Washington County Missouri "Tiff"

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Commonly the word "tiff" means a slight quarrel or spat. However, in this instance the word tiff has a different meaning.   It is associated with the lead mining of Washington County.  Lead is usually found in a heavy rock called baryte(barite).  Baryte is locally referred to as "tiff" a slang term that was derived from the early French miners of the area. Lead mining began in Upper Louisiana (Missouri) in what would eventually become Washington County in the late 1700's.  Many lead mines, or "diggins" as they were commonly called, are marked on an 1800's map of Washington County.


Tiff is usually a kind of shiny white sometimes with small veins of lead or with red stain from the red clay (gum) that it is found in.  In the early days lead & tiff were hand mined & cleaned using a rattlebox like the one pictured above.  Tiff has a very high density so even a small chunk of it can be very heavy therefore making good paper weights.


The tiff offered for sale on this page comes from the old Gum Diggins northwest of Potosi. Gum Diggins is shown on Frederick Will's 1800's map of Washington County & probably dates back earlier than that.

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Each specimen weighs between 6 & 8 ounces & measures approx. 2 1/2" in diameter. $7.00 each (includes postage)

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Each specimen weighs between 2 & 3 ounces & measures approx. 1 1/2" in diameter.  $4.00 each (includes postage)

To purchase a specimen click here.
Each specimen is shipped in a protective bubble-wrap envelope.


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