A gathering of agateers at Agate Corner, Hotel Tucson

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HELLO FELLOW AGATEERS,

Here’s a group photo from the show at the Hotel Tucson. Andres Carillo (on the left below) brought me polished agates from the Coyamito ranch in Mexico and next to Andres is another friend, Joshua Ritter, who sold me some superb Fighting Blood agates from China. The rest of the group are also agate lovers.

In the next couple of days I’ll be opening a new offering in The Agate Shop with many new specimens from Mexico, China, Argentina and Morocco. One by one I’ll rejuvenate the rest of the stores in this order: jaspers, thundereggs, slabs and then cabochons. If you would like to be on my mailing list for announcements, send me a note on my contact page. I look forward to hearing from you.

Peace,

Thom

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From left to right: Andres Carillo (Mexico), Joshua Ritter (Germany), Fady Kamer (The Netherlands), Ricardo Birnie (Argentina), Thom Lane (US), Hannes Holzemann (Austria), Dave Polson (US), Cedrine and Jerry Schaber (US)

Shipping Policy at The Agate Trader’s 6 ETSY Shops

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The Agate Trader has the following shipping policy as of 12/10/2016

Since I have six separate ETSY stores you may make separate purchases from several different stores or you may come back to a store more than once and make more purchases. Every time you make a purchase ETSY will charge you another shipping fee. I am glad to ship multiple purchases in the same box and refund the extra shipping charges but I also try to mail items out on the same day so the refund depends on the items being shipped in the same box. My goal is to have the customer cover my costs of shipping and I will refund overcharges if multiple orders are shipped in one box. The customer should be proactive in emailing me about combining shipments.

My method of boxing up specimens is safer and more elegant and costly than the bubble envelope that ETSY assumes I will use. The minor additional expense is worth it to me. When I pack even a single cabochon I use the same 8 x 5 x 4″ box. Each item is placed in a foam envelope with a hand written label and that is placed in a plastic bag. The bag or bags are packed in a bed of styrofoam peanuts. There is no charge for this service.

Shipping to customers in the US:

All boxes shipped to customers in the US are sent Priority Mail since it provides a tracking number which establishes that the box was shipped on a specific date and tracks its progress. I believe it has a guaranteed delivery of three days. The savings on first class are only a dollar or so and there is no tracking number and it’s slower. I want there to be a tracking number so I send orders in the US byPriority Mail.

Shipping to customers outside the US

Priority Mail International costs about twice as much as First Class Parcel International so I choose the less expensive method. You can give me instructions to use other methods and you can ask for insurance but you will be charged the additional costs. If you accept First Class Parcel International without insurance I will have a receipt to show I sent the parcel but that is the limit of my liability.

First Class Parcel International:  There is no guaranteed delivery date but there is a tracking number while the parcel is in the US.

Priority Mail International: There is a tracking number but tracking only extends until the box leaves the US. Delivery is guaranteed in 6 to ten days.

12/10/2016

 

 

 

 

The 2016 Agate EXPO in Wisconsin This Past July

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Here are a few photos of good friends at the 2016 EXPO, it was the best agate show of all times.

Back in my booth I'm with my new friend Chuck Mosher - Thom Lane
In the back of my booth with a new friend Chuck Mosher

Other good friends I saw were Jeffery Anderson, Veronica Woods, Uwe Reir, Holger Quelmaltz, Hannes Holzmann, Alan Meltzer, Pat McMahan, Eugene and Brent Stewart, Ana de los Santos, Joshua Ritter, Roger Clark, Lorie Peterson and Steve Wheeler to name just a few.

Most photos by my famous sidekick, Norman Eberhardt.

I must mention that Dr. Goetze was kind enough to allow me to make a selection of my favorite thundereggs from his outstanding exhibition of the agates of Saxony. I also obtained some fine Moroccan agates from Joshua Ritter and many other fine pieces which will be appearing in my stores.

Thom’s talk at the 2016 Agate EXPO About The Baker Mine and Thunderegg Genesis

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I had the priveledge of giving a talk on the Baker Ranch thunderegg deposit and the genesis of thundereggs at the EXPO Symposium on July 7th, 2016.

The presenters of this symposium, The Gem Shop, videotaped the proceedings and with careful editing produced a wonderful set of four DVD’s. This handsome set contains all twelve  presentations by many major figures in the agate world, a bargain for 99$! Find out all about it and order a copy for yourself at The Gem Shop.

