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Strict Micromounters

Posted by Tom Trebisky  
Tom Trebisky July 23, 2009 01:00AM
My question is: How many of you micromounters are "strict" micromounters?
By this, I mean that the only minerals you collect are micros,

I am about 99.999 percent a strict micromounter. Clearly this is a choice, and in
my case I think it is driven by what I enjoy most on one hand, and the fact that a person
just can't do everything on the other. At this time I have maybe 3 or 4 miniatures that
have drifted my way, and intend at the first chance to give them to a friend who will
appreciate them. By that time I will have admired and enjoyed them to my satisfaction.
Of course if they were potential micro material, then they would get broken up,
a mount or two made, and the remnants passed along to other mounters, if any
of the remnants had merit (as they often do).

I also really strive to put my mounts in the one size of micro box I have chosen.
A few choice items (very few) stay in some kind of larger box. Also I have some mounts
of historic interest that I keep in their original boxes with original labels. These are what
I call "xenomounts" (what another fellow calls "OP's" for "other peoples" mounts). I only
do this when I know who the mounter is and keep a record of that. I need to enlarge my
collection of such by trading some of my mounts with you, dear reader. When I get mounts
from some unknown source (as I sometimes do), I almost always remount them. This gains
uniformity of course, but also - I hate to say it - I am usually far from satisfied with the
craftsmanship of what comes my way.

I thusly tend to push the envelope in trimming material into my chosen box (in my case the
althor type box, although I buy mine from FLS enterprises, who I think provides a nicer
box of the althor size). I have sometimes regretted not using a larger box, but I also know
a fellow using the slightly larger box (of the size once or still provided by Minresco), who now
laments the fact that his boxes cost 60+ cents (mine cost 17 cents at last purchase).
I am well aware of the "don't risk it, use a bigger box" saying, but I am only involved in a tragedy
very rarely and find it much easier to organize and enjoy a uniformly packaged collection.
As it was put to me, "it is the micromounters job to get the specimen in the box".
Rob Woodside July 23, 2009 01:20AM
Neil Yedlin said something like, "Any specimen better apreciated at 10 power is a micromount." I used to collect 4x6 cm specimens and must agree that there is synergy in uniformity. At a Baltimore symposium in the early 60's I saw Neil show a set of slides at increasingly higher magnification. It was the same specimen, and I forget what. But each view showed a well xlled example with a little scuzz. The next view showed the scuzz as a fine example with a little different scuzz associated. The final view showed at ~150 (?) power that the last scuzz was also well xlled. I guess what I'm saying, inspite of uniformity, that size of specimen and power of magnification ought to be irrelevant for micros.
Sigurd Stordal July 23, 2009 01:28AM
Me, I've allways apreciated the perfection of small xls, but can't bear getting rid of my 2-3 cm xls of thalenite-Y just because they are not micros, or my 30x5 cm specimen of multiple 2-3 cm large single xls of stilbite. It just has to much of a sentimental value to me.
So I guess I'm a micromineral collector by preference, but being an openminded person just can't seem to put of minerals of any size if I find them.(:D
Donald Peck July 23, 2009 05:13PM
I call myself a micromounter . . .I do mount microcrystalline minerals on balsa pegs in small plasitc boxes. I wish all my boxes were the same size and type, but I have been doing this for something like 50 years, and the boxes keep changing. Everytime I think I have settled on a given size and labelling the applecart gets upset.

As to other sizes . . . I have never been known to refuse or throw away a "giant micro". At a show one time, in the micromount area I exhibited "The Ultimate Micro". It was a 30cm x 18cm Smokey quartz crystal mounted on a 10cm x10cm post in a wooden apple case. When I was seven years of age, I watched my grandfather dig it up on his dairy farm in Connecticut. Most of my non-micros are in the 3cm to 10cm range.
Malcolm Southwood July 24, 2009 11:10AM
I, too, call myself a micromounter, though the balance has shifted over the years.

When I started collecting seriously, nearly 30 years ago, I had plenty of time, and relatively little money, and I enjoyed using the time to get out and collect, and to process and mount specimens when I got home again.

Over the years, time has become much less plentiful, but I can afford to spend a little more on specimens, so bigger specimens have become the dominant part of what I acquire these days. However, the micro collection also continues to grow as time allows. One of my major regrets is having two separate catalogues; one for micros, and one for larger specimens; really they should all be part of the same collection.

Donald Peck July 24, 2009 03:30PM
Mal, does the catalog numbering system overlap? Do you use Excell for cataloging? If NO and YES, you ought to be able to combine the two spreadsheets.
Sebastian Möller July 24, 2009 03:34PM

I do collect MM size mostly (around 90 percent of my collection), but as a regional collector I do collect bigger ones as well. But I don't like the bigger ones (bigger than 4x6 cm) too much, even the well crystallized ones. Those are just "see-all-at-one glance" pieces to me, nothing of special interest. If there is something which can only be seen by using the microscope its much more interesting to me. Sometimes I almost thought of selling the bigger ones and collecting micros and small cabinets to thumbnails only.

