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Tucson, questionable prices?
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Feb 04, 2015 23:43    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

I moved the posts published in Tucson Show 2015 related with the questionable prices to this thread which is much more appropiate.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 02:56    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

The bubbling mineral prizes is a rough reality.
From the point of view of the North-American dealers and buyers it can be just a question of buying and selling and it can be only a “take it or leave it”.
Europeans (I ignore the tax policies in most of other foreign countries where mineral collection is usual) have an added aspect. Taxes affecting goods and services are very serious and they affect the mineral market and personal transmissions and heritages, especially in the case of expensive goods (mineral samples).
Very probably, it’s just a question of time, the warnings will light and the authorities will intervene. To sell a private collection will be very expensive… for the seller-collector! The (European?) collector must begin to ask for the corresponding invoice to the dealer.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 03:13    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Accustomed to a relatively stable mineral marked last decades I’m astonished to the spiral increasing of prizes and now, I’m absolutely lost and out (I cannot understand anything). At Munich, past October, I saw some concrete pieces valued x10 compared with the same samples in October 2013.

When I was a child I learned that the market is based on the real money mass (if people have money they can buy). If it is true, there is something wrong in the mineral offer.

It’s easy to understand that a singular piece can have a high (a very high) price. It’s harder to explain why “normal” samples, that arrives to the market literally by tones, can reach prices over three zeros.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 06:04    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Carles Curto wrote:
The (European?) collector must begin to ask for the corresponding invoice to the dealer.

This is very likely, Carles. Just wait and see. But when the time arrive (of asking for an invoice) the European seller can say The price is €1000 plus 21% VAT, and the buyer may answer Sorry! I'm no longer interested in this specimen. Good bye!.

What happens next?
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 06:12    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

The next?

Perhaps some significant amount of "normal" (?) collector will deduce to attend mineral shows is lost time and that it's the moment to left minerals aside.

Perhaps some mineral dealers will be obliged (by circumstances) to left their current job.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 06:37    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

A (real) anecdote of Munich 2014:
I was with a friend, a good level mineral collector, and we were in a hidden corner at the show watching some Pakistanis and Afghan samples. My friend had an Afghan elbaite, not too bad, not enough good, on his hands and, knowing the current startled market, he asked for “a” (not for “the”) prize. The Afghan dealer said, oh! just 24 (24000) euro… but “only” 18 (18000) for you.
No words.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 06:39    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

As Riana often reminds me, 'mineral specimens are luxury items (not what we need to survive)'. Reasoning from this platform, a dealer can ask what he/she wants; nobody is forcing the buyer to purchase. However, coming from South Africa, where the Rand is > 11 to the $, it is amusing to note that some specimens sell for an X amount whereas ones of the same quality could be purchased at a local dealer in SA for a fraction of that price (in some cases more than one hundredth)
Some specimens are so special and unique that you can pretty much ask what you want for them. I do not think many will debate that. But, when a dealer prices a mediocre specimen with the intention of catching the novice collector, I feel that is unethical and wrong!
As for photographing a dealer's specimens up for sale, if the seller has nothing to hide, why would they refuse you! It only advertises your site and products.

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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 11:32    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

I am also in Tucson this year having visited most shows since 1991. I am also astonished by many of the prices of relatively ordinary specimens of common minerals. But it is not only a question of increase in prices. The whole market is changing with showy decorator specimens completely dominating the show. I have been walking around for days and it has become increasingly difficult to find what I after 50 years of systematic collecting of high quality, mineralogicially interesting and unique specimen consider interesting mineral specimens. What is sold here now at astronomil prices is to a less extent works of nature - and to larger extent the result of skillfull preparatpry work and display techniques. The number of different species offered on the shelves have decreaed dramaticlly over the years. The dealers are all competing in selling the same kind of specimens to the new breed of investor style collectors. Personlly I get tired of looking at the same type of tourmaline, quartz and beryl specimens with multiple K prices. It may be my last show here. To me the magic is gone.
Knut
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 12:20    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

I think there is a growing divergence between mineral collectors interested mainly in the scientific side of the hobby and those who are only gathering pieces of Nature artwork the same way other (wealthier) people purchase sculptures and paintings. Many of the latter also take minerals as an investing. Dealers, especially the high end ones, obviously prefer the customers that have the deepest pocket, who are numerous, so the larger shows increasingly offer more high priced specimens (works of art) and tend at the same time to expel the budget collectors.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 12:32    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Sorry for the naive question - I have never attended Tucson.
But from what I heard and read, I had the impression that Tucson was catering for all budgets and tastes. Is that spirit gone also?
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 12:51    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

There is certainly a group of collectors that are investing in mineral art, and dealers that cater to them. The very select specimens bought/sold by this group demand what many of us see as stunningly high prices.

