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Tucson, questionable prices?
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Peter Van Hout




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PostPosted: Feb 09, 2015 19:37    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Gail wrote:
I love a bargain, seen plenty of them around the show and in some of the tent set ups.


I think that those bargains only looks like they are bargains because we are already take these ridiculous prices as a standard.
I am shocked anyway.

Peter
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Gail




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PostPosted: Feb 09, 2015 20:35    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

I went to a local mineral show near Dallas, bought a bunch of great material for hardly anything, the dealers were thrilled, we were thrilled, everyone was happy. So, if Tucson is too much, then stick to local shows and get those great bargains from dealers who don't charge huge amounts because they don't pack up and travel, pay for hotels, meals, etc. There are little shows with some great material, much of it old material, that you cannot find anymore. Good trading stock!
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2015 09:04    Post subject: Tucson, questionable prices? - Some personal thoughts  

Some people told me to publish here this post, previously published in Tucson Show 2015 - Some personal thoughts so here it is :

In Tucson Show 2015 - Some personal thoughts Jordi Fabre wrote:

OK, here I am sitting in front an empty white computer screen and I'm not sure if I can translate in written text the kind of dementia that is Tucson.

"Gigantic" "Crazy" "Excessive" - all of these words and much more can be used to describe the phenomenon of Tucson, but no one can really understand what Tucson is without being there and feeling (and in some way suffer) its thumping intensity. Tucson is beyond comparison with any other mineral show. Neither Munich, Denver nor Ste. Marie can compare with this hungry monster chewing up all of the dreams, money and hopes of so many collectors.

What I can say about Tucson 2015?
Can I describe the good feelings of many dealers (compared to previous years) or the desperation of others?
Can I describe the phenomenal purchases that some wealthy collectors made in Tucson or the disappointment of many other humble collectors who can afford almost nothing that they really like?
Can I describe the physical impossibility to attend all of the events or the pleasure from attending some stupendous parties, talks, social events, awards or ceremonies?
Can I describe the kind of unnatural bubble which is Tucson moving away from the real world, or the pleasure of being for some days outside of the common troubles of our daily life while enjoying a kind of communal excitation?
Sorry, but after more than 25 years attending this show I can't find a proper way to describe what Tucson really is, so this year what I will do is to try to simplify and summarize my thoughts about the most popular topic in Tucson every year: "Why hell the are prices so high?" ;-)

I am a dealer and a collector as well so for many years I guessed that the mineral world of the collector was perhaps going in a wrong way and that this wrong way could bring to all us to a kind of collapse, mental or economic. From time to time, and mostly in the European shows, I still have this pessimistic feeling, but the dynamism of regular Internet sales and the brutal energy of the Tucson Show tends to clear my mind of this negative feeling and, although I'm not totally sure about it, now I am starting to believe that this hobby seems to be influenced by the same market laws that influence many other major hobbies, and that currently the number of buyers of very fine specimens seems to be quite higher than the real number of fine specimens in the market. Very elevated prices for these fine specimens are now with us and maybe will not decrease in the future. Another topic is why so many lesser specimens have such inflated prices, but this is another story…

So, are there no chances for the not very rich collectors, like myself? Well, yes, there are still some chances, but instead of remaining immobile complaining about too high prices what we should do is work harder, looking at all dealers, all stocks, all boxes, all remote places, in fact doing everything in order to try to find something available within our limited possibilities. Just walk and walk and walk and walk and watch and watch, and watch again, to finally find something we like that we can afford.
No more complaints! Collectors, move your asses and work, the reward is there! Do many prices look too expensive to you? Forget these prices and search for something with a better balance! In Tucson you can play this game because the show is so huge that everybody can have a chance, but you must forget your dreams to acquire a "Master Piece" for a cheap price for the same reason that you can't purchase a Picasso for a modest price. Due to the different style of the new wave of collectors (many quite young but very rich) who seem to consider minerals as "natural art," you are in the same league with art buyers, even if you do not like it. Thus very high prices for the best, with just some very limited opportunities to find bargains, and only if you have a really extensive knowledge of what you are collecting.

I disagree with the feeling that many collectors have who believe that dealers have a kind of wonderful life doing almost nothing. Myself and many other dealers that I know work extremely hard, we do not have a peaceful and easy life at all. For me, after a monumental effort for more than a month, an effort that most people will never experience, I'm finally back at home, exhausted, missing greatly my "normal life," and with just a little money in my pocket after paying the never ending invoices that such a large show generates. Then, you may ask, why do I do this? Am I a masochist? Of course not. I do this for the rewards I derive. Together with "some money" I also brought home to Barcelona some, not many, but some, lovely rocks that I will add to my collection and, in fact, this is the same reason why so many collectors attend Tucson year after year, and this is our real reward.

