Sir Walter Scott
NEW ZEALAND MICRO-MINERAL CLUB
some run up hill and down dale, knapping the chucky stones
pieces wi' hammers, like so many road makers run daft.
say it is to see how the world was made."
St. Ronan's Well 1824
The NZ Micro-Mineral Club is based around the annual Labour
Weekend Symposium and publication of the Club Newsletter "Micro-Scope" (published
The last New Zealand Micromounters
Symposium (20th) was held at the Matai Baptist Camp, Nelson at the top of the South
Island over the
weekend 25-29th Oct 2002.
Details of the 2003 Symposium
to be held in Dunedin will be posted here soon.
For further information contact
Rod Martin or Jocelyn Thornton
minerals in China
I got a lot of advice from others about where to buy Chinese
minerals but the premier spot for minerals is Guilin - the Guilin Tourist
Commodity Market with 60-80+ mineral shops!! About 30Y by cab from
railway station (2Y by bus).
Prices ranged from very cheap (20-25Y for small cabinet specimens of
green fluorite with multiple 25-30 cm cubes) to Tuscon prices. Buyers were
very rare and the two I met were from Taiwan, for my part I was assumed
to be American - next time I will get a shirt made saying (in Mandarin)
"I am NOT an American!". The shops appeared to be surviving on the odd sale
of one or two large cabinet/Museum sized specimens per year.
Some shops only wanted to deal in USD but most were negotiable on price.
Large specimens predominated but a few had trays of micros to thumbnails
of local grass-green and yellow pyromorphite and other material at good
prices. There was so much of it (pyromorphite) available that I really didn't
click as to how good it actually was and didn't even realise until I'd left
China that one of the dealers talked about collecting the material himself.
Will try and pursue this on my next trip, must be more than just pyromorphite
Posted around 18 kgs of mixed material home (at around 10x the cost of
the specimens). Lots of tektites avail @ ~50Y/kg but did manage to
get this down to 33Y/kg for selected items. Saw some really nice teardrop
and discoid shapes but dealer wanted 8USD each for all tektites - in retrospect
should have pursued the teardrops as never saw any more.
Good advice for anyone would be to go one day and check the range then
head off to an internet cafe and check selling prices in the US then return
knowing something of the value and rarity of the specimens. Bargaining
is normally tough work (although the fluorites I bought at opening price)
with most of my buys at @ 10-20% of opening price.
The name of a good weekend market in Beijing for minerals is Pan Jia
Yuan Curio Market.
It is open on weekends only and runs from about 6.30 am through
to about 4.00 pm. Huge range of curios- a lot of replicas and fakes- but
attended by many of the locals which means that there is a reasonable standard
of goods overall. Bought a couple of specimens there but nothing really
outstanding available in the small sizes I was after. Lots of good large
The Beijing Geological Museum is supposed to be first class and I think
that there is some sales tables there (was closed for renovation during
our visit but should have reopened by now) as well as in the Natural
History Museum. The galleries there were really good although the dinosaur
section is looking a bit tired. There used to be a series of mineral and
fossil sellers on the road outside the Museum but they have now gone to
places unknown - this is evidently a common occurence in China and is frustrating
as you spend a lot of time trying to find their new location.
Out the back of the Geological Institute of Beijing (26 Baiwanzhuang Rd
Beijing) is a small shop where Institute members sell their specimens
(at least thats what I think they were telling us!). Nice range of
fossils and minerals although again mainly too large for me (included 2m
x 1m panels of fossil sea lilies/crinoids).
In Datong there was little in the mineral field but lots of Lycoptera
and Jianghanichthys?(fish fossils) - Didn't really want any but just
kept insisting that I would only pay 10Yand finally they agreed!! but still
wanted 15-20Y for the Jianghanichthys? Dont know whether it was just a local
oversupply or if this is the base price. Previously thought that 20Y (Beijing
market) was about the lowest for reasonable Lycoptera specimens. If buying
fossils in China then you need to be very careful as there is a lot of fakes
out there, also dinosaura material is prohibited from export without a
permit (Death penalty for Locals caught exporting illegal material!!). If
you post any material then it must be packed in front of the PO inspector
and they won't allow you to send any suspect material and printed newspaper
is NOT allowed for packing. Soap powder (flakes) is a cheap and effective
protective packing and is easily removed - most tissue paper in China
seems to disintegrate and get caught in the specimens.
Two other good places for minerals are Wuhan and Changsha but I didn't
get time to check them out. It pays to take a couple of pages of mineral
photos to show to all and sundry - I carry them with me all the time and
constantly show them around. There are many mines and mineral dealers in
these two cities and once the word gets out it is supposed to be
very good buying. Show the pictures to hotels, cabdrivers cafe staff etc
- some Mandarin is an advantage.
Contacting local geologists is a good idea as many speak English and most
have some specimens that they will sell or will know someone with good
After four weeks in China we travelled across to Taiwan to spend a couple
of weeks with our children who are both teaching English there. Research
via the Internet hadn't shown much in the way of minerals available there
so was surprised to find that Taiwan must be the Rockhound capital of the
World. It seemed that one in every ten shops or stalls had rocks and minerals
for sale. The material is mostly imported from South and North America with
a much small percentage from Asia. Mislabelling of origins is rife with American
and European material commanding the best prices. I saw sacks of Kauri gum
for sale marked as Romanian. (Looked like Kauri gum, smelt like it and was
packed in NZ sacks!!) Much of the obviously Chinese material was also relabelled
as these are seen as inferior specimens.
Prices were horrendously high for all material but buyers were still plentiful
including Companies buying for foyer displays. It was also interesting to
frequently pass shops with microscopes on display but prices were much higher
than in Hong Kong although still less than NZ prices. The Pan Jia
Yuan Curio Market in Beijing also had a stand selling hand lenses
(20x @ 5NZD) and pocket microscopes (40x, folding @ ~50NZD and 50x with light
PAGE 2 (photos)
AND NZ GEOLOGY LINKS