But, the great interest in such specimens means it is profitable for dealers and others to mine for specimens. We all know that spectacular and perfect and aesthetic specimens occur only rarely. For every one of these, hundreds of very good and potentially many more hundreds of representative specimens are produced, which do find their way into the marketplace where us mere mortals can afford them.

So, I consider myself fortunate to be able to procure great, but not perfect, specimens I once never believed possible to have, largely because some people are willing to invest in works of nature/mineral art. How many great Helvites were available 10 years ago at under $1000? Not just good ones -- great ones!

For example, none of the beautiful Sweet Home Rhodos would have been available for low 4-figure and high 3-figure money unless there were people willing to spend $100,000+ for a truly spectacular specimen. Yes, I know that some of these specimens are now over $1000+, but the law of supply and demand controls. There were only a few hundred very nice specimens, so limited supply leads to higher price if there is demand. Obviously there is demand as they sell.

Some of the arguments being raised about common minerals are like comparing apples and oranges. How much is a 10x8x8 cm Galena specimen with 3 cm crystals worth? Doesn't it depend? If it is a piece from Bulgaria, one of many thousands, it has some value which also depends on factors like quality and aesthetics. Based on some of the arguments, it should only be worth $50 or $100 maybe, because it is just a common mineral. But, how much should the same Galena from Neudorf, Germany be worth? The same as one from Bulgaria. Maybe to some people, but not many folks I know. Neudorf pieces are much rarer and thus, based simply on supply and demand, will and should command a higher price. So, whether a mineral is a common species has little or on bearing on the value.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 12:52    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Fiebre Verde wrote:
Sorry for the naive question - I have never attended Tucson.
But from what I heard and read, I had the impression that Tucson was catering for all budgets and tastes. Is that spirit gone also?


There are wholesalers to high end retail. With a bit of work, looking at many dealers, there are many great deals to be found.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 12:57    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Carles Millan wrote:
I think there is a growing divergence between mineral collectors interested mainly in the scientific side of the hobby and those who are only gathering pieces of Nature artwork the same way other (wealthier) people purchase sculptures and paintings. Many of the latter also take minerals as an investing. Dealers, especially the high end ones, obviously prefer the customers that have the deepest pocket, who are numerous, so the larger shows increasingly offer more high priced specimens (works of art) and tend at the same time to expel the budget collectors.


Carles,
You are right, but the divergence has allways been there. My experience from previous Tucson shows and from most recent shows in Europe is that high quality and for mineralogically knowledgeable collectors - displayable specimens of also rarer minerals have been more available than this year in Tucson. Those common 20-40 or so species considered "collectible" by the investor collectors seems to dominate completely at the expense of what was previously also offered. You have to dive under the beds and check all the "double keystone" boxes - and treasures can still be found. I purchased a 30 + cm plate of sculpturally arranged perfect and shiny Adular crystals to more than 5 cm reduced to only 250 US - "because white minerals do not sell" and found in one of the "Pakistani gem rooms" a 7 cm specimen with nearly 2 cm perfect Phenakite crystals from an alleged small and possibly unique new find in a pegmatite in Afganistan - not on the shelves with the tourmalines because it was only a rare white mineral. In another box in the room of a US dealer was a DT 6 x 4 cm Xl of rutile from an old find at the Champion mine in California - the best I can remember to have seen - reduced to USD 150. All these 3 specimens will find proud places in my display cabinets, but world class specimens of such species are clearly not considered of interest to investment.collectors. As a result some of the Brazilian dealers offering huge tourmalines from gem bearing pockets in pegmatites admitted there were "other black and brown crystals there not worth saving because they would be hard to identify and would not sell..."
I have enjoyed all the excellent picures of specimens from your collection and feel we have many of the same preferences. But it is sad to note that an ordinary, clear 20 cm quartz crystal (at 3 K) would be more prominently displayed by many dealers here. Many of the specimens you and I cherrish would have been dumped in a box under a bed - or rather not taken to the show at all. I therefore think I will stick to the diversity of the European shows in the future (as long as it lasts..)

Knut
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 14:37    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

keldjarn wrote:
I have enjoyed all the excellent picures of specimens from your collection and feel we have many of the same preferences. But it is sad to note that an ordinary, clear 20 cm quartz crystal (at 3 K) would be more prominently displayed by many dealers here. Many of the specimens you and I cherrish would have been dumped in a box under a bed - or rather not taken to the show at all. I therefore think I will stick to the diversity of the European shows in the future (as long as it lasts..)

Hi, Knut!

