Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005
A miner with his lamp greets us from outside a house in Ste. Marie

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Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

A cheerful and floral Ste. Marie welcomes us by putting on its best clothes. This is a beautiful town in France that deserves a visit both for its mineral fair and natural beauty.

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

Ste. Marie is full of historic memories, as well as the mines that made the town famous. One of these mines, Saint Barthelemy, has been restored and can now be visited, so there is another reason for coming to the fair.

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

Two main things can be highlighted this year. On the one hand the fair's continued presence in its normal location (but with some changes that we will explain later on) and on the other hand the horrific heat suffered during all of the days of the fair.
Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius on occasion, causing a generalized feeling of suffocation. As you can see in the picture, even the poor plants in the mine cart needed reinforcement with generous irrigation in order for them to survive.

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

The fair was successful once again. In the first photo you can observe a pre-show view, just before things started to liven up, with the characteristic 'chapiteaux' still empty. In the second photo you see the fair running with music groups encouraging the visitors. The third of the photos reflects the end of the show. The fair's organizer Michel Schwab and I pose happy and pleased at the theatre's entrance. He is cheerful, both for the organization's usual success as well as for the high number of visitors, and I am pleased as I survived the oven in that the theater became (and also, being sincere, due to the significant number of sales made this year)

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

Going over the most interesting things this year. We can inform you that the fair's location will not change next year, in spite of the high number of rumors that suggested that it would be moving to the city of Colmar in 2006. This was the result of the effort and willingness of all the parties involved in reaching an agreement: the fair's organizers and Ste. Marie's town council.
The big 'chapiteaux', such as the one in the photo, as they require more security and create logistical problems, will be moved to an ancient factory located next to the fair (which you see in the picture on the right.) Ste. Marie's town council will equip it as a gallery that in 2006 will house all exhibitors that up until now have exhibited in the big 'chapiteaux'. The space left by these will be used by smaller 'chapiteaux', characteristic of this particular fair. The number of exhibitors concentrated in the main area of the Show will increase, so the opportunity to acquire minerals will improve.

Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

The dwarfs placed in this garden indicate the most important subject: "What's new" in Ste. Marie.

There are two main things: one related to various discoveries and the other to old collections put on sale.

Starting off with the recent discoveries, I would emphasize the notable presence of Morocco, with numerous novelties: excellent Acanthites from Imiter, colorful Titanites from Imilchil, extraordinary Fluorites from El Hamman, very nice Azurites from Kerrouchen, and attractive Erythrites from Bou-Azzer, which were totally different from the ones previously discovered, with a velvety appearance and lots of color. We will offer specimens of all of these novelties in our future updates, except for the Erythrites, which due to their fragility cannot be shipped.

A country that rarely produces minerals that end up in the collections is Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, the world's main museums all have one typical species from this country: the Hyalophane from Busovaca, a species that long ago vanished from the market. Local prospectors were able to enter the Zagradski Potok mine in Busovaca where they found a considerable number of Hyalophanes, some of them of high quality and there were even some matrix specimens, something that I had never seen before. As with the Moroccan novelties, we will also offer Hyalophane specimens in our future updates.

Another popular novelty, since the number of pieces offered at the fair disappeared quickly, were the green or yellow octahedral and cuboctahedral Fluorites, sometimes arranged over white or hematoid Quartz. These Fluorites were found in the northern area of the Orange River, specifically on the Omdraii farm, near Kakamas. No examples of Fluorite have been found in this area before, so we will see if more of them appear in the future.

In relation to old collections for sale, we displayed pieces from the Folch collection, put on sale at a mineral fair for the first time. Another French collection, Champagne, with worldwide examples of a remarkable quality was also offered for first time at the Show. We will offer examples from both collections in our future updates.

Pakistan-Afghanistan and China were with no doubt the most notable countries during the fair, with a high number of extraordinary examples. Highlights include the exceptional Aquamarines found near Nyet Bruk, Braldu Valley in Pakistan, as well as the incredible (due to its size) Brookites on Quartz from Baluchistan.

 
Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines 2005

These Alsatian puppets say goodbye to us from the window in one of Ste. Marie's houses.
A la prochaine!

 
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