Sebastian Möller
Ian Jones July 24, 2009 05:14PM
undisciplined mineral collector looking for strict micromounter8-)

for me though, if i cant hold it in my hand, it's not a real rock:)
Jesse Fisher July 24, 2009 06:29PM
Didn't I see something like that on a card stuck up in a phone box around Soho?
Tom Trebisky July 24, 2009 07:55PM
I just tossed this out as a curiosity question to see if there was any trend. People should collect whatever they like of course. Malcolm and I have moved in opposite directions. I used to collect all sizes, but found the micros more and more interesting and followed my nose. Sebastian is close to my way of thinking. I like seeing big pieces now and then, like at shows, but my thoughts are similar to: "a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here".
Malcolm Southwood July 24, 2009 10:36PM
Combining the two databases is something that I've pondered a great deal. They have different accession number systems - micromounts have simply an accession number (ranging currently from 0001 to 2037), while accession numbers for larger specimens have a year and sequencer - e.g 1984.048. I use Access to catalogue, but also have all of the data exported to Excel sheets, because I find it easier to format and print reports from Excel (which probably says more about my poor Access skills than anything else).

Any thoughts on combining would be greatly appreciated.

Malcolm Southwood July 24, 2009 10:41PM
Your point about finding micros more interesting strikes a chord with me, and I would add here that I routinely examine all of my TNs, miniatures, and cabinet under the microscope. It's amazing what one finds in addition to what was on the dealer label. I think all serious collectors should have a look at all specimens under magnification in order to get the most from them.
Rob Woodside July 24, 2009 10:52PM
Malcolm, truer words were never said!!!
Sam Cordero, Jr. July 25, 2009 12:04AM
Geez, it's sure nice to have micromounts, mainly becuase they don't occupy much space. I'm rather new to micromounting becuause alot of what I found was larger. I just completely finished filling up some thumbnail boxes I purchased, i forget how many, but it's over 100. Thumbnails are very cool because everything's on display. Larger specimens rule too, I'm happy to have a well crystalized 4' FerroColumbite, w/ a nodule of Uraninite perched on one of it's shoulders a bit larger than an inch it'self. Not to mention the beautifull secondaries breaking up the otherwise black color of both minerals forementioned. Still, just looking under the microscope to see what else is there is the fun part. AAAhhhh, I just like minerals I guess any size, but micromounting just has the potential of revealing new treasures under the scope. They are more easily handled under the scope. OK, I'm blabbing off, sorry, just thought I'd mention I like micromounting too. Hopefully soon I can get a good digital microscope to capture better images of those darn little ones. For now it's just a good macro setup. Yep, micromounting's cool.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/25/2009 06:16AM by Sam Cordero, Jr..
Ray Hill July 25, 2009 08:35AM
Malcolm and Tom...I used to want to specialize in Micros, and really tried to, ending up with between 6 and 7,000 of the wee beasties, but I have, of late, been wooed by TN's and I guess I am a failed "strict" micromounter, alas....
I still mount about a couple of hundred or more specimens every year, but I have slowed down a lot ..
But Malcolm, I highly recommend Rock Currier's database, as it has amazing flexibility and capacity...

Tom, I have been honed in on the Althor product for a long time, so I am curious to find out how close to Althor, that those FLS boxes are, and how snug a fit they are , and how well finished they are...could you PM me with a bit more info, since they sound like they are cheaper than Althor.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/25/2009 08:36AM by Ray Hill.
Eddy Vervloet July 27, 2009 07:41AM
I started out as a thumbnail and miniature collector. To be honest, I still prefer them (blasphemy, I know...).
Getting more and more into collecting phosphates and arsenates, obviously I had to get more and more
into micros, since the majority of minerals does hardly occur otherwise. It goes without saying I thoroughly
enjoy micros nowadays, but as mentioned in previous threads, I still prefer my matrix to be like 2x4 cm,
with more than just one micro crystal... the fun of glueing 1 tiny grain on top of a cactus needle eludes me!

I will also always 'remount' any specimen I obtain. I give no value to a specimen because it was mounted by X...

Greetings from France,

Joseph Taggart July 27, 2009 10:28PM

I do not believe in "strict" micromounting. I am a mineral collector foremost, and have specimens of all sizes from 30 cms down to micro size. I would sum up my observations of mineral specimen collecting as follows: The rarer the specie, the more likely it is only available in micro size. The sharper and better formed the crystals are, the more likely they are of smaller size. The smaller and more fragile the crystals are, the more likely they need to be mounted in a box for their protection. The more affordable specimens are likely to be micros. In order to advance my knowledge about mineral species and crystallography these days, it is more likely the specimens I add to my collection are going to be micros/micromounts.


