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Dealing with damage
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marvinlewinsky




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PostPosted: Feb 29, 2020 22:05    Post subject: Dealing with damage  

Dealing with damage.

As collectors we sometimes come across specimens that have a few dings, dents and other minor imperfections. These imperfections can occur with specimens deemed world-class, especially when the specimens are in the cabinet, large cabinet and Museum size.

I expect that all the major crystals are devoid of any damage, but peripheral damage on the edge of the specimen where it was extracted from the matrix is always a problem. Sometimes careful trimming can remove any offensive crystals, but this is not at all guaranteed.

I have seen some World Class ‘gem’ specimens exhibiting what I would consider minor damage at the periphery of the specimen.

On a cabinet/large cabinet/museum size specimen I would only accept minor peripheral damage at the edges of the piece.

What is the general consensus on ‘damage’ as it seems to be very arbitrary. Damage on small cabinet and miniature specimens is just unacceptable.
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Feb 29, 2020 23:31    Post subject: Re: DEALING WITH DAMAGE  

With more than 30 years of experience behind me, I will give a few thoughts. In general smaller mineral specimens are very commonly damage free, but the larger the specimen, the less likely it is to be damage free. In large cabinet size high end examples, damage free examples are the exception rather than the norm. So, I believe you are wrong believing that most larger world class mineral specimens are largely free of damage. That just ain't so; many, many larger world class specimens have had damage and have had it repaired.

"Damage", repairs, reattachments, reconstructions etc etc etc and all related only need to be listed when a specimen is for sale.
Many of those cabinet size and larger specimens that you see in museums or in private collectors display cases at shows, indeed have some type of the above, but need not have the repairs noted on the display case labels as the specimens are not for sale.

You would be amazed at the extent and perfection of specimen repairs, alterations, and preparations done to large very high end examples. I have personally seen "before and after" examples; there is unbelievable change in some large examples. Some large very high end specimens are literally put back together before being sold.
Long skinny tourmalines are just one common example where there are often multiple reattachments prior to their display or sale. Large herkimer diamond groupings and large amazonite/smoky quartz examples have virtually all been reconstructed.

Having said all this, there are undamaged and unrepaired large world class mineral specimens. Just be aware and either accept the fact that many larger high end examples have preparation alterations and "damage" repairs, or, as a perfectionist, be willing to just not buy many higher end large cabinet size specimens. Make sure that the dealers you patronize are ethical, disclosing all the types of repairs before you buy the specimens.
BOB
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SteveB




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PostPosted: Mar 01, 2020 00:28    Post subject: Re: DEALING WITH DAMAGE  

I totally agree with Bob. Its only a concern if you are buying a specimen as 100% fault-free and unrepaired. Every specimen should include in its paperwork any evidence of known repairs and it effects the dollar value, But whoop-de-do, value is irrelevant to most of us and this forum in particular And as I've said before, probably you are the one who brought up another irrelevant thread regarding trimming of specimens. The question is meaningless as is to me the phrase World Class, most collectors will never hold a World Class specimen in their hands let alone legitimately own one. Its more a term bandied around by dodgy ebay sellers who use various techniques to hide flaws and big-up their listing handings rather than keeping it simple and honest. If you really are a collector and only want World Class I suspect your shelf is empty. Without flaws Opal wouldn't have its spectacular colour flashes nor would we have Star Sapphires, Rutilated Crystals would be boring clear quartz. I dont see the point of your question beyond a financial one that doesn't interest me.

Technically every specimen is Damaged as its been removed from the host rock through some process natural or otherwise
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Mar 01, 2020 01:45    Post subject: Re: DEALING WITH DAMAGE  

marvinlewinsky wrote:
Damage on small cabinet and miniature specimens is just unacceptable.


Sorry, but the statement above just strikes me as crazy, especially on this forum. I proudly own and display small cabinet and smaller specimens with (what you disparagingly call) 'damage'. So what if they are not perfect?! Nothing is. Of course I appreciate a specimen that seems to have little or no damage [just try looking in a microscope and you'll find some!] - but that often doesn't disqualify it from being interesting or attractive to me.