Forget the easy-funny images published in this and other Forums or social net sites supply. They are just the "tip of the iceberg," the reality of the Tucson Show is much more complex and sophisticated than this and only if you attend Tucson can you discover what I'm talking about. So why don't you discover this overreaching bazaar at least one time? Believe me, it is an experience and you will never forget it!

Jordi
PS:Thanks to John White for editing and clarifying this text to try to make comprehensible to English readers the efforts of my overwhelmed, non-English, brain.





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Jesse Fisher




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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2015 14:05    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Well said, Jordi.

I've always thought of the post-Tucson bout of complaining about prices as just a part of the ritual. It has been going on every year since I have been involved in the business, and I suspect it began the first time a specimen changed hands for money. This year, however, I came to the conclusion that we can no longer afford to acquire the sort of specimens that we have had access to in the past. This is a disappointment, but should we just whinge on and feel sorry for ourselves? Times change, things move on. The hobby has increasingly switched focus in recent years from the pursuit of objects of scientific and historical curiosity to the pursuit of "natural art." And "art" attracts a more wealthy crowd than science ever will.

I feel fortunate to be involved with the hobby/business as a producer, as well as a collector. Because of the nature of what the mine gives us, the business is aimed largely at the wholesale market, which is thriving beyond all expectations (suggesting there is a huge, unmet demand for such things in the marketplace). It is an expensive business, mining, and not necessarily one that a bunch of old farts will be the best at. But each year, when the Tucson experience comes to a close, we return to our "normal lives," dead tired, with "some money" in the bank and a couple specimens for the personal collection. That "some money" is quickly spent returning to the mine for another summer. One of these years the mine may decide not to give us anything. One of these years our bodies may decide they've had enough of the hard physical work. But until then, I can continue to participate in and enjoy the Tucson experience despite the fact that I can no longer purchase specimens the way I once did.

When faced with changes that we're not happy about, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of self-pity. I may be as disappointed as others at the unaffordability of good specimens today, but I really think the whining and complaining ritual that follows Tucson each year serves little purpose. I am reminded of a fellow named Skoop Nisker, who did the news for a long-departed "alternative" radio station here in SF. He always finished his broadcast by saying: "and if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own." If one doesn't like the perceived direction that the hobby/business is headed, then get out and do something about it. Write articles, support journals and museums, dig some rocks. You may not change the world by yourself but I suspect it will be much more enjoyable than just complaining about what you can't afford to do any more.

Cheers!
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Peter




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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2015 14:47    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Fully agree Jesse! I bought some perfect specimens for my collection at the Tucson 1989 Show. Similar ones would be difficult to find and buy today. I can assure you that there were many, MANY GREAT specimens, much more now in 2015 than in 1989!

Some of the greatest sold, some not. There were a great many very very fine specimens, some in fact for very reasonable prices! Some were even inexpensive for what they were! Yes, if I had gone wild this year as my first I could have increased my collection even towards the top end.

There was plenty, PLENTY of fine specimens, new, interesting and A LOT from OLD collections! There were Elmwood calcites at bottom prices, hundreds of them! Only in Elmwood 1987 I could buy such before! Now I am speaking not about the top ones, but standard very nice ones, some close to perfect, some with small nicks but still very fine. Everyone could afford a nice one!

For me it was enough to bring a hand luggage with my small exhibit. Applaud the dealers bringing huge quantities, unpacking, packing, labeling, huge expenses, weeks and months of preparations, traveling to get you something nice! SO easy just to go to a show and pouch the plums for whatever you decide to spend. One specimen? A few, all your decision. Buy the ones you find most interesting, beautiful, unusual, unique.
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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2015 15:18    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Jordi, Jesse, and Peter,

I agree with what you all said.

I am not going to write too many words on the subject, time to move on............

Gone Fishing!

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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2016 13:27    Post subject: Re: TUCSON, 2016. And away we go....  

Holy Moley! Are those Blue Halites really going for $30k? I've got one that's even bigger and better from the same location, but I always figured it was worth between $1-$2k.

-Brian


Gail says: Whoa, first of all, I am far from finished on my show report so please don't start posting photos on my report, but do please start your very own recap or thoughts on the prices on your own thread.