Hans Gamma – Master of the World of Jaspers: Author, Collector and Artist

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I first met Hans Gamma when I was hanging out with Gene Mueller and Jake Jacobitz in the mid 1980’s at the desert rockshow in Quartzsite, Arizona. Han’s wife Esther took off to go rock snooping around the show with Jake’s lifelong partner Beverly Hardin and Hans joined us to talk jaspers.

Hans would often prospect with Jake and was building an amazing collection, one of the finest in the world, which he documented as only a Swiss gentleman would. The catalogue of his collection has photos of every important piece with the date he got it and the exact location of its origin and its number in the catalog is finely written in black ink on each piece.

Hans and Esther became interested in Jaspers when they began visiting from Switzerland in the 1950’s. They got a pickup truck and traveled around the western US collecting jaspers. In 1985 Hans retired from the family printing business and settled with Esther in the hills outside Phoenix where they raised their three daughters. Esther passed away in 2015 is sadly missed, she was a true lady. She was from an area in Switzerland not far from Hans birthplace and was working as a translator in Philadelphia when they met.

owyhee-jakeHans Gamma has always made his knowledge and collection available to the rest of us, a very great kindness. Many of the photos in Agates II and III in the section on Jaspers that he wrote at the request of Johann Zenz are from his personal collection. In 2011 Hans published his first book: Picture Jaspers, treasures of the Owyhee Area, Oregon. This book features over 75 recognizable varieties of picture jaspers from the Owyhee caldera and many of them were discovered by Hans’ close friend Jake Jacobitz. This book presents the many varieties and is also a tribute to Jake, they collected together in this area on numerous occasions. The specimens are all from Hans’ collection and the book shows Hans’ artistic eye.

In 2015 Hans published a second book with a wider scope: Picture Jaspers from the Northwest. This volume includes the jaspers from the areas of McDermitt, Blue Mountain, Bruneau Canyon and Willow Creek and has new locations added to the Owyhee area. Hans collection is so vast that none of the specimens in the first book were needed for his second! These books can be ordered from his website.

nwest-jaspersHan’s website, World of Jaspers, features jaspers from all over the world and is an introduction to the vast artistic resource of jasper. His website is an almost psychedelic experience on a par with the worlds great museums. His daughter Corinna participated in the design and implementation, they are a great team. In addition to being a museum of his visions in jasper it is also an orderly tour of the most beautiful jaspers from around the world, focusing of course on those from the western United States.

As a painter I enjoyed cutting Morrisonite more than any other lapidary material but when I saw Hans’ cabochons I realized I was in the company of a true artist.

He recently allowed me to acquire many of his morrisonite cabochons (above) and very fine collector slabs (below). Each one is a painting in stone. These pieces will be appearing in The Cabochon Shop and The Slab Shop. Having these historic pieces available to purchase is a unique opportunity.

I will always be grateful for the kindness of this gentle gentleman for the hours we have spent together, the education he has offered me and the beautiful specimens from him that are among my finest treasures.

How I Began Collecting Plume Agates

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When I was a cabochon cutter in the late 1900’s I felt that plume agates were ideal for jewelry because most jewelers prefer to work on a smaller scale. Their frequent transparency and delicacy of pattern makes plume agates ideal for earrings, rings for the finger and so on. Here are some rings from my selection of antique agate jewelry in The Jewelry Shop that show how well suited plume agates are for fine jewelry.

I began to search for plume agates to cut but the ones I found seemed very rare and special to me and soon I decided I’d rather collect them than cut them.  I was living near Boston in those years and the market there was more interested in precious opal, tourmaline and other boring stuff like that… it was frustrating because I preferred to cut cabs with pictures in them.  As a result I still have my plume agate collection which after many years is now for sale.

I hope you will enjoy the talk I gave at The Celebration of Agates in Minnesota in 2012, it shows fine examples of plume agates from six different states in the western US.

Slab Collecting is a Great Opportunity for Collectors Today

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In the early days of rockhounding in America it seemed like there was an endless abundance of wonderful agates and jaspers. The hobby of making cabochons grew so large that it was second only to woodworking as the most popular hobby in the US. During that time the great agate discoveries were exploited freely and many were quickly exhausted. Beautiful material was usually cut into slabs and the slabs were used to produce cabochons. It is still possible to find slabs that were set aside by collectors or were never cut into cabochons but it was uncommon to cut a rock in  half and polish the face. Toward the end of that period I was making my living cutting cabochons but I was also a collector and a painter and when I saw a slab that was highly artistic I rarely cut it into cabs, it went into my slab collection.

