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Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria
  
  Index -> Incorrect classification and fakes
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Jessica Simonoff




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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 12:35    Post subject: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Hi everyone!

A lot of you have probably seen or heard of the hollow galena crystals from Madan, in which only the corners and edges of the crystals are present (there are no faces and no center). An example picture is attached to the post.

In October 2009, a message was posted to the Mindat forums [ https://www.mindat.org/forum.php?read,55,157736,page=1 ] asking about whether these pieces were fakes. A lot of people ad been wondering the same for quite a while, but nobody had actually done any scientific experiment to see whether that was the case.

I talked to Ed Rosenzweig from Edwards Minerals about the discussion, and he lent me five specimens of hollow galena that were sold to him as natural so that I could experiment with them to see whether I could draw a conclusion about them being natural. Until then, he stopped selling them so that he wouldn't accidentally sell a fake mineral. An anonymous person on Mindat was able to make two similar specimens using microabrasion, and that person sent the pieces to me so that I could compare them to Ed's pieces.

I performed multiple tests at home to try and determine whether the pieces were fake, but I couldn't reach a definite conclusion that way. Lance Kearns at James Madison University invited me to use the SEM in his lab. Because of a time limit, I selected three pieces to look at: two from Ed, and one that was a definite fake donated anonymously. We looked at the man-made first so that it would show us what, if anything, to look for in the other specimen. One of the first things we noticed was that the surface of the galena had many spherical indentations - probably a result of the microabrasion. (A picture is attached to this post.) We also saw a glass sphere that was partially embedded in the surface of the galena, which was left-over abrasive material! (Picture attached.)

The other two pieces I examined also had the indentations and left-over abrasives. However, the last one had crystals of aluminum silicate that were used as the abrasive rather than glass (picture attached).

The conclusion I can draw from this is that the two specimens I examined are definitely fakes. I will not make an assumption about the ones I didn't test, because two is not a large enough sample size for me to feel comfortable saying that none are natural. However, I think it is safe to say that some, if not most, of these hollow galena specimens are faked. In my opinion, they are still beautiful pieces of mineral art - just not natural ones.

If you would like to read about my experiment with the hollow galenas in greater detail than this, you can read my Mindat article: https://www.mindat.org/article.php/977/Exploration+of+the+Hollowed+Galenas?del=1231 . The experiment is also published in the December 2010 issue of Mineral News.

Jessica



Full ed 1.jpg
 Description:
An example of the hollow galenas from Madan.
 Viewed:  30130 Time(s)

Full ed 1.jpg



indents mm.jpg
 Description:
indentations on the man-made piece from the SEM
 Viewed:  30135 Time(s)

indents mm.jpg



sphere 1.jpg
 Description:
the glass ball on the man-made galena
 Viewed:  30115 Time(s)

sphere 1.jpg



crystals.jpg
 Description:
abrasive aluminum silicate crystals
 Viewed:  30135 Time(s)

crystals.jpg


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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 12:39    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Great job Jessica. Congratulations!

Jordi

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Jessica Simonoff




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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 12:40    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

thanks!!

Jessica
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GneissWare




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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 13:27    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Hi Jessica,
I had just finished reading your article in Mineral News, and was impressed with the way the study was performed and the way the study was reported. If I recall correctly from your previous posts, you are still a teenager? You have a fine mind, and your article displays a degree of understanding rarely seen in people without a degree! Great piece of research.

Bob
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Jessica Simonoff




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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 13:36    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

thanks so much! Yes, I'm 12 (not technically a teenager yet :-) )
Jessica
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Peter Megaw
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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 13:44    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

This is great work Jessica! How these could form naturally was always a bigger problem for me than how they could be formed with micro-abrasion...nice to have those suspicions confirmed. But I AM glad that no-one made one with galena from Naica, or I probably would have been burned too!

But there's a bigger message here that is worth getting across. This work reflects what SHOULD happen in these questionable cases...but seldom does...cooperation between a dealer (who stood to lose his investment in these specimens) and a scientific researcher with access to the tools to do the study right. The dealer rightly took his stock off the market pending results and left the researcher free to publish the facts...financially painful as they are for the dealer.

Despite not having an exhaustive group of specimens to examine, and the researcher expressing due caution on that basis, the fact that these fakes can be readily made and that supposedly natural pieces can be readily shown to be fakes strongly suggests that ALL these pieces be relegated to the dustbins of fakery...unless someone can come up not only with compelling evidence for absence of the traces of fakery...but a plausible explanation for how these would occur naturally. Now the collector community can relabel their specimens accordingly...and/or return them to whoever they bought them from. The response of specific dealers to this issue should tell us a lot about who to do business with!

