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Tucson 2011 - Inn Suites, etc.

Last Updated: 19th Feb 2011

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

Tucson 2011 - Before the Main Show

After the start of the Westward Look Show, and before the start of the TGMS show, there is always time to visit some of the other important mineral shows in Tucson, and in particular the "Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show", or the "Inn Suites" show, as it is still known despite the change of name of the hotel. Here are some photos from the events during this time.

University of Arizona Mineral Museum

On the evening of Friday 4th Feb 2011 I visited the University of Arizona Mineral Museum to view their new exhibition of Afghani and Pakistani minerals, a selection of superb minerals loaned for this temporary exhibition by a number of collectors and dealers.

The evening started with a fascinating presentation from Dudley Blauwet talking about his collecting trips to Pakistan. After this we were able to view some of the fantastic minerals in the new display.

A selection of minerals from the region

University of Arizona Mineral Museum

More minerals from the exhibition

More Afghan minerals

More minerals


Gene Meieran, who provided several specimens for the display, and Gail Spann

We also had a chance to look at the main galleries of the mineral museum

Guests chatting and looking at minerals

From the "permanent" displays - a "Wood Tin" from Durango, Mexico

Cabinet of minerals from Ajo district

Tucson draws people from all over the world to the shows. Here's Yuko Tanaka from Tokyo. We have both travelled a fair distance.

Wulfenite from the Glove Mine, Arizona.

And they even had a British Liroconite!

The Pueblo Mineral and Gem Show

Another show that has kept its name despite the hotel being re-branded - the Pueblo Show. Last year it started a new fine mineral section, and this continued this year, albeit still with a small number of mineral dealers. However, there are interesting minerals (especially from afghan/pakistani dealers) hidden throughout the gem section, so it does pay to hunt around here and not just visit the mineral building.

The Mineral Section at the Pueblo Show

Aisha from Rocksaholics, who sell fine Pakistani mineral and gems

Aquamarine on Feldspar from Pakistan

Pink Fluorite (10cm) from Pakistan

The Mindat Maniacs Mansion

For the second year running I stayed at Ray Hill's Mindat Maniacs Mansion - a large rented house filled with mineral people (including regulars Ralph Botrill, Rob Woodside, Phil Persson and mineral photographers Joe Budd and Michael Bainbridge).

This year was a different house to last year, and an incredibly convenient location, between Inn Suites and the Convention Center, walking distance to both. I hope we can return next year.

On several evenings invited guests came to join the group for a meal.

Rob Woodside (left) talking about rocks to Bill Pinch and his wife

Outside in front of the fire, our usual evening activity (when not using the hot tub)

Rob Woodside relaxing

AGTA Gem Show

Prior to the TGMS show, the convention center is the setting for the AGTA gem show, dealing with everything related to gemmology and jewellery.

AGTA main hall

Gem-A (the UK Gemmological association) at AGTA

My Day Off - Tombstone and Bisbee

This year I only allowed myself one day off during Tucson time - and that was to meet up with my good friends Mark and Stacy. Mark is British, and used to work with me, and they both now live in Phoenix, so came down for the day to meet me.

We went off on a drive, first to the legendary Wild West town of Tombstone. First stop, Boothill Graveyard:

Boothill Graveyard

My friends Mark and Stacy

One of the graves in Tombstone

... and another

Transportation in Tombstone

Guns are not allowed in the OK Corral

And without any personal fear of the Bisbee mob, we decided to make Bisbee our next destination.

Bisbee does indeed have a wonderful climate. And a giant 'B' on the hillside.

Of course, coming to Bisbee means I wasn't entirely off duty. First stop was the Bisbee mining museum.

Outside the museum

Malachite on Azurite from Bisbee

Azurite on Malachite, Copper Queen mine

Cuprite from Bisbee

Copper with Cuprite from Bisbee

Bisbee Turquoise display

Mine Train carriages, Bisbee Museum

And, of course, we had to look into the impressive Lavender Pit workings:

The Lavender pit

The Mindat Meeting

On Monday night about 45 people met up in Rock Currier's wholesale room at the Inn Suites Show for our third annual mindat technical meeting. The idea of these meetings is for regular mindat users to meet each other and to talk about technical aspects of the site - things we are working on, things we should be working on and things we want to keep as they are. I talked about some of the forthcoming developments on mindat, including some new ideas for the mindat home page, which went down very well.

The Mindat Gathering (more people came after this photo was taken)

After the meeting, several members adjourned to the bar for further discussions

The Mindat Bar Meeting

The FMF Party

So why am I doing show reports so late after Tucson? Unfortunately one hazard of visiting Tucson is that every evening is booked solid with social events. On Tuesday I was invited to a party hosted by Jordi Fabre and Gail Spann for members and friends of Jordi's FMF mineral forum, which I am reliably told is the second-best mineral forum on the internet! Appropriately we had Spanish Tapas and very good wine, which explains why everyone seems to be hugging each other in these photos:

Myself and Steve Sorrel (Tasmanian mineral collector, mineral artist and long-time mindat contributor)

Lyudmilla from Mineralogical Almanac magazine (Russia) and Renate Schumaker from the University of Bonn

and of course our hosts for the evening...

