(520) 322-5773


Why Minerals of Western Europe?

Why Minerals of Western Europe?

Although many of our shows (Alpine Minerals, Quartz, Fluorite, Silver etc.) have included species found in the countries of Western Europe, we have never focused directly on the “Cradle of Mineralogy” …another way of looking at our 2015 “Minerals of Western Europe” theme.  Modern mineralogy was born there and probably half (or more) of all the mineral species ever described come from this region, plus the geologic diversity is enormous, so this show should stand out as being among the most mineralogically varied ever.  Modern mineral collecting was also born in Western Europe, so there will be a number of exhibits featuring historic figured specimens, specimens from historic collections incorporated into major museums scattered throughout the world, and perhaps more type specimens than ever exhibited at Tucson before. Add to this a host of mining and mineralogical artifacts, mineral specimens exchanged between the crowned heads of Europe (many of whose collections survive as the nucleus of major national museums), exquisite carvings from Idar-Oberstein, and some of the earliest Mineralogy books published,  and you may actually risk reaching mineral saturation!

Many have asked how we define Western Europe.  We decided to eschew politics (especially modern) and took a quasi-geologic perspective in our definition (see map courtesy of Bill Besse).  We started mid-continent with the western border of Russia (our theme back in 2001) and going from there to the edge of the European Plate in all directions.  (Remember, the eastern limit of the European Plate is the Ural Mountains, so the geographic balance is pretty close to even. And since the Mid-Ocean Ridge runs right through Iceland, specimens from eastern Iceland are welcome but western Icelandic minerals grew in the North American Plate and therefore don’t count!)  This encompasses everything from the complex ore minerals from the ancient mines in the eastern mountains to the nearly modern zeolites of eastern Iceland; and from the active volcanoes of the Mediterranean to the ancient metamorphic terranes of Scandinavia.  Many will think first of classics like Kongsberg Silver; Chessy Azurite; Pennine and Spanish Fluorite; Sicilian Sulfur; Alpine Gwindels and Epidote; Freiberg Silvers, Sulfides and Sulfosalts; Elba Elbaite; and Cornish Arsenates…and all will be well represented.  But so will more modern finds like Norwegian Anatase; Golden Swedish Calcite; Les Farges Pyromorphite; Madan Galena, Spanish Pyrites; Serifos Prase; Strzegom, Burg and Rogerley Fluorite; Trepca Bournonite; Belgian Calcites; and Panasquiera Apatites. This just scratches the surface and there are sure to be surprises, like specimens from the Faroe Islands or Monaco…and perhaps even Grand Fenwick!

So whether you pay for your ticket to get here in Pounds, Francs, Crowns, Dollars, Yen, Yuan, Pesos or Euros, we take great pleasure in presenting a mineralogical smorgasbord that should leave you certain you got your money’s worth.   And the weather should be nice as well!

Peter Megaw                                                                                                                                2015 Special & Guest Exhibits Chair                                                                                  

Manganite: Photo by Mark Mauthner