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Current State of Micromounting

Posted by Robert Miller  
Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 12:36AM
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!

avatar Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 01:57AM

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.

Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 02:00AM
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.
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 02:12AM
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
avatar Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 04:19AM

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.

Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 04:47AM

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.
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 12:43PM
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!
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 01:24PM
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.

avatar Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 03:23PM
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.

avatar Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 04:55PM

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, 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.

Sebastian Möller
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 06:30PM
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:

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

Thanks again,
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 06:34PM

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,
Joseph Taggart
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 05, 2009 07:45PM
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
avatar Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 06, 2009 04:08AM

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.

avatar Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 06, 2009 01:12PM
Hi Robert

The New Zealand Micromounters are active. See

Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 07, 2009 12:38AM
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!
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 09, 2009 12:44AM
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 . The web site will soon move to .
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.
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 09, 2009 05:28PM

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 "" and this is the part that isn't found. Is there possibly a typo in this part?

Thanks gain,
Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 09, 2009 06:39PM
avatar Re: Current State of Micromounting
May 10, 2009 04:44AM
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



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