News & Announcements:
Join Us For Our March General Meeting...
Friday, March 6th, 2015
Hard Rock Mining in California
Presented by Sparrow Moats
At The Clubhouse... 4134 Judah Street, San Francisco, CA
Meeting Starts At 7:00 PM
We don't normally focus on gold mining activities in our club - we are all about the broader gem and mineral picture but this doesn't mean we're not interested - and after all, gold is a mineral too. This month we've stumbled into a real opportunity to get the straight skinny from a genuine gold miner who mines a serious claim. For over 20 years, Sparrow Moats (yes, that's his name - does it get any better than this?) has owned and mined the Porter Mine, a hard-rock gold mine at about 7000' in the mysterious and scenic Panamint Mountains at the edge of Death Valley, near the historic ghost town of Red Mountain. The porter mine is well known for its "specimen gold" - of great interest to mineral collectors - and for it's "jewelry gold" in quartz matrix which can often be fashioned into wearable jewelry from directly out of the ground. Needless to say, material from this mine does not get melted into bullion like most other gold - it's much too valuable for that!
The back story to Moats' visit is that he comes to us via club member Bert Trevail - Bert and Sparrow are veterans who served together as Marine Corps tank commandos in Viet Nam. Were it not for this serendipitous milieu we would not likely have this rare opportunity. Come and join us for a fun and fascinating look into gold the way that nature made it!
As always, the public is invited - admission is free!
NOTE: SFGMS monthly meetings now start at 7:00 pm. Check your watches and, being mindful that it may take a few minutes to park, be sure to arrive on time.
Interested in Membership?
To join our club and enjoy its many bennefits, potential members are required to attend a General Meeting (such as this one) or a scheduled social event to introduce themselves, and then attend our scheduled monthly Membership Meeting to complete their application.
Our membership meeting this month is on Monday night, March 9th at 7:30 pm.
SFGMS clubhouse - 4134 Judah Street, San Francisco (between 46th and 47th Avenues). 415-564-4230
Swap Meet & "Garage Sale!"
March Open House - Saturday March 7th - 9:00AM to 1:00PM
Lapidary Equipment, Rough Material Sale & Open House Fundraiser at the San Francisco Gem & Mineral Society Clubhouse. Find rocks, loose beads, cabs and slabs, preforms, minerals, & all manner of miscellaneous lapidary stuff. Check out our club! If you're interested in membership, come in and sign in - attending this event will qualify you to apply at our March membership meeting on Monday, March 9th.
4134 Judah Street, San Francisco, (between 46th and 47th Avenues). 415-564-4230
St. Patricks March Madness!
Saturday March 14th - 5:00PM
At The Clubhouse... 4134 Judah Street, San Francisco, CA
It's time to give winter a big ol' shove behind us and have a party! In that vein, let's celebrate tradition AND the bigger picture with a Madly March St. Patrick's Party! We'll do dinner but we won't limit the main fare to just corned beef and cabbage, and we'll do live and silent auctions but won't limit the colors du jour to just green. The doors open at 5:00 PM and Dinner starts at 6:00. Join us for a fun evening and a great opportunity to acquire some great rocks and minerals. The party is open to the public - we ask non-members for a $5 donation. If you're interested in membership, come in and sign the guest list - attending this event qualifys you to apply for membership in April.
4134 Judah Street, San Francisco, (between 46th and 47th Avenues). 415-564-4230
Mark Your Calendar...
August 22nd & 23rd
SFGMS Annual Show & Sale
Set your plans for this year's annual show at the SF County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way. Check here later as more information will is added.
1959 - Looking back at...
The Jade Clock
There are plenty of "jade clocks" to be found (just do a simple search on Google), virtually all made the conventional way - quartz or mechanical movements made with metallic parts - housed in or decorated with jade. To our knowledge, however, there is no other truly jade clock in existence than the masterpiece conceived and created by members of the San Francisco Gem & Mineral Society 50 years ago.
Our jade clock is a full sized grandfather clock with a 16-jewel jade movement and jade strike train. Every piece of the clock was carefully designed, mocked-up in wood and tested for fit before being cut, carved and polished in the actual jade. The clock's 16 jewels were crafted from Chatham emeralds. The clock is housed in a case made of American black walnut and clear Plexiglas to allow complete visibility of the movement and strike train, and topped with spherical jade finials. Countless thousands of hours and hundreds of pounds of valuable jade, much of it from rare California localities, were donated to the project in an unprecedented team effort over a five year period of time.
