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TUCSON 2015 is now history

Posted by Bob Harman  
Bob Harman February 18, 2015 02:46AM
I find it a bit odd than no one has seen fit to start a thread with comments, discussions and perhaps a few pictures of the recently ended TUCSON 2015 show. So I will start one here as there are now more than several pages of pictures and comments on another mineral forum website. I and 2 collecting buddies from Ohio drove to the show, arriving on February 8. This was my 4th time at the show since about 2000. We started by attending the final day of the hi end WESTWARD LOOK show, then wandered thru a number of venues including motel and tent shows, and ended the show with the first day of the MAIN SHOW at the convention center. For me, and many others, this event is as much a social event as it is a buying or selling event. To be honest I did not attend the Mindat social event as there were a number of conflicts. We left the show February 13 at noon and pushed the return trip to keep just ahead of a major snow and ice storm.

As to "the show", while it had rained prior to our arrival we had fabulous weather the whole time we were there so this made the 2015 experience pleasant thru out. The Westward Look show was eye candy as usual. Well attended on its last day with a few specimen cards turned upside down in the dealers cases. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that much of what you see in the cases of these hi end dealers is actually what has not sold even after personal dealer - customer contacts. I suspect that regular hi end customers are personally contacted by many dealers and if they pass on a very hi end specimen, then that is eventually what makes it into the cases at venues like the Westward Look show. I say this from personal experiences collecting Indiana minerals.

The motel shows and tents were all over the place, especially along and near the freeway. You have to do some reading and researching prior to going in order to know the best and/or most interesting shows. Just wandering thru all these many venues is unproductive if you are looking for minerals or fossils to buy as much of this material is more like a bead market or flea market which did not in the least interest me or my buddies. Much of the tent material seems to be recycled stuff; put out year after year with storage in the Tucson area the rest of the year. There really is comparatively little truly new material from one year to the next. A bit sells each year, but much is really not replaced for several years at a time. Anyway occasionally a nice find can still be found, but it seemed, at least to me, better in the past. In the tents, Madagascar, Moroccan, Peruvian, and Brazilian/Uruguayan stuff is very common.

The motels are often adjacent to the tent areas. These dealers range from lower thru many moderate to some higher end companies. Their material changes more so than the tents as they acquire new items and travel with their stock to each show. Unlike much of the tent material, I don't think any of the dealers store their stock from one Tucson show to the next. As has been noted many times, the prices across the board have risen. Some specimens are truly overpriced while other prices vary from a bit hi to rather fair for the individual specimen. Some dealers just have higher prices than others and as you walk about, you begin to sort these dealers out. I believe that there really are very few bargains to be found unless you happen across a mislabeled or otherwise undiscovered example. The motel and tent parking areas have always been chronically insufficient and were crowded the whole time we were there.

The main show was well done with the mineral dealers largely separated from the jewelry dealers. There were very few fossil dealers as I believe there has become a schism between the 2 collecting communities. The dealers were moderate end to the same very hi end dealers seen at the Westward Look show. In the few years since I last attend Tucson, there was some new material, but I am not sure how much was really new for this 2015 year. The displays were good to excellent quality thru out. Some were extreme eye candy while other were more for the research and "geologically oriented" collector. Personally, I find many of the real eye candy displays to be a bit overcrowded. Some clubs and unfocused collectors try to overstuff all their specimens into the limited confines of their display case, but this is just my personal subjective observation. Attendance at the time we were there seemed good; I am not sure about the true state of business thru out the main show, but it looked ok if you had good specimens at competitive prices.

In sum and in short, great weather, great social event and plenty to see and do apparently with good attendance and rising prices……business, who knows, but probably ok. CHEERS……..BOB
Holger Hartmaier February 18, 2015 06:05PM
Hi Bob,
Thanks for starting this thread. My wife and I had originally planned on attending the Tucson show this year but couldn't make it for a variety of reasons, so it was great to read your report on what we missed. The low Canadian dollar, coupled with the escalating prices I noticed in 2014 didn't help matters either. Was there any evidence of lower attendance this year by Canadians?

I haven't attended the show on an annual basis, so the lack of turnover on some of the dealers' stock wasn't apparent to me during my previous visits. I am fortunate that my wife has some interest in minerals, but is quite content to find a quiet spot to read a book while I cruise through the rooms and tents. On that basis, it is possible, with patience, to find some bargains and sleepers amongst the "eye candy".

We are looking forward to attending the 2016 show.

John Montgomery February 18, 2015 07:35PM
Bob, I'm going to suggest Mindaters where name tags at Tucson!. I arrived the same day and stayed for the week. I would have liked to "bump into you"... not literally :)-D
I got this grossular specimen at a very reasonable price.

