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Wire "silvers" from Imiter (Morocco)
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Carlos Muñoz




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PostPosted: May 22, 2008 08:36    Post subject: Wire "silvers" from Imiter (Morocco)  

Recently I have seen for sale some spectacular native silver from Imiter, Morocco, on a matrix of dull dark as burnt argentite. The filamentous silver was extremely bright and clean, with very thin wires which were all oriented in one direction. All along I was thinking that they were not natural or there was something fishy going on here.
Searching the Internet, I found several websites where collectors are discussing the authenticity of these silver wires. One of them also explains how you can do it with a simple cooker, a melting pot, argentite and 6 hours of "cooking":

https://www.mineralienatlas.de/forum/index.php/topic,11820.30.html
(link normalized by Jordi)

I would like to collect opinions, how about these silvers? are they natural?



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Les Presmyk




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PostPosted: May 22, 2008 11:14    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

This was a matter of discussion and debate some years back when a number of German silvers came into the market. The story was they came out of an East German mine and had been hidden for a number of years. Rumors started about whether they were even natural and several folks were threatened with lawsuits if they continued to raise the issue of their being natural or not.

Early on in the controversary, I asked a good friend who has a great deal of knowledge about such things what he thought. His comment was that you need to be able to do two things when making such a claim. The first is to state it, in the case of the German silvers that they were grown by man, not by Mother Nature. The second is to prove that what you have stated can be done. At that time, no such proof was available. It was about a year later that someone found an article dating back almost 100 years that showed a wire silver being grown.

Now we have modern day proof that wire silvers can be grown. Does that mean that the German silver or these Moroccan silvers are not legitimate? I don't know. But the issue has been raised and it needs to be put to rest. Not by legal or economic intimidation but by scientific methods. Just remember the recent article describing how fine Sicilian sulfur specimens were grown or the reddish Moroccan anglesites that only became that way after being rinsed in a bromine wash. It goes right to the integrety of our hobby and business that a certain amount of due diligence needs to be done to verify the legitimacy of these silvers.
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alfredo
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PostPosted: May 22, 2008 11:46    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

I do not know of any analytical technique that can distinguish between a natural silver wire growing on an acanthite matrix, and an artificially grown wire on a natural acanthite matrix. If such wires are growing on a natural acanthite matrix, we could expect them to show the same trace elements and isotope composition! After all, in this case man is just copyng a natural process using natural ingredients. Considering how easy it is to do this, it would be a temptation for anyone with access to a large quantity of natural acanthite. I fear that this question will be solved only by detectives spying on the source, not by scientists in the laboratory.
On that cheerful note...
Regards,
Alfredo
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Carlos Muñoz




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PostPosted: May 23, 2008 03:43    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Thank you for your replies. Your comments are very helpful and scientific.

It is a great temptation to have some native silver of that quality. But, two years ago I saw in the market some Imiter native silver that were not as spectacular, wires were darker, with alterations, perhaps more thick wires and grouped on a "natural like" matrix and now they are very thin, very air, very bright and very oriented, on a "roasted" matrix, so, it looks to me as if they find first some natural(?) silver and then they started to grow new ones.
Perhaps if these are artificial sublimed silver, purity would be close to 100%, while if natural must be contaminated...
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lluis




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PostPosted: May 24, 2008 09:53    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Dear Carlos

I think you hit the nail head...

If you find a "natural silver" that is ca. 100% pure, well, ehmmmmmmmmmmmmm
At least I would be very, very suspicious.
Just odds are against this.

Personally I think that Imiter wire silvers are natural.
Just some look to me as been cleaned. And taking in account that what is black in native silver is silver sulphide, and acantite is silver sulphide, what cleans one, "burns" the the other.

Not a crime, although I prefer the uncleaned ones (my taste)

Lluís
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alfredo
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PostPosted: May 24, 2008 10:52    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Carlos and Lluis, You cannot judge a silver wire by its purity! You both seem to be assuming that natural silver wires are more impure than artificially grown silver wires, but that is NOT the case. The purity of a silver wire depends on the purity of its substrate, and the speed of growth. A "factory" can use natural impure acanthite as the substrate, or even add traces of the typical impurities (like Hg). You will be easily cheated, if you use purity as your criterion for judging naturalness.
Regards,
Alfredo
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blackink




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PostPosted: May 24, 2008 11:29    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

So, Alfredo & Luis, after your comments do you consider that, for example, this Silver could be natural?:
https://www.mineralogicalrecord.com/newpix/Silver,-Morocco.jpg
(link fixed by FMF)
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lluis




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PostPosted: May 24, 2008 15:43    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Good afternoon, Alfredo/List

First, I apologize for my poor English.