Yes, it's very sad, but there's nothing we can do to prevent it from happening.
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PostPosted: Feb 05, 2015 15:01    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

I've been going to Tucson for years and so I understand how the high asking prices and apparent lack of species diversity can dampen your enthusiasm for the show. However, with a little effort a knowledgable collector can find quite a variety of species and plenty of bargains and reasonably priced specimens. The beauty of Tucson is that you have every kind of dealer imaginable - super high end dealers with phenominal specimens that probably deserve their 5 and 6 figure prices, those who want to be high end dealers but with specimens that don't justify their prices, middle of the road dealer/collectors, low end high volume dealers, and everything in between. I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to purchase in Milpillas azuirtes, Huanggang genthelvites, Rubtsovskoe cuprites, Pingtouling mimetites, and hundreds of other amazing finds over the years - all of a quality I would never have dreamed I (or most collectors) would have been able to afford. So when you walk into one of the many rooms full of over priced specimens just enjoy the view and then move on to the next - you will eventually find what you are looking for. I'll be back next year looking for more great specimens like the Milpillas brochantite I just got from Jordi Fabre, the Smokeyhawk amazonite/quartz/cleavelandite I picked up from the Dorris family, or the Sidi Lahcen Baryte I bought from a young Moroccan guy in a tent near the Carl's Jr. Long Live Tucson!
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PostPosted: Feb 07, 2015 21:00    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

keldjarn wrote:
I am also in Tucson this year having visited most shows since 1991. I am also astonished by many of the prices of relatively ordinary specimens of common minerals. But it is not only a question of increase in prices. The whole market is changing with showy decorator specimens completely dominating the show. I have been walking around for days and it has become increasingly difficult to find what I after 50 years of systematic collecting of high quality, mineralogicially interesting and unique specimen consider interesting mineral specimens. What is sold here now at astronomil prices is to a less extent works of nature - and to larger extent the result of skillfull preparatpry work and display techniques. The number of different species offered on the shelves have decreaed dramaticlly over the years. The dealers are all competing in selling the same kind of specimens to the new breed of investor style collectors. Personlly I get tired of looking at the same type of tourmaline, quartz and beryl specimens with multiple K prices. It may be my last show here. To me the magic is gone.
Knut


I have been to Tucson before in the better years before the current Economic depression and I will say it was a better experience than what I am seeing and reading about here. Greed and Profitability is the number one game and interest especially for the higher end dealers. How else can they justify these kind of pricing schemes that equate a specimen to more than a brand new car. I also strongly dislike seeing many of the same common species being displayed whereas rare species are hidden in a forgotten lot or flat.

Carles Millan wrote:
I think there is a growing divergence between mineral collectors interested mainly in the scientific side of the hobby and those who are only gathering pieces of Nature artwork the same way other (wealthier) people purchase sculptures and paintings. Many of the latter also take minerals as an investing. Dealers, especially the high end ones, obviously prefer the customers that have the deepest pocket, who are numerous, so the larger shows increasingly offer more high priced specimens (works of art) and tend at the same time to expel the budget collectors.


The reality is that with the growing disparity and growing wealth inequality especially in America mineral collectors are being marginalized and alienated on the lower and mid-end tiers for affordability in terms of specimens. The reality is that the average median household income has dropped by nearly $5,000 since 2007 for American households and coupled with "REAL" (not government reported) unemployment , debt and inflation figures we see an increasing trend towards artization of specimens. If this trend continues perhaps within a decade only the most wealthy will be able to afford mineral specimens while the rest of us will be struggling to find any jobs or even a source of income let alone a mineral specimen. This would mean that the 1800's has returned where only the wealthy or nobility could afford specimens.

GneissWare wrote:
There is certainly a group of collectors that are investing in mineral art, and dealers that cater to them. The very select specimens bought/sold by this group demand what many of us see as stunningly high prices.

But, the great interest in such specimens means it is profitable for dealers and others to mine for specimens. We all know that spectacular and perfect and aesthetic specimens occur only rarely. For every one of these, hundreds of very good and potentially many more hundreds of representative specimens are produced, which do find their way into the marketplace where us mere mortals can afford them.

So, I consider myself fortunate to be able to procure great, but not perfect, specimens I once never believed possible to have, largely because some people are willing to invest in works of nature/mineral art. How many great Helvites were available 10 years ago at under $1000? Not just good ones -- great ones!

For example, none of the beautiful Sweet Home Rhodos would have been available for low 4-figure and high 3-figure money unless there were people willing to spend $100,000+ for a truly spectacular specimen. Yes, I know that some of these specimens are now over $1000+, but the law of supply and demand controls. There were only a few hundred very nice specimens, so limited supply leads to higher price if there is demand. Obviously there is demand as they sell.

