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Exploration of the Hollowed Galenas

Last Updated: 16th May 2011

By Jessica Simonoff

I first saw the hollow Bulgarian galenas at the Springfield Mineral Show in 2009 and I was not initially suspicious. Shortly thereafter, I read the Mindat forum thread about these “reverse-skeletal Madan galenas” ( http://www.mindat.org/forum.php?read,55,157736,page=1 ). The posts to the topic made me curious and I wanted to explore the subject further. At the Houston Mineral Show, I was talking to Edward Rosenzweig of Edwards Minerals ( http://www.edwardsminerals.com ) about these galenas and the long discussion on Mindat. He said that he had several he had purchased in hopes of selling them, but stopped when he learned that they might not be natural. He also mentioned that he didn’t know what to do with them while the issue was still unresolved.

I said that I would be willing to try to get some that are known to be manmade and do some experiments, comparing the manmade pieces with the ones from Edward’s stock in hopes of being able to observe something which might lead to a conclusion. Edward agreed and loaned me two pieces for the experiment. Another person kindly gave me two pieces that had been made through microabrasion.

In this article, I will share my observations and pictures of the four pieces. First, here are some general observations I have with respect to all of the pieces:

- I exposed these pieces to shortwave UV light in hopes of being able to spot any glue that might be present. There was no fluorescence.
- I examined them with a hand lens and under my microscope in search of glue and found none. The primary observation is the stepped lines that occur in all 4 specimens.
- None of the crystals -natural or man-made- have a hole in the face that attaches to the matrix, yet all other faces seem hollowed out.
- On the man-made pieces, the faces of the crystals that would be hard to get to with a microabrasion tool are not hollow. On the pieces we got from Edward, faces of the crystals which are attached to another crystal or would be similarly hard to reach are not hollow either.

One of the galenas not known to be fake



I will start with photos of one of the pieces that is not known to be man-made. Here is a picture of the whole piece:

08871260014947444527411.jpg
Galena


The largest hollow galena crystal on this piece has a small (3 x 1.5 mm) quartz crystal inside it. Originally, we thought it was calcite, but three different acid tests using HCl showed no reaction. However, there is chlorite inside the crystal - this time we are almost sure of the identification. I have no evidence that the crystal is or is not glued to the specimen, but soaking the specimen in acetone overnight did not affect it. Here are some photos:

09634860014947444522046.jpg
Quartz crystal in galena
00931630014947444535494.jpg
Quartz
02258230014947444533776.jpg
Quartz
09634860014947444522046.jpg
Quartz crystal in galena
00931630014947444535494.jpg
Quartz
02258230014947444533776.jpg
Quartz
09634860014947444522046.jpg
Quartz crystal in galena
00931630014947444535494.jpg
Quartz
02258230014947444533776.jpg
Quartz


I looked closer at the quartz crystal under the microscope, and noticed this. The first photo shows the whole crystal. The second is a close up, and the last is an extreme close-up. There are specks of galena on the quartz, but not crystals. As far as I can see with the microscope, there are none of these specks included in the quartz.

04434390014947444539694.jpg
Whole crystal
05816630014947444536580.jpg
Galena specks
06735500014947444532159.jpg
Close up on galena specks
04434390014947444539694.jpg
Whole crystal
05816630014947444536580.jpg
Galena specks
06735500014947444532159.jpg
Close up on galena specks
04434390014947444539694.jpg
Whole crystal
05816630014947444536580.jpg
Galena specks
06735500014947444532159.jpg
Close up on galena specks


I also took some close-up photos on the end of the quartz crystal which attaches to the matrix. It looks like it is damaged at the end that attaches to the galena but not the other one.

01902090014947181494853.jpg
Quartz
05361820014977321273477.jpg
" height="303" width="484" >Quartz
01902090014947181494853.jpg
Quartz
05361820014977321273477.jpg
" height="202" width="324" >Quartz
01902090014947181494853.jpg
Quartz
05361820014977321273477.jpg
" width="291" >Quartz


Another interesting feature of this piece are lines on the surfaces of the galena crystals. The lines tend to be roughly parallel but curve. Photos:

07926190014947444534014.jpg
Lines on galena
08915020014947444536873.jpg
More lines
07926190014947444534014.jpg
Lines on galena
08915020014947444536873.jpg
More lines
07926190014947444534014.jpg
Lines on galena
08915020014947444536873.jpg
More lines



