The 2016 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

This is the 10.7 gram Sariçiçek howardite that I found at the gemshow. It has the most wonderful frothy blowback on the trailing side.

To tell the truth I do not really know how many times I have attended the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show but it has to be close to 25. I start getting excited about going just about New Year’s and struggle to get through the month of January. This year Paul and I went for a shorter time and very early. We arrived on Saturday morning the first official day of the show. We made the rounds that day visiting and saying hello to everyone we could. I found a couple items. I wanted to get a piece of Bingöl the fall from September 2, 2015 in Turkey. Which by the time of this writing has been made official with the name Sariçiçek. I did not need to have a big piece just a representative specimen. I found a nice broken stone and got it. I expected I would see a bigger and better stone to get as a complete individual. It is always fun for me to have one that shows the inside for photography and one that is near perfect externally. I also found a quite nice fragment of Nkayi an L6 fall from March 1, 2009 that I had missed in my witnessed fall collecting. It was very reasonably priced. Both of these were from Mike Farmer. As it turned out we would not see Mike again during our stay at the show. I looked around at all the fine meteorites that were in the dealer’s rooms but no others called my name on the first day. I have reached an age and place in my collecting that the meteorite needs to be a little special for me to buy it.

We spent a long time chatting and catching up with Edwin Thompson. He brought us up on the latest news about his sci-fi book “Earthunder” and the awards it has won in the past few months. I was pretty excited for him. I have begun a new book myself. It will have again a very narrow appeal. But as he and I both said a writer needs to write for themselves as much or more than for the readers. In my case it is also about taking history, filling in the gaps of a story and writing it down so it is not lost.

Paul and I had not checked into our hotel and we had dinner plans for the evening so about four o’clock we headed toward the hotel. We had a few difficulties this year. The room they gave us did not have some working amenities, and so we had to get another room. We got to it and everything seemed fine only to find out quickly that things did not work in it also. They were able to fix the second room and we had no more trouble. We had been invited to share a dinner of french cuisine with John and Dorothy Kashuba, Anne Black and Paul and Wendy Swartz. However, Paul and Wendy were sadly not able to join us. The meal was wonderful fun. I had the Filet au Poivre Vert which was delicious it was served with some thin sliced potatoes that were cooked in a light sauce to just short of crispy. I had a nice garden salad as well and lots of the sliced bread they kept bringing. Paul had the Beef Wellington, and I think John had the same steak I chose. Anne and Dorothy had Chateaubriand Bearnaise Sauce for 2. I mention this because it was a far departure from our normal Mexican or comfort food diet that we get at the show. I passed on the Escargots Au Chablis and Pate Maison but they were certainly enjoyed by the others. At desert time I was able to practice my french and ordered the “Gâteau au Chocolat et Mocha” the Chocolate Cake which was also delicious. It was great to get to spend some time with these friends. We usually see them only in passing at the show.

Sunday morning we had an appointment to look at some meteorites and see if we wanted to buy them. As it turned out there were about five different types of meteorites for us to decide on and it took the greater part of the day for us to go through them. But we could not beat the company we were with. It was again a group of meteorite friends that we do not get to spend much time with. Sunday afternoon we were able to get back to the Hotel Tucson City Center again and do some more visiting and I did a little more shopping for myself. I saw that ET had some Healdsburgites in his room. I had one tiny one that I was asked to destroy in a flame test, but have been looking for a couple for my collection. So I picked out a pair of very nice ones. Edwin told me about some of the research that has been done on them and how they look more extraterrestrial then once believed. In fact they have been called by the researcher as not of “earthly origin”, so not obsidians. Maybe I don’t have to do that flame test.

This is a 12 gram specimen of Healdsburgite a natural glass found in a small area of central California.

During the morning’s meteorite sorting I had found in a group of Sariçiçek howardite stones one that I should not pass up. I had not made a firm decision at the time and needed to finalize that the following morning. In our next visit with ET I would show him that spectacular stone. It is the one at the top of the article. We stopped by Global Treasures and checked in with Pieter and Debra. As always we had a great visit with them.

Dinner was again taken care of as we had been invited to go to L’Abner’s by Rubin Garcia and Bob Cucchiara. We had never been there before so this was a new treat. This year’s dinner with Rubin and Bob and Mike Miller also include John Humphries and Jana Becker and others. It was great and the food very nice. We told some stories and laughed much. As we were leaving we passed the window of the other dinning room and people were waving at us. There was ET and John Sinclair and Fred Olson and some others so Paul and I went back in to say hello. They were finished with their dinner so we were not crashing their party. It was nice to say hello to John Sinclair. I rarely get to chat with him. I needed to thank him personally for the nice piece of Persimmon Creek I had received from him. It had been an unexpected bonus gift in a transaction we had worked on a couple years back. We did not stay long and headed toward the hotel. The wind was getting fierce and the weather turning very bad. Tumbleweeds and sand were blowing across the road on the way to the hotel. It had been warm but was going to be cold with rain and high winds the next two days.

