Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2015

Edwin ET Thompson’s room was sort of ground zero for this year’s show. What fun we had sitting there listening to his stories and telling stories of our own. Of course we told no lies. ET has worked hard all year on a science fiction book titled EarthUnder. It is truly a breath of fresh air in a branch of literature that has not taken a real turn into uncharted territory for a while. This is that journey into the unknown for any of you Sci-Fi readers. We each got autographed copies that we will treasure. Paul and I would wander off into the Gem Show and then return for a rest and a new story every few hours. ET had a wonderful vug rich shock melt L4 chondrite NWA 4860 that called our name so we obtained three full slices of that for our inventory. I liked his nice crusted piece of Berthoud and a full slice of the EL6 NWA 1949 so those came home with me along with his last slice of the shock melt. As with every year some of the most famous individuals in our little niche of science make their way to his room and we met several more this year and heard some of their tells of the hunt. There is always a campfire atmosphere in ET’s room.

Here is Edwin Thompson signing autographs inside his recently released novel EarthUnder the first installment of a thrilling science fiction series called “The Meteorite Chronicles.”

This is an image of the slice of Berthoud. It is a witnessed fall from 2004 in Colorado. It is a wonderful looking eucrite with a nice bit of fusion crust on the right edge.

Just down the way is Pani’s room. He always sets aside something for me during the year. That is if he comes across something special. This year it was a beautiful crusted stone from a new fall. It had one broken spot which was OK this time. The break revealed an area of glassy melt with spider webs of black veins radiating away from the larger black melt mass. If you can see things like that it makes broken spots worth having.

Mreïra fell on December 16, 2012 and pieces were found shortly thereafter. It is a brecciated L6 with melt pockets. I feel lucky to have a stone from this new fall with melt showing. Usually I stumble on the melt by accident when cutting stones into slices.

We had hoped that we could get a tour of Geoff Notkin’s headquarters this trip but he was spinning more plates on sticks this year then normal and we actually only spoke to him for a minute at the IMCA dinner. We did run into his counterpart Steve Arnold several times and spent a little more time with him. I bought a slice of his wild looking and unique LL5 melt breccia. Very cool material if you have not picked up a piece of that yet it is one to think about.

This is a slice of NWA 8655 a unique LL5 melt breccia according to Steve Arnold. It is a fascinating looking meteorite.

Tuesday was our first full day at the show and that for us is always our day away from the Hotel City Center. We have breakfast and then go to the Ramada. We stopped by Blaine Reeds room and said hi to him. I found four nicely shaped unclassified stones there which called my name. If I don’t bring home some unclassified meteorites to play with it just does not feel like I have been to the show. Blaine had a really nice selection and it seemed like he had more this year. Which was not what we saw in many other rooms.

We had stopped by Mike Miller’s room to do some business but he was at his other location so did not stay long there. We went around the end of the hotel to Said’s room the Hi Collection but he was closed with a note on the door so it was off to the next hotel.

It was early but there was still no parking at the Day’s Inn so we did what we usually have to do and parked in the lot on the other side of the Riverside Hotel and walked back. We expected that we would get several kilos of Sikhote Alin individuals before returning to the car from our supplier at the Riverside Hotel so rather than haul it around more then necessary we would go to the Days Inn first.

We walked all the way to the end of the Days Inn and cut through so we would be at Cosmic Cutlery when we went into the back dealer area. Buddy was not there but Lisa Marie Morrison was and we got hugs from her and took a look at the beautiful jewelry that she had made. We share a love of silversmithing. My hope is that I will be just a little less busy this year so I can do some silver work. We eventually bid Lisa Marie goodbye and headed south. Paul went off to get some moldavite jewelry for inventory and I slipped off to the tables of meteorites that are there. As per usual I found a few pieces that intrigued me so my bag got a little heavier. Paul rejoined me really quickly and looked around there too. There were some pretty nice chondrites and some larger Agoudal pieces. But, we have quite a bit so we got no more for the business. He had picked out nice bezel set moldavites and was happy.

It was time to move on back to the Riverside and see Erich and Silvia Haiderer at their Cosmic Highway suite. As we always do we found some material there that would go good in the catalog and we got to chat with them. Sometime during the morning we had gotten a reply from a customer that needed some hand specimens for their public outreach and student demonstration needs. We talked about it and decided that it was easier and maybe safer to get them at the show instead of hoping that we had pieces the right size at home. So we went back to the meteorite tables behind the Days Inn and found some nice chondrites and a large Agoudal to fill that order.

That finished us off over in that part of the gem show. Our supplier for Sikhote Alin had sold all he had the day before which meant we were now on a quest for SA to keep us going for a few more years.

Early after noon on Tuesday found us back at the center of the meteorite world the Hotel City Center.

We found some Sikhote Alin there for an OK price and about as much as we needed. We shopped for other things. I wanted to get some more of the tiny Chelyabinsk individuals. So I headed off on my own to one of the Russian dealers. You get a lot of meteorites for a little money when they are only 10-30 milligrams each. I picked two sizes from two different trays and ended up getting 172 more of the Chelyabinsk. Paul had gone off to pick up the material we had gotten from Adam Bates the day before that had needed to be totaled up. I got lost on the way to meet back up with him. I forgot where Adam and Aziz’s rooms were and I stopped at another meteorite dealer for a glance at their room. I finally got back on track and remembered where I needed to go.

