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An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine
  
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 04:04    Post subject: An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine  

In the January-February edition of Le Règne Minéral, Louis-Dominique Bayle, the editor of the magazine, published an editorial that I thought was very interesting because I think it describes very well some of the "hidden forces" that are moving the foundations of the mineral collecting and are modifying the way which it was understood until now. I asked Louis-Dominique if he could translate that text to be published in FMF and very kindly he asked his collaborator Tim Greenland to do it and here is the result.

Many thanks to Louis-Dominique and Tim, I strongly recommend to everyone with notions of the French language to subscribe to Le Règne Minéral. Considering the cost and quality of that magazine I guarantee that the financial investment of the subscription will be totally rewarding! ;-)

Here you have the translation:


From the Editorial of "Le Règne Minéral”, January/February 2018:

As you will see from our calendar of future events, the number of mineral fairs is still increasing greatly. Meetings are being organized all over France in addition to the established events. However, mineral trading at these new shows is only poor, given the present economic situation, and their proliferation is no solution in the medium or long term. The quality in many of them is poor, with an invasion of junk jewellery or ‘fantasy’ work (with little fantasy!), and galloping ‘lithotherapy’. As a result, many (although not all) of these fairs become commonplace and lose their friendly character as places where passionate collectors could meet and talk. What should be a treat, and still was only some 10 years ago, becomes a vulgar and soulless commercial opportunity. This multiplication of events seems to me to be a step in the wrong direction. Where there were only 3 to 6 shows a year in a region, there are now some 10 or 15. The collector can’t keep up – and neither can his wallet! He must either divide his budget by the number of shows, or go to only the best of them – or not to go to any at all because there are other purchase and exchange opportunities available today. Indeed, the ‘web’ provides sites that can substitute for several shows… The cake is sliced thinner and thinner and everyone’s share is reduced. Dealers are suffering too, from increased costs of travel to be present at as many shows as possible.
Of course, the picture is not all black; certain events manage, despite everything, to maintain a high level with participants and ‘prestige’ showcases that live up to their name. Indeed some regional events achieve good quality with a mix of commerce, culture, conviviality and conversation – to everybody’s pleasure.
Initially these ‘bourses’ were social occasions; exceptional events that were waited for with anticipation and attended for the pleasure of discovery and learning, and of meeting and exchanging with other passionate practitioners. Some people would travel hundreds of kilometres in the day so as not to miss the occasion.
In my travels, I have had the chance to attend foreign single-day shows – what a profusion of minerals and fossils in these places! From 8.30, half-an-hour before the opening, the collectors begin to arrive and to chatter together over a steaming cup of coffee – or perhaps a flask of schnapps or grappa passed from hand to hand… The church clock rings 9 o’clock, the doors open and the collectors rush to be the first at their favourite stand. The serious dealing gets under way – and stories and information get shared – perhaps some ‘spam’ too! All passes in good humour and with smiles. Before you know it, it’s already 5 o’clock and time to close. The party is over and everyone goes off home again, happy and satisfied. Like a sprint, it is all very quick; some have seen everything, others not – but the atmosphere was there – just like old times, you might say… The model is interesting and, perhaps, to be followed. A show should, above all, be for enthusiasts. If you have a moment, go to a village garden market – you will find an atmosphere very different from the sort of show in our microcosm today and more like that of the events of 1975 – 1990 (without wishing to be an ‘old fogey”!!!).
In recent times, some private sales of this nature have been organised. You will not find them in any calendar – even on internet – but the old ‘jungle drums’ come out of storage and word-of-mouth contacts spread the news so that a few tens of collectors and a few dealers meet for a single day. The party gets into full swing with discussions, sales, purchases and exchanges between passionate participants. Midday brings its picnic and the bottles go around, tongues loosen, stories are told and re-told and legends are born or repeated. Beautiful specimens and rarities come out of their boxes; the atmosphere is just simply great.
Why all the secrecy, you may ask? Perhaps simply to preserve that atmosphere and to avoid the sales of objects that have no real place in our fascinating hobby. Why should we not try to recapture the spirit that was present at our events such a short time ago???
Our shows should not be allowed to fall into mediocrity, so let us all reflect on the future of these events that are at grave risk of becoming uninteresting and so numerous as to court their own extinction.

Louis-Dominique BAYLE

Director of Publication, Le Règne Minéral.





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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 10:39    Post subject: Re: An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine  

A heartfelt and valid take on the state of (some of) the art. To some degree it is a natural...and regrettable...consequence of the burgeoning "value" of mineral specimens. There is a persistent mislatch between the desire of the dealers to make a decent (,or better,) living and the desire of the show promoters to make a buck off the show fees...colliding with the limited pocketbooks of the collectors.

However, despite the nostalgic attraction, I am not convinced that going back to the good old days is possible...and suspect that trying to do so is futile. No one engineered the good old days...they were the way things were at the time...and times change.

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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 10:51    Post subject: Re: An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine  

Change is....and it seems more likely that we can work to guide the direction we would like to see the change happen than roll it back. Here in Tucson we have focused emphasis on exhibits and education. Everyone can afford to listen, look and learn and sometimes just seeing the great rocks can be satisfying (as can sharing what you have). This brings in the numbers the show needs to survive as well as the collectors the dealers need to survive...and with luck some of the viewers will become collectors.

I will argue that the real challenge to all shows is getting the apparently enormous pool of internet based collectors off of their screens and into the physical shows. There are a few dealers who make a concerted effort to do this and it has been very successful. New blood, new perspectives (and new money) will be our future.

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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 11:37    Post subject: Re: An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine  

With the new global economy, minerals for the most part have become a commodity to be bought and sold with little regard for anything other than their profit potential. The days where you could purchase a quality piece from a foreign dealer at a ridiculously low price, place a 1000% mark up on it and move it on to a collector are quickly disappearing .The internet has educated foreign dealers to the prices paid for quality specimens in the America's and across Europe and now they are demanding what they see as their fair share of the profits.

As a dealer, I can attest to the benefits of global economy, never before has such a large selection of minerals and fossils been available to the buying public. The increased supply has in effect moderated prices to a certain extent. As competition increases, it has put the onus on dealers and collectors to dig a little deeper for the prized pieces.

I recognize that many mineral dealers frown on the profusion of jewelry and metaphysical dealers now present at shows but it brings more eyes to your booth, many who wouldn't be there if not for the accessory items being presented. With the number of shows available, dealers have to understand their client base and present at shows where they are most likely to be successful, they are certainly not required to try and attend every show.

As for the good old days, I clearly remember conversations in Denver and Tucson in the late 90's and early 2000's where dealers complained that the hobby was dying and they couldn't see improvement in sight. They appeared puzzled and couldn't recognize that the main contributor back then was the lack of supply of reasonable priced, quality specimens. Gone are the days where you