An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin

Tucson 2006

There will be many reports on this yearís Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona. I have not done a report in several years. Perhaps because I traveled to the show by myself and it lost a little of its flavor. But, this year the whole Meteorite Exchange was there with Martin Horejsi once again our traveling companion.

It was a great show. More meteorite dealers; really fine specimens everywhere. Lunar and Martian meteorites are becoming more prominent each year. It is amazing how much material from these two neighbors in space has been found.

We hit town on Thursday afternoon. Martin waited at the airport an hour or so after landing for us to arrive. We got a car and headed to the Inn Suites. There was only about an hour to look around before the beginning of the Brenham Meteorite Reception. Steve Arnold and Phil Mani were beaming with pride as they well should after such a find. It is a wonderful meteorite. After meeting and greeting many friends at the Brenham gathering we headed off to look around some more. I had some business with Anne Black and was excited to take care of that.



I had ordered a couple specimens in advance of the show from Anne. I am a little ashamed to admit that my collection after years of building still lacked a specimen of Ensisheim. I was about to remedy that. I had asked her to bring some Saint Aubin also. As can be read in the accompanying photograph of my family heraldry plaque Tobin is the Irish modification of Saint Aubin. My ancestors after the Norman invasion settled in Ireland. So this meteorite has some sentimental and historical significance to me. I could not have been happier with the selection Anne had brought. One of the slices was especially nice though. It has a long spindle of schreibersite, a graphite nodule, and the nice Widmanstštten pattern that Saint Aubin shows.

Anne had a Canyon Diablo slice that spoke to me when I saw it. It was wonderful, had a couple graphite nodules and several other types of inclusions. A nice size at 160 odd grams, it had just been stabilized by Bill Mason a big plus out here near the ocean for CD slices. But, I did not buy it. We had only been in town for two hours. It was a little early to fill a whole shopping list. Our little group headed down to see Marvin Kilgore at the room of the Southwest Meteorite Center. This is a rather new project to include in the future a collection and lab facilities.

It was a buzz of activity, standing room only at the Southwest Meteorite Center. Marvin was actively promoting the center to visitors. We got to say hello and look around. Saw the wonderful display items they have created for donors. The encapsulated Fukang slices are just beautiful. Later in the weekend we got to visit the Center itself and see where everything will be. The mass of the Fukang was there in one of the rooms that will hold the collection. It is quite a meteorite. It has very large olivine crystals with some areas that are nearly solid olivine. We were taken on a nice tour, saw Marvinís office and where the equipment and the collection will be. It is always special to be able to go behind the curtain and see where the magic is done. We stopped by the Southwest Meteorite Center room several times during the weekend and it was always busy.


Thursday evening was getting on and we had not checked into our room yet. We headed down the road to dinner and our hotel. Well, not in that order. We decided it prudent to check in first, drop off our luggage then search for somewhere to eat. We found a Mexican restaurant and had some tasty and spicy food. It was great.

Fed and relaxed a little we tried for some sleep. Paul had worked till an hour before we headed to the airport and I had worked some extra hours at another store beside my own during the week so we were beat. Paul and Martin got nice rest, I on the other hand just could not turn off my mind right away. Took a couple hours to fall off to sleep. It had already been a great first day. I guess I get like a little boy with all these meteorites everywhere. Just too excited to go to sleep.

Morning found me up early as well. I was ready to get going even with only four or five hours of sleep. A stop at Blaine Reedís room (too early) was decided on as the plan to start the day. What a great plan it turned out to be. Blaine was amazingly awake when Martin banged on the door. He was working on a small collection of meteorites that had not yet been shown to the public. Martin and I got right in and started going through them. I found a beautiful slice of Ibitira. And though I will not reveal the price Iíll just say it was really good. I had missed the chance when everyone else in our tektite party group had bought Ibitira from Michael Blood. This was my chance for a great specimen. Blaine went to breakfast with us and we had an opportunity to chat with him something we donít usually get to do at the show.

Friday was off to a perfect start. While Martin hung out at Blaineís room I wandered the tents behind his hotel. I stumbled upon a vendor in the very last tent that had some tektites. I canít remember how but Paul ended up with me there. We found some Guang Dong that was high quality for the business to sell. He found some that have small tektites partly engulfed by a larger one for himself. That is one of the types he specializes in collecting. I found a drastically curved one something I collect, and one dumbbell form. It was nothing very special at first glance. But, it did have one area that made it quite interesting. It had been stretched while plastic. Not as dramatically stretched as the famous Nininger stretched tektites, but it fulfilled a dream of all my years of collecting and selling tektites. And at cents per gram the price was beyond those dreams.


Pretty delighted at how the morning was going we headed down the frontage road to see Erich Haiderer by way of a couple other dealers. Buddy Eislerís room was not open to the parking lot when we went by. But it was open on the courtyard side so we stopped in there. We checked out all the meteorites in the courtyards as we made our way to the Riverside (this yearís name for the hotel of endless names). Erich always has something that I have to add to my collection. This year I found a lot of specimens that like puppies in a pet store needed a good home. Highlights in the list were Ivuna, Orgueil, BjurbŲle, and Igdi. Martin found some nice specimens. Paul found some Ensisheim for the business to sell. So look for us to have that offered in the near future. I was way off my short list of specimens now, and was headed toward bringing home many more locations than planned.

