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Dallas Mineral Collector Symposium 2019

Last Updated: 27th Aug 2019

By Jolyon Ralph

This is a LIVE report, keep this page loaded for live updates - new images will appear as they are added.

I'm in Dallas for the Mineral Collector Symposium and the Rock Currier collection auction. First stop is the evening event at the Perot Museum.



The event is very busy!

Stibiconite (or whatever it is today) from the San Jose mine, Wadley, Mexico. Gail & Jim.Spann specimen

Big Galena... Wait no! It's a huge tantalite! From Sao Pedro claim Brazil. Again Gail and Jim's collection.


Pseudomalachite Katanga

A unique fossil insect in opal. From Java, Indonesia

La Madonna Rosa: rose and smoky quartz from Berilo Blanco claim, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Crazy fluorite on quartz from Erongo, Namibia

I'm at Heritage auctions helping get things ready for the preview of the Rock Currier collection auction that is open from 12pm today.

The famous Tiger sign, from the Tiger mine, Arizona



Azurite and others

Copper Queen azurite


Cyanotrichite from Grand View mine

The incredible Tiger mine suite

The story about the sign


Big Carthage calcite

This is the first, and last, time that all of the high quality specimens from Rocks collection have been on public display together. Many, but not all, were at Springfield a few years back.

Amazonite and Smoky quartz from Colorado

Tsumeb wulfenite

Lunch pail - this is how miners would smuggle minerals out of the Tsumeb mine

Probably the most iconic piece from the collection is this Topaz from Xanda mine, Brazil

When I last visited Rock before he died this was one specimen he was very proud to show me. This azurite crystal from Tsumeb is naturally split into three parts due to partial malachite alteration and all three parts for together perfectly


Silver from Michigan

The incredible Stephanite. I would not be surprised if this is the highest grossing item on Monday


More of a macrolite

Proustite from Marionberg, Germany. Ex Bement and Vaux.

Phosphophylite with the anime character of the same name.

Freibergite on pyrite from Bolivia with a Jeff Scovil slide

Cheesy malachite after cuprite


People are here for the preview

Silver from Chanarcillo, Chile

Lots of interest and I hear advanced bidding is going really well! Don't forget to click the banner at the top to view the auction

Type locality Elbaite

I'm at Arkenstone's gallery for the evening party

Don't forget that Monday's auction goes directly to supporting both and the Rock Currier Living Trust. Here I am with Joseph Lieberz. Support us! Bid early and bid high!

Rob Lavinsky introducing the Symposium

Dr Thomas Campbell talking about gem crystals from pegmatite pockets

Edward Boehm talking about major tourmaline mines and the Oruo Preto topaz.

Next presentation. John Saul talking about The Origin of Gem Deposits in Supercontinent cycles.

Jeff Scovil and his journeys in Brazil.

Rob Lavinsky is talking to the Young Mineral Collectors group at lunch.

Hunting Colombian emeralds by Meonte Zajicek

Brian Cook talking about Rutilated quartz and Paraiba tourmaline

Just announced - the original Paraiba locality, Batalha mine, is reopening!

They are crosscutting the original veins 40m lower than before

Richard Freeman talking about the Jonas mine, Brazil

Thomas Nagin taking us on a video tour of mineral finds of the world.

The official auction Instagram account is now up to 2850 followers. Can we get it up to 3000 by the auction?

At the dinner and live auction.

Now at Gail and Jim Spann's home for their private party which many in the mineral world are attending.

Just one of... Dozens of cabinets.

It's Rock Currier's birthday. If he were alive he would be 79 today. We are celebrating his life by trash talking everyone, just as he would have wanted.

The chocolate leg! Rock had a chocolate leg on his 50th birthday so this has been recreated for the party today.

The countdown has begun to the Rock Currier auction. Less than 15 minutes to go! Follow it live at

It's starting !

Jim Walker introducing the auction and talking a little about Rock.

Bidding is on!

The auctioneer

This caledonite just sold for $19,000 plus buyer premium

This just sold for $80,000 plus buyer premium!

Tourmaline sells 3400 USD

This copper sold for $14,500

Some pieces coming up very very soon

Bidding is going crazy for this copper

We've already raised more than $750,000. Not all of that is for us, but a big chunk is!

The silver sold for $46,000

This piece just sold to a very excited member of the Rock Currier trust team!

This is going crazy, $22k so far


Sold for $38,000!

Very glad this auctioneer is back!

The stephanite is up!

I can confirm we have comfortably broken the $1 million barrier.

