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Have the reverse-skeletal Madan galenas been faked?

Posted by Patrick Haynes (2)  
Van King July 28, 2010 04:00PM
Does anyone know good solvents for galena? I would think the the "terraces" seen on the galenas represent very slow etching. Rock, have you tried abrading a galena, then slow etching to remove the roughness and possibly produce terraces? From research with my co-author Bob Morgan looking at carrollite from Kamoya and pyrite from Huanzala and elsewhere, terraces seem to be slow etch features. terraces seem to be formed according the PBC (Periodic Bond Chain) growth/dissolution models. To make a fake look better, the air abrasion would be done first and chemical treatment could follow that process to restore the luster and introduce etch features such as terraces. The choice of solvent would probably produce different effects, so much experimentation would be necessary. On the photos shown, the smallest crystals do not seem to be skeletal. There are, of course, many etch features which seem to be naturally present on Magadan galena.

Best Wishes, Van King
Rob Woodside July 28, 2010 04:39PM
I have been holding my tongue on this, but that would be the next stage of fakery. Once the abrasions and indentations are obvious, one merely washes them away. How's Jessica's experiment coming?
Jonathan Woolley July 28, 2010 10:31PM
It seems to me that the "terraces" could easily be exposed growth layers rather than a feature caused by etching. Refer to Ryan Bowling's post on page 3 of this discussion for photos of a hollow galena cube he created. His photos show a similar step or terrace pattern from his 10-minute air abrasive carving work, which implies no etching is necessary to create this pattern. For me, his post was the most convincing that these galenas could be produced artificially.

I am also wondering how the Simonoff's experiments are going - any updates?

Best regards,
erik fertner July 29, 2010 10:07AM
Here is the galena in the "A.G. Werner collection, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Saxony". You can see this specimen in the display showcase of new acquisitions. For me it is hard to believe, that they exhibit anything faked in this magnificent historic collection. Although i would say it is maybe from Madan district and not from Laki.

Whats about the SEM investigations and things like that, which were held in prospect?
Meanwhile we can discuss and philosophize further on if they are "faked....semi faked.....natural.....etched......and so on....."
It is a very interesting discussion for me, also from the mineralogical aspect ;-))

Regards from austria,
open | download - P1012259.JPG (681.7 KB)
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Jolyon & Katya Ralph July 29, 2010 10:30AM
I don't think anyone doubts that features such as this can be created naturally.

But the question is, are some of the specimens created to look as if they are naturally etched galena when they are not?
Alfredo Petrov July 29, 2010 11:58AM
Again, we are comparing apples and oranges here. The depicted Bergakademie specimens are not the centre-less galena "frames" that this discussion is about.
Rock Currier July 29, 2010 01:06PM
If you want features that look more etched than broken, just use a smaller glass beads.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Van King July 29, 2010 02:14PM
Exposed growth layers are part of the Periodic Bond Chain growth/dissolution models and these models also relate to the origin of striations (growth layers) which are generally many thousands of unit cells high. Terraces such as striations are generally growth features, while terraces that are asymmetric are usually dissolution features. The wavy pattern seen on many Madan galenas are certainly the result of relatively slow dissolution whether natural of artificial. I saw Ryan Bowling's photos originally before posting and they do show the possibility of creating the skeletal appearance, in general character. The terraces are exposed abraded cleavages. Rob's specimen shows the subtleties of rounding and smoothness not present in Ryan's photos. The subtleties are key to whether abrasion alone can duplicate the process in detail. Of course, being able to exactly duplicate the specimens seen is not proof that the specimens are faked; merely that they can be faked.

Best Wishes, Van King
Robert Simonoff July 30, 2010 02:25AM
I just finished writing the article. I will update it when I get new information and photos. I will get micro-photos and, if it will be helpful, I have permission to use a SEM and XRD machine. You can see the article here: Galena article

I am looking forward to your comments and thoughts about what might help!

Rob Woodside July 30, 2010 03:12AM
What a great article!!! Excellent observations. The point about galena's symmetry, so all symmetry related faces should etch similarly, is new. One could plead that the contact faces were not accessible and so not exsolved, but the pleading gets a little special when hard to get at faces are involved. I look forward to the SEM images. I doubt that the surface recrystallizes as Gold does, but electron diffraction off an abraided surface ought to be very diffuse.

