thumbnail of World of the Rockhound; 24
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
They use their passions their serves to do all that work including gathering ammo and ammo was such value to them that it was a death penalty for one of their own serfs to be caught trading in ambush MY been approaching and one. Of. The second largest craft hobby in America today is said to be rock counting with all of its branches of interest some of which are Jim cutting making jewelry and the collection of Jim Stone rocks minerals and fossils. This universal hobby has grown to astonishing proportions in the last 25 years and shows signs of even more rapid growth as the need develops for more people to pursue more leisure time activities. Due to the fact that they're working fewer hours
have more days off and get more vacation time. Rocks and minerals are specimens of extreme importance to the raw count ever. Most people do not realize the important role rocks and minerals play in everyday living. For example fluorite used in toothpaste and clothing. This series of programs is designed to give an overall picture of the rock out offer encouragement to the newcomer in this hobby and present information of general interest to everyone. All of this will be examined as we explore the world of the rock. Today's program is entitled Amber Jim of the ages. The narrator is Len fold the lightest in white any specimen in a collection of rocks minerals or gem materials. Is Amber and is the only gem that feels warm to the touch. It's almost certain to
be the earliest form of jewelry in addition is credited with the magic qualities such as an amber necklace protecting its wearer from any kind of throat ailment. In six which lived millions of years ago can be seen trapped in the amber which we look at today and to learn more of the fascination of this material. We talked with Mr. Mayhew Jones and his jam shop in Brentwood Tennessee. First we asked Mr. Jones to explain exactly what Amber is. Right I am what is considered a gem material. Although it is not a mineral as most jams are. It's actually an organic matter. And simply a much like the pine robbers in the ransom or the gum that comes from fruit trees cherry trees and
apple trees and. Right streets are noted for the soothing gum this was a gum that came from what is now referred to as the AMA farce. And they were a forest of trees similar to our pine trees although thought to be much larger it grew prince play in what is now the Baltic Sea area. The Greek word for Amber was electron which is the same word from which our present electricity comes from. And the Greeks. Thought that it came from rays of the sun that were trapped in the sea and solidified as one of the Greek myths of course that persisted for seven hundred years. This anger is anger. For four centuries it was thought to have come from the sea because it was only found on the beaches after a St..
But the reason this water had washed down out of the mound into the sea and then been thrown back on the beach is actually they amber today is all packed all mined by a strip strip mining they had to take off the overburden and then dig the amber bearing. Blue ground as its call out and watch it and get the particles of ammo from that. Well what do these particles What do these particles of amber look like when they come out of the ground. Over just a small rough pieces of a brownish material that don't like anything much at that point so I think some of them maybe have larger fish than we have seen some that would be as large as a blue fish together but that is a very large exceptionally large piece that a natural hamburger company ground had a very rough and rusty
looking. Out of a clearing which can be here is cut off to get to the clear material inside. Well he has a necklace here of something that looks very rough. Is that the wrong. That's the natural royal am exactly as it came out of the ground only things been done to his Haven't ridden through the little pieces as you can string them in these pieces and what about half an inch. Requires an inch long and maybe half. Yes that they are doing it from half to three quarters in either a matron and said I've been around I would pay a week and then they have parts then that are transparent. That the finest grades of Amber the best quality of it are so considered is transparent. Most of it is translucent and much of it is opaque. Now if this were shined if these rough pieces were more polished saying that that well
could you see could you powers these in the tumbler But you know no it's too soft material it works by hand it's easily worked by hand you can take an ordinary piece of sand paper and shape it in smooth it and then take a piece of felt with some polishing powder on it and polish at this it's easily worked out the soft material. It's about two hardness on the most ski and that's almost at the very lowest end of the scale. But because it's so soft and it's fragile it's very easily damaged. No no it's rather it's rather tough and resilient. It cuts somewhat like a plastics in fact it's been imitated with say a lord and bakelite and very modern plastics. It does have a difference in that these plaques plastics cut smooth and always you can shave shavings off. And of ammo when you cut it it comes out in small chips more of a
powdery dust material it doesn't shave off and clean strips. But you were saying that Amber is very very old. How old is it. Real Lambert Well what we mean by real am I genuine I am of our crew and one. Is bowed to Campbell because among the people who handle it and deal in it. Anything that doesn't come in the Baltic Sea area she should be qualified as specific and Amber. Are. Some Something else to that people know it doesn't come from Baltic Sea area. But it all comes from. That I would lay down say at a period of 35 million or more years ago. Now some authorities say 60 to 80 million some say in excess of 20 million but I think we would agree that it's 35 million years old.
