The 2014 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show Report

This is a large oriented Chelyabinsk meteorite.

Well another Tucson Gem and Mineral Show has come and gone. And I will not make you wait until the end for what I thought about this one. I think we did more good work as a business and had more fun and spent more great time with friends then ever before.

I had a little nervousness about the trip because we were leaving for Tucson a couple days later than we usually do. But, those feeling proved to be unfounded as there was material for us to buy and we found almost everything that we had wanted to get. As for me I went without a list really except I wanted some tiny Chelyabinsk baby meteorites. There will be a lot of Chelyabinsk pictures in this article I made sure to get some since no one knows how much there will be in the future.

Here are a couple pictures of tiny oriented Chelyabinsk meteorites balanced on the head of a pin.

Our plane landed at about 3 pm Tucson time. Which gave us enough time to run to our hotel and check in after getting the rental car and head back down to the Tucson City Center Hotel and spend a little time before going the few blocks to El Charro Restaurant for the yearly IMCA dinner. I found a few baby Chelyabinsk right off that were nice. I would later find some even smaller Chelyabinsk and I would buy about 60 of those. I brought back the lowest weight of meteorites I have in many years but I am sure I brought back the highest number of individual stones ever.

New acquisitions for my collection need to have a higher entertainment factor than they did in the past. And I love nothing more than putting tiny stones under the digital microscope and studying them in closeup detail. Or taking a big chunk of time to photograph them with my macro setup. Guess I got hooked on tiny meteorites after Holbrook two years ago.

We had a great time at the IMCA dinner. We ate with Norm and Cookie Lehrman and Bob and Moni Verish were just a chair away. We got to see a good number of other friends. The food was as always very good but it really is the camaraderie that makes this event so great. I caught up on family activities and the year’s gardening with Norm and Cookie. I had planted a vegetable garden and built a greenhouse since last year and they grow a lot of their own vegetables too.

Bob was as always excited about the most recent meteorites he had recovered. He and Moni were both pretty thrilled with the pictures Paul and I have gotten of the night sky. They have been with us many times when we had scopes and enjoyed hours of stargazing with us after hunting meteorites all day. It started to rain about 9 pm and we were all in the patio area so Paul and I called it a night; said our goodbyes and headed to the hotel. The next day would begin our work.

Friday morning came slowly for me after a long night of tossing and turning with little sleep. We had our traditional breakfast at the Denny’s near the hotel and headed to our first stop; a visit with Mike Miller at the Ramada. As always his room sparkled with beautifully etched irons. We chatted a while and got slices of a few meteorites. We made our way around the corner to Blaine Reed’s room. As always he was sitting on the bed talking to a couple customers. We looked around chatted with him and I found a piece of Saratov that he had. I have a nice slice of Saratov already but I have been looking for a more chunky piece for a while that I can extract the chondrules from. If you handle Saratov at all it will start to shed chondrules. But I wanted to not get chondrules that were cut on one edge. That is what I would get too many of with the piece I already had. The piece Blaine had was much thicker and would give me masses of chondrules only a fraction of which would be nicked by a diamond blade. By the time I got home the piece already had dozens of chondrules in the plastic baggie ready to pick out with tweezers.

This is the chunky slice of Saratov a very friable L4 chondrite and witnessed fall from September 6, 1918. Below is a shot of some of the chondrules had have been extracted for my research project already.

We went around the end of the building and just really glanced at Said’s room. As fate would have it we would return to get some nice material later to his room. But, right then we needed to move along. We knew we had a full day of work ahead and that we needed to be down the road.

We always spend two or three hours with Erich and Silvia whom we have known for many years. So as to not shorten our time with them we hit the area behind the Days Inn and then made our way back to their hotel for the rest of the afternoon. There was another dealer there also that we always see. Behind the Day’s Inn I usually find some meteorites that I can not resist buying. This year was no different. I got just a single stone but it was quite fresh and about 70% complete. Nothing really special but it called out to me. While Paul briefly took care of a little business he had I walked quickly down to Cosmic Cutlery’s room and said hi to Bud Eisler. Pablo was there with the wonderful items that Lisa Marie and he had brought. But, time was not on my side so I had to hurry back and met up with Paul. We headed to Erich and Silvia’s suite. David Haas was there again this year and as always I found a few meteorites for my collection that I could not resist. Not that it takes a lot of effort I don’t put up much of a struggle. I got a nice slice of an anomalous mesosiderite, five oriented unclassified NWA stones that were quite cute, a piece of a NWA pallasite that was heavily weathered but would make for a nice photograph in a future book or article. I found a few pieces of Jbilet Winselwan CM2 and got those. We got a few nice things for the business and while Paul settled up there with them I said goodbye and headed to our other supplier to begin getting together the irons we get every year. I had picked out about half the material by the time Paul caught up with me and we figure doing it this way saved us a couple hours. He helped finish the selecting and we got done with time enough to head back to TCC for the rest of the afternoon. It was birthday bash evening and we had decided to eat before going since it is just too hard to eat there. We needed to return to our hotel and we had no plans to eat with friends that night. After dinner we made our way back to town and the Birthday Bash party for Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold, which always includes the presenting of the year’s Harvey Awards. A great group was there again. We were able to finally hook up with Rob Wesel and Jason Phillips. It had been two years since we had seen them. Jason had gotten caught in the terrible snow storm that hit Dallas and had not been able to arrive on time. We were glad that he made it.

