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Book Review - Agates II

Last Updated: 27th Sep 2009

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

Johann Zenz has released the eagerly-awaited follow-up to his previous 'Agates' book of 2005, which quickly sold out (as I am sure Agates II will as well). I picked up a copy of this ne book at the Ste Marie-aux-Mines show - and had to hand carry it all the way back to England as it simply wouldn't fit in my carry-on luggage. And as it's a hard-back book of 656 pages (24x28cm), that's quite some weight to carry back.

The book is visually stunning. Page after page of full-colour photography (of the highest quality) - the book contains 2,200 colour photos of agates, jaspers, agate localities and mining operations and maps. Here's an example of the sort of fantastic pictures the book is packed with - a fantastic Czech agate from Horní Halže.

Agate from Horní Halže, Czech Republic. 17cm across

The book also includes several full-page plates showing close-ups of agate banding, inclusions and structure in exquisite detail. Here is an example of one of these pages, this is an agate from the Hellerberg Quarry in Germany.

Full-page plate - close up of agate (height 7cm) from Hellerberg Quarry, Germany

Just under a quarter of the book is dedicated to biographies of 50 of the world's major agate collectors. Initially I was quite sceptical of this - these things have the potential of appearing simply as vanity articles with little genuine merit, or just something to pad out a book. However, the reality is that this section is actually very interesting and a well worthwhile addition to the book. Here's an example page from this section. The collectors discuss their collections, their passion for agates and often give interesting advice for would-be agate collectors. Note that there are usually at least one or more additional pages with extra photos of their agates, several pages of photos in some cases, we are only showing the first page of this particular biography here:

Lord Cromartie, Scottish Earl and agate collector

An important section of this book describes Agate localities that were not covered in the original 2005 book. Agates from the Faroe Islands, Greenland, new precious agates from China, agates collected underwater in Lake Superior off the coast of Michigan, USA, and even agates from Antarctica! New discoveries are discussed and documented, including some fantastic new green agates from Bulgaria. Here's an example of one of these green agates:

Agate from the Rhodope Mts, Bulgaria - J.Zenz collection

The book is completed with significant setions on jasper (co-authored by US jasper expert Hans Gamma) and on agate inclusions (in collaboration with US agate collector Pat McManan). The book also contains information on agate mining operations, including information on the genesis of the agates at that site, the history of operations and reports on the how the agate is mined today. Here's a picture, to illustrate this, of the Crazy Lace Agate mine in Chihuahua, Mexico:

Agate mining in Chihuahua, Mexico

This book, like the previous books from Bode (Agate 1, and Namibia), is an incredible work. The print quality is exceptional, the editing is superb (I couldn't find a single mistake) and the content is excellent. This book will sell out soon, if you have any interest in agate at all then do not wait too long - you don't want to miss an unmissable book. It is also available in a German language edition.

Title: Agates II
Publisher: Bode Verlang - http://www.bodeverlag.de
Price: 89 euros

ISBN: 978-3-925094-93-4

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