The other piece not known to be fake



Now I will show some photos of the other piece that is not known to be man-made. It is different because instead of having hollow cubes, the galena's shape is more like a loop. Here are some photos of the whole piece:

09923150014947444532774.jpg
Second galena
00612320014947444548466.jpg
Galena
09923150014947444532774.jpg
Second galena
00612320014947444548466.jpg
Galena
09923150014947444532774.jpg
Second galena
00612320014947444548466.jpg
Galena


I also took some close-up photos. The photo on the left shows shows a small quartz crystal growing out of the inside of the galena "loop" and the one on the right shows that there is some galena in or on a quartz crystal. This piece does not show the curved pattern of lines in the same way as the other piece. These line appear more random in their path. Another observation about this specimen is that the galenas have small shiny spots in seemingly random places.

01064970014946657212474.jpg
Quartz crystal in galena
01574420014947444548909.jpg
Galena in/on quartz
01064970014946657212474.jpg
Quartz crystal in galena
01574420014947444548909.jpg
Galena in/on quartz
01064970014946657212474.jpg
Quartz crystal in galena
01574420014947444548909.jpg
Galena in/on quartz



The first man-made galena



Both of the galenas I have that are known to be man-made were created through microabrasion. Here is a full photo of the first one:

02513650014947444543373.jpg
Man-made galena


I also took a close-up of the inner bottom surface of the piece. Interestingly, the microabraded surfaces of the galenas displays a pattern of curved, parallel lines extremely similar to those shown on the first galena we received from Edward Rosenzweig:

03202180014947444548646.jpg
Lines on microabraded galena


The second man-made galena



Here are some photos of the other galena I have which is known to be man-made.
A full view photo:

04079410014947444543136.jpg
Man-made galena crystals - full view


I also took some close up photos. These show that this galena, which was created with microabrasion, also has the pattern of curved lines that the other two pieces show. But the lines are not as well defined as in the other pieces.

02520790014947186329600.jpg
Galena close-up showing lines
05337270014947444543660.jpg
Lines
06770010014947444549872.jpg
More lines
02520790014947186329600.jpg
Galena close-up showing lines
05337270014947444543660.jpg
Lines
06770010014947444549872.jpg
More lines
02520790014947186329600.jpg
Galena close-up showing lines
05337270014947444543660.jpg
Lines
06770010014947444549872.jpg
More lines


SEM photos/Conclusion


Lance Kearns offered to examine these specimens with the SEM at James Madison University. He let me stay in the SEM room while he was looking at them so I could see the images also. Because of a time limit, I selected three specimens to examine: one that was definitely man-made and two unknowns.

I looked at the man-made one first so that I could see what to look for in the other two. It had spherical indentations in the surface:
08344020014947444548894.jpg
indentations - man-made

We looked a little more at the same sample and noticed a glass sphere, which was left-over abrasive material. That wasn't really a discovery because we always knew that piece was man-made, but it did help show us what to look for!
09426240014947444541127.jpg
glass sphere - manmade


The next specimen was one of the unknowns (A)
Soon we noticed a glass sphere partially embedded in the surface of the galena, with craters and cracks around it.
00540900014947444556808.jpg
sphere - unknown A


Last, we looked at another unknown (B)
Like the other two, this one had craters in the surface:
08791480014946662977531.jpg
craters

There were also aluminum silicate crystals. We used the computer in the same room as the SEM to research and learned that aluminum silicate is widely used as an abrasive. The cracks coming from behind the aluminum silicate crystals (especially obvious on the third crystal from the left) are also evidence that the crystals are left over abrasive material.
01517510014947444556565.jpg
abrasives B


Ending Notes



This is also published in Mineral News magazine December 2010.

Because of the time limit we were not able to look at more than 2 unknown pieces, and the fact that these 2 were fakes DOES NOT mean that all similar pieces are!! The only test that was able to tell the difference was the SEM and without a much larger sample size it is unfair to draw any conclusion about all hollow galenas - only about the 2 that were tested.

It might be easiest if discussion about this article continue to occur in the following thread http://www.mindat.org/forum.php?read,55,157736,page=1 rather than in this article, where the posts may become unmanageable.




Article has been viewed at least 32461 times.

