Bloomington 01


Up Denver Show 00 Bloomington 01 Denver Show 01 Tri-State vs. Trend Denver Show 02

If you have any questions about the house please e-mail me at

    Bloomington, Indiana Show 2001

I usually travel to the shows alone but this time I have a co-worker and friend Roy Hurlbert and my daughter (who is attending her first full day show) along.   We left St. Louis, Missouri for Bloomington, Indiana, USA at 4:00 AM local time after 1.5 hours of sleep for myself hoping to arrive at 8:00 AM for the opening of the Show.  I like to think of Bloomington Show/Swap as the "Biggest Little Swap of the Midwest".  By my estimation there is over 4000 feet of tables covered with minerals, fossils, rocks, and gemstones.  The show is located on the local 4-H fairgrounds and is run by a small town local club. They draw folks from all over the US and Canada.  In addition to the Canadians I met people from Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and a couple I can't remember.   There were also immigrants selling specimens from their former countries (One Russian, two Indians, and a Pakistani).   The show consists a whole row of RV's parked along the drive as shown in the following picture taken just after arrival.

bloom_report5.jpg (48611 bytes)

These folks arrive early and are usually set-up by the day before.  Not usually many great crystal specimens out here but you find sleepers now and then.  In fact last year one of the Arkansas Quartz dealers had bought a collection that included a single topaz crystal about 15 inches tall by 8 inches wide with great clarity and a Rubellite tourmaline crystal over 10 inches tall and 3 inches wide on matrix from California. They were already sold (at a bargain price) by the time I found out about them .  I finally tracked down the buyer who showed them off to me.  These were very impressive museum pieces.  It just goes to show you never know what you may find at a show.  As I am pulling in at about 8:10 AM and I see lots of familiar faces as I have been attending this Show for over 17 years.  Just as we pull in to park I spot co-conspirator Kevin Conroy of Kevin Conroy Minerals (  He's already prowling the grounds looking at the dealers who have already set up.  He tells me that so far he hasn't found much exciting.   But we continue to look as more and more sellers continue to arrive.  We decide to check out the new building which is where I will be setting up later.  This was a new building last year and not many folks decided to try it out.  Many stayed outside and in the 90+ degree heat and thunderstorms that left puddles everywhere.  I see many of those folks decided the best place to be this year was out of the weather.  Here is a shot looking into the new building on Saturday morning.

bloom_report6.jpg (63952 bytes)

We stop at Greenfield's Minerals in the corner of the building where he has a nice booth featuring some old and some new.  There is a whole flat of the spessartine garnets from China that have been showing up the last year or so in TN size.  The garnets are often found on a white feldspar matrix which makes a nice backdrop for the red garnets.   These are priced from $2-5 so I pick up a few.  They also had some nice cabinet sized pieces of recent Elmwood Mine, Tennessee material priced very reasonably.   The garnets were sold out and Elmwood pieces nearly so when I checked back on Saturday afternoon.  They also had a few fairly nice Tsumeb pieces mixed in with their general stock.  

Kevin has already moved across the aisle and has found a nice lustrous blue cuprian adamite labeled as conichalcite.  I saw several pieces of this material in a couple of booths and managed to pick up a few including a keeper for myself.  I'm not sure if new pieces are coming out or if finding these in a couple of places was just a coincidence. 

We stop by the tables of a Kentucky State geologist (I can't remember his name) who often has unusual things he has found in the state of Kentucky as well as the best supply of Hall's Gap, Kentucky millerite geodes you will see.  It is confirmed they are not allowing collecting at the road cut anymore due to safety.  He has a couple of unusual fluorites from locations I didn't have in KY.  From the Bassett Quarry, Wayne County, KY is a piece with 2 clear perfect cubes to 6 mm on pale pink saddle shaped dolomite crystals. 

fluorite_ky3a.jpg (40160 bytes)

I picked up three pieces of colorless Fluorite on Barite from Athens, Fayette County, Kentucky.  These have a few larger crystals to 1.2 cm and a lot of small crystals 2-4 mm sparkling on the rest of the matrix.  These fluoresce a nice yellow color.  

