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Tucson, questionable prices?
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Carles Curto
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 05:07    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Maybe it is all more simple that it looks like? Reading all the posts I feel everybody has a more or less big piece of truth, but the market is as it is and I cannot imagine a market with sellers but without buyers. If prices are how they are is because the client is agree and he pay the asked prices.
But, very often, my perception of the actual mineral market is that the variety of species, localities and levels of quality are considerably higher than relatively few years ago and this circumstance, added to the the big amount of graphic information of splendid specimens all over the world (books, magazines, webs...) changed the perception of the collector about what is “normal” or “unusual” in mineralogy. General mineralogical taste is positively evolued, but not the pocket.
I have very ilustrative old records of particular information about minerals actually on the Museum. A concrete collector, for example, paid in 1968, 6.000 pts. (more or less 100$ then, a little fortune for a mineral in those daysl!) for a geode of amethyst than most of the actual modest collectors even didn’t note.
This variety on the actual mineral supply and the graphic information of splendid specimens can change the perception about what is “normal” or “unusual” in mineralogy. Taste is positively changed, but not the pocket, then the pices "sound" high.
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 05:07    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

When I look at how some dealers work they are very good at creating that 'desire to own' among collectors that you talk about. They call you to tell you about the opportunity, they tell you about all the people that are interested in the specimens, they tell you about the investment opportunity (which as others have said is not real), they help you plan how to get what you want and beat the others, etc, etc. But one has to assume that they do this with all their clients. So you loose some degree of rationality about the whole process and pay too much (and as other have said, we have no idea what the right price is). They have managed this process on me and I have bought - but afterwards I always feel 'dirty' and that I have been abused.

So if they work this on people, great for them - I now try to avoid these types of dealers.

If we take the art market example, we know that people will pay very high prices but we also know that prices fall as fashions change (look at the prices of chinese modern art at the moment). So I guess we wait for the fashion to change and see what happens to mineral prices.

For all that others have said I still feel, as I said at the beginning, that we are going to see a significant 'adjustment' in the market and that we all have to hope that those of us that are part of this world because we are passionate about minerals and mineralogy can work our way through this.
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 05:27    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Guess I will have to weigh in on this one. I strongly disagree with Mogok with respect to his prediction that we will see fewer dealers next year. The number of dealers appears to be growing each year and the high end dealers are not going out of business even with greater competition.

Alfredo was indeed in Tucson, and he was also in Munich and Denver and I assume that he was at the Springfield Show. A more astute observer of the scene you would be hardpressed to find.

Most of the mineral dealers I spoke with were very pleased with their sales at Tucson, I heard very little unhappiness, and most of that was among the gem dealers, not the mineral dealers.

My mentor at the Smithsonian, Paul Desautels, always argued that minerals were undervalued and that they should be as desirable and expensive as fine art. He must now be smiling wherever he is.

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 06:01    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

dear john
maybe you have a different point of wiew but also me i was in tucson denver and munich.
and the shows was low. if you are a customer and you ask to a dealer is normal that he say that everything was ok. but i am a dealer and i know very well that many of my collegue didnt have even the money to pay the plane ticket to return home this year in tucson.
if you want a better opinion you can ask to an organizer of shows. they always claims
thousands and thousands of visitors and happy dealers and customers.but if you was this year in tucson looking at the car parking out from the shows and restaurant was never full like the previous year. anyway we will see next year how will be the situation.
i enyoy with crystals and gems and i hope better for everybody.
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 06:01    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

So will we see two types of market - the high end Picassos and the normal good material, much as we do in the art world. This could happen but still risks the 'good' being sold as the 'best' and causing a shake down
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 06:26    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

dear frank
i dont know alfredo experience but i know that i came in tucson from 1991 and the real market not the pumped one.
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 06:38    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

dear frank
if you have a light on your head this dont mean that you are a miner!
cheers mogok
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 06:47    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

you are rgth frank
assumptions are more danger than old mines!
so how you know that alfredo is probably the most old experience person in tuscon?
this mean something?
more time you spent in tucson more your speaking is correct?
...do what you like,like what you do!
cheers mogok
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 07:01    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Good day for all, I'm disagree with James about the types of market. This is my vision of this market:
-High End Minerals. Customers: Museums. Wealthy Collectors.
-Top Minerals. Customers: Wealthy Colectors.Dealers.
-Good Minerals. Customers: Universitys. Big Collectors. Institutions. Dealers
-New Minerals. Customers: All, included Collectors,Colleges, and Dealers.
-Damaged Minerals. Customers: Litle Collectors. Amateurs and Dealers.
-Fake minerals. Customers: Undefined people.
Is a big market,every day most stronger, many fast, today we, the collectors can buy minerals around the world with a simple clic, this fantastic advance is a revolution of the old mineral markets. Today is possible grow too fast if be a serious dealer and better person, not only a mineral dealer, as Carles Curto said: "a mineral animal"
In the mineral market work many dealers and increasing his number every day, gem dealers are unhappy with few business, perhaps they could be go to anothers markets for another people, womans in home maybe his first customers.
Nice days.
Pablo

