Back in the late 1950s or early 1960s, a man very dear to us named
Jack Baker commissioned the construction of this fireplace for the
tourist center at his Pike Forest Fossil Beds, in Florissant, Colorado.
The above image is a scan of a postcard that Jack had printed.
He was very proud of this. The masonry was done by
Raymond Smith, of Colorado Springs.
Here is a picture of Jack and his fireplace.
I never saw the fireplace at his gift shop. The only two surviving
pictures are not very flattering. But like I said, Jack was very
proud of it. So proud, in fact, that when the federal government
appropriated his fossil beds to create the Florissant Fossil Beds
National Monument in 1969, he dismantled the fireplace and spirited it
away, along with his fossil collection, and stored it at his home on
South Institute in Colorado Springs. It remained there, untouched, until
his death in 1995. We acquired it in 1995 and finally unpacked it in
Oregon in June 2008. After Jack passed away, we arranged through
his estate attorney to purchase all of Jack's personal possessions.
We acquired all his antiques, his fossil collection, and this fireplace.
The proceeds of Jack's estate was used to fund some excellent
research toward curing Macular Degeneration. Jack's dad lost his
eyesight to Macular Degeneration.
The wood in the fireplace came mostly from Arizona. There were a
few pieces from other locations, such as Colorado and Washington.
Now, to what the fireplace looks like today!
Above is a picture of most all the pieces to the fireplace. The boards
on the table are 13 feet long, by about 19" wide.
The colors are incredible.
Bright reds. Vivid yellow. Orange, pink. Every color of the rainbow.
Colors you don't typically see anymore.
A 12" ruler provides some scale to the size of the pieces.
The 3 pieces with tape must have been special to Jack, as he was
careful to note which was the top and the bottom of each slab.
One is described as a "Collie Dog's Face". One is an
"Old Man's Face". In my humble opinion, these oval slabs were
not from Arizona.
In general, I would say that the polish on each piece is above average.
Jack did not have the technology that we enjoy today. He made his
slab polisher out of a gigantic commercial Hobart food mixer he
bought from a surplus auction from Fort Carson (then Camp Carson)
after the War.
Delivery is available along the freeways between Portland Oregon,
and Colorado Springs, Colorado - just before or just after the
2008 Denver Mineral Show. Or we can drop it off at a shipping
company of your choosing, and you can coordinate shipping
from there. Or, feel free to pick it up at our antiques store in
Right now, the fireplace is in 6 RubberMaid plastic tubs, of
about 30 pieces each, for [relatively] easy handling. Net weight,
according to our humble bathroom scales is about 177#.
By our count, there are 185 polished slabs.
Deb and I always planned on recreating Jack's fireplace in one of our
own homes, but if we were going to do that, we sure should have done
it by now. So it seems that fate demands that we let someone else own
it for a while.
The price is $2500 FOB, Hubbard, Oregon. These days, with the
depressed US dollar, it is a challenge to add a decent TN-sized mineral
specimen to our collection for that price, so for now, the price is firm.
Besides, I also collect 40x30 cabochons, and I see some great cabs in
some of those stones.
Lots of people sell petrified wood from Arizona. Some of it is much better
than this. The work done by Murph's in Sherwood Oregon stands out, as
does SiS in Aloha Oregon. Go to Tucson, in February, and you'll see
some extraordinary examples of Arizona petrified wood for sale.
But the opportunity to own something that comes with an intriguing story
doesn't come along very often. Once this is spoken for, it is likely gone
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