DALLAS, TX.- A collection of 322 specimens from the estate of one of the most legendary mineral collectors of the last 50 years will be offered in Heritage Auctions’ Rock H. Currier Collection of Fine Minerals Auction Aug. 26 in Dallas, Texas.
Currier was a fixture at mineral trading shows who traveled the globe collecting minerals for his business, Jewel Tunnel Imports (JTI), and simultaneously assembling a private collection of his own, a lifelong passion that makes the offered collection almost a debut appearance.
“Rock Currier was a giant, larger-than-life man, known by everyone who seriously collects minerals,” Heritage Auctions Nature & Science Director Craig Kissick said. “He was a fixture in the hobby since the early stages of mineral dealing. Minerals weren’t a job – they were what he loved. He would go on trips to get inventory for JTI, but at the same time, he was assembling his incredible personal collection. Everyone in the mineral collecting community knew him. He truly was a legendary figure, and this collection really reflects his passion for minerals.
“He put together this collection over a period of more than four decades, ostensibly making the material in this lot fresh to market.”
Among the top lots in the upcoming auction is Topaz Xanda Mine, Virgem da Lapa, Minas Gerais, Brazil (estimate: $40,000-60,000), a massive (6.1 by 4.7 by 4.1 inches) specimen that qualifies as world-class by every measurable criteria, including size, color, form, transparency and luster. There might be other topaz specimens of similar size and quality, but none has been offered to the public in recent years. One of the world’s finest mineral preparatory labs has cleaned this exceptional specimen and restored the minute damage that occurred when the seven-pound behemoth was pulled from the mine.
Lot 72266. Topaz, Xanda Mine, Virgem da Lapa, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Overall Measurements: 6.1 x 4.7 x 4.3 inches (15.5 x 12.0 x 11.0 cm). Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: Ex. Roxanne Kremer Ex. Jocinto Neto Collections [RHC #6846, acquired 1998]
"A wonderful chisel shaped transparent blue single crystal with a bit of green tourmaline on one side. It is one of the best topaz crystals found at the deposit and the world. X Roxanne Kremer and Jocinto Neto specimen."
- Rock H. Currier
Note: This monster is a world class Topaz specimen in every way: color, form, size, transparency, luster, etc. Whatever criteria are applied to it, it meets. Are there others as good? Possibly. Have any been offered for sale? Lately? Not in any forum, either public or private, that we know about. Maybe there's one out there somewhere, along with Big Foot, Nessie, and Elvis. Yes, that's a photo of the Topaz with Rock holding it, for scale, and Rock was BIG man. One of the world's finest mineral preparatory labs has cleaned this Topaz, filled the internal fractures, and repaired the minute damage that occurred when this massive crystal was wrestled, intact, from the mine - not an easy feat considering this enormous Topaz weighs a whooping 7 pounds (3.28 kg.) There is a custom acrylic base.
Native Silver Michigan (estimate: $20,000-30,000) is another spectacular specimen. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is one of the few places in which Native Silver appears naturally, although specimens as big as this one, which measures 4.7 inches long, are exceedingly rare and therefore in exceptionally high demand.
Lot 72094. Native Silver, Michigan, USA. Overall Measurements: 4.7 x 3.5 x 1.2 inches (12.0 x 9.0 x 3.0 cm). Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: Ex. Bryn Mawr College, Ex. George Vaux Collections [RHC #3351, acquired 1977]: Ex. Bryn Mawr College, Ex. George Vaux Collections [RHC #3351, acquired 1977]
"An arborescent cluster of silver crystals of about 4.5 inches in diameter. I traded this specimen from the George Vaux collection at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia when Harold Arndt was still curator."
- Rock H. Currier
Note: God only knows what Rock traded to Bryn Mawr in order to get this, but there was either: a lot of it, a hell of a specimen of it, or both. As most collectors over the neophyte level know, Native Silver crystals don't grow on trees. They don't even grow in most Silver mines. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is one of the few places that they do occasionally appear, although never in large quantities. Big ones, (Yes, this is a BIG one) are eagerly sought after. We don't know what George Vaux had to give for this one, but you can bet it didn't come cheap even back in his day. Aesthetically, this "wave" of Native Silver crystals is as good as it gets. There is a custom acrylic base.
Azurite Copper Queen Mine, Queen Hill, Bisbee, Arizona (estimate: $20,000-30,000) is, in Currier’s words, “a wonderful undamaged cluster of sparkling azurite balls on (a) matrix – one of the best specimens collected.” Bisbee Azurites sometimes show an orange matrix color; this specimen is exceptional in size and aesthetics.
