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Hematite needle ore

Posted by Don Tracy  
Don Tracy May 19, 2012 06:12PM
The hematite data should mention the "needle ore" variety that is found in some locations.
Uwe Kolitsch May 19, 2012 07:21PM
Needle-ore appears to be a synonym/variety of aikinite, see
I have never heard of a "needle ore" variety of hematite. Are there photos on Mindat or elsewhere?
Mark Heintzelman May 19, 2012 08:31PM
Perhaps you are mistakingly using that term and actually referring to "Pencil ore", like the famed materials from Michigan USA and the Cumbria England?

I've heard some use the term "needle ore" before for such material, but that term does generally refer to something altogether different, as Uwe noted.

Local "colorful" terminology is kinda hard to nail down and keep strait. : )

Dana Slaughter May 20, 2012 12:13AM
The term "needle ore" was used by miners and collectors to describe those pieces of hematite with a particularly sharp tapering point. The "pencil ore" term is used to describe pieces that are somewhat more rounded and often terminated. The term "needle ore" has been used for decades to describe the sharp pieces and I agree with Don that it should be added....despite my general disposition against nearly all varietal terms.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 05:09AM by Dana Slaughter.
David Garske May 20, 2012 03:46AM
I've been using the term for years in my mineral descriptions. First large collection I purchased had several specimens of "needle ore" from Cumberland and a few from Michigan. It's composed of parallel/subparallel needlelike crystals and has sharp points when broken. Generally they are sections of botryoidal hematite. Distinctive habit.
Mark Heintzelman May 20, 2012 09:01AM
Guess defining a strict use of these terms does become problematic.
I know Michigan and Thungrian (Ilfeld) Pyrolusite is found in large beds and masses, and when broken it produces VERY fine needles, that is the needle ore I was always aware of.

Goethite also has it's fair share of colorful terms as well, pipe ore, iron bombs, iron helmets, brown hematite, bog ore . . . the list goes on.
I suppose it is a thankless task to attempt to nail down such local terms to any strict definition. : )

Dana Slaughter May 20, 2012 03:30PM
Growing up in Michigan, my own experience with the term "needle ore" regards most specifically those wonderful specimens from the upper Midwest iron mines in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. I've obtained specimens over the years with labels attached to the specimens themselves with the "needle ore" description--some of these have been so slender and sharp that one could easily slide them through fabric, etc. Wonderful things!
Mark Heintzelman May 20, 2012 03:32PM
Thanks for the references David,
I do certainly concur needle ore seems rather the default term. Even gives me pause as I wonder how it is "pencil ore" came to use, as it seems to be one in the same quality of ore (?).

As an interesting aside: Looking through old regional references to ore deposits (these references included), we can note that in many mining districts the local colors terms used for particular deposits sometimes aslo differentiated the quality of ore. A very useful reference for miners and managers who were actively exploiting these variable deposits and something I think might also be good to include in the references here (though it may be impractical to do so thoroughly, perhaps just a few observations at more noted localities).

The description pages for most of these old terms here on mindat are very much lacking. Members here seem reluctant to flesh out these pages or provide photo references for them. I understand a glossary of terms is currently in the works here at mindat. Once completed, perhaps it would be best for searches of such terms be directed there, rather than have individual mineral pages? I can envision edits and updates to the glossary alone will invariably lead to notably conflicting data being presented here somewhere down the road.


A latter thought: Is it possible to link the entries and edits of the glossary of terms to use as the description text on the corresponding mineral pages in these cases?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 03:51PM by Mark Heintzelman.
Mark Heintzelman May 20, 2012 04:52PM
Thanks David!
Blast ore and "ruddle", two additional terms I've not crossed paths with before! :)

I once tried to research and determine what exact mineral and quality thereof were actually being referred to by the wildly variable nomenclature used in the historical accounts of local spar industry here in PA. More head pain than head way on that account. I finally came to the conclusion in this case that these were more marketing terms than mining ones, and that "dental Spar" here may be an entirely different mineral than what was available and being exploited for such purposes somewhere else. :)


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 05:05PM by Mark Heintzelman.
Dana Slaughter May 20, 2012 05:28PM
I forgot to mention that the miners that formerly worked the gypsum quarries and underground gypsum mines under my home town in Michigan (the Grand Rapids area) used the term "pencil ore" to describe the rather columnar gypsum specimens found in the area. The gypsum on these varieties easily splits apart into individual "pencils" and this type of gypsum was quite common in the area. Quarries were worked in Grand Rapids and Grandville (all under water now) and underground mines were operated in Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming (my home town) until fairly recently. One mine is still accessible to collectors in Wyoming and good specimens of carving-grade alabaster, pencil ore gypsum and gypsum crystals can still be found. The mine is used as a cold storage facility and underground data security center and the owners graciously allow clubs in (for a very small fee) to collect in the old tunnels.
Rock Currier May 21, 2012 11:37AM
Our glossary has had added to it more comprehensive definitions of needle ore.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Rock Currier May 21, 2012 12:00PM
Pencil ore has now been added to our glossary. We need a link to a reference page where the full reference refereed to in our glossary entries can be looked up. It is a real pain in the ass to type in the full reference after every entry.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Uwe Kolitsch May 21, 2012 03:10PM
Thanks, all. Needle-ore is now a synonym of both aikinite and hematite. I have added this thread as a ref.
Jeff "Mouse" Jessie November 17, 2014 11:36PM
I see that this thread is 8 years old but I need some help from a retailer here. Recently we have excavated some old stock out of storage and we have discovered some nice specimens of Pencil / Needle Ore from Michigan, sorry no mine location available. Now a few years ago I had a few small pieces of this that were sold for $10 -$20 for a couple inch long pieces to a 5 inch piece, small cabinet stuff, but I have searched the interwebs and only found a few pieces available for sale, most notably this one:

