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Visit to Dallas

Last Updated: 2nd Sep 2010

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

Visit to Dallas, August 2010

My latest trip has been to explore the mineral world in Dallas, Texas, at the request of Rob Lavinsky, who invited me for the opening of his new gallery. I took the opportunity to stay with good friends Jim and Gail Spann.

Gail and Jim Spann in front of one of their many cabinets of excellent minerals

I arrived on Wednesday, at around 7.15pm local time, after a LONG journey (I'd left home in England at 4.10am the same day), and after we had finished catching up on life, the universe and everything, I went to bed.

The next day, I woke up in a mineral museum!

Spare Bedroom in the Spann house. Minerals everywhere!

I had visited Gail and Jim previously a couple of years ago, but their collection has grown significantly since my last visit. Here are some of their British minerals, including many pieces from the Lindsay Greenbank collection purchased recently:

British mineral cabinet

Here's another of the cabinets.

One of the Spann mineral cabinets.

I was helping Jim a little with some of the unpacking and displaying. Of course, as soon as a flat becomes available...

Cat in a flat - this cat is Adularia

Here are some other views from the collection:

Chalcocites from Bristol, Connecticut.

Another cabinet

Sweet Home mine Rhodochrosite

Phosphophyllite from Bolivia


Pezzottaite from Madagascar

Annabergite from Laurium, Greece

The Arkenstone Gallery Opening

Saturday was the grand opening of The Arkenstone's new gallery in Richardson, Texas.

Outside view of the new gallery

Rob Lavinsky in the new gallery

View of one part of the galleries

View of another part of the galleries

Les and Paula Presmyk examining minerals

Mark Contiss (left), Dr Edward David, former presidential science advisor for Richard Nixon (and mineral collector), and Dave Waisman discussing minerals in the cabinet with Wayne Sorrenson (back to the camera).

Dr Ed David is 86 years old, and is now on his third mineral collection!

Brandy Naugle and Justin Zzyzx from The Vug, and Peter Megaw, mineral collector from Tucson

Investment gems being offered

Alaska gold specimen

Bryan Swoboda (Blue Cap Productions) and Justin Zzyzx chatting

Brandy and Dave Waisman

The Arkenstone was also distributing the new book on Brazilian minerals:

The Cover

Inside view

Rob Lavinsky showing minerals to a customer

Did you know that Roy Rogers, former cowboy actor, was a mineral collector? Here is a 1968 magazine cover of him holding one of his specimens, a quartz cluster, with the same specimen now on display in the gallery.

Roy Roger's Quartz

Matthew Webb came all the way from Australia for the launch

View inside one of the drawers

This chinese pyrite is in Rob Lavinsky's private collection

... as was this Chinese fluorite

... and these dinosaur skulls

Recently on mindat we had some discussion about the Indonesian letter agates. I had a close look at a set at the gallery, and they certainly appear to be genuine to me. Indeed they have been verified as genuine by the GIA.

Letter Agates

Dr Ed David with Gloria Staebler

Dr Gene Meieran

Rob Thacker (Chairman of the HAMS mineral group in Houston)

Stretch Young (Winner of the 2009 Desautels case award in Tucson)

A T-Rex skull pokes out from behind the plants in the reception area!

The Arkenstone Dinner Party

I was invited in the evening to a dinner event at a local hotel with several guest speakers and a BBQ food buffet.

Guests arriving for the party and chatting

Bill Larson (left) talking with Dave Waisman and Peter Megaw

Jack Halpern welcomes everyone and introduces Rob Lavinsky

Rob Lavinsky is thanked in a very personal way by Bryan Swoboda for the excellent evening

Gene Meieran tells us various stories from his many years of involvement in minerals, including how
the American Mineral Treasures exhibition (Tucson 2008) was put together

He also postulates a new law that aquamarine crystal prices double every second Tucson!

Recalling a story from two nights before, when Dr Ed David and he were sharing a chinese meal, Dr David's fortune cookie read "Now is a good time to start a new collection..." - he had this framed and presented it to Dr Ed

Dr Ed David with the framed fortune cookie strip.

The main speaker was Harrison Schmitt, former NASA astronaut, Geologist, and the last man to step foot on the moon. He flew as Lunar Module pilot on the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972 (when I was 3 years old).

Harrison Schmitt

On the way to the moon, he took this photo, now one of the most famous photos of all time.

Earth from Apollo 17

The Spann's Party

The following day was the Brunch Party at Jim and Gail Spann's house:

The Party at the Spanns'

Marc and Deb Wilson from the Carnegie Museum Looking at minerals

Irv Brown, Will and Bill Larson

Maryanne Fender and Tom Gressman

Nat and Paul Brandes

Jack Halpern and Carolyn Manchester

Laura Hickey chatting with Joe Budd

Julian Gray from the Tellus Museum, Georgia

Gloria Staebler, Dave Waisman, Gail Spann, Myself and Carolyn Manchester

Keith Brownlee being prevented from closer examination of the Rhodochrosites by Adularia, the Guard Cat.

James McGuire with his fiancee Star.

Lauren Megaw discussing minerals with Mark and Jenay Paul

Talking with Jack Halpern

Tom and Jim Spann, with Kristie Leatherberry and an ipad showing the mindat.org Photo of the Day.

Gerhard Wagner, Barb Dutrow and Lauren Megaw

Time for the party to end. The sign above the door

After a successful security duty at the party, Eragon congratulates Adularia, the cheif Rhodochrosite guard

Article has been viewed at least 33424 times.


What an exhausting but fun weekend!!! I gave some snacks to the dog and cat, they earned their keep. It has been very fun having Jolyon here!!!! I will give him a snack too...

Gail Spann
31st Aug 2010 2:23am
Thanks Jolyon for providing all the great photos for those of us who couldn't be there. We especially liked seeing Adularia in the flat.

Brian Kosnar
31st Aug 2010 7:15pm
in the 7th pic... is that big thing torbernite or like autunite? it looks very much like it with the platy crystals....

Logan Babcock (2)
1st Sep 2010 2:49pm
Logan, that is a large Malachite. Congo.

Gail Spann
1st Sep 2010 8:13pm
Just a wonderful report!

Brooks Britt
4th Sep 2010 6:22pm
Great report!! and, I finally got to meet the infamous Jolyon.....

Paul Brandes
4th Sep 2010 9:19pm
Intresting! Thanks Jolyon.

Nauroz Nausherwani
6th Sep 2010 5:26pm
Looks like a weekend of fun & friends. I looked through all the pix for that smiling guy with the cowboy hat but couldn't find him. What happened - did somebody shoot him? :)

Fred E. Davis
12th Sep 2010 5:54pm

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