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An interesting Colorado "Gold Specimen" Story
  
  Index -> Incorrect classification and fakes
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bob kerr




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PostPosted: Jun 18, 2024 19:29    Post subject: An interesting Colorado "Gold Specimen" Story  

I've had the pleasure to have been able to rent a townhouse in Tucson for the winters from the sister of Dick Bideaux. Although Dick's collection was sold after his passing, there are still a number of small token specimens laying around the townhouse.

One was what appears to be a small gold specimen in association with rhodochrosite and quartz - see photos. The rhodochrosite indicated "Colorado" to me - specifically SW Colorado - so I took it to an expert in the region - Dave Bunk - during the Tucson show.

With only a 10x loop and his experience, he said with 95% certainty that the "specimen" is from Silverton or somewhere in the area. HOWEVER - the miners in that region were notorious for glueing leaf gold to mine muck and selling them as "matrix specimens". He was unable to tell for sure with only the 10x loop, so I thanked him and went on with the show feeling confident that at the least it was an interesting and historical example of gold on matrix - even if it was faked.

So, after having a number of people offer quite a few bucks for the gold piece - even if faked - Dick's sister said "sell it" so I asked Evan Jones if he would like to sell it for Dick's sister. Evan looked at the piece in more detail and told me he is near 100% that it is a fake.

From Evan:
1 - "In all my years of handling specimens from Colorado and elsewhere, I have never seen gold and rhodochrosite on the same rock. It just doesn’t seem to occur."

and

2 - "My dad told me there were fake gold & rhodochrosite specimens circulating in the 1960’s & 1970’s that someone in the Silverton area was creating. It’s an anecdotal story, but perhaps this is an example of one of those fakes. In one case, upon analysis the gold turned out to be brass."

(For those of you who are unaware, Evan's father, Bob Jones, recently passed away - a MAJOR loss to the mineral community. Bob was the author of TONS of mineral books and articles and is also the 1998 Carnegie Mineralogical Award winner. Bob was and all-around nice guy and a friend to all - he will be missed.)

I decided to ask a chemist who has access to the proper equipment to evaluate the piece. He was looking mainly for the glue that was possibly used to attach the "gold" - but he evaluated the gold itself - AND IT CAME OUT AS BRASS!!

So, given that Bob Jones and Dick Bideaux were quite close and also the uber-experts in the mineral world back in the '60's and '70's one has to wonder if this little "Gold with rhodochrosite specimen" has an interesting "provenance" of going through the hands of these two giants of the hobby. Since both have passed on to the great Wulfenite Stope in the sky, we'll never know for sure.

bob



IMG_1701.jpg
 Mineral: "Gold" (??) on rhodochrosite and quartz
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IMG_1701.jpg



IMG_8486.jpg
 Mineral: "Gold" (??) on rhodochrosite and quartz
 Description:
 Viewed:  496 Time(s)

IMG_8486.jpg



IMG_8489.jpg
 Mineral: "Gold" (??) on rhodochrosite and quartz
 Description:
 Viewed:  496 Time(s)

IMG_8489.jpg


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Peter Megaw
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PostPosted: Jun 19, 2024 10:14    Post subject: Re: An interesting Colorado "Gold Specimen" Story  

Great piece Bob...I think I can fill a few gaps in the story...

Shortly after I first moved to Tucson in 1979, Richard opened Bideaux Minerals on the north side of Miracle Mile, just west of the Ghost Ranch motel. Miracle Mile had not gone seedy yet, so this was then a respectable location. The place became a magnet for exploration geologists and mining folks who were also collectors and many lunchtimes were spent looking through the drawers to see what was new and talking rocks.

I got to know Richard pretty well and one day he handed me a specimen similar to what you have pictured. I glanced at it, said "nice fake" and handed it back. Richard grinned, as he could, and immediately asked "how do you know? you're the first person I've shown this to who made that judgement immediately". I was pretty familiar with Silverton gold and simply said it looked wrong for gold. Richard then went on to explain that he and his father had bought a batch of the stuff cheaply back in the 60s from an itinerant mineral seller from southern Colorado. The Bideauxs were suspicious...it didn't look quite right and it was cheap, so they gave a piece to John Anthony, then Mineralogy Prof at the UA, who did a lot of work with Bob O'Hare at the AZ Dept of Mines (now the AGS). Bob had a flame spectroscope and quickly determined...drumroll...that it was brass. It actually took longer to figure out what the binder was than that what was suspended in it was finely ground brass. As I remember Richard said it was a relative of Duco cement.

After a few more good laughs about the piece...mostly at the expense of others in the shop at the time who did not twig to the fact that it was a fake...Richard offered to sell it to me for what he reckoned he'd paid for it...50 cents. I gladly took him up on the deal...as much because of the story as anything else...and still have the piece around here somewhere.

The piece in your picture is MUCH better than mine and I am not at all surprised he kept it for a laugh...and to make sure it did not get into the market as real gold.

These fakes are distinct from those manufactured by Archie ____, probably Colorado's most famous gold faker. Archie's pieces were often mounted in little boxes with a slab of lead built into the base to give them gold-like heft. Taken out of their mounts the pieces are surprisingly light and sometimes consist of a molded paper core rolled or dipped in powdered gold and somehow annealed. A lot of work, but he got good money for them before he got caught. They pop up every once in a while in old collections...

Francis Sousa recognized one not long ago in a lot he was processing. He could probably tell us more about Archie and his crafsmanship!!

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