Deposits magazine has covered the science and appeal of agate in some detail over the last few years. Indeed, this issue has another in Wayne Sukow’s excellent series on the science of Lake Superior agate formation. Therefore, with this book, we have yet another chance to enthuse about the subject. Despite its inauspicious cover, opening it reveals something rather obvious: that Nick Crawford and David Anderson have produced something very special indeed – a glorious, technicolored tome, on the science, the sites and the beauty of agate.
But why Scotland? It seems to me that the number of popular geology books being published about the country has increased in recent years. This is unsurprising if you know something about the violent geological and tectonic history of the place. And, of course, this is the secret to Scottish agate, as it cannot be produced without active plate tectonics occurring sometime in the past. That is, you need volcanoes to make the stuff. In fact, the authors make it abundantly clear that Scotland’s messy tectonic history is the reason it produces an abundance of the gemstone, in a myriad of beautiful forms.
Nick Crawford and David Anderson have been collecting agates in Scotland for a number of years and have built up a wealth of experience and knowledge. This allows them to discuss explanations of its formation, as well as being able to cover collecting areas, together with providing short biographies of the most successful collectors and a brief history of collecting in Scotland.
However, it is the pictures that do the work. Containing in excess of 800 colour illustrations, landscape photographs and illustrations, the reader if left in no doubt as to the stunning beauty and interest that agate can produce. Personally (as I have said in the past), I like fossils. However, looking at this book, it is easy to see why it holds a fascination for so many collectors. If you are such a person (whether actively seeking the gemstone in Scotland or preferring to use your credit card), or if you want to experience why enthusiasts collect the gem, buy this reasonably priced book. It is a must for every mineral and gem collector, and anyone remotely interested in the subject.
Scottish Agates by Nick Crawford and David Anderson, Lapidary Stone Publications (2010). 202 pp., softback, £14.99, ISBN 978-09558106-1-9.