I tried to say that if you find a wire silver (or a so-called native silver, for instance), that reveals by analysis that is 99.999% pure, you are probably holding a fake mineral, or if you prefer, a man-made item.

If the silver is not that pure, it could be legit or could be a man-made.
Non purity is a necessary condition, not a sufficient condition.

On the other side, for purity and impurities in a man grown silver wire.

Accept that we use a natural acanthite.

It has impurities, of course.
Mercury could be one of them

But go to method.
It implies heating the acanthite/silver sulphide. I understand as subliming off the acanthite and posterior oxidation to silver oxide, that is unstable at that temperature and gives silver metal.

Sublimation is really selective, and is a method of choice to purify some materials, like iodine. I suppose that silver wires would be far more pure than the acanthite.
Mercury would be mainly evaporated. Gold would remain in the acanthite.
So, you probably would get a far purer silver.

By the way, as far as I know, the mentioned German wire silvers reveal that they are approximately 99.999% pure silver...

With best wishes

Lluís
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lluis




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PostPosted: May 24, 2008 15:47    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Good afternoon, Blackink/List

Well, without analysis is hard to tell, but I always have assumed that they are cleaned ones. And yes, I assume that are legit ones, badly cleaned.

If you wash it with a mercaptane, the active material that is in silver cleaners, you will dissolve the silver sulphide that makes the wires black...but you will eat away also the acanthite in the matrix.

So, the eaten form of the matrix is just compatible with the cleaning method used

Anyone has an analysis?

With best wishes

Lluís
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John S. White
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PostPosted: May 25, 2008 04:49    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

I really didn't want to get into this, particularly with regard to the German wire silvers, but I must correct something that was written by Lluis. SOME of the German wire silvers are ALLEGED to have compositions that are essentially pure silver. The data, however, was never published but was widely rumored about by the person who did the analysis, something that I find deplorable. This may have been Les's good friend, hard to say. I personally had some of the German wire silvers sectioned and examined by a mineralogist in Germany who found inclusions of several silver species, at least one of them probably new to science, far from pure silver.
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lluis




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PostPosted: May 25, 2008 06:08    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Dear Mr. White/List

Well, it would be good for the hobby that any analysis be published.
An easy way to defeat the gossip that they are man-made.

Perhaps I am used to the way Jordi works, that when he sells a rare specimen, it has been analyzed and copy is sent to buyer. No doubts.

Hope that anytime I get one and I could carry analysis.
Just very curious.

With best wishes

Lluís
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Joan R.




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PostPosted: Aug 20, 2008 08:48    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Hi,

On the last Le Regne Mineral magazine (July-August 2008, Nr. 82) we could read a short note about the exceptional wire Silver specimens from Imiter.
We would like to thank Le Regne Mineral editors which very kindly have permited to reproduce the note attached below (in french). Here you could find the translation:

"Recently, many native wire Silver had appeared on the market, they are associated with Quartz, Galena or Acanthite. First specimens luster varied between a dull gray to bright with some more or less marked alterations. At mid-year 2006 appeared native Silver specimens showing a very bright luster, filamentous shape or small crosses whose thickness can reach 2 to 4 mm. Thus the samples are becoming more and more "beautiful". Following a visual observations, some comments (rare) and a few experiments, strong suspicions appeared on the authenticity of these very beautiful samples. On the back side of many of them, one could see a gray to black Acanthite, as a matrix of this native Silver, traces of heating are visible with beige to brownish surfaces. On the massive Acanthite, always on the back side, traces of heating are even clearer, with traces of "bubbles" and melted aspect surfaces. These elements reflect very probably the Acanthite heating in an oven... proceeding already known! Some comments suggest that these treatments are practiced after several months in Morocco. Waiting more precise analysis, we recommend the utmost caution to our readers in acquiring samples of Imiter mine native Silver."




imiter-silver-fake.jpg
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Le Regne Mineral magazine (July-August 2008, Nr. 82). Page 30.
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Les Presmyk




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PostPosted: Aug 20, 2008 09:15    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Actually, the good friend I referred to in an earlier note owned at least two of the German silvers and accepted them as legitimate. His point was that someone had better be able to put up or shut up. It wasn't enough to say something was fake based on a chemical analysis but one also had to be able show how it was done. For example, in the case of Moroccan fossils, it is relatively easy to point out the fakes and if there is any question, just cut it in half. Or, the beautiful reddish-orange anglesites that came out a number of years ago that turned out to be the result of rinsing them in a bromine solution.