As others have stated, generally larger specimens are more likely to have some damage - but that doesn't take away ipso facto from their interest, attractiveness or mineralogical significance. Are you collecting because you are interested in minerals and mineralogy - or is it an 'art collection' to you? Are all of your friends and family perfect in their looks and behavior? I simply do not understand this line of thinking.

While really badly damaged specimens I discard to trade or sell, some 'damage' [i.e. not being or seeming 'perfect'] doesn't disqualify it from my interest nor from my collection. You can and obviously do have a different standard - but to me a very strange one.

Unless the xx was a floater, it almost surely is 'damaged' where it was detached from the host rock or matrix. But to even use the term 'damage' in that context is wrong IMHO. I have many nice xx that I display showing the best side, but I don't throw it away because on the back side there is slight ding or other flaw - natural or human caused. Of course for each specimen one has to make an individual and subjective determination, but while I love perfection or seeming perfection, it is not a necessary requirement in my collection, nor do I think in most collections - be they amateur, pro, or even museum grade.
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Sante Celiberti




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PostPosted: Mar 01, 2020 04:54    Post subject: Re: DEALING WITH DAMAGE  

Hello.

I have, among others, over 7500 Italian minerals.
When I can I choose the best, compatibly with my budget.
But although I love perfection, like all of us fascinated by minerals, if I had been obsessed with it I could never have put toghether such an extensive and representative collection of the Italian mineralogy.
Of course everyone is free to collect as they wish, but I think my way reveals a true interest and a great love for mineralogy.
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Rob Schnerr




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PostPosted: Mar 01, 2020 05:43    Post subject: Re: DEALING WITH DAMAGE  

Marvin, again some help from Europe; you wrote:

marvinlewinsky wrote:
Dealing with damage
Damage on small cabinet and miniature specimens is just unacceptable.


Well that's an opinion not a fact. Troublesome sometimes, I know.

Greetings,
Rob
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Rob Schnerr




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PostPosted: Mar 01, 2020 06:01    Post subject: Re: DEALING WITH DAMAGE  

When I read that "Art of nature"-rubbish nowadays in the mineral world, I always think of the subtitle of a booklet by Julian Spalding, named "Con Art". The subtitle says:

"Why you should sell your Damien Hurst while you can".

In time it's worth only a fraction of the prices that are payed for that stuff nowadays. This goes for example for the Laos Azurite (80.000,- dollar) that you can see in one of the posts on this forum of the Tucson Show.
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marvinlewinsky




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PostPosted: Mar 01, 2020 15:08    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

Greetings to all, and thank you all for your contributions.

I have a few large cabinet specimens, and a few coming in the mail (USPS Priority International).

The only damage I see on these specimens, if you can call it damage, is on the periphery of the specimen where it was extracted from the host rock. All the central crystals and those near the periphery are intact. The advantage of large specimens is that you have more rock to work with to remove even peripheral damage, but I leave this exercise to the purists. I do not see peripheral damage as damage at all.

I too am aware of all the con tricks some vendors, even high-end vendors, will use to sell a specimen. Great for the location, rare, was owned by, and new find are just a few. I really do not care who owned a specimen – if it is junk so what, nor do I care rarity unless the specimen has great aesthetics.

I see many Bolivian Bournonite specimens that would literally knock-the-socks off anything from the Herodsfoot mine or the Yaogangxian mine. My criteria will always be damage free, great aesthetics and fair price.

As for Laos Azurite I will just wait a few years until the prices fall as they did with material from Milpillas.
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PostPosted: Mar 02, 2020 11:12    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

Marvin, every collector out there has their own style of collecting, it would be great if you would realise that. Whereas aesthetics seems to be the only aspect of a mineral you are focused on yourself, others genuinely value the provenance, locality, rarity of species/habits/mineral combinations, and so on.

Provenance, being connected to others in the past that had the same appreciation and fascination as us, can be a fabulous addition to the story a specimen can tell us. It's great to have a record of the cultural history of mineral collecting, it can make it far more interesting than just eye candy.

Similarly, I love the geological and mineralogical story a specimen can tell us. Locality is absolutely crucial in that regard, as it records of both the geological, as well as the mining history of that location. An exotic rarely-seen locality, a classic historical mining district or being the best quality for a specific mine can all definitely add a load of interest to a specimen. Given the choice, I would personally go for a Herodsfoot bournonite over a Bolivian one any day of the week, or a classic Himmelsfürst wire silver over a Moroccan one, and so on.