John from Ottawa

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/19/2015 02:53AM by John Montgomery.
Henry Barwood February 19, 2015 12:25AM
My tastes run to micro minerals and not "high end" stuff, but I saw little that was exceptional, or new, on display. There were the usual high end tourmalines, beryls, amazonites, etc.

The crowds were awful, and I headed for different motel/tent shows quite a few times when I literally could not even find a handicapped parking space. Several dealers told me that there were good crowds, but few buyers. Of course I hear this almost every year!

I still enjoyed the week of Tucson and managed to find some nice micro specimens.

Henry Barwood
Troy University
Troy, Alabama USA
Jamison K. Brizendine February 19, 2015 01:26PM
I have never been to Tucson, but from the pictures on Jordi Fabre's forum it looked like several dealers offered outstanding specimens. From the photographs that were posted, there was a lot of great cases, especially the Western European minerals. The photograph I enjoyed the most was the Frederick Ashcroft Alpine collection.

I don't know if it is just me, but I have to giggle every time someone says or I read in a magazine, "there is nothing new..." followed up by this phrase... "We are in a Golden Age of mineral collecting".
Norman King February 19, 2015 02:38PM
Well, I just don't have the time now to post much. But here are two tourmalines, both from Paprock, Afghanistan but acquired from different dealers. I thought I'd better buy a few before the prices totally explode, but will not make me feel too bad when the bubble inevitably bursts. I have a few photos from the show I can get to in a day or two.

The "sparklies" just beneath the termination (1.95 cm across max.) attracted me to this one. They vary as the crystal is rotated.

Never had one of these watermelon types until now. The big crystal is 5.3 cm in length. Terminations on green material are oblique; the completely reddish crystals have perfectly flat terminations. Except at upper left corner, all the crystals are undamaged and complete including terminations.
Rolf Luetcke February 19, 2015 10:17PM
We are fortunate to live only 50 miles from Tucson so attended a few times. The prices were a bit higher and harder to find true bargains.
Henry Barwood mentioned being a micro collector, I am as well. The best micros were at the Convention Center in the upstairs micromounters room where I added 23 new localities of Wulfenites for under $80, a true bargain.
I took 250 photos of the Convention Center show and my wife Mary posted most of them on her facebook page.
We also went to many of the venues but the Hotel City Center gets most of our attention.
This year was a down buying year for us and I only found a few things I liked enough to buy.
It is always fun to go to the show and I have always told friends, take only cash you are willing to part with, easy to blow a wad at the show.
It was wonderful weather this year.
Hope many got to go.
John Oostenryk February 20, 2015 10:18AM
I made it down for a couple days at the opening. Arrived the day after the rains. (We drove and hunted locales coming and going from the show. Managed to dodge the rain between stops in NM:)
My travel partner loves field collecting but she is not much for the show- so I only saw a small portion:( I did take time to visit with several old friends and meet some new acquaintances. That is always a joy!
I will say this from several years of attending: Go early if you want to purchase unique specimens at more likely reasonable prices. That stuff gets snatched up by both collectors and dealers~ and is waiting to be resold later in show;)-
Granted- there is lots of nice, higher end stuff out there to spend money on.
I found a bunch of really nice, unique specimens - for under $10, another group at $20. Awesome deals, so look closely people!!! Happy as can be with what I brought back!
The field collecting went really well too~ fun trip all around. Only hard part was returning knowing there was a lot of snow at home to be scooped to get into my driveway, and a scheduled dentist visit waiting... Oh Well!
Good times!
Bob Harman February 21, 2015 05:33PM
Thank you all for your comments and observations. A few additional thoughts and comments from me.

Firstly, I would kindly request that my northern Mindat neighbors try to do a better job of keeping their frigid air up their way! I know you are trying, but it really has been damn cold down this way; maybe Tucson year round is the way to go :) :) !!!!!!

I might just say a few words about Tucson. Parts of the metropolitan area really beautiful, but the general area of the show (except the Westward Look Show) is quite run down. The areas are industrial and residences are really lower end; not particularly nice in appearance. Shoplifting apparently is commonplace in any temporarily unattended motel rooms and despite security, there are occasional car breakins in the parking areas. Show attendees must be aware of this.

Now on to the show. I can't say much about specific attendance numbers, like Canadians and European attendees. But Asians, most probably Chinese, were definitely up in numbers from my previous visit of several years ago; and they seemed to be actively buying.

A number of folks commented that the show is ever becoming longer and longer. Many tent areas, where bargains are to be found and dealers regularly pick up material for resale at other regional shows, are opening earlier and earlier. In essence the Tucson show now runs from mid January thru the main show in February. You (and the dealers) have to arrive by January 15 - 20 to become the early birds getting the worms so to speak.

