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Current State of Micromounting

Posted by Robert Miller  
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Robert Miller May 04, 2009 11:36PM
Hello everyone!

I'm fairly new to micromounting, but I've been doing my homework. I have both the Wight and Speckels books and I've been trying to meet everyone that I can who is actively mounting. I've also purchased a few antique micromounts from such greats as G.G. Rakestraw, Neal Yedlin, and Lou Perloff.

The question that I have is what is the current state of micromounting? I don't see any current columns in "Rocks & Gems" or "Rocks & Minerals" (other than the one that Mr. Wight does in July/August as a summary of the entire year), and the Micromounters of New England doesn't list a Hall of Fame member newer than in 2005. Also, the message boards that I check don't seem to be very active on the topic of micromounting.

Thanks in advance for your interest and comments!

Robert
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Mark Gottlieb May 05, 2009 12:57AM
Robert,

I am not a serious micromounter, but there were a bunch of them at the Rochester Mineral Symposium. If you can, go to the next one. 2009 was my first time attending and it was great fun.

Mark
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Alfredo Petrov May 05, 2009 01:00AM
Robert, I collect MMs myself and have lots of friends who do too. I suspect that one reason the magazines ignore micromounting most of the time (not all of the time) is related to the noncommercial nature of the MM hobby. Most micromounters spend very little money, compared to collectors of larger specimens. Dealers, mineral shows, and magazines dependent on dealer advertizing, would die very quickly if they used much of their space catering to micromount collectors.
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Bill Lechner May 05, 2009 01:12AM
Hi Robert,

I can assure you that micromounting is alive and well. The CMMA (Canadian Micro Mineral Association) just had our annual spring symposium at Brock University in St Catharines, Ontario. This was a weekend affair with speakers, auctions, wine & cheese, and of course microscope time. As far as I could tell, everyone left happy. This was our 46th annual spring symposium. We also have a one day symposium in November. A good percentage of our members are Americans. Some other micro mineral conferences include one in Florida in February, one in Cleveland in the fall and one in Baltimore in the fall. As more people read this thread, you'll probably be informed about more symposia. You might consider joining one or more of these organizations even if you cannot attend our events because the newsletters can be very interesting and informative. The membership fees are very reasonable - ours is $15 per year. If you send me a PM, I'll send you a couple of CMMA newsletters (Micronews).

Bill Lechner, president of the CMMA
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Malcolm Southwood May 05, 2009 03:19AM
Robert,

I agree with pretty much everything the other guys have said here - and I share the view that micromounting is alive and well. All the old arguments will keep it that way - low cost, better opportunities for self-collecting, easy storage, and the sheer visual impact of a great specimen under the 'scope!

Like yourself, I have been a little surprised at how few postings come through the "Micromounts" forum on this particular message board, but I rationalise it along the lines that many of the threads on "General" or "Rockhounds" or "Identity Help" etc are of equal interest to micromounters as they are to collectors of larger specimens.

I think the same can be said of most of the locality-based articles in magazines such as Mineralogical Record; Rocks and Minerals; UKJMM etc. I guess there is really only so much you can say about the actual art of micromounting, and I certainly don't feel neglected by the paucity of articles specific to this size range.

Cheers
mal
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Bill Lechner May 05, 2009 03:47AM
Malcolm,

I agree with almost everything you say. One point you make is about low cost. This is probably true for micromounters who mount mostly self collected pieces, but those who really want those rarities that occur only as micros can spend quite a bit on some species. Your other point with which I disagree is about "easy storage". Whereas the actual micro specimens take up very little space each, the large rocks from which they are extracted can occupy a large part of a person's basement, garage, back yard, etc. But as long as your spouse is supportive, there will be peace in the home.
Bill
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Robert Miller May 05, 2009 11:43AM
I'd like to thank everyone for responding to this thread! I've certainly learned a few new things and I'll take some time to look at the various organization soutside of my own area (Long Island, New York).

Does anyone know of any articles or web sites that deal with identifying unknown micros? Since I can't run the array of usual physical tests (streak, specific gravity, cleavage, fracture, hardness, etc.), I'd like to find more techniques for identification when all I have is a micro specimen. I actually purchased a couple hundred unlabeled micros for $20 at a show and I'm starting to work on identifying them.

I still have one question about the Micromounters Hall of Fame - have there been any new inductees since 2005? If so, where can I find an up-to-date list?

Thanks again everyone!
Robert
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Robert Rothenberg May 05, 2009 12:24PM
Hi Robert,

There have been additions since 2005. Quintin Wight is in charge (or at least heavily involved) in this process, and he would probably know who they are. He mentioned at the recent CMMA meeting in Canada that the inductees for this year (to be inducted at the Fall MM conference in Maryland) are Vi Anderson and an Italian gentleman.

