Cianciana, Agrigento (Girgenti) Province, Sicily, Italy

    Progress is sometimes a good thing, sometimes not. In the case of excellent Sulfur specimens formerly provided by the mines of Sicily - it is both. There is little doubt that while the Sicilian mines were in operation, the finest crystallized specimens known were produced as a byproduct of "commercial mining": a recent term compared to the long history of this element and its importance to Sicily. The good side of progress regarding sulfur production in Sicily, is that there isn't any. That means the hellish conditions endured by underground miners of the mineral are over. As Booker T. Washington observed after a visit to the area: "I am not prepared just now to say to what extent I believe in a physical hell in the next world, but a Sulphur mine in Sicily is about the nearest thing to hell that I expect to see in this life."* Heat, lung-destroying gases and backbreaking toil were the lot of the Carusi, as the indentured "mine-boys" were called. The development of the Frasch process of sulfur recovery from deep wells on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. put a stop to the evil working conditions of the Sicilian Sulfur mine, by putting them out of business. It also put a stop to the 'by-product' specimen production that helped the miners make a little extra something, to improve their wretched existence. That's the bad side of progress.

    While those Sicilian mines were in operation, some miner took the trouble to carefully extract, protect and carry to surface, this exquisite example. Thick, three-dimensional groups of rich "Sulfur" yellow crystals up to one inch across, are piled in multiple clusters, all over a matrix of colorless, tiny Aragonite crystals typical of material from the Cianciana Mine. A minor amount of dark bitumen, a naturally associated hydrocarbon, tints a few areas. This is further evidence of their Sicilian origin. It is in excellent condition with none of the problems usually seen in material of this size and age.
    Overall measurements: 7 x 5 x 4.5 inches (17.8 x 12.7 x 11.4 cm). Offered at no reserve.

    Reference: *Washington, Booker T. The Man Farthest Down: A Record of Observation and Study In Europe. 1912.
    Provenance: Keith Proctor [Hoppel Catalog # D1599]

    [Scale: 1 inch, with mark at 1 cm]

    Estimate: $18,000 - $22,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Condition report available upon request.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    2nd Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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