An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin

Tucson Show 2009

We missed the rain the fell on Los Angeles the entire time we were at Tucson. It was suppose to catch up to us, but we had none during the days and it only fell one night. However, as I write this it is the beginning of a bigger storm and I think I may have just gotten in from the garage in time to stay dry. I was out there cutting a few pieces we got in Tucson.

We arrived at the show a few hours earlier then normal. Touching down at about 10:30 AM we were able to finish up with some business work before we would usually even be there. That proved to make the whole time go smoother. I did not buy much on Thursday I think only one or two items. However, Friday morning I got going with a bang. Found two nice stones for a very low price at the Ramada in a mostly fossil room. Blaine Reed’s room was still closed, so we wandered the tents behind for a few minutes. I saw a nice piece of fresh meteorite. Black crust, still a little of the velvet sheen, and a light yellow colored matrix showed on the broken spots. The dealer wanted too much by normal standards today. Yet the stone called out to me after I left the tent. I have never returned and haggled before. It is just not in my nature. He went for a slightly lower price and I got the 524 grams of meteorite. Paul commented that it looked like El Hammami and I agreed. Well I cut that stone this morning in the garage and I think it is another mass of El Hammami. I cut a small chunk off one of the broken surfaces and lapped the main portion flat. The small piece I may someday send off to be classified, it looks the same as the large mass of El Hammami we sold years ago. For right now I will think of it as El Hamma-maybe. It is a very nice stone. A nice straight shock vein runs through the cut surface. Beautiful dense scattering of metal grains with the black and dark gray chondrules common in El Hammami. The chunk I cut off is 24 grams just enough for use in classifying it.

 

As it turned out those were the end of the unclassified stones for me this year; just the three I got on Friday morning. I did get 13 other classified falls and finds during our stay. Most not too exciting, just some locations I had never gotten that I felt any good collection should have. Among them were Ragland, and La Criolla. Years ago, I should have gotten both of these. Ragland is arguably one of the most beautiful of the low petrologic number chondrites. Packed with colorful chondrules. La Criolla I have actually wanted for a long time and not found very often at the show. The piece this year was in Michael Blood’s auction. I like to see what I am getting most of the time. The show is good for that. As fate would have it, I ended up buying this one sight unseen. We arrived just as the auction was starting with no time to look at any of the specimen up for sale. I was not going to bid, but at the last minute decided to try for the La Criolla. I got it for a good price. Funny thing though it was placed in the specimen box fusion crust out so it looked through the badly scratched plastic like the ugliest rusted thing you have ever seen. When I opened the box and turned it over then I saw what I wanted; the light colored but mottled matrix. The great fusion crusted entire backside was a real bonus.

I almost never go to the Tucson show without getting some space glass. We found a good supply of tektites early on but I did not buy any. Later I did find some glass.

 

These are fine examples of some of the common shapes of tektites like teardrops, dumbbells, spheres, and patties.

There would be nothing particularly special about these except they are not tektites. They are Irghizites from the Zhamanshin crater. I have picked these up occasionally over the years. These had nice aerodynamic shapes. It makes one think about the forces and processes that created them. For these did not fly very far but have the same form exactly in miniature as splashform tektites. The scale cube in the picture below is a normal one cm cube. So none of the Irghizites is over 2 cm and most just 1 cm.

We headed over to the Fossil Co-Op to see Marvin Kilgore and the big meteorites. That was good fun. The huge Seymchan oriented shield was there. But, what caught my eye as I photographed it was the Canyon Diablo originally from the Hearst collection. It had been sandblasted which had left it covered in spots where you could easily see the Widmanstätten pattern. That was interesting enough yet from the angle I took my pictures I saw a face. The face was that of a man in pain. So I will be calling this meteorite from now on the “Moaning Man”. Maybe the name will catch on who knows.

The Kilgores also had a display case with special meteorite specimens. Some slices of pallasites and a large piece of Miles. But, as always my eye was drawn to the Lunar NWA 773. It is very special to Paul and I. We picked Marvin up from the airport when he returned with it and we were the first individuals in the states to hold it and make guesses about what it was. It remains one of the nicest looking of the Lunars and the only one that has "Moon" spelled across its cut face.

 

What can one say about the birthday bash? It is the social high spot of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show for those interested in meteorites. The yearly celebration of the birthdays of Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold brings together so many of the personalities that make this a wonderful community to be part of. This year it was held at a new venue; a club in downtown Tucson. There were a handful of people there at the beginning that I was sure were not meteorite enthusiasts. I imagine they said to themselves “if this becomes an old guy’s club we’re out-a-here.” The Harvey Awards were presented again to individuals who have given of themselves to the meteorite world in an extraordinary manner. There was plenty of comedy and even some wheeling and dealing off in the corners. But, as always a great night of fun and friendship that we look forward to each year.

With so many of the dealers now presenting at the Inn Suites we hung around there most of Saturday. I had taken some copies of my new book with me and sent some ahead. Anne Black was gracious enough to offer to put them in her room. By Saturday afternoon, we were sold out.

Paul and I had dinner with friends on two of the three nights of the show. On the other, we had found a small pizzeria that made the best pizza. Wow, it was good. On Saturday night, we had Mexican food with friends. I do not think we had laughed as much at a show before as we did this year. I brought home less weight of meteorites than most years, but had a lot more fun than many shows in the past.

The crowd was really down this year and I hope that the dealers still made money. It was easier to get around and the sidewalks were not busy. We made it down to see Erich and Sylvia Haiderer at the Pueblo Inn. I found a few of the pieces I bought there. But, that is also the time I go just a little further to the next hotel’s parking lot. There I get strings of beads for my wife. There is a dealer there with great prices and fine material that I visit every year. He is getting to know me pretty well. In roughly ten minutes, I was able to get about 50 strings of assorted gemstone beads. I enjoy that side trip every year.

Saturday afternoon we have to begin wrapping up the meteorite part of the trip since we spend the last day down at the wholesale show by the airport. Just as we were getting ready to head to the Blood auction we found a room with a very Australian name.  I turned in to it and sure enough he had some Henbury and Mundrabilla meteorites. We were in good shape on Henbury, but we could use some Mundrabilla. So it was back to cherry picking through one more box for the business. I found a couple for myself of course.

Last year, I had gotten a piece of Carancas at the show. It was a nice fragment with a little fusion crust, of course it was small. This year, there was a tray of small fragments priced at $10 per gram. Having no shame I stood there and meticulously picked out the largest of the fresh fragments to make two grams. Then I picked out five grams of the largest fragments for the business. Later I would return and get another 2 grams for myself. Surprising as it seems in a large tray of thousands of fragments it is not hard to find a lot of nice size pieces. The four grams will reside in a nice glass vial with a label and be a great addition to my display case. The vial shown below is now packed with cotton to prevent the fragments from rattling around.

Of all the things I saw or bought at the show this year by far the prettiest and most significant was the Brenham displays produced by Steve Arnold and Geoff Notkin. These Lucite displays contain a slice of Brenham with information commemorating the upcoming TV program featuring these two gentlemen. The program is aptly named Meteorite Men. The Brenham slices encased in the Lucite displays were taken from a mass found during the filming of the program. I have no doubt that these will become as collectible in the future as Nininger Stars. If you have the opportunity and the means to get one of these little treasures I know you well be very happy. They are something special.

I have been to the Tucson Gem and Mineral show many times. I think that 2009 will rank high in the list of my most enjoyed trips. I met more people and laughed more, and laughing was something I needed this year.