Every single collector will base their mineral purchases on their own set of criteria; failing to realise that others value more than just the aesthetics and labelling all other aspect as mere 'con tricks' comes across as rather unimaginative indeed.
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marvinlewinsky




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PostPosted: Mar 02, 2020 20:32    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

I do understand that many people have many reasons for collecting what they do, but there are some inescapable realities in the world of collecting minerals. As much as one might like to deny the existence of gravity, reality has a bad habit on biting one the rear end when they least expect it.

For the most part people collect what they do because they can or cannot afford to buy fine minerals.

I too love the story a mineral tells but a fine Bulgarian Galena will always tell a much better story than some average looking Galena from an historical locality. Unfortunately, the things one might call important such as an historical site has value only in the mind of men or women. What is more important, a collector quality piece extracted today from a deposit that is 700 million years old or an average specimen collected from a site 100 years ago that is only 70 million years old in geological time.

I know I am beating this subject to death, but in the world of mineral collecting aesthetic rule, and it rules every specimen from those of historical origin to those of provenance. My point is one should collect the best-looking specimen no matter the background.
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Mar 02, 2020 21:38    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

I am glad Mr. Lewinsky has replied. While I tried to agree with Mr Brouwer's discussion, the facts support Mr Lewinsky.

As a collectible, mineral specimen collecting/purchasing is changing.

Like art work collecting, classic stamp collecting, and classic car collecting etc, the numbers of younger and middle age, non-geologist affluent mineral specimen collectors is increasing. These folks are buying larger more aesthetic "eye candy" specimens (perfect or expertly repaired damage being irrelevant.....the actual topic of this thread!) without being much interested in the mineral specimen geology or its mining history.
Like it or not, geologist/mineralogist collector numbers collecting smaller rare minerals, less aesthetic historic specimens, mineral specimens with provenance, or minerals from specific historic mining areas are declining in numbers. Micromount collectors are nearly extinct, thumbnail and miniature example collectors are declining while hi end dealers are doing very well selling the large cabinet size eye candy specimens with aesthetics, but otherwise little regard for their geology.

I don't have any preferences as to one type of collector vs the other, these are just the facts of the changing mineral collector scene. Bob
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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 05:09    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

Mr Lewinsky is simply blind to the fact that "mineral collecting" is not one hobby but a whole gamut of different hobbies related to each other only by involving minerals. Field collecting is a hobby, and those who do it don‘t particularly care how valuable their minerals will be 100 years from now, they just like hunting and digging. Micromounters, systematic species collectors, locality specialists, etc, similarly all have their different motivations.

Implying that other mineral collectors do those styles of collecting only because they can‘t afford to buy "good" minerals is just as daft as a golf player telling football players that the only reason they play football is because they can‘t afford a golf club membership!
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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 08:13    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

Exactly, it's like saying jazz and rock are no longer considered valid music genres because they have been surpassed in popularity by rap and hiphop. It's an 'inescapable reality' that you need a good beat and edgy lyrics for people to like your music these days, since those 'rule' what music lovers choose to listen to. Anybody attending a local jazz concert only does so because they can't afford the high prices for a Beyonce or Drake concert.

Everybody's taste in music is different, just like every collector has a different taste when it comes to minerals. Some will simply want to show how aesthetic they can be, nothing else. Others look beyond that and try to tell a different or additional story by bringing together particular specimens in their collection. The fact that percentages of the various types of collectors change over time doesn't change any of that (moreover, you'd be surprised how many young collectors appreciate all the other qualities besides just pretty colours that result in many likes on social media).
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 12:17    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

...and some people use minerals, like art or other collectibles, to show their wealth and I feel sad for many of them, nothing more...no interest in mineralogy, geology, petrology, crystallography, etc.

I lament the entrance into the field of the vanity mineral collectors. I'm sure the high-end dealers love them.

What I love most is field collecting - nothing beats getting a good or great crystal out of the earth or rock yourself using sweat equity and not cash or card. Next best is to buy or trade from the person who actually dug/mined the mineral themselves and can tell you about it and/or show you photos of the location.