Selling the lunch box

Just broke the 1200 barrier

Bidding going up on this Tsumeb Cerussite

This diaspore has already reached $34,000

Some pieces coming up next

This amazonite used to be on Rocks desk. Bids are coming in fast.

Calcite sold for $32,000!

What's this going to go for?

Up to 60k

Last three pieces have done quite well

Just sold for $42,000

We are still going strong, thanks in part to pizza delivery

140,000 so far!

We are still going, just over 40 lots left

Skunk time!

Who is the mysterious Mr Blue?

Selling now

Sold for $16,000

Last item

It's over and I'm nearly dead.

Article has been viewed at least 8371 times.

Discuss this Article

23rd Aug 2019 04:18 BSTGareth Evans

Has the Stibiconite been confirmed? A few years ago I was ‘toying’ around with stibnite crystals and it is possible to give them a yellow surface coating that dries very hard – I will not mention the chemical, but it is readily available from the hardware store. Also what is the size of the tantalite specimen? I have two kilograms of refined tantalum (99.99%) and a Tantalite crystal with the actual metal would make a nice display piece.

23rd Aug 2019 05:48 BSTKevin Conroy Expert

Is that a stibnite or a porcupine?

23rd Aug 2019 08:31 BSTGareth Evans

I have an inquiring mind – when I see something that looks out of place or odd or artificial I do not hesitate to say so. This often gets me in a lot of trouble.We all remember the tale of “The Emperor's New Clothes” – well I am the boy who reports that the Emperor is nuts – he has no clothes – and no one is saying anything for fear of not being a member of the herd!

23rd Aug 2019 15:25 BSTKevin Conroy Expert

Gareth, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to reply to your comment, but to the main article.

23rd Aug 2019 21:27 BSTGareth Evans

Dear Kevin:No apology needed.I am just confused with the fundamental purpose of the symposium. I can understand the need for Mindat conferences, and I can understand the need for the mineral shows. I enjoy reading the reports and reviewing the pictures highlighting the conferences and the shows. Plato described a symposium as a drinking party held after a banquet. Is Plato’s description wrong?Gareth

23rd Aug 2019 18:05 BSTNorman King Expert

Thanks, Jolyon. Mahoosive!

23rd Aug 2019 19:12 BSTNicholas J. Rose

I have a question: Since this is only a small portion of Rock's collection, what is the plan for the rest of the collection?

23rd Aug 2019 22:47 BSTNorman King Expert

I've been watching on-line action on the Rock Currier auction, but I won't make it to the live show on Monday. Nevertheless I made the starting bid on the mahoosive Japan-Law twin (72265) and an early bid on the second largest cluster of amazonite with smoky quartz (72046). Both bids are now in the loser categories. Nuts! I'm just slinking in the shadows for now. I wonder about the rest of his collection also--will portions be offered again this way? 

23rd Aug 2019 22:57 BSTNorman King Expert

Here is a bit of trivia, marginal to the event in question. I was impressed by the number of ex-Earl Calvert specimens being offered. I learned about mineral collecting from Earl Calvert, in whose rental house I lived (with my parents of course) until I reached 5 years of age in 1950. I mentioned that to Rock one day when we were discussing (online) our both being from San Gabriel, California. I don't know if I'll be able to rationalize buying one or more of the many Earl Calvert specimens offered in the sale, though. He had given my mother two crystals of about 1-1/2 cm, one of quartz and another of apatite, both in a little cotton-padded box. And that was my first exposure to mineral collecting. 

23rd Aug 2019 23:57 BSTHiro Inukai

I was hoping to bid on one or two items based on their estimated value, but the current bids are so insanely high there is no hope.  These prices are simply astronomical--only the wealthiest of collectors need bother.

24th Aug 2019 00:15 BSTNorman King Expert

I see that, too, Hiro. But selling prices for some specimens were way underestimated. For example, elbaite, #72279. That is one of the most deeply bi-colored tourmalines I've ever seen, with fabulous contrast between different color zones. I would have guessed $4,000-$5,000 for it, based upon what I have seen at recent shows (maybe some of you have different opinions--?). Their estimate of $500-$700 is w-a-a-a-a-y too low! Also, you have to understand that people tend to overpay for contested items. If you want to win that thing you're bidding on (whatever it is), you may have to go above a reasonable appraised value because some people who are bidding may not know what current values are. You may get better prices at shows, and you have to know where prices are today to make that decision. 