Morrisonite, the king of Jaspers - Thom Lane
Morrisonite Jasper Slab

Those who wish to collect the fine early materials should recognize that for the moment it is still possible to collect fine slabs and they offer many advantages to a collector. They are easy to store and display and they are reasonably priced given their rarity and beauty. Slabs and half nodule specimens can be combined in a display with the heavier specimens in the foreground and slabs mounted on stands above and behind them.

A few dealers at today’s rock shows still offer fine polished slabs of the rare early materials but it is not often that one sees a specimen of great beauty that is a saw cut rock with a polished face.

Precision polishing of a flat surface requires special equipment and knowledge and that may have further lessened the interest in flat lapping during the cabochon era.

The Original Denver Gem Mineral Show – Sept 16-18 2016 Denver Mart

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On my way back from the Agate EXPO 2016 show in Wisconsin I began making inquiries about other shows since I had everything ready. I contacted the vendor manager and he told me that a dealer I’ve known in Tucson over the years, Tom Wooden, was retiring and his booth was available. I took it and when I arrived at the show I realized it was perfect.

Thom Lane with The Agate Trader shop at the Denver Gem and Mineral Show 2016.
The Denver show is a mighty fine show, and Ana de Los Santos had marvelous agates from Patagonia and China just down the aisle.

The show including setup day lasts only four days which gives me as many shopping and socializing days as I want, it turned out to be a great show. There were more serious local agate fans than in Wisconsin although the 2016 Agate EXPO was attended by many of the worlds executive collectors. The Denver show was inexpensive and much closer to Tucson. I’m saying all this because I plan to be at the show as long as the creek don’t rise. Please come see this great show for yourself in 2017!

A photo journal of mining at the Morrisonite Mine: 1994 – 1996

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Morrisonite is considered the King of Jaspers. I fell in love with it when I began cutting cabochons which are like miniature paintings. I felt that the images I could create with Morrisonite were the ones that really made it and I began my quest.

I met Darell Jakobitz, AKA Jake, in the late 1970’s. He sold at the 4th of July show in Madras, Oregon in the summer and once again at the PowWow in Quartzsite during the winter. On those occasions he had unbelievable slabs and many of the ones I bought went into my collection. An entire slab can equal the finest paintings in the world. In the 1980’s Gene Mueller became the principal miner and I went to Cedarburg to buy Morrisonite from him. With his permission I visited the mine in 1994 for a week with my son Miles and saw the mine for the first time. Several photos in Agates II are from Miles collection.

My first visit to the mine was in 1994

When Gene, my son Miles Lane and I arrived at the top rim of the Owyhee River Canyon Gene pointed out the road to the mining claims which goes across the hill and down the canyon wall beyond. From where we were the road dropped down very steeply to the visible area below but the next morning we went to the far side of the hill and down the side of the canyon, that’s when we really hung on for dear life. The dot in the center of the photo is the cabin on the right. It was built by the late Tom Caldwell, the first resident Morrisonite miner.

Gene and I began to talk about geology as the sun rose on the first day, a conversation that went on for years. The time I spent with Gene was a great learning experience. During our visit there Jake and Gene were working together at the area Gene eventually claimed under the name ‘Jake’s Place. As you can see in the photo of Gene tamping the nitro into a six foot drill hole this is indeed hard rock mining.

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In 1995 I participating in the mining for a month

I volunteered to help and my reward was being able to buy freshly mined morrisonite at the end of the operations. I didn’t buy much because I was cutting cabs, I wish I had a time machine so I could go back for more!

Gene used an old loader to complete a treacherous road down to his new mining spot, the Christine Marie claim far below Jake’s Place. The loader was also used to remove the muck or waste after an area had been blasted and the jasper had been carefully mined out by hand.

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The host rock at the CM Claim is broken up by nature which meant that it could be worked without explosives. We broke out the jasper by hand and Gene removed the muck with the old front end loader, shown above.

