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GeneralTucson 2016 and pricing

5th Feb 2016 18:32 UTCDavid DeCourcey

I am amazed at the prices of some of the pieces shown in the Live Report by Jolyon.

I don't want to start a thread about the haves and the have nots, but am curious if thumbnail prices are also participating in this somewhat crazy pricing?

5th Feb 2016 19:47 UTCSusan Robinson

Yes, in my opinion, they are.

5th Feb 2016 20:07 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

Human eyes seem to have an irresistible impulse to point their owner's body towards the largest, most brightly lit cases, where the highest prices are. If you can muster up enough self control to resist this urge and go poking around in the many lower-wattage regions of the Tucson shows, you will find lovely specimens with far far lower prices, a shorter string of zeros.

5th Feb 2016 20:31 UTCDavid DeCourcey

I may be biased, but I think thumbnail sized specimens are under appreciated, and many times can be found at bargain prices.

5th Feb 2016 20:57 UTCHenry Barwood Expert

LOL! If I could sell all the minerals I've collected over the years at "Tucson" prices, I wouldn't HAVE to win the lottery!

5th Feb 2016 21:25 UTCBob Harman

Look at Jolyon's pictures of Rock Currier's JTI wholesale room with the myriads of flats of many many moderately priced minerals. Rock's wholesale room is only one of many and yet the greatest travesty in this is that all this stuff is far more than the mineral collector world can absorb and it is still way overpriced.

While the highest end specimen pricing is largely reasonably appropriate for its rarity and quality, it is the absurd pricing of much of the common midrange material that concerns me.......and since I have a narrowly focused collection, I am not even interested in much of it. CHEERS.....BOB

5th Feb 2016 22:26 UTCSteve Rust Manager

Even if you can not afford the specimens, just come and look at the fabulous minerals and the spectacle that is Tucson.

6th Feb 2016 01:55 UTCD. Peck

I will be there next Tuesday, but I intend to keep my wallet closed and locked (I wonder how long that resolution will last?) :-(

6th Feb 2016 04:36 UTCRudy Bolona Expert


That would be great if we could make a fortune selling our collections based on today's prices, but the reality is we most likely wouldn't even break even. It's funny how specimens are worth a fortune when you buy them, but when you want to resell them all of a sudden they are not worth that much. It's like buying a car and as soon as you drive it off the lot... well you know.

6th Feb 2016 04:46 UTCHenry Barwood Expert


About 50 years ago I sold a specimen for $1.00 to a dealer. He sold it to another collector for $25 (a lot back then). I asked the collector why he didn't buy it from me and save $24 and his reply was that the dealer had only quality specimens and my piece was of lower quality. Even all these years later, my mind spins when I think about it.I have rarely sold anything over the years after such experiences.

6th Feb 2016 19:54 UTCTravis Hetsler

The prices in all ranges at Tuscon are climbing steadily year after year. Even thumbnails, which once upon a time were a cheap alternative to larger, and more expensive specimens, have exploded in "value" from just a mere 5 years ago to the point many are no longer worth purchasing unless they are unmounted (and even then you have to buy quantity to get a deal on that one good thumb you want, then sell/trade off the rest).

Go to the smaller shows and spend time digging through the flats, boxes, and barrels of minerals and you will have better luck at finding value-priced specimens. Inn Suites is great for eye candy with some deals if you get there a day or two before the show officially opens, then try to clear your eyes of the spectacular "por" specimens and ask the dealers to see smaller pieces they most certainly have stashed away. BARTER for the best price, and I say that boldly because I see so many people walk away from a deal completely because they do not understand that the price listed is VERY negotiable. Some dealers are actually insulted if you do not play the game of negotiation that is an art form to them!!!

One last thing, get a tax ID! Being able to buy things at keystone (half price) versus net (retail) makes the investment more than worthwhile, although having purchased from around a hundred of dealers this last trip only one actually asked to see my tax ID lol!

Happy Hunting!

7th Feb 2016 21:05 UTCHolger Hartmaier


Although I don't collect thumbnails exclusively, a significant portion of my collection does consist of thumbnails. In general, I agree that prices have increased across all specimen size categories including thumbnails. The previous posters have all included some tips on saving money and seeking out bargains that apply regardless of what your Tucson mineral spending budget may be.