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 08:14    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

With respect to the comments of Mogok, I say that all one needs do is look at the growth in the number and size of the various independent shows around Tucson and the number of dealers. If dealers are doing so poorly, they will not come back. But they do come back, and in increasing numbers. Either they are making money or they are very foolish. I find it hard to believe that these people can afford to take a loss year after year and yet keep returning. Moreover, there are more of them each year.

Perhaps the dealers at the club show are not doing so well, and that is unfortunate if true, but the others overall seem to be satisfied.

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 09:43    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

I have noted that there are minerals enough for everyone, from the poorest to the richest. I refuse to dislike anyone because their rocks are more significant than mine, or they are of less quality than mine. i simply rejoice that they have a collection that they must love, otherwise why collect them?
If some minerals are too expensive, I say no to buying them, after all...it is about what you collect, what takes your breath away, what size...what type...what truly knocks your socks off...but at a price you feel okay about paying.
If you have spare cash to get something good, then it is a decision you make based on what you feel you can afford, this is true throughout the market.
I saw a fluorite in Tucson marked at $300,000.00 and I thought, although beautiful, I had seen better in a friend's cabinet. It is all relative, isn't it?
So, for better or worse, we buy what we can afford and what we deem to be a welcome addition to our collections, right?

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 10:16    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Absolutely Gail.

Just some doubt about beginners or new people coming to the hobby and maybe getting a distorted vision of this hobby, due to some extremly high prices, specially if they don't correspond to an also extremely high quality, like (apparently) the Fluorite mentioned for you.

Jordi
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 10:32    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Price does not reflect value.
Price does not reflect quality.
Value is not equal to quality.
And, as we are discussing in the parallel "quality" thread:

https://www.fabreminerals.com/forum/Message-Board/viewtopic.php?t=162

quality is defined by subjective as well as objective parameters.

This amateur collector is confused, not to mention a little frightened.
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 11:28    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Hi John,

I've never been in the Tucson show, but heard the show increases in size every year. I'm not pessimistic by nature nor a specialist of the American market.

However I don't see things exactly as you at a more local (at least French) level. Moreover it might (?) explain in some way the increase of mineral dealers in Tucson. I personally know dealers (who became friends) not attending big shows such as Tucson, Denver, Munich, Ste Marie who experienced last year some of their worst sales since many years. Some of them didn't even get payback from shows' expenditures. In the same time, some more renowned dealers refocused on larger shows as if attending smaller ones didn't payback too. Not to mention less visitors maybe leaving the "real" to "virtual" market on the web ?

Could it be possible to see the increase of large shows as a way for lesser known dealers to make a living from minerals ? In a market going down focusing on very large events could be a way to make a living while limiting costs.

One thing is sure the Internet is revolutionizing the market and could explain some facts reported on this forum.

What do you think ?

Christophe
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 17:17    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Even if there seems to be conflicting views on the question of trends in mineral pricing, maybe they are all correct - depending on what the observer has witnessed, who he has talked to and previous experiences. It may reflect important changes in the mineral market taking place on a larger scale, and partly due to the internet, more in the view of the public in recent years. I have kept track of the prices I have paid - and observed being asked - for mineral specimens through nearly 40 years. I still have files of the price lists dealers sent out in the 70´ies and 80´ies as well as printouts of internet offering on minerals from certain localities during the last decade. Based on my experience there are minerals that have increased dramatically in price in part due to dwindling supply ( i.e. Mexican adamites, Los Lamentos Wulfenites, Benitoites etc.) Other minerals have had periods - aslo in recent years when prices were rock-bottom for high-quality specimens also compared to 20-30 years ago even if they have increased again recently. Minerals like Charcas Danburites and Moroccan Erythrites and Vanadinites come to my mind. Other minerals like Chinese Scheelites, Bournonites, Cassiterites etc. may be pricey for top-specimens, but these are also wastly superior to their relatively more expensive expensive counterparts from classic localities in Germany and Brittain that wereon the market 20-30 years ago. Not to mention the Chinese stibnites where even expensive top-quality specimens are very affordable compared to the prices asked - and paid for inferior specimens of Japanese Stibnites a few decades ago. Indian Powellites and Cavansite are much cheaper now than a few years back. Exceptional specimens of rare minerals from popular localities like Tsumeb, Franklin/Sterling Hill, Långban, St.Hilaire, The Tip Top mine, Mammoth-St-Anthony mine, Broken Hill and others have skyrocketed in price as they were never plentifull and supply can in no way keep up with the demand. From other localities you can still buy exceptionl specimens, of rarities sometimes one-of-a-kind specimens at very cheap prices.
As Alfredo and others have stated so clearly - it is all a question of supply and demand - that is how a market works. Some of the dealers manage to adapt to these changes in the market and in the demand of the customers. These are very happy with the new trends. Others have merchandise and a business approach which do not sell any more, and these are understandably unhappy. In some cases their merchandise can more profitable be sold over the internet and these dealers stop going to Tucson (Tony Nikitscher of Excalibur minerals did not attend this year.) I believe knowledge and transparency are vital to functioning markets. Especially the internet and increased international travel by collectors and dealers have contributed to this. With an increasing number of dealers and good minerals on the market - and increased total turn-over, even if it is due to new groups of customers and concerns different types of minerals and specimens, it may also be interpreted as a healthy but rapidly changing market. It will be an interesting challenge to see how it develops. There are rewarding and affoprdable niches in this hobby to suite everyone interested in minerals including everytihng from large cabinet specimens to micromounts and from the self-collected to the most expensive trophy-specimens.
Knut
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2008 19:44    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Free market pricing can be fascinating.