The host rock at the Christine Marie mine, above, has been shattered by forces in the earth long ago. The brown junky Morrisonite in the photo on the right was fairly abundant in certain areas and I include the photo because it shows how the jasper occurs in the rock. When it comes to gem jasper Gene said you get about a pound of Morrisonite per ton of rock.

The year before Miles and I had slept in a cabin up above so I just brought along a sleeping bag. When I asked Gene where I could sleep he said “anywhere you like”. Since there was no place for me in his cabin I tried to sleep on the ground but after about ten minuted I had rats in my face. The only way I could get off the ground was to sleep for the whole month in the five foot bed of the Ford Scout. It had front and rear positraction and was ideal for going up and down Gene’s road and  I was always so exhausted that I slept fine. Gradually I began to fit in.

Here are some photos of Gene’s cabin which he built against a large boulder from mostly found materials at a cost of 37$.

Jake (right) was working above and came down for a visit. Inside Gene’s hut was the kitchen and across from it his sleeping loft and not much else.

After about a week working in the CM Mine Gene took me further down the road to where there was a large compressor. It was parked a hundred yards or so to the south of his cabin, the compressor was just around the corner in this view of the road from Gene’s cabin. The post sticking out above the road is one of the roof poles of the cabin.

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From the compressor we headed up a scree slope and reached the Lower Cliff Dig up a ravine in the canyon wall to the left. The hose from the compressor was dragged up to the dig to run the drill from the compressor. To mine there you had to bring everything we needed for a day’s mining up the scree slope and every bit of Morrisonite was carried down in five gallon buckets. Tough work if you can get it.

In the photo on the left which was taken from about half way to the dig you can just make out the twelve foot long yellow compressor behind the long boulder on the road left of center. The photo on the right is from all the way up to the mine.  You can see a red dot far down the scree slope, that’s Gene climbing up from the road.

Once you get to the mine the fun begins. On the left Gene stands on a ledge of solid rock which he is drilling in preparation to blast. You can tell the second photo is the next week because he’s changed his shirt. The blasting is a delicate process actually, too much explosive and the rock is blown apart and the jasper shattered.

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The Lower Cliff Dig went directly into the base of a shear rock wall that went straight up above us for a hundred feet or so. The fact that I was willing to mine directly below it is evidence that I assumed that Gene knew what he was doing. Wherever he went I followed, simply putting my life in his hands and enjoying a great adventure. Thanks Gene, we made it!

Gene Mueller and Thom Lane digging in Owyhee Canyon.

The shear rock wall can be seen on the left. At the end of many days we had uncovered a vein of Morrisonite that was six feet long that yielded 600 pounds of high quality jasper. He set his camera on a rock and took this photo of us sitting at each end of the vein. He had mined it with such care that at this moment the vein was exposed but still unbroken.

1996 This year I brought a good tent

Jake joined us for this month of mining. He has been prospecting for and mining gem agates and jaspers his whole life and is also a very artistic cabochon cutter. On top of that he is one of the smartest and most considerate men I’ve known. In spite of having a hard youth and only a sixth grade education he is looked up to by everyone who knows him, Gene Mueller and Hans Gamma are close friends of his.

We had a village of 3, truly remote. Gene’s  cabin is behind a huge boulder just beyond Jake’s white ten which you will see below. I pitched my tent far off the right, I guess I couldn’t stand the crowd.

 

Jake’s tent was the most livable of our three camps with a comfy cot and a stove. When I got up in the morning I’d wander in front of his tent and eventually he would call out “Hey Thom, want a cup of bean? The best coffee I ever had.

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Here is the man himself in front of his camp that the early Native Americans would have appreciated. He spent more days living like this than under a house roof, almost always by himself, mining and prospecting.

When I arrived the Lower Cliff Dig it had just been blasted and I spent the month mining there. Eventually it was drilled and shot a second time by Jake and he spent some days up with me showing me the proper way to work it. I took these photos then.

On the left Jake had just found a piece of black Morrisonite with lovely orbs, he looks happy! In the center balanced on a rock face is Jake at work. I never saw him rush and I never saw him stumble and he spotted a lot more Morrisonite than I ever did. If nothing else that summer I was the most fit I’ve ever been.

During the time I mined at the Lower Cliff Dig I was mostly working alone except for the happy visits from Jake. Gene was mining the whole time for Christine Marie jasper and produced many great pieces of the highest quality.

Bright moments!