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Building a Great Mineral Collection?
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marvinlewinsky




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PostPosted: Feb 13, 2020 21:20    Post subject: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Hello Everyone:

I am new to minerals, so my knowledge about the science of minerals is still evolving. However I have been looking at the minerals on display for sale at main TGMS 2020 show, and I have been looking through the tents too. I have made a few observations.

1. Excluding gem minerals and a few rare minerals you will not find a display (collector quality) specimen in any size range (miniature/small cab/cab/large cab/Museum) for under about $300. As the size increases so does the price. - in multiples.

2. Display quality Gem Minerals start at about $1500 and increase in multiples.

3. Common minerals in cabinet and large cabinet size start at about $500 and increase in multiples.

4. The cost of common minerals like Quartz and Fluorite seem to depend more on locality and provenance than actual size. A fine Chinese Fluorite seems more affordable than a equally sized fine one from Illinois.

I have looked at the latest addition of Rocks and Minerals, the article by Jeff Scovil about World Class Minerals - some great stuff. It seems to me that World Class minerals come with a World Class price tag. Is it possible to get affordable (<$1000) minerals that are world class? Could you (the viewers) show me some.

Marvin
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 00:15    Post subject: Re: Buiklding a Great Mineral Collection  

Your post is in dangerous territory, as price [except in general terms about general catagories - rather than specific specimens] is verbotten.

That said, the biggest prices are generally to be found at the biggest shows and the main parts of the biggest shows. Smaller shows and the satellite parts of larger shows sometimes [not always] one can find more competative prices.

Prices also vary by country and locality. I have some favorite shows [smaller generally] I go to where prices can be much lower, but at the same time one would have to spend a LOT LONGER looking for high quality - even if when found they are priced more reasonably. If you know a dealer and they let you look at their stock for sale, you might find bargains ...here I'm talking at their home base, rather than at a show. But, that varies and varies with how well you know the person sometimes.

Once one gets a collection going or does one's own mineral hunting, you can trade and that costs nothing. If you have the extra funds, you can buy a collection for sale and take the FEW better pieces and sell the rest and sometimes [if and only if you know what your doing!] come out even - but not always.

Sometimes dealers have purchased large lots of either single mineral or a single location and need to sell some of it at 'better' prices to pay their expenses for the show and travel....and every now and then one can find a piece that for one reason or another has been underpriced [but that is always subjective].

I'm sure others will have other ideas. Don't expect or ask anyone to post images with the prices they paid.... Best keep it general or the thread may well be closed or removed.
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SteveB




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 01:12    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection  

Short answer: yes... but...

Long Answer: are you willing to wait or even work for them yes you can get world class (whatever that means) specimens for under $1k to even free. Fossicking/digging its possible to get them free from the ground where they are and were formed. To dig in a suitable location though requires research and time and luck and maybe money to access.

The probability is low but NOT impossible this way. Plus YOU are NEVER the first person to think they've found a suitable location to look over and many people are coy about talking about where they are looking since they expect to be overnight millionaires and dont want competition. Pretty much the entire surface of the earth has been strongly mapped to about a metre depth for the geological and mineralogical content by all governments looking to mine for wealth. Some areas may be rich in certain minerals but only in a small area making a commercial mine non-profitable to set up. So if you learn how certain minerals form and the associated geologies you can find likely places in mineral survey maps where specimens could be found. Getting to the location is often a hinderance.

There are many fossicking businesses around the world set up on such sites where you pay say $10 entre fee and you spend the day with a bucket and hand trowel picking over the ground and tailings of others and you can get some nice looking pieces for your collection. Of course the museum grade (I prefer this to world class nomenclature) specimens which are already rare are most likely already been found by others, but not always. Most visitors to such places tend to pick over the surface while a foot down is still virgin ground that may contain key pieces. So digging deep and wide often yields better results than does roaming wide. If you learn the geology you can make a better decision about where to dig to better your chances.