If these are fakes as some suspect, they are truly great fakes and should certainly hold their value. There was a great Min Rec issue on fakes years ago and I would have thought that would have created an interest in these as mineral ephemera.
Jonathan Woolley July 30, 2010 03:34AM
Fantastic - looking forward to your further analyses! Very interesting that an obviously undamaged calcite crystal is within the hollow of one of these...

Best regards,
Rob Woodside July 30, 2010 03:47AM
That calcite does have extremely minor damage, far less than I would have thought abrasion would have done. With Galena at 2.5 Mohs and Calcite at 3 Mohs, there is not much room to pick an abrasive that would leave the calcite virtually untouched.The calcite is a lovely surprise.
Robert Simonoff July 30, 2010 03:48AM
We will be posting microphotos of that calcite as its shape is very interesting once you get close up :-)
andy givens July 30, 2010 10:49AM
what a fantastic thread, and article...... captivating as much as the specimens in wich we r talking about.

John Lichtenberger July 30, 2010 12:43PM
might want to google electropolishing... if I can find some apprpriate samples and electrolytes. I might devise some testing to produce similar effects, not just in galena but perhaps pyrites and/or chalcopyrites, since all three are semiconductors and should pass current.

Electropolishing amd/or EDM/ECM could conceivably produce some unique specimens that may be exceedingly difficult to tell from natural etching. I've worked in metals for decades, and have seen similar localized structures in various alloys when electropolished.

stay tuned...

Robert Simonoff July 30, 2010 01:15PM
Thanks everyone!! :)
Dean Allum July 30, 2010 04:40PM
I am highly biased to believe the majority of the skeletal galenas are a natural phenomenon. This is because the only galena I have ever found had portions with this skeletal effect:


As you can see in this UNTREATED SPECIMEN, the corners of the galena cube form a thicker cerussite/angelsite alteration coating than the cube faces. This alteration coating then acts as a protective mask for the corner edges while some fluid dissolves the rest of the cube, starting in the center of the faces, but producing curved etch surfaces as any isotropic etchant would. If the etchant chemistry sometimes etches the alteration coating, but at a different rate, you would expect the galena etch surfaces to have a scalloped effect (curved ridges).

I suspect that any remaining alteration coating has been removed from the skeletal galenas in question because it would not look as pretty as bright gleaming specimens. Wouldn't it be great to see pictures of these galenas in situ?

-Dean Allum
Denise Bicknell July 30, 2010 05:31PM
Great article Jessica! I haven't formed an opinion either way, just waiting for all work to be completed first. However, I want to believe they are not faked. They definately are fun to look at regardless. The calcite sure brings an interesting twist. Keep up the good work Jessica! -D
James McGuire July 30, 2010 06:14PM

I can't be certain, but your photo appears to show the "boxwork" texture that is common in weathered sulfides. Secondary minerals grow in between crystals and along cleavage planes as the sulfide breaks down/oxidizes during the weathering process. When the sulfide is gone, you are left with the "boxwork" of secondary minerals. I'm not sure this phenomenon could be called upon as an explanation for the "skeletal" features displayed in the Madan galenas in this thread.
Rob Woodside July 30, 2010 07:09PM
James is right. If you could get the secondaries off the box work, you would find it quite pitted unlike the skeletal forms in question here.
Alfredo Petrov July 30, 2010 08:39PM
Jessica, you're becoming a good mineral photographer - How much easier our lives would be on the Identity Help forum if everyone's pix were as clear as yours!

