Fluorescent Display

After a one-year postponement, the 50th anniversary of the FMS was celebrated at the 2022 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® hosted by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society (TGMS). “The Show That Glows.” The Fluorescent Mineral Society Pavilion, held in the newly finished addition to the Tucson Convention Center, was a must see with a display of 54 cases of fluorescent minerals. This is a selection of the display cases with a description from the authors; more will come!
All photographs are © 2022 Douglas Bank; all rights reserved.
Photo captions are extracted from UV Waves vol. 52 n. 2-4, 2022.


I wanted to create a very bright longwave-only case with LEDs to show off the best minerals from two collections that I have acquired since 2019. The collections were from Jim Nelson (RIP – San Jose, CA) and Mark Isaacs (Oakland, CA). The minerals from the Nelson collection won several “Best Fluorescent Display” awards in the early 1980s from the California Federation of Mineral Societies, and that legacy was certainly augmented with the addition of many stellar Isaacs pieces. Many Isaacs pieces came from the Harry Wain estate. Wain was founder of Raytech, an early UV pioneer, and Mark’s acquisition of his collection is described in The Picking Table (Vol 52, #2, Fall 2011, pp 11-16). My goal was for my case to honor provenance as well as to show the beauty of the specimens. I do believe that the overall brightness of my lights stood out among the other cases and allowed the minerals to deliver their best impact for the viewers. I was surprised to win THE BEST OVERALL DISPLAY AWARD at Tucson 2022 knowing just how amazing all the other cases were. I feel that the most outstanding specimens in my display are: 1) Peaches and Cream, the Isaacs/Wain treasure that has been published in The Picking Table (Vol 53, #1, Spring 2012, page 44). It’s the rock that cemented my interest in fluorescence when I first saw it in person, and one I never thought I would get the chance to caretake. 2) Wispy esperite –Isaacs/Wain provenance, and who knew esperite could glow under longwave so brightly? 3) Larger than a Lemon Lemon Opal, a Nelson stunner that wowed Don Newsome!


I have collected worldwide fluorescent minerals for over 10 years. My collection reflects the beauty I see. Every location I choose added a compliment for comparison. setting the uniqueness and attraction of display. My favorite specimens were: 1- calcite/scheelite (half and half) from, the Opher Hill mine in Utah, 2- The calcite and zincite “fish tail” with a willemite ‘lightning bolt’, Sterling Hill mine in New Jersey, and. 3- Gem tugtupite, Kvanefjeld, Ilimaussaq Complex, South Greenland.

George V. Polman ”ESPERITE”

Originally my esperite case was to be part of a three-case series. Dr. Warren Miller was planning to display a case of Franklin Mine margarosanite and a case of Franklin/Sterling Hill Mine sphalerite. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Dr. Miller could not attend the show. The point of this series was to show how you could grow your collection with fine specimens with time and dedication. My case featured some of my best esperite specimens. With esperite being a favorite among long time collectors, I wanted to show new collectors the result of over 40 years of collecting.


Most of the specimens in my case were self-collected from the dumps at Långban, Jakobsberg, Hasselhöjden and Harstigen. Two of the specimens, both from the mine at Garpenberg, were purchased. Garpenberg is a very large, very active now underground only, and very off limits for collecting. I feel like the two best specimens in my case were the rhodonite / willemite / calcite from Garpenberg, and the margarosanite / calcite / svabite from Jakobsberg. The rhodonite is a museum- sized specimen that is bright pink in daylight and green and red under short wave UV. It is brightly fluorescent and very aesthetic. The margarosanite is a cabinet-sized specimen that is not particularly interesting in daylight, but exhibits roughly 10 colors under short wave UV. The margarosanite is a bright pink/blue while the calcite is a bright dark orange and the svabite is more of a light orange. The specimen is also illuminated by unknown minerals fluorescing tan, yellow, green and four shades of blue. Under 278nm excitation, the margarosanite fluoresces bright pink and the svabite fluoresces orange, but the calcite disappears. The tan mineral still fluoresces, but not as brightly, and the rest of the surface seems to be covered by many fluorescent green dots.


I collect mostly smallish specimens and like the ability to show a large variety of specimens in a display.


