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Posted by David Von Bargen  
David Von Bargen July 21, 2009 01:24PM
Click here to view Best Minerals S and here for Best Minerals A to Z and here for Fast Navigation of completed Best Minerals articles.

Can you help make this a better article? What good localities have we missed? Can you supply pictures of better specimens than those we show here? Can you give us more and better information about the specimens from these localities? Can you supply better geological or historical information on these localities? After each set of pictures there should be some descriptive text. If none appears it means that we need someone to tell us about the specimens from that locality and something about the geology of the occurrence.

SilverAg Isometric

Siler, Kongsberg, Norway 15 cm tall

Silver specimens are readily available (although good ones can be expensive). The most common habits are wires or as reticulated masses of twinned crystals (herringbone). It is relatively simple to artificially grow silver wires. The first major production of silver was obtained by the Chaldeans via cuppellation in ~ 2500BC. Historically Athens used the silver found in the Laurium area to pay for it becoming a naval power circa 483BC and the mines were a major source of silver until the Romans began exploiting Spanish mines. In the Middle ages, the German and Central European deposits were exploited. Spanish colonization of the Americas resulted in production from the Andes Mountains (Bolivia and Peru) and Mexico. The gold rushes in the American west often led to the discovery of significant silver deposits such as the Comstock Lode, Nevada and Leadville, Colorado.

Silver is found in a number of hydrothermal deposits, but most of the better reticulated masses come from Ag-Ni-Co-Bi-U-As veins. The wires usually form in supergene enrichment zones. Also, silver has been found associated with copper in red bed sedimentary deposits. Silver is also found as various sulfide, sulfosalt and halide minerals. Some of the native silver specimens have been cut and polished for jewelry making. Native silver specimens can occur in large masses. Duke Albrecht and his entourage in 1477 were in the St. Georg mine in Schneeburg and ate a meal on a 4x2x1 meter mass of native silver (the "Silbertisch" - silver table). Possibly the largest mass of silver was found in a surface outcropping on the Lawson mine property in Cobalt, Ontario named the "Silver Sidewalk". The shoot measured 100 m long, 60m deep and up to 0.5m wide and consisted of native silver and cobalt arsenides. Silver specimens were able to evade the smelter early in mine lives (the owners tended to call it "highgrading"), but over time as miners ran into a need for money, many specimens ended up being melted in assay offices. The extraordinary quality and size of specimens from the old classic locality of Kongsberg, Norway prevented the destruction of numerous specimens, but even many of these ended up in the smelters.

AustraliaNew South WalesCobar, Elura Mine (Endeavor Mine)

Silver, spinel twins. size?
Silver, 6cm tall

This locality is known for extremely long spinel law twinned crystals which form into wires.

SilverCzech RepublicBohemia (Böhmen; Boehmen), Central Bohemia Region, Příbram

Silver after dyscrasite 2.5 cm tall

SilverGermanyBaden-Württemberg, Black Forest, Schenkenzell, Wittichen

Silver 2.7cm tall

SilverGermanySaxony, Erzgebirge, Freiberg District, Freiberg

Silver, 8 cm tall
Silver, 14 cm tall

This mining district was discovered discovered in late 12th century. Some collectors think that many of these specimens that have recently come to the market place are man made.

SilverGermanySaxony, Erzgebirge, Freiberg District, Brand-Erbisdorf, Himmelsfürst Mine

Silver, 3.7 cm tall
Silver 5 cm wide

SilverGermanySaxony, Erzgebirge, Schwarzenberg District, Pöhla, Pöhla-Tellerhäuser Mine

Silver, ~2 cmwide
Silver, FOV 2 cm tall

SilverKazakhstanKaragandy Province (Qaragandy Oblysy; Karaganda Oblast'), Dzhezkazgan (Zhezqazghan), Dzhezkazgan Mine (Zhezqazghan Mine)

