Serving The Meteorite Community Since 2002

Tucson Show 2011 Recap

Well another Tucson Gem and Mineral Show has come and gone. I went this year with a lot of other concerns on my personal plate. But, it turned out to be a great time for me and I was for the most part able to forget the other stuff for a few days.

Paul and I hit town on Wednesday afternoon and after some trouble getting a rental car (seems that no matter how early you book one they will still let themselves sell out) we got on the road in something smaller than the 12 passenger van that they wanted us to take at first. We have a routine that we follow after leaving the airport. We hit a couple outlying hotels for material for the business then head to the former Inn Suites to just take enough time to say hello to some of our friends, before heading to our hotel to check in and get ready to meet our dinner guests of the first night.

Paul’s brother and his girl friend Tony and Tricia were coming over for the evening and we were scheduled to play some pool and then go to dinner. It is always wonderful to see them and once again we had a great time. We missed the closing of the restaurant again for two years in a row. But, this year we were out less than an hour after they shut the doors.

Paul, Tricia and Tony after playing pool Wednesday night.


Thursday morning we were up and going for our longest day of acquiring material for the business and seeing our dealer friends. Our first stop is usually the hotel that Blain Reed is at. This year Mike Miller had a room for the first time. I found a few items at Blaine’s room and we had a nice visit with him. While there a man brought in a piece of rusted iron to have checked. It was too symmetrical in shape to be a meteorite and Blaine ran a test on it and it had the characteristics of man made tool steel. We headed around the building to Mike Miller’s room and visited with him for a while. It is always like going into another world full of sparkling beauty when I see Mike’s iron meteorite slices. He has done some of the finest polishing and etching that is around anywhere. Unfortunately, living near the ocean as we do we have to be careful about getting irons. I am farther from the ocean then Paul but even saying that I don’t put slices of iron out for regular display. I just get them out to look at, then put them back in their safe little dry boxes.

The largest amount of our day on Thursday was going through the strip of hotels from the Days Inn to the Riverside. We probed and pocked our way in and out of all the booths behind, between and around each hotel. Then visited the dealers in the hotels that are on our yearly list. We were looking for stuff to replenish our supply of stock and found much of what we needed. I forgot to mention the we had already sent back 19 pounds of material on the first afternoon. Now we were quickly getting to the point of having another shipment ready to go. We worked our way ever closer to Erich Haiderer’s room where we knew we would spend at least a couple hours of great fun looking at all his many meteorites. Erich and Silva are always such gracious hosts and we feel pretty relaxed after all the years of visiting with them. We dig in and inquire about all the meteorites they have. I always find a few specimens that I can not live without in their room. This year was no exception. I got several pieces, but I guess the nice sized slice of Steinbach was the favorite this year. It had been on my short list for a while. There is nothing quite like getting a piece of a meteorite discovered in 1724. As it would turn out I got a couple this Tucson from the 1800’s as well and that is pretty exciting too. We finally departed Erich and Silva’s room with a nice batch of meteorites in the early afternoon and headed to the former Inn Suites for our first real visit there. We would not be staying too long even this time. But, we had the whole next day devoted to there on Friday. We stopped by and saw Pani and I found a nice eucrite that I had not gotten in 2010 so I added that to my growing number of new acquisitions. Down the same side of the hotel was Edwin Thompson who had not been at the show for a couple years it was great to see him. There was no traffic in the room at the time and we had a nice relaxed visit and got to do some good catching up. K and D are there in the same part of the hotel and it is always fun to stop in there. I found a nice admire individual that was cut and polished on one side. It was crying out for me to buy it, so I did. Meteorites do not have to make a lot of effort sometimes to get my attention. Though I am pretty immune to the crackling and popping of the numerous Nantans that were around the town this year. I tell you I can just hear them rusting right there laying in the tents.

Slice of Steinbach chemically anomalous iron found in 1724


Slice of NWA 6488 polymict eucrite found in 2009


Moving on we rounded the side of the building and headed over to see Geoff Notkin and Anne Black at side-by-side suites. We arrived at Geoff’s room and Steve Arnold was there. I had asked Steve to set aside a couple nice pieces of something form the material found on Meteorite Men in the second season. So I was looking forward to find out what he had. He had saved a beautiful large impactite from Henbury and a Henbury individual . The individual was shaped like the letter “J” which I found to be very cool. I have no other meteorite shaped like my initial. We talked a while and I asked about anything else he had with him and he produced a very pretty part slice of San Juan. So I had to have that as well. I think he did a wonderful job of choosing meteorites for me. I should let him pick for me all the time.

The "J" shaped Henbury found on the Meteorite Men Henbury episode


On our first short visit to Geoff’s room we had met a few of the guests that were there and obtained autographed copies of his new book. And what a great book it is. It may become the essential handbook for meteorites hunters for years to come. This second visit they were so busy that it was standing room only and since they are there to do business we moved on hoping for another occasion to chat. Stepping next door we again greeted Anne Black. Over the years Anne has had more than a few pieces that I just had to get. I found some again this year. I guess it is the Agoult slice that is the most thrilling this year. But I did find several meteorites she had that I will enjoy.

The tree section with an embedded Sikhote Alin very cool


Slice of Agoult an almost textureless eucrite


Her suite was also standing room only this first real visit, so we moved on knowing that we would return several more times before our stay at the show was over. We headed down stairs to the room of Bruno and Carine and their always exciting collection of planetary and achondrite meteorites. They never disappoint when it comes to the most exotic of meteorites. There were two complete slices of one of the Los Angeles martians. I thought they were very cool. We chatted with them for a while and they got busy so we bid them goodbye and promised to return later to look again. During the interval we decided to get some of the Taza NWA 859 that they had. It would help replenish a category in our store and one of them was so cool I was destined to have it myself. We did get back and buy up most or all of their supply of Taza individuals.

We spent the rest of the day visiting all the other meteorite dealer there at the former Inn Suites. And I managed to occasionally find something that I could not resist. As for the business we had made a second shipment back of material another 20 pounds. And we were already carrying a bunch more we did not want to ship.

It seemed that we were in perfect sync with the meteorite universe all week. We arrived everywhere just on time; meeting up with whomever we needed to see and at the right time for whatever we needed to do. We just kept running into people all over town like never before.

Saturday morning we did something we never do and that is to revisit the Riverside Hotel area. We had planned to go to the wholesale show and get some items there but changed the plan to get them from tents along the street instead. While there we once again saw the meteorite vendor with the boxes of NWA meteorites for 6 cents per gram. We could not resist getting some. Paul had much greater strength of will and only got a couple small stones. I on the other hand gave in completely and walked away with several kilos of nice stones that had been buried in the bottom of one of the boxes. These I cut the day after getting home from the show. I got some really cool material in the deal. After the return trip to the Riverside and all that we got there we headed to the Tucson Electric Park (TEP). Geoff had a booth set up there selling mostly Campo irons. We arrived just as they were doing the book signing of his new book and I discreetly took some pictures so as to stay out of the way of the Meteorite Men camera team that were there. Only bad part was once again they were too busy to talk, but we had hopes that sometime during the show we could chat.

Steve Arnold and Geoff Notkin the Meteorite Men having a book signing at Tucson Electric Park


Sunday our last day at the show is always kind of a last run really fast at the former Inn Suites to see everyone once more and thank them and say goodbye. Wouldn’t you know it the Meteorite Men were doing another book signing . But, Geoff saw us and paused from his important work to graciously take a few moments to talk. We know that we will get plenty of time over the next year to keep up by email and it was really great to see their success. We as a community owe them a big debt for all their hard work. It has and will continue to rub off on most of the rest of us in the meteorite business.

Once again the Meteorite Men signing books and greeting fans. This time at the former Inns suites


Well that summarizes the day time activities we had this year, but our nights were full as well. Remember I said that we seemed to be in sync like never before. We had planned to have dinner one night with Jason Phillips, Mike Bandli and Rob Wesel. We ran into the guys and began to set the dinner up. They started to tell us where the restaurant was and asked if we knew the area. We said we did that it was only a couple minutes from our hotel. They asked what hotel and we said the Red Roof Inn. They replied that’s our hotel too. So we met them for dinner and then after the evening activities of the Birthday Bash we joined them for some great conversation and laughs. But, the being in sync thing was not over. As we got off the elevator going from our room to theirs we nearly ran down Bob Verish and Moni Waiblinger as they got on the elevator. Yes, they were at the same hotel as well. So they also joined us. We had quite a nice group gathered until early morning. What fun, we never get the chance to spend much time with Rob, Mike, and Jason and rarely see Bob and Moni unless it is to hunt meteorites together every couple of years. The meteorites are great but in the end it is the fine people of the meteorite community that make the non-business part of our trip the best.

We attended the IMCA dinner again this year and had a great time. We sat with Tim and Pat Heitz what fun that was. We got to know them so much better and really enjoyed exchanging stories. It is so loud in the restaurant that I had some trouble with hearing everything.  But, it was still fun and the food as always was very good.

We ate before the Birthday Bash this year. It was going to be the only dinner Paul and I would have by ourselves to talk and relax at the end of our busiest day of meteorite “hunting”. As it turns out I “found” two meteorites at the show. We ran into Larry Sloan who had a bottle of tiny Franconia Irons with him. I thought they would be great to have in my collection and to sell on our site so we accompanied him to his vehicle where we sorted though the bottle. We picked out roughly a hundred I would guess. And I would sort out a dozen or so for my collection later. But, as we were sorting I said “that is not an iron that’s a stone.” And sure enough one of the tiny specimens was a very small fractional gram Franconia with a nearly complete fusion crust. I do not know if it is one of the regular Franconia stones or a different fall found there but it was surprisingly fresh. So I guess I “found” a meteorite at Tucson. Late when we were at the TEP show I found one of the small Campos of about 100 grams several feet from the end of Geoff’s table out in the traffic area about to be buried under the gravel pavement. I handed this to Qynne Arnold and said “that’s the second meteorite I have found at the show“. But, the cute little Franconia is all set up in a display box and will be one of my cutest little meteorites. A special one to remember this year by since all the little ones in the bottle had originally been found by Jim Smaller.

A small group of Franconia Irons picked out of the bigger batch we got from Larry Sloan


The Birthday Bash was as always a hoot. Lots of people and lots of fun. The boys put on the greatest show in town again. This time streamed live on the internet. The Harvey Awards were given out again to a fine group of deserving individuals. I applaud Steve and Geoff for making these choices every year I would be hard pressed to decide from the great group of people we have who to honor. They always ask who found meteorites in the past year and how many. It is amazing how many people get out and do the hard work and are rewarded with numerous finds. Great job all of you, keep up the good work.

Michael Blood’s auction was another success, this time also streamed live to the world. Some surprises were seen. Some meteorites went for much less then I thought they would while others went for much more. But, in recent years there have been very few items that passed with no bids and that was the case again. Only a couple items failed to sell. He has gotten the auction organized really well and checking out is done during the auction for those that want it and after a second line for checking out is done by bid card number. Great job Michael.

A view of the Michael Blood Auction room before the festivities


Well what can I say to close. I went with much on my mind and very distracted but enjoyed this year more than most. So, 2011 Tucson Meteorite Show goes down as one for the record books for me as most fun.

Just as a sideline note that has nothing to do with Tucson this year. I have found a great time passer for others like myself that either can not play video games very well or can not stand the repetitive digital sound effects of video games. It is the Meteorite Men Puzzles at the Science Channel website of the Meteorite Men. They work just like regular paper jigsaw puzzles but are digital. Great fun and there are several different ones figure out.

Until next month, enjoy Jim

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