Above this however, was the integrity to question the material and the courage to publish the results in the face of possible repercussions from fellow dealers and collectors who stand to lose their investment in similar specimens. Comparable studies of much higher priced materials...in particular certain silver specimens...have apparently stopped short of screaming "fake" more because of these fears (including litigation) than lack of compelling scientific evidence of human involvement. The dealer here clearly had his doubts (as did many others) but does not appear to have attempted to steer the results in favor of them being certified as natural...not clear the same can be said for other dubious materials.

It is refreshing to see genuine scientific curiosity and interest win out for a change...especially in these days of strong-arming by politicians, lawyers and fellow "scientists" with an overweening stake in having results support their pre-conceptions...or desires.

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mmauthner




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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 14:03    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Well done, Jessica!

Mark
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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 14:23    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

The fakers should have used HF to ged rid of the last traces of glass beads, and then HNO3 to etch the impact pits off the galena. (Aren't we all lucky I'm not in the mineral fakery business? :))
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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 15:12    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

I believe your life as a seller of fakeries would be very short Alfredo ;-)

Have you ever tried submerge Galena crystals in HF or HNO3? I beleive that after this treatment them could be hardly sold...;-)
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James Catmur
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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 17:10    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Brilliant - we finally have view based on proper analysis. I was never certain that they were real but was fascinated by them as I love crystal forms and structures

James
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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 19:13    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Jessica never fails to impress.
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Jessica Simonoff




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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 19:52    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Thank you so much everyone!!!
Peter - some mineral collecting friends did warn me that some people could get mad at me, but I thought that the science was more important. :) I am kind of wondering what will happen at Tucson but I'm not that worried about it!
Jordi - what would happen to the galena in HF or HNO3??
Jessica
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PostPosted: Dec 24, 2010 22:44    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Jessica

What you did at your age was a great job of finding out the truth about sometihing you thought was wrong. I started collecting minerals when my parents joined San Diego Mineral and Gem back in 1968 (I was 14 at the time). Those friendships I have made over the years where based on trust and honesty in dealing with people. I learned from some of the best collectors and dealers of that day. Keep up the good work and enjoy what you are doing not only for yourself but for the future of this hobbie I love.

Bob
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PostPosted: Dec 25, 2010 00:17    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Dilute HF would not hurt galena at all. It will attack quartz (very slowly) and dissolve micro glass particles (very quickly), so a short dip accomplishes the purpose splendidly. HNO3 will quickly attack galena easily, which is of course the purpose - to etch the crystals. An ugly white film of anglesite might develop, which can be removed with certain organic salts. As the advertizing goes in the USA: "Better life through chemistry" ;))

One friend told me I shouldn't say these sorts of things because it will encourage more fakery, But I do not believe that... everyone who enjoyed chemistry lab class in secondary school already knows these things - they aren't exactly "secrets". I think the fakers will be more quickly discouraged from their activities the faster we publish how they do their nefarious work. Let's expose their "secrets". So a hearty "bravo" to Jessica for taking on this task so successfully, and a respectful bow to the perceptive Rock Currier, who recognized right away how they had been made when the first one came out.
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PostPosted: Dec 25, 2010 04:35    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Hi Jessica,

Great job indeed ! congratulations, and thanks to sharing with us.

Christophe

PS : Merry Christams
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Ed Huskinson




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PostPosted: Jan 04, 2011 18:52    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Hi Jessica. Thank you for your fine work on the skeletal galenas from Madan. I return to Kingman from the Christmas and New Year's holidays to find that you've knocked the mineral community on its collective ear with your article and post. Good work Jessica. I enjoyed the article and your post on FMF as well.
As for the skeletal galenas, they were impressive. I remember seeing them in the MR, "What's New in Minerals, Munich Show". I thought to myself "Wow! Sure hope they're not all gone." Rob had one left in Tucson the next year, and I bought it. Last year I bought another one, closer to the source. The things were not cheap, but I was a happy buyer, although I did break my own observation regarding the Power of Legitimacy. "Paying these insane prices just legitimizes the lunacy". Still, one of the selling points for me was the presence of the little etch/growth lines parallel with the cubic {001} face. I had encountered this phenomenon before, on an octahedral galena which I acquired in Santa Eulalia in 1978. And I'm pretty sure that Juan Orona did not have a micro-abrasive unit in the back of the Bar Centro Minero back then. So i came home happy.

Your exposure of the fakery via "Anropogenic retro-grade back-etching" does not dismay me, as I have a place to put the Madan pieces. There is a subset of my collection devoted to fakes and fakery. The Madan stuff will fit right in, so I'm lucky. Maybe not so much for some of our fellow collectors.

About my fakes: There's an Archie Wilson fake gold specimen (in a wooden box with a glass cover, "hermetically" sealed). He put false bottoms in his boxes, with lead weights in there to give the thing heft. The specimen is totally fabricated, thin gold leaf mostly. Bob Jones wrote a nice article about them for Rock and Gem.