That halite was hugely priced, and it was pristine and beautiful, but small. I choked when I saw the price too. In fact, a few of us were raising our eyebrows as we stood looking at it. But, you can ask what you like, no guarantee someone will pay that. If they do, then the value of ours should go up, right? But, you know...it's a halite.
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2016 16:49    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Hi Brian,

I think almost everybody that saw that particular halite was shocked, to one degree or another, at the price. It is good to keep the old adage in mind that the mineral is only worth what somebody is willing to pay. Who knows if it really sold, and if it did, for what price? Discounts to one degree or another are common among most dealers. I personally think the specimen was quite overpriced based on my experience.

Congratulations on the halite specimen, if the one you pictured is in your collection. It is a very nice piece. Comparing the two specimens, though, is a difficult task. I will say that the specimen in Gail's report is in the top 0.1% of halites that were found, based on aesthetics, color and perfection. Because of the trend in "minerals as fine art", perfection and aesthetics in specimens have translated into much higher value for the upper end mineral market. While I don't particularly agree with this trend, it is what it is. Based on the parameters mentioned above, I would place your specimen in the top 25% of halites collected. The difference between top 25% and top 0.1% is large, especially when considering how the high end mineral market works (I do think your assessment of the value of your specimen is very reasonable).

Again, you have a wonderful specimen! I hope you enjoy it in your collection as much as I enjoyed collecting it.

Concerning the "But, you know...it's a halite" remark, at least you can eat or barter the halite for something useful in case of an apocalypse. You can't say the same thing about a fine wulfenite, azurite, tourmaline, etc.! ;)

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Phil
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Gail




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2016 19:05    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

This true! I like a little halite on my fries!
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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2016 20:14    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Jesse wrote: "'I've always thought of the post-Tucson bout of complaining about prices as just a part of the ritual. It has been going on every year since I have been involved in the business, and I suspect it began the first time a specimen changed hands for money."
I suspect that last part is very true, Jesse... : "the first time a specimen changed hands for money" - ha ha ;))

A well-known collector once complained that dealers were killing mineralogy by jacking up prices too high. Who was that whiner? Collector Joe Blow at Tucson 2016? Nope. It was famous German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (goethite), about 200 years ago, a mere 140 years before Tucson ever started. Nothing really changes, but each generation feels the need to whine all over again ;))
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Peter




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PostPosted: Feb 21, 2016 21:27    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Tucson 2016

Still the golden ages of mineralogy. So much exceptionally fine specimens available. I saw many specimens, many many for sale, old classics, which I never ever saw on any shows before during 40 years of show attending!!! That tells a lot of the great availability. I got some of them, some friends got, some I could not afford but I am not whining for that :)

There was just an incredible amount of very fine specimens to be had. Now, of course dealers who had some nice rarities for years an no one bothered looking, may not bring some things for years for this reason. There are still plenty of dealers who carry a board spectrum of specimens, although some have indeed specialized in Round Mountain Golds or whatever it may be. Do not cry for that. That makes it easier to select who to visit and who not to depending on your preferences.

I bought several sweet specimens under 100 USD, while a small suite of Hambergite crystals were 8k and a little steep for what they were. I got several fine Dalnegorsk specimens, far better than anything available the past 20+ years and for reasonable prices. Before the show I set aside several interesting and fine specimens, some highly priced but then one just decide if it is worth it or not.

Among the Brazilian dealers I used to find some rarities in my early Tucson shows 1989-early 90s. Carlos Menezes still has some, Alvaro Lucio sometimes.

I managed to find exceptional Tapiolite crystal in vugs in cleavelandite, and other nice ugly black pegmatite specimens for reasonable but not cheap prices.

And for sure I missed many things I would have liked to have, either alread sold or simply not seen in al the boxes hiding in the rooms, in the booths… Bringing ones family certainly reduces the available time for going through each room, each box as I used to do years ago, thus quick scanning of rooms and concentrated efforts is the selected way this year.

Peoples attitude to mineral shows tell something bout their mentality. One simply choose the minerals one can afford and have interest of. Of course, many specimens have high prices, such were rarely available at all before and some of the old classics I saw at this years Tucson show were in fact more reasonable then what they would have been in the past. Not only the most exceptional esthetic specimens reach very high asking prices.

I did also see very poor specimens from classic localities of common minerals where asking prices were in the upper XY 000 USD and where I have field collected myself specimens of the same specie also at classic localities, 1000 times better and let friend shave for some hundred dollars or even given away. Such is the world and thus one does not need more than to notice that this dealer has no clue or is just trying to get some big fish on a small hook.

Keep the spirit up lads and gals. Tucson is an experience. Come, enjoy, spend time with people, make new friends.

