Collector shares her minerals, mining artifacts at Basalt library exhibit |

Collector shares her minerals, mining artifacts at Basalt library exhibit

An exhibit at Basalt Regional Library this month features the minerals, gemstones and mining artifacts of Julie Hesse of Basalt. Her works includea serving tray from the early 1900s that tout "The Famous Cowenhoven Tunnel" (upper center) and a book by Aspen pioneer David Hyman, 'The Romance of a Mining Venture.'
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |


Julie Hesse will give a presentation that goes along with her exhibit this month at Basalt Regional Library.

What: “Rough and Cut: A Look at Colorado Minerals and Gemstones”

When: March 25 at 5:15 p.m.

Where: Basalt Regional Library

Cost: Free

Colorado gemstones and mining artifacts from the collection of a Basalt woman with longtime Aspen ties are being displayed at the Basalt Regional Library during March.

Julie Hesse picked some favorite artifacts and larger gemstones from her vast collection for the exhibit. Narrowing the choices took some thought. She has an estimated 600 minerals and 125 faceted gemstones and cabochons — gemstones that have been shaped and polished. She also has about 500 mining artifacts, many with ties to Aspen.

Her display includes special, circular lunch pails typical of what miners in Aspen would have used during the silver era in the late 1800s. It’s got different compartments for storage of different food, such as a sandwich or piece of pie, she noted.

The exhibit at the library also includes numerous bottles of various sizes from Lamb Pharmacy, which helped tackle Aspenites’ ills from 1888 into the 1930s. She also has a Beck jug that was bottled with whiskey in Aspen.

For the minerals, Hesse selected larger specimens that would look good in a large display case rather than tiny gemstones. One centerpiece is an aquamarine from Mount White, a sister peak to Mount Antero, one of Colorado’s peaks higher than 14,000 feet in elevation. She also has gemstones from Aspen, the San Juan Mountains, Creede, the Pikes Peak region and Gilman.

Everything on display is from her personal collection and not for sale. Hesse has been collecting minerals and gemstones since 2000, mostly by attending shows. Once her inventory grew, she started offering a limited amount of collection for sale. Her business is Silver Queen Minerals, named after an 18-foot high Silver Queen statue that Aspen’s silver mining industry took on the road to promote the town and its mines. It was taken on the road for display at the 1893 Columbian Exposition World’s Fair in Chicago. It was last seen at the Mineral Palace in Pueblo. Its whereabouts or fate is a mystery.

A select portion of her minerals and gemstones, as well as mining artifacts, is for sale at Toklat Gallery in Basalt. Toklat owner Lynne Mace is Hesse’s sister-in-law. Hesse was married to the late Greg Mace, a former Mountain Rescue Aspen leader who was killed in a fall in the Maroon Bells in 1986.

Hesse will also give a presentation at the large meeting room in Basalt Regional Library on March 25 at 5:15 p.m. titled “Rough and Cut: A Look at Colorado Minerals and Gemstones.”

She will have some examples of her collection and answer frequently asked questions about the most common and rare of Colorado minerals, and how they get cut.

The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum in Golden featured her Colorado “rough and cut” minerals and gemstones in a yearlong display in 2010-11. It featured about 50 minerals and gemstones in the condition they were found as well as the “cut” condition where they are prepped for use in jewelry or for display.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User