Micromounters of New England 2012 Symposium
Last Updated: 13th Aug 2012
Micromounters of New England Annual Symposium: The Day In Review
by Joe Mulvey
My basement is back to normal! Silent auction items being stored, some for the past 11 months have finally made way for things like laundry, snow boots and sleds!
The MMNE 2012 Symposium was a super day with all events running perfectly and without a hitch. The magic of us all working to together to ensure that each part of the day ran flawlessly. From 9am until 4pm there was never a dull moment.
We kicked off the day with coffee and pastries as members and guests set up their equipment and welcomed friends old and new. It was great to see Woody Thompson in attendance and Fred Davis has not lost his sense of humor since his talk last year.
John Jaszczak kicked off the morning talk with a presentation entitled “Unexpected Treasures: Micromineral Treasures from New York, New Jersey and New England”. Before there was John “Dr. Graphite” there was Lawson H. Bauer, chief chemist for the New Jersey Zinc Company. According to Jack Baum, Bauer enjoyed dissolving Franklin marble in acid and meticulously examining the residues, and fell in love with graphite at one time. John also recognized Charles Palache for his work in recognizing graphite morphology at Sterling Hill. John explain how layers of carbon atoms would form perfect crystals typically as hexagonal plates, however, there are many localities where alternate structures such as spheroids, rosettes and barrel structure shapes occur. Of course the best crystals are retrieved by slowly and methodically dissolving the host calcite with acid. I think everyone was thoroughly intrigued and entertained with this presentation!
After a great lunch prepared with hard work and excellent preparation and oversight by the Wilkens, the club held its brief annual meeting. Our annual meetings are always brief since there are so many more interesting events on the agenda; however, the symposium is where the new executive board is voted into office after the May meeting nominations. More importantly, Norm Biggart was awarded the lifetime achievement award n recognition for his service to all local mineral clubs and especially his goals in bringing the younger generation into our hobby.
2012 Lifetime Achievement Award: Norm BiggartFrom the Boston Mineral Club to the North Shore Mineral Club to the Micromounters of New England, Norm Biggart has built an indelible impression upon us all. Norm has always been respected for his participation and enthusiasm in geology and mineral collecting. His appreciation for history spans beyond merely the bounds of rocks and minerals but all the way to his heritage; Norm has Viking blood.
Over the past several decades, Norm has held just about every executive board position in each of these local mineral clubs. He has certainly done better than most of us to promote a love of science, especially to our next generations.
Norm’s love of science dates back to his career, which in itself is, not surprisingly, quite impressive. Norm worked alongside Harold “Doc” Edgerton. Norm studied and was subjected to numerous atomic bomb blasts. He even has a set of goggles used to view the detonations. Norm’s travels precluded an opportunity to settle down, but this trade-off enabled him to become quite a participatory member of our mineral clubs.
After the official meeting ended folks were back to the giveaway and sales tables en masse! Our giveaways hosted about one hundred new egg cartons of great Walter Lane material from Palermo, Mont St. Hilaire, Magog, Pennsylvania, Ohio and the southwest. Most of this had never seen the light of day since it wa collected by Mr. Lane in the 1980’s. Once again, thanks go to Gene Bearss for orchestrating the club acquisition of this awesome collection of quality material! From what we have seen, the Palermo material is loaded with great minerals. Very nice gemmy ludlamite, intact whitlockite, beautiful palermoite and whitmorite are fairly easy to find. Childrenite/eosphorite is abundant on many pieces and after a good cleaning in an ultrasonic cleaner; one never knows what they may discover next! The quantity of good material obtained in the Walter Lane estate is staggering. As we opened up new boxes, each containing two dozen egg crates, it was like Christmas morning! Many specimens have arrows and notation pointing out some tiny speck, others cartons are labeled for a species at a particular location. All egg cartons are labeled well enough for us to know exactly what locality is inside. I must mention our appreciation for Scott Rielly’s offer to store not only the bulk of the giveaway material but he has also taken over the sales items as well! We are talking a decent U-Haul sized load of stuff here! Thank you, Scott!
