The November meeting was held at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Middletown. Attendance reached fourteen. Mike Tedford welcomed everyone and introductions were made. Mike talked about the benefits of membership. Mike related that the Herkimer show is offering free tent/table space next year for clubs. He also hit some of the highlights from the September picnic. It seems the quartz finds from Ellenville and the cupcakes were well appreciated. Mike encouraged Tony Marion to bring the crystals in to show again.
Minutes: Minutes for the October 12th meeting had been distributed in the Shale Mail. They were approved without change. The lapse in obtaining approval for the August meeting minutes was rectified also.
Treasurer’s Report: The treasurer’s report was read by Ron Nelson and approved.
Committee Reports: Club show and 2019 EFMLS Convention: We did have an article (we edited an article Cheryl Neary wrote) in the November EFMLS newsletter announcing our hosting of the 2019 Convention and welcoming folks to Orange County. We also talked about furthering discussion on advertising and working on more detailed planning for the show and convention. A meeting for the officers will likely be needed soon. Jeff Fast also shared his perspective on the value of social media for club communications. Jeff is the webmaster for the Meriden, CT club and feels the club has benefited greatly.
Field trips/digs/misc: Nothing new is known on rescheduling the Dutchess Quarry dig. The Poughkeepsie (Mid-Hudson) Club continues to run Sunday geology classes with a related field trip. Right now, the schedule is being revised for the remaining sessions. They will likely be pushed off until Spring.
Shows:
10-11 Nov - New York City
23-25 Nov - Morris Museum Show
1-2 Dec - Suffolk County
8 Dec - Cindy Strom selling Sarna’s material at the Kinnelon Library
Old/New Business: Old: Nothing offered.
New: Brigitte and Greg Nesteroke talked about visiting a slate museum on Route 22 outside Bennington, VT. The museum had waste piles that were available for collecting. They saw pyrite and galena in the pile. There may be field trip potential.

Program: We welcomed Jeff Fast as the speaker. Jeff has been a collector and dealer longer than anyone can remember but I think it was the first time he had spoken to our Club. Jeff shared what he considers interesting things he’s come across in 2018. In no particular order but starting in North America Jeff showed slides and described: From the United States, 2.5” almandine garnet crystal from Connecticut. The site had been long considered exhausted but he and friends pulled out nice pieces. Pieces nice enough to beimmediately bought by the Peabody Museum at Yale. He also showed amethyst from Jackson’s Crossroads, GA. From outside Montreal, Canada, trilobites. From Mexico, arguable the best danburites in the world and sceptered pyrargyrites. He gave some quick tips for identifying the different silver bearing minerals. The “ruby silvers” show red. Pyrargyrite is more common than proustite for the “ruby” silvers. Acanthite and stephanite, two other silver bearing minerals, will not show red. Dropping into South America: From Brazil, dumorterite inclusions in quartz; rutile on hematite; apatite from the Golconda Mine; rhodochrosite with a unique habit. Columbia has attractive emeralds but the one he showed had a supposed alluvial story behind it that he personally doubted.

Jeff injected some general insights. He suggested that when minerals worth having are readily available from a location, you should take advantage of it. The locality won’t keep producing indefinitely. He also helped differentiate between some collection types. Of the many ways to collect, some collectors are buying samples of minerals and others are buying esthetic pieces. Both are perfectly fine. But the sample collection will not likely hold much value down the road. The esthetic collection will likely do much better.
He suggested that the esthetic pieces had common traits to aim for. They should be beautiful, show no damage, have nice color, luster and transparency. Jeff suggested that if a specimen is set on a table ten feet away with fifty other pieces, the good piece will be the one that draws your attention.

Jumping to Africa he showed faden tsavorite garnet with pyrite from Tanzania, spessartine garnet from Nigeria, blue barite and dyscrasite from Morocco. Morocco also has native silver. To tell the difference, the silver is flexible.

From Russia, Jeff showed heliodor and azurite. He talked about the current market availability of the azurite nodules. He also related the lethal dangers of using hydrofluoric acid.

Over in Asia also: Burma/Myanmar has some complex topaz crystals from Mogok with great clarity and luster, associated with quartz matrix. Pakistan had plenty of highlights. Aquamarines from the Shigar Valley; petroleum included quartz on matrix that fluoresce; brucite with hydromagnesite; ruby from the Hunza Valley; purple spinel on matrix (Afghanistan?); spodumenes; topaz with quartz from Katlang; demantoid garnet from Balochistan; red and purple apatites; vayryneite. Jeff also explained the differences between the aquamarines from different regions. Aquamarine from the Shigar Valley is associated with albite feldspar while the Nagar aquas are with muscovite mica. While talking about Pakistan he cautioned that everything now seems to get irradiated. Internet buying is a risky proposition. Photoshopping of pictures is all too common. Know your dealer and ask plenty of questions.

India has sceptered amethysts and heliodor. Jeff had already mentioned the Indian zeolites in the context of a locality that may be an exception to the assumption that a locality will dry up eventually. He also showed some of the mineral coming from China including: silver wires; iridescent siderite; bournonite on matrix; and a few fluorites. One fluorite from Guilin had dark purple zoned edges. Another fluorite variety is called “tanzanite fluorite.” Indonesia has the “grape agate” clusters and some petrified wood with a lime green color.

He let us in on what he considers his personal prize from this year. He found a chalcocite specimen with three ping-pong ball sized clusters composed of thousands of tiny octahedral crystals with bornite on a weather-worn copper bearing matrix.

Along with the mineral highlights and the occasional general buying tips for finding the real good pieces he gave us a general feel for the extent of his travels. He didn’t enumerate all his trips but did cite at least sixty to Mexico, six to Pakistan, and trips to Russia (Dal’negorsk), Madagascar, Columbia, Brazil and Peru. He indicated that he’s cutting back and may even have time to dig for fossils. He said he’s always been interested in fossils but didn’t have time to chase them previously.

At the end of his lecture, questions were taken. Jeff also brought along a few flats of minerals to further illustrate some of the minerals he discussed and to show a representation of what he looks for. We appreciate Jeff sharing his experience, travel adventures, buying and collecting tips. Jeff has also made mineral donations that may end up in the December auction or next year’s show prizes.

Raffle: A mineral raffle was held of about a dozen items thanks to C. Nelson.

Next Meeting: December 14th will be the holiday pot luck supper and auction.

Mark Kucera, Secretary