An Exciting New Discovery of a soon-to-be American Classic

           During the last year and a half, Dennis Durgan, the owner of the Mt. Marie Mine in Paris Township east of South Paris has encountered and collected a sizable pocket of almandine garnets. The crystals are very dark red, appearing almost black, but are surprisingly sharp and large. If you are familiar with the historic specimens from Russell, MA, these specimens are similar in many ways, but distinguishable by their more complex crystals and in many cases, by their larger size.
            The Mt. Marie complex covers many acres and has several diverse pegmatites. Previously, Dennis has found tourmaline rough in an amazing array of colors and converted it into fine gemstones. That collection of faceted tourmaline is now part of the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel and will be on display when the museum opens in 2019.
            The garnet pocket was unusual for Maine in that the crystals could be separated from the surrounding quartz and feldspar producing sharp crystals. There were no quartz crystals found with the garnets, but a few of the specimens have muscovite crystals attached. My prior experience at nearby Mt. Mica has been that all of the garnets were frozen in the margins of the pegmatite zones and could be extracted only in pieces. 
            I was privileged to visit the Mount Marie in the summer of 2017 while the pocket was being excavated and saw some of the garnets in place. Dennis asked me to take some broken material to my Colorado lab to determine how best to clean it. I returned to the mine in the summer of 2018 and was able to see the product of his work. We also arranged for me to be the sole source of these crystals in the market place. Dennis has provide me with about thirty specimens, representing the best from the mine and a few reference pieces. I have been busy in my lab doing additional trimming of matrix and cleaning of the crystals. Dennis has moved on to other areas of the property in search for more gem material. We can hope that he encounters fine crystals, too.
            The almandine specimens will make their world debut in Tucson in February at the Westward Look Fine Mineral Show, Feb. 7-11 in the Graeber and Himes room. The number of specimens of high quality is limited. We expect these crystals to set a new standard for almandine from Maine and become American classics. We anticipate that some of the finest pieces will soon reside in major museums. If you are not able to attend Westward Look, we will have the remaining crystals at the TGMS “Main Show” at the Tucson Convention Center, Feb 14-17. 

            The mine is not open to collecting or visitors. But I am happy to share some photos of the property and the garnets.

Specimen Galleries

A 3-inch and a 2-inch crystal showing varied habits. All of my specimens are larger than miniature.

           Rocks & Minerals March-April and May June                                                         Mineralogical Record January-February

Leonard Himes     Dealer in Fine Mineral Specimens

      My galleries show specimens that are currently available for purchase.

      I advertise regularly in Rocks & Minerals and sometimes in the The Mineralogical Record and other publications. My ads show either exceptional specimens from my inventory or excellent specimens that coordinate with articles in the current issue. Please support these journals with your subscription if you don't already. It will enhance your mineral knowledge. You can contact them at and

      Here are my prior and current Rocks and Minerals ads.  The featured specimens were available at the time the ad was submitted. However, specimens often sell prior to the magazine's publication due to the long lead time for ad submissions, but it never hurts to ask if they are still available. Predicting when a specimen will sell is impossible! Also shown is my current ad in The Mineralogical Record.

        Contact me directly to learn more about available specimens. I have many more specimens than can be shown here, so if you are seeking something in particular, ask. I often have other specimens of the species shown, but in different sizes and prices. I enjoy getting to know my customers and believe that learning about you and your collection will help me find specimens that will enhance your collection.
        I accept PayPal, credit cards, and checks on US banks. Payment is required prior to shipping. Insured shipping within the US is free. Prompt insured returns of unaltered specimens (at your expense) will result in full immediate refunds.
       Cabinet specimens are larger than fit into a 5-inch cube. Small cabinets (s-cab) are under the 5-inch cube but larger than miniature. Miniatures (min) fit within a 2-inch cube,  Toenails fit within a 1.5-inch cube, and Thumbnails (TN) fit within a 1-inch cube.
       Many of my best specimens come with custom bases by The Sunnywood Collection, the industry standard. For information about having your collection mounted contact them at

Left: Dennis Dugan in the pocket.

​Above: Freshly washed garnets in the wall.

Two specimens of Mt. Marie tourmaline and apatite that I prepared in my lab a few years ago. Both are toenail to small miniature size.

Two fine Almandine and Muscovite combination specimens, both with 5-inch crystals.

A long-range view of Mt. Marie and a close-up of the wild blueberries that cover the open space adjacent to the mine. The blueberries alone were worth my trip!

Jeff Scovil photo of my finest specimen. The top crystals is 5 inches in diameter.

Following the Tucson Shows, we take a well-deserved break for a few week in the sun, We often get in some field collecting and visit private and institutional collections around the state. I'll be posting photos of nice specimens we acquired in Tucson before long along with some phots of the exceptional cases at the TGMS main show.