The meeting Bill mentioned as being in Baltimore is actually outside of Baltimore (I don't remember the town), but is sponsored by the Baltimore Micromount Society. There is a meeting also in the spring, usually at the same location, that is sponsored by the Atlantic Micromounters Society.

Maybe I will see you at the conference.

Bob
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Donald Peck May 05, 2009 02:23PM
Hi Robert,

I have been a micromounter for about 50 years and have several friends in the NJ area that are micromounters also. I think this segment of the mineral hobby is alive and well. Unlike a lot of collectors, my garage and basement are NOT full of unprocessed rough. My mounted collection is not overly large , but I think I have the world's largest collection of unmounted specimens!

When I started micromounting, I looked at those tiny crystals and wondered how I could ever know what they are. I have a terrible memory for sight identification. The result is that I built a compurter program that can sort out those minerals that match any set of 23 different properties: physical, chemical, crystallographic, or optical. I started doing chemical spot tests early on and later added some of the simpler optical tests. After 50 years, I am still learning new techniques.

Mineralogical Record is selling a book that I wrote not long ago that details most of what I have learned about mineral identification. The computer program that I mentioned (and some others) is on a CD in the back of the book.

Best,
Don
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Sebastian Möller May 05, 2009 03:55PM
Hello,

I collect minerals from southwestern Germany, mostly Microminerals/Thumbnail size (around 90 % of my entire collection).

I can tell that micromounting is a quite frequent form of collecting in Germany. Most localities here do not produce bigger specimen any more and collecting the rare old ones costs lots of money. But most collections here in Germany I know of are not restricted to one size. Micromounting here is more related to distinct areas or localities, I know only few micromount collectors in Germany, who collect from worldwide localities. I think specialization is due to interests, costs and little space.

But, as I pointed out elsewhere, in Germany micromount collecting mostly covers all specimen fitting in an German size micromount box (2,8x2,8x2,3 cm). Mineral tack is used to fix the specimen. Loose xls are mostly put into the box as they are (if very small grains) or fixed with tack.

In magazines for collectors here in Germany, articles on microminerals can be found quite frequently, also on microphotography. If you look at the most frequently used German minerals page www.mineralienatlas.de, you cannot find any special part for micromounting. Microminerals are treated like all other stuff when it comes to identity, location etc. It's quite similiar to mindat.

Regards,
Sebastian Möller
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Robert Miller May 05, 2009 05:30PM
Thanks for the information, Bob. I'll try to contact Mr. Wight to see if I can get the latest scoop.

I did join the Micromounters of New England club, and I'll look into the Baltimore Mineral Society's Micromount Section as well. I do remember reading about the conferences that are held outside of Baltimore and I'm looking forward to attending one of those. I think I also need to plan for next year's Canadian conference, too.

Here are the clubs and organizations that I've found so far that have web sites:

* Association Francaise de Micromineralogie
* Associazione Micro-Mineralogica Italiana
* Baltimore Mineral Society
* British Micromount Society
* Canadian Micro-Mineral Association
* Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society - Micromount Group
* Georgia Mineral Society - Micromount Section
* Micromounters of New England
* Southern California Micro-Mineralogists

And a site that has a list of clubs and organizations:
http://www.micromineral.org/societe.html

If anyone knows of any other clubs or groups with web sites, I'd be grateful if they'd post them.

Thanks again,
Robert
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Robert Miller May 05, 2009 05:34PM
Don,

I do have your excellent book with the CD; it was one of the first ones that I purchased when I got into this hobby! I've recommended it to several people in my local club already, and everyone that's picked up a copy really likes it.

Thanks again,
Robert
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Joseph Taggart May 05, 2009 06:45PM
Robert Miller,

In your recent comment above, you mentioned "I actually purchased a couple hundred unlabeled micros for $20 at a show and I'm starting to work on identifying them." I hope the micros were at least labeled as to locality! I find that specimens without a locality make identifying the species much harder. With a locality I can go to "Minerals and their Localities" by Jan H. Bernard and Jaroslav Hyrsl and find out what minerals have been found at that locality. I can then also go to "The Photo-Atlas of Minerals" DVD-ROM from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and see color pictures (many of them micros) of the species, in fact many of them from the same locality. If I strike out there, I can look up the locality in the Mineralogical Record Index and sometimes find a whole article, even with pictures of samples.

In addition, when you find out the minerals that occur at the locality you might discover some additional species that you weren't expecting. Recently I had a flat of micro wulfenites from the Red Cloud mine in Arizona. Even though identification of the wulfenite was fairly straight forward, I looked up the locality in the references I just described above, and found additional species mentioned from the mine. Knowing what to look for, and now having pictures to go on -- in short order I located and identified mimetite and willemite. A similar flat of cyanotrichite from the Grandview Mine in Arizona has so far yielded brochantite, metazeunerite, a possible grandviewite and I'm still looking. I also use this procedure to verify the principal specie, and look for additional species in the boxes of give aways that are put out at club meetings.