It might be a good idea to do some tests to see whether that clear crystal inside the hollow galena crystal is a calcite or a quartz. Check whether it bubbles in a weak acid. One minute in lemon juice or white vinegar should be enough to tell, which won't hurt the galena.
Robert Simonoff July 30, 2010 08:57PM
Thank you Alfredo!
The acid tests are a good idea. We don't currently have permission to do any more potentially destructive tests, but we can ask of course. Also, it might be better to wait until later (after I have taken micro photos and anything else I need of the crystal) to do the acid tests if we do get permission since they could harm the crystal. Good idea, I will keep that in mind!
Tomasz Praszkier July 30, 2010 09:18PM
that is already very long topic... I never did not written here my opinion because I was not sure, and I am still not sure. But I would like to share with you my observations.
I am visiting Madan frequently and I have access to majority of new pockets etc. And during my all trips I never saw any small, even broken specimen from this "find" in Madan. I asked all miners working in this business there and local dealers - nobody did not herd about this specimens. In every other "found" it is easy to track, to see some samples etc - but not this time.
Skeletal and heavily etched galenas are very frequent in Madan but it does not mean that THIS ONES are not faked. We collect all strange, unusual shapes, varieties etc of minerals, and we have huge selection of galenas also. All them looks completely different than THIS specimens. Some of them are almost hollow - but still you can easily see that they are natural.
As I mentioned I am not 100% sure but I think that it were skeletal galenas and later somebody "help" them to be more hollow and more showy. If my opinion is true they can be called "faked".

"Spirifer" Geological Society
erik fertner July 31, 2010 08:30AM
The second specimen "not known to be fake" in the galena article looks like a typical krushev dol specimen, for me. Because of the quartz crystalls and the shape of the hollowed out galena, wich was maybe the typical tabular spinell law twin type before etching (natural or man made).

It was said, that all the specimen were from a unique find in deveti septemvri. Deveti septemvri and krushev dol are different locations and deposits
producing optical different specimen.
Robert Simonoff July 31, 2010 10:22PM
Hi everyone
Thanks for pointing that out, Erik! I looked through the Mindat gallery of galena from that location and the habit on the outside of the crystals look like most of the other ones. On the inside of the crystal, though, it shows the same lines as the other ones. Do you think it could be a galena from Krushev Dol that was enhanced or faked in the same way as the ones from Deveti Septemvri?

At the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines show, we met a Bulgarian dealer who was selling galena from the same location. We asked him about the hollow crystals and he said, "Oh, you mean the drilled ones?" According to him, nobody has ever seen one come out of the mine.

The other day I was able to look at the galena under the microscope and take some micro-photos. I noticed that the calcite crystal in the galena has small specks of galena on it. The specks are not crystals and under the microscope it does not seem that there are any under the surface of the calcite. I took some pictures of those, and I also got some pictures of significant damage at the base of the calcite where it is attached to the matrix. I updated the article to include these photos, you can read the new version here: new galena article
erik fertner August 01, 2010 08:03AM
The quartz habit on the second specimen is, as i think definitely more like krushev dol. It is also different to the depicted R.L. specimen for me.
I didn´t see Deveti septemvri quartz like this in the local collections, but there was a wide range of different quartz over the last decades.

The last time i have been in Madan was in april and i asked local collectors and dealers what they think about this galenas. There was no one who believed that they are natural and as Thomas mentioned nobody heard about this find, even miners who were working in mogila and osikovo for a long time. Some of them are surprised about the high prices people pay for this galenas and there is gosip about that.

But this is all no argument if they are natural or not, sorry!

Rob Woodside August 01, 2010 05:48PM
While the comments of locals can be useful indicators and often true, some who sell specimens will tell you outright that something they don't have is faked or stolen or whatever, hoping you would buy what they have instead. However it is the specimens themselves that will tell the tale.
Robert Simonoff August 19, 2010 02:20AM
Agree completely Rob, if we can find the right tests.

At the Springfield show we found a dealer who had one which he claims was found 6 years before the find everyone is selling from.We had the chance to loupe it and even microscope it. You could easily see the impact craters on the cleavage planes. They were very obvious. We didn't remember seeing these on Ed's pieces. When we get home we need to look at them again, take pictures, and see what can be learned. Maybe, just maybe the microabraded galenas show this cratering if you look in just the right paces.