There are many people who fossick as an income source and travel around to build up stock to sell or trade and they are often found at "fairs", "meets" and "swaps" where you can pick up great specimens at good prices. These are just regular folks rather than dealers so chat to them and if you want a specific mineral and have a healthy budget in cash on the spot let them know and ask if they have better items not on display. After all they have a LOT of good and great specimens they dont want to keep hauling around which are on the table to sell as marked. Serious pieces are often safely stored for serious buyers rather than on display away from tire kickers and thieves.

But as for buying from dealers and stores the prices are what they are and often inflated because enough idiots out there have no idea and will pay the prices.

As with anything you buy though (not just minerals) a thing is only worth what someone is willing to pay. So you should have numbers in mind when considering a specimen and if you think its worth the money or not. There is also the problem of how natural the specimen is and if that matters to you and your collection. China and India often "enhance" minerals especially those related to crystals and gemstone varieties. Its not just those countries its all over the world, heat treating is the most common method to increase the richness of colour to increase the value and many commercial mines will do this as standard practice. So if you want a high quality specimen as it came out of the ground as nature made it it'll be extremely rare to find and so will cost considerably more. The amateur fossicking/mining people dont tend to have the equipment needed to mess with enhancing specimens so will likely have the great specimens nicely cleaned and unmolested. Crystals often fracture and break during digging/mining so repairs can greatly reduce the value and attractiveness and its not always easy to spot. Again a factor in your buying decision. There is also again coming from Asia places that now grow their own crystals of quartz, fluorite, calcite and other minerals which are chemically identical to nature secimens and spectacular specimens are grown to put onto the market and again its often hard to know for certain if some of these came from the ground or a pressure furnace and this is some of why you have seen price differences between apparently the same thing from different parts of the world.

Another factor for locational prices differences is the mining costs in those locales but mostly its due to the chemical composition of the specimens that results in particular crystal shapes and colours rarely found anywhere else in the world and collectors will pay extra for a representative specimen from that location. For example the Pennys Pocket which is a part of the Rogers mine produces fluorites that exhibit a rich colour change under sunlight that is less pronounces from fluorites elsewhere in the same mine and to my limited knowledge nowhere else in the world. In person the effect is distintive and I dont think has yet been faked so just saying a fluorite is from that location is not proof enough when you hold and see the specimen. So proof of provenance is troublesome and most specimens that command extra value also have physical characteristics that point to the location being correct, so the more you know the harder it'll be for you to be deceived.

As for financial values, its a tricky thing. I repeat anything is only worth what someone is willing to pay so make sure you are happy to part company with the cash under the expectation the specimen can never be sold later on for anywhere near that price. Local lapidary (not a topic for this forum) clubs do often run fossicking events in their local area and a good way for you to learn and experience and maybe find some nice specimens. Plus if the mineral is suitable then someone there would be able to maybe slice/polish a part of something you find for a small fee. If you are buying for investment thats trickier still and beyond my advice. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder too. so what you consider world class may not be to others. I also suggest don't get hung up on size either. I have some fantastic crystals that are only and inch long, rich in colour and spectacular clarity with no surface depositions. Just stunning to look at, would cut well as genstones but probably too small for a museum display. But for my own personal collection just something I never thought I'd own. Cost me more than similar sized items but quality way way way better so I was happy to pay the price. I also have average specimens of minerals and fossils which I found myself. So no cost at all. But I wouldn't sell at any price because of the personal value to me. This to me is the richness in the hobby. The time and effort I put in that resulted in me pulling something wonderful from the ground. Just handing over money to buy a specimen anyone can do but the satisfaction of finding something yourself makes them so much more special I feel. You may feel different but I hope I've provided some advice you can use in your adventure to the hobby.

cheers!
steve
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 01:23    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection  

Keep in mind that in terms of peoples‘ average incomes, mineral specimens are much more affordable today than they were 200 or 300 years ago, when most mineral collectors were members of European royal families. One German museum has records of prices paid for cabinet specimens purchased 300 years ago and the average one cost what was then the annual income of a working man, and those specimens were not even very good by today‘s standards, where we take much greater care to avoid damage than they did back then. Famous German writer Goethe, himself a mineral collector, said 200 years ago that dealers were ruining mineralogy by charging excessive prices. The more things change...