In the excellent separate discussion thread about quality, Alfredo made the good point that going back to the earliest days of mineral collecting, the privileged have always paid high prices (in relative terms) for minerals. When it comes to prices asked and paid (whether in cash or exchange "values"), the true top of the market - primarily collectors with nearly unlimited means in relation to this context - will always be there. However, as historically, that truly top sub-market is comprised of a rather small number of people and really appears to have its own pricing dynamic. Intense competition, exchange transaction pricing and market-making factors, among others, all seem to me to be in a different league in this top collectors circle.

In that same quality discussion, Alfredo also described the collecting community as a pyramid, where most of us are not in that top group (perfectly happily, or otherwise). It's a great analogy, and perhaps now in the context of a pricing discussion the actual shape could be tweaked a little, if we were to try to reflect spending and participants in the mineral market. Considering numbers of specimens that are bought and numbers of collectors acquiring, I'd have thought that rather than the pure straight-line side of a standard pyramid, it is in fact a curve that connects the lower submarkets to higher ones, increasingly steeper to the top sub-market. On the other hand, current pricing by many dealers across the overall mineral market seems to assume some form of escalating straight line pricing model from the top specimens down, rather than such a curve. If this difference exists, it may be by design, in an attempt to give an illusion of a continuous-pricing market and/or create a sense of desirability both at the top and below, it may be in hope that the purchasing trends in sub-markets below the top will rise to such a line, it may unfortunately sometimes be in hope of ensnaring a less experienced collector, or perhaps the straight line approach will simply prove reflective of a pricing miscalculation when compared with actual purchaser behaviour.

Maybe the question then is whether prices asked in the mineral market (anywhere under the small top sub-market) are or will actually be paid so that the straight line model is or becomes real - and further, whether this prices-asked line will continue to rise if the submarket at the top rises. It's difficult to assess, given that actual market transparency can be deceptive and limited (for example, while I obviously make no comment about any minerals or mineral dealers on the internet, the internet a is highly manipulable medium in many ways and there is no requirement of any kind to provide full, true, or even accurate disclosure of anything at all). Only the longer-term performance of the mineral market over time, and any future pricing fluctuations or lack thereof, will tell whether the straight line model for pricing specimens offered is real pricing or artificial pricing (or, to state perhaps more accurately, whether it is pricing that matches amounts purhcasers are willing to pay, or not).

Which leads to Jordi's great question as to why the buyer gets to determine the "real" price. Simple mechanics of offer and acceptance - an offer isn't a deal until there's acceptance. At which point, we're really back to the pure subjectivity of it all (beyond certain quality parameters, as Les Presmyk noted in the quality discussion). I do love it that it still comes back to entirely our own choice as to what to do: although much is in the hands of dealers, this one fact is the freedom (and also sometimes the leverage) of being the collector in the equation.

When one considers the excellent summary points TAK sets out, it's clear that urban field collecting (such as in Tucson) is challenging and even truly hard sometimes. However, pursuing what we each enjoy, enjoying what we find fascinating, and defining our own measuring sticks for ourselves (as opposed to what any other person tells us is a "must-have") is what makes our collections unique, interesting and, in my own personal view, ultimately of real value to ourselves and the hobby. Price really does not equate with value.