The search for perfection for perfection sake, to me, is strange. Everyone loves an undamaged, esthetic, rare, large xx. But to feel that only they are worth collecting and everything else is just a 'rock', to me is bizarre and a sign of how much modern society has been altered by false values, and a distance from Nature, science, even real aesthetics - Natural aesthetics. But your mileage may vary......
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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 12:34    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

Go for damage free eye-candy specimens - easy to buy top quality if you have enough $$. A high quality collection can be built in few years...

Go for local/rare specimens - extremely difficult and time consuming to build a top collection. Often even millions of $$ can not help, it takes time and knowledge. There are no top dealers with nice and perfectly prepped specimens at every show, you must accept lower quality standards, damaged specimens...

And of course there are all "shades of gray" in between - depends what you collect and why. Everything else was said already.
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Jesse Fisher




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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 12:34    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

This recent obsession with "perfection" has certainly led to the creation of a whole industry centered around enhancing and "restoring" mineral specimens to, what I think, is often a man-made conceit of what "perfection" should be. If some concept of perfection is needed to apply value to a collection of objects, then perhaps the collector should be focusing on a manufactured item such as coins, where an objective standard of perfection can be determined. Natural items such as minerals are each unique, and as such, a concept of what is perfect seems rather illusory and contrived.
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James Catmur
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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 13:05    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

Peter Lemkin wrote:

What I love most is field collecting - nothing beats getting a good or great crystal out of the earth or rock yourself using sweat equity and not cash or card. Next best is to buy or trade from the person who actually dug/mined the mineral themselves and can tell you about it and/or show you photos of the location.


Through field collecting you build real knowledge about a site, so even if you do purchase some specimens you know far more about them. Can you spot the difference between two specimens that came from finds 20m apart? You might be able to if you have field collected in the area. I love that feeling of self-collected material, even if it is not perfect.

You can then translate an article like this and it makes sense to you as you collected in the mine and entered the La Galeria pocket (after it had been emptied)

https://www.mineral-forum.com/message-board/viewtopic.php?p=17875&highlight=viesca#17875
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Tracy




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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 13:12    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

Last time I checked, beauty was still in the eye of the beholder.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure" also comes to mind.

- Tracy

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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 15:09    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

Beauty in the eye of the beholder.

Denial in the face of reality is a normal human response to a bad situation – ask any psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.

Beauty being in the eye of the beholder explains a great deal – why some collections are noteworthy while others are mediocre. There is no accounting for bad taste even in the world of mineral collecting.

I have spent months reviewing the inventories of all the mineral dealers who advertise on the Vug, and the conclusion is obvious (for those not in denial) - the quintessential fact is that the most aesthetic specimens in any size range also command the highest prices, and the greatest respect.

Let us not forget the theme of Tucson 2020 – World Class Minerals, and let us not forget whose collections won the prizes for being the best – predominantly in terms of aesthetics.

My assessment is as follows for some miniature/small cabinet/large cabinet specimens of great eye appeal.

Common minerals – starting price $400 (Galena, Sphalerite, Pyrite etc., etc.,), and increasing in multiples depending on size.

Uncommon minerals – starting price $700 (Bournonite, Zinkenite, etc., etc.,) and increasing in multiples depending on size.

Gem minerals – starting price $1000 (Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Morganite etc., etc.,) and increasing in multiples depending on size.

Azurite and Malachite from Milpillas starting price $600 and increasing in multiples depending on size and quality.

So, the bottom line is that unless you can afford to allocate $400 or more per specimen you will be left behind unless you can field collect.
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PostPosted: Mar 03, 2020 15:56    Post subject: Re: Dealing with damage  

The topic of this thread was specimen damage assessment and how it might affect purchasing mineral specimens.

Now the last number of postings have gotten way off the original topic.

In addition, while everyone is entitled to their beliefs and assessments of mineral prices/collections, your continual elitist attitude is, in my opinion not in the best interest of the folks on this forum. This is a worldwide forum undertaken by a very ethical dealer who caters to a wide variety of collector interests with a wide range of financial pocketbooks. Putting specific $$$$ amounts on specimens with your personal feelings about their "worthiness" (or how "unworthy" they are) is in no one's interest.

To me, it again seems about time to either lock or delete this thread. BOB
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