24th Aug 2019 04:04 BSTFrancis X Dzubeck

You are quite right but most high end auction houses always under estimate the true evaluation to get the bidding going and then let the psychology of herd mentality and greed take over. An educated bidder will walk away where a involved bidder will bid higher.

Some of these estimates posted by the auction house were extremely low. 

But the one that gets me is not an estimate but the difference in the Vaux/ward labels on the gold specimen No 72199 and the Auction house label with no mention of the change of attribution in the item description. This is not done in the Auction trade since truth in labeling and attribution are mandatory for Auction House credibility.

One final item, I wonder if a US tax donation deduction is possible for that portion of the purchase price attributable to Mindat? If it is possible, the bidding should be very action and high.


24th Aug 2019 04:13 BSTAlfredo Petrov Manager

Tax deductability would not apply, unfortunately, because you have to deduct from your deduction the value of any item received.

25th Aug 2019 04:08 BSTFrancis X Dzubeck


You are quite right in most cases but this case is interesting because of the definition of “value” and that the auction proceeds or parts thereof will go to a tax exempt organization. There are multiple ways to define asset tax deduction “value.” Fair market value, resale value, intrinsic value, and appraisal value. It is obvious with paintings, sculpture, jewelry , etc. but with mineral specimens this is a murky issue. As an example, let us say that the purchased mineral specimen is a matrix crystallized gold or a crystallized nugget. Aggressively I could say it’s true value is in the gold by weight and current commodity market price. But I paid a higher price for the specimen at the auction. I therefore should be able to deduct the difference on my tax return adjusted by the percentage that went to the non profit organization.

One can get into extremes on tax issues dependent on your accountants interpretation of the law. I am one of those that takes the conservative approach but that might not be the same for the bidders at this auction.


I did not expect this thread to enter the realm of lifestyle but congratulations on being in the .01% of the US population without debt.

What is interesting is that no one has commented on the Auction House labeling issue. 


26th Aug 2019 22:06 BSTGareth Evans

Dear Francis:I think lifestyle is everything. When I was a young boy the only debt one would enter into was for the purchase of a house. You would save to buy a car, save to pay for a holiday, save to buy new furniture, save to send children to college and save for just about anything. Also back in those days many people had useful hands-on skills – to repair a car, modify the home, make their own clothing, indulge in hobbies and teach the children some useful skills. Being adept at building things with your own hands was very important. Regrettably there are many young men these days who would not know how to change a tire, replace the oil or gap a spark plug of their own automobile. And this number of unskilled men is increasing with each passing year.Today we now have a generation of people who will never know true freedom, the freedom of being a debt free man or a debt free woman. Did we not learn any lessons from the great depression of 1929 and the great recession of 2008?I do not say these things to be offensive or controversial, but when you are in debt you are a slave – you have no control over your own life or your own destiny. Kind RegardsGareth

25th Aug 2019 16:56 BSTJim Walker & Mary Fong/Walker


I'm not sure what the labeling issue is that you are referring to on the Romanian Gold.  The back of the original Vaux label indicates that he purchased it from  Ward's Scientific in 1920.  When Vaux bought it from Ward's it came with the Kusche label, which was also preserved.  When Rock acquired the specimen from Bryn Mawr, he preserved both labels and kept them with the specimen.  Somewhere along the way, the original Ward's label was not preserved (Rock probably never had it), otherwise there would have been 3 labels along with the specimen.  We tried to research every specimen that Rock had in the collection.  I hope this helps.

Mary  Fong/Walker

25th Aug 2019 17:02 BSTJim Walker & Mary Fong/Walker

Additionally there were no labels from Bryn Mawr that we could find in all of Rock's documentation.  We suspect that Rock just got the  Vaux label or whatever labels the college had at the time for each individual specimen.

25th Aug 2019 17:10 BSTKevin Conroy Expert

I looked at this too, and noticed that the original label seems to indicate the location as  but the auction location is

25th Aug 2019 17:25 BSTJim Walker & Mary Fong/Walker

As for the estimates, they are low but it allows everyone the opportunity to participate (Rock wanted everyone, collectors and dealers alike, to have a chance to acquire his minerals on an even playing field) and the auction will decide what the "market price" truly is.   Rock always felt that whoever paid the most for a specimen would take care of the specimen the best because they prized it highly.  So I guess we'll find out tomorrow ...

26th Aug 2019 02:12 BSTFrancis X Dzubeck

Jim & Mary

Kevin hit the nail on the head! The Vaux/Wards label I referenced a completely different locality than your attribution. Since you make no reference to this discrepancy in you description one must conclude there is a mistake. Which one is right? By the way, I have seen numerous specimens like this and the Vaux/Wards label is correct.