The clock was first displayed at the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies' show held in San Mateo in 1959, sans strike train which was subsequently completed in time for the SFGMS show of 1962. The entire project was documented in a series of articles by club members Helen Stiles Chenoweth and Ted Bhend in the Lapidary Journal, which were then woven into a 12-page brochure appropriately titled "The Jade Clock." It fully documents the entire process and credits the dedicated club members behind this remarkable achievement. A PDF file of the brochure can be downloaded by clicking here. (This is a 3.3 MB file, it may take a few moments to display).
Though uncertain at this time, there is some hopeful discussion underway about the possibility of dusting off the heavy jade clock and (very carefully) moving it into the Hall of Flowers for the 2009 show, to be featured with our other jade spectaculars - the jade table and the jade train, which includes a town and station... all made of jade!
Not too long after posting the above information about the Jade Clock we received an email from Mary Jacoby, the Great Granddaughter of one of the principal designer/builders of the clock, Henry Reinecke. Mary spoke of Henry's great stories and his well earned pride in the Jade Clock. She still has, and generously offered to send us a copy of a wonderful article by Judy Vaughn from the San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, Bonanza Section, dated October 11, 1964. You can download a PDF file of this article by clicking here. (This is a 3.5 MB file, it may take a few moments to display). We are grateful to Mary for her contribution and share her fond memory of her Great Grandfather!
1976 - Looking back at...
The Jade Train
It has been suggested that to mention the San Francisco Gem & Mineral Society in certain circles is to evoke images of jade, and it is understandable why this might be. Backtracking through the club's history reveals a definite pattern of enthusiasm for "the stone par excellence" demonstrated through an impressive number of club projects. We are by no means limited to jade on our projects, it has just worked out this way - which says a lot about the mystique jade has generated for thousands of years from ancient China to Mezzo-America, British Columbia to New Zealand.
In the 1970's, the allure of jade prompted club members to collaborate in the creation of a 1/4 scale (1/4 inch = 1 foot) electric train made entirely (well, almost) of jade. It was completed in time to be featured at the California Feferation of Minerolagical Societies' "Spirit of '76" annual show at San Francisco's Cow Palace on the Bicentennial weekend of July the 4th, 1976, and hosted by the SFGMS.
The train, which includes the engine, a tender (coal car), a passenger coach and a combination passenger coach and baggage car, is constructed of hundreds of precision crafted parts of Wyoming black jade, Porterville jade, Mariposa jade, Clear Creek jade, Burmese jadeite, British Columbia jade, red jasper, petrified wood and quartz from Brazil and Uraguay. All the materials were donated by the generous members and friends of the SFGMS, along with the thousands of man hours required to work and assemble the components. The train, trimmed with gold-plated engraved silver signage, a silver cow-catcher and numerous cast silver parts ran on a 4 foot by 8 foot oval track at the Spirit of '76 show.
A partial list of participants in the project include:
- George Cross - light and boiler front
- Jack Zari - journal boxes for trucks, sand & steam domes, brake shoes
- Al Clayhold - smoke stack & bolster
- Dick Dierx - drive rods, project co-chairman
- Evan Robinson - running boards
- Henry Reincke - all coring and drilling
- Andre Pancheco - cab & boiler
- Mike Schisler - gold plating and casting
- Paul Jacobson - casting
- Frank Gemmell - cars and some trucks
- Franz Roth - coal car
- Al Sims - name plates
- Charles Hoffman - seats and fire box cover
- Lee Guth - flat lappinf and owrk on cars
- Walter Koniuk - steps for the coal car and water tower
- Jim Morton - project draftsman
- Les La Berge - project co-chairman
Jade train, with tender, coach and baggage car sits on track in front
of the town made up of jade buildings.
Completion of the train spurred yet another jade "project" in the crafting of a western style railhead town, also constructed primarily of jade. We'll add details about the "jade town" sometime soon. An article titled "The Jade Train" by former club president Faith E. Riesen documenting the train with much greater detail is available (532 KB downloadable PDF file - click the link) from the June 1976 issue of "Jewelry Making, Gems and Minerals" magazine. The train and town will be displayed at the SFGMS's 55th Annual Show and Sale in Golden Gate Park, August 1 & 2, 2009.
1982 - Looking back at...