It was a smaller crowd I think as I was able to actually get the bar maid’s attention to order Paul and I some Diet Cokes. Richard Garcia was there and we got to chat with him about astrophotography and California stuff. We need to do some hunting and photograph together with him. Bill and Mike Jensen were there and we had fun talking with them. Geoff and Steve began their program for the evening and we all gathered toward the back of the room to hear them. They presented the Harveys and many deserving individuals were recognized none more worthy than Adam Bates who received the award for being a really good new guy in the community. We had gotten to meet him last year and were looking forward to spending some time the next day looking at his wonderful material. It had been a long day and another couple lay ahead of us still so we did call it an evening a little early.

After another poor night of sleep we were up for the Saturday of the show. We had planned to spend all the day at the Tucson City Center Hotel and see everyone that was there. We had a little list for the business and I had not been doing very much buying for myself so this was going to be a chance for me as well. We had our breakfast again and since we never have lunch at the show its our important meal. We had plans for dinner Saturday night with friends. We always get some pieces of Libyan Desert Glass at the show and we found a nice batch of that. Like everyone else we were looking for Chelyabinsk and we found it for a really fine price in every type you could want. We got some impact melt nodules, some individuals that were perfect and some that were broken on one spot to show off the insides. I saw as we were going through the material some pieces that were in the broken bin and were really slickensides pieces not broken, so I picked up those.

I joked with Edwin Thompson as we stopped by his room that we would be back 50 times during the show so as his room would fill up we would move on with a statement like just 48 more time then 46 more times. Course we did not really visit his room 50 times but we did get to spend some great time with him and Patrick this year. We got to sample his world famous guacamole and chips. Larry Sloan was there many of the visits and as always it was great to speak with him. He is one of the fine gentlemen of our community. But, then there are so many fine individuals in the community that it is just a wonderful experience going to Tucson every year.

We made our way to Anne Black’s room and had a nice visit with her and Molly Phoenix. I found a few meteorites there this year. Of the several I found I would have to say that the Deelfontein, the Orange River, and the Kyushu pieces were the nicest. I had been looking for a couple of them for a while. So gradually I was finding a few items for my collection at the show.

El Sampal is a very attractive medium octahedrite from Argentina and I found a nice slice of it in Anne’s room this year.

We moved next door to Aerolite Meteorites to see Geoff Notkin and his ever efficient and friendly staff. Geoff greeted us and signed a couple of books for us and we chatted for a moment but he was busy. We were able to arrange a dinner with a great group of people including he and Libby for the next night. We knew that was going to be a highlight of this year’s show. But he had work to do so we headed onward.

We always stop and see Pieter Heydelaar and Debra Morrissette at Global Treasures and find a few things to buy. This year we found a few individual meteorites and a nice slice of something we have never offered before. We chatted a long time with them until they also got busy.

Down the same hall brought us to Bruno and Carine’s room with their wonderful material. They had a kind of tough year but things worked out OK and they were in good spirits at the show. They have developed a feel for what works for us and always have a few meteorites we buy. It is fun talking to them they bring great stories and beautiful meteorites.

We gradually made our way through the hotel hitting most of the meteorite dealers. We were going to be back on Monday for several hours and would finish seeing a few then. We did see Adam Bates on Saturday. His room is a delight to visit. Such well prepared meteorites and nearly all are something really interesting. We had a great visit and got to know him a little better.

Mike Farmer was next to visit. We had seen him briefly two days earlier and he was bringing in some material for us to go through. So we made it to his room and got that material and something else as it turned out.

The afternoon had crept up on us and I suddenly realized that I had not spent any money the whole day. So it was a fast trip over to one dealer we had not visited yet to see what he had. He was one of the Russian dealers and we really needed to compare prices on Chelyabinsk anyway. Well, he had a box with some of the cutest tiny Chelyabinsk you would ever want to see. I had no problem finding a few dozen that I could not resist. Of course they did not weigh very much so you get a lot of bang for a buck with tiny meteorites even if the price per gram is not the lowest in town. Still it has been a while since I bought over 60 meteorites for about $.50 or less each. And they are cute little things all crusty and tiny. A high percentage of them are oriented.

Here is a photograph of a group of the tiny Chelyabinsk meteorites that I got. The weights run form 0.024 gram for the smallest to 0.077 gram for the largest of the group. Many are oriented as can be seen on the picture.