What do you mean that Amber was formed at that time that no new Amber is fun. I mean from the Baltic Sea area is it. No no no these forests these forests were. Before the great ice age which occurred about 20 million years ago. And there have been no heavy farce of Big Jim of this type in that area since but but. The reason that he is that has never rung up again and in that area as it was then and to then land has been something that's gone down and come up and gone down again at least up and down twice since this farce grew there and the major portion of it is now mined on the sam land coast of what was East Prussia and Sam land area is and peninsula jutting out into the
radix sea and that the area now accounts for almost entire output of true animals. Now do they export it. Is this behind the Iron Curtain. Yes it is it's one of the behind the Iron Curtain areas and can you get there. And. It's one of the things that they are glad to trade because and now I'd like to trade with it but they maintain a world monopoly they Amberg yield is a cartel that has existed for a long long time and they control the trade in Ambon almost worldwide and prices are set by these this cartel and they vary a little from one part of the world to the other but they do trade with all of the world. Well the headquarters of the amber deal in this area. There is an American headquarter office and shop and
distribution point in Jackson Heights New York on Long Island. That's that's our contact we have visited a number of times. We get I am from there. Are you members of A. No no no there aren't any members of the you know that's just a name. I mean it isn't like they trade deals used to be now there was a time when there were a number of you know as in Europe in Holland and Belgium and Germany and the Baltic countries the Scandinavian countries. But they don't exist as such. But this name has persisted and it is just a name used by the owners of this watch organization that controls them. I understand going back to that same wrong Amber. That many in six were trapped in the rosin before it. So
let that tell me something about it's quite true. It's suppose that these trees were damaged as trees are Dave from wind storms lightning and. Birds are animals or insects that would break the bark and cause them to bleed for us especially after a storm a tree is bent over broken they would bleed freely and this SAP or resin flowed out and naturally insects were caught in it and covered up in it and have thus been preserved until the present time in exactly the same state they were when they were trapped. Do you have any here that has been infected. Oh she's got one. Yes we have several small pieces with one or two or more insects about the size of a mosquito nets.
As you can see in this room they look like dock spots in that clear. He may hold it Doctor Oh you take it. Oh yeah. It looks like about three things in there. One of them looks like a cage from here a very tiny one about to happen. Is it a flock. And can you see the way. Yes I guess it's interesting. But I base the same kind of insects we have now. Some of them have been identified as having come down without out any change and for that reason they are most sought after by the entomologists and saddest of all sort because it gives us a tie in with this very ancient past and shows that these things have come down through the millions of years without change. Well what else have they found in there besides
In fact any other this other piece looks like it has something yes that if they frequently find leaves or portions of leaves and needles that in fact that is how either they have established the fact that these probably were pine tree is similar to our present day pines. They found all sorts of vegetable and insect material in this animal. When I see something in this one it looks like little lines going through it I both the needle. No no no no rhymes I have our moments but little relief like inclusions you see down in the amber. All referred to as fossils. They are thought to have been caused by more spores. Landing on there. Am I right it was still right up there with the sticky and then being
covered up but they're now referred to as fossils all look like little leaves within them. All I know is it seems to be in so many different colors. Yes that's almost why it had a ring count is that just an off white or cream color and it runs their own gamut from that color to a very very dark brown. This creamy looking one looks almost like I've read. Yeah I just can't figure it out. And that's referred to as fatty Amber because it resembles mutton fat. Well dad yeah. And it has that Amber I mean. Brownish go color streaking through it. Yes in the camera business the very dark ones are referred to as antique game with a normal antique light white ones but they just make a distinction.
Speaking of the different colors I said they're all quiet and well I understand that if you read Amber and get some kind of electric charge in it that it will pick up papers and straw. Thanks hear Shall we try that with some of these pieces of and yeah that is certainly true and it's from that property that the Greeks called it electron electrons are negative charges and. Well you know I think I don't know but I'm sure a little bit and it picks up these bits of paper just like a magnet exactly because it cumulate a negative charge and that attracts the bits of paper and light material. Paper straw dust that kind is attracted by that rather than you shared again let's see if you can pick up that big sheet of paper
a little bit of a pic of them. That's where the electricity came from. Pressure are in this area around the Baltic Sea was there so much and at one time that everyone had. Was it a very it was a common thing. I wouldn't say that it was a common thing but it was a much more prevalent than it is today. And it was great that you put on it even then but even then I was put on it it was found after after storms after sea had washed up on the beaches because they didn't know where it came from they had no idea that the earth all around them was full of it. So they would all flock down to the beaches after a storm and get it up. And even then it's not really plentiful but it was plentiful
enough that they could use it in trade and do use in trade with their peoples in the surrounding countries and even as far away as the Mediterranean countries and it is a belief of many people today that the principal trade routes through Europe through France and Italy and Germany up to the Baltics here was Tabish by traders seeking out when they finally established these trade routes. How far did they go with the amber How far do you think they went. Down to Egypt. Yes a principal traders are merchants who barter with the ambo were from Italy. And. From their headquarter bases in Italy particularly in Rome and some of the cities in northern Italy. They traded with Mike and you came in by
