Look twice at this one folks - it's a very nice museum piece with a lot more going for it than you might guess at first glance. It's a nearly flawless, perfectly shaped and mirror polished petrified hardwood from the Sweet Home, Oregon, petrified forest. The wood grain in this piece is exquisitely preserved all the way through the slab and every growth ring and even the rays are visible in that highly polished, glass like face. I can honestly say that this is one of the prettiest and most fascinating Sweet Home petrified wood rounds I've ever handled! The kinky wood grain in this perfectly formed cross section is arranged in very squiggly rays and I'm unsure what the species is. It's not quite like anything else I've seen in this vast and diverse petrified forest. The quality of the fossil wood is absolutely gem grade and the finish is must see! The color is well above average and particularly showy for the petrified logs found in the Calapooia river drainage near the town of Holley, OR. This is just one of the many places petrified wood is found in a petrified forest that covers well over 100 square miles! The colors in this region tend toward earthy tones with some higher contrast black and light areas. This one is quite attractive with great contrast that really shows off the wood grain. Under magnification I can see what I think is a semi-ring porous hardwood with fairly large growth rings for the size of the trunk. The rays are kinky and squiggly through the entire cross section. The stone shows faithful preservation of the original species in the clean, typically fracture free solid agate that the logs are preserved with. That latter detail means a polish that you can only begin to appreciate by the reflections you see in the last photo. It's really quite lovely in hand and one of the best preserved petrified wood specimens you'll ever come across. Under magnification you can clearly see the structure of a diffuse porous hardwood and, given the size of the growth rings, I think it was likely maple. But this category of hardwoods is notoriously difficult to sort out in cross sectio view along so final identification will rest with the new owner. This slab came to us as part of the Beck collection and is already in perfect condition with no finish work required.
If you're an established petrfied wood collector than you have almost certainly purchased pieces from Bob and Dan Beck, either directly or through the rockshops they supplied. They have been fixtures at Quartzite for decades and Dan was also regularly set up at the Tucson and Denver shows. Bob Beck began his Oregon rockhounding career about the time I was born, back when Kennedy was still President! Like most rockhounds, he began casually and his first piece of equipment was a rock tumbler that he'd bought for his daughter. He soon found he loved it more than she did. He followed the passion and by the time his son Dan was in high school, Bob already had a small commercial operation producing lapidary art and jewelry pieces. His son was quickly enlisted in the nascent family business where the bug also took hold. When Bob decided to pursue lapidary full time, Dan said he'd help for a year to get it going. That year stretched to 45 and the family became one of the great anchors of Pacific Northwest petrified wood lapidary artists. It's hard to say for certain, but my guess is that these guys made more petrified wood bookends over the years than all of the other Pacific Northwest lapidary studios combined! Dan kept the business going on his own in more recent years as his dad's health and age limited his participation, but he recently retired from the business himself. Like most of the old breed rockhounds, they were some of the nicest and sincerest people you could hope to meet or trade with. I've purchased the bulk of his inventory including tons of rough raw material and a few boxes of premium finished pieces as well as several others in various stages of production. This piece is one that Dan produced and as you'll see, the quality of his work is every bit as good as those we produce here at Sticks in Stones Lapidary. Dan is the only lapidary I know that appears to be as completely, even obsessively focused on perfect finishes as I am. His shop utilized the same processes in the same steps that I use in my own shop. I can honestly say that there is nothing in my skill set that would make this specimen any better than if I'd started with it from scratch myself. It's a truly perfect mirror finish that just glistens to help make this fantastic specimen all it should be!
This nicely shaped round came from the the vast petrified forest near Sweet Home, OR. There are a few pockets of absolutely outstanding petrified wood in the hills in that part of the state. The wood that is found in the Sweet Home area is typically very, very agatized and extremely well detailed. The Holley area pieces aren't always well agatized but full rounds are more common. Like other specimens from the Pacific Northwest, it has the potential to be some of the finest to be found anywhere in the world!! The Sweet Home deposit is particularly famous because of the huge variety of tree species that can be found there. I read an article once that said over 60 distinct species had been identified in various locations from this vast deposit!
Measures about 15 3/4" x 14 1/2" across the polished face and is cut approx 0.67" thick. Weight is 9.32 lbs and stands are sold separately.
A nice, unique natural wonder collectible exclusively from Sticks-in-Stones Lapidary!
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