Monday morning was cold and there was some wind. I was glad I had brought my coat even though it is a nuisance and I never have room for it in my bag. I usually bring it and never put it on. This year I used it much of two whole days. The low temperature for Monday was 38º F about 25ºs lower than on Sunday and it was going to drop another 10ºs by Tuesday. We had a meeting at 1 pm Monday afternoon and had stops to try and get in before that.

We had not been to see Mike Miller’s room even though we had dinner with him the night before. So we visited him first thing Monday morning. As always his room just gleamed and glittered with etched iron and pallasite slices. Blaine Reed is around the corner at the Ramada so it was off to his room next. I found a few things there as always. He had two small but nice pieces of Sena a very old fall from Spain that is almost never seen. Actually from 1773 so that fit my toughening requirements for purchase. I bought both fragments. Down and around the end of the building is Said’s room and we looked at his nice NWA material. For about the fourth time we ran into Al Lang and said another hello to him. He got deep in negotiations about a stone so we moved on to our next hotel. We would see Al a few more times during our stay and actually get to chat longer at his booth in the ballroom of Hotel Tucson City Center.

Though they are small it was great to find these two fragments of Sena which fell November 17, 1773. And though not as important as L’Aigle in changing minds about the origin of meteorites Sena too has historic significance.

We try to always go by and see Buddy Eisler and Lisa Marie and Pablo over at the Days Inn each year. So we made a fast visit to them to say hi. I get my chance to visit my Moroccan meteorite dealer there too and as always I found several small stones that were just too nice to not take home.

We needed to be done with all our cruising around by about 11:30 so we could get lunch before our 1 pm meeting. We were on schedule and headed to the Fossil and Mineral Show where Suzanne Morrison was to say hi to her and see the Wabar Crater impact material she had. I had bought a selection before the show when she had first mentioned it online. I got some very nice pieces of most of the different types of rocks found at Wabar. So I was personally not looking for too much more. But Paul and I thought we might get something to sell through the business. We did buy a nice group of small pieces that represented all the types of glassy impactite. I wanted a bag of the sand from the crater which had small bits of iron shale and black glass in it just because it is cool. Suzanne graciously gave me one of the baggies. We got to speak to her mom Norma Morrison for a while which is always a pleasure. Right on schedule we headed off for lunch. We had to eat fast and get out fast so we got our only fast food lunch of the trip at Carl’s Jr.

Our business meeting lasted about three hours and was very productive and fun. Always great to get some extended time with friends even if it is mostly business. Was not much time after we finished up to do anything. Once again we had been invited to dinner. So we made our way back to the hotel to just relax a bit after going hard all day. Dinner was just up the road a couple miles and we knew it was going to be more fun.

We had actually gotten to spend some time with Geoff Notkin already this trip but we were looking forward to sharing dinner with him on his birthday. And it was all the fun we could have asked for. Great new friends were made, stories told and heard. We sang Happy Birthday to him and he blew out candles and we all had cake and pie it was a great evening. He invited us back to his house and we had some nice relaxed time to visit in his home.

Geoff Notkin is about to blow out the candles on his cake.

Paul and I got in a little late but since we had no plans for our last day except to let me run around and see what I could find to spend money on, it was OK to get in late. We had been so busy doing business that we had actually not been at hotels long enough for me to look for much.

We usually go for a five day trip. We were a day less this year. Tuesday was our last day. We had our last breakfast and headed to the UPS store to ship back the big load of iron meteorites we had gotten. Our carry around bags were full of the fragile materials we had bought. After the shipping was done it was back to the Hotel Tucson City Center for the rest of the day until it was time to go to the airport. We headed straight to Edwin Thompson’s room. We knew he was getting some Bingöl stones in FedEx and we could use a few more to make a complete catalog page of all sizes. As we approached his room we ran right into him returning with the package in hand. Could not have been better timing. We watched as he began opening the package and unwrapping the stone covered in foil and tissue. He told us to get in there and start unwrapping too. In a minute we had all the beautiful little howardites resting on a padded tray. We found several after he had picked the ones he wanted. Then we got a nice chance to chat before heading off so I could shop some.

