The whole thing started with a chance find of some lovely smoky quartz crystals while on holiday in the Knysna area in 1973. I did however grow up on a farm near Johannesburg, so these smoky quartz crystals led to me hunting for amethyst in the Muldersdrift area and in later years spending many days at the old limestone quarry outside Krugersdorp or the manganese working in the same area hunting for bits and pieces to add to my collection.
Graham’s KMF Day display
My first encounter with “rock clubs” was a birthday present of a year’s membership to the Wits Rock & Gem Club. While I could not get through to the meetings that often, the ones that I did attend, and the odd field trip, just added to my conviction that this hobby was here to stay! I have to thank two very special people that in those early days would always make time for me and my barrage of questions and hunt for rocks through their basements. Mr Watson of the Knysna Rock & Gem Shop (especially for the rhodochrosite he set aside for me for a full year that gave me time to afford it) and to Mr John Hepker of the then Silver Hills Rock Shop near Hartebeespoort dam. These two gentlemen always made the time available and ensured that as a young collector my interest was always maintained.
In later years the rock collection on the farm had reached an incredible size; my bedroom was packed to the rafters and I had “commandeered” a chicken house for the balance. With my military career behind me and settling down to start a family, only the “special” rocks were carefully packed into a Venter trailer and there they remained for a good number of years while we started out. All the other rocks from all those days of collecting remained on the farm and will no doubt confuse many an archaeologist in years to come.
It was only after our first son (Richard) started showing an interest that the “Venter trailer” was again unpacked and this time the bug really bit! We joined the Cape Town Club, then relocated to Johannesburg and joined the Pretoria club, finally relocating again to Cape Town and from then have remained members of the Cape Town Club.
Somewhere along the way two things happened, one called Tsumeb and the other called KMF. Without a shadow of a doubt these two areas, and specifically Tsumeb, have kept me enthralled and of course the bulk of my collection is based on these two areas. I did however go through all the other phases, (the Jan Coetzee phase, Namibian amethyst, and Erongo, etc.), this resulting in a rather large collection that now resides in areas from the lounge through to the kitchen, then the braai room and finally the “rock room” and the garden flower beds!
With access to the respective workshops at the clubs, it was also not long before a fully equipped workshop was established and then for good measure I ended up getting hooked on faceting as well.
As you can imagine things have become rather hectic. Our youngest son (Craig) is a keen collector, Richard equally so, and of course my collection keeps growing as well. We all have to be very grateful to my loving (and patient) wife / their mom. For putting up with all the above, there are however a few rules:
1) No rocks in the main bedroom, the kitchen sink or on the dining room table.
2) Any rock that goes through the washing machine is ‘fair game” to the first to see it!
My only regret is that there is not enough time for everything I would like to achieve with regards to the hobby. What it has however led to, is the privilege of being able to visit and experience many things in this beautiful country, it has set the direction for Richard’s career (now 3rd year geology) and Craig has so far had a lot of fun thanks to the hobby. We all have to be very grateful to their mom and my loving wife (Nicky) in being so patient and supportive in allowing us to enjoy our hobby to the full both at home and on our travels. As well as filling many available corners of the house with cabinets and rocks!!