral dealer.
  6. Key for locking the oak cabinet to keep the mineral drawers from sliding out (one of the two locks is not functioning, but should be easy to fix).

This is an exceptional and collectible piece of mineralogy history. I dare say that it belongs in a very special collection or museum.

— Mark Oros

Drawer photo image
One of the six drawers, above, contains the emerald specimen below. The drawers measure approx. 12.5 x 6.5". (Photos: Mark Oros)
Emerald photo image

Download a PDF with 56 more views of the cabinet, its contents, and the books here.

Book photo image
One of the two books that come with the mineral collection. (Photo: Mark Oros)

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Industry News

Ed Swoboda: Renaissance Man, Mineral God

Pala International’s Bill Larson Reminisces

Edward Swoboda, 95 years young!

A “renaissance man,” Ed Swoboda grew up loving gems and minerals: digging in the benitoite mine in the 1930s with Pete Bancroft, moving on to Brazil before the Second World War to look for rare earth elements for the United States Geological Survey and collecting rare bird and other species in the Mato Grosso jungle regions, as well opening a successful hamburger restaurant on the Copacabana in Rio! Later, after returning to the U.S., he became a successful jewelry designer and entrepreneur. He went early on to east Africa in pursuit of Longido ruby (see Ed’s article on the subject on So when I met Ed in 1968, to me he was a “mineral god.”

Ed Swoboda
Edward Swoboda in his backyard, surrounded by large Longido ruby specimens. Photo courtesy of Edward Swoboda.

Our first encounter was at the county fair in Del Mar where he was judging the mineral display, and while he gave me first place on several of my self-collected pieces, he downgraded my thumbnails, instead opting for the display of a friend of his, who I had beaten for the past three years. So I proceeded to ask him why he judged my thumbnails less than those of his friend, Elbert McMacken. We laughed. His real interest was to find out more about my self-collected pieces. (Had he snubbed me in order to do so?) I explained that I had been drafted into the military out of graduate school, and for the past three months Josie Scripps and I had done three mining projects—the Little Three Mine (Ramona, San Diego Co.), the Blue Chihuahua Mine (Cooper Canyon, Riverside Co.) and the Mack Mine (Rincon, San Diego Co.)—and we had been successful in each one of them.

He invited me up to his home and asked me to bring the finest herderite I had found. We did an exchange for three of his best thumbnails. He asked if I would be interested in creating a mineral company to travel the world and buy and try to mine minerals. Of course I was interested. He had recently purchased the Stewart Lithia Mine in Pala, California. I had extensive knowledge from self-collecting in Pala, and my father knew Monty Moore who owned the Tourmaline Queen and Pala Chief mines, so we arranged a lease buyout of these two properties and created a company called Pala Properties International. Thanks in part to Terry Szenics, the Stewart Mine produced tourmaline in the first six months of operation.

When I got out of the military in 1970, the mine was providing a small production, but it was too small to afford much expansion, so we planned a buying trip. Josie Scripps loaned Pala $10,000 for the trip. And Ed planned it—a major undertaking. I got to know Ed quite well on this first trip in 1971. We went to Idar-Oberstein, Germany, meeting Gerhardt Becker and Dr. Herman Bank; to Spain to see the Folch Collection; down to Angola, looking for dioptase, where I found, instead, amoebic dysentery from eating crab that was less than fresh. Ed’s system was tough, so he missed my joy. We flew across Africa to Mozambique where we went north to Nacala and Nampula. Here we had the most profitable venture, at the Agria Mine, where we bought 4 kg of flawless, unusually-colored tourmalines for $1400. Then we flew to Johannesburg and met the famous collector Jerry Rousseau and viewed his collection. Ed was very taken with Jerry’s self-collected large matrix sperrylite. Edward would later ask me to come back to Africa within six months and exchange Jerry out of said sperrylite, which at the time was the finest in private hands. It became a highlight of Ed’s great collection.

Ed Swoboda
Ed Swoboda with a new find at the Tourmaline Queen Mine, 1971.

The trip continued across the oceans to Rio de Janeiro where I got to meet and see some of Ed’s old friends and neighborhood. The high point for me was meeting Antônio Carlos Jobim (“The Girl from Ipanema”), who came and sat next to me as we had Fernet-Branca in the bar at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. Wow! The next day it was a drive upcountry where we came around a curve and saw elephants running free. We were amazed until, further around the curve, we saw the overturned circus truck. The rest of the trip, into Minas Gerais, was busy as we visited famous mines (like the Santa Rosa tourmaline mine) and various dealers. The biggest purchase we were able to make was about two tons of large quartz crystals from one dealer that we shipped by sea. It included the famous crystal that Harold Van Pelt carved his magnificent skull from very recently. (The crystal, originally weighing 250+ lbs., contains rare izoklakeite inclusions.)