Nowadays a worker can buy a beautiful miniature or small cabinet specimen for the equivalent of 2 or 3 days‘ average salary (if you avoid the dealers with the most brightly lit showcases - Price is often directly proportional to wattage), so we are in a much better situation regarding affordability of minerals than our ancestors were.
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 01:45    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection  

I think it helps a lot to LEARN what a given quality, size and location [and other special characteristics] of a specimen are really worth at the time. This take time and a lot of research and learning. At shows, I often see a specimen a want, but the price is just out of my reach.....but if I feel confident that a lower price might be fair to all involved, I will ask the seller if they will accept my alternative price. Sometimes they agree with little problem; sometimes they are greatly offended [or offensive]; and sometimes they just politely decline. Don't do this willy-nilly, but when you learn the 'ropes' and feel confident that a specimen might be overpriced from similar specimens available at that time, give it a try....but this is something that takes time, I've found. A novice will have no idea and will assume the price on the label is the 'market price'...be it the price on the label; worse the price told to you as there is NO price label. As many have said, the value of a mineral is whatever anyone will pay for it. Try not to offend a dealer when asking for a lower price and do not just ask that of every piece. Some are really rare or special in some way and worth their high price. Some are not, and the dealers are hoping some rich person who doesn't know the market will 'fall in love' with the piece and isn't bothered by the expense. I'm 70 now and prices have gone up atronomically on many types of specimens [especially the top notch ones] in those years. Yet, with a lot of work and patience, and more than a little cleverness [some proprietary which I'm not going to share here - sorry] one can and I do get very good specimens at what I consider to be fair prices. There is no magic formula and it will take time and getting to a lot of shows and showrooms - even to musuems and top line mineral magazines and websites to know what 'the best' are and look like. I find, generally that the highest prices can be found online....yet someone must be buying them at those prices. If you collect coins or stamps you know there are books with average values. NO SUCH equivelant exists nor ever will exist for minerals. Time and learning, talking to others, and getting 'around' will teach you what you want to know. I've been collecting for 60 years and still learn new tricks. Despite the huge increase in prices, generally, I still find good minerals [and occassionally great minerals] at fair prices [if not at the prices of my youth]. While not for everyone, I find field collecting the most rewarding. If you are lucky to find some nice set of minerals self-collected, you can sell or trade them for a mineral or minerals you desire - keeping the best ones for yourself. Others never touch a pickaxe, mineral hammer or chisel and just buy at shows. Each to his own. Travelling to distant mines and buying directly from the miners or the mine owner may greatly lower the price - but this doesn't work everywhere. Too many tricks to mention and some I wouldn't.
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SteveB




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 02:01    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

alfredo wrote:
(if you avoid the dealers with the most brightly lit showcases - Price is often directly proportional to wattage)


LOL, I have to respectfully disagree, I think its proportional the number of wind chimes hanging in the store :), sorry couldn't resist.


the point about historical costs plays into what I was saying about rarity and the effort/costs involved in finding a specimen. travel took a long time and sometimes by sail ship and of course human nature: everyone involved wants something for themeslves. Personal greed hasn't gone away and theres more contributing factors these days to inflate prices.
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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 04:27    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Hi Martin,

Yes you can, but only if you move to Europe.
But seriously, I have never paid more than € 300 for one piece. Maybe not a world class collection (see for yourself), but my wife and I are very happy with it. And you are talking about more than 3 times that sum. If you build a collection with specimens that have cost you $1000 on average, then in my view you have a world class collection. If other people think not why should you care.
My advice: keep following the prices and not only in Tucson. It is a beautiful show, but I personally know European dealers who more than double their prices when they go there.

Good luck,
Rob
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 05:06    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Recommended reading:

What defines a mineral's 'quality?' - (13)

and

Tucson, questionable prices?
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Niels Brouwer




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 08:08    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

This is actually a rather important subject we wanted to address with the Young Mineral Collectors group, of which I'm one of the moderators. We currently have a display with 10 cases at the main show in Tucson, and one of those 10 is a case with only minerals that cost less than $100. For a young collector in particular who just gets started in this hobby, the astronomical prices seen in the high-end booths can give the impression that specimens of any quality are completely unattainable, but I think our case definitely shows that there are still awesome minerals that you can pick up for very reasonable prices, especially if you're prepared to look beyond the bright lights that attract collectors like moths to a flame.