Silver 7cm tall
Silver ~2 cm tall

SilverMexicoChihuahua, Mun. de Batopilas, Andres del Rio District, Batopilas

Silver ~8 cm tall
Silver ~8cm tall
Silver 3 cm tall
Silver, 2.6 cm tall

SilverMexicoChihuahua, Mun. de Batopilas, Andres del Rio District, Batopilas, New Nevada Mine

Silver 3.6cm tall
Silver 3.8 cm tall

SilverNorwayBuskerud, Kongsberg, Kongsberg Silver Mining District

Silver 11 cm tall
Silver ~10cm tall
Silver ~1.8cm tall
Silver, 5.2 cm tall
Silver ~6cm tall
Silver, 2.9 cm tall
Silver, spinel twins 6.9cm tall
Silver 3 cm tall

Kongsberg is the most famous locality for silver specimens. Wires of silver up to about a meter long are known, crystals are known to about 5 cm. There is a 17kg, mass of wire silver in the museum at Kongsberg. In addition, some specimens are associated with well formed disk like calcite crystals with wire silver growing through them and others are associated with fluorite crystals.

SilverUnited KingdomScotland, Central Region (Clackmannanshire), Alva, Silver Glen, Alva Silver Mine

Cubic silver xls. ~4cm wides up to ~mm
Silver dendrites to ~2cm long
Silver dendrites ~2cm wide

The first two specimens shown here were collected by Stephen Moreton. His comments abut them are interesting. "My two best ever finds, from my student days in the 1980s. I call them the "Crown Jewels" of my collection and they were the result of years of methodical excavation of the waste heap of Scotland's richest silver mine (indeed the richest bonanza of native silver ever found in the British Isles)"

SilverUSAMichigan, Keweenaw Peninsula

3 cm

Although not as well known as the copper specimens produced by the mines of the Keweenaw Pensinsula, much silver was mined and saved by the miners. To many of the early miners it was called white copper. The miners and mine captains considered it as a sort of unapproved bonus to their regular saleries. The best known specimens are the "half-breeds", specimens consisting of separate areas of copper and silver. Some of the best of these show crystals of silver with copper. In these specimens the copper is usually less well crystallized than the silver. Many half-breed "nuggets" have been found. Many were produced in the stamp mills of the refineries or by glacial action. Recorded silver production is 16 million ounces, but probably twice that amount was mined. The best silver specimens were found in the Kearsarge and Pewabic lodes as well as the fissure mines. Wire silver is rare, most specimens are herringbone aggregates or "spikes" (up to 10cm). Most are octahedral or dodecahedral crystals although rare cubes (to 5mm) have been found. Many specimens are simply labeled Silver, Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan because most specimens were removed from the mines by the miners without company permission (strictly speaking they were stolen) and placing a mine name on them might cause "heat" from the management. The copper producing areas of the Keweenaw Peninsula are mostly encompassed by Keweenaw and Houghton and Ontonagon Counties in the state of Michigan, USA.

SilverUSAMichigan, Houghton Co., Kearsarge, Kearsarge Mine

Silver 5.3cm tall

SilverUSAMichigan, Keweenaw Co.

Silver half-breed 5.2cm

SilverUSAMichigan, Ontonagon Co.

Silver & Copper half-breed 4.7cm wide

SilverUSAMichigan, Ontonagon Co., White Pine, White Pine Mine

Silver 10cm wide

Arborescent and herringbone aggregates in calcite veins from the southwest orebody.

Click here to view Best Minerals S and here for Best Minerals A to Z and here for Fast Navigation of completed Best Minerals articles.