We left Brazil and headed for Chile; we were looking for proustites! We did find one magnificent crystal in a vault, perhaps 3 x 2 inches, but it was part of the mineral collection of the University of Santiago! I presume it’s still there since I’ve never seen or heard of it. So we were commercially unsuccessful in Chile and flew to Bogotá, Colombia where Ed and I saw the magnificent gold museum. We visited several emerald dealers and we picked up an incredible single gem emerald crystal, two inches by just under a quarter inch.

We flew back to LAX a bit exhausted after 3+ weeks of intense travel. This set the stage for many other trips and mining adventures, the highlight of which for Pala Properties would come later, in 1972, when John McLean found the famous blue-cap tourmaline pocket at the Tourmaline Queen Mine.

Swoboda and Larson photo image
Edward Swoboda, right, with Bill Larson in 1972, holding two of the famous blue-cap tourmaline specimens, in a slide that looks like it had been left in an outbuilding at the Tourmaline Queen. See the previous edition of Pala Mineralis, which points to a reprint of Bill’s 1972 Lapidary Journal article about the original blue-cap finds. These specimens would become the world-famous “The Belly Button” and “Candelabra.”

In 1978 Ed really wanted to go mine in Brazil and I really wanted to go mine in Sri Lanka. It was time to move in new directions. To be able to purchase Ed’s 50% of the corporation, Ed took ownership of the mines we owned, I took the Himalaya Mine that we leased and the corporation became Pala International. The parting was, shall we say, not without a little acrimony.

After going our separate ways for over a decade, in the 1990s we met again in a setting where we were able to talk. He found out I’d lost all the money I’d invested in Sri Lanka and he mentioned that he lost all the money he invested in Brazil! After a great, long laugh I think we both forgot the rancor of the business split. For the past 15 years we’ve had quite a good relationship, including getting to know Ed’s son Bryan so well. (Bryan, and his BlueCap Productions, has done more good for the mineral hobby than perhaps any other individual in the past decade!)

It is with great fondness that I look back over Ed’s amazing life!

Edward Roy Swoboda, born November 30, 1917, died January 7, 2013. He is survived by his wife, Kum Ja, his son, Bryan, his daughter, Sumiya, and grandchildren.

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Recycle Bin

Below is a recent item from our sibling publication, Palagems Reflective Index, that will be of interest to mineralophiles.

Perot Museum Opens in Dallas

On December 1, 2012, after years of planning and construction, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened to the public. On January 8, 2013, despite sold-out crowds at the museum, Pala’s Bill Larson was able to take in the museum, providing us with this report.

Entrance photo image
Above, the entrance to the hall. Below, a view of the Lyda Hill Hall of Gems and Minerals. (Photos: Bill Larson, above; Mark Knight Photography, below)
Beryls photo image

The museum contains eleven permanent exhibit halls and one traveling exhibition hall on five levels. Its most visually outstanding architectural feature is a 54-foot escalator enclosed in a 150-foot glass tube-like structure. [back to top]

Pala Presents

Gem Mining in the United States—
Tourmaline and Turquoise

By L. P. Gratacap

Pala Presents title image

With Pala Presents, we offer selections from the library of Pala International’s Bill Larson, who will share with us some of the wealth of information in the realm of minerals and mineralogy.

In L. P. Gratacap’s article dealing with tourmaline and turquoise mining, published less than a year before his sudden death in December 1917, the author places his subject in the context of a “United States [that] cannot qualify, at present, as a gem producer of any large commercial importance.” He writes that

a quite astonishing discovery of a new mineral and a new gem in San Benito County, California, revealed an unsuspected hidden pocket of interesting mineral associations, instructive to the mineralogist, but, alas, delusive to the gem hunter. … Even the diamond discoveries in Arkansas have proved to be rather sensational and promissory hints, than practically valid assets.

He then lists a host of localities and their issue, including North Carolina beryls, Texas topazes, Montana sapphires, opals “of the West” and kunzite of California, before pronouncing that “they have really effected a purely parasitic association with the invincible precious stones of the world.”

Regarding stateside tourmaline, however, Gratacap deigns to compare it favorably with that of central Madagascar. He begins with gem tourmaline found at Mt. Mica, Maine, then moves to San Diego County. (See “The Maine Event” and “Tourmaline Deposits of North America” on Before turning to turquoise, Gratacap can’t help but remark that California rubellite is far superior to that of Madagascar, but that pink beryl from the state lacks “the tone depth and richness of the Madagascar stone.”

