DescriptionVARISCITE WITH CRANDALLITE
Little Green Monster Variscite Mine, Clay Canyon, Fairfield, Oquirrh Mountains, Utah Co., Utah, USA
In spite of many shared aspects, it is an uncommon circumstance for lapidary objects to have significant interest value for collectors of exotic mineral specimens, and vice versa. The specimen offered here is an instance where those two collecting arenas overlap. Variscite is a phosphate mineral very closely related to Turquoise in chemistry and appearance: Turquoise being generally blue, while Variscite tends to a green coloration.
The classic and most notable of the many localities for Variscite is a small prospect in central Utah called the Little Green Monster Mine. For a number of years, starting around the turn of the 20th century, exceptionally fine nodules of Variscite were mined here on an intermittent basis. The mine is now caved in and little remains to hint at its significance. During the productive period, tan nodular masses up to a half meter in diameter were removed, sawn into thick slices and the surfaces polished to show off the variegated and colorful patterns hidden in the interior.
One of the larger nodules resulted in a slice interesting enough to find its way into the personal collection of Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron. It resided for many years in his Millbrook, New York, home and was purchased from his granddaughter in 1983 by mineral dealer and collector Dr. Gary Hansen. That slice, owned by Carnegie, is the one offered here. It is one of the largest for the locality and shows a complex mixture of aqua-green Variscite displaying variable degrees of color saturation, transsected by numerous "healed" fractures containing other rare phosphate minerals. Some of the fractures contain finely banded light violet patterns reminiscent of Laguna Agates, while others host yellowish layers of Crandallite: just one of the many rare alteration minerals lining these fractures. The outer "rim" is almost completely composed of these tan alteration minerals. The specimen is one of the largest known examples of this classic phosphate mineral. It is clear that this specimen has considerable collector appeal on multiple levels: as a rarely encountered and attractive lapidary piece, as an aggregate of rare and exotic minerals from a bygone source, as a piece of history with a unusual provenance. It measures 12 x 11 x 1 inch thick and is extremely well polished on both sides. It is accompanied by a custom labeled acrylic base.
Accompanied by: a signed letter from Dr. Hansen stating that this specimen was in Andrew Carnegie's personal collection, when it was purchased from his granddaughter in 1983; and copies of Andrew Carnegie's mineral catalog, detailing this specific specimen.
Provenance: Ex. Andrew Carnegie's personal collection; Ex. Dr. Gary Hansen Collection
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