Home > Silver and Gold Minerals – January 7 > MS1469 Sylvanite


Sylvanite is a telluride of gold and silver. Crystal structure analysis by Pertlik (1984) confirmed monoclinic symmetry and showed that both gold and silver are essential constituents. Although known since the late 18th century, Louis-Albert Necker de Saussure (1786-1861) proposed the currently accepted name sylvanite in his 1835 Le Règne Minérale. The name refers to the region of the type locality, Transylvania. The discovery of sylvanite predated the characterization of the element tellurium; for a time both sylvanite and native tellurium (which also occurs in the same Transylvanian mines) were considered identical. It was Klaproth (1802) who distinguished tellurium from sylvanite which he called Schrifterz (i.e. graphic ore).

This is a fine hand specimen from Cripple Creek, with rich cleavages of sylvanite to 17 mm lying flat on a fracture surface. The crystals seem to form letters, or writing, which led early authors (like Jameson in his 1816 System of Mineralogy) to name this material graphic ore. This specimen is reminiscent of classic material from eastern Europe. An American classic.

Price: $450

Item code: MS1469

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