Along with the above thoughts on mineral collecting in general, here is my thought on micromounting. I save micros of all sizes, prefer crystals on matrix, and would never purposely reduce the size of a sample to fit on a cactus needle. While I wholeheartedly agree with you about mounting specimens on cactus needles, when I do come across a small loose crystal I do not throw it out but mount it on an appropriate sized pedestal. For loose diamond and gold crystals from a placer deposit, sometimes this is a tooth pick or cactus needle. I may wish the sample was bigger, or on matrix, but sometimes its not.
Sigurd Stordal July 28, 2009 02:33AM
Got me thinking, I started collecting in a rock club for kids 20 or so years ago, and I quickly got the nickname "the guy with the tiny black blobs" because the smaller it was the more interested it was to me.
Bryan Manke July 28, 2009 03:23AM
Isn't micromounting really the art of permanently "mounting" very small xls or fragments for viewing under magnification?

Micro collecting would be collecting small crystals, regardless of storage/display.

I wouldn't say a lapidary is a miniature collector, even though what they create may mostly come from miniature sized specimens. They're taking miniature sized specimens and turning them into something else (not always miniature I know). I apologize for the horrible analogy.

I do a bit of micromounting and micro collecting since sometimes I don't feel the need, desire or energy to permanently mount a particular specimen. I am pretty much a micro collector, part time mounter. I guess the term micromounting is getting more watered down over the years, and I am guilty of abusing it too. I would probably mount more if I felt more comfortable trimming 2cm specimens and if mineral tack disappeared altogether.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/28/2009 03:25AM by Bryan Manke.
Alfredo Petrov July 28, 2009 04:44AM
You're right, Bryan. I often see the term "micromounts" misused (especially in Europe) for specimens that haven't been "mounted" at all, at least not in the american sense, just stuck in a box with a bit of oily and foul-smelling putty, or even loose in a box! Furthermore, Europeans often use "micromounter" for what we would call "rare species collector" in the USA - someone who collects small broken fragments of new species and values the name much more highly than the aesthetics. The meaning of terminology tends to suffer some drift as it transfers from one part of the world to another (as it does in all fields, not just mineral collecting). To avoid confusion, most of us should probably call ourselves "micromineral collectors, who occasionally prepare a micromount".
Eddy Vervloet July 28, 2009 08:49AM
Indeed Alfredo, there is a difference, that is why, before I set up our little swap project, I tested how deep the water was
in this thread

Micromount definition?

I concluded, as expected, Europeans do not 'mount' like Americans understand that.
We also care less about the overall size of a specimen. We will never break it up, just so it
would fit in a micro box...
Microcollecting would be a more appropriate term indeed.

Greetings from France,


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/28/2009 08:52AM by Eddy Vervloet.
Tom Trebisky July 29, 2009 01:53AM
Well, I am glad to see this has stirred up so much discussion. I got my mindset decades ago while I was in high school and I got my hands on the pink Milton Speckles book. I am tickled now to have some mounts that were mounted and labelled by Mr. Speckles. And I think I particularly value another persons mounts when I actually know the other person.
(I never actually met or knew Milt Speckles, but I kind of feel I know anyone whose book I have read, if I ever happen to have a Neal Yedlin mount come my way I will feel the same).

I certainly do find mineral tack foul and oily, but my nose isn't sensitive enough to detect the stench. I do sometimes use tack to perserve some of my "material for trade", but I pray that the material doesn't stay on the tack very long, and that it will get into the hands of someone who will properly mount it before the matrix becomes saturated with oil. In general, I despise tack and commend Alfredo for telling it like it is. Maybe I will switch to mounting my trade material with white glue and eschew tack altogether. I do know a fellow who takes a few empty perky boxes and a bit of tack into the field to preserve some really delicate items that would be unlikely to survive any kind of packing and this certainly has merit. Never say never.

For me I guess if I had to boil down what most appeals to me: It is all about the crystals! And I seem to come across the greatest diversity of really exciting crystals in micros. As for mounting - it is all about preserving those crystals.
I never really rest until I have a finished and labelled mount - up to that time all kinds of misfortunes can come along.
Eddy Vervloet July 29, 2009 10:38AM
Tom, there is a lot of different tack out there!
But the good stuff contains no oil at all! The big advantage of tack is (providing we are not talking
about micro-micro-micro pieces...), that you can quickly and easy take a specimen out of the box
to take a picture or so and just as quickly put it back in. I personally hate it when one is glued in...
I always re'mount' new specimens and I hate to have to use whatever it takes to disolve the glue...
And of course I also take a dozen boxes with some tack to the collecting site!

Greetings from France,

Bill Lechner August 11, 2009 12:52AM
For those micro micro micro pieces, cat whiskers work great. Here kitty kitty !
Eddy Vervloet August 11, 2009 08:12AM
lol Bill! You guys never stop to amaze me!

Greetings from France,

Gianni Porcellini - Italia October 16, 2009 07:49AM
Hi ,
I have e new web site on micromounts
I suggest you to have a look.
Thanks for your visit.
Gianni Porcellini - Italia
Donald Peck October 21, 2009 03:54PM
Hello Gianni;

I visited your site and I think it is the start of a very good one. Great picture of Toscano! (and the sphalerite and ennargite are not bad either). I will look forward to following the development. Bellisimo!
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