Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2012

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2012 was my 20th show. I think it will turn out to be one of the most memorable of all my visits to Tucson. We changed a little from the norm by attending the week before all the big meteorite celebrations. Even before leaving for the trip we were thinking that might turn out to be a great opportunity. It certainly was. We were able to find what we wanted to get for the business without the crowds and before it had been picked over. Almost as important; being there early gave opportunities to sit and chat with dealers and  friends that are often too busy working during the second week of the show. As it turned out we were leaving for home when most of the meteorite collectors were just arriving.

Meteorites, Meteorites, and More Meteorites

For me this was a show with lots of iron meteorites. I had arranged with Anne Black to get some of the ASU rare old irons that she had offered by email a couple weeks before Tucson. I always miss her offerings. I am either at work or asleep and find the emails way too late. But, I had some things going on in my personal life that required me to check my email every few minutes for a severals days. I happened to be looking at my phone right when she sent the list of rare irons. I quickly emailed her to put several aside for me and waited to hear if this time I had been fast enough to get them. Only about fifteen minutes went by and she wrote back that she was holding all but one of those I had selected. I was pretty sure I had no chance on the single piece of Cape of Good Hope and I had been right. So my acquisition of specimens really started two weeks before arriving in town.

A portion of Anne Blacks display cases

Anne Black and Paul Harris

I found more great irons and other stones all week long. There was a rich selection of meteorites at the show this year. But the buzz was the new Martian fall Tissint. I was surprised a little by the number of dealers that had it for sale. It really is a remarkable meteorite. Martian falls do not happen that often and this was a large enough event to provide pieces for many collectors.

Amongst the stones I bought was a large unclassified chondrite from a tent dealer. The price was ok if it actually was a meteorite. A magnet was attracted to it sort of weakly. It looked weird enough that I wanted to get a diamond file and grind off a spot just to check it out. And wouldn’t you know we were never near a tool dealer for the next two days. I did finally get a $2 diamond file and that night ground a spot off the crazy looking rock. Sure enough about an eighth of an inch in I hit a tiny grain of iron which comforted me that I was right about it being meteoritic. I had picked up three other unclassified stones and there was no doubt in my mind about them. The crust and color of the large one was strange. There were little circular rings on the surface. They made me think of bubbles that had been broken off leaving just the bottom ring and cup like depressions behind. When I got home I put it in the saw to get a view of the insides. I cut off an end piece and about jumped out of my socks. Here is where I would usually insert a couple photos of the cut face, but you will have to wait because this one was off for characterization (the same day) to a lab. There will be photos and an article about it later.

My weird stone that is a secret for now

We always visit a very friendly dealer of tektites and get a flat or two and I usually find one or two individuals for myself. This year I really limited my glass buying. I got one large Chinese dumbbell, and two moldavites with strange color, one of which I gave away. It was that large dumbbell that got my bag pulled aside at the airport x-ray machine. It was tucked away in a zipper pouch and it took the inspector a minute or so to find it. Then he said, “just another rock, thanks.”

As I mentioned, this year going early we had the chance to spend some time talking to friends. Most shows they are so busy that we just pock our head in and say hi and let them get back to work. I got to actually sit down and have a great conversation with Edwin Thompson for the first time in years. We chatted about old friends and other things, I found out that Patrick is fascinated by the Titanic story like me. I was so comfortable in one of ET’s chairs that I let Paul go on without me and caught back up with him later.

Larry, Patrick and Edwin all pretty happy I think to be back at another Tucson show.

There are always some exciting meteorites at the show. This year we had Tissint the recently arrived Martian Shergottite. But, there were others of a more strange and unusual nature. High on that list has to be D’Orbigny. As an Angrite it is rare enough. With its numerous and large vugs up to 2.3 cm in diameter, druses containing augite, and huge green olivine crystals it sets a new standard for strange. D’Orbigny may be exceeded in strangeness by NWA 6693 another of ET’s wonderful treasures. Nicknamed “Super Green” it is under continuing investigation by researchers. What a beautiful meteorite it is.

Unpolished side of a slice of D'Orbigny with several vugs.

