A natural Pyrite Sun formation which has been removed from its matrix. Pyrite Suns are also known as Pyrite Dollars, Sun Dollars, or Miners Dollars. Collected in a coal mines three hundred feet below the earth's surface. The Fanned Crystal Structure is due to compressed growth between sheets of anthracite coal shale. At one time these were mistakenly thought to be fossilized sand dollars or lily pads. These are located by gently splitting the layers of shale and then must be cleaned by a labor intensive process.
There have only been seven coal mines in the world where pyrite suns were found. These well-known mines, including
the Baldwin Mine, the Marissa Mine, the Moffett Mine, the River King Mine and the Gateway Mine are all in the Shawnee
Hills located in Randolph County, Illinois. Six of the seven mines are now closed with only the Gateway Mine (owned by
Peabody Energy) still currently operating. Pyrite Suns used to be plentiful, but as time passed, it has become extremely difficult to obtain quality specimens either in matrix or removed individuals. The Gateway Mine is now the last source of Illinois Pyrite Suns. The pyrite forms that have been found in China (also called pyrite suns) are very different from the well-known Illinois Pyrite Suns.