An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin


Gem Shows

I never try very hard to go to all the Gem and Mineral shows that are put on in Southern California. I do make it to the Costa Mesa shows. But the regional and local gem and mineral shows usually never get a notice.

Last month though there was a show in Long Beach and it caught my eye so I went. Mineralogical Research was attending and I had not seen Eugene and Sharon for more than a year. Paul and I were unable to attend RTMC this year where we always get to spend some time talking to them.

The show was only six or eight miles from my home so I went over on Saturday morning to check it out. There was free admission; another bonus.

I started on the west row of dealers and worked my way across the room row by row. No meteorites for a long time; a few tektites scattered here and there. Mostly in the new age booths, being sold for their mystical properties. Found one in a mineral dealer’s stall. It was a philippinite. It had a little chipping that was old, but a unique texturing on the surface. It was only $6.00 so I got it even with the chipping. Wandering on I found a dealer with a weird collection of all kinds of unrelated mineral stuff. She had a fossil pine cone that was very small but exquisite. I had always wanted one and for just eighteen dollars I considered it another bargain.

Soon I was at Mineralogical Research’s booth and said hello. Talked for a few minutes till they got busy then wandered some more. There was a booth with some slices of meteorites. Very nice material and very high prices mostly rarely seen pallasites. I saw some NWA unclassified material selling for $1 or more a gram. That was interesting. There was a really nice fully crusted Plainfield for sell at a book dealer’s booth. But $400 was not what I wanted to drop for it. It was a gray brown on the outside, but did have a nice shape. Maybe it will be around still in the future.

One Chinese dealer had some very nice tektites for sell. They were large and very shiny. Reminded me a lot of the Thailand material of the past. But, when I looked at some of them closer I saw that what were clearly recent chips had a frosted appearance on the chip surface. They had been treated with a glass etching solution to try and conceal the fracturing and make them sellable. I was pretty disappointed that this had been done. Most of the people at this show would never realize that they were altered. But, to me it was just one step from criminal to mess them up that way. Chipped specimens are just part of selling tektites. Most chipped one will not sell and you have to figure out something creative to do with them. Cut and cab them drill them and string them. Anything except try to fix them with some fluoride chemical.


After a while I made my way back to Mineralogical Research and got into a conversation with Eugene about radioactive minerals. While we were talking I heard Sharon say to a customer, “Go see that gentleman in the orange shirt” referring to me. This lady had one of those gift bags that you buy for a party gift when you have no time to wrap it. Brightly colored with a cloth string handle. She handed it to me and inside was an object that she wanted confirmation about. It was your typical Campo of about three kilos. I told her that is what I thought it was. Sharon had told her the same thing seconds before. It was not a space potato. It had a pretty nice shape and was in OK condition. But, there was a lot of fine powdery rust on the outside. It did a little flaking as I handled it. I told her to wire brush it and treat it with a gun oil. It left my hands smelling of iron oxide till I could wash them up. She had gotten it some time ago and just wanted to know from someone that it was real. At $40 a kilo she had not paid a terrible price. She left very happy. This kind of thing happens to me rather often as I walk around shows. People often want a second opinion their chunks of iron.

One more fast look around the show and I was on my way home. There is another show in a couple weeks. This is the twice a year Costa Mesa show. I will try to make it to this one. Always like to go and see Southwest Meteorite Lab. Marvin brings lots of tempting treats. But, I may just hold onto my money and let the amount grow a little for Tucson. Its only three months away again. Of course there are always auctions if I simply can not wait that long to buy something.