A couple of years ago, I bought a small ornamental gold-panning miner from a charity shop. As he was related to our hobby, I wanted to rescue him from an unknown fate, and little did I know it then, but he was the start of a new collecting hobby. Today, I have several mining ornaments, which were shown at a “What’s Up?” exhibit at the June monthly meeting. They are rather rare, and all have been bought cheaply from secondhand dealers. They are made of metal, with two mounted on sliced and polished agate, with a sprinkling of crushed pyrite. One has a seashell, and a couple have old Rob Smith labels.

They mainly feature miners at work, but also include a prospector’s burra, a miniature miner’s safety lamp, and, believe it or not, a mermaid. Two are souvenirs of historic mining areas. The quality of workmanship varies from good to bad, but all have an eye-catching metallic gleam in silvery, bronze or coppery hues. They look good displayed with minerals, but may grab more than their share of the limelight, as they not easily obtainable.  So I have added toy matchbox mining vehicles to the collection. These add a spot of colour. The modern ones are made in Thailand and are fairly cheap. The older British ones, if obtainable, are rather costly. The vehicles are pretty realistic, but I have added little ore loads, made of stones and sand glued together and painted, and now they look even more realistic, engaged in mining activities. And of course, this gives me a chance to play with them. “Once a man, and twice a boy” is what my wife says. I am rather proud of my mining ornaments, for they are not the kind of thing one sees every day, and they provide inexpensive creative fun. And that is the best kind of fun – doing things with the stuff one collects, to prevent them from gathering cobwebs and dust. TVJ