"A frequently-voiced concern is that mineral collecting is no longer affordable. We disagree! Much like field collecting, there is a hunt involved in searching for a good deal. Like the collectors that came before us, YMC members apply a variety of strategies when hunting for bargains, including building connections, utilising a variety of sales venues, and developing a discerning eye. Mineral collecting is still accessible; persistence, diligence, and education are strongly rewarded."

I would definitely recommend checking out these displays if you're currently in Tucson!



YMC below $100.jpg
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 09:34    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

I think the market on the upper end has gone a bit mad.....with the fairly recent entrance of vanity collectors - wealthy people who will likely never read a geology or mineralogy book, never spent their childhoods [as I] in mineral museums, never would think of a weekend collecting on site for minerals, etc....they just want FANTASTIC LOOKING and EXPENSIVE LOOKING minerals in their lovely homes to show off to friends and sometimes they show them off at shows too. In the past such types were few; now there seem to be many many more.

However, despite the sad [to me] steep increase in mineral prices, generally, over the years I have always been able to find dealers, places, shows not so 'famous' where one can come away VERY PLEASED with what one has obtained and having spent only a reasonable amount of money. They still exist and I personally don't tell many people my secret places.

For example, this summer I was in a foreign country and met with a fairly famous mineralogist in that country. He sells minerals and things made of minerals, and is sad that in the past he sold more minerals and now more items made of nice minerals. He still has a huge collection of lovely mineral specimens for sale in the back rooms from his part of the World. As he knows me, I was allowed to spend a day hunting through the boxes and by the end of the day had a table full of minerals for him to price. Of the many pieces I took out to buy, only one did he price so high I put it back...all the others I happily took at the price he offered, and got a good % discount for buying about 50 minerals.

I have gotten special deals from non-western dealers because I know enough of their language to greet them, and some of the cultural aspects they miss in interactions with many Westerners.

I keep my ears open for who just purchased a great collection when someone died. I likely couldn't have purchased it, but after they have their pick of the collection, there are often still many lovely pieces they are willing to sell at reasonable prices.

There are ways. Some smaller shows, hardly known about can at times produce treasures!
I was at one recently, and a man had very large and very nice Alpine cleft XXs at UNBELIEVABLE prices. He collected them himself, and at Tucson the same pieces would have had two or three zeros added!

Sometimes it is luck, but mostly it is clever perseverance.......

And never underestimate field collecting to satisfy the 'itch'......
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Bob Carnein




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 11:23    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

I hope this isn't too far removed from the original question; for most readers, this will be obvious. Based on long (60+ years) experience mineral collecting, here are a few recommendations:
1. Focus on something--a locality (e.g. Franklin, NJ, Tsumeb, Bisbee, etc.), a mineral group (e.g. sulfides, native metals, calcite), a category (gem minerals, crystallography, pseudomorphs, twinning, etc.). If you change your mind later, so be it. COLLECT WHAT TURNS YOU ON, rather than what's all the rage.
2. If you buy specimens, shop around but buy the best you can afford. Don't assume that, just because it's high priced, it's worth buying (or vice versa). If you see something that's in your price range and that turns you on, buy it. It probably won't be there when you go back. From my experience, the hardest thing for buyers is to learn when to buy and when to pass something up.
3. Visit other collectors, museums, shows, and watch internet sites to get a feel for what's available (or classic) in your collecting category (and what's a reasonable price).
4. Take good care of what you buy. That means storage, display, etc. Learn which minerals are sensitive to light, moisture, handling, etc.
5. If you collect specimens, trim and clean the good ones and think of the future. Avoid the temptation of trimming something good in the field. If you can afford it, take something really good to a professional for cleaning and trimming. When I was a kid, I collected at several New England pegmatites that are no longer available. I had no idea that the minerals I collected might have some value in the future, so I was careless with some of them.
6. This goes along with No. 5: CATALOG YOUR COLLECTION. This helps to preserve the historical, scientific, and monetary value of your collection. Don't assume you'll remember where that fluorite came from, or that you'll live forever. Keep all of the labels. I've been involved in trying to sort out several collections that weren't cataloged and were rooted through by family members who didn't know what a mess they were making.