Originally, I was going to do a more general display of Fluorescent Minerals of Southern Arizona, but others covered the other locales so I ended up sticking to Helvetia. I wanted to show the variety of colors and patterns present in the Helvetia specimens. I included outstanding examples of the multi-layer orange and white crystalline calcite-coated specimens, and the calcite/travertine/hyalite specimens showing the geologic history of the specimens.


I figured that most of the cases would be shortwave, and a longwave case would add diversity (plus, the filters wouldn’t solarize). I just tried to pick the best LW specimens I had in my small collection, including a few from Idaho. The fluorescent-in-daylight willemite from Franklin is a great LW specimen, as is the manganocalcite, which is bright for its species. (Case photo by Jan Wittenberg)


This case shows the fluorescence of various fossils (petrified wood, clams, ammonites, pine cones, coral, etc.). I believe that the fossils show fluorescent color as well as interesting patterns and geometries not seen in the typical lump of a fluorescent rock. These are fluorescent petrified wood slabs and the Permian ammonites from East Timor.


I feel that the wonderful fluorescents of the SW US are many times overshadowed by Franklin material and wanted to showcase the variety and quality of the material from this region. I think the most outstanding specimens of my display are the Nelly James material (sphalerite, willemite, calcite) for the brilliant color combos, the Campo Bonito material (calcite, scheelite), the Yellow Pine mine material (hydrozincite), eucryptite from Harding mine in NM, the Red Cloud Mine material (calcite, willemite, fluorite) and the Terlingua-like calcite, a classic!

Franklin Mineral Museum “WOLLASTONITE IN SW UV”


Delhayelite crystals in matrix, Khibiny, Kola, Russia (largest crystals ever found I believe); Agrellite, Baratovite, Haweiite, Microcline. Dara-i-Pioz, Tajikistan; Pectolite and Feklichevite, Kovdor, Kola, Russia (large single xl pectolite with outstanding fluorescence)


Phosgenite, Anglesite, Monteponi Mine, Sardinia (perfect crystal group); Blue willemite crystals on calcite, Tsumeb, fl. bright yellow/red; Aragonite crystal group, Sicily glass clear large crystals, one of a kind.


To me, mineral crystals demonstrate “Symmetry in Nature” and are my main sources of inspiration. Crystalline minerals that fluoresce are a big bonus in my collection. These crystalline minerals demonstrate unique natural physical phenomena and powerful metaphysical characteristics. Some crystals can demonstrate unique growth features like twinning and phantoms. Our suite of gypsum crystals came from the Red River Floodway, Winnipeg, Manitoba. These amber and water clear tabular rosettes fluoresce and phosphoresce. Like snowflakes, they may be similar, but no two selenites are “identical.”

New Mexico Tech Mineral Museum

Robert Fendrich “MY 58 LB. CALCITE and WILLEMITE CASE”

Easy to describe; it was the only specimen in the case. There is a story here. I purchased this specimen from the basement repository at the Sterling Hill Museum way back when. The Hauck brothers were away, and some kid was running the shop. When I saw it and asked for a price the kid thought a bit and said he’d “have to ask at least $300.” I said “yup” or something like that. Years later I learned the specimen had been intended as a centerpiece in a display being put together for the Smithsonian museum. I hope the kid didn’t get tossed into overly deep shit. Had I discovered soon after I bought it that it was sold to me in error, I would have offered to return it, but by the time I found this out it was way too late for that to do any good. Nevertheless, I’ve long felt a little guilt that I inadvertently kept a striking specimen from being presented to the public. Putting it on display at the Tucson show alleviated that feeling a bit.

Colorado School of Mines Museum of Earth Science #2

Jennifer Moore “CORUNDUM var. RUBY, INDIA (LW UV)”

Dick Hauck


Self-collected specimens from an unnamed copper prospect near Picacho, Pinal County, Arizona, USA. Powellite (creamy yellow), chalcedony (green).

Tony Mancini


Kevin Witts

John Kashuba

Claudia Mitchell


I chose to display the best specimens in my collection. My favorites are: 1) Wollastonite (fibrous in balls), margarosanite and minehillite, a large specimen 8” across, from Franklin, NJ; 2) “Second-find” wollastonite, yellow-orange, zoned fluorescence, from Franklin, NJ; 3) Willemite in discrete radiating crystals from Zambia, with calcite; and 4) Topaz on feldspar, from Baltistan, Pakistan (large crystals fl. yellow-green).