I agree with Bob's post that there is a large amount of mid-range material which seems vastly over-priced, considering the quantities available for the potential market. Consider the tent after tent of Moroccan minerals and Indian zeolites. Individually, the specimens are great quality so there is no excuse for not having a nice looking vanadinite, azurite, blue barite, cerussite, galena, skutterudite, heulandite, apophyllite, stilbite, etc. in your collection as there are vast quantities of each to choose from. However, from the sheer quantities available, you would expect that dealers would be eager to move this bulk material at under $10 a piece, just to generate cash flow. Unfortunately, this is not happening. I still see stuff at the show that looks like the same material I saw 2 years ago.

If you are a mineral collector that purchases minerals, there is no doubt that you need to come to Tucson just to have the opportunity to see the greatest variety and price range of material available. However, you also need to decide for yourself what your price point is going to be for a certain quality of specimen and be prepared to haggle for it. As long as your purchase is within that limit, then it doesn't really matter what the overall price was that you paid.


7th Feb 2016 22:36 UTCJim Allen

Alfredo and Holger are right: there are plenty of quality specimens to be had among the tents and booths away from Inn Suites and Westward Look. I collect primarily small cab sizes. I've been coming to Tucson for 9 years (I now live here) and I think I'm having my best show ever. It started with some very nice fluorite, calcite and sphalerite from the Elmwood Mine (Tennessee) and marcasite-phantomed calcite from the Linwood Mine (Iowa) at the Kino Park show. Weinrich Minerals had a very nice sale at the Tucson Show Fixtures store--nice worldwide pieces and reasonable prices. The Just Minerals event at the Elks Lodge had a wide range of prices, definitely with some bargains (e.g., a very nice Piedra Parada Amethyst--$40).

Certainly, there is no reason to leave Tucson without great-quality Chinese and Moroccan minerals, regardless of your budget. From the Chinese dealers, I got a decent rhodo/fluorite combo, a really good chalcopyrite/siderite combo ($20), stibnite, and a cinnabar that will be quite nice after a little trimming. Among the zillions of gleaming chunks of Huanzala pyrite I found the octahedral specimens I was looking for, and Ucchuchacua rhodo to boot. From Moroccan tents I got dyscrasite/acanthite, cobaltoan calcite, and azurite. This year also brought the best selection of vanadinite on white barite I've seen. Again, to find quality it takes some searching among the tents--I did well at the Ramada and Day's Inn. Yes, there are lots of damaged and unattractive pieces to go through, but there is good quality as well. Negotiating over price is expected. I suggest carrying a pen and notepad to help with the language barriers.

I apologize for going on and on, but I am really pleased with my finds--all without setting foot in the high-priced venues, or risking divorce by paying their prices. It's renewed my faith in the Tucson experience.

Happy hunting.


8th Feb 2016 00:42 UTCD. Peck

JIm, Great response.

8th Feb 2016 06:08 UTCAlfredo Petrov Manager

Since I got to Tucson last week, I've bought lots of interesting new things. Celestite crystals from Spain that fluoresce 3 different colors under different wavelenths of UV: blue under SW, green MW, yellow LW. A Japan-law twin with a native sulphur(!) inclusion. And too many other weird goodies to list. And I didn't pay more than a 2-figure price for any individual piece. Even the Collectors Edge (certainly not famous for cheap specimens) have a half-price booth in the Inn Suites lobby with some really beautiful specimens priced from $75 to $300.

So, when I hear the many people whining about how they can't go to Tucson anymore because the prices all have too many zeros, I just figure they must be walking around the show with their eyes closed. It's like people saying they can't go to a car dealership anymore because the Lamborghinis are beyond their budgets. It's nonsense.