Then there are a few gold samples from Mesquital del Oro in Mexico. Here they drizzled molten gold in small quantities along open fractures and into small voids. Man, they look real, but when you break the rock open, no sign of gold whatsoever. Oh, there's a Moroccan anglesite, beautiful bright orange color. I think they were dipped in bleach or something to give them the striking orange-red aspect. And a "Tchermigite" AlKSO4.(alum). Beautiful purple octahedra. And a couple of other things. But the skeletons will be the pride of the suite, that's for sure.

This situation reminds me of the Epitonium scalare (Linnaeus 1758) story. When this beautiful little medium-spired conispiral gastropod was first found, specimens were rare; and they commanded astronomical prices. So much so that the Japanese and Chinese manufactured copies out of rice paper/paste and sold them. Later, when the shells became abundant, the price for the real shells dropped, while the rice paper copies began to sell for far more than the real things. It's now impossible to find one (I've tried), what with the dermistid beetles and all. Donna Leicht or Paula Presmyk may weigh in on this.
So, will the skeletal galens increase in value too, just as cuiriosities? Who knows, but it would not surprise me if they do. Given the limited number of pieces out there, I think they will increase in value, unless of course the owner 'way overspent for his/her piece. Power of Legitimacy indeed. It'll take time.
Here is a link to learn about the Epitonium scalare shell. It has a nice reiteration of the story, too.
https://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/aconite/wentletrap.html
(link normalized by FMF)

Also, some photos of my little Santa Eulalia etched octahdral galena specimen and a couple of photos of my personal Epitonium scalare shell along with 3 copies of the shell carved from ivory. The carvers were simply replicating a thing of beauty, with no intention whatsoever of 'Fakery".

Hope you had a well-mineralized Christmas, and that you will have a prosperous New Year, and I look forward to seeing you (and your dad) in Tucson next month.

Ed in Kingman



DSC02745.JPG
 Description:
Galena, Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico. 45mm by 22mm. Largest crystal is 14mm along the edge.
 Viewed:  29662 Time(s)

DSC02745.JPG



DSC02746.JPG
 Description:
Same galena. Note the growth/etch lines which are parallel with the cubic {001} face.
 Viewed:  29651 Time(s)

DSC02746.JPG



Eptonium scalare-1.JPG
 Description:
Epitonium scalare (Linnaeus, 1758). Shell is 57mm long. This shell displays open coining, with the whorls held apart/together by the costae (ribs or ridges) that reflect the progressive growth around the shell's aperture as it matured.
 Viewed:  29690 Time(s)

Eptonium scalare-1.JPG



Eptonium scalare-1.JPG
 Description:
Again, Epitonium scalare, same shell. The three other objects pictured with the shell are carved from ivory. They are crafted as an homage to the shell's beauty and not meant in any way as fakes.
 Viewed:  29683 Time(s)

Eptonium scalare-1.JPG



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PostPosted: Jan 04, 2011 19:44    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Can't believe that little sweetie still resides outside of its proper intended home in Tucson...it's way out of place in Kingman Ed!!! Fortunately, help IS available...

This thread worried Lauren at first too...the photos below show a galena with an extremely hoppered growth spiral from Madan she's had for several years. This clearly is natural growth with a solid center unlike Jessica's subjects, but perhaps if a crystal lilke this got subjected to extreme back-etching like affected your octahedron (or the one from Naica below that suffered back-etching, regrowth and then light back etching to give it a melted appearance) you might be able to get something resembling the cubic lattices generated with the microabrasive.

Ed, could you please repost the Santa Eulalia galena with a close-up shot of your fakes showing the (001) lines...they would be fun to compare. However, given the structure of galena I suspect that ALL growth lines are going to be (001) so any "degrowth" lines (of whatever origin) will be too.

On a sadder note, Mateo Irigoyen, long-time mineral collector in Santa Eulalia, and the collector of many of the best Guazapares pyromorphites, died just before Christmas. He, Juan, Chilo, and Lolo are now gone...but Ramon and Marin are still going strong!



galena whor2l.jpg
 Description:
Galena and sphalerite, Madan, Bulgaria, small cabinet. L. Megaw specimen
 Viewed:  29665 Time(s)

galena whor2l.jpg



galena whorl3.jpg
 Description:
Close-up of the galena
 Viewed:  29667 Time(s)

galena whorl3.jpg



Naica melted.jpg
 Description:
"Melted" Naica galena octahedra...severely etched, regrown and etched again to a mirror finish
 Viewed:  29655 Time(s)

Naica melted.jpg



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Darren




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PostPosted: Jan 05, 2011 13:38    Post subject: Re: Hollow Galena from Madan, Bulgaria  

Absolutley amazing job, Jessica, the article is just a fun and interesting read!

Ed, I always learn so much from your longer posts, thanks.

Pete, always love the photos that you and Ed both post.

Thanks.

Darren
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