Lot 72012. Azurite, Copper Queen Mine, Queen Hill, Bisbee, Warren District, Mule Mts, Cochise Co., Arizona, USA. Overall Measurements: 7.9 x 4.3 x 7.9 inches (20.0 x 11.0 x 20.0 cm). Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: RHC #6840, acquired 1999
"A wonderful undamaged cluster of sparkling azurite balls on matrix. One of the best specimens collected. The balls are up to almost two centimeters and the limonite matrix upon which they are growing is dotted with tiny green malachite pseudomorphs after cuprite."
- Rock H. Currier
Note: A BIG Bisbee Azurite may not make them swipe right on Tinder, but it will probably be a better investment than that condo in Maui you've been thinking about. Besides their intrinsic natural beauty, minerals have proven to be durable, dependable, and portable investments. This Bisbee Azurite is a case in point. It went from being a pretty thing to add to the collection back when the mines were going and there were lots around, to valuable and sought after, today. Another plus is that you can tell if the specimen is esthetically challenged and less valuable just by looking at it. How about fakery you ask? Bisbee Azurites such as this one, show a distinctive orange matrix color that you don't have to be an expert to assess. In short, this specimen is not just a fine mineral based on size and esthetics, it is also a textbook study in why and how, to have your Azurite and your capital too. There is a custom labeled base.
Native Silver, Michigan (estimate: $20,000-30,000) is another exceptional specimen, which Currier called “an arborescent cluster of silver crystals of about 4-1/2 inches in diameter.” Currier acquired it in a trade from the George Vaux collection at Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania) College.
One of the visually dramatic lots in the auction is a Microcline var. Amazonite & Quartz var. Smoky from the Jack Rabbit Mine, Crystal Creek, Crystal Peak, Colorado (estimate: $15,000-25,000), a colossal specimen that measures nearly 12 inches in both height and length. Currier described this specimen as “a plate of dark-colored amazonite crystals with smoky quartz crystals growing from it.” What sets this specimen apart is the Smoky Quartz. Specimens like this are rare, as many were destroyed, and it represents a trophy-caliber specimen that can anchor a collection.
Lot 72045. Microcline var. Amazonite & Quartz var. Smoky, Jack Rabbit Mine, Crystal Creek, Crystal Peak, Teller Co., Colorado, USA. Overall Measurements: 11.8 x 11.8 x 2.8 inches (30.0 x 30.0 x 7.0 cm). Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: Collected by Bob Bartsch, Ex. Robert Bartsch Collection [RHC #9296, acquired 2015]
A plate of dark colored amazonite crystals with smoky quartz crystals growing from it. X Robert Bartsch specimen. Bob collected the specimen and spent several years cleaning and repairing it. It is the best one we found during a summers worth of digging. The scale under the specimen is an inch with a rule at one cm."
- Rock H. Currier
Note: Rock and Bob operated a claim that Bob had figured out wasn't covered by surrounding claims. (Clever, Bob was! Oops!) They took out some 13 pockets and spent months, and years, cleaning them up like street urchins headed for dancing school. The Amazonite is very fine but it is the Smoky Quartz that makes the piece. It was hard to find specimens that weren't trashed when the pockets collapsed. That's why Bob hung onto this one - he only kept specimens that he personally self-collected. Since he doesn't need it now, and neither does Rock, it's up for auction - a one-of-a-kind trophy from a couple of die-hard field collectors who were lifelong friends. As Rock stated, this specimen has been repaired and restored, just as many (if not most) of the region's Amazonite and Smoky Quartz specimens usually are.
Other top lots include, but are not limited to:
Lot 72114. Stephanite & Polybasite, Chispas Mine, Arizpe, Mun. de Arizpe, Sonora, Mexico. Overall Measurements: 3.9 x 2.4 x 2.0 inches (10.0 x 6.0 x 5.0 cm). Estimate: $12,000 - $18,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: Ex. Yale University Peabody Museum Collection [RHC #1864, acquired 1976], TMGS 2016 Romero Award Winner
Publication: Ford, William E. "Stephanite Crystals from Arizpe, Sonora, Mexico," American Journal of Science, 4th Ser., XXV, 244-248, 1908.
"A cluster of black stephanite crystals to about 1.5 inches in diameter with smaller wheels of polybasite in association. Traded from Yale University with Dr. Horis [sic] Winchel [sic]. When I opened the drawer that had the stephanite specimens I was blown away. I knew about the little European crystals that all the advanced collectors venerated so much, but the Arizpe stephanites in Yale's collection was a whole new dimension in the collection. I decided to see if I could trade one out of them. I eventually got a magnificent datolite and apophyllite specimen from Granby, Connecticut and abut [sic] a half dozen other specimens and offered them all to him for one stephanite. I wanted one of the other larger ones than the one he traded me, but those all had stars on them which he explained meant that they were all figured in the American Journal of Science article in the late 1800s [sic] and that they had a policy of never trading that material. So I settled for this little specimen. All the collectors of silver and Mexican minerals drool then [sic] they see it. One other dealer I know who has seen the Yale stephanites said he thought my specimen was the best one because it had less damage than the ones in their collection but I still think they have bigger and better than my specimen which may be the best one in private hands in the world."
