Species: Native Silver
Locality: Minesota mine, Rockland, Ontonagon County, Michigan USA
Dimensions: 13.5 x 8.5 x 7.5 cm
The Minesota Mine (the spelling of the name is due to a clerical error when the claim was filed in the 19th century) was one of the earliest (1844) and also richest copper mines in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The Minesota Mine was famous for its large copper masses and on March 7th, 1857 a single copper mass was discovered that weighed 527 tons. Cutting up this mass (by hand using cape chisels) took 8 months and produced over 27 tons of chisel chips!
The Minesota Mine also produced some superb crystallized silver specimens, and this particular specimen has a great story behind it. In the early 1970’s well-known Keweenaw dealer and collector Les Tolonen would take his mother, who was also an avid collector but at that time wheelchair-bound, out collecting on the mine dumps. With her eyes trained from years of searching the mine dumps for copper and silver, she would sit in her wheelchair and kick at rocks she thought looked intriguing to dislodge them from the dump. This is one of the pieces she kicked over! This fine specimen remained in the Tolonen collection until the early 1990s when it was sold to a prominent Upper Peninsula collector whom whom I acquired it. The specimen has had significant amounts of quartz matrix removed to reveal the true beauty, size and quality of the silver crystals, which form branching networks of elongated, well-formed spinel twins to over 4 cm. I cannot emphasize how rare on the modern market large cabinet-size, well-crystallized silver specimens from Michigan like this piece are. This is a wonderful showpiece from a classic locality with a great provenance. Comes with a custom engraved display base by the Sunnywood Collection, as seen. Annette Slade photo.