Solely from my experience collecting thundereggs and without much understanding of politics at all, here is one of the possible differences between Europe and the US: Europe is old – a place that has been digging itself in for thousands of years and, especially now in these days of economic collapse, it seems a stagnant place, wallowing in over-regulation and the scars left by outdated things like class systems and wars and absolute rulers. While I am certainly not going to defend the US against charges of dark politics and some pretty nasty things going on in the general psyche of the country, it does seem younger – fresher – in some ways.
And weirdly enough, the thundereggs seem to follow the trend. I have no idea about actual ages, but European thundereggs seem old to me. And they are old in two ways. Firstly they seem worn and weathered by millennia of stress. Cracked. Shattered. Squashed and mis-shapen. Their original forms pounded by a lot of geology. And in some ways, that can be part of the interest. The web of cracks that make up a Lierbachtal sea of green or the complete tangled chaos of a Baumgartental geode or my prized amethyst Gottlob specimen. In a way, it is beautiful, yes? And you ask yourself just what these stones have been through?
But they are old in another way as well. Over-collected – extinct – hidden under too much suburban development or lost in a tangle of that over-regulation I mentioned. Lost in a conglomerate of countries that has stagnated far too much to have much sympathy for people’s passions. The point of this is that all too often, European stones can just seem like a load of scraps. A few lingering chunks of battered agate dug out of beds that have long-since seen their day – or a sea of miserable cracked specimens among which just occasionally something promising or even spectacular comes along – or dug furtively and even illegally and lucky to be seen at all.
With all these factors involved, how rare is it for a European thunderegg to be truly and unreservedly beautiful? For a collector, this is a sadness – but also a reason to persist. Because every so often something comes along that isn’t a scrap. Like my three links above maybe. And this is when you remember that collecting European stones can be worth it!
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Poland’s most famous thunderegg, Nowy Kosciol – or Nowy Kościół to spell it properly (and no I don’t really know how to pronounce it!) – was always one of the worst offenders here. It was a location I more or less gave up on. A few scraps passed through my hands – usually sold again pretty quickly. The page on the Eibonvale gallery was frankly miserable. It was a location I just couldn’t be bothered with – like the German St Egedien stones, all too often it seemed to just consist of mis-shaped, broken or just plain boring scraps of agate in a dull matrix. It was a thunderegg – but that was just about all that could be said of it.
So – nothing like this then:
To my eyes the above stone is almost on a par with the famous Baker thundereggs – maybe even more so since the colours are less in your face.
Yes – just as the St Egedien stones eventually proved me wrong with beautiful specimens like this old favourite of mine, it appears that the glory days of Nowy Kościół far outshine what is usually available on the collectors market today – something I really should have guessed. Make no mistake, stones of a quality illustrated here are not often seen – indeed, when I first saw them, I was amazed. I just had not realised that the location could produce anything as fine as this. And of course, these are old stock stones – originating in old collections that fortunately came on the market again. So, after this long and somewhat political introduction, I am not exaggerating when I say that I am delighted to present here a gallery of Nowy Kościół thundereggs that finally give a hint of what the site is capable of.
Nowy Kościół thundereggs are characterised by their warm opaque light orange agate – a unique colour that is familiar enough from the smaller specimens seen before. I have to say though, the appearance of blue was a bit of a surprise:
The above is one of the oddest I encountered in this Nowy Kościół revelation – it’s a big stone at 14cm and there’s a lot of features in that agate. And this is possibly the most beautiful:
This is an exquisite European style thunderegg geode with some gorgeous quartz. Sometimes, it seems, Nowy Kosciol thundereggs stray over into amethyst as well, as in this simple and almost agateless specimen:
With a simple core, the above is a quite classic stone, made more interesting by it’s cute purple colour. The following on the other hand, is just weird:
Yes – a Polish pseudomorph thunderegg, spelt out rather delightfully in the classic Nowy Kościół hot and neat orange agate. And finally a small but utterly charming banded thunderegg:
All in all, it gives me a nice warm feeling to finally realise how much I mis-judged this location.
Now, if I could just find something similar for the infamous Romanian thundereggs from Cluj Napoca . . .