Serious collectors of anything can have serious problems when they die.  We've all heard of the numismatist whose rare coins were piously dropped one by one into the church collection plate by his widow, and the philatelist whose valuable stamps were used for postage; of antiques sold at estate sales for junk-furniture prices; of a genealogist's lifetime's worth of painstaking work tossed as worthless papers.

But geologists might have another problem.  Someone's carefully documented rock collection caused panic in a Florida pawn shop.

For $10,000, Frank Cafaro bought a collection of minerals from a Miami estate and brought it home in 50 pickup truck loads.  Then his troubles began.

"We were in the warehouse and we pulled out this box of rocks....Everything was individually labeled. Amethyst. Topaz. Uranium. The guy I'm working with says, 'What's that last one? Uranium? I think that's illegal.'"

Inside a small, lead-lined container was a glass vial containing about an ounce of yellowcake uranium, which as far as I can determine is completely legal to own.

Pawnshop owners must see nearly everything, but they don't know everything, and I can't blame Cafaro for being cautious.  Still, I think the response was a slight overreaction:

Within an hour, the Gold Mine Pawn was swarming Thursday with nearly three dozen emergency workers, including Geiger-counter-waving members of a hazardous materials team and the Marion County Sheriff's Office Domestic Security Task Force.

I wonder what Cafaro said when he reported his find.  Oh, well; I supposed the HAZMAT team was glad for a little practice excercise.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 6:41 am | Edit
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