This is one of the most perfectly formed, beautiful and gemmy, relatively smaller sized (5 1/2") Washington State Saddle Mountain petrified wood rounds to come out of a recent estate purchase. This piece came to us as part of the Beck collection and is an exceptional example of the fine pieces this family has been known for producing for more than half a century! It's a beautiful specimen with great growth rings and finely detailed wood structure under magnification in pleasing, subtle, warm colors. Dan had identified this one as cypress and that is consistent with what I can see and compare in my reference books.The opal content is so high in the preserved wood that it polishes like porcelain or glass - it's really something that needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. It was a very slow growing conifer tree (or possibly massive limb) with very tight growth rings and a resin canal free honeycomb pattern parenchyma preserved in very nice detail under extreme magnification! It's hard to be certain in a cross section only view whether you are looking at a cypress, redwood (sequoia), or cedar - all were found in this fossil conifer forest and the distinction is subtle. But the polish in this gemmy specimen says gemstone and collector piece as much as it does fossil!! It's a truly mirror perfect finish that is almost hypnotizing in hand!
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 is a really gemmy little round cut from the center of a nice, medium sized petrified log that came from our neighboring state, Washington. Washington has a few nice petrified wood deposits, the most well known of which is Saddle Mountain. The Saddle Mountain wood is sort of a cross between what you'll find on the McDonald Ranch and McDermitt here in Oregon. Many of the specimens recovered there have a really high opal content like the McDonald Ranch wood does. The opal content makes it a bit more challenging to get a good polish on, but this piece really shined up beautifully. The rings are really well preserved in this one and I think it's a fir tree given the absence of either resin canals or hardwood pores. With a hand lens you can make out the conifer cell structure pretty easily, but it's hard for me to discern fir from cedar or bald cypress and this location has produced all three. It's particularly nice agate and the polish shows off the natural gemmy beauty very nicely! Like all of the petrified wood we specialize in here at Sticks-in-Stones Lapidary, this piece has been cut and lapped to be perfectly flat, then sanded and polished to the highest quality finish you'll find anywhere. Our polish work is among the best to be found anywhere and we go out of our way to make sure every piece has the same mirror perfect shine we'd want if it were going to stay in our collection! This is a virtually perfect round cut from the center of a complete log section with a rind that is 100% complete. It measures about 6 7/8" x 4 3/4" across the polished face and is cut about 0.45" thick. It weighs 0.88 lbs. Display stands sold separately. A nice, unique naturally wonderful stone collectible exclusively from Sticks-in-Stones Lapidary.