Born in 1960, Johann Zenz came across minerals and fossils in early secondary school. He was infected by the love of minerals and soon his first collecting excursions followed. His membership in a local rock club brought him intensive contact with experienced collectors. Johann’s collection continued to expand during his annual vacations he took together with his father and his brother, who served as the “driver,” in the alpine regions of the Salzburg province, which is today known as “Hohe Tauern National Park” and has severe collecting restrictions.
Before long, Johann specialized in world-class high-grade calcite specimens and began to incorporate his very first agate specimens into his growing collection.
Since Austria is very poor in agate locations, Johann began to venture on extensive journeys to look for and dig for agates. Johann travelled to Germany, Italy, France, Greece, and soon also Canada and the United States to collect specimen. These collecting tours became more and more concentrated on the southwest and northwest regions of the United States—in states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, California, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.
Johann Zenz began to recognize the need for international networking among collectors and started the International Directory of Agate Collectors many years before the Internet Age. Many of the first contacts Johann made through the directory lead him to lifelong friendships with agate and jasper collectors all over the world.
Johann published his first articles in various leading European collector magazines, such as Mineralien Welt, LAPIS, Urner Mineralienfreund, MEFOS on topics including: The Amethyst Mines of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada; Dryhead Agates from Montana; and Coyamito Agates from Mexico.
Simultaneously, he began giving lectures on agates at international collector societies and events, like the famous Munich Mineral Show and the well-known Museum of Natural History in Vienna.
In cooperation with the Bode publishing company in Germany, which has been supportive of agate collectors for many years, Johann regularly publishes the Agate Magazine as part of the leading German magazine Mineralien Welt. This partnership has also lead to the most comprehensive publication on agates ever, the book Agates, which first appeared in 2005. The completion of Agates II (2008) and Agates III (2011)—all which were published in German and English—created the most extensive publication trilogy on a single mineral or gemstone ever. Each book contains a total of more than 2000 pages with 6000 high quality photos on agates and jaspers.
Johann’s agate and jasper collection of about 6000 pieces is primarily made up of agates from Mexico—primarily Laguna, Coyamito, Agua Nueva, and Moctezuma agates—and from the United States—Arizona, Montana, Oregon. However, Johann’s collection also has a tremendous amount of agates and jaspers of the highest quality from other locations around the world.
In addition to being an avid agate and jasper collector, Johann is also an accomplished professor of German and Music at the College of Education in Baden in lower Austria. In his professorial role, Johann creates musical compositions especially for young people, has written and published musicals, has won the Lower Austrian Provincial Government Arts Award, and has authored a series of successful educational books on the German language in Austria and Germany.
Unfortunately, these academic activities and Johann’s recent promotion to a management position at the college have left little time for his beloved agates and jaspers. His extensive stockpile of rough agates and jaspers must wait a few more years to be worked until Johann retires.
Additional information and photos of the Zenz Agate and Jasper Collection is available at http://www.achate.at