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2017 Calendar: Wulfenite, a 16-month calendar.
The calendar is published by Lithographie, LLC in cooperation with The Mineralogical Society of America, Martin Zinn Expositions, Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, Fine Mineral Shows and the Greater Denver Area Gem & Mineral Council.
Wulfenite! The mineral of deserts, where weathering veins of dull and boring lead sulfide slowly suck thin traces of molybdenum out of groundwater in order to make one of nature's most beautiful minerals. The square to octagonal plates and blocky crystals come in a wide range of colors, from the most treasured bright red specimens to brilliant orange, yellow, gray, and even dark blue.
The desert regions of southern Arizona and adjacent areas of northern Mexico are home to most of the greatest occurrences. In Arizona there are the big ten: the Red Cloud, Rowley, Old Yuma, Hilltop, Glove, Total Wreck, Gleeson, 79, Tombstone, and Tiger mines, along with a host of lesser localities. Stories are still told of the day in 1938 when Ed Over broke into the world's most precious pocket of fat, brilliant red crystals in the Red Cloud Mine. Is it any wonder that plans are afoot to have wulfenite officially declared the Arizona State Mineral?
In Mexico there are more fine wulfenite localities; the most famous are the San Francisco, Los Lamentos, and Ojuela mines, as these three have yielded hundreds of thousands of wulfenite specimens over the years. Europe has excellent occurrences as well, including the Bleiberg, Austria area where wulfenite was first described by Franz Xavier von Wulfen in 1785, and the Mezica Mine in Slovenia, where intrepid collectors are still bringing out fine specimens today. But, aside from the Americas, the undisputed queen of all wulfenite localities is the famous Tsumeb Mine in Namibia, where distinctive specimens in a range of habits and colors are known, from bright yellow to cognac red-brown and colorless to gray; the very rare deep blue wulfenite from Tsumeb is colored by inclusions of ilsemannite, a molybdenum oxide.
Wulfenite occurs worldwide wherever the climate and primary minerals are conducive. Bright red crystals from Iran are small but particularly attractive, and the Jianshan mine in the equally arid Xinjiang Uygar region of northwestern China has become a modern classic locality for red to orange wulfenite. The desert areas of Morocco, as at the Dalles Mine near Mibladen, are well-known sources of orange to yellow wulfenite. And recently an old locality at M'Fouati in the Congo has been producing fine new specimens as well. These are happy days for the wulfenite collector.
The mineral most commonly associated with wulfenite seems to be botryoidal mimetite in shades from moss-green at the Ojuela Mine to yellow at the San Francisco Mine to brilliant red at the Rowley Mine. At Tsumeb, bright yellow wulfenite crystals have even been found with emerald-green dioptase-what a color combination! Thus wulfenite possesses all of the characteristics that make it a collector favorite: great color, transparency or translucency, good sized crystals, high luster, interesting crystal shapes, and attractive (often contrasting) associated species, from a widely scattered array of localities worldwide, in quantities that allow every collector to own a handsome example. The photos shown here give an inkling of the tremendous beauty that arises when lead meets molybdenum in the desert.