This is a story about a trip to a mineral museum and what happened afterwards.
During our holiday in Idar-Oberstein in the summer of 2003 I visited a friend and agate collector Klaus Schaefer (http://www.mineralworld.de). He invited me to accompany him to a mineral Museum (http://www.mineralienverein-freisen.de/home_deutsch/museum/museum.html) in Freisen, a little village 10 km. south of Idar-Oberstein.
The man, Christof Keller, who looked after this museum appears to be a friend of Klaus. During the long hot European summer of 2003 we visited the museum. This museum opens every first Sunday of each month, but when an appointment is made groups can visit this museum at any time.
Christof showed us around in the little museum. I was amazed by the wonderful agate- and mineral specimen. These pieces were all donations from the local Mineral Club and this club maintains the museum too. It shows what can be found in the region around Freisen. And I can assure you that a wide range of several agate types and minerals can be found here, mainly quartz related minerals, calcite and goethite.
Afterwards we were invited by the museum guide to his house and it’s unbelievable what I saw there. Even more agates and some mineral specimen. Christof was collecting agates his whole life now and he could pick up the most beautiful agates in his neighbourhood when a house was build… Christof had even some agates from the place he build his own house on and lives nowadays. It’s a dream of every collector; to live on top of the minerals you love.
In the living room Christof showed us a showcase with the most beautiful agates I’ve ever seen and some of them were agates I’ve seen before. They were once photographed for some agate books. In the cellar he had even more agates in showcases and a storage room with only rough and already cut agates. Wow, I’ve never seen so much local agates in one place.
We had some refreshing drinks and aftrewards Klaus and I took of to an old quarry. Klaus wanted to look here because it was a long time since he visited this site. After some small roads, partly crossing some military area’s I think (I couldn’t possibly find that place again) and bush roads we finally entered a wide spot in the middle of a forest. It was an old quarry were basalts were produced to repair the roads. Nowadays this isn’t necessary anymore. More sophisticated and mechanized quarries can do this for the road constructors and can deliver any type of gravel. As we entered the quarry we saw that some other collectors searched earlier and had made some progress in clearing a rockslide to reach the host rock. We searched for about one hour and found some small Moroccan like agates. Very red with a white interior. Due to the immense heat in the quarry we decide to visit the quarry later that week.
After two days we decided to visit the quarry once again and took also Klaus his friend, Gernot, with us. With big sledgehammers (it’s a basalt quarry!) and crowbars we went to the quarry. It was warm and dry, but we expected some shadow in the quarry from the surrounding forrest and due to this forrest there was no refreshing wind. We managed to shift several cubic meters of host rocks and 2 out of 3 sledgehammers were broken during that work. And it was hot… After a copple of hours we had found almost no agate; the host rock appeared to be not agate bearing. But suddenly we found a big egg like agate, at least we think it was an agate. After one hour we retrieved this agate from the host rock in one piece and we were discussing what could be in it. We packed our stuff and headed for home.
Here we began to cut the agates we found. First some smaller ones and then the bigger one. Big, only about 5 -10 cm, but big for this region and in particular for this quarry.
Since we were with three collectors the agate should be cut in three. It seems that could be done and after the first cut we could take the first look. Amazing! We’ve never seen such an agate before. Even the local collectors like Klaus and Gernot had never seen such an agate before. It was purple, a color that is relatively rare in the Idar-Oberstein region. The second cut was also successful and now we had three beautiful pieces from that agate.
It’s a well known and wide spread habit in Idar to divide all the pieces, found by a group, during some beer drinking. That’s a good thing since we lost in the heat a large quantity of water that day. A small lottery is then organized and numbers on small notes are thrown into a large hat. We all took a piece of paper out of the hat and the number one can make the first choice. After all of the agates were divided among us we drank another beer and took of to our houses with a memory that will not be forgotten for a long time.
We’re planning to visit this quarry again next year, but I don’t expect to find such agate like last year.
Enjoy the enclosed picture of this agate and those of you who like to know more about agates from Europe and other countries can visit my website:
Robert de Jager
(with approval of Klaus Schaefer, Vollmersbach)