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Cornish mineral specimens create excitement

Across the pond, Cornish mineral specimens create excitement
A collection of minerals from one of Cornwall’s great houses has caused a stir across the Atlantic, in the United States of America.
The collection at Caerhays Castle has lain uncatalogued and largely hidden for over 100 years.
But now it has been rediscovered and some of the specimens formed a stunning display which created a buzz of excitement at the 2011Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, the largest of its kind in the world.
Courtenay Smale, the curator of the Williams Caerhays Mineral Collection took 24 specimens representing the rare arsenates and phosphates from Cornwall – “the envy of collectors worldwide,” he said.
Also included in the display were a number of important foreign pieces, such as opal from Australia, aquamarine and topaz from Siberia, and silver from Norway.
The Caerhays mineral collection is truly spectacular but it was not until Courtenay Smale began investigations at the behest of Caerhays Castle owner, Charles Williams, that the full extent of the collection was realised.
Now it is receiving the attention it cries out for and will form an increasingly important part of the house tour as the work progresses.
Newquay-based Courtenay was surprised by what he found when his researches began.
“There were some minerals in the glass cabinets but so much more not on display,” he said.
He found “a cache of minerals” in cupboards, then “a horde in the cellar.”
On the mantelpiece in the smoking room were topazes and aquamarines from Russia and new discoveries kept on happening: minerals in a chest of drawers in the old vegetable room and yet more in the old cold store.
The Caerhays mineral cabinet at the Tucson event was one of just four special exhibits from outside the United States, the other three coming from Australia, Russia and Switzerland.
Mineral aficionados from around the world were impressed with the quality of the specimens and, said Courtenay, “the ultimate tribute came from one of Arizona’s leading mineralogists who said it was the finest display in the show.”
Within hours of the show’s closure, images of some of the Caerhays minerals appeared on the world’s most important mineral websites.
Organisers of the Denver Mineral Show in September 2011 and the Munich Show October 2011 (Europe’s largest) “expressed serious interest in staging a special exhibit of the Caerhays specimens,” said Courtenay.
Many delegates to the Tucson show – from north America and Europe – are now hoping to come to Cornwall to study the Caerhays collection.
The collection now forms part of the house tours, which begin in March.
Further information at:  01872 501310
The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is held for four days from the second Thursday in February and marks the culmination of many weeks of mineral trading and shows in the city. The city is virtually taken over by mineral dealers, occupying some fifty of the larger hotels and motels, who ply their trade from hotel rooms. These satellite sites generate multi-million dollar business for the participants and the city
The Gem & Mineral Show comprises dealers in minerals and gemstones together with competition cases and guest and special exhibit cases. Exhibitors and dealers come from every country in the world which has high quality specimens to showcase in Tucson. Such is the importance of the show that the finest minerals and gemstones are deliberately held back during the year to be launched at the show.
Issued for Caerhays by
Paul White Communications