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Haywards Heath Show 2017


George and I were on the road early today to visit the 2017 Sussex Mineral & Lapidary Society Show (SMLS) at Haywards Heath.

This was the first time we have been to the show since 2010; e-Rocker Trevor Devon also Treasurer of the SMLS suggested we should attend when we met at Bakewell.

We arrived at 0800am to a car park already busy with dealers and exhibitors getting unpacked and shifted into the Hall.

Inside was also a scene of great activity and organisation. The SMLS offer a fantastic show back up organistion of volunteers to assist with set up, and provide such delicacies as bacon rolls to the exhibitors.

Set up in the main hall


As usual at these events we made a few circuits of the halls taking stock of what is new/going on amongst the various dealers/people we know.

First we dropped in on Andy Castleton, he had unearthed quite a large quantity bright lime green pyromorphite from Balliway Rigg, and other localities in Caldbeck Fells. The material was collected by Bill Creighton back in the 80s and 90s.

Andy busy unpacking


As usual Andy had and eclectic mix of minerals from all divisions, all neatly laid out and labelled.

Chris Mavris has just returned from the USA from a short stay courtesy of NASA. Chris will be returning to e-Rocks as a seller very shortly, hopefully doing some more project work for e-Rocks behind the scenes.

Chris Mavris (left) & Ed Loye (right)


Ed Loye brought me up to date with his exploits in Rare Earth (monazite) mineral mining in Namibia. Since last year his project has come along leaps and bounds. With initial exploration drilling done earlier year and full reports in, the reserves and quality of the concentrated mineral are looking very promising. It is a really interesting project and we will be holding Ed to his offer of giving us more information when he can.

Within his table offerings were several very good and diverse UK specimens, along with things he has picked up on his many travels.

Mike Rumsey from the Natural History Museum was there by invitation by SMLS to be the judge of the display competition. This was Mike's second time as judge, and before the event he was quite apprehensive about the task.

The SMLS display competition started circa 2003 and is now an annual event, where various collectors are asked/volunteer to put up a display with a particular theme. This year was "Minerals From A Geographical Location".

His take as judge is that he has one of the most difficult jobs at the show. The exhibitions are always exceptional but widely different in content and emphasis, and making a decision is very difficult as it is impossible to compare like with like.

We crossed into the main hall to call in on Mike Merry. Mike runs the Cornwall and Devon minerals website, though today he was featuring minerals much more diverse than the West Country.

Mike is another collector who also has a passion for old bottles, specialising in Victorian ink bottles - something else we have in common is two lurchers (dogs) resident in our respective homes.

I was very impressed that Richard Tayler had read our blog about his appearance in the Mineralogical Record after Ste Marie Show. He had more specimens from his "talc and dolomite" boulder on display, but was also telling us of his intention to revisit Pentreath Beach in search of more of this material. That is what publicity does!!

As UK mineral shows go Haywards Heath is one of the biggest. Although it is a one day event it still draws people from all over the country and dealers seem to find those extra special things for the event.

Copper Secondary Minerals in/on conglomerate - Alderley Edge Cheshire


One of the compounding reasons for this draw is the hospitality and organisation extended by the SMLS. I would say it is neck and neck for "who does the best catering" with Bakewell show, though Bakewell doesn't have a bar!! 

Busy in Cafe & Mike Rumsey Announcing Competition Winner


Come 10 o'clock the doors opened and the show filled up rapidly, almost to a crush.

We beat a hasty retreat to the stage to look over the competition cases and other displays.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH) display was an interesting insight into the importance of labels and what they can tell you about a piece. Unfortunately we had to leave before Monica Price's talk on the same subject in the afternoon.

OUMNH Display


It was good to see they featured Morrison Thomas collection labels as one of their example collections; the Morrison Thomas collection was bequested to them in the late 1990s. 

I could not agree with their advice more greatly and indeed in a conversation I had with Mike Rumsey after judging the competition, labelling and label information were big factors in his decision for the winner.

As a museum curator Mike stressed that information on a label, especially on a display is important to convey not just the mineral name and locality etc, but other important facts/contexts about the mineral and not just scientific ones. 

To me it was very interesting to read about this with the Oxford Museum and then spontaneously seeing this in action in the judging of the competition by Mike. 

Colleen Thomson won the competition with her display of minerals from Newcliffe Hill Quarry, Leicestershire - I will devote another blog with full details of her display shortly.

Within the dealers in all three halls and the corridors there was material just about to satisfy every mineralogical interest.

I did single out a few things but to me probably the best thing of my morning was an Ecton Hill calcite and chalcopyrite piece from around 50 years ago.

Correction - following publication of the show report the specimen in the section below (italics) was found to be from Breedon Hill, Leicestershire, UK, not Ecton.

Ralph Sutcliffe had acquired the piece, formerly from the collection of Richard (Dick) Braithwaite. The association is quite common from Ecton, but usually in single crystals, this cluster/group was exceptional.

Calcite - Ecton Hill

There were other great "old labels" and collection pieces on several tables, Ralph had labels from the Greenbanks, as did Midland Minerals, one super witherite from Nentsberry Haggs - Ex Mick Sutcliffe , Mike Merry had several old Richard Barstow labels and so it went on.

Another highlight of our day was meeting old friends, Dennis and Anne Padfield. Back in 1995 when I rekindled my interest in collecting minerals Dennis and Anne were good companions and occaisonal collecting partners.

George (l) with Dennis & Anne Padfield


They themselves had only recently discovered mineral collecting after buying a "crystal" in a gift shop.  Now 20 years later Anne has passed a degree in geology, completed a PhD and spent a career in teaching/academia.

One stall holder who we spotted when we arrived was Carl Bailey, another person I haven't seen in years. Carl started to buy and sell minerals around the same time as me, he originally forged a relationship with a very young Ghulam Mustapha, now the person behind Fine Art Minerals. 

Back in the day we did quite a lot of trading, and it was hugely interesting to see one of my early pieces with its original label. Just to be completely boring, yes the code number still checks out in the original TVM database!

Carl Bailey and a vintage TVM label


The day was crammed full of anecdotes and backstories, George's favourite was around the parking problems Trevor Devon was sharing with us.

Mine was the little boy at the show with his grandparents. He was hoovering up wrapped rocks from the children's lucky dip. He was having unrivalled luck and had amassed 7 packages, and wanted to go for more.

His grandmother suggested he should open a few to see what he had got. No, he wanted to do this at home, he just needed to get MORE!

Methinks a new collector has been born! 

Thanks to the SMLS for a great morning out, thanks to Trevor for springing me an early pass. I am pretty sure it won't be another 7 years before we go back.

UV Displays at the Show


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