The Inn Suites Show

No-one calls it anything but the Inn Suites show, so there's hardly any point trying to use any different name for this show - even though the hotel has changed name now.

It's such a hard life having to go to Tucson every February

This is quite possibly my favourite mineral show in the world - yes I prefer it to the TGMS show because the environment is so much more relaxed here. You can go sit on a chair in a dealer's room and chat, you can steal oranges from the trees, and you can sit yourself down on the floor next to a hundred flats containing minerals at 75% discount hunting for bargains.

Life at the Inn Suites

Posters around the pool

First up is John Cornish, who is quite possibly the nicest guy in the mineral business. And in John's room I started my special quest for this year's Tucson. I was on a mission, with Jessica Simonoff, to put on a display case at the TGMS show entitled "Minerals $10 or under". And the catch was that every one of these minerals had to be bought at the Tucson Shows in the days running up to TGMS. You can see what we managed in the next report, but here was the first specimen obtained, an Arizona wulfenite, for $10, from John.

John Cornish

Next stop, the Crystal Classics/Kristalle clearance sale room. Almost everything in the room is "keystone" (50% off), and by the end of the show the remainder is offered at "double keystone" (75% off) - these dealer clearouts are a great source of minerals for our $10 display.

Robin and Diana

And we checked through every one of these flats looking for our $10 rocks!

Despite the crowds, you always seem to bump into the same people again and again...

Yuko again

Two people I see at most of the shows I visit - Dona Leicht from Kristalle and Terry Huizing from Rocks and Minerals magazine.

Dona and Terry

Rare gem dealers Freakingcat were at the show for the first time (they usually exhibit in the gem shows). They have the most bizarre faceted gems, everything from faceted glauberite to faceted native antimony! Here are a couple of my favourites.

Faceted Kermesite!

Faceted Kernite, and world's biggest Johachidolite (apparently)

Jessica couldn't resist the chance to try out using an air abrader. Sadly we didn't have any galena cubes on us at the time.

Jessica trying out air abrading.

Inside the grounds of the hotel, and immediately outside are a large collection of tents and satellite shows, such as this one, the Granada Avenue Mineral Show.

Amethyst on sale just outside the Inn Suites show

Many of the dealers keep stock crated up next to their tents. Here's some refreshing honesty with labelling on one...

Honest Fossil Dealer

The Adelaide Mining Company had one of the big success stories of Tucson 2011, with their recently mined crocoite specimens from their mine in Tasmania. By the time I got to Tucson, most of their stock had already sold,m but here is a nice group of crystals.

Crocoite from Australia

Of course, if a specimen is too large for your collecting tastes, you could just by crystals by the vial!

Crocoite by the vial

Another new find was a collection of superb calcite crystals with pyrite/marcasite, from Illinois. These were being offered by Saga Minerals.

Calcite from Illinois

Collector's Edge had more of the fabulous Chinese rhodochrosites, this time in nice cabinet sized pieces. Very attractive!

Rhodochrosite from China

Luiz Menezes had some excellent Monazite twins and Stokesite balls from Brazil.

Monazite twins from Brazil

Stokesite from Brazil

and this large Brazilian Mica pseudomorph after tourmaline

Mica after Tourmaline

Jordi Fabre had some excellent specimens he wanted to show me

Azurite from Morocco

Plancheite from Kolwezi Mine, DR Congo

Copper ps after Cuprite with crystalline copper, from Russia

Jon Voelter had this beautiful little Rhodonite from Franlkin, New Jersey


Alfredo Petrov had a small bunch of fossil replacements, replaced by phosphophyllite, from Bolivia.

Fossil replaced by Phosphophyllite

and a mystery rock which was cheaper if you knew what the identity was. I got it right!

Mystery Rock

and to avoid confusion, Alfredo carefully detailed how his particular variant of 'keystone' discount was calculated!

Keystone Discount calculation

Sometime over the weekend I'll post my third and final Tucson report - the TGMS show!

Article has been viewed at least 26294 times.


Hi Jolyon,

Did you get to look at the Copper Queen mine gift shop when you were in Bisbee? Last year I picked up a couple of interesting pieces there that easily qualified for the under $10 range!

Thanks for yet another great report


Timothy Greenland
19th Feb 2011 9:02am
Ooooh, great report Jolyon! By the way, we ended up with that Russian copper above. It is an amazing piece.

Gail Spann
19th Feb 2011 10:32pm
Nice report Jolyon, thank you for posting it. These kinds of reports are nice for those of us that don't get to go (yet!) and they are always fun to read, as much for the mineral information as for the people information. By the way, that Pakistan Aqua from Rocksaholics is the same one I posted a picture of in my Detroit Show Report ( It sure was a nice piece, and it is good to see that they were able to sell it.

Scott Sadlocha
21st Feb 2011 6:02am
Great report Jolyon!! : )

Robin Rennie Hansen
26th Feb 2011 12:01am

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