This is the group shot of the baby Chelyabinsk meteorites that were a little bigger. Again many are oriented and a couple are actually perfect spheres. I think these might even be fusion crusted individual choundrule because they are not responsive to a magnet. In fact many of these tiny Chelyabinsk have no metal and ignore a rare earth magnet.

These are four larger Chelyabinsk individuals that are oriented. The fusion crust on the one is spectacular. I will show it separately next. The double pointed one is very interesting as well.

Here is the detail shot of the crusty oriented meteorite from the group of four. I has a wonderful domed face and a bubbly lip and back. It has flow ridges around the side like the several seen in this shot.

Here is a chose up shot of one of the Chelyabinsk spheres balanced on a pin head.

Now it was time to head to dinner. We were off to a restaurant for the fanciest burgers of our life. Zen Burger was across town and we found it busy when we got there. A long wait was rewarded with a great meal and good fun with friends and a really nice chocolate shake. Paul went for the slight extra cost of the Kobe beef and enjoyed it. The regular burgers were made from Angus beef and I figured my old taste buds could probably not tell the difference. Mine was a good burger too. Our friends headed off for other activities that night and we headed back to our hotel to do some work and organizing. We needed to get some stuff ready to ship back. I suggested that we watch a movie. My wife and I had gone to see Captain Phillips in the theater just a couple weeks earlier. I had already told Paul how good I thought it was. So we planned to pack and wrap up stuff while watching the movie. Really soon I realized that Paul needed to be able to read the subtitles of the foreign language in the film so I wrapped and he watched. It was a great plan I enjoyed the movie again and he seemed to be impressed by it too.

Sunday was our day to go to the wholesale show and get something nice for my wife and this year for three of our granddaughters that are all turning 13. I had a little trouble finding my favorite jewelry girls at the wholesale show but with some help from Paul we did. I found the amethyst heart earrings for the girls and the pendant for my wife that I hoped would be perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift. Even with the difficulty finding my people we were out of the wholesale show in only about an hour. I needed some silver solder paste and I figured I could get that at the TEP show across the street from the wholesale show.

We zipped over to the Tucson Electric Park show and I found my solder and were starting back to the car. Then I saw Suzanne Morrison and Quinn and Steve Arnold and their booth. So we had a great visit with them. Steve was setting up to sign some autographs so we started heading for the car again. We walked a few yards and heard “these are not the droids you’re looking for” as Geoff Notkin approached us. It seems that this kind of thing happens every year, we just run into the best people over and over. Geoff was on his way to the autograph session so we just talked a moment. We would be seeing him that evening at dinner and we were looking forward to that.

A couple minutes later still before we reached the car my son called and said he was outside Tucson and would pass us in a few minutes. I said we would probably be gone by then but he said he would honk the truck horn as he passed the TEP show. So if anyone of our friends heard a semi truck horn a few minutes after we left that was Tom my son on his way to LA.

Getting done early at the wholesale show gave us the whole afternoon back at the Tucson City Center and we made the rounds again. Got to spend some more great time with ET and Patrick. It was a different kind of day for us. We usually go home on Sunday and have just a few hours in the morning to say goodbye to everyone. This trip we would be here a whole additional day. With most of the work done and the package basically ready to ship we kept our eye out for things that we could use, but some of the pressure was off and we could relax a little. So it was story time with ET and lots of laughing. Another visit to Pani where I had gotten a really beautiful Chelyabinsk a couple day earlier. It was a large stone and perfectly fusion crusted and slightly oriented. It was Paul’s turn to find things in Pani’s room. He always sets a few pieces aside for us too so Paul went through those while I found a few meteorites from an old collection that he had for sale. Several Australian meteorites and older USA meteorites that I had not seen for sale in years. I was really happy that I bought them and here are pictures of just three.

This is a slice of Norcateur a 1940 L6 find from Kansas.

Here is a close up of Ovid an H6 find from Colorado from 1939.

Coomandook seen here is a nice reddish colored 1939 H6 find from Australia.

My pile of meteorites was pretty small but I was bringing home some really nice material that I would enjoy. That was more important than the weight. It was nearing time to head to dinner. The Hub is a restaurant/creamery with a modern feel. Sunday night was the group of friends that I could only dream of having the chance to spend time with. Geoff Notkin and Elisabeth Egleson, Maria Haas, Anne Black, Molly Phoenix, Mike from Geoff’s staff and Dave Haas all joined Paul and I for a fabulous good time. The gem show is so busy and the dealers who work it have such a hard job for about a month that it is really special when they make the time to get together with friends. I know Paul appreciated seeing them as much as I did.

Monday was our last day at the show but we did not leave until afternoon so we had a few hours to run around and say farewell to everyone. First thing was to send off our shipment of stuff that was too heavy to carry on the plane. We had packed all the fragile meteorites so they would be safe and we took them with us. This was the best gem show for me in the twenty odd years I have gone. It is always a mix of the rocks and the people. This year was a spectacular blend that I will savor through sweet memories for years to come. Thanks to everyone of you who made it special.

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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