Tucson Show Report 3

18 February 2009

The annual pilgrimage to the mineral mecca of Tucson has come an end, the last few days flying by, and suddenly we are back in California at the Kristalle offices to unpack everything.

The main show seemed to go really well, although it was lacking the hype and excitement of last year's 'Minerals of the USA' theme. It was always going to be a hard act to follow, and I think the TGMS did well with this year's 'Mineral Oddities' theme, with some interesting and thoughtful displays. Attendance was down (I heard a rumour in the region of 10%, and considering all the financial circumstances, that is actually not too bad) but it did still feel busy on opening day and on the weekend.

Set up for the show requires our whole team to get the booth up and running in just 7 hours. Disaster struck early when 4 panes of glass used as doors in our cabinets slid over and smashed, but thankfully the urgency of the situation was understood by the local Tucson glass people, and we had new doors by the end of the day.

The broken glass
Cleaning up the broken glass

Set up Booth
Liz and Ian and Dave Spiller in the distance, surrounded by racks of minerals and empty cabinets.

Robin setting up
Robin setting up a display

Our booth
The finished booth.

Silvers and Coppers
'Metals' display including lots of Native Silvers and Coppers.

Gem Minerals
Gem Minerals, plus those fabulous Sulphurs

Australian case
Our Australia case, the first time we have had lots of great Australian minerals in stock!

Both Ian and Wayne went into our booth at 5am one morning for TV interviews for the local Tucson television stations, plus there were further interviews during the day.

Live interviews
Live interviews at the booth

The show is held at the Tucson Convention Centre, which is one huge hall split into booths, and displays, plus a second smaller hall, which has further booths of mostly jewellery.

View of the Convention Centre
View of the main hall in the Convention Centre.

The Collector's Edge had a great looking booth, plus this massive fossilised tree trunk which you couldn't miss at the entrance to the booth. This is from a new find of petrified wood in China. I did feel sorry though for the guys in the Edge crew who had to be there at 2am to get the tree trunk set up in the convention centre whilst there was no one else around!
Collector's Edge booth
New find of petrified wood from the Junggar Basin in Xinjiang, northwest China.

One other new find at the show was of Cuprites and Native Coppers in the booth of Russian Minerals who had a new find from the Rubtsovskiy Mine in Siberia. This find was made last year. The Cuprites formed very large crystals several centimetres across, and the arborscent Coppers were quite attractive. There was also some associated Native Silver. An article of the new find has been printed in 'Mineral Observer'.

Native Coppers and Cuprites from Russia
Native Coppers and Cuprites
New Cuprites and Silver, plus Native Copper specimens from Rubtsovskiy Mine, Siberia, Russia.

The Vug had their own stand this year at the show, and their magazines literally flew off the stand - this quarter's issue is Mineral Oddities, and last quarter was Mineral Fakes - be sure to get your copy before they are out of stock! The constant laughter floating from this stand certainly kept the atmosphere of the show happy!

Justin and Brandy from The Vug
Justin and Brandy from the Vug

Next door to The Vug was the stand of Mindat.org, which also was constantly surrounded by people. Sorry Jolyon, my photo of your stand was not so flattering, so I am going to leave it out of my report - but be sure to check out Jolyon's show reports on www.mindat.org.

So on to the exhibits:

The famous Atacamite after Mouse, as seen on the cover of the Vug's Mineral Oddities Magazine:

Atacamite after Mouse
This piece is preserved at the Fersman Museum in Moscow, Russia.

Agates from Brazil
A case of unusual Quartz Polyhedrons - Agates (?) from Brazil, all with straight edges and sharp angles from the shape of the vug they formed in.

Casts of Minerals
Quartz casts after Halite (?) from the Altas Mountains, Morocco - the pictured specimen was the one used on the cover of the Arizona Mineral and Fossil show guide cover.

Carolyn Manchester and her mineral oddities case
Carolyn Manchester next to her case of very cool Mineral Oddities.

Mineral oddities
One of the most recognisable American icons - Mickey Mouse! Quartz Sandstone from Chartre, France. To the left is the 'Banana Peeling' Gypsum from Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico, featured on the cover of the latest issue of Rocks and Minerals.

Quartz Owl from Minas Gerais, Brazil
One of my favourites in Carolyn's case - a Quartz Owl from Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Humourous minerals
A case of 'Humor in Minerals' by Patsy Schmidt

Banquet of Rocks
The Menu for the Banquet of Rocks from the Arizona Mining and Mineral museum.

Banquet of Rocks
The Banquet was put together by Arless and Margaret Nixon, who began collecting rocks that look like food in 1949. The collection was then purchased from the Nixon's and donated to the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in the late 1990s.

Banquet of rocks
Banquet of rocks

For something totally different and odd, the Bonn Museum of Germany had a display of Wine Stones. Wine stones are crystals that form within good quality wine, normally on the inside of wooden barrels when the wine is fermenting, and can sometimes be seen on the bottom of the cork, or in the last dregs of the bottle. Mineralogical research done on Wine Stones by the Bonn museum found there was four types of crystals that occur. Now that would be fun research!

Bonn Museum display
Bonn Museum display
Wine crystal display by Bonn Museum, Germany.