Edited 14 time(s). Last edit at 10/16/2013 11:44AM by Rock Currier.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph July 21, 2009 02:49PM
Are we sure that the german wire silvers shown here are genuine?
David Von Bargen July 21, 2009 03:03PM
Wire silvers are a real problem. There are probably 1000's of locations that have produced them. Unless you get some really big ones that are almost always from Kongsberg, you can't really pin them down by looks, matrix, etc. They can also be produced fairly easily by artificial means and the tools for determining this aren't agreed on. I also wonder if the aesthetics of these aren't enhanced by a bit of judicious bending.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph July 21, 2009 03:28PM
Regarding the bending, I would be suspicious of any of the unusually bent Stibnite crystals from china, as I saw a chinese dealer take a not unsubstantial (greater than finger thickness) stibnite crystal and bend it in front of my eyes into what he thought was a more pleasing shape!
Alfredo Petrov July 21, 2009 03:35PM
Interesting, Jolyon. I saw that done to a long skinny vivianite crystal too.
Rock Currier July 21, 2009 08:11PM
Dave, I am glad that someone has at least started on silver. You should, when you get around to it, bring the formatting line in with those of the rest of the articles already done. Reverse locality strings in bold, 400 pixel images, at least to start with etc. This gives us larger images to look at and allows for larger captions, the length of which can sometimes be a problem. Some of Harjos articles are the most artistic and I have used a couple of his ideas to tweak the formatting to give it the best possible look.

Don't be afraid to include a bunch of images of silvers from the same locality. It makes the article better and richer looking and gives the reader a better idea of what is out there. It does take a bit of work to arrange them in a logical fashion and tweak them to the same height if that can be logically beneficial. Thats where the artistic part comes in to make them eye appealing.

There will almost certainly be a number of silver localities that should be included even though they have no pictures here on mindat but because of their historical significance they should be mentioned and to some degree described. Yes, we want some of the suspect German silvers in the article, but also the comment that there has been considerable controversy if they are natural or not. Let the reader make up their own mind. Best Minerals is after all only a tool to help people do that.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/21/2009 08:14PM by Rock Currier.
David Von Bargen July 21, 2009 11:50PM
The reason that some of the localities only had one photo was that I didn't find any others from the locality that I liked. Yes 400 might be better. These photos in general are narrower than some other "best" projects end up with. Some relatively important silver districts did not produce a lot of good native silver specimens, only some small native silver wires or sheets. In terms of silver wires, I sort of have a minimum cutoff of about 10cm unless it is a very odd specimen (they all sort of start looking the same). Once you get away from the supergene wires and the arsenide herringbones, there really aren't that many good localities for good crystals.
Rock Currier July 22, 2009 01:36AM
Dave, Ill go through my slide file and pull out all the good silvers I have them and scan them in, fix them up and upload them to mindat. Those should help some. While I am at it, Ill go through my turquoise ones, but don't think Ill have all that much to help with there.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
David Von Bargen July 22, 2009 02:14AM
With respect to the turquoise, the vast majority of the production has ended up in jewelry and when was the last time you saw a locality for a piece of jewelry? (Although some people are good at IDing where a particular gem came from).
Michael J. Bainbridge July 22, 2009 02:55AM
Nothing on the mines of Cobalt, Ontario?
Simone Citon July 22, 2009 06:32AM
...and I remind to all the issue of the Imiter Silver. How can we present these magnificent examples and remain with serious doubts? We can't get to the bottom of this? Simone

open | download - gch44g.jpg (75.1 KB)
David Von Bargen July 22, 2009 10:37AM
Nope, nothing on Cobalt. The glaciers probably got the best wire silvers from there. The only mine where there was a significant secondary suite of minerals was the Canadian Keeley Mine (Frontier Mine) and the wire silver isn't particularly noteworthy. Most of the rest of the native silver was either in the cores of arsenides or as leaf silver (ie massive). The silvers from Silver Islet or the Port Radium are much better Canadian examples of silver from this type of silver deposit.
Maggie Wilson July 22, 2009 12:30PM

Hello - here are some samples recently retrieved from Cobalt. I hope to be able to write something for this thread once our busy collecting and show time is over, probably in the winter.

open | download - wire silver Cobalt.jpg (209.9 KB)
open | download - Silver wire TN Cobalt.JPG (34.8 KB)
Robert Rothenberg July 22, 2009 01:21PM
Hello David,

