Archive for June, 2012

New Location – Fern Meadow

One of the rarer Ochoco Mountains locations is now live on the gallery.  Fern Meadow is a sombre and subtle-coloured location and this is the only specimen of these I have ever seen.  See the full range of Oregon locations here:

One of the Rarer New Locations to Come Along in a While – Cove Fort, Utah

I don’t know much about this location at all, save that it is from Utah and (aside from the famous Dugways) Utah thundereggs are few and far between.  A batch of these came up on ebay a while back and caused what might best be described as a feeding frenzy!  Most were quite incomplete, but I was lucky enough to secure this one at a quite reasonable price.  It really is quite pretty as well, with its very clear banded agate.  Definitely not just a location piece.

True Beauty – Whistler Springs

Not a new location or anything – I just wanted to share what may be one of the most directly beautiful thundereggs I have ever seen.

Whistler Springs Thunderegg

The Dramatic Thuringia Browns – New German Locations and Others

There is definitely something magical in the soil of Thuringia.  One thunderegg after another has emerged from the ground here – all very distinctively German.  Some are quite individual like the Nesselhofs, Spießbergs and Baumgartentals (see my gallery), but sometimes they can seem remarkably similar – all following the basic structure of a brown matrix with varying amounts/sizes of embedded grains and cores of quartz and maybe thin bands of agate.   As the ornithologists have their LBJs (‘little brown jobs’), so we thunderegg hunters have our Thuringia Browns.  Telling them apart can be a nightmare and the classification chaotic.  It all sounds rather expert territory right?  Loads of dull brown rocks, right?  The sort of things only a madly dedicated egg-head could possibly go wild over, right?

Well – I’m not so sure.  If you step back from the fun and games of classifying them, these rough and ready brown thundereggs have a real charm about them.  Colourful they ain’t (sometimes anyway) and they often suffer seriously from cracking but I think they have an earthy magnificence about them.  I have just launched three more of these Thuringia Browns on my gallery, but rather than just crow over the new locations, I thought it would be rather more interesting to present a nice overview of the very best of these wonderful stones – some new, some familiar if you have explored the gallery before.

To begin with a reference point – the most famous Thuringia Brown of all and the only one to be what you could call common – the Felsenschlag.  With their winning colour scheme, they are justifiably famous, even though only a small percentage of them are of any kind of quality.

Felsenschlag Thunderegg from near Gehlberg

You can see plenty more Felsenschlags on the gallery.  Note the few grains and inclusions in the matrix – we’ll be seeing plenty more of these.  Not far away are the similar Hölle thundereggs, characterised by their rather more ‘bubbly’ structure.

Hölle Thunderegg from near Gehlberg

And just incidentally, Hölle means ‘Hell’ – the thunderegg from hell!

Moving into the area of the town of Friedrichsroda, we encounter more thundereggs, including the weird and frustrating location called Seebachsfelsen.  It is frustrating because it is so rare, so interesting, and such a bloody nuisance!  The agate here is often so weathered and decayed that it is almost impossible to work with – even resin doesn’t help that much because the agate is usually white and any cracks still show up like writing on paper.  The following specimen is a beauty but significantly agateless, which is probably why it worked out so well.  The crystals are just amazing – some over an inch long.

Seebachsfelsen thunderegg – at least, I think so!

This stone was actually a bit of a mystery – it was identified by someone whose opinion I trust, but sold to me as something else by someone I also trust!  On balance, from my own analysis, I am coming down on the side of Seebachsfelsen though.

Also near Friedrichsroda are the Gottlob thundereggs – still with the familiar grains in the matrix.  These are very variable but again we are seeing the familiar bands of agate surrounding quartz.

Gottlob Thunderegg.

The above is a quite classic specimen I think – deeply fractured agate forming an elegant shape and framing quartz (actually smoky quartz in this case).  It took a lot of work to polish and requited consolidation with resin three times to get a good surface.  Here is another Gottlob, this time with less agate and with an impressive growth of amethyst:

Gottlob Thunderegg with Amethyst

Gottlob translates as roughly “Praise God” – in conjunction with the Hell thundereggs, this is starting to give me an odd feeling.  See more Gottlobs here – and watch this space as I have several more lovely specimens to polish in the near future.

Köpfchen thunderegg from near Steinberg-Hallenberg

The Köpfchen displays considerably more granularity in the matrix – almost verging on the untidy – but there is still the same basic structure of banded agate surrounding quartz.  This is the best specimen in the box I managed to locate by quite a considerable margin.  Most were pretty terrible, but at the same time they are extremely rare.  You can see more on the gallery.

The next location is an old favourite of mine – Mönchstal, or Monk’s Valley.  By this time we are starting to see those matrix grains growing very large indeed and here, combined with the characteristic vivid red agate, the results are sometimes stunning.  The following is a classic specimen – a fine geode with thin red bands.

Mönchstal Thunderegg Geode

Mönchstal Thunderegg with Massive Pseudomorph

The above Mönchstal is a rather more unusual one that really caught my fancy for some reason.  The beautifully shaped core is rather more muddled than usual and has a massive square pseudomorph embedded in it (the ghost of some old crystal still showing in the structure).  See more Mönchstal thundereggs on the gallery.

Very similar and quite close by is the Hölle thundereggs . . .

Hölle Thunderegg

Now wait a moment – did I just say Hölle again?  Hölle as in ‘Hell’?  Well yes I did.  I think I may have been here before in a previous post, but yes, the Germans have not one but two thunderegg locations called ‘Hell’.  This stone maybe looks the part more than the Gehlberg ‘Hell’, with is massive grains growing in the matrix and blood-red agate.  It looks almost alien – and by this time it is beginning to dawn on us that we have arrived at some pretty weird thundereggs among these Thuringia Browns!

I will conclude though with one of the most spectacular and rarest of the new locations, which takes us back to the village of Gehlberg where we started – to a new location called Brand (which seems to mean ‘fire’).  These are like the mean older brother of the Felsenschlag – a rich brown matrix filled with some spectacular granulation.  These two stones are already among my favourite new German specimens for quite a while – and as they are also extremely rare I shall have no hesitation in squireling these two away for myself out of the small stock I acquired.

Massive Brand Thunderegg with Smoky Quartz

Rare as they are, these stones somehow seem to act as an archetype for all these Thuringia browns – the rich brown matrix, the intense inclusions in it that stand out in such a high-contrast pattern and the massive quartz growth.  They are a return to the basics and, in doing so, they find a simple drama that has an earthy and pragmatic presence.  The above stone grew into a massive geode filled with huge smoky quartz points, while the following grew a beautiful four-pointed core of clean white – again with  those thin bands of agate that are so familiar here.  Just lovely!!

Brand Thunderegg – an almost perfect X