Smoky Quartz fish
The Smoky Quartz 'fish' complete with fishing rod, and diamond encrusted eye! A very clever and completely natural specimen (except of course for the eye), is about 30cm wide, and from the Diamantina Mine, Brazil.

Jim and Gail Spann had a case jam packed with Mineral Oddities.

Jim and Gail Spann's display
The Spann's display

Calcite tree from Yaogangxian, China
A strange mushroom like formation of Calcite with Quartz and Fluorite from the Yaogangxian Mine, China.

Malachite Christmas tree and reindeer
A Malachite Christmas tree, complete with Reindeer.

One of the centre pieces of the show was this case of Native Silvers by Roz and Gene Meieran of Phoenix, Arizona. These wires from Kongsberg, Norway; Schneeberg, Germany; Batopilas, Mexico; Wolverine Mine, Michigan, USA; Hongda Mine, China; and Chanarcillo, Chile were very drool-worthy. Huge and aesthetic wires and feather-like forms.
The Silver case
Native Silvers - just look at the ridiculous size of the central piece from Kongsberg, Norway! Wow!

Native Silver Wires, Kongsberg, Norway
Native Silver from Kongsberg, Norway

One of the other centrepieces to the show was the amazing Maharani Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl, from Sri Lanka. At 58.19 carats, with semi-transparent golden honey colour, and a very sharp 'eye', this is one of the largest and finest Cat's Eyes. The cat's eye effect is created by the reflection of light off long thin rutile inclusions inside the gem, which is known as chatoyancy. Chrysoberyl is the most prized of cat's eye gems. From the Smithsonian Collection.

Maharani Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl
Sharp cat's eye effect in the Maharani Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl

Maharani Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl
With the addition of a second light source (the flash light of the very helpful Tucson policeman guarding the case) a second sharp cat's eye appears, moving across the gem as the torch light moves.

I think Bruce Carter had one of the best displays of Mineral Oddities, with a great selection of minerals and nicely presented.

Calcite, Fluorite in Quartz vug from India
Calcite on Hemispheroidal Fluorite with Hematite in a Quartz Vug from Nasik, India

Glendonite from Russia
'Glendonite' - Calcite pseudomorph after Ikaite in Clay from Olenitsa, Russia

Calcite from China
Ice-like Calcite from China, and I loved the label - "I know, its a big country, any suggestions?"

Lepidolite on Topaz, Xanda Mine, Brazil
Very attractive Lepidolite on Topaz from Xanda Mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil, which as some one pointed out to me, looked a bit like a lady with her hair flowing down one side. The sharp outline of the Lepidolite showing where the edge of the Topaz crystal was before it become etched away.

Two of the best mineral displays at the show were from the collection of Scott Rudolph and Keith Proctor, I have previously featured their displays in my Denver Show report 2008 part 3. At this show they had yet many more fabulous specimens and there were plenty of nose prints on the glass to the two cases.

Display by Scott Rudolph and Keith Proctor
Display by Scott Rudolph and Keith Proctor

Leadhillite from Tsumeb Namibia
A whopping Leadhillite specimen with sharply formed crystal edges from Tsumeb, Namibia, maybe 12cm wide - brings tears to the eyes!

Calcite from Tsumeb
This Calcite with Hematite and Dioptase inclusions from Tsumeb, Namibia was my favourite specimen at the entire show - the rich red and green colour was just gorgeous in person.

Manganite from Germany
One of the best Manganites from Ilfeld, Germany that I have ever seen, huge super lustrous crystals.

Malachite in Shattuckite
Malachite blades in a vug lined by rich blue Shattuckite from Tsumeb, Namibia

The next two cases I thought were amongst the nicest  displays of Mineral Oddities:

Hats, Coats and Tails
Hats, Coats and Ties, featuring minerals that capped or coated other minerals, or had a bow-tie form. By the Mineralogical Society of Cleveland - well done!

Bow Tie form minerals
Bow Tie formed minerals, complete with button up shirts!

One Scoop or Two?
The Ice Cream Parlor - one scoop or two? Minerals with ball-like formations.

Parallel tube growth in Amethyst from Uruguay
A series of tubular growth in Amethyst from Uruguay, in the case of 'The strange and unusual habits of Pü Tzu'

A mineral oddity
A mineral oddity!

Tourmaline from Nigeria, Africa
Lastly this beautiful and very large multi colour Tourmaline from Nigeria, Africa.

This year we had to have our tea party in secret in our booth but we still had plenty of fun none-the-less with our home made scones, jam and clotted cream and pots of tea! Not to mention the hats!

The Tea Party
The men enjoy the Tea Party.

So sadly another Tuscon show is over, although it is nice to be heading home after several weeks away. All in all it has been a really good show for us, and a lot of fun, and I hope for other dealers too. There has seemed to be quite a mixed reaction to the show - there were a lot less people that attended the show, but those who did came with the intention to buy. However it also seems that the lower end and the higher end dealers were the ones that had successful shows, and the mid-range dealers did not so well - I was very saddened to hear that several friends who are dealers were unlikely to even cover their expenses for the show. We can only hope that this is a temporary state of affairs and that the economies around the world came start to pick up again, and people can get back to enjoying minerals!

It was really great to catch up with all our friends in Tucson, and we look forward to seeing everyone again at the next show!

Author: Robin, your friendly show reporter
Categories: News & Information