The Man Made Hollowed Galena from Jessica's article shows the cratering, but not very clearly. We will get better pics when we are home.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/19/2010 03:05AM by Jessica and Robert Simonoff.
Robert Simonoff September 19, 2010 08:34PM
Hi everyone,
I have updated the article with some new information.
Three different acid tests (hydrochloric) revealed that the "calcite" crystal inside the first unknown specimen is in fact quartz - so not as relevant because of the huge hardness difference. However, we also found that in the same crystal as the quartz crystal, there is some chlorite. We are almost sure of this identification because of a hardness test and microscopic examination. Chlorite is found at the locality according to Mindat.
Here is the link for the article:
Newest galena article

Rob Woodside September 27, 2010 08:37AM
Good work!!! At the main show last Tucson the specimens I saw clearly showed the inpact craters and the dealer was positive they were natural !!! Using smaller or softer abrasives might minimize the cratering. I strongly doubt there would be any recrystallization, but an SEM might show the cratering more clearly.
Robert Simonoff December 23, 2010 01:01AM
Hi everyone

Lance Kearns offered to let me use the SEM at James Madison University to look at the specimens.
We had a time limit, so I chose three to examine: one definitely man-made and two unknowns.
Both unknown pieces are definitely fakes.
They had spherical indentations, and all three had remnants of the abrasive material used partially embedded in the surface of the galena.

Craters on previously unknown

Glass sphere on previously unknown

I was only able to test two samples! The fact that these two were proven fake DOES NOT mean that all similar pieces are. The only test that was able to tell the difference was the SEM, and it would be impossible to test every hollow galena in existence that way. Many more would have to be proven fakes before I (personally) would feel comfortable drawing a conclusion about all of them.

For more information and photos (including more SEM photos) please read the Mindat article I wrote --

James Christopher December 23, 2010 01:48AM
Great article Jessica!!
Tomasz Praszkier December 23, 2010 09:31AM
Very interesting article.
During my last trip to Madan (maybe 4 weeks ago) I conformed at 100% that all them are faked, I know people who did that even.


"Spirifer" Geological Society
Jolyon & Katya Ralph December 23, 2010 02:32PM
The conclusion that is fair to draw at this time is that at least some of these Madan hollow galenas are fake.

What I would like to see in addition to this in the future would be:

a) a reference SEM of a fresh Galena surface to compare with the pitted/cratered one

b) an examination of some of the dissolution/odd surface texture features on some of the Dal'negorsk galenas (for example), which are assumed to be natural, but bear some resemblance to the textures seen on the Madan hollow galenas.

Jolyon & Katya Ralph December 23, 2010 02:41PM
Also, look at this photo:

I know Jessica says it was placed in acetone overnight, but doesn't it look to you like it's glued on the bottom? There are glues that acetone won't touch.

Paul Brandes December 23, 2010 03:00PM
Do I smell a potential senior thesis or MS project here??
Tomasz Praszkier December 23, 2010 03:13PM
In Madan there are also natural "hollow" galenas but looks completely different than this ones. When I will find a time I will post some of this.


"Spirifer" Geological Society
Robert Simonoff December 23, 2010 03:49PM
thanks everyone.
Tomasz - how did you prove that they are all fake??
I completely agree with you on the conclusion Jolyon. obviously some are definitely fake. I'm not sure how it could be proven one way or another for all of the specimens (not saying it can't be done just that I don't know how).
i think that the quartz crystal in that photo is definitely glued. That specimen was one of the ones I looked at with the SEM, and it had the glass balls... i guess the quartz could have been an inclusion in the galena that was exposed as a result of the microabrasion but that doesn't seem too likely (especially because it is not actually touching the galena on the bottom, it is on chlorite, which I would have thought would be completely destroyed by then.)
Wayne Corwin December 23, 2010 03:58PM
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
Peter Ward December 23, 2010 04:18PM
I've been reading this with interest - you may like to have a look at these - here are photos of hollowed galenas found last year in Burtree Pasture mine, Cowshill, Weardale. Crystals are around 5-8mm across. Found in a quartz lined cavity, with a layer of quartz slabs in the base of the cavity - with hollowed galenas on the reverse of the quartz. I have some specimens with the galenas still attached to quartz crystals.