Some of the arguments being raised about common minerals are like comparing apples and oranges. How much is a 10x8x8 cm Galena specimen with 3 cm crystals worth? Doesn't it depend? If it is a piece from Bulgaria, one of many thousands, it has some value which also depends on factors like quality and aesthetics. Based on some of the arguments, it should only be worth $50 or $100 maybe, because it is just a common mineral. But, how much should the same Galena from Neudorf, Germany be worth? The same as one from Bulgaria. Maybe to some people, but not many folks I know. Neudorf pieces are much rarer and thus, based simply on supply and demand, will and should command a higher price. So, whether a mineral is a common species has little or on bearing on the value.


There is not just a group whereby it sounds like you are downplaying or minimizing the reality that dealers are catering more and more to wealthier or investor type collectors. I have personal experience where I have seen shows also mostly cater to the higher end collector or pricing for even common species have risen by 10-100x. Take for example at the Bancroft Gemboree an Amazonite/Smoky Quartz thumbnail was selling for $1800 which is close to 100x the real or actual price. That's not just a limited example either.

The majority of collectors are normal people either in the lower or middle classes (just like the 99%) and can only spend up to $100 per specimen. They have families or have normal jobs where they don't get paid a sports athlete or even six-digits ransoms.

The arguments being raised about common minerals are valid whether or not it is questioned. Galena is Galena and it doesn't matter whether it comes from a different locality or not. The only difference may be in the locality name and the appearance or the association of the specimens. Just because a locality is rare or exhausted does not command or even deserve a massive markup. I would much rather buy a Galena from Bulgaria than a smaller and pricier specimen from Germany just because it is rarer. Galena is an extremely common species and material coming from Bulgaria can easily rival other localities in my opinion. So yes it is comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges because the species is still the same. Also supply and demand for Galena overall worldwide is high so you cannot simply mention supply and demand from one less common locality.

GneissWare wrote:
Fiebre Verde wrote:
Sorry for the naive question - I have never attended Tucson.
But from what I heard and read, I had the impression that Tucson was catering for all budgets and tastes. Is that spirit gone also?


There are wholesalers to high end retail. With a bit of work, looking at many dealers, there are many great deals to be found.


I also disagree here especially if you are a foreign collector or traveller. With the recent fall of the Euro and other currencies in comparison to the USD it means you have to spend more of your countries currency than you normally would. This is not including air-fare , lodging , accommodations , food , entertainment etc...

Even then for Americans as I mentioned earlier the best situation was pre-2007/2008 before the onset of the current Economic depression for mineral acquisition and in terms of price-wise the 1960's before "Artization" of minerals occurred from the 1970's and onwards.

Yes deals can still be found but the price/quality ratio is not what it used to be.
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PostPosted: Feb 07, 2015 22:17    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

I found a couple of specimens that I paid less than half of the price listed on a 2005 label. Yes, exchange rates hurt but I have still found a number of bargains. I am having a great time!
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PostPosted: Feb 09, 2015 02:16    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Jim and I bought a large wonderful Chinese Fluorite today, about 20 inches by 20 inches and in great shape. No oil, no repairs. The dealer has hauled it for fifteen years and was excited to pull it out from under the table skirt to show us. We bought it, for the price it was fifteen years ago! They were tired of hauling it around.
We have said no to things we feel are common minerals that are, in our opinion, overpriced.But will pay well for something "significant" for our collection. I love a bargain, seen plenty of them around the show and in some of the tent set ups. I see prices to suit everyone here. If you are willing to spend time looking, you will find great deals. And I always ask "What's the best you can do?" and when they tell me, I have the option to buy, or not buy.

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PostPosted: Feb 09, 2015 09:30    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Every person has the freedom to spend his/her money the way he/she wants, so if the price is adequate for that person, why not buy a particular piece.

Since my purchase means are rather modest (pathetic might be a better term), I found myself shifting into microminerals, and hence into photographing those tiny specimens. When I see the price sticker in any of the posted photos, I can not help but wonder the equipment that I can buy (microscope, camera, lenses, adapters, etc, etc) with the money asked for those minerals.
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PostPosted: Feb 09, 2015 10:34    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

crocoite wrote:
I found a couple of specimens that I paid less than half of the price listed on a 2005 label. Yes, exchange rates hurt but I have still found a number of bargains. I am having a great time!


Hi Crocoite. I had to chuckle when I read ' exchange rates hurt '. The Australian $ is worth .78 US $. One US $ = 0.086 South African Rand. For us South Africans, it is near impossible to buy mineral specimens from other countries. We swop. At the same time it is wonderful for us when we sell specimens abroad as we get paid in US $.

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