Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Minerals At An Estate Sale

Got dem got dem dry bones - - maybe petrified tusks?
Got an email from our rock club informing everyone that there would be an estate sale from a local biology professor who collected minerals. I will travel in town to an estate sale and this one fit my criteria of having rocks and minerals so I thought I would give it a try (Getting information like this is one more reason to belong to a local club). When I arrived at the home I was told the rocks and minerals were primarily in the back yard and some books on mineralogy were located in the basement. I was told all offers would be considered--sounded good to me! I got into the backyard and there were several boxes of minerals and some crystals all with no labels. No labels means no provenance so though you may have an idea on where something was found you really don’t know for sure. In my experience usually more than half the value of any collectible mineral lies in the provenance. There was an abundance of fossils which I don’t really collect but some petrified bones (mammoth tusk frags?) caught my eye so I took those. There was also a vertebrae but it felt too light and may have been a caste. There were a lot of leaf and stem fossils as well. Finally I got to a box loaded with garnets in schist, wrapped in newspapers from 1970. Unfortunately most of the almandine garnets were incomplete crystals although they did look nice in matrix. 
Several garnets in this schist matrix
I’ve picked up similar specimens from the Wilkerson Pass Colorado area while rock-hounding and they could be from the same locale. I took about half a flat of these. Next up were a couple of boxes with desert roses or selenite/gypsum. I’m not sure where they are from either but could be Arizona I suppose. The roses were well formed and probably worth a few bucks.
One of a dozen desert roses I selected
I rounded out my flat of garnets with a number of these specimens. I also found a few pieces of opal, some beryl and fluorite. Next I went book hunting and in the basement was a 3 volume mint set of Dana’s System of Mineralogy 7th Ed for $3. I also collect stamps and found some unused stamp storage albums which go for about $16 a piece. I picked up a few other oddities and almost went for a taxidermy rattle snake coiled and ready to bite but decided one of my nephews would get something else for Christmas. So I spent $30 for what I valued to be well over $200 and have no idea about the petrified bones/tusks. I enjoyed the camaraderie and banter with other bargain hunters and the sellers seemed happy to unload some rocks for money.

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