I've now lost Kevin who doesn't stay in one place long.  I move on out of the new building to check out a little of what's outside.  Just outside the new building in their usual spot is L and M minerals.  They are a team of collectors who specialize in Michigan and Bingham, New Mexico minerals.  They are able to get in to collect at several of the operating quarries and mines in Michigan.  They always have new material from Maybee, Michigan and this year they were offering some great sulfur crystals to go along with the more typical celestine.  They even had a large about 2 x 3 inch single complex sulfur crystal in very good condition that was very tempting.  Lots of bright yellow color with flats of 24 and 12 with large sulfur crystals or masses.   From the Mex-Tex Mine, New Mexico they had an assortment of blue fluorite and associated brochantite and even some deep blue spangolite.  They also had some pieces of an unusual pale green blue from the Desert Rose Mine, New Mexico. 

From L and M's booth I headed into the large main building.  It consists of two long shedlike building back to back with doors on the end and one in the middle.   Here is a shot looking down each end from the center of the main building.

bloom_report8.jpg (60586 bytes)

bloom_report7.jpg (87871 bytes)

I've noticed after looking at the pictures the buildings look smaller than they actually are.  I guess it's kind of like when you take pictures of mountains.   When you get the film back they don't look quite as big as you remember them.  

Anyway as I cruise the building looking for a few favorite stops I spot John Beam of Tennessee.  He often has a nice selection of Cave-In-Rock, Elmwood, and Georgia minerals.  He has also brought along some of the new quartz coming out of China with long slender water clear crystals including a couple of large pieces that just fir into a flat by themselves.  He also has a very nice 4 x 6 inch strontianite and calcite form Minerva Mine, Hardin Co. IL that doesn't last until Saturday night despite the $350 price. 

On to a couple of first time (for Bloomington) dealers from North Carolina or Georgia who have some nice Graves Mountain rutiles including a couple of unusual ones in a pyrophyllite matrix with dark colored four sided crystals much like the new Russian material.  The said they had never seen any like these before.  I spot the one pictured below and am very tempted to buy it.

bloom_report3.jpg (56527 bytes)

Nearby is the Barwood group with dad Dr. Henry Barwood (I believe Prof. at local Indiana University) who is very knowledgeable on the Phosphate deposits and Arkansas Minerals including Magnet Cove.  They are showing off some of their self collected minerals including some sparkling analcime/apophyllite combos and assorted micros from Arkansas and phosphates from Alabama.  They also had some large pieces of the material coming out of The Cesspool Quarry? found right nearby Bloomington during excavation work for the local water treatment facility.   What a great name for a mineral location eh?  Some nice calcite strontianite combos are available from this short lived location.

bloom_report2.jpg (77239 bytes)

Here is a shot of Henry, son Adam and daughter.  Adam has started a mineral website with lots of information on minerals at

Right across from the Barwood's is first-timer Peter Eldridge of Geo-Fare who has a nice assortment of worldwide minerals.  Included in his stock are Romanian, Chinese, and Russian material recently brought to the US.  He also has a flat of $10 Zircons from Pakistan.  I remember the first time I saw these the Pakistanis were asking a lot of money for these.  I pick out a piece with several deep red crystals on white matrix that would have easily been over $100 when they first appeared.  I almost always wait before buying any new material coming out especially from the communist areas.   The prices almost always seem to drop after the newness has worn off. 

Just down the aisle I see Harris Precht at his booth.  As always he has a very colorful display of very reasonably priced minerals.  Harris has a fabulous Midwest Minerals Collection including many pieces pictured in the Fluorite and Viburnum Trend articles in The Mineralogical Record and Rocks and Minerals magazines.  He also gets many of the old Midwest collections that get sold since he has been a dealer for so long.   I have found many a keeper among the old collection pieces he's had.  My friend Roy headed right to his place to dig through his boxes for Rogerley Mine, England fluorite.  As I look around I think Roy has gotten any nice Rogerley available.   At the end of his booth Harris has some clearance flats where I hit paydirt.   One of the flats full of TN size specimens is loaded with nearly a dozen Egremont Calcites from one of the collections he recently purchased.  A few even have the faint tinge of red often seen in these classics.  I decide to take a drink break and wonder back outside.  I'm feeling pretty good with my calcite find and spot Kevin heading to his van with a couple of boxes.  I ask to take a look and he shows me a couple of flats of pretty good Tri-State District minerals with including a nice butterfly twinned crystal about 4 inches (10 cm) tall.  As he unwraps another specimen he shows me a 3 x 3 inch (8 x 8 cm) white matrix covered with benstonite crystals.  Benstonite is one of the hardest minerals to find from the Cave-In-Rock District all having come out of the ground at least 30 years ago.  I groan and exclaim he's made the find of the show and he says "not quite".  He proceeds to unwrap another piece larger and better than the first one. 