My goal was to show fluorescent specimens from a part of the world that has not had much exposure. I think the Sar-e-Sang area of Afghanistan could be a fluorescent hub like Greenland, Långban, Long Lake Canada, etc. The marialite, sodalite, calcite, gonnardite specimen will be on the cover of the next Journal of the FMS.


My theme was to illustrate how a fluorescent mineral display can be Dynamic instead of Static. The display cycle started with white light that quickly dimmed, then only Long Wave, then only Short Wave, then both LW & SW together, then no UV to show phosphorescence, then slowly ramping up to the white light again. At the same time there was an audio playing at each one of those steps to inform the viewers what they were seeing.


I hoped to inspire, “Wow – look at that!” Hard to pick a best. The dramatic Sterling Hill calcite-willemite (top row, center), 4-color esperite (top row, right), 4-color Franklin hardystonite (middle row, right), and the Zambia radiating willemite-calcite (bottom row, center) are personal favorites of mine. But the piece I’m especially proud of is the johnbaumite with calcite (middle row, center). It’s a specimen I actually collected at the Jacobsberg mine dump in Nordmark, Sweden during the 2014 Långban collecting trip organized by Howie Green. Chuck O’Loughlin and I were the only group members still on the dump at 2 AM, and we had just agreed it was time to quit. As a goodbye gesture, we gave a large moss-covered boulder by the side of the dump a couple of hard whacks. A piece sheared off and after staring a bit, I recall saying, “Chuck, we can’t leave now.” By the time Chuck and I got done breaking up about half the boulder it was around 3 AM and all the doors to the hostel were locked. We tried sleeping in the car, but that just didn’t work, so we drove into Filipstad in search of an all-night restaurant. There wasn’t one. By that time we realized that the group had discovered we hadn’t returned and our car was not at the hostel, so a rescue team had been dispatched to the Jake. Of course, they didn’t find us. By the time they returned it was full daylight. We caught a few hours of sleep, then everyone went back to the Jake to break up the other half of the boulder. The displayed johnbaumite is a fragment from that boulder. I consider it the best specimen I’ve ever collected, and probably ever will.


I’m a purist. If I can’t collect the mineral myself, it’s not in my collection. People can find good specimens without buying or trading them. In my experience, Convoys opened up LW collecting. Now MW & SW flashlights will do the same. The most outstanding specimens in your display are Blanchard fluorite, autunite, hyalite opal, chalcedony, and sphalerite.

Walt Donovan “RED!”

My wife and I picked the most fluorescent minerals we had from our collection, and hoped people would enjoy looking at them. The ruby, from the Mogok Stone Tract, Mogok Township, Pyin-Oo- Lwin District, Mandalay Region, Myanmar, 8.4 cm, won the David P. Wilber award, given to the Finest Overall Mineral Specimen in the Show. It is one of the world’s finest rubies on matrix. The other specimens are, clockwise from the front left, are fluorite on quartz from the Yaogangxian Mine, Chenzhou Prefecture, Hunan Province, China, 16.5 cm, calcite from the Elmwood Mine, Carthage, Smith Co., Tennessee, USA, 17.8 cm, fluorite from the Minerva Mine, Hardin Co., Illinois, USA, 12.7 cm, and manganoan calcite from Fengjiashan Mine, Daye Co., Huangshi, Hubei Province, China, 12.0 cm.


I chose to demonstrate the different types of zoning found in minerals, exemplified by apatite specimens. The most outstanding examples are the Panasqueira apatites that show concentric, sectoral and intrasectoral zoning in one crystal.


Esperite, hardystonite, clinohedrite, willemite and calcite comprise a fluorescent mineral assemblage unique to Franklin. Each specimen has its own fluorescent pattern, and some even have nicknames.