Give it a try.

Joe Taggart
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Malcolm Southwood May 06, 2009 03:08AM
Robert,

In your first post you mentioned Quintin's annual micromount summary in Rocks and Minerals. If I recall correctly, you'll find that those articles will update you with the more recent inductees to the Hall of Fame.

Cheers
mal
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Steve Sorrell May 06, 2009 12:12PM
Hi Robert

The New Zealand Micromounters are active. See http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~pincha/minerals.htm

Regards
Steve
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Dana Morong May 06, 2009 11:38PM
There are those who peer through the tube of a low power stereo microscope at micro minerals but are not into clubs. I have been but various in-group problems, so I don't now (that is all I am saying about that for now) However, have been quite busy with a big old micromount collection I got curation of last summer, and have been viewing and making notes but only partway through (was quite busy in the winter, but with better weather I find other things to do!). Word of advice: Always make sure to get the locality of any specimens you get, as otherwise it can drive one nuts. Just never buy any without full locality information. Those given you with incomplete locations will be challenge enough!
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Mike Seeds May 08, 2009 11:44PM
HI Robert,
We have a lot of micromounting fun in Baltimore. The Baltimore Mineralogical Society sponsored the first micromount symposium in 1957 and created the Micromounters Hall of Fame. Our club presents the Paul Desautels Memorial Micromount Symposium each October at the MHA Conference Center, 6820 Deerpath Road, Elkridge Marhyland, which is just south of Baltimore. We induct two new members to the Hall of Fame each year. This year's symposium will occur on October 2-4, 2009. We are just getting the Hall of Fame info on the web. Please check our web site at www.edisk.fandm.edu/mike.seeds/BMS.htm . The web site will soon move to www.baltimoremineralsociety.org .
The Micromineralogists of the National Capital Area present the Atlantic Micromount Conference at the same location each spring. The date moves to avoid Easter and Rochester, etc.
Both conferences bring together roughtly 50 micromounters for swapping, auctions, giveaway tables, lectures, dealers, sale tables, etc. We have a lot of fun.
To paraphrase John Steinbeck, "The passions of micromounting are no less exciting for being quiet." I hope you can come to our conferences or attend other conferences. There are quite a few and Quintin's articles will give you a good listing. Micromounting is a collective hobbie. so we need these meetings.
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Robert Miller May 09, 2009 04:28PM
Mike,

Thanks for your response. I'll definitely check it out.

I tried the link that you gave in your post and got back that the domain isn't found. I tried cutting it down to just "www.edisk.fandm.edu" and this is the part that isn't found. Is there possibly a typo in this part?

Thanks gain,
Robert
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Steve Stuart May 09, 2009 05:39PM
Try this:

http://edisk.fandm.edu/mike.seeds/BMS.htm


Regards,

Steve Stuart
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Douglas Merson May 10, 2009 03:44AM
Northwest Micro Mineral Study Group meets twice a year in Vancouver, Washington. The meetings are held at The Clark County PUD building just off I-5 on Mill Plain. Meetings are normally the first Saturday of May and November although it may be a week either side due to scheduling conflicts. This group does not have a website.

The Northern California Mineralogical Association meets toward the end of June each year. The do have a website and this years line up of speakers is posted. I have been to several of their meeting and they have a very good give away table. stock by the active field collectors in the group. Their site is at http://www.geocities.com/yedlinite/index.htm.

Doug
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Christian Auer May 10, 2009 05:38AM
Just wanted to mention although our micromineral message board may have not many topics just watch the daily pics? How many of those are microminerals? I would guess the majority. How many POD are micros?

We have no micro group here in Austria, but very active working groups that meet each other and have also swaps. Let me know if you need more info.
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Bob Parmerter July 02, 2009 06:38PM
Hi Bob,
Not sure if I am a "new" or "very old" micromounter. I have done nothing for the past 13 years since I have been here in Largo, Florida except
to try to get people interested in micromounting. No success. I originated at Rcohester New York and was friends with most of the people in the mm group there as well as those who did the synposium and local lapidary and mineral clubs. Over the years I accumulated much mineral stuff from personal collecting and friends that wanted mm identifications. In that way I was lucky because for years I headed up the x-ray and/or microscopy testing at Eastman Kodak. I would very much like to make contact with a fellow mm who might be interested in some of this old material I have accumulated. If you or anyone you know would like to make contact please feel free. I was a member of the CMMA and the Baltimore MM cclub from time to time and would like to get back at that if possible.
Bob P.
Largo Florida
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Christopher Peluso July 04, 2009 09:16AM
I just got back into micromounting and would love to join your group. What do I have to do to register?
Chris
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Van King July 04, 2009 12:53PM
Hello Bob,

Haven't heard from you in a coon's age. Give me an email: newryqs@gmail.com

Best Wishes, Van King
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Betsy Varno October 19, 2009 06:29PM
I am interested in minerals. I would like to learn how to identify specimens. Especially if my Dad knows what they are.