The Chinese Zodiac Intarsia Project
Too often, time tends to erode the accomplishments of the past, and it's easy to forget both what we've done and what we can do. In 1982, members of the club's intarsia class at SFGMS undertook a project to create 12 plaques depicting the symbols of the Chinese zodiac in stone. Those who make it to our annual show in August are sometimes lucky enough to view one or two of these delightful creations as they are occasionally brought out for display. In light of a current effort to get a new "club project" underway, it was serendipitous to come across an article from the January 1983 edition of Gems and Minerals magazine, written by club member Faith E. Riesen, titled "The Year of the Boar," telling the story of the Intarsia Project.
The 12 plaques were made, using all kinds of materials to craft the creatures of the Lunar Calendar, from magnesite to opalite, verde antique to tiger-eye, rhodenite to sodalite, by the following club members:
- Gus Pegorano - The Year of the Tiger
- Franz Roth - The Year of the Ram
- Al Mutrux - The Year of the Rat
- Mary Baxter - The Year of the Hare
- Gus Ehtee - The Year of the Boar
- Tom Colman - The Year of the Monkey
- Alice Roth - The Year of the Rooster
- Tom Colman - The Year of the Serpent
- Phil Mutux - The Year of the Ox
- Mildred Ehtee - The Year of the Dog
- Amy Spencer - The Year of the Horse
- Al Mutrux - The Year of the Dragon
The article describes all aspect of the project, including materials needed, design, special tips, techniques and equipment. You can download a scanned copy of the article here. (This is a downloadable PDF file, 1.3 MB). The magazine with the original article is in our library in the clubhouse (along with a wealth of other books, guides, tapes and magazines).
1994 - Looking back at...
The "Jade Table"
Well, that's what we call it generically, but to be correct it is actually named The Intarsia Table. Seven years in the making, it was a club project, primarily of jade but also using black granite and magnesite. It was featured in an article written by club member and project designer Phil Mutrux in Rock and Gem Magazine in August, 1994. Like the Jade Clock, above, it's appropriate to focus on the table as we prepare for our 2009 annual show in August featuring all things jade.
Intarsia is defined as an elaborate form of marquetry using inlays in wood, stone, metal, or glass - especially as practiced in 15th-century Italy. The "Jade Table" is sufficiently elaborate to fit this description. It is 7-1/2 feet long and 2-1/2 feet wide and weighs hundreds of pounds. Three 30-inch square panels, weighing 80 pounds each, are supported in a custom fitted oak frame mounted atop a custom fabricated wrought iron base. Each panel is highlighted with four finely crafted "corner-intarsias" of flora and fauna exactingly made by different club members to fit Phillip Mutrux's design. Two end panels featuring chess boards flank a center panel depicting the club's logo, including remarkably fine lettering carved from stone.
All of the time and material that went into the table were donated by club members. Over the seven year span of the project many club members participated but the major "players" were Phil Mutrux, Walter Koniuk, Norman Stone, Frank Gemmell, Don Harris and the following "intarsia artists" who produced the corner details:
- Mihoko Dietrich - Dolphins
- Nancy Roche - Butterfly
- Rosabelle Gold - Dragonfly
- Louise McGuirk - Lizard
- Anne Timmins - Snake
- Tom Coleman - Beetle
- Millie Ehtee - Parrot
- Alice Roche - Blue & Gold Fish
- Amy Spencer - Black & White Bird
- Peggy Bechtell - Seagull
- Alicemarie Mutrux - Frog
- Jerry Vloeberghs - Fish
Robin Crabill's Book Reviews...
Club member Robin Crabill writes excellent reviews of books and other material of interest to the Society, which are published in the club newsletter, The Mineralog,. These are now available on the website to the gem, mineral and lapidary world at large. click here to view.
A picture gallery of mineral specimens from the club's collection has been added, click here to view it. Additional pictures will be added in the future.
Notice to Members:
For those interested in keeping track of the the club's Board of Directors, the minutes from the monthly meetings are always posted on the bulletin board in the clubhouse for your perusal. Keep an eye on the bulletin board for other notices and information that hasn't made it into the Mineralog or on to the web site.
To be a more valuable resource to everyone involved with the hobby of rocks, gems and minerals, our website is being updated all the time. Check back often - you may sometimes see exposed framing, dust and rough plaster, but please bear with us - most of the content remains accessible even as changes are made.
Spot Prices - Precious Metals
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