Pink Beryl photo image
It’s no rubellite. A specimen of Southern California pink beryl (with lithia, mica and tourmaline), which Gratacap couldn’t resist maligning in the present article. From Gratacap’s “Mineral Photography,” The American Annual of Photography 1908 (Vol. XXII, p. 272), available at Mindat, where Daniel Russell writes that the article was one of the first to handle the subject.

Gratacap makes no such comparisons regarding the turquoise mined in Mojave County of northwestern Arizona. Rather, he compares turquoise itself with other gems, finding it wanting on the one hand (“not regarded with unstinted admiration by the gem collector”) and admired on the other (“cherished by connoisseurs for many centuries”). Read “Gem Mining in the United States—Tourmaline and Turquoise” here.

About L. P. Gratacap

At the time of his abrupt death in 1917 at the age of 67, Louis Pope Gratacap was curator of mineralogy at the American Museum of Natural History. In addition to many scientific papers, he authored Geology of the City of New York (1901), Collection of Minerals (1902) and Popular Guide to Minerals (1912). But the titles of the bulk of his books and tracts reveal other interests, including world affairs (Europe’s Handicap—Tribe and Class), local politics (The Political Mission of Tammany Hall, in two versions; Why the Democrats Must Go, or, The Elimination of Inefficiency), philosophy (The World as Intention: A Contribution to Teleology; Philosophy of Ritual), and science fiction (The Certainty of a Future Life in Mars; A Woman of the Ice Age). Some of these titles betray the fact that before he studied mining at the Columbia School of Mines, he spent a year in the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church.

Gratacap photo image
From ministry to mines. L. P. Gratacap left General Theological Seminary after a year to enter the Columbia School of Mines, from which he graduated. (Photo uncredited, from The American Museum Journal, XVII:4, p. 298)

George Kunz, in his biographical sketch of Gratacap (The American Museum Journal, XVII:4, p. 303), tells how Gratacap, amongst other pursuits, explained why New York lagged behind Boston and Philadelphia in scientific activity (the “mercantile pursuits” of the former); wrote about the “Iceland spar” (see our “Midnight Sunstone”); and showed that operational causes of irregular distribution of fossils remain in effect today. In his tribute, Kunz includes many recollections of Gratacap’s friends and colleagues. If Gratacap’s prose might seem florid from our perspective (one reviewer of Life in Mars called it “a pretentious bore”), his “live act” had its fans.

As a lecturer he had few equals, and his many ideas were not only presented entertainingly, but also through the medium of a remarkable vocabulary. It is related that ex-Governor Benjamin B. Odell, a guest at an alumni dinner, after listening to Mr. Gratacap, turned to the president of the occasion and remarked : ‘That man a cold scientist? Why, if he went into public life, he would class with orators like Joseph Choate and Horace Porter.‘

And, of course, those remain household names today…. But seriously, at the end of his own remarks in the tribute, Kunz mentions:

Very early in life [Gratacap] began a diary in which he recorded his travels and the incidents of his life with vivid and rich description. This grew to many volumes.

Although we were unable to confirm this by e-press time, a little bird tells us that Gratacap’s papers reside at the Staten Island Museum’s History Archives & Library, now located at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. What gems might be found via some mining there? [back to top]

Special Feature

FotogFocus: Sarah Oros – “Within Nature’s Design”

A look at the artist behind the camera by Elise Skalwold

In the heart of New York State’s Finger Lakes Region, an emerging artist debuts at the Paleontological Research Institute’s Museum of the Earth

Oros and Skalwold photo image
Museum of the Earth, venue of the exhibition by Sara Oros. (Photo © Paul Warchol via Creative Commons license)

On very still winter nights, the wistful melody of “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters” might be heard faintly from across the fjord-like lake, while high up on its western shore the architecturally magnificent Museum of the Earth glows brightly out of the darkness of the surrounding hills. Under a multitude of bright stars and sparkling, crystalline air, prowling coyotes howl, owls call forlornly and ice crackles. On one such recent evening, scores of people were welcomed in from the biting cold with offerings of wine and hors d’oeuvres for a celebratory opening of works by local photographer Sarah Oros.

Thus begins Elise Skalwold’s profile of Sarah Oros, in the fifth installment of our occasional series, FotogFocus. Read the entire profile here, which includes mention of Sarah’s father, the lapidary artist Mark Oros.

Oros and Skalwold photo image
Photographer Sarah Oros, right, with Elise Skalwold, at the opening of Oros’s exhibition, Within Nature’s Design, January 5, 2013, Museum of the Earth. They stand in front of the ammonite fossil, below. (Photo: Mark Oros)
Ammonite photo image
Ammonite Fossil. Polished slice, Madagascar, on white aluminum. (Photo: Sarah Oros)

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— End February Newsletter • Published 2/1/13 —