26th Aug 2019 05:42 BSTJim Walker & Mary Fong/Walker


That because of geopolitical changes over time, the locality we gave in the catalog is the modern, current locality information and the information on the labels was what those localities were called at the point in time that the labels were created.  There is no discrepancy, we just didn't go into great detail about what names were before WWI.  In fact to do the research we had to utilize language and geographic translators to get the correct modern locality.


26th Aug 2019 07:34 BSTFrancis X Dzubeck


Unfortunately you are very wrong. Any Romanian or mineralogy translator would immediately translate Veraspetak to Rosa Montana. Please look at the Links in Kevin’s email. The name on the Vaux/Wards label is the old Hungarian name for the current Romanian name of Rosa Montana just as it is shone in the Link. I can even tell you the mine if you like. Since I have over 40 specimens from this area of Romania. With respect to your assigned name, you are uneven in worse shape since the locality, using ownership nomenclature, is know the “The Twelve Apostles” which is an amalgamation of  three mines in the Brad-Misarou area. Since you like to be geopolitically correct your label has been incorrect since 1929 to this day. I have over 20 specimens from this area and know the geopolitical history as well as the mineralogy. Dependent upon the age of the specimen different mine names occur. But none will ever reference Verespatek since it is on another area of the “Golden Quadrangle” of Romania.

Pardon my Romanian spelling but I am writing this from my iPhone  in my hotel room overlooking Sydney Harbor not from my desk with its extensive locality information database.

If you think I am wrong in what I and Kevin are trying to tell you, ask Rob Lavinsky or any other dealer in gold specimens if I am wrong!


26th Aug 2019 12:53 BSTChristian Auer Expert

I dont know Mr.Dzubeck personally but I know when it comes to gold from Romania he is the person to ask for details! Two examples?
Here they are: 

26th Aug 2019 13:17 BSTJim Walker & Mary Fong/Walker

Mea culpa.

We accept your correction.  I will have the auction house issue an errata for the item. 

I did not want this to be an argument.  If I had understood what that you were an expert and were trying to just get us to correct things I would have done so sooner.  We were working with the resources that Rock had laid out for us and following his lead.  Thank you,

Now on to the auction!

26th Aug 2019 21:34 BSTHarjo Neutkens Manager

If I had understood what that you were an expert
Mindat is full with experts :-)
That's why Rock's legacy is so important: to safeguard the growth of Mindat so it can remain the place where experts and novices alike can teach and learn!
On to the auction indeed!

26th Aug 2019 23:21 BSTGareth Evans

Rock Currier Memorial MuseumI was wondering what will happen to those rocks of Rock’s that have not been put up for auction?I know some of the proceeds of the auction go directly to Mindat to support its future endeavours. The sad aspect is that rock’s legacy – his fabulous mineral collection will disappear like the proverbial tears in rain. With no descendants (like-minded children) to honour his life, a memorial museum would be the next best thing.So I ask, what about setting up a memorial museum to honour and expand Rock’s legacy. Gareth

26th Aug 2019 23:31 BSTAlfredo Petrov Manager

Dr Russ MacFall wrote an article many years ago discussing the pros and cons of the various ways of disposing of a collection, and concluded that auctioning the pieces individually made the most sense, as  then each piece would go to the person who loved it the most and would be most likely to take good care of it. Museums are a rather shaky way to go... Great when they have a knowledgeable and dedicated curator, but such people eventually retire... and often get replaced by some paleontologist, gemmologist, or art gallery curator with little knowledge of, or interest in, minerals.

27th Aug 2019 01:05 BSTGareth Evans

Dear Alfredo:I could not agree with you more, but that is a risk we all take. Who will be here 50 years hence, to maintain the legacy of Mindat?I was thinking of a Mindat Museum – maintained by Mindat and run by Mindat staff – volunteers or otherwise.It is also important to educate your children about who they are and from where they came and why maintaining their heritage, social, mineralogical or technological, is one of the most important things a parent can and should do. Kind RegardsGareth

27th Aug 2019 03:04 BSTKevin Conroy Expert

I think that we all posthumously owe Rock a HUGE thank you for his contribution to Mindat, as well as the mineralogical community!

27th Aug 2019 03:13 BSTGareth Evans

Totally agree! That is why something more permanent that an auction is important. He deserves the Mindat Memorial Museum to Rock Currier. This Museum could display some of his mineralogical treasures. 

27th Aug 2019 16:45 BSTJolyon Ralph Founder

An online museum of his collection already exists as his home page on mindat. 

