Rock World Tales

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.

Gene Mueller – an outstanding miner, dealer, collector and lapidary

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TheGemShop.com is the place for great accounts of his many mining operations. I was involved in mining with Gene Mueller for a month in six different years.

He did a lot of mining by himself using heavy equipment in remote places which is more than just risky. In the evenings we generally had a fire and a lot of our talk related to mining. We talked a bit about our families and friends and other miners and various agate deposits. We avoided the areas where we might have disagreed for the most part since I’m an old hippie, for better or worse, and he strikes me as more patriarchal. My life was always in his hands under these conditions and I’m still here so well done, Gene, thank you. I was there for the adventure, I was a cab cutter then and so I never bought much, a pound of rock will cut lots of cabs and my income came from jewelers who were craftspeople.

Gene Mueller and thom at Rancho Agua Nueva in 90s the agate trader thom lane agate jasper theagatestore

The internet made it possible for me to become a specimen dealer many years later and as a lifelong collector it suits my temperament much better.

Gene told me how he got started with his life in the rock world. While he was still in college studying painting he went with another guy to Mexico just for travel, they went down the highway toward Ciudad Chihuahua. In Villa Ahumada near the Laguna area he noticed a fine agate specimen by the cash register of a restaurant. He didn’t have enough money to buy it so he talked his fellow traveler out of his wristwatch and made the trade. He bought his friend a new watch when they got home and his painting career ended there. He has worked tirelessly to make a good living for his family while following his love of mining and appreciation of great agates and jaspers and he is as tough as a two dollar steak. A good man.