Speaking of great Palermo material we also had a few 30 pound boxes of unopened Palermo stuff that had been wrapped and bundled – never opened, available on the silent auction table. The possibilities for these boxes were reflected in the great bids placed by our attendees. I am confident that all winners of these boxes will be pleased with their purchases. If you won one of these and feel you bought a real dog, please contact me and I will do what I can to enhance your winning bid. Other great items on the silent auction included individual sales of two great micro cabinets from the Brian Porter collection that were built be Steve Cares. These beautiful plywood boxes each have about 12 drawers and will hold about 100 specimens in each drawer. I won the bid on one of these and Nate Martin happily carried (or, lugged!) away the other. These winners will certainly enhance storage and retrieval of many specimens.
There were also some great packages of locality specimens donated by Pat Barker. Pat, by the way, was the first one to arrive for this years’ symposium. When I pulled in around 7:45 she was already walking her dog waiting for anybody else to arrive! Pat donated to the silent auction a suite of minerals from Lac Nicolet with documentation, a great article, a beautiful acrylic storage tray and some of the most colorful minerals in Quebec. According to mindat, it was an antimony mine first investigated in the late 1860's on a small scale with two shafts and an adit. The operation was never economically viable and apart from sporadic exploratory work in 1940s and 1960s did not go into production.
Pat also donated a great suite of German specimens that went to a lucky silent auction bidder.
Once digestion was underway, Terry Szenics kicked off the afternoon presentation with a talk about Maine mining. Terry is quite a character and I am pretty sure he could talk about minerals until the cows come home. He was there for so many historic moments in Maine mining. His hunches seem to have paid off on many occasions, which is a good thing considering that as a very young man he invested extraordinary amounts of money on leases and equipment that turned a profit on the majority of occasions. Truly a pioneer of mineralogical entrepreneurship, Terry deserves a lot of credit for Maine’s mining economy.
Terry kicked off the presentation by setting the mood of the late 1960’s and reviewing the history of Auburn, ME through a series of old photos and post cards. Although from New Jersey, Terry would relocate to Maine on extended “vacations”. For a great biography of Terry Szenics, please refer to the MMNE 2012 Symposium booklet, we have extra copies and a PDF is available in the members only area of the website.
Some of Terry’s best pieces sold for top dollar upon discovery way back then. These specimens have withstood the test of time, and even competition from Brazil; one specimen in particular is currently up for sale by one of the big dealers for $250,000!
The final five minutes of Terry’s 90 minute presentation took us on a rapid around the world trip visiting mostly wonderful South American sites, there people, sweeping vistas and incredible mountain peaks. At the close of his talk we announce a special table of Mount Marie fluorapatite donated by member Ron LePage. Ron, by the way, I don’t think that Ron has ever attended a meeting but he continues to send us great mounted specimens and especially some very nice stuff that he collected himself. Thank you, Ron!
With Terry’s talk finished, the door prize lucky number was pulled from a hat by Norm. The winner of the Amscope dual gooseneck halogen fiber optic light was Polly Poulin! I am sure husband Bud was jealous. Let’s hope she’s willing to share. The awarding of the door prize began a final frenzy of buying and bidding!
As the silent auction wrapped up folks began packing up their equipment and goodies and most helped return the church to its former semblance of order. By 6pm the place was shut down and the symposium was officially in the history books.
There’s quite a difference between hosting a mineral show or symposium merely to make money as opposed to hosting a celebration of micromounting and an opportunity to bolster one’s collection on a large scale. And while the club probably made a few dollars profit this year, I think the non-monetary values gave the day a worth that cannot be calculated accurately with an accounting ledger. With that being said it may be in the clubs best interests to try to make a little more money so that the next time a “Walter Lane-like” opportunity arises, we can purchase more great material and prevent these hidden treasures from being sequestered from the light of day by a single owner.
I hope you can make it next year!
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