As I said, all of this is obvious to the veterans in this group, but it's surprising how many collections I've seen that clearly resulted from false starts and that are a confused mess. But, part of the fun, for me, has been sorting out the messes.
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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 12:24    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

I really agree with Bob. Knowing when to buy and when not to buy is very hard.

Use 1) and then look out for sleepers (specimens you know are hard to obtain, but the seller does not) - so the more you know a region or mineral the more chance you have of finding one. That is why I tend to focus on Spain while I live in the UK. If back in Spain I look out for UK material.

On 2) - spend what you can afford to get a single good specimen, not two less good ones

On 6) Good records are key - I still get sad about minerals I was given as a child with no labels. I am sure they are not 'world class' but I cannot say either way as I do not know

James

Bob Carnein wrote:
I hope this isn't too far removed from the original question; for most readers, this will be obvious. Based on long (60+ years) experience mineral collecting, here are a few recommendations:
1. Focus on something--a locality (e.g. Franklin, NJ, Tsumeb, Bisbee, etc.), a mineral group (e.g. sulfides, native metals, calcite), a category (gem minerals, crystallography, pseudomorphs, twinning, etc.). If you change your mind later, so be it. COLLECT WHAT TURNS YOU ON, rather than what's all the rage.
2. If you buy specimens, shop around but buy the best you can afford. Don't assume that, just because it's high priced, it's worth buying (or vice versa). If you see something that's in your price range and that turns you on, buy it. It probably won't be there when you go back. From my experience, the hardest thing for buyers is to learn when to buy and when to pass something up.
3. Visit other collectors, museums, shows, and watch internet sites to get a feel for what's available (or classic) in your collecting category (and what's a reasonable price).
4. Take good care of what you buy. That means storage, display, etc. Learn which minerals are sensitive to light, moisture, handling, etc.
5. If you collect specimens, trim and clean the good ones and think of the future. Avoid the temptation of trimming something good in the field. If you can afford it, take something really good to a professional for cleaning and trimming. When I was a kid, I collected at several New England pegmatites that are no longer available. I had no idea that the minerals I collected might have some value in the future, so I was careless with some of them.
6. This goes along with No. 5: CATALOG YOUR COLLECTION. This helps to preserve the historical, scientific, and monetary value of your collection. Don't assume you'll remember where that fluorite came from, or that you'll live forever. Keep all of the labels. I've been involved in trying to sort out several collections that weren't cataloged and were rooted through by family members who didn't know what a mess they were making.

As I said, all of this is obvious to the veterans in this group, but it's surprising how many collections I've seen that clearly resulted from false starts and that are a confused mess. But, part of the fun, for me, has been sorting out the messes.
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marvinlewinsky




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PostPosted: Feb 14, 2020 14:50    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Thank you all for your wonderful comments.

At my age (75) and state of health any serious field collecting is out of the question. I could not cope with the physical stress needed to do some serious digging. I am happy to be a ‘digital’ field collector!

I saw the YMC exhibit at Tucson, and it is very nice, but I personally have no interest in collecting thumbnail, toe nail or miniature sized specimens. My focus is small cabinet and cabinet sized specimens.

I have reviewed the on-line inventories of The Arkenstone (Rob Lavinsky), The Collectors Edge (Bryan Lees), Crystal Classics (Ian Bruce), Andy Siebel Fine Minerals, Fabre Minerals and many, many others too. I have noted that there can be several hundred dollars difference in the price of display quality minerals from one vendor to another, so shopping around to get a good bargain is very good advice.

I have looked at the collections of Gail and Jim Spann, Phillipe Russo, Wil Larson, Sam Lau, Dimitry Davydov, Bob Berman, Fabian Widfang, Peter Berg, Thomas Uhlig, Mineral Andy, John Trinchillo and David Wixom. There is even a Facebook page devoted to their World Class Mineral Collections. I have looked, with considerable interest, at the photos Gail Spann has uploaded to FMF regarding the specimens she is displaying at Tucson 2020. Her collection is superb – Museum quality by any standard.

