Sources for mineral micromounts
Dave Babulski, Ed.D.
("Tips and Trips", Vol. XXXI/8, August 2002, page 7.)
This month we will look at sources for mineral micromounts. But first, some breaking news. For those of you out there who are looking for a good inexpensive microscope I have some good news. David Shannon, a mineral dealer in Arizona, is now a U.S. distributor for Motic microscopes. I use a Motic K400 myself. While this is a more expensive scope, this manufacturer makes several good beginner stereo microscopes. One word of caution however. The advertisement for Motic microscopes on page 281 of the latest issue of Rocks and Minerals magazine is misleading. The microscope shown in the picture is NOT the Motic S-10-P model but is instead a more expensive model. I would recommend the Motic S-20-LO model. It is a few dollars more than the $139.50 amount quoted in the ad, but the optics are first rate and well worth the few extra dollars.
Now back to the program already in progress. Where do you go for mineral micromounts? The answer to this question is really twofold: (1) you can collect them yourself (more on this at a later date) and, (2) You can purchase specimens from a dealer. [ed. -- or, (3) someone can give them to you].
A quick look at the internet shows a host of dealers who specialize in micromounts or who sell micromounts as a side line. I prefer to purchase thumbnail size specimens and break them down myself. This, for me, is part of the fun of micromounting. You will find that micromounts per se are a bit more expensive than if you break down and mount them yourself. Another source for specimens is mineral dealers at gem and mineral shows. I have found that if you let the dealer know you are looking for micromount material they will often show you specimens they have in stock that are good micromount material. I have many a specimen in my own collection obtained in this way. Another guideline when purchasing specimens is purchase more than one! By purchasing more than one you increase your chances of several really first class mounts.
I make it a practice to purchase at least two of any given specimen. After you break them down to micromount size you may have as many as 8 to 10 micromount-size specimens. Now comes the hard part. Set the specimens aside for a few days and come back and examine them again. Set aside those that do not meet your mounting requirements for trading or give away. Then set the selected specimens aside for another day or so and come back and re-select again. You should have the selection whittled down to 2 or 3 specimens. If you don't cull at the beginning you will come back to those specimens that looked so good early on and ask, "Now why did I keep this again?"
I have digressed a bit, so back to the mineral dealers. For my money, I find that David Shannon Minerals and Simkev Micromounts have the greatest selection and about the best value for the money. I used to buy a lot of specimens from Robert Eaton, but I have not seen ads for his business in the last few years so I assume that he is no longer in business. This is a shame because he would send you a thumbnail size specimen in a micromount box. There are two new dealers, ELEMENT 51 and The Complete Micromounter (Open for business in September 2002 says their web site). I have not tried them as yet, but if you have or if you have a favorite dealer, please drop me a line (my e-mail address is on the newsletter mast head) and I will include the information in the Micromount Corner.
One of the real joys of micromounting for me is when the box of specimens comes in the mail. The box is opened and there are all the specimens all neatly wrapped in paper like so many tiny gifts. The heart beats a bit faster as each package is carefully unwrapped not knowing what new treasure awaits to be discovered.
May the sky be blue and all the vugs you find be crystal filled...
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