The article on faked Sicilian sulfurs shows that in some cases, natural crystals can be faked. The article documented how this was done and today, there is no way of knowing which ones are legitimate and which ones were grown in a lab. So, now all such specimens, unless the history is well documented, are all suspect.

Back to the silvers. Until someone is willing to publish an article laying out the scientific basis that the German silvers are fake, we have to accept them as real.
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mmauthner




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PostPosted: Aug 20, 2008 12:48    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Hi All,
Don Edward of England produced a number of wire silver specimen in his kitchen (I believe) to a) prove that it could easily be done, and b) put the specimen out there for people to see and own (fully documented as to "origin"). I bought one of these specimens...I have a small collection of fakes...and shall photograph it for this thread.
One observation I have made (and others have too) is that known fakes exhibit a particular growth pattern in that the wires taper very quickly to wispy wires; a taper not nearly as prominent in known natural wires (though I do know of natural specimens that exhibit somewhat similar habit, but they are on indisputable matrix). Compare the early Imiter wires with the newer, shinier ones; compare German wire specimens that are very obviously in and on good matrix with those on bubbly, black matrix. I do not view this necessarily as proof positive of fakery, but the textures of KNOWN fakes is so very similar to that of "suspect" natural specimens...perhaps an unfortunate coincidence, but enough for some to place doubt on the latter.
All that aside, as Les mentioned though, in a society where innocent until proven guilty, we have to assume legitimacy until there is solid proof showing otherwise.
I also believe there was an article describing Don's experiment in the Mineralogical Record, but I am not in a position at the minute to look that up.

Cheers,
Mark
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joan abella creus




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PostPosted: Aug 31, 2008 06:46    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Hi,
I just wrote an article: "Anthropogenic silvers?" on my blog. I think that it could help to clarify and identify the real nature of the recent Imiter silvers. Unfortunately it is written only in Spanish language, I'm sorry for it. Hopefully it can be more or less comprehensible for the not Spanish speakers.
The link to see the article is:
https://www.mineralsabella.blogspot.com/
(link normalized by Jordi)

Joan Abella

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joan abella creus




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PostPosted: Sep 01, 2008 13:09    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Dear Sirs,

Can they find a summary in English of the article " Silver antropogénica? " Elaborated by the Gentleman Peter Seroka in;

https://www.mindat.org/mesg-55-107525.html
(link normalized by Jordi)

a greeting,

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chris
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PostPosted: Sep 01, 2008 14:10    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Hi Joan,

Thanks for your article and to Peter fro the translation in English. One time I saw such a specimen for sale (Imiter I mean). I'm not able to tell if it was a "real" specimen or a "man made" but the overall specimen looked so good it rang a bell.

As you wrote in your article, the acanthite matrix wasn't lustrous and there seemed to be some iron oxyde too.

Interesting article and with good pictures too.

Christophe
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Oct 21, 2008 05:48    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

We recently asked the University of Barcelona to carry out a comparative analysis between one of the presumed anthropomorphic silvers from Imiter and a classic silver specimen from Himmelsfürst, Germany. The results are extraordinarily interesting and informative.

Jordi



Silver_Imiter.jpg
 Description:
Translation:
Sample 7: Possibly artificial silver from Imiter:
Result: The silver is very pure with no Mercury. This is very suspicious as the natural silvers from Imiter always have a high Mercury content. Also, when the wires are examined with an SEM, they have a large degree of porosity, as if gas bubbles had formed within them. These bubbles of gas would have come from the release of SO2 as the Acanthite was transformed into Silver through heating: Ag2S + O2 -> Ag + SO2. In my opinion, the silver is not natural.
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Silver_Imiter.jpg



Silver_Himmelsfürst (Germany).jpg
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Translation:
Sample 1: Natural wire silver from Himmelsfürst, Germany
Result: The silver is not totally pure, as one finds the logical traces of natural alteration (sulfides and maybe chlorides) in the form of micro-formations or even micro-crystals adhered to the surface of the wires. In examining the silver with the same magnification as that used on the probably false silver from Imiter, one can see evidence of alteration but one cannot see the holes (porosity) seen in the probably false silver.
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Silver_Himmelsfürst (Germany).jpg


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PostPosted: Oct 21, 2008 06:06    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

very interesting !
thanks...
I will print this and take it to Morocco next time :-)

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PostPosted: Oct 21, 2008 09:30    Post subject: Re: Wire Silvers from Imiter (Morocco)  

Hello Jordi,

Thanks for the information.

Christophe
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