From all of this background study on collector quality minerals, one can conclude, like everything else in life, you get what you pay for! To give some idea of the cost of display worthy minerals I will give the following as an example. I was looking at a cabinet specimen of Pyrite with Sphalerite from Peru. The Pyrite crystals are large (50 mm), cubic and heavily striated. The Sphalerite crystals are highly lustrous and about 25 mm on average. The specimen has zero damage – a floater. Though common minerals, the specimen just stands out, like a lighthouse. The cost is $1200. If I had shopped around, I could possibly get a cheaper specimen, but not one that has the quality of the piece described above. I have already purchased the specimen, along with two others. I will post photos when I can get suitable acrylic stands made, and have some nice photos taken.
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Tobi




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PostPosted: Feb 19, 2020 06:07    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Ah, the neverending story about mineral prices ... as Peter Lemkin wrote, dangerous territory ;-)

I just want to add my two cents to this: For sure it needs a lot of money to build a really world-class collection that really makes history and becomes popular, no question. Nevertheless, if you know where to look for mineral specimens and fair prices, you can find some really good specimens far below ~1000 Dollars/Euros. I never invested a four-digit price in a mineral specimen, not even close to, but I'm really really happy with my collection. But when I see the prices on U.S. shows, I think building a good collection without being rich is easier here in Europe than in the United States. Sure, world-class specimens demand a lot of money, but I often browse show reports (Tucson, Denver etc.) where I can't believe the level of prices. I could not afford a lot of (sometimes really average) specimens (common species and not exclusive localities) that I see with labels saying 1000, 1200 or 1500 $ or more, you would find those specimens here for prices of 200-300 € or less ...

So, if you don't desire to be among the top collectors in the high end league, mineral collecting is still affordable, at least here in Germany.

Just my two cents
Regards
Tobi
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Feb 19, 2020 13:45    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Tobi wrote: "But when I see the prices on U.S. shows, I think building a good collection without being rich is easier here in Europe than in the United States. Sure, world-class specimens demand a lot of money, but I often browse show reports (Tucson, Denver etc.) where I can't believe the level of prices. I could not afford a lot of (sometimes really average) specimens (common species and not exclusive localities) that I see with labels saying 1000, 1200 or 1500 $ or more, you would find those specimens here for prices of 200-300 € or less ... "

This is something I see in mineral fora every single year in late February after the Tucson show. Quite predictable, like bird migrations ;))
But it is nonsense, in fact a violation of basic laws of economics. There is free trade between Europe and the USA so, if it were true that prices are on average cheaper in Europe, then dealers would take all fine specimens from Europe to the USA for resale and there would be no good rocks left in Europe. That of course does not happen. And there are plenty of European dealers buying minerals in Tucson and taking them back home for their customers in Europe. If they are paying too much in Tucson and re-selling them cheaper in Europe, that would be a very strange business model indeed!

The truth is that in both Europe and the USA there are dealers with reasonable prices, and dealers with astronomical prices. The latter tend to have fancier display cases and high wattage lights, and like moths to a candle flame that is where show reporters gravitate. Wealthier collectors, with plenty of money but perhaps short of time and patience, prefer to pay these higher prices and deal with the more famous names in the business. Meanwhile more "economically challenged" collectors can get world class specimens for prices with fewer digits in them, but it will involve more time, more patience, rummaging around in the shadows of the show, and then being prepared (and sufficiently knowledgeable) to do some cleaning and judicious trimming to prepare the specimen for display.
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marvinlewinsky




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PostPosted: Feb 19, 2020 14:39    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

The most I would pay for a specimen is about $3000. I do not believe any mineral is worth any more, and I am especially uneasy about buying minerals from third-world countries where mining regulations are non-existent, OSHA is just the name of a local beverage and exploitation of under paid miners is a common occurrence. Tanzanite from Tanzania is a typical example. I have seen some real horror pictures (and videos) from that place that you will not see in Tourist brochures or on mineral vendor websites.

One thing I did notice while attending the main Tucson show was that some specimens had price tags with far too many zeros attached. Towards the end of the show those price tags also lost a zero too.