After leaving Kevin I head back in to the main building hoping to find another sleeper.   I had been hearing about the new find at The Elmwood-Gordonsville District.   The Cumberland Mine, has been releasing deep orange calcite crystals up to jumbo (1 foot or more across) size.  I've seen a few around and hear Mike Sandstrom of The Geode Gallery has a bunch.  I stop by and ogle over the large pieces some with outstanding color as you can see below.  While none of the large ones were flawless they would make nice display pieces considering their size and color.  They also have the usual large supply of geodes from Sheffler's Mine in Alexandria, Missouri.  I took a picture of Mike with his Dad who was minding the store while Mike studied for a test.   Unfortunately the camera wanted to focus on the pretty calcite instead of Mike and his Dad.

bloom_report1.jpg (77452 bytes)

There was a Russian immigrant dealer near Mike who had a good variety of minerals from the homeland.  I hear there was a nice fluorite early but most of what I saw had some damage or needed a good cleaning.  Just a little farther was another first time dealer from New York whose name I forgot.  He has some very nice minerals from Russia and China.  He says he has been going over to China for several years picking the best available minerals from his contact. 

I head back toward the other end of the building and spot a growing crowd around David Straw of Touchstone Minerals.  He has been  selling out his stock of nice Midwest Minerals over the last several years with 1/2 off most of his stock.  Today he has decided to get really serious and is offering 75% off.  By the time I get there Kevin, as usual, has already been there and got a flat of things picked out.  I still find a couple of flats worth of things and radio Roy on the Walkie Talkies to come hear in a hurry. 

On Saturday not too many new faces show up but the Pakistani dealer I bought some minerals from last year arrives. Once again he has some nice Aqaumarine matrix pieces starting at high prices waiting for you to negotiate down.  He also has plastic containers loaded with crystals of kunzite, peridot, aquamarine, diopside, quartz and more.   I don't know why they can't figure out that transporting minerals like this is not the way to keep them from getting broken.  It almost makes you want to buy anything undamaged just to save it from getting broken down the line.  He has some nice tabular faden quartz folks are snapping up.  Fellow St. Louisan Glen Williams (he has some very nice, nicely priced TN's by the way) has found a couple of dandy lazulite crystals in the marble matrix for $15.  I didn't see them when I stopped by as he was setting up earlier. 

Also on Saturday Alan Goldstein arrived with his find of smithsonite on fluorite.   He and a fellow collector were in Hastie's Quarry, Spar Mountain and found an old pillar from the 1950's the new  operation had exposed.  Not real showy but still nice unusual examples from Hardin County. 

smithsonite_il1a.jpg (93770 bytes)

John Teague of Tennessee has invited me to stop by his booth for some cold beverages Saturday afternoon.  I want to get a shot of him by his infamous Volunteer Orange tablecloths.  His wife offers to take a picture of Kevin Conroy, John, and Myself behind his booth surely endangering the camera. 

bloom_report4.jpg (54610 bytes)

Here you see Kevin, John, and Stan left to right.  While enjoying John's hospitality I check out some of his finds.  He found a nice undamaged Cumberland Mine, Tennessee calcite on Limestone From the Geode Gallery  shown below.

bloom_report10.jpg (39805 bytes)

He also found one of the new skeletal quartz from Pakistan/Afghanistan (from the disputed area) from St. Louisan Melissa Perucca shown below.  These are very lustrous, glassy clear to smoky, often with mud inclusions in the skeletal parts of the crystals.  Some look like skeletal herkimer diamonds and exhibit parallel growth.    

bloom_report9.jpg (48728 bytes)

Overall the weather was phenomenal with temperatures over 10 degrees less than anyone ever remembered them and no thunderstorms.  As I headed back I asked my daughter if she had a good time.  After she said "Yes",  I asked her what her favorite part of the show was.  She gave me the answer I was fully expecting "The dogs".  Oh well, it may take a few true rock Hounds to help her become a rockhound.  Adios.


Hit Counter