It was time to check in and see if the Meteorite Men were in their room and to sit and take a load off in Anne Black’s room for a minute. Well the boys were not there, but we took some time to look around. I needed to replace my Aerolite Meteorite cap. During the last year our golden retriever went into the garage and had gotten my cap. When I returned from the house a few minutes later he had tore it all up in the yard. So with replacement hat in my bag we went next door to see Anne and Molly. During the course of the show I found a few meteorites in Anne’s room. I had no meteorites from Florida and I didn’t think there were actually very many from there so I got a nice fragment of Grayton. When I got home I looked Florida up and the Meteoritical Bulletin Database actually only shows five meteorites from the state. She had a slice of Gresia an H4 from Romania. It is always good to have another meteorite from Dracula territory. I had a small piece of Ourique in my collection but she had a much nicer 4 gram slice so I did the only upgrade of this year to that specimen. Cold Bokkeveld had been on my want list but rarely shows up and Anne had a small piece so I picked that up and will maybe do an upgrade someday if I see a larger piece but for now that was another satisfying find at the show.

I had a choice of several pieces of Gresia an H4 but this smallest of the slices showed the chondrules the best. Specimen weighs 3.83 grams.

Looking just about the way one would expect a CM2 to look this small specimen of Cold Bokkeveld is black with small inclusions of white and light gray.

We always stop by and see our friends Pieter Heydelaar and Debra Morrissette at Global Treasures. We find something to get for the business most years but it is the yearly re-connection with these friends that is most important. There are usually a few stories told here too. Again no lies of course. For me this is another room with a sitting around the campfire atmosphere. Always too soon it is time for us to say goodbye and let them get back to work. This year we got some really cute Dalgety Downs meteorites. I just love the way Dalgety Downs weathers exposing the tiny bumps of chondrules on the surface. Many of the meteorites still had some fusion crust even though it is clear that they have been weathering for a long time.

This is a 70.5 gram Dalgety Downs specimen showing the chondrules that are striking up as the meteorite has weathered.

I fight the way I was brought up all the time. Both of my parents were raised during the Great Depression and spent money very carefully and never threw away anything that still worked or could be repaired. They did not have to do it either but it was the way they were. I got some of that and find myself over-thinking some of my meteorite buying. We were in Mo’s Meteorites and there was a nice piece of Nakhla with fusion crust and it was just $150 for .077 grams. It was a no brainer but I started falling into my upbringing and actually left the room without the meteorite. Paul in nicer than these words said “are you nuts go back and get that piece of Nakhla” so we went back immediately and I got it. It had been on my short list for ever. I saw a couple pieces of about the same weight without any fusion crust for $1100 each two days later in another room. It is not beyond me to often do some dumb things. Not getting that Nakhla would have bothered me for years.

nahkla meteorite

This is a small but nice half fusion crusted fragment of Nakhla a martian meteorite that fell in 1911. I just love the shiny fusion crust of some achondrites and planetary meteorites.

We stopped by Mike Farmer’s room two or three times during our time at the show. We got just a single meteorite from him this year. I found a couple meteorites that Eric Olson had and got them. One was a nice slice of NWA 1930 an LL3. I am an admitted sucker for primitive chondrites. This one was very nice.

As would be expected with a type 3 chondrite the chondrules are very sharply defined and in NWA 1930 quite abundant. I like the color of the ground mass in this meteorite.

We had free nights for dinner ever night except Thursday which was the IMCA dinner. Tuesday night we had dinner with Maria Haas which was a super great time. On Wednesday night we got together with Ruben Garcia, Bob Cucchiara, and Mike Miller for steaks at Outback. We laughed so much we had the customers in other booths around us laughing. What a great night. We told more stories but I can not be sure, some lies might have been told that evening. But what fun! Then Thursday night the IMCA dinner was at a different location and it was really a better venue. The Southwest Meteorite Center facility (University of Arizona) was a great place for the dinner. Instead of being trapped in a booth at a restaurant we were able to move around talk to people and everywhere were beautiful meteorites filling display cases. Big Thanks go out to Maria Haas and the others in the IMCA for making it a fantastic evening.

Here are two of the display cases we got to enjoy looking at during the IMCA gathering. The Impact Cratering case contained some of my favorite things and the Sikhote Alin case had some beautiful meteorites from that fall. Above the case a reproduction of the painting by P. I. Medvedev that has become so famous.

One day of our visit to Tucson always includes a trip to the wholesale show and the Tucson Electric Park show. So Thursday we headed down there. I always get some jewelry item for my wife and something for her to make into gifts with during the year. This trip I found something nice in amethyst and got some gold dipped chains and gold leaves. Did not take very long there and then it was off to Kino Center Show (TEP) just down the street to see Maria and David Haas at their booth, and Suzanne Morrison at the Aerolite Meteorite booth. We had great visits at both locations and got some more hugs. Paul found a cool Chelyabinsk display with some of the broken glass at the Aerolite’s booth. I had to get a couple pieces of copper in epidote from David Haas to cut into cabs, and I just had to get one of Maria’s great pieces of stone art. I will really enjoy the lamp she made. If you missed seeing her art you need to check it out for sure the next chance you get, it is very cool.

Next day was casual Friday for us no business to do. We had to go home before the Birthday Bash for the Meteorite Men. We spent the day looking at stuff and taking some pictures for this article and saying goodbyes to everyone. I found a few more unclassified stones over at the Ramada. Said was there this time and we spent a few minutes with him. Besides the stones I got we saw some beautiful chunks of Tighert that he had. What an incredible looking fusion crust it has. But, eventually the time came for us to head to the airport and end our visit for this year to the gem show.

It was different this year in some ways. There was less of some meteorites, others were totally absent. There were many that were just as available as in other years some rare ones popped up. Some individuals expressed concerns about the future, but for Paul and I the prospects seem bright and it was a great show and five long days of mostly fun.

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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