I also noticed that specimens of the same species, same size, same look and same quality differed in price depending on who was selling them. In some instances, the price varied by as much as $500. I did take photos for my scrap book and reference! Vendors with high overheads (lots of staff and other things) were asking a lot more for such specimens compared with those vendors with fewer overheads.

However, despite all of these observations it is clear that you will not get a display quality/collector quality specimen of any species (common or rare) in any size range (miniature/small cabinet/cabinet) for under about $300.

It is just a sad truth that you get what you pay for – and minerals are no exception. The only advice I can give is just save your money until you have enough to buy a quality specimen. Do not buy ‘rocks’ just for the sake of having something to put in a book case or cabinet.

If you are a field collector, I wish you all the best. Apart from those intrepid individuals who do specimen mining for profit most of the field collected stuff I have seen is just not worth the time or effort to extract it. Field collect for the fun and the exercise only!
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Rob Schnerr




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PostPosted: Feb 20, 2020 06:02    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Alfredo wrote:
"…. if it were true that prices are on average cheaper in Europe, then dealers would take all fine specimens from Europe to the USA for resale …."

Funny people you Americans! The dealers we are talking about already buy minerals all over the world, including Europe. Nevertheless they cannot be everywhere and afford everything (thank God!).
If I want good quality Baryte for a very reasonable price I go, for example, to the mineral markets in the region of Murcia (Spain), if I want good quality Sphalerite I go to Kosovo, etc., etc. Well not literally because I can buy them here in Holland or Belgium or Germany. So what Tobi said is despite the basic rules of economics that Alfredo mentioned, not at all nonsense.

Cheers,
Rob
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Philippe Durand




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PostPosted: Feb 20, 2020 06:15    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

I do not have by far a great, or world class, or large collection.
But I consider my minerals to be fine enough (for me)

The vast majority of them is under 250€. I am pleased with them.
The most expensive mineral I have ever bought is 600€.
I can see some equivalent much more expensive on the net or during shows.

But it is possible with time, to find at good price, or maybe underpriced specimens and build your collection. The most important thing is to have pleasure with your minerals.

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Tobi




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PostPosted: Feb 20, 2020 07:47    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Rob Schnerr wrote:
[...]So what Tobi said is despite the basic rules of economics that Alfredo mentioned, not at all nonsense.
Thank you, Rob. I know that Alfredo is actually right, it may sound like nonsense, but numbers on a price tag don't lie. And when I see that you can sell, let's say a small 3-4 cm Mibladen vanadinite of good quality, for 750 $ /= ~ 700 € in the U.S. while the same specimen would cost something between 80 and 200 € here at a German show, I don't understand why there are such differences. But it seems to work, I don't know why.

BUT: I only see reports from the LARGE U.S. shows like Tucson or Denver, I don't know how the price level is on a smaller show, maybe much below and similiar to our level in Germany? It's the same here, prices in Munich are sometimes insane while you can always find some good stuff for a fair price on nearly every smaller mineral show in Germany. I experienced this through my fellow collector, friend and personal mineral vendor No. 1 Michael Ochel, he sells at our small Marburg show and many other smaller shows but also at Munich. And a specimen that he tags (and often successfully sells) 650 € in Munich is tagged 450 in Marburg ... and he sells it for 400 to friends ;-)

So I think it also depends on your sources how much you spend on minerals. My two main sources for minerals are both friends of mine who are dealers so I always get the lowest possible price for a specimen. However, like Philippe and Rob, I'm very happy with my collection. It is far away from the high end stuff you see at the collector displays at Tucson, but I love my collection and I'm glad about our price level here in Germany ;-)

Regards
Tobi
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Rob Schnerr




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PostPosted: Feb 20, 2020 08:39    Post subject: Re: Building a Great Mineral Collection?  

Comparing prices is not my hobby. It does not interest me very much, I search for nice minerals I can afford and that is it. But when we do compare, I agree with Tobi that you have to compare Tuscon and Denver with Munich and Ste Marie. I don't know what the result of that comparison is. What I do know is that after the Munich show it's worth the trouble to go to the mineral show in Liege in Belgium, which is shortly after Munich. A lot of "Munich specimens" are there for sale for a lot less euro's.
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