Cheers and se you perhaps in Tucson 2017.
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Jesse Fisher




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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2016 01:36    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

I'm sure there are some out there who can afford a $30K salt shaker for their fries. Will it change the situation if we continue to whinge on about it? Doubt it. Best to focus on what we can do. This year I came up with several really nice things for the collection. For the most part, these were part of a trade deal, and we likely could not have afforded to spend the cash for the asking price. Still, I think it worked out well.


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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2016 09:51    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

After seeing how prices of high end specimens are rising year after year to an unaffordable level for most collectors, I couldn't help but smile when I saw this old comment from more than 200 years ago in Don Lum's report: 2016 Tucson Show- A Look Back


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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2016 18:51    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

I have a couple thoughts to share below after my return from Tucson 2016. Not directly related to pricing, but this thread seems the most appropriate as I don't want to interfere with Gail and Don's posts (and others providing highlights of the shows).

1. I have been going to the Tucson mineral shows off and on since 1988 and usually go at the end of the show schedule with the strategy of getting the best deals on remaining specimens at the hotel shows that dealers are eager to unload and not pack home. I then hit the TGMS show with the philosophy of it being more like visiting a museum and simply enjoy the sites and sounds, and if I happen to find a good deal then it's my lucky day. However - for those of you that did not attend this year and follow a similar strategy please be aware that the majority of hotel dealers were packed up or in the process of packing up on Saturday. This has always been the case, but never to the extent I witnessed this year, with at least 2/3 of the dealers gone from the Hotel Tucson Center show on Saturday. A few dealers I talked to about this said that it was not economical for them to stay open once the main (TGMS) show opened as it sucked potential clients away. Given this trend I have seen over the last 5-10 years culminating in the situation this year I likely will no longer go the last weekend, but will instead plan my visit around the beginning or middle of the show. The Westward Look show will likely become my "new" museum visit. This decision is also based on the common rumor that many specimens may change hands multiple times during the month long event, resulting in higher prices at the end - especially at the TGMS show. Obviously these are rumors that I cannot substantiate, but I've heard it enough that I'm willing to test the waters and see what the beginning or middle of the show is like.

* The second comment on the show this year is in regards to the snobbishness and elitism that so permeates many of the high end dealers at the TGMS show that I find it hard to stomach. I don't want to take away from the contributions of many of these dealers to the hobby as it is through their efforts that we are seeing more mind-numbing specimens than in the history of the hobby (maybe arguable?). And I understand they have a certain clientele they have to cater to and with that a somewhat specific business image. This year I found myself making the conscious decision to not even visit their booths. Of course they don't care that I don't visit, because I don't have the funds to play in their game, so it's likely a mutual feeling, but it still makes be a bit sad. I recognize that I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth as I admitted above I may attend the Westward Look show next year, but there are still a handful of high end dealers that don't make me feel like a pauper when admiring their "fine art" items.

*To not end on a negative note let me finish with the comment that these issues really are not that significant in the scheme of the Tucson Experience and the positives still far outweigh the negatives. I had so many great experiences with dealers this year (several who are members and commonly post on this forum) that the event continues to be a highlight of my life and I have more excitement leading up to it than any holiday or vacation I go on. It truly is a part of who I am and perhaps these small unsatisfying changes in the hobby are there to just remind me to have a greater appreciation for that great deal on that hard to find specimen or local, that dealer that was willing to show me his recent finds in the bathroom of their hotel room, and that wonderful exchange with the Russian dealer who didn't speak a lick of English. It's still Tucson to me.
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PostPosted: Feb 22, 2016 19:33    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Hi Byron. I have been to Tucson 5 times, and each year found that many of the Hotel dealers generally started to close on the Tuesday. Some because they need time to prepare for setting up at the main show, others because trade drops off anyway. So the Wednesday is a good day to do something different, like visiting the mineral collection at Arizona U.
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PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 11:53    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

GAIL, Thanks for taking all your Tucson pix! ( TUCSON, 2016. And away we go.... )
The prices accompanying many of the pix are just reenforcing what Jordi had to say on his related Tucson thread. The truly ikon and unique specimens might command astronomical prices, but many of the other nice, but otherwise unspectacular, examples have become obscenely overpriced. I purchased many Elmwood Tennessee pieces better than those just shown for less than $75 a few years ago and now the prices on the specimen labels are ridiculous. I think many collectors of modest means are being priced out of the market and a collapse might be coming in the not too distant future??!! CHEERS.....BOB
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PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 12:24    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Bob, the word collapse maybe exaggerated but in my opinion, a correction is required and will happen. Also note as well that similar specimens from one dealer to the other can also have a 10 fold difference in price (i.e. $500 vs $5,000). One must always look around and gets to know which can deliver which.
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PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 13:24    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