Attached is a photo of Silver from the El Bonanza Mine, Port Radium, Great Bear Lake, Mackenzie District, Northwest Territories, Canada. It is a micro, but it's one of my favorites. I tried to sharpen the photo in I-photo, but the file ended up larger tan I could attach to this e-mail.

open | download - DSCN5243 copy.JPG (684.1 KB)
Maurizio Dini July 23, 2009 02:09AM
Dear Rock and Silver collectors:

this beautifull thread seems to forget Chilean Silver! It is quite known, that Chañarcillo district, produced not only fantastic Proustite (Rock, we need a Proustite article, eh, eh,....), but loverly and high quality collection material, similar to Kongsberg and Freiberg.

There are some estonishing wires and "hooks" of several cm tall at Harvard museum (Rock, do you have any good relationship with Dr. Carl Francis?); perhaps someone may be able to take a photo so we can admire those...and post them at the appropiate chañarcillo mindat site!
On this regard there is a decent foto (taken by Bob Jones) of a fantastic arborescent silver wire (I rather say "flag spikes") actually reported in the harvard Museum (5 cm tall); the foto can be seen in the famous "Chañarcillo" article, by Robert B. Cook, Minrec july-aug 1979.

Chañarcillo silver generally speaking was smaller and often less dramatic then the european ones, but nevertheless they are often found with other species (i.e. Acanthite, Chlorargyrite, even Adamite...), and still in the best private and museum collection worldwide.

Find attached a "modest" example of the nest group, from my collection: this specimen could be improved dissolving calcite but I definetly may damage original silver xls surface....

bye to everybody
Maurizio Dini
open | download - SilverChañarcillo.jpg (176.7 KB)
Caleb July 23, 2009 06:10AM
I love this thread and will be taking lots of pics this weekend
Maurizio Dini July 23, 2009 07:05PM
Hello Caleb:

perhaps you can post here some pics and describe a bit the history of some of your silvers.....
what do you thik?

Maurizio Dini
Rock Currier July 24, 2009 08:33AM
Dave, already you can see how you are starting to catch hell from people that love their different localities and eventually I think you will agree that to keep the peace and people happy, you will have to include a lot more localities and pictures. Probably you will eventually end up with at least as many localities and pictures as are in the Gold and Prehnite articles. Looks like you are starting to have fun learning about tweaking the image sizes and captions. That is where the art comes in. I think Harjo is the best we have so far in that category. Welcome to the grind! And you thought you were going to get away with a nice neat little article with a couple of dozen localities and about 75 pictures. Hee Hee!! LOL

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Sebastian Möller July 24, 2009 03:11PM

The best German pieces can be seen at the Mineralogical Collection of the University of Freiberg.

The longest wire there comes from Freiberg and is 26 cm in length. Those are old specimen from Freiberg with matrix and most likely no fakes.

I will write some short descriptions on German silver localities the next weeks (currently being offline most time).

Some you should mention:

St. Andreasberg, Lower Saxony
Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt (leafs and plates on bituminous shales (copper shale))
Marienberg, Schneeberg, Schlema (all Erzgebirge Mts., Saxony). The latter having produced silver dendrites like the ones from Pöhla up to 10 cm with arsenic and nice silver wires)
Wenzel Mine, Oberwolfach, Black Forest (silver wires up to 1 cm on/in calcite with pyrargyrite and dyscrasite/allargentum).

Sebastian Möller
David Von Bargen July 24, 2009 04:08PM
If we had a good representative group of shots from Kongsberg, I could have restricted it to a single locality (at least if you just want to incorporate the best specimens). The problem is that there are probably a couple of hundred locations that are of the Ag Co/Ni Arsenides type and that most of them have reticulated silver groups (and most look remarkably alike). It is even worse with silver wires. There are probably 1000's of locations that have produced specimens like this (although most have ended up in your old change or photo film). Might have to require the answers to the ten questions as a filter.
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