Our Collection: Reinhold Bacher and Maria Thaler; Fabian, Lukas and Paul Bacher
Having been asked several times to present my collection, I will now take us on a visit to the collection of minerals in my cellar.
My love for minerals started early. When I was 6 years old, I discovered a box with rock crystals while visiting my grandfather. My grandfather spent his summers taking care of the bulls grazing up in the mountains (Riedingalm) in Zederhaus. After finding out about my enthusiasm for the rock crystals, he took me one early morning by bus to the Schliereralm (backside of the Zederhaustal). From there we hiked across the Rauchwald towards Riedingsee to look for rock crystals in that area. Even though we barely found anything, it was a defining and extraordinary day for me that started my passion for collecting minerals.
I was ten years old when I experienced my second trip to collect minerals. My father took me to the Weisseck to look for fluorites. We indeed discovered small fluorites in the summit area, around those spots where other collectors had worked. For safety reasons I was not allowed to leave the hiking trail back then. I recall being very annoyed as I had seen an interesting formation that invited closer scrutiny, but I couldn’t go. If I could have known back then that 40 years later, at the age of 50, I would already have visited the Weisseck more than 300 times, I would not have been so annoyed.
My very first trip to collect minerals on Weisseck
Unfortunately, there was no searching for minerals for many years after that trip: I did not know any active collectors who could take me with them and my family did not encourage my interest. Minerals were still interesting to me, so I purchased books about minerals and where to find them, and occasionally visited minerals stores.
Twenty years later I was lucky to have a friend take me on one of his trips to collect minerals. That experience rekindled my enthusiasm. Nothing could stop me anymore. I started searching systematically in the side trenches of the Zederhaustal. I had no experience and only knew clefts from books. For three years I was more or less without success. (As I was a young father, I also didn’t have very much spare time.) In April 1999 I discovered, at last, my first calcite cleft, and in the following year I discovered my first quartz cleft. From that moment on, luck was on my side; in the following year I was blessed with magnificent clefts and wonderful finds.
In spite of many years of mineral collecting, my passion is still as strong as on the first day. Even a minute sign of a cleft gets my enthusiasm fully aroused and snaps my senses into a high-state of alertness. And once I pull the top of a rock crystal out of the clay (even a small one), happiness kicks in. On very special days, when I am lucky enough to find multiple specimens, my passion and happiness combine to provide a form of ecstasy that only other collectors can understand! It is therefore also a pleasure to share these experiences with my collector colleagues. Fortunately, my wife Maria has accompanied me many times and also my sons join me every now and then. So having enjoyed beautiful moments themselves, they can appreciate my enthusiasm and the substance when I tell them of my latest exploits in the field. I am indeed a lucky collector.
Successful day on the Weisseck with my sons Lukas and Paul
I have a special love for the quartz crystals from the green-schist in the Zederhaus Valley. The quality and green coloring by chlorite inclusions make these crystals special. It is very difficult to find a cleft and even then, the crystals are usually small. Good finds with larger crystals are very rare, perhaps these can be counted on the fingers. Even experienced collectors cannot make such discoveries for a lifetime. So it is a pleasure to be able to tell about some such good discoveries.
Quartz crystals from the green-schist up to 13 cm
Another passion is the fluorites from Weisseck Mountain. It is not easy to find fluorite on the Weisseck. There are no visible signs and no fluorite veins in the rock that can offer clues. Success must rely on long experience, an inner instinct, and a bit of luck. Again, years of exploration by serious collectors have yielded only a handful of significant finds. I worked on all the clefts and discovered some by myself. The summit cleft is described in Mineralogical Record’s, July 2010 issue. All the fluorites shown in that article are from my collection. So there is a lot to tell.
Fluorite, Summit Cleft, 18 x 14 x 7.8 cm
Other beautiful minerals have also been found in the Lungau that are worth attention.
Pyrite, Quartz and Chalcopyrite with intense, metallic-iridescent patinas, Rotgülden, 12.8 x 10.5 x 7 cm
Calcite, Vordermuhr, 17.5 x 9 x 8.3 cm
In the following reports, I would like to tell the story about the find. This makes it easier to appreciate how the minerals shown were discovered.