Edwin Thompson examining the Sariçiçek howardite stones he had just moments before received from Turkey.

I had not spent more then a few minutes in Anne Black’s room so I headed there to see if I could find anything I needed. I found a couple meteorites. She had a very nice piece of Ausson a French fall from 1858. She had some of the suevite cubes from Nördlingen Ries and I had wanted to get one of those for a while. My buying day was starting off good.

In keeping with a trend for this gemshow of old historic falls I got this piece of Ausson which fell in France December 9, 1858.

The impact rocks of the crater area around Nordingen Ries have been used for building material for hundreds of years. This is a cube of suevite a rock the is often honeycombed with glass and is a breccia of several local rocks that were crushed in the impact.

We slipped next door to visit Aerolite Meteorites. We had already seen all the crew quite a bit. I wanted to get a piece of Old Camp Wash the newest meteorite at the time from Arizona. The largest piece had been found by a farmer but Beth Carrillo of Aerolite Meteorites had found two additional pieces and that added charm to the story for me. I bought a nice slice with a generous scattering of metal grains. It is an L6 chondrite with some mottled coloring of the ground mass, it is an attractive meteorite.

Old Camp Wash 14.6 gram slice

I took off on my own while Paul went to see if he could find some Libyan Desert Glass at the room we go to every year. After a while I caught up with him. He was still sorting through some and I went back off hunting on my own some more. I did not find much just a couple things but had fun looking around. Paul and I met back up about lunch time and saw Greg Hupe, Guy Hupe and Jim Shorten sitting by the food tent. We got a hot dog and chips each and sat down to chat with them. They were heading off the following morning to do some meteorite hunting.

Tuesday afternoon we headed over to Pani’s room. It is always nice to see him. We exchange greetings for mutual friends we have in Austria. I found a slice of a CK6 in his room. I still find it interesting that not many years ago we did not even have some of the classifications we regularly see today.

NWA8500 is an interesting meteorites. It is a CK6 but has some quite visible chondrules and just one or two extremely tiny iron grains. It visually seems to be almost metallic iron free but is strongly attracted to a magnet.

We moved down the side of the hotel back to ET’s room to hang out with him again. We had stayed so busy this trip that we had gotten back to his room far less than most years. This was to be our last visit with him so we stayed quite a while. Larry Sloan was in an out during our stops to Edwin’s room. What a great pleasure to see him every year. Can not ever have enough little irons from Franconia so I got a few of them from Larry. But finally it came time to go to the last stop of our 2016 gem show trip.

We had been in Pieter and Debra’s room a couple times during the show and told them what we were interested in. But this last stop was to finish up actually picking out the meteorites and I got some work done on a project I am doing with them. We were talking and having fun, time was flying by. Paul was practically tugging on my sleeve as the time came for us to head to the car rental return and the airport.

This was in every way a very different and exciting visit to the Gemshow. We did not get to attend the IMCA dinner which was two days after we went home and we missed seeing some friends who came in for the so called “big” weekend. But we saw a surprising number of our friends in the four days and had a great time doing a considerable amount of business.

Just a couple days after returning home I got a text message from Moritz Karl that he had a friend selling a piece of Misshof. I had been bugging Moritz for three of four years at the show to remember me if he ever came across any. Misshof was the last of the meteorites from Latvia that I needed. So I told him I was for sure interested and to let his friend know. This happened early in the morning before I had looked at the “met list” posts. When I did I saw a post from Peter Marmet that he was selling some historic falls and had a thought that it might be him selling the slice. It was Peter selling it and it came wonderfully safely packed with several former collection cards. My wanting to get all the Latvian meteorites is a long story for another time but until a new one falls I have all four of them. Latvia would seem to be an easy country to complete with only four meteorites but it has actually taken me a long time. Getting Misshof was the real end of the gem show for me. Moritz and I joked that I would now have to find another stone to bug him about. And as he said I have a whole year to figure a new one out.

Misshof Fell April 10, 1890 Courland, Latvia H5 Chondrite, Total Known Weight 5.8 kgs

I am already looking forward to next year which again holds the promise of being very different from any gem show trip we have ever gone on before. Life just keeps on changing for us.

About the Author

James Tobin
The Meteorite Exchange, Inc. was born in 1996 with meteorite.com and Meteorite Times Magazine in 2002. Still enthusiastic about meteorites and all things related to them, we hunt, collect, cut and prepare specimens. We travel to gem shows and enjoy meteorites as much now as in the beginning. Please feel free to share any comments you have on this or any of our other sites.
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