- Rock H. Currier
Note: Not much to add to the narrative provided by Rock. Read it and lust in your heart of hearts, or just bid on it. Accompanied by the Miguel Romero trophy, label from the Peabody Museum of Yale, and a custom acrylic base.
Lot 72072. Native Gold on Quartz, Eagle's Nest Mine, Sage Hill, Michigan Bluff District, Placer Co., California, USA. Overall Measurements: 4.7 x 3.1 x 1.0 inches (12.0 x 8.0 x 2.5 cm). Estimate: $12,000 - $18,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: Bought from Kristalle (Wayne Leicht) [RHC #5037, acquired 1987]
"A cluster of fairly well crystallized gold growing out of milky quartz. Bought the specimen from Wayne Leicht"
- Rock H. Currier
Note: The Eagle's Nest has fledged a whole flock of well-crystallized Native Gold specimens over the last decade or two. Although the mine recently changed owners, it is a fairly good bet that production of fine specimens will continue as long as the deposit holds out. This example is true to form, showing brilliant, flattened octahedrons rising from the typical gray-white Quartz matrix that accompanies the metallic treasure, exposed by artful and careful preparation work. This golden crystal tree sits upright on a custom acrylic base.
Lot 72288. Quartz var. Amethyst with Epitaxial Amethyst & Goethite on Calcite "Skunk", Andre Jachetti Mine, Artigas, Artigas Department, Uruguay. Overall Measurements: 13.8 x 6.7 x 6.7 inches (35.0 x 17.0 x 17.0 cm). Estimate: $12,000 - $18,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: RHC #5920, acquired 1990
Publications: John S. White (2013) Mineral Mysteries: "Skunks" and Related Phenomena, Rocks & Minerals, 88:4, 368-372. (2003) Chips from the Quarry, Rocks & Minerals, 78:4, 213-215. (1997), Cover, Rocks & Minerals, 72:2.
"A wonderful "skunk". A 35 cm curved plate of dark amethyst crystals with a 12 cm pale yellow brown scalenohedral calcite crystal growing up from the amethyst and black stripes of goethite running up three sides of the calcite and up the center of the black goethite stripes run smaller stripes of amethyst crystals. One of the best two know from Artigas as of 2003. The other good one is also in my collection. Sort of like "My second car is also a Porshe [sic]"
- Rock H. Currier
Note: Rock had a thing for these, and why not? Their exotically weird appearance fit right in with Rock's twisted sense of esthetics, as well as humor. We have yet to hear a convincing explanation for the formation of the striped areas that obviously had some reason to form where they did. 'Aliens' are as good as any other explanation that we've heard. This was a cover piece for Rocks & Minerals magazine. Included in the lot is the cover proof along with a copy of the magazine issue itself. Here's your chanced to get: "skunked."
Lot 72092. Native Silver & Native Copper, Michigan, USA. Overall Measurements: 5.7 x 5.9 x 3.0 inches (14.5 x 15.0 x 7.5 cm). Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: RHC #1888, acquired 1975
"A divergent cluster of silver crystals about 2 x 3 inches perched up on a base of native copper with minor basalt. ?"
- Rock H. Currier
Note: If only one word could be applied to this lovely matrix specimen, a good candidate for that word would be: "Sweet!!" The combination of both: finely crystallized Native Silver and Native Copper is exquisite. Additionally, that the group is still on its original Basalt matrix makes it one of the finest obtainable. Seeing it, in person,is nothing less than amazing. This fine cabinet specimen sits dramatically on its custom acrylic base.
Lot 72292. Calcite with Epitaxial Quartz var. Amethyst & Goethite "Skunk", Andre Jachetti Mine, Artigas, Artigas Department, Uruguay. Overall Measurements: 7.0 x 7.0 x 8.0 inches (17.8 x 17.8 x 20.3 cm). Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000. © Heritage Auctions.
Provenance: RHC #6002
Publications: Rock H. Currier. (1997) Amethyst, Agate, and Calcite "Skunks" from Uruguay. Rocks & Minerals, 72:2, pages 94-105.
Note: "A superb example of an amethyst "skunk". A pale yellow calcite crystals with dark colored amethyst crystals growing on black horizontal stripes of goethite up three sides of the calcite crystal. Probably the finest example of its kind in the world."
- Rock H. Currier
Everything we said about the other "skunks" are true about this one, only raised to a stratospheric level of development and perfection. Looking like an alien artifact, it would be equally at home in a mineral cabinet, or, on the set of Forbidden Planet. David Bowie would have treasured it.