Description

    PENNSYLVANIA SEED FERNS
    Various genera
    Late Carboniferous, Pennsylvanian subperiod
    Llewellyn Formation, St Claire, Schuylkill Co., Pennsylvania, USA
    These fossil leaves, of various genera and species, appear at first glance to be ferns. They are actually the leaves of giant tree-like plants ranging from about 30 to 150 feet tall, and they bore seeds rather than reproducing by spores as ferns do. Thus, this extinct family of plants is commonly known as "Seed Ferns". Fossils similar to the present specimen were used to delineate the geological timeline of North America, representing the Pennsylvanian period. This lasted from about 318 to 299 million years ago, following the Mississippian subperiod from 359-318 million years ago, two halves of the Carboniferous period. The state of Pennsylvania is particularly rich in rocks and fossils from this time, providing the period's name. However, it is only in the St Claire area that these fossils are commonly coated with the white mineral Pyrophyllite, on a dark, charcoal gray slate-like shale. Even here, most are either dirty and impossible to clean because of the flakey and fragile nature of the Pyrophyllite; or likewise, so much of the white coating may be absent or adhering to the other parts of the rock that the fossils are irredeemably marred. In addition, there may also be too many fossils overlapping and frequently, due to the twisted, slate-nature grain of the shale, large pieces are nearly impossible to extract. Thus, when a large specimen such as this emerges, with a remarkably artistic-looking array of very white fossils on an unusually thick shale matrix, 17 inches high by 13 inches wide at the base, a truly rare and exquisite masterpiece is at hand. The surface has been preserved with hairspray to stabilize the Pyrophyllite coating, and a little glue to stabilize the natural cracks in the shale, but it is a virtually 100% natural fossil, and that is a rarity indeed.
    Provenance: Ex. Hugh Ronemus Collection, collected by HR and William Deans 10.25.2011.


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    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    20th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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