open | download - IMG_6871.JPG (633.2 KB)
Tomasz Praszkier December 23, 2010 04:54PM
How I prove it? very easy!
Only one dealer bring them to the market (I will not put name here). All other dealers have specimens from him. This dealer told that he bought whole pocket etc. But I know people who work with him, and were "producing" this specimens.
I do not know how many time you visited Madan, but I after tens of trips know that there is only very few people working with specimens and they know immediately about each pocket. Before dealer from far Sofia will buy anything local miners/dealers have all specimens. Some of them have netter ones, other not so good. But at least few crystals you can see in locals houses. But you will never find this galenas from Madan! What is more - this kind of skeletal/hollow galenas are only from 1 mine - 9th September. There is only 3 person working there for specimens (it is closed mine, entering there illegal, some they I will post photos of pockets). I was talking with all them showing photos of specimens - they all told me that this are faked specimens. To find something in this mine you have to go for 20 hours and you have to know "secret" roads. So, it is impossible that dealer from Sofia went there and found this pocket. He also didn't bought it from locals. What is more - each mine have some characteristic specimens. And as I have written before - there are skeletal crystals of galena - but never in this shape.
I work in Madan for many years, and well know all local dealers and majority of miners which collect. What is more I have so good contact with locals that if there is some important pocket I have call the same day.
Concluding: I am 100% sure that this are faked specimens.


PS In majority of cases galena is younger than quartz and chlorite, it is very common to have inclusions of "quartz" in galena.

"Spirifer" Geological Society
Rob Woodside December 23, 2010 06:11PM
Thanks Tomek, Between your sleuthing and Jessica's discoveries I think we can put this to rest.
Joseph Polityka December 23, 2010 09:15PM

Thank you for the detailed analysis and detective work.


I hope so; but don't bet on it. A fellow I know who owns several is still in denial. This thread is like the creature in the movie Alien.

Happy New Year,

Robert Simonoff December 23, 2010 10:13PM
Joseph - you could have that person take their pieces to Lance Kearns at JMU in Harrisonburg, VA to look at them with the SEM. Lance said that he would be willing to look at other hollow galenas that people brought in after the discovery was published.
Gail Spann December 24, 2010 03:48AM
Hello Jessica and Rob. Despite the avatar, this is JIM Spann (last time I tried to register on Mindat, I blew up the system...long story.) Any way, Jessica, a truly wonderful piece of research. I had to come out of my lurking mode to compliment you.
As Rob knows from talking to Gail, we have one of the older skeletal galenas that we acquired from a highly reputable dealer in May 2006. (Paid about what it cost to send a young lady to university for a semester!) After reviewing your work, I looked at our catalog...just as Tomek said, came from Ninth September Mine, Madan. As Joe mentioned, I have been in the denial category for a long time. I pulled our piece out of the cabinet and studied it under our stereo microscope up to 45x.
All the characteristics that you described were one more: the quartz crystals were pitted just like your SEM photos, but only on faces near the etched galena...then I found it. An entire stack of spherical glass beads in a cavity that would not have been self cleaning. Dozens of them! They appear to be much larger than 13 microns. About 6-8 across to equal the width of my fine pick point.
I can only conclude that these have been manufactured for at least the last four years. For kickers, I was told that there were only a handful ever found! (groan) I started getting suspicious when more and more kept appearing. Classic lesson here: caveat emptor!
Great job! Keep it up young lady! (and Dad)

Gail Patricia Copus Spann
Andrew Tuma December 24, 2010 04:55AM
Jessica, Tomasz and all the others willing to maintain the interest to get to the bottom of the issue; congratulations on the effort to provide the information and allow for conclusion to this issue to be started.

The perverse part of this episode is that these galena's will likely take on an interesting status amongst the mineral community for ever more even as fakes because of all the discussion that we as a mineral group undertook.

Just think, their value will be in the future, where we may have collectors that specialize in the many faked minerals that have and will appear in the years to come, and the Madan Galena's will always be remembered as one of the leaders in trickery. Who knows, they might get more valuable than the untouched ones due to their "rarity" ...yep, its a mad mad world.

