This is a really beautiful and well preserved fossil hardwood from what I'm reasonably certain are one of the Columbia Basalt locations in Washington state. The original label has this piece having been found at the Saddle Mountain site, and while that's one possibility, the fact that it isn't a conifer makes me suspect the locality info was also an intelligent guess based on characteristics visible to the naked eye. The wood grain does look coniferous and it takes very strong magnification to see the structure in the glassy wood but it is indeed a diffuse porous hardwood. There are a couple of other Washington locations that produce wood with this high opal content in these colors that have a variety of hardwoods (e.g. Vantage) that could also account for this piece. Regardless of the ambiguity in labeling, the slab is a gorgeous petrified wood round with easily visible growth rings and even a knot or two. This piece comes from the Jim Leicht collection and is the only slab I know of from the log. The piece has been polished to a mirror finish which really looks wet in the highly silicified/opalized gemstone this fossil slab is preserved with. Another one of a kind collector piece from a truly world class collection!
NOTE: My locality & species identification conflicts with that of the original collector. This is not a terribly uncommon occurrence as the simple reality is that petrified wood is more often collected for beauty than science, even though it is uniquely situated to feed both pursuits. I'm pretty confident in my ID for species (buckeye would be the next most likely alternative) based on careful microscopic examination albeit with amateur hobbyist identification skills. The color, silicification and rind features all say Washington state, but if it is a birch I've not encountered that previously in the Saddle Mtn pieces I've seen. The original collector's tags and labels are left on the back for posterity and provenance. Jim was a visual collector that valued aesthetics, preparation and completeness above species diversity and he relied on the identification skills of vendors (which we all know varies considerably).
This is a truly amazing, beautifully prepared petrified wood specimen that has been cut and prepared with skill. This slab was part of the Jim Leicht estate collection. Jim lived in the foothills of Mt. Hood in Oregon. During his long collecting career he amassed not one but two world class petrified wood collections. His first collection he sold and donated in the late 20th century to focus his passion on spheres. But even his sphere collection filled with petrified wood and his tastes and interests shifted again to the pursuit of world class petrified wood collector pieces. This piece comes from that second collecting effort which itself spanned more than 30 years. I had the good privilege of knowing Jim and we'd trade from time to time for pieces neither of us could live without. This slab is one of the few pieces from that collection to finally make it back into circulation for a new collector to cherish. Jim collected petrified wood from all over the world but, like many, was particularly fond of the gem grade wood found in the Pacific Northwest. I visited Jim's collection a few times over the years and always admired the breadth of his incredible specimens. He was "old school" and much preferred to keep track of other collectors and collections with frequent phone calls, which proved to be an invaluable source of tips and leads not just for him, but for everyone fortunate enough to be on his call list! Those of us who knew him will miss his friendly, passionate view of both the hobby and those who participate in it. The bulk of his collection remains in the hands of another private collector who has asked me to assist with offering a few duplicates to balance the collection.
It's just amazing how beautiful petrified wood can be and this fine specimen found halfway around the world shows to what lengths people will go to bring these treasures to market! If you don't own a top grade piece form this increasingly important deposit yet in your own collection, this is your chance.
This is a virtually perfect round cut from the center of a nice sized log. This stone has been professionally polished on a special lap that produces a flat face and a mirror perfect shine. It is a perfect slab cut from the center of the log with a fair number of fractures but they've been stabilized so they didn't flake out during finishing and represent no risk of breakage - it's a fabulous piece. The polish really is liquid perfect - a difference in the quality products Sticks-in-Stones has built its reputation on!
It measures about 15 1/4" x 10 1/2" in diameter. It's cut about at a very slight taper that goes from about 0.51" 0.65" thick. Weight is 5.46 lbs.
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