Martin wanted to get up to Robert Haagís room and Alan Langís room at the Westward Outlook. I was designated driver since I had been to Tucson a lot more and remembered where everyone was. Robert was gracious and delightful to visit as always. Again a room full of wonders from space. We got some quality time with Esquel as you can see. But, the fun for me was hearing Robert tell the story of the 17 kg Allende. The story was printed in one of his catalogs years ago but it is a great story worth repeating. The meteorite after being found moves around a lot and almost coincidentally is located by Robert. As you can see it is broken up somewhat, but then soft carbonaceous chondrites should not be used to hold up cars when doing mechanical repairs. The groove you can see in the picture is from performing just that task.

While Robert and Martin got into a lengthy discussion of Nogoya and Serra de Magť I took the opportunity to slip next door to Al Langís suite. He had some truly beautiful and historical pieces. Nininger Canyon Diablos have to be right up there with the best specimens a person can own and Al had some wonderful ones.

The Birthday Bash was bigger and more festive than ever. Harvey Awards were presented again this year to members of the meteorite community deemed deserving of the high honor. The first Peopleís Choice Harvey Awards were given to Steve Arnold and Geoff Notkin. Certainly a presentation long over due.

The fun times ran long into the night and we were literally encouraged to break it up by the turning off of the lights. One would think that this group only gets together once a year the way they just donít stop partying. I was ready to get something to eat after the Birthday Bash and some type of dessert sounded really good to all of us. A stop for that on the way home actually did put frosting on the top of a really extraordinary day.

The Michael Blood Auction takes up a lot of our thoughts Saturday at Tucson. I had been looking around town for prices on items. Trying to see how good I could do just buying specimens. There were only a couple things I was interested in at the auction. Paul and I had obtained a complete slice of PeŮa Blanca Spring several years ago at the auction. We never had the heart to cut or break it so there was never any small pieces created for my collection. It is another fall that I had never gotten for myself. I was thinking about bidding on the slice in the auction. But, earlier I had spoken to Eric Olson who had a slice for sale. When he offered me his specimen just before the auction I said ďletís do it.Ē As it turned out the auction slice half as heavy with far less surface area went for nearly the price I paid Eric. Another wonderful desired fall at a bargain price. As a buyer you have to wait around after the auction to pay. But, if you are a seller it can take even longer to settle up and get on the road. It was once again about 12:45 Sunday morning when we start back to the hotel.

Saturday had been a long day. More tektites had been gotten for selling. I could not resist a Millbillillie individual I saw. And another visit to Anne Blackís room brought again the siren song of the Canyon Diablo slice. This time I gave in and got it. Iím sure that a picture of it will find its way into an article in Meteorite Times soon and in my next book on the Crater.

Marvin had classified two meteorites for us and on Saturday we got the information back on them. I had guessed the petrological type correctly; one a 6 and the other a 4. But, I had thought they were probably both Ls. As it turned out the type 4 was an H. The L6 turned out to be a zenolithic breccia. I had wondered what term they would use to describe it. It had scattered through it masses of a fine grained material free of metal grains. It is always nice to tie up loose ends on meteorites by getting back their classifications. Now we can sell these two with confidence about what they are. I have some more cutting to do I guess.

On Saturday we spent a long time at the Best Western. I got some Karoonda there. I will split this with the business. So you can look for that as well in the near future. As we were heading out we found some NWA material in one of the tents. It was by far the best price we had seen and the material was richly varied. There was very little that even remotely looked like 869. Some was really quite interesting. Martin had said he was looking for some hand specimens to use in educational talks. This was a chance for him to get something. I found a kilo for myself. I will have $50 worth of fun cutting and finishing each of the 3-5 dollar pieces. I have started to label with paint all of my NWA stones. I have gotten them over several years. They remain separately bagged but at some point I will want to display a few. Marking will let me catalog them and keep my purchase history accurate. I find that I am not as good yet at painting numbers and letters on meteorites as Mrs. Nininger was. But they are not too bad.

I think by the time we were done we had probably spent 45 minutes looking at every stone the man had; sending him trip after trip to the scale of the vendor next door. Martin got a few stones and Paul a few also. I think about how picky I am when going through these piles. In reality I am worrying about spending such a small amount of money per gram on these that I should always get more than I think I can use.

It was a great Tucson show. In all I added 22 locations to my collection and enlarged my supply of NWA fun material. Saw all my friends again and made some more. We actually spent more time relaxing and talking to people this trip. That I think is what really made this Tucson the most enjoyable in several years.


Above are a few more pictures from the show. A wonderful slice of Eagle from Robert Haag, Martin and Phil Mani with the Harvey Awards, and a very happy Mike Farmer holding his latest lunar meteorite.


Scale of the Month

This monthís offer is a DWL-2 Torsion Balance scale with a 120 gram capacity. It is accurate on the dial divisions to .01 grams. However, as with all Torsion Balances it is only as accurate as the standard weights places on the opposite pan from the specimen.

This balance does incorporate one feature that has been shown in other scales already. There is a cam operated lifting system to apply calibrated internal weights to the beam. This scale has only four weights for only the 1-9 gram range. All larger weights placed on the pans must still be perfectly accurate or the results will be in error.

It is always gratifying to take the same specimen and put it on several scales and get the same exact reading. It reinforces you confidence that your measurements are correct. I was quite happy when that happened with this cute little scale.