8th Feb 2016 14:41 UTCJohn Michael Franceschi

Alfredo and riteon!!!....still many great deals in Tucson just gotta dig in those ' low wattage' areas.....john

9th Feb 2016 02:00 UTCPaul Brandes Manager

I don't know Alfredo, I've seen some mineral specimens priced higher than a Lamborghini, not that I'd want a Lambo; I much prefer AMG Benzs myself. :-D

But seriously, don't we engage in this conversation every year about how expensive Tucson minerals are? And every year someone comes along and says they found great deals, they just had to walk around and search them out. I have never been Tucson, either for the show or otherwise. Someday when I do make it out for the show(s), I'm sure there are deals to be had just like every other show across the land, one just has to look.

12th Feb 2016 13:17 UTCKenton(KC) Dalby

I had asked Jolyon from some pictures for in tune with the "middle class" collecting group and he did do some. The thread ran on face book for several days with a lot of interaction. The general consensus was that there are many reasonable, good quality specimens at Tucson, but you need to do the leg work to find them. You won't find them at The Westward Look Show, so search the allys and parking lots. Just like any mineral show in the nation, "sleeper" specimens are available, one just has to look and not jump at the first piece, but don't wait too long!

12th Feb 2016 19:06 UTCPhilip Persson Expert

Just returned from Tucson having acquired ~15 flats of very nice minerals for my online business as well as for my collection (including some 'classics' and rarities) at quite reasonable prices. Finding these 'deals' however requires a combination of skills- knowing minerals well, first and foremost, but also not being afraid to 'dig' through jumbled flats, under tables, behind tents, etc, and not being afraid to buy something good that is unlabeled and unpriced when you know what it is and what it is worth. Being in the 'right place at the right time' helps as well; e.g. I was able to acquire about 4 flats of very nice golden Calcites, Fluorites, and Sphalerites from recent finds at the Elmwood, Tennessee mines by offering cash on a lot in a tent down at the Electric Park show (some more well-heeled collectors/dealers wouldn't be caught dead at such a show ;) on the day the dealer was packing up to start driving back to Tennessee that afternoon. He said he'd had a good show and didn't want the extra weight, so keystone+ on everything that was left for me. This included several large, flashy golden calcite clusters for $200 or less, of which I had seen nearly identical pieces at 'wholesale' shows for >$500. The next day down at the Pueblo/Riverpark (also largely a flea market-esque hodgepodge) I found some great crystals of Parisite-(Ce) up to 5 cm(!) from the Snowbird Mine in Montana... 5 of the best ones on the table only set me back a hundred bucks. Oh and there was also a wonderful cluster of sharp Genthelvite crystals to 2.5 cm. from Huanggang without matrix for 50 bucks buried in a box of oiled fluorites down the way at the Howard Johnson. Back at the Innsuites, deal were also to be found... stumbled on a keystone sale of an Australian dealer who'd had a slow show and picked up a huge, ~700 mass of native bismuth from the classic Kingsgate, Australia locale for $250, as well as a sharply crystallized hand-sized group of tetrahexahedral copper crystals from the Quincy Mine, Michigan for slightly more. From Alfredo Petrov I acquired a wonderful wiresilver thumbnail from the classic Beaverdell Mine, Canada for the princely sum of 18 dollars. Up the road at the Executive Inn, I cherry-picked a great flat of lustrous Andradite garnets from the classic Stanley Butte, Arizona area from a new find for less than 300 bucks... I also found a 6.5 cm. crystal of Monazite-(Ce) for 16 dollars, and a sharp 2.5 cm. Alabandite crystal from Merelani with wurtzite crystals for only 20! Friends, there are super, super deals to be found at Tucson, you just have to dig in! ;)


Phil Persson

Denver, Colorado

12th Feb 2016 19:10 UTCPhilip Persson Expert

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention, I ever found some great deals at the Westward Look show! No joke, I bought ~5 specimens from a special double-keystone flat, including a good cubic magnetite with halite & calcite crystals from the ZCA Mine in Balmat, NY for $25, and a hand-sized specimen of gemmy grossular garnet crystals with clinochlore and diopside from the classic Faollo Pass, Aosta, Italy for $50! Guess I must be a high-roller now... ;)



12th Feb 2016 21:50 UTCMatteo Chinellato Expert

lucky this sellers find people not know the real prices of minerals and buy minerals at super inflated prices
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