Love Betsy your daughter
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Robert Miller October 20, 2009 12:35AM
Bob,

I'm now in the Baltimore area and would very much like to trade with you. Contact me via private message and I'll send you my e-mail address.

Thanks,
Robert
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Bob Parmerter August 17, 2011 06:24PM
HI, Have not had much luck with answers to this list but trying again.
Be happy to trade or give some of my extra stuff
Bob P
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bob parmerter August 17, 2011 06:27PM
forgot my e-mail
bobparmerter@msn.com
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Mineralogical Research Company September 17, 2011 03:37PM
The current url for the Northern California Mineralogical Association (NCMA) is http://minresco.com/ncma/ncma.htm .

"The NCMA is a group dedicated to the study of microminerals. Our 70 plus members are a diverse group of individuals who span the entire range of mineral expertise, from the casual collector to the geological professional."

"Once per year, the NCMA sponsors a 3-day symposium in El Dorado, CA. Members gather from all over the United States to meet their friends and share the year's finds."

Attached is a photo of the aftermath of the the attack on the freebie tables. Also, a shot of comradery, study and sharing at its finest. And finally, the auction, which is perhaps the highlight of the symposium for many.

We look forward to seeing you there in 2012.

Gene
open | download - NCMA free stuff.jpg (253.2 KB)
open | download - VIP-4.jpg (184.7 KB)
open | download - auction.jpg (78.9 KB)
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Colleen Thomson September 17, 2011 11:30PM
hi guys- we in the UK are mid way through our annual British Micromount Symposium being held at Leicester University.
its a fantastic opportunity to catch up with like minded individuals, share micromounting techniques and collecting stories etc.
There are literally thousands of specimens to trade; sell and buy and tables groaning under the weight of 'grab bags' and freebies. we have had several lectures and workshops and the bidding was furious for the 70 or so Auction items, many cabinet Fluorites and rare Cornish specimes from old collections (probably NOT for reducing to micros!)
Tomorrow is the AGM and results of several competitions aswell as further swap sessions >:D<

Was'nt it Neil Hubbard who was the last bod accepted into the micromounters hall of fame?

Good luck with the micromounting! B)

cheers, Colleen
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Joe Mulvey September 19, 2011 02:04AM
Hi There!
I was just advised of this thread and wanted to throw a few cents in. I have been with the Micromounters of New England for about 10 years now. What we saw when I joined was mostly long time members and no new blood. As one of the younger members I soon created the website, became President, and started a push for new blood. Our newsletters are like mini Micromount Rocks & Minerals magazines with great articles and photos. We made a new push for getting our name out. We now have a new generation of members who bring new facets of expertise to the club.

My Opinion:
One of the big reasons that MM doesn't get a lot of press is because it's not brashly glamorous. The media infiltrates every aspect of our life and that includes mineralogy. For some, big amethysts are sexy and require no additional mental capacity to appreciate. Tiny crystals of hilairite in a vug of smoky quartz, to me, is infinitely cooler, but tell that to the typical rockhound and you get a blank look. Micromounting is the next level in mineral collecting that initially starts with pretty stuff but, for some (the lucky ones) of us, evolves into an in depth desire to understand the science and creates a passion to study the geology, history and big picture understanding of the tiny specimen in our hand.

No one will ever smash and grab a micro like the gold robbery in NJ. Even if some specimens are worth more than gold, their value is intangible to the masses. Micromounting is like a fine single malt or high quality wine. It's not for everyone!

The MMNE has found several members who are capable of bringing the club to the next generation; while ranks are not astounding, the depth and integrity of the members is vast and probably far exceeds what you will find in your average mineral club.

At our last symposium, Dr. Carl Francis noted that almost 90% of the Harvard University Micro Mineral Collection has come from Micromounters of New England members. He also noted that intelligent amateurs are the front line of many exciting new discoveries in mineralogy, and micromounters have a distinct advantage in realizing a new find.

The MMNE website is up to date in the Hall of Fame listings. I would like to attend the Baltimore symposium every year.. Or even once. I try to keep the list up to date as many of our own club members are on this venerable list.

Mr. Parmerter, I am so sorry but this thread is the first time that I realized that your last name has been mispelled as Parmenter and that is why you are not seeing any correspondence from the club. My sincere apologies.

To me, Micromounting is alive and well, but since it such a specialized level of the hobby, you will never see the ranks of people that join regular mineral clubs.

Regards,
Joe



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2011 04:56PM by Joe Mulvey.
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