I began collecting minerals in 1981 at the age of 13. In fact my relationship with minerals had started many years before in the early 70's when I was a little boy. At that moment there was a promotion of a famous spanish cocoa trademark that was giving small boxed samples of common minerals (many people in Spain around 35 and older still remember those mineral samples). My father kept the specimens in a drawer and there they stayed for years. From time to time I sat on the floor, opened the drawer and had a look at that almost forgotten treasure.
In 1981 my cousin was studying a little mineralogy in his last year at primary school (he was one year older than me) and remembered the minerals we had stored in the drawer. He asked me to let him to take to school and I proposed him to swap the duplicate samples. And that was the way both of us became mineral collectors.
Midway my cousin's home and my own, a vegetable/hunting store was owned by an old man who had been involved in mining activities and still was quite interested in minerals. We soon discovered that a wealth of mineral specimens was just a few meters from home. We spent many hours there browsing through piles of flats full of specimens, buying some of them, learning many things about mineralogy, helping him to manage his stock and, over all, developing a good friendship.
He took us to many collecting sites and I think it was probably the reason for my decision of studying geology at university years later. At one moment at the spring of 1982 we presented him the possibility of selling his minerals at the sunday flea market for a commission. It was easier than we thought and we began selling minerals at May that year. At 15% commission each and a few cents (pesetas at that time) on our pockets after every sunday we were very happy. With a small picnic table and a few rocks on it we had the chance to make some money to spend on more minerals and thus our collections began to steadily grow.
At this moment I should ask you to excuse me for this long introduction but I consider it to be the basis of my long, rewarding relationship with the mineral world. I am now sure that had it not been for that man and our selling of his minerals, my life would have taken a quite different way, probably far away from minerals.
Once at the university, my cousin quit our small business and I became the only partner. I followed studies on geology at the University of Salamanca and graduated in 1991 after which I got a grant for one year as research assistant at the Unversity of St. Andrews, Scotland, working on granite petrology and mineralogy. Although obviously I was not selling minerals while in Scotland, I did not forget my interests on minerals and realized that this world was a little broader than just my sunday flea market at home. Also, I met in the UK some people, mainly the former cornish mineral dealer Sam Weller, who helped me quite a lot in a number of ways and made me change my approach to minerals when back in Salamanca.
Since early 1994 I work at the Stable Isotope Unit (www.usal.es/isotopos) of the University of Salamanca as geochemistry technician. That year also meant my debut in the mineral show scene attending shows in the north of Spain since then and some in France for the last few years. At the same time I have kept my table (no longer a small picnic one) every sunday at the flea market mostly intended to the young collectors and always hoping that a few of them at least become deeply envolved with minerals as I did more than 20 years ago.
For a few years after my return from Scotland I almost stopped my field-collecting activities but I revived them in 1998 after meeting Nacho, a collector from Alicante who came to Salamanca to study geology. Both formed a good collecting-team and have visited several places in Spain and Portugal with some success specially in pegmatitic areas in central Portugal.
In 2001 I married Yolanda. Although she had no idea of what minerals are, however has become quite involved in the growth of our collection and is developing a good aesthetic sense when choosing specimens (and what is better, she really enjoys attending shows).
Finally, our last goal has been and in fact is to create this website first as a way to dispose of part of our stock and in the near future and most important, to share in some way our collection with you, collectors worldwide. We just hope you will enjoy and if we can get so, we shall be really happy.
|Partial view of the "Mineral Room" with some of the display cases. Specimens on the glass shelves are aesthetically mounted on labelled transparent acrilic display bases. Drawers below contain specimens of lower quality, locality samples, ore samples, etc. Each case is devoted to different mineral groups.|
|Wife Yolanda and myself standing beside our table at the 2004 Pau Mineral Show, France. We found a very nice atmosphere at this show and really enjoyed it a lot. April 2004.|
On the photo at left we and friends Nacho and Ainara in front of a pegmatite quarry in central Portugal, November 2001. Not visible at the photo, there are large greenish blue beryl crystals to several meters long embeded on the quartz core of the pegmatite. In addition to beryl and some aquamarine, we have found very nice crystals of torbernite and autunite in this quarry.
At right, Nacho is collecting smoky quartz crystals with thin black tourmaline crystals in a pocket at a granite quarry in Portugal, near the border with Spain, May 2002. Although collecting was not very easy as you can see, we got some nice specimens. It was a very funny day.
|Collecting in a pocket on Level 2 of the Panasqueira Mine in Portugal with a friend, November 1998. I got a nice large doubly terminated quartz crystal coated with 1-mm. calcite crystals still in my collection.|
|The Entredicho open pit at Almadenejos, part of the historic Almaden mercury district, Spain, July 1995. It is possible to appreciate the cinnabar ore as a red area just behind the truck at center of the photo.|
|You are entering in Weardale, as the sign says "Land of the Prince Bishops" and I can add land of the fluorites as well, July 1999.|
The left photo is a view of the ragged Cornish coast with the Crowns section of the famous Botallack Mine on the cliffs in the distance. The remains of the engine house of Wheal Edward are in the foreground.
On the right photo there is a nice reproduction of a Cornish engine house at the entrance of a mineral shop at Pendeen in western Cornwall. Both pictures April 1992.
|Miners in the training area of the Rustenburg Platinum Mine in the Bushveld Complex, South Africa, September 1996. We were really surprised to find an accurate reproduction of one of the stopes of the mine where the miners get the usuful skills before entering into the mine to work.|
|Collecting ore samples at about 3100-m. depth in the Western Deep Levels Mine of the Witwatersrand Basin, South Africa, September 1996. An unforgettable experience.|
|General view of the Mamatwan Mine at the southern part of the Kalahari Mn Field, South Africa, September 1996. I crushed one of my fingernails while collecting a seam of todorokite fibers for the people of our group.|
|The opencast pit at the Palabora Mine, South Africa, one of the largest in the world, September 1996. Dolerite dykes are clearly visible cutting across the pit. In those dykes nice zeolites and related species have been found over the years.|
|Part of our group (geologists and mining engineers mostly lecturing at different Spanish universities) in front of the portal to the old Golden Quarry, Sheba Mine, at the Barberton District, South Africa, September 1996. I am second from right.|
Guess you where? Yes, it is Tsumeb. At left the famous headframe of the De Wet shaft stands upright just a few meters from main street.
On the right photo, a wall decorated by Tsumeb young artists with the headframe at background. Note the headframe also painted on the wall at far left. Both pictures July 1997.