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Lavers’ savers achieve their aim

Tuesday, 16th December, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

Cashed-up rock hounds have snapped up hundreds of specimens from the Lavers mineral collection - and a handful is returning home to Broken Hill. 

After purchasing the last-of-its-kind collection earlier this year following Mr Lavers’ death, mineral dealer Rob Sielecki put up for sale a large chunk of the 4000-plus collection at his Port Melbourne business over the weekend.

Mr Sielecki said the sale, which was held over Saturday and Sunday, attracted dozens of collectors from across the country. He said 30 to 40 people were lined up at the doors before his store opened at 10am. 

“It was very excellent,” Mr Sielecki said. “Everyone was very happy.” 

He said Mr Lavers’ daughter Sally also attended and was overwhelmed at the work that had gone into preparing the minerals, most of which were sent to London to be professionally cleaned.

“She was in tears.”

Individual minerals ranging from just $10 to tens of thousands were sold to mostly private collectors, though the Museum of Victoria also bought a number of specimens.

However, the Museum of Sydney and South Australian Museum, which both have Broken Hill mineral collections, were notable absentees.

“It would have been nice for them to supplement their collections,” a disappointed Mr Sielecki said.

He said it meant the public would be denied the opportunity to see many of the minerals that came from the world famous Broken Hill province. 

The Milton Lavers Mineral Collection Action Group came away with nine specimens for Broken Hill, which will now be added to the collection at the Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum.

“They got some very nice things,” said Mr Sielecki, who gave members Maureen Clark and Angela Bailey a special viewing of the minerals ahead of the sale on Friday.

Mr Sielecki, who knew the collection intimately before he bought it from Mr Lavers’ family, said most of the remaining minerals would now be taken to the US.

Mrs Clark said yesterday they went for a range of mineral types and the best quality they could afford.

“We were on a very strict budget, unfortunately,” she said. “We could have spent the whole lot on one mineral.” 

As it was they ended up almost $9,000 over budget after spending almost $24,000.

“We left other specimens behind that we would have liked to bring back but we are already facing another round of fundraising to pay what we owe.

“A late donation from CBH (Resources) has helped us to lower the amount we owe and we encourage other organisations and businesses to donate as well.

“We are still selling sponsor tiles for $50 through the GeoCentre and I can see another raffle happening in the new year.

“Amounts over $500 do attract tax concessions under the Cultural Gifts Program for businesses and corporations. Details of this program can be obtained from Angela Bailey at the GeoCentre.” 

Mrs Clark said Ms Bailey, who manages the GeoCentre, was bringing the specimens back to Broken Hill today.

“It was an eye-opening experience seeing this mineral collection which is the biggest and best collection of Broken Hill minerals in the world, being sold off piece by piece and also seeing the prices being paid for the specimens.

“We thank the community members who have supported us, groups as well as individuals, and hopefully further support will increase our range of specimens recovered for Broken Hill.” 

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