There won't be any general across-the-board price crash, because of the strange way the specimen market works. One gets "mini-crashes" on large numbers of specimens all the time. Many dealers put out a specimen with a lot of zeros, on the off chance that they just might catch a big fish who really wants it and doesn't care about the price, and that happens just often enough to make the exercise worthwhile. If that fish fails to materialize (usually the case), then the specimen is moved to a different venue at a far lower price. So that equals a "mini crash" for that individual specimen. Happens all the time, and has done for decades. So lets not hold our collective breaths waiting for the "big crash" that will lop off a couple zeros from all the prices in the high-wattage booths. Isn't going to happen.
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PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 14:56    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

We saw vastly overpriced things and vastly underpriced things, depending on what you are used to seeing. And the more knowledge a person has, the better the understanding of the trends. For those that sell very high market, they have customers who expect to see that, those customers rely on their dealer to have "nothing but the best" and even if we think it isn't, they think it is. You always think of that dealer as having the very most aesthetic, undamaged pieces and you KNOW you are paying top dollar for them, or Euro. Then to see that same piece discounted a year later? Nope, that's not smart marketing on the part of the dealer, so they quietly let some of those pieces go to second tier sales markets if they don't sell, or they lock them away for a few years and then reintroduce them. I often hear dealers say that someone died and they got the collection back, but I wonder if they aren't just pulling it out of its hiding place and trying again under the guise of getting it back? Who knows, I just know that education is a key factor, disposable income another. It all goes to making the mineral world what it is.
I don't begrudge anyone selling a mineral specimen for a lot of money if it is a mutual positive experience. That money gets injected into mining, buying collections, cleaning and trimming and that benefits us all. You just have to say NO if you don't want to pay the price, or think of it as insanity all the way around, but that hasn't stopped the new people coming in, in fact it has really caught the attention of investors and art collectors and people looking for a new hobby. I found some great bargains at the Tucson show, the dealers were very happy we bought from them, and we were happy we didn't pay exorbitant prices, a win win if ever there was one.
We started collecting 11 years ago, we don't know the "good old days" other than the stories, so perhaps we don't have the same shock as old timers. But we sure know how to thank someone for showing us a good rock, and then saying "No thanks" and walking away when we think it is over priced. And to note, I have waited on some pieces that were first displayed with a very high price tag, till the price was more to my liking, and I often get them at a much lower price because time was my friend. And, I have time....
Cheers and Rock ON!

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Minerals you say? Why yes, I'll take a dozen or so...
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Jesse Fisher




Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 556
Location: San Francisco


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PostPosted: Feb 29, 2016 16:10    Post subject: Re: Tucson, questionable prices?  

Another often overlooked factor contributing to the ever-increasing cost of mineral specimens is the drastic changes that have occurred in recent years to the sources of these specimens. When I first started to go to major shows like Tucson in the mid-1980s there were lots of mineral specimens coming from mines in many places, including Mexico, Peru, Tsumeb, Katanga, the Indian zeolite fields, and many more. One could literally find rooms full of specimens from these locations, and if one had the ability to spot a bargain and the time to look through dozens (if not hundreds) of flats, a good collection could be built without spending a fortune.

Sadly, times have changed. The minerals from all those mines were cheap because they came from commercial working mines that supported themselves through extracting ore. The specimens were a byproduct and were essentially free to those who had the desire and access to collect them. Most commercial mines today operate on a much larger scale and are very mechanized, meaning that miners rarely even get a chance to visit and collect at an active face before everything is blasted to pea-gravel and hauled out for processing.

With the exception of a few places such as Milpilas and perhaps some of the Chinese and Bulgarian mines, most specimen-producing mines are now operated with the intent of recovering specimens rather than ore. This means that the specimens must bear the cost of recovery. Gem-producing mines have long been a good example of this. From personal experience, I can tell you specimen mining isn't cheap, and if you don't believe me, go talk to Joe Dorris or Bryan Lees.

With the diminishing flow of specimens from new sources, the market for buying and selling already assembled collections heats up, and the laws of supply and demand dictate pricing. Things change, always have and always will. The best option is to know what you really want, learn how to spot a bargain, and be prepared to spend a lot of time looking at stuff. And I agree with Alfredo - I really do not think there will ever be an overall crash (or "adjustment") in pricing, as the hobby has attracted far more "deep pockets" than in years past.
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