And to everyone, a warm and happy x-mas and new year from a crazy Tasmanian,:)-D

And to all peoples in snowy Europe....field collecting zeolites at the moment is not a good idea..(:P)

Andrew Tuma
Wayne Corwin December 24, 2010 07:51AM
Jim Spann

I remember taking a close look at your Madan Galena's while you were setting up at the East Coast Gem Show in Springfield Ma. for your 53 case display that I was videoing in 2009, I was almost certin at the time that they looked fake, the inside edges looked too rounded to me to be real natural.
But I was also thinking that someone, with alot of time, had done a pritty good job. ;)

Wayne Corwin

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12/24/2010 03:30PM by Wayne Corwin.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph December 24, 2010 11:21AM
Remember the dealers who handled these are as much the victims as the collectors. They have all been defrauded by the original suppliers.

I think however that dealers who lost out on this now have sufficient evidence to press for criminal proceedings against those who created/supplied them in the beginning.

Wayne Corwin December 24, 2010 03:29PM
Here is a video I did of Gail & Jim Spann's Specimen I mentioned earlyer.
Spann's Hoppered Galena's
Best viewed in full screan.

Wayne Corwin

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/24/2010 03:32PM by Wayne Corwin.
Robert Simonoff December 24, 2010 03:44PM
Thanks Jim and Andrew!

Sorry about your piece Jim... but look on the bright side, as Andrew said, it could even gain value! :-)

I was wondering where these were really made. Obviously the galena is from Bulgaria, but were they "enhanced" by local miners in Bulgaria or by dealers in other countries after they came out of Bulgaria? It could even be some of both - the original galenas were made in Bulgaria, and when dealers saw the high prices the Bulgarian pieces were selling for, they decided to copy the technique. That would at least explain the different types of abrasives used!

thanks for the video, Wayne!

Ryan L. Bowling December 24, 2010 05:46PM
Jessica and Bob,

Thanks for sticking with this.

From someone who has spent many years in a mineral prep lab, it was really obvious to me, how these were made.

In fact, I got a lot of grief for showing my simple example of how it is done, so I am glad to see the evidence of glass beads show up in your investigations.

Again, this shows what a wonderful resource we have today, communication through Mindat.

Best Regards,

Dr. Paul Bordovsky December 25, 2010 03:55AM
I first saw these skeletal galena specimens in Tucson, 2006, at the Executive Inn. The year before I had visited this dealer and purchased a nice calcite. So, in 2006, I asked the dealer what was new. He showed me these specimens. I seem to remember that he only had ten or so in total. He had set aside a few of the best ones for someone from some museum to have a look........although that person was supposed to have been there already.

I returned a day or two later to look again........the museum never came by, but the dealer was excited because he had sold a couple specimens to a well known American dealer. Although I really didn't know much about galena or Bulgaria, the lure of finding the "sleeper rock" was too much to pass purchased a nice one with greenish-yellow sphalerite, chalcopyrite, and quartz.

A couple of months later I was in Dallas for a MAD meeting, where I met Jim and Gail. While we were comparing notes on
recent acquisitions, we talked of our "birdcage" galenas. They told me they had purchased theirs from the American dealer, and how interesting that two of the very few of these now resided in Texas.

The story of the skeletal galenas at that time was that the Bulgarian dealer visited the area, and bought some uncleaned
specimens from local miners. It was only when he was cleaning the minerals that he discovered a few of the hollow cubes, and that the local miners didn't know what they had. He was going to return and see if he could get some more of the uncleaned bulk material.

When questions arose as to the authenticity of the galenas, I had a sinking feeling, because the dealer also sold mineral
preparation equipment.....water guns, clippers, trimmers, etc. I had hoped that these first ones were still authentic, and that maybe only the newer specimens were manufactured.......but if Jim and Gail's "one of the original ten" was faked, then mine probably was too. I guess I need to have a look under a good microscope.

Jonathan Woolley December 29, 2010 10:32PM
Jessica & Robert,

Thank you very much to a wonderful article and posting the results of your continued investigation. This thread has been quite the captivating discussion, and thanks again to everyone for keeping it alive with each new piece of the puzzle. Tomasz & Jim, thanks for your corroborative stories as well.

I was very hesitant about them previously, but now I am interested in getting one simply to have one of these very clever fakes!

