Grade F amber
note the tiny apparent paw mark!

Most amber collectors are familiar with the high quality individual pieces of amber the are so often offered for sell. These pieces have a clearly visible complete specimen and are fully polished with none of the original matrix remaining and without ugly cracks, pits and other scars. Though the shape is variable, they always have a smooth surface and the specimens are enclosed entirely in the amber without pieces protruding to the edge. This carpenter ant is a prime example.

As you might suspect, however, many, if not most, amber pieces that contain fossils are not of such high quality. Such pieces may contain partial insects, cast off skins, specimens protuding to the edge, victums of a spiders or other predators and are often marred by pits, cracks, etc. The inclusion(s) in such pieces could be anything from a few legs or wing pieces to a nearly complete insect, missing only a couple of legs. Grade F amber includes pieces as large as this one and as small as a centimeter long.

a larger than average specimen of grade F amber
one of the smaller pieces

This amber isn't museum grade, or even collector grade, and attempts to sell it as individual pieces would bring such low prices that it wouldn't be worth the bother. That's why it is sold in batches of 50 or 100 for anywhere from 20 to 50 cents per piece.

Though it has verly little value, grade F amber can be very interesting. Though the inclusions are partial, you can often make out such details as the tiny hairs on wings and the individual facets of the compound eyes. There is also a lot of miscellaneous debris and some interesting formations. Even enhydros (moving water bubbles) can sometimes be found in grade F amber!

For the scientifically minded youngster, 50 to 100 pieces of grade F amber and perhaps a small stereo microscope would make a great present, giving them many fascinating hours as they examine the pieces. This would also be good for a beginning amber collector as it gives a good sampling of what can be found in amber and builds apreciation for the finer pieces selling for any where from five to several hundred dollars each.

In the stereoscopic gallery that follows, you'll find anaglyph and JPS vesions and also flat pictures with meausrements.

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