Haywards Heath Cake Show 2005 (with minerals)
Every year the Sussex Mineral and Lapidary Society (SMLS) put on quite possibly the best UK mineral show - one of the reasons for this success is the legendary home-made cakes that SMLS make available to visitors. It is not unusual for the cake stall to be the busiest in the show (this photo was taken just before the main doors opened at 10am).
As a fully-paid up member of the SMLS (they took my money today, apparently I forgot again in August), I should make it clear that there is inevitably a tendency for me to try to talk-up our club's show, and to make it sound bigger and better than it is. However, UK shows aren't big, and no amount of talking-up can cover this. Especially after Munich two weeks ago, it is in some ways reassuring to return to a show where after one hour of careful examination of every stall you get back to where you started thinking "Ok, I've seen everyone now". In munich we had to run around the stalls, it took two days, and we still missed most of it. At Haywards this left lots of time to actually talk to people, which was good.
First, the dealers:
Keith Corrie from Sidmouth, Devon had a very nicely presented stand, and some quite aesthetic minatures and small to large cabinet specimens at very reasonable prices. He had several rubies from Zazafotsy, Madagascar were noteworthy in terms of quality of crystal in matrix for a very low price - and I ended up taking a small piece back with me. He also had (as did several other dealers at the show) pieces of the new(ish) barite from Cerro Warihuyn in Peru.
Mark Wrigley from Thames Valley Minerals was on hand with a selection of his stock for sale. As usual he had an interesting selection of UK and worldwide minerals, items that caught my attention were an interesting Cerussite from Mottram St Andrews (unusual locality), and some of the newfind of Fluorite wth some very unusual growth patterns from Bujiger, Mongolia that first showed up at Ste Marie in the summer. These are short-wave fluorescent.
The big mineral news at the Haywards Heath show however this year was the disposal of the final 150 specimens from the famous A W Scoble collection, by Ian Bruce of Crystal Classics. Scoble was a prolific UK collector who amassed a huge number of specimens, onto each of which he attached his distinctive hand typed label. There were two cabinets like the one above, plus many other specimens on the table.
Here is a Frizington Baryte crystal, with a typical Scoble label. As the day went on the cabinets gained many noticable gaps as these classic items got snapped up by eager collectors.
However, all the talk at the show was about two new dealers, Sam and Jo Bruce, who are joined in this photo by Ida. Sam and Jo had a table set up next to their Dad (Ian), and at one point in the morning had outsold their dad. This is possibly due to their interesting and unique selling pitch, which seemed to involve showing you something at random from their stand (although the randomicity was weighted heavily towards the expensive items), and then sending Jo running out to try and pull your wallet out of your pocket. They insisted that Ida needed to buy a gemstone ring with interchangeable gemstones, and Jo made absolutely sure that I had my wallet and that I paid for it. Later that evening Ida was showing the gemstone ring to someone, and the gemstone flew out of the fitting across the room
Here is Jo after dragging the team from the Natural History Museum to his stand and succesfully selling them small stone frogs (in the photo above, Mike Rumsey is about to shake on a deal to make Jo the exclusive small stone frog supplier to the mineralogy department). We await XRD analysis of the frogs and will update you with details of this in the future.
Which brings us on neatly to the presentations and display part of the show. The Natural History Museum mineralogy department had sent along a selection of some priceless UK minerals from the collection. Here Mike Rumsey is keeping a very careful eye on Colin Brough and Peter Moore, current and past (respectively) chairmen of the Sussex Mineral and Lapidary Society.
This is a classic Pyromorphite from Wheal Alfred, Cornwall (although you have probably read that already). This piece was illustrated in the Minerals of Cornwall and Devon book.
Two more classics, a HUGE Herodsfoot Mine Bournonite (again, illustrated in the Cornwall and Devon book), and an incredible Plumbogummite/Pyromorphite combination from Roughton Gill mine. This particular piece was the front cover of the Cooper and Stanley book 'Minerals of the Caldbeck Fells'.
The SMLS had their own stand (as always) promoting the club and its activities, especially the 'geotourism' trips that the club makes once a year to overseas collecting - recent trips have included Namibia (twice), India (twice), USA and Canada (I joined them for the Canadian leg of this trip). The club is one of the most active mineral collecting clubs in the UK. Here (another) past chairman, Roger Kemplen is pointing at something without looking at it, which is not in general recommended as an effective and efficient way to indicate something due to the potential for error.
The show is always of course a fantastic place to meet up with people - on the left here is mindat.org regular Barry Flannery (who flew over from Ireland to the show), and on the right, regular mindat.org contributor Ian Jones.
In the kitchen, some of the cakes prove more difficult to serve.
Alternatively... the SMLS show has always prided itself in events for children. As well as the regular children lecture, kids can "dig their own fossils" from blocks of cement with stuck-in fossils, and they love it!
Next door, Richard Belson and Gavin Malcolm had their regular display of ultraviolet minerals, this year including some Greenland specimens exhibited by Machael Doel following his trip there. Above is the shortwave cabinet (the actual cabinet is about six feet long).
The longwave cabinet photo didn't come out so well.
Richard Belson also contributed to the new event for the show, the competition. The theme of the competition was "British Fluorite", and five selected entrants with good British Fluorite collections were asked to fill a cabinet
This is a close-up of one of two slabs of a 'Blue John' fluorite 'Hedgehog' - Richard told the story of how this piece was rescued from a rubbish skip in Liskeard, Cornwall. The surface was damaged but he cut and polished it.
Roland Thomas provided the second entry which cotained some killer pieces of northern English fluorite.
A closeup of the green fluorite from Middlehope mine, Westgate, Co. Durham.
Simon Harrison had yet another superb collection of northern-english fluorites, including a range of single crystals/twinned crystals showing a range of colour variation from mine to mine.
Peter Briscoe had a display with particular emphasis on the Cambokeels Mine, and the wide range of fluorite colours and habits that are found there.
And finally, Ian Jones showed off his own English fluorite collection. Unlike most of the other entrants, Ian had not concentrated solely on the northern-England fluorites (although he had some killer pieces from the North), and had an interesting mix of welsh, cornish and devon fluorites (some self collected) and even some cut and polished fluorite gemstones to add to the mix.
A great cornish fluorite from Ian's display.
One of the groups of cut fluorite that Ian had displayed.
The competition was judged by Alan Hart from the Natural History Museum - and first prize was awarded to Ian Jones. In his summing up Alan said that it was hard to pick a winner from so many excellent displays, but Ian's had won because of the variety of great fluorite pieces from all over the UK, truly being a display of British Fluorite.
And the best thing - noone was smoking in the show! After the show we joined Ian Jones, Ian Bruce, David and Liz Hacker and others for the traditional post-SMLS show Curry
I would like to give my thanks to the SMLS Show organizers, in particular John Pearce, for organizing this show. It's hard to remember when a British mineral show had such a great collection of classic British minerals, both from public and private collections and on the dealers' tables. For everyone interested in British Minerals, or those who just enjoy a slice of cake, the 2006 Haywards Heath show is going to be unmissable.