Close up shot of the edge of a slice of D'Orbigny

We finished up most of our business stuff by the end of the second day and decided to head down to the wholesale show and look for treasures for our wives on the third day. What a surprise when we got there to find out the Holodrome show was not to open until the day after we left. But, there were several huge tents for another part of the wholesale show that were open. We had great fun looking through them. Paul found something beautiful for his wife and I found a ruby pendant for Sara my lovely wife. We got a few other little things there too. Then we headed a couple blocks over to the Tucson Electric Park to look around.

We walked a while, got an early lunch and ran into Steve Arnold one of the Meteorite Men. I was just finishing buying that diamond file finally. We chatted and looked a booth he was interested in. But, he showed us the most tremendous metal sculptures. It may even reveal the source of his information about where meteorites can be recovered. He seems pretty friendly with this very tough looking alien or even Predator.


We had dinner plans out of town with Paul’s brother Tony and his girlfriend Tricia. We had met them for dinner the first night and had a wonderful time. They had another evening free so we met them in the middle over at Casa Grande for dinner again. It was another great time with two people who have become dear friends of mine.

We spend a lot of time at the Tucson City Center Hotel which I guess will always be called the Inn Suites by meteorite people. But, we did hit several other hotels during our stay. We had spent a morning over at the Riverpark with Erich and Silvia Haiderer. That is always fun and we find some great items both for the business and me personally. This year I got a couple of eucrite cumulates amongst other meteorites. We had also been by the Ramada to see Blaine Reed and I always find something there. A neat little slice of Apache Junction went home with my this year. We ran into Eric Twelker in Blaine‘s room. It had been at least twelve years since I saw him. He is always at the show but I had not run into him for all that time. We went over and said hello to Mike Miller on the other side of the hotel and had a great visit with him. We were really benefiting from being there early. Normally, we would never have been able to spend the time we did. Mike’s room just glitters from the brightly etched iron slices. Beautiful material and he should certainly be proud of the fine work he does.

Slice of Apache Junction from Blaine Reed


Slice of Apache Junction from Blaine Reed

After our hunting was mostly done we do what many others do. We wander around revisiting rooms. Bruno and Carine are always one of our first stops, but we return a couple more times. I have to find that special meteorite we need to offer the next year and get something neat for myself. They are fun to chat with too. After that we go just a few doors down and see Peter Heydelaar in his room with meteorites and gold. He and his wife are great to spend some time with. They were way too busy the first time we pocked our heads in, so we just waved and came back later. A few nice meteorites left with us on that return visit. We paid a couple visits to Pani Ahmed who always has a smile. Some LDG left with us for the business and I found a slice of NWA 4328 an impact melt for my collection. At this point it has to be a pretty special classified NWA for me to buy it. I am moving more and more to the historic meteorites for my collection. But, I have a second database that I run; and that is for just my unclassified stones. I do add a few to that list each year. We stopped by Mike Farmer’s room when we first got to the show and went back a couple more times over the next days. Always a great display of exotic meteorites for sale in his suite. There is also material from Moritz and Eric Olson. Just next door is the room of Serge and Dima. We chatted with them and saw some of their photos from meteorite hunting trips. They are always full of enthusiasm. A nice room to visit if you are feeling the blues.

We were in and out of Geoff Notkin’s Aerolite Meteorites suite several times. He was each time very busy doing what he does best, being an ambassador of meteorites to a knowledge hungry public. He had some particularly wonderful meteorites this year. I will present just a few for your viewing pleasure.  Here he is holding a very fine Sikhote Alin.

While it goes without saying that he had a room full of exquisite speccimens two more caught my eye this year. The first is a wonderfully shaped Campo in the more natural state that I really like my irons left in, and the second is a slice of Esquel so thinly cut and transparent that it really shows the clarity Esquel is known for.


There is a long list of other personalities from the meteorite community that we ran into. And unfortunately a long list of friends we missed who came in after we left. Overall we really had a fine time this year. We got done with work early and got to enjoy ourselves more. I guess in summary this trip was as much about our friends as it was about the meteorites.

Here are a few more pictures from the 2012 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.

This is a large 1/4 x 3/8 inch inclusion of what I image is troilite in a slice of Goronyo an H4 chondrite. But, it is the most coppery colored inclusion I have ever seen.

A small fragment of Limerick a meteorite on my want list for a while

Here is something you do not see every day. Iron shale pieces from the largest Mundrabilla individual. They were collected after it was hauled away to the museum where it now resides.

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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