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Con-Virginia, Dayton Consolidated Ore Collection

Currency:USD Category:Collectibles / Rocks, Fossils & Minerals Start Price:6,250.00 USD Estimated At:12,500.00 - 15,000.00 USD
Con-Virginia, Dayton Consolidated Ore Collection
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Detailed PDF of Dayton Consolidated Mineral Collection

The Consolidated Virginia Mine and Company was one of the richest and best-known companies in the Comstock Mining District of Nevada. It produced upwards of $30 million in gold and silver. The company lasted well into the 1940s.

While the history of the old company is well known, their march into the early 20th century is not.
The company was reincorporated in 1904 and continued to produce gold and silver up into and after World War II. In 1916, the company and their “partners,” the Ophir and Mexican Mines, produced about $500,000. Herman Zadig was president. By 1931, Zeb Kendall was president with Roy Hardy acting as superintendent. Kendall also ran the Ophir and Mexican partner companies. In 1921, the production was $4,346,000 from the Con-Virginia alone. Production scaled back the next year, and the company planned a cyanide plant in 1929.

Dayton Consolidated was formed in 1933, and two years later the company took over the Mexican and Ophir operations. By 1936 they had begun to acquire more mine properties on the Comstock. They had a 200-ton cyanide mill at Silver City, which in 1936 produced about 55,000 tons from the Gold Hill properties. In 1937, Zeb Kendall was still president, and W.J. Henley was vice president.

The Con-Virginia of the 1930s ran their own ore, and while the Dayton Consolidated started that way, with the weak economic times, Dayton Consolidated considered operating as a “custom” mill, a term for ore-milling facilities that processed material from different mining companies.

During the late 1930s, the United States was coming out of a deep depression. Jobs were needed. Cash was needed. As many mining men began to extract good ore from around the Western US, they needed a place to process their ore, and the Dayton Consolidated mill fit their needs perfectly.

By World War II, with Zeb Kendall still president and W.J. Henley as secretary, the Con-Virginia used a 150-ton-per-day flotation mill in Virginia City. Dayton Consolidated, meanwhile, was run by Kendall as superintendent. They had two mills – a 200-ton cyanide plant in Silver City and a 200-ton flotation-cyanide plant.

The two companies were very closely intertwined, with Zeb Kendall at the helm. Zeb’s son Bob went to school in Virginia City, which for a time was a mining school. Bob later went on to become the president of one of the world’s most profitable mining companies, US Borax. Bob Kendall was a good personal friend of mine for the last approximately fifteen years of his life, and he was kind enough to share many family mining stories and show me the key locations along the Comstock.

Just after World War II, Zeb and Bob had an idea for an open pit on the Comstock. They subsequently mined the surface ores at the Ophir and Mexican, right over the original Ophir shaft above A Street in Virginia City, where today the 1,200-foot-long and perhaps 80-foot-deep pit still sits. You can see the original 1860 Ophir Mine map – drawn in black ink on linen – at the Fourth Ward School Museum in Virginia City.

Along the way, the family of W.J. Henley inherited the Con-Virginia archive. I was shown the collection in about 1981. I sold off several thousand checks, including the elusive purple Nevada RN from the Chollar-Potosi, acquired key books from the company library, and ultimately wound up with this ore specimen collection. By then the company archive of maps had been disbursed, many to other family members or to the Sutro Tunnel Company.

Contents of the Collection

The Collection is perhaps best described as a two-company collection, the Con-Virginia and Dayton Consolidated. With both companies run by Kendall, the works sort of merge together. It includes over 250 numbered and identified specimens with locations, and it is unique because the samples are contained in two forms – small hand samples, all of which were kept in Giant-brand Blasting Cap Tins with hand-written labels from various mines or locations – and a matching sample of crushed rock (1/4”-minus) carefully placed into 3.5” tall, half-ounce, glass drug bottles made by Owens Duraglass. These bottles are displayed in sixteen custom-made wooden racks, twenty-one bottles per rack. The only incomplete portions of the collection are because of broken bottles or labels lost over time. No part has been separated since it was acquired.

The Con-Virginia Dayton Consolidated Ore Specimen Collection is nothing short of phenomenal. It contains samples of high-grade ores – often with visible gold – for nearly every important mine on the Comstock. Of particular note is specimen 111, labeled “Kossuth Lyon County, Nev” which comes from the site of the Grosh Brothers’ 1850s, pre-Comstock-era placer gold discovery in what would later become known as Gold Canyon. Other gold districts are also represented in the collection including Bullfrog, Willard, Midas, Ione, etc. Gold-bearing specimens from Garden Valley, California, show strong native gold. Major silver deposits are also well represented – especially those in production after 1920 – such as the Kelly Mine at Randsburg and the Darwin mines in California.

The Collection is not limited to precious metals. Major tungsten mines are also represented, including Atolia and Pine Creek in California and deposits in Nevada such as Rawhide and Sutton. Major copper deposits, such as Ludwig and Yerington, are included. There are mercury ores from the Opalite District around McDermitt in northern Nevada, as well as specimens of antimony, arsenic, lead, zinc, strontium, chromium, vanadium, manganese, molybdenum, and even uranium – many from well-known, classic mining operations of that era. The collection also has samples of non-metallic, industrial minerals such as sulfur, bentonite, magnesite, perlite, mica, fluorspar, chalk, diatomaceous earth, and asbestos. There are even a few specimens of petrified wood, calcite, turquoise, amethyst, prasiolite, chrysocolla, rose quartz, “Nevada Jade,” and “Nevada Black Diamonds” (obsidian).

Among the incredibly important Comstock specimens is one labeled “Amalgam” – an agglomerated blob of silvery material, which was recorded as being found in a creek bed near the Keystone Mine near Gold Hill in the Comstock District. It would be a unique specimen in any collection, as it records a point in history when the precious metal ores of the Comstock, and countless other districts around the world, were critically dependent on the use of mercury to recover gold and silver from crushed ores, leaving a lasting environmental legacy.

The Con-Virginia Dayton Consolidated Ore Specimen Collection is probably the last of the great mining company specimen collections known to exist in its entirety, and it represents a snapshot in time of the important mining commodities and locations of its day. Whoever assembled it – probably Zeb Kendall – and whenever it was completed (c1940) it is evident today that great care was taken to preserve and present this history for posterity.

The Con-Virginia Dayton Consolidated Ore Specimen Collection will be offered at a starting price of $12,500. A fully detailed, 25-page inventory is available.

Location: Virginia City, Nevada HWAC# 75276