Jennifer Moore “THE TRAIN”

This case is inspired by HO trains and fluorescence. This case has 2 trains: 1 train with an engine and 6 ore cars with SW minerals, and the other with LW minerals. The case is split in two with a SW 190W lamp illuminating the left side of the case, and a LW 95W lamp on the right. The track passes through both sides. Left is an old coal mine and the right is town with firehall, market and houses. I constructed all scenery and buildings. At first the minerals were too heavy for the train and kept falling over, so my husband converted the track to a turntable using a BBQ rotisserie motor! My train inspires everyone to never grow up, and have fun with fluorescence.


The rotating “centerpiece” of willemite/calcite/ franklinite was collected by Tom Warren and donated to the Museum in 2017.


More than one half of these specimens were collected in the field between 1957 and 2022. My travels in search of fluorescent minerals began at the Buckwheat Mine dump in Franklin, New Jersey, and gradually wandered through the alaskite quarries in North Carolina and finally to my home in Montana, with its world-class precious metal and base-metal mines. Recent winters have been spent in New Mexico, where fluorescent calcite reigns. The original theme for this display was fluorescent calcite of southwest New Mexico but has been altered to include many more colors from the western states. In the tradition of Navajo rug weavings, there is one specimen here that doesn’t fit the North American pattern – or does it? Hint: Greenland was part of the North American continent in pre-Cretaceous time (upper right specimen).



This is a self-collected display of shortwave fluorescent minerals that are from the Franklin, Sterling, and Franklin Marble mines, quarries, and dumps. I wanted to convey that with time, hard work, and luck, one could get a nice suite of fluorescent minerals to display. My margarosanites and the banded clinohedrite are some of my favorites. But all of them are important as there is a connection to friends, some no longer here, that were part of collecting them.

Lee, Charlotte and Noël McIlvaine “A RAINBOW OF FLUORESCENT MINERALS”

After attending the 1996 Tucson Show and defending my Master’s Thesis in May, 1998, I decided to build my own fluorescent mineral display case. I decided to follow the plans for the Cincinnati-style case in published in Rocks & Minerals Magazine in 1982. I liked how the case used piano hinges to fold up quickly and included a drawer to hold the top protecting the UV lamps and lighting fixtures. It was still the standard 4’ x 2’ x 2’, but it folds up to just 10” high. I used oak and oak laminate plywood for the outside. Because the underneath serves as a storage drawer, the floor of the case sits up higher than a flat front case, and the slanted glass adds visibility of the back row to people of various heights. On the inside of the case, I added flat black Formica to the back and the two sides of the case. Next was the risers. I wanted non- standard risers. I worked for an engineering company and I asked the auto-CADD designer to create 5 rows in an amphitheater or rainbow-like arc. Each row is approximately 4” wide. With the design determined, I printed an oversized plot of the rows and glued it too posterboard. I then cut each of the rows out and I used them as templates to cut out 1”-inch thick blue closed-cell foam. I used black duct tape and the foam layers to create the taller back rows. The black duct tape also would help with the cover material. My next challenge was to wrap each of the risers without creases. How does one wrap an arch with no creases? I decided to use black Spandex and “t” pins. The black duct tape meant the spandex could be stretched without seeing the blue foam. This was a time- consuming process, but all 5 risers were covered using 4 yards of black Spandex material. That Spandex lasted from 1998 through 2021. I decided to re-wrap the risers with new Spandex for the Tucson 2022 display. The older Spandex had grayed a little due to all the UV. Final issue; displaying the right fluorescent minerals. Over the last 20 years, I have looked to collect or purchased fluorescent minerals to add to this rainbow display. This display is different from others in that each row is made up of a single-color of fluorescent minerals: 1st row violet-blue, 2nd row: green, 3rd row: yellow, 4th row: orange, last row: red.
The most outstanding specimen in my case, gem tugtupite in lujavrite from Kvanefjeld, Ilimaussaq complex, Greenland.

Colorado School of Mines Museum of Earth Science #1 in SW UV

Editor’s note- for your own safety, sit down before looking at the benitoite specimen.

Alan J. Cherepon. Fluorescent Minerals from the Karnes County Uranium District, Texas

Erin Deventhal

Johnnie Hjorth

Al Liebetrau

Kevin Ponzio “GYPSUM var SELENITE”

From Sheridan County, Wyoming, USA.

Les Presmyk

Al Liebetrau

Patrick Rowe

Don Newsome