Final thought in what inadvertently became a short essay for which clearly none of you asked (apologies!). People often say, and it's true, that discussions about escalating prices have gone on for a long time and increases have continued without correction, so why would it not just keep on going that way? One characteristic of this current market that may prove interesting is that as prices in many parts of the mineral market have risen to new highs, these prices are now in many cases truly substantial amounts of money (for anyone other than those with relatively unlimited means) - for some people, some mineral market prices now contrast poorly with comparatively more favourable purchasing or investment power of the same amount of money outside of minerals, whether in another hobby at a top level, or other things we each value personally, as Frank so insightfully noted. If this comparative gap continues or increases, one could see people continuingly or increasingly choosing to allocate some or all of their funds differently, for a short time or for longer. Who knows? Happily, the aggregate of our own individual free decisions will determine it all.
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PostPosted: Feb 25, 2008 06:55    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

This topic is very interesting for me and that I have more time, I would like to introduce a different view of it. Throughout the discuss, I tried to introduce a concept that for me is very important and that it don't seems to be so important for most of the people who participate on this discussion.

For the vast majority it seems that the price is not something with concrete parameters, but mostly a kind of deal between the dealer and the customer (or victim ;-).
This is not my vision at all. Although each mineral is different and we can't fix an exact price for it, because the value will always depend of the subjective factors, my opinion is that is possible to fix a kind of boundary around the real price. If with a long experience and a background with hundred or thousands if not millions specimens we accept that someone can give an "approximate real price" = ARP for a specimen, then we will simplify the discussion a lot because many things move around this possibility:

- The dealers quoting one mineral using the ARP would have a correct behavior. On the other hand dealers adding zeros to the ARP would not be using common sense and then his behavior would be debatable.

- The minerals then would have the chance to be catalogued as are many of the other collectibles. Coins, stamps, art...most hobbies have catalogues where the price of the items are fixed and this seems to be very important for customers. Why do minerals not have the chance to have an ARP? Could this be the reason for the success of the mineral's web pages where prices are fixed creating themselves a kind of catalogue?. Just to give an example, on my web page I have minerals displayed for more than 5 years and we never changed their prices, the time pass and just by this fact the prices move down making they more attractive to the customers. This it is proved by the fact that regularly we sell some long term (on our web pages) specimens, just because its price, due the time passed, becomes an ARP for customers.

- Accepting that ARP exist then I can connect with an other extremely interesting topic also posted on this forum by TAK, "what defines a mineral's "quality?":

https://www.fabreminerals.com/forum/Message-Board/viewtopic.php?t=162

Tracy ask the reasons which a mineral have more or less quality. Finding this reasons then we could also fix the parameters to get ARP for minerals, so answering the topic of "what defines a mineral's quality?" I think that we can also find the reasons of the (apparently) widely different prices during the modern period of mineralogy.

Jordi
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PostPosted: Feb 25, 2008 09:08    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Jordi

I am sure I remember reading that years ago a dealer used to publish a list of, in your terms, ARPs. I cannot remember who it was but imagine someone else will remember. It would be nice to see a copy, just for reference! I do wonder if one could build such a price giude using web sales.

James
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PostPosted: Feb 25, 2008 10:01    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

But (and I repeat) prices of minerals are especially relative. On stamps, coins, etc., the item is more or least always the same. Not in minerals, so, a list of mineral prices will be always relative (orientative if you prefer) for "normal" minerals but significant pieces have single prices.
I believe the problem is not on habitual mineral dealers. It is on this strange "modern" typifications as "fashion", "top", "killers"... Just publicity, just value judgements, just simple wind. Then, obviously, prices can be miserably absurds. Against the vice of to ask for there is the virtue of not to give...
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PostPosted: Feb 25, 2008 11:51    Post subject: Re: Tucson 2008, questionable prices?  

Good afternoon

I agree completely with Carles.
Stamps, there are many pieces that are more or less equal; The ones that only one or two are known, prices are question of how badly anyone wants it.
Same with coins.
Then, there are differences in conservation, well centered, stained, fresh, big margins,.....and so many other things.
Price of catalog is orientative, and generally speaking serves only as a reference. Form dealer to dealer, it could have had at 80, 60, 70, 50, 40,.....or even lesser percentage of its catalogue price....

For coins, in a swiss catalog I have seen some ultra rare coins prized as LHP liebhaberpreis, the price that who wants to have it is willing to pay...
I had a smile ..... :-)

Prices for unique pieces, like minerals, are in this category.
I read an article, many years ago, in MR, that making long short, said that with time, any mineral could be sold at any price (say not, a Navajun pirite going for 40.000 USD :-) )

Of course, then, there is the opportunities, information and so, and collectors, more or less informed, would be willing to pay a price ...or not.

With best wishes

Lluís
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