Jamison B noted that while he has never been to Tucson, he thinks it odd to talk about the lack of "new" minerals at the same time as commenting on the "golden age of mineral collecting". Actually one has little to do with the other. For stamp collectors, coin collectors, collectors of classic cars, rare vintage wines and many other highly desirable collectibles and tangible assets, there is nothing really "new", but for these 1%ers or the "haves" of the collector community, these times really have become a collector golden age for them. Exclusively focusing on and collecting Indiana minerals, I can buy pretty much what I want. A focused collection is definitely the way to go.

While not really "new" there were many many specimens from the Illinois/Kentucky fluorspar district and the Elmwood Tennessee mining district. The best specimens were astronomical in price while even lesser quality examples were selling at hi prices. I specifically mention these 2 locales as both mining areas potentially still have much ore in the ground. I have it on very good information that limited mining has now resumed in an area of the Elmwood Tennessee district with even a few specimens recently coming out. The Harris Creek district (Minerva, Denton, and Annabell Lee mines) of the Illinois fluorite mines still has much potential for economic mining and additional specimens. This is potentially important to the collector community as more hi and moderate end specimens might come onto the market within the next several years. Buyer of these locales beware??!!

One of the highlights of all the big mineral shows are the many quality exhibits. I wish there was a Mindat thread on the art of assembling a really quality award winning exhibit. For me the exhibits are always a must to see and it really does take time and effort to assemble a truly award winning top end exhibit. I have my own personal and admittedly somewhat subjective ideas as to what looks great and what misses the boat when it comes to exhibiting at these shows. First of all, the show theme has little or nothing to do with whether each exhibit case is a winner or loser.

I have 3 pet peeves that constitute the exhibit being a sure looser for me. The first, was briefly mentioned in my previous post. An eye candy case overstuffed with just TOO MANY quality pieces becomes a looser. Hard as it may be, leave a few examples out, esthetically position each remaining example in the case and then this case, for me, might look much better becoming a winner.
The second sure looser for me is the case, usually of mining artifacts or geology etc, where there is just way too much verbiage accompanying the physical material what ever it may be. Standing in front of these cases for longer than a minute or two is like an eternity. You try to read all the discussions and it is like reading the article in a mineral periodical. I just look into these cases, the physical artifacts, and move on.
Finally the third looser case for me is the rather common case containing thumbnails and very small miniatures. While these great specimens look good in flat table top cases, they get lost in the large vertical show cases. I stand in front of these cases and the 1cm great dark blue azurite next to the fabulous 1cm dark green dioptase next to the perfect 1cm dark red cuprite next to the 1cm superb black schorl etc etc all along the back row of the case just look like small black snits. Most cases of thumbnail specimens exhibited in large vertical showcases are losers for me.

So these are a few more Tucson opinions and comments from me. For those who have never gone, it definitely is worth at least a one time midwinter visit.
Donald McCoy March 15, 2015 01:57AM
I always have a great time in Tucson. I missed the first three shows but since then have hit well over half. I only go when I have something to sell, and for the last three shows in a row, every show has been better than the last. That's saying a lot for me as my Tucson mineral dealings have gone from 30% of total in the 70's to well over 90% this year. I am just blown away at how the market price of high quality minerals jumps each and every year. When I get together with my friends and fellow mineral miners, we marvel at each other's outrageous prices for the best we collected. Afterwards, we marvel enviously at how much the dealers sell our material for. Sure, there are occasionally some price downturns when a big hit bursts into the fray, but unlike the 70's, prices take smaller hits because of how large the market has grown. I was able to get exactly what I asked for with my inventory, with very little haggling, and the dealers loved the product. I gauge my successes by how many dealers I have to pedal to. This year was tops for having buyers buy everything offered. It was great knowing I was able to keep everyone happy, and I didn't have to schlepp a bunch of rocks around. At the end, I came away anticipating an even better 2016 show. It really makes you want to dig harder!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2015 02:02AM by Donald McCoy.
Hershel Friedman March 16, 2015 12:39AM
One of my highlights of the Tucson show is the remarkable exhibit cases and the amount of exhibits the show has to offer. I counted close to 100 public exhibit cases this year at the main show! And this year's theme allowed the viewing of a great number of classics from Western Europe. Unfortunately my trip was very short this year - only 2 days, but I still got to take many photographs of the event, and am happy to share them with the world. In fact, I got a bit carried away and ended up photographing almost every single case at the show. I finally got around to going through all the pictures, organizing them, and cropping them. I posted them on my mineral news page at Enjoy!
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