sea from Greece and Egypt and even later from the Far East. It was it that found its way clear into China. As a part of the so frayed and so it went by sea but much of it went over land on the silk routes into the Far East from the Middle East. But you were telling me something about the people have really they didn't want their servants to have it in this area. Round about the course back in the first centuries of Christian era. All of this area was controlled in small more or less small and large segments by. Norman princes lords and they use their presence their service to do all that
work including gathering Amber and Amber was such a value to them that it was a death penalty for one of their own serfs to be caught trading in ambush smuggling and poaching ambush. But all the jewelry made their. Money over in this country jewelry from me. The bulk of that practice own jewelry made in amber is made in East Germany not necessarily assembled there because you can ship any gem materials into this country with a rather low import duty if it's not right away. So the amber carvings and shipped pieces ready to be be made in the jury are sent away in that form and then they are mounted in their findings in this country because that
avoids the high duty which would be about that of 5 percent if made up in a wearable form. What we're saying Oh. Well I know you never get them right. No we have mounted very few pieces of Amber fact we get cracked all of it mounted in this country by a branch of the amber upon Long Island New York. Do they have any other country. No no no no one. And you just suggested a limited number of dealers throughout the country. Of which we happen to be one. Mr. Johns would you say that the amber jury is as popular now as it ever has. No I wouldn't say that is it is as popular now it ever has been but I will say that I believe it's coming back rapidly in the popularity of its most popular period was probably in the latter part of the 19th century. From
1870 to 900 possibly and it lost in popularity to the fact that it was widely imitated when so you know and similar synthetic materials plastics came into being. It's easily determined identified as true Amber rather than one of the imitations as simple of procedures to dissolve the salt and glass of water and drop your beads are a piece of venom in it if it goes to the bottom you're pretty sure it is not ammo because it. Has almost the same specific grafters seawater and the flow very slowly in salt water was had some salt added to it. Where most of the plastics are much heavier than I am baby imitation Amber didn't take too well I would say and.
Now that people appreciate genuine I am gaining in popularity. And being so worldwide by the better jewelers. At the prices. Which are considerably higher than you know of years ago before it lost its popularity it probably will never be any less expensive because the known supply is stored in a limited area and it's a costly process to mine tons of areas to get a few ounces available. And. There are some things oh yes there are several regions areas where a similar material is found. No brain. Cory
that's found in New Zealand. It is more properly referred to as specific and well although some of the dealers traders in it just referred to it as an well without qualifying it. The difference is primarily that this specific and well choreographed is a much moon. Then the true Amber from the Baltic area whereas a border Gary many millions of years ago. This Pacific amber of course is probably only a few thousand years old. I've seen places in this country. To my knowledge I have never seen an ambush found in this country and I've never seen any well authenticated verified accounts of ammo having found this country although there have been many reports finds of ammo in a lot of
the scouter there is all the way from the east to the west coast of the country and even in Tennessee it's reported that some has been found in West Tennessee but I've never seen it. Oh yes there are a lot of water can you find books and read about Amber. If you're interested. No unfortunately. We have very few books on the subject and most of the literature is in German. There is one book that written by that day and diplomat who spent a number of years in this country as well as in France and Italy and during his tours of duty with the Latvian. Diplomatic he researched the libraries of those countries and has written a book which makes a pretty good case for his belief that the trade routes of Europe were. And would trade groups with the name of the book. The book is called the ancient Amber and the geographic
discovery of Baltic. In the name of the author. On a specky you know how DSS PKK and have you read the book. Our way through it yes I've got the book shortly after was published when I first heard about it and read it and referred to it many a time have not been glad for anyone interested in the subject to also read it on the basis that was a conversation with Mr. Mayhew at the Jones jam shop in Brentwood Tennessee. Is it any wonder that Amber is referred to as the Gem of the ages. Not only is it beautiful but to many it brings good luck and good health. The very thought of the animal life preserved in amber is intriguing especially when one considers the fact that a tiny flea seen in an amber bee may have taken a bite out of a dinosaur in ages past is the earliest form of jewelry and the lightest and
white of any specimen in a rock mineral RJM collection. This has been another in the series of programs exploring the world of the rock. This series is produced by the service of the public library of Nashville and Davidson County Tennessee. Next week Mrs. falt will discuss the fascinating aspects of this hobby and a program entitled. The rock n roll shows. This is Charles Michel. This is NPR. The national educational radio network.
World of the Rockhound
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-rv0d0q9n).
Series Description
World of the Rockhound is a twenty-four part program about rock collecting produced by WPLN, the service of the public library of Nashville and Davidson County, and Nashville, Tennessee. Episodes focus on topics specific to rock hounding, like collecting, cutting, displaying, and creating artwork from rocks, gemstones, and fossils. The program also discusses broader topics related to geology, like earth science, consumer interests, and professional uses of rocks and minerals.
Antiques and Collectibles
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: WPLN
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-42-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:31:34
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “World of the Rockhound; 24,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “World of the Rockhound; 24.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: World of the Rockhound; 24. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from