27th Aug 2019 11:27 BSTChester S. Lemanski, Jr. Manager


I sincerely appreciate your concern for Rock's legacy;  however, proposing a memorial museum is a lot more complicated than you envision. Mindat has been limping along on a shoestring budget for years, depending on two annual fund raising campaigns and the Tucson auction to survive. We have forewent an office of any sort, administrative staff, and other "essentials" most operations such as ours enjoy.

A memorial museum founded and run by Mindat would be a huge undertaking even in its most basic form. There is the matter of a physical premises to house such a museum (rent/mortage, utilities, insurance, janitorial expenses, and routine maintenance expenses) the expense of outfitting it with necessary furnishings (display cases, backup specimen storage cabinets/shelving, curatorial supplies, computer/IT systems, administrative office equipment/supplies, and security systems), and the issue of hiring a staff educated and trained to operate such an institution, plus a legal practice to represent the museum and the expense of an accounting firm to keep the tax issues straight. An advertising program to attract visitors would be a necessity. There would have to be fund-raising campaigns that would compete with the Mindat core mission. Finally, in today's high-tech environment visitors coming to a museum simply to view static displays of mineral specimens and photographs is probably overly optimistic. Museums are now a science unto itself to attract visitors and make the operation pay for itself. Visitors, particularly younger ones, are interested in interactive displays - lights, buzzers, animated displays, etc. All of this costs a lot! A gift shop is a requisite to raise funds and requires an inventory and sales personnel. 

I truly wish that such a museum would be possible but I fear that won't be the case for quite a while. A more practical approach would be a display as a memorial to Rock within a Mindat office/library if we ever get one.

27th Aug 2019 12:01 BSTKeith Compton Manager

There is of course no reason why we can't create an on-line museum/memorial to Rock within highlighting his collecting travels, the people he encountered, anecdotes, photos, his humour, his mineralogical hints and tips, and of course his rocks. 

This could be as interactive as we can make it.

Yes that would take some resources, but I'm sure that we should be able to find sufficient "nerdy people", together with a little funding, to make such a memorial happen.

I'm saddened that I never had the opportunity to meet him and no doubt many others are in the same boat but that is no reason why we can't enlighten ourselves and others about him and what he meant to, and contributed to, the mineral community.

27th Aug 2019 15:47 BSTKevin Conroy Expert

Keith, Rock was a true treasure, and he was interested in all sorts of specimens.   I typically go out to Denver well before the shows open.   On one occasion I was roaming the halls of the old Holiday Inn North show to see who had arrived early, and one of the Chinese dealers had their door open.   They happened to have some wulfenites from the Maoniuping Mine ( ).   While the crystals were small they had good red color and luster, so I bought a few since I had never seen any from this mine before.   I continued roaming the halls, but nobody else was open so I went out to the tents in the parking lot.   Rock was in his booth, so I stopped to chat for a while before he got busy.   He noticed that I had a bag and asked what I had found.   When I showed him the wulfenites he asked if there were more.   I took him to the room were I got them from.   The joy on his face was priceless!   Here was a guy with a world class collection who was just as interested in what were essentially locality specimens.

27th Aug 2019 21:19 BSTGareth Evans

Dear Keith:

It all depends on how important you consider the task to be. It took our ancestors considerable effort to turn Australia, Canada, USA, NZ and other places into the civilizations we know enjoy. Take a look at the Minerals Heritage Museum in Brisbane, Australia. A modest enterprise - surely something like that is possible for Rock too.


27th Aug 2019 11:56 BSTHarjo Neutkens Manager

The existence of Mindat in the future in itself will be a huge memorial to Rock :-)

27th Aug 2019 21:21 BSTGareth Evans

Dear Harjo:

Only if Mindat still exists. There are never any guarantees - it all depends on the willingness of our descendants to maintain what we built. 

Kind Regards


27th Aug 2019 22:12 BSTKevin Conroy Expert

The same goes for museums.   There are plenty that have permanently closed, and had the collections dispersed.

27th Aug 2019 23:45 BSTHarjo Neutkens Manager

You're right. There are no guarantees. 

27th Aug 2019 12:05 BSTJohn Montgomery Expert

Yes indeed Harjo...thank you Rock

27th Aug 2019 12:06 BSTJohn Montgomery Expert

Jolyon... you DO look catatonic...or perhaps bedazzled :)

27th Aug 2019 14:35 BSTDavid Von Bargen Manager

Rock's books will be the core of the mindat library.
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