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2018, Saddle Stitch

Dimensions: 9 x 11.75
ISBN: 9780983632375
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Gold: Element of Desire
2019 16-month Calendar

English Language: English

Author: Robert C. CookMeghan Funk

Edited by: Gloria Staebler, Dave Bunk, Iva Veselinova, Mike Jensen

Illustrations by: Jeff Scovil, Michael Bainbridge, HaroldErica Van Pelt

The exploration and settlement of the world is linked to gold more than to any other mineral. Gold is a universal currency and has symbolized the stability and wealth of individuals and nations since the dawn of history, and while it is found in the earth’s crust, only a scant few have seen and can appreciate gold in its natural state.

Gold is one of the dozen or so must-haves in any significant mineral collection. But fine specimens are relatively scarce and are always expensive. Fortunately, the industrial, jewelry, and monetary demand for gold is high, which keeps mines in many diverse geologic settings in operation. A few of these mines encounter specimen gold, which is often saved either clandestinely by miners or in rare instances by the mining companies themselves. The result has been a somewhat sporadic though generally continuous trickle of gold specimens in modern times.

Gold is a simple single-element mineral, the result of which is high crystal symmetry resulting in the occasional well- formed octahedron or cube. It has a decided dislike for other elements and is often seen as relatively pure nuggets or lode specimens containing only trivial matrix quartz or a few other silicates or carbonates. Interestingly, specimen-quality gold that is intimately associated with sulfides and even tellurides is relatively uncommon.

Over the past few decades spectacular California gold specimen recoveries have punctuated the collector scene. One of the most productive single finds was the Christmas Day discovery of hundreds of ounces of sheet-like gold masses at the Sonora Mining Company pit at Jamestown. Peripheral to the Mother Lode proper were other modern finds that include exceptionally well crystallized, brilliantly lustrous specimens from the Eagles Nest Mine, phenomenal sheets from the Red Ledge Mine, well crystallized chunky masses from the Mockingbird Mine, and of course the beautifully crystallized specimens from the Colorado Quartz Mine that include the famous “Dragon.” Individual specimens from these four mines have sold for over $100,000 per ounce of contained gold.

While these mines were being operated for specimen gold, others in neighboring Nevada were turning out major amounts of commercial gold and in a few cases, no small number of fine specimens. The best of these, and now a classic American gold locality, is the Round Mountain Mine. A smaller and quite different suite of gold ribbons and wires were produced for a short while from the Olinghouse Mine near Reno. Prospects like the Lokel and Wadley and Willow Creek near Winnemucca produced hundreds of spectacular and at times quite large gold specimens that were quickly gobbled up by collectors.
Other western states including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado have been historic producers of fine gold specimens. Perhaps the best of these are the wiry and thin ribbon-like masses from Breckenridge and Leadville, Colorado, and the delicate crystalline and wire-like masses from Kittitas County, Washington. A relatively recent windfall of beautifully developed gold specimens were found on the dumps and abandoned workings of the Belshazzar Mine in Idaho.

Beyond the confines of the United States, fine gold specimens from several Canadian localities including the Goldcorp Mine at Red Lake, and small but excellent sheet-like matrix specimens from Romania have reached the collector market in recent decades. Finally, gold is often seen in hoppered or skeletal crystals. Exceptional specimens have been available in recent decades from Brazil, Venezuela, and Russia.

The accompanying photographs illustrate the beauty and variety of this highly sought collector species.

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