Best regards,
Jorge Muñoz December 31, 2010 07:12PM
Once again, it is so simple (probably too simple for many): WHAT LOOKS LIKE A FAKE MUST BE A FAKE!
And now, let´s talk about all these "old German" wire silvers which appeared out of nowhere during the last couple of years.... Absolutely NO lawyers comments please....B)B)B)
Ian Jones December 31, 2010 07:40PM
Jorge Muñoz Wrote:
> Once again, it is so simple (probably too simple
> And now, let´s talk about all these "old German"
> wire silvers which appeared out of nowhere during
> the last couple of years.... Absolutely NO lawyers
> comments please....B)B)B)

Probably a lot too much money involved to talk about those.
Robert Simonoff January 02, 2011 07:09PM
Thanks everyone.
Jorge - I don't think that's necessarily true. For example, the Mindat gallery of galena has a lot of pictures of galena that looks like the hollow fakes we discussed in this thread, but aren't exactly the same. Some are hollowed down only one axis, some aren't even completely hollow, and some just have unusual etching pattens. These pieces look like the fakes, but that doesn't mean they are.

Jolyon & Katya Ralph January 02, 2011 09:06PM
> Probably a lot too much money involved to talk about those.

The Himmelsfurst silvers?

With a 99.99% purity silver content, these have to be fake.

Lawyers for angry mineral dealers can contact me via the normal channels, and will receive the normal response :)

Rob Woodside January 03, 2011 01:20AM
At the risk of Hijacking another thread...

What is the composition of honest Himmelfurst Ag? There are localities that do produce near 100% Ag wires. In addition, the process used to grow the Imiter fakes and purportedly the Himmelfurst fakes does occur in nature at some localities that produce these stringy wires thickened at the base. A decade or so ago these Himmelfurst wires were selling for obscene amounts. Then with the controversy they disappeared from the market. Now they are making an occasional return at somewhat reduced prices, but with no comment about authenticity. I understand there was a problem with the provenance of the Himmelfurst wires that also needed addressing before accepting them as real specimens. When nature uses the same method as fakers, provenance is crucial.
Alfredo Petrov January 06, 2011 10:18PM
I disagree that 99.99% Ag purity indicates fakery; as Rob points out, Nature too makes surprisingly pure silver wires - The process just doesn't accomodate a lot of the other metals that are commonly present in such parageneses. Nevertheless, with the allegedly Himmelfurst wires no one seems concerned with the locality provenance, only with their natural origin. I would have liked to see matrix, in order to check the reality of the locality attribution. Their natural origin doesn't worry me nearly as much as those galena frames did, as we already know that Nature herself makes plenty of similar silver wires.
Rob Woodside January 06, 2011 10:29PM
Alfredo, without matrix you can't tell if they are fake, so locality provenance is all you have left. That was questionable as I recall.
John Betts April 02, 2011 05:22PM
I recently photographed a galena from Madan that had many small cavities and uploaded two photos:

The small cavities in the galena are definitely not man-made as illustrated by the undercut in one cavity that was exposed when the galena crystal cleaved.

These small cavities are the precursor to more elaborate dissolution that would lead to natural skeletal galena crystals. I do not doubt the man-made conclusion for the large skeletal cubes. But clearly there is a natural process working here.
Tomasz Praszkier April 02, 2011 06:21PM
this are certainly natural etchings. It have to be told that etching of galena and also etching of skeletal growing galenas is very, very common in Madan area. Problem is only with one kind of man-made gales - kind of hollow cubes as illustrated here: and

"Spirifer" Geological Society
Jim Robison April 02, 2011 08:09PM

Agree with Thomasz. These features were also found at the Burgin Mine in Eureka, Utah back in the 60's and 70's. They just never received widespread distribution. We also found very nice small floater spinel law twins of galena, highly lustrous and mostly flattened with very smooth sides.

Our geology staff kept a particularly nice one in the display cabinet, with a tobacco can next to it punched full of small 'breathing holes.' When asked how the holes were formed, the response was 'plumbus voracious', the notorious lead worm. Upon opening the can a small fake animal popped out. It was the head of a toothbrush, with stained bristles, and two eyes painted on the rounded off piece of handle left on the head of the brush. There would be a longish pause, then a smile and a laugh as the joke played out.
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