Now I know prices can be volatile on some stuff but has this Pencil / Needle Ore become that rare or sought after to command prices of $1.20 P/G to $1.80 P/G? Help me out here guys I want to price this stuff fair.

a couple of Pictures of the stuff we have;

Thanks for any help you can give,
Mouse @ Accent On Nature

Earth Junkie
open | download - 20141117_175406.jpg (346.6 KB)
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Keith A. Peregrine November 18, 2014 01:26AM
I'm sure there are others who can give a better value, but from what I've seen these past few years, the dimensions of the specimen plays a large influence with price. Being showy too, helps too. The bigger, the greater the price. It would be very helpful to know the dimensions of each piece.

Jeff "Mouse" Jessie November 18, 2014 01:48AM
The largest one is about 5.5" by 2.5-3" by 2"

Medium are about 3-3.5" by 2" by 1.5"

Small about 4" by .5" by .5"

I agree large specimens were usually more, but I was hoping to determine a fair gram weight price as a baseline, I have $810 on the largest which is 810 grams.
Dana Slaughter November 18, 2014 02:56AM
Hi Jeff,

This material should not be priced by the gram. It is common enough that I've sold pieces of the same size for
under $50...especially given that there is no mine attribution. Your specimens are average pieces---the type that can still be found on the dumps of UP mines today. The price that you mention should be reserved for especially fine pieces with good luster, form, "terminations" and mine attribution.

Best regards,
Mark Heintzelman November 18, 2014 03:24AM
Sorry Jeff, but you seem to be pricing this stuff as if it were gem material, which it simply isn't. I''m afraid your valuation is far, far outside the ballpark on these. I personally would regard all but the last one pictured as simply "ore samples" rather than displayable mineral specimens, and not worth much at all (these deposits were absolutely huge, miles wide pits and not the least bit uncommon). The last one is displayable and has the characteristics any mineral collector would desire in these, but a reasonable value on that one is still no where near your "gestimate", sorry to say.


PS: I see the mineral page for needle ore is currently directed to the entire Hematite gallery, including Kidney ore and Iron rose var. etc. I really don't see much point in doing that. (sorry Dana, seems you beat me to it!)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/2014 03:26AM by Mark Heintzelman.
Alfredo Petrov November 18, 2014 03:35AM
I've heard the term needle ore used for certain kinds of cassiterite and jamesonite too, so this sort of alliterative common shape-based term is way too vague to be listed on Mindat as "synonyms" of anything! A glossary entry on the other hand, describing the various historical uses, would be fine. A "synonym" status is just going to cause endless problems down the road, like the ridiculous "iron rose" photo that currently decorates our "needle ore" page! Please, please, please, stop using the Mindat "synonym" category for things that are not synonyms!!!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/2014 03:36AM by Alfredo Petrov.
Mark Heintzelman November 18, 2014 04:28AM
Absolutely agree, I really do feel the "needle ore" page should just "get the axe". It's just terminology and it belongs in the glossary.
Doug Daniels November 18, 2014 04:55AM
As far as the pricing of the pieces - a few years back I looked at prices of various minerals for use in Science Olympiad competitions. Bulk hematite, which the specimens shown would likely fit into, could be bought for about $7/lb, or about $0.015/gram. Maybe a bit more these days, but....
Rock Currier November 18, 2014 09:13PM
I know that people wanting to sell things often try and use names for their items that trade on names that have a higher preceved value than their goods might warrant. This may be the case here. I don't see anything in the pictured specimens that looks anything like a pencil or a needle. Perhaps if they had characteristics like this specimen their sale as pencil ore might be justified

Hematie, Cumbria, England. Sometimes called needle or pencil ore.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/2014 10:13PM by Rock Currier.
Jeff "Mouse" Jessie November 19, 2014 12:47AM
I really appreciate the input, thank you all!

OK, so I have 2 pieces that fit the characteristics of the Pencil / Needle Ore mentioned by most of you, and I am assuming, perhaps to my detriment, that even though they fit the variety and one is lustrous enough to be a proper display specimen that most of the pieces here should be like $10 - $30 and the two that are should be like $50 - $75 for the large, lustrous one and perhaps $25 - $30 for the small, dull one?

Piece one;
open | download - 20141118_165449_resized_1.jpg (439 KB)
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Jeff "Mouse" Jessie November 19, 2014 12:49AM
Piece Two;
open | download - 20141118_170005_resized_1.jpg (352.7 KB)
open | download - 20141118_170011_resized_1.jpg (371.4 KB)
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Doug Daniels November 19, 2014 03:21AM
I'd say no more than $30 for the first in the first of the two above posts, much less for the others. Really should be in the "valuation" threads (or whatever they are called now). Again, with no definite location, it ain't worth as much to savvy collectors.
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