Discuss this Article

23rd Dec 2010 15:36 GMTWayne Corwin

Hello Jessica

You have done another wonderfull Article ! Congradulations on being able to have use of the SEM at James Madison University ! You have done a verry through job on the specimens that you had access to. I'd love to see many more examined with the SEM !
Maybe some day you or others will finally figure it out.
Maybe some day you or others will finally actually SEE these being mined and still in place ?
Guess time will tell !
Keep up the great work Jess ! ! !

Wayne Corwin

23rd Dec 2010 18:07 GMTRob Woodside Manager

Well done Jessica!!! I don't think people realized there were lingering abrasives in abraided specimens, but having seen the process it makes perfect sense. Were they hard to find? I also admire your logical restraint. Instead of trumpeting that 100% tested were fake, you give the data and refuse comment on the unexamined. You are a paragon of scientific virtue! Thanks so much for your hard work.

23rd Dec 2010 20:52 GMTRobert Simonoff

thanks!
they were actually pretty easy to find. we decided not to gold-plate the pieces because we saw no real reason to since galena is conductive. so there were charged shadows around the glass beads that really made them stand out.
Jessica

23rd Dec 2010 23:50 GMTJolyon Ralph Founder

Tell you what impresses me, and this is entirely unrelated to the Galena, but the glass beads used as the abrasive even at 13 microns are almost perfectly spherical. You've got to love physics.

23rd Dec 2010 23:57 GMTRobert Simonoff

yes that is amazing!! I wonder how they are shaped, do you know?

24th Dec 2010 12:39 GMTWayne Corwin

There blown into the air and surface tension make them spheres.
Like the ones found on the moon.

25th Dec 2010 00:31 GMTPaul Siegel

Dear Jessica and Robert,

As a collector of Bulgarian minerals I thank you for the effort you have put into trying to solve the problem and to broadening the knowledge of the collecting community.

Paul Siegel

25th Dec 2010 00:42 GMTRobert Simonoff

you're welcome :-) thanks!

Jessica

25th Dec 2010 14:11 GMT

you're welcome :-) thanks!

Jessica

25th Dec 2010 21:47 GMTKnut Eldjarn Manager

Jessica,
I am impressed. A thorough and convincing study. The only thing you did not find was the signature of the artist. I am sure your report will contribute to preventing other deceptors putting faked specimens on the market.
Knut

27th Dec 2010 12:28 GMTRobert Simonoff

Thanks, Knut! I hope so!

18th Jan 2011 18:04 GMTBill Dameron Expert

Thanks much, Jessica. Know anyone who wants a nice small specimen on pyrite? Sigh -- if you want to do more testing I will bring it to Tucson.
Bill Dameron

18th Jan 2011 20:31 GMTRobert Simonoff

Just to clarify here - not all hoppered/skeletal galenas are fakes. The only ones I tested are hollow ALL THE WAY through each axis.
If you would like to bring it to Tucson I will definitely take a look Bill. It would be neat to meet you anyways!
Jessica

18th Jan 2011 23:21 GMTBill Dameron Expert

Thanks. It is from Bulgaria and except for a tiny pyrite stuck in one of the cubes could fit your description. The tiny piece could have been glued on.
I'll be at Graeber and Himes throughout the main show; before that I check in with the folks in UK Mining Ventures (#144 Inn Suites or whatever it is now)

18th Jan 2011 23:21 GMT

Thanks. It is from Bulgaria and except for a tiny pyrite stuck in one of the cubes could fit your description. The tiny piece could have been glued on.
I'll be at Graeber and Himes throughout the main show; before that I check in with the folks in UK Mining Ventures (#144 Inn Suites or whatever it is now)

8th Feb 2011 20:29 GMTLinda Rizzo

Children are fascinated by fakes because they tend to believe everything they hear. I suggest that whoever has one that MAY be a fake should keep it to show to children and explain the research that has been done, how it is that we think we know about the fakes, but that it is still uncertain about each untested indiviual. Who knows - you may help create a thinking adult.

10th Mar 2011 23:56 GMTJohn Betts

I find it fascinating that nobody seems outraged by revelation that many of the hoppered galenas are fake. Thankfully I've never sold one and don't own any personally. But if I did, I be demanding my money back from whoever sold one to me. I guess in a world full of misidentified, misrepresented, enhanced minerals, these galenas are simply chalked up as a curiosity.
 
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