Mineralien Hamburg, December 2010Last Updated: 21st Jun 2011
By Amir C. Akhavan
Mineralien Hamburg 2010
(The Show that Jolyon Missed)
by Amir C. Akhavan
I've been at this show every year since I moved to Hamburg - a total of 12 times. I live only 4 kilometers away, and there is no excuse for not going.
So I thought it's about time to write a little report.
Most of you have probably never heard of this show - although it is one of the largest in Europe. There are basically two reasons why the show gets very little press: first of all, the show takes place a month after Munich, so there's usually little to report that hasn't been shown on earlier shows. An occasional but notable exception in the past have been finds from Scandinavia.
Second, this is an end-customer show, not a dealer's show, there's no "dealers-only-day" and relatively few sales are done between dealers or by the lot. The show is not so much targeted at the specialist collector or "high-end" collector, but more at the "casual" and "moderate-income collector", at people looking for lapidary, decorative and esoteric stuff. I guess for a number of visitors it's the first encounter with the mineral and fossil world.
What you see on the tables is about what you see on all the other medium and large mineral shows. Due to its location in Northern Germany, it is a bit easier to get certain things here than at other shows, Baltic amber, for example, was advertized in the program by 21 dealers, and certainly offered by more.
The show takes place in 4 exhibition halls at the Hamburg Messe area, only about a kilometer from the city center.
It has seen its best years between 2002 and 2006, with 400 to 430 exhibtors, the numbers have been declining since, in 2010 there were 371 exhibitors listed in the show program, 126 of them international. Unfortunately, I don't see as many minerals from Scandinavia and East European countries as I did a few years ago, and I hear a lot of complaints that the mineral and fossil dealers' place is in part taken by dealers of other, "not so mineral" things.
I've asked a few dealers at the show about it, and it is seen more as a reflection of the general downward trend in mineral collecting than as something that is specific to that show. On the other hand, according to information given to me from the management of the Messe Hamburg, the number of visitors has remained stable in the past decade, counting about 25000 each year. I'm not in the mineral business, so take all I wrote with a grain of salt.
Each year the show hosts a number of special exhibitors (museums, clubs, collectors, etc.) in a special exhibition area in one of the halls. The exhibitions are organized by Rainer Bode of Mineralienwelt.
This year's program was:
- Polish minerals, with contributions from the University of Krakow, the salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia, the Spirifer Geological Society, the Lwówecki Ośrodek Kultury for the Lwówek Śląski Agate Summer, the Dinosaur Park in Ostrowiec, and Dietrich Meyer;
- Flint, with contributions from the Eiszeitmuseum & Gesellschaft für Geschiebekunde and from Ewa and Dariusz Siemońscy;
- Agates from Scotland, with contibutions from the National Museums Scotland and from Lord John Mackenzie, Earl of Cromartie
- Agates from Bulgaria, with contributions from Johann Zenz;
- Goethe and the language of minerals, with contributions of the Mineralogical Museum of the University of Bonn;
- Diamond, with a contribution TU Bergakademie and terra mineralia, Freiberg;
- An exhibition on studying geoscience by the TU Bergakademie Freiberg.
When I came to the show on Friday, I immediately run into Tomasz Praszkier of Spirifer Geological Society who was taking pictures at the Dinopark exhibit. Jolyon had planned to come, too, but due to bad weather his flight was canceled.
We went to the exhibition area where I met the "delegation" from Lwówek Śląski. Being members of the Wallonian brotherhood (a guild founded in remembrance of a guild that immigrated from the Wallonie in the middle ages and introduced lapidary handcraft to that area), they were wearing their habit, a red robe and a hat, and were serving Lwówek beer, ham, cucumbers, bread, and - wodka.
The area around Lwówek is famous for agates, and there were a number of showcases with excellent specimens.
The Spirifer Geological Society had a number of show cases with minerals from various Polish localities.
Tadeusz Zając, Jan Serafin, Maciek Grzyb and Tadeusz Dzieżyc of the delegation from Lwówek Śląski in the traditional habit of the Wallonia Sudetica Brotherhood together with the Deutsche Edelsteinkönigin Julia Hess.
Agates were a major focus of this year's exhibition, so apart from the Polish agates there were contributions from Johann Zenz (agates from Bulgaria), Dietrich Meyer (agates from Poland) and the National Museum of Scotland (agates from Scotland and New Zealand).
A special guest was the well-known Scottish agate collector Lord John Mackenzie, the Earl of Cromartie. Lord Mackenzie, head of the clan of Mackenzie, was wearing the clan's kilt on all three days of the show - and it was not really warm outside in Hamburg.
Then there was the very nice Feuerstein exhibition about flints from all over the world.
Hamburg is literally surrounded by flint. I can step out of the house, bend down and pick one up. Zillions of tons weathered out of Upper Cretacean and early Tertiary chalk and were spread all across the Northern European Plain by glaciers during the last ice ages.
It was about time to have an exhibition devoted to this stuff that most mineral collectors find terribly boring. Fossil hunters will be more fond of it.
There were many other things to see. In the exhibition about the etymology of mineral names by the Mineralogical Museum of the University of Bonn, for example, there were some objects for connoisseurs of illegible yellowed labels from the 19th century - the one in the photo below perhaps not being the "best" example.
All in all, it was a pretty social event, and since there was a large table with good beer at the Lwówek booth, there was a gathering of exhibitors, organizers and Messe management on Friday.
"Na zdrowie!" (and everybody has to raise one's glass - there's really no way around it ;-) )
A minute later: "Have another one! Na zdrowie!"
And so forth...
Then suddenly - "Amir, you're cheating!"
Yes, I was cheating. At least I tried to - at the evening in the restaurant I even asked the waiter to bring me water in a wodka glass. Didn't work very long, though, water just looks too different.
If you think I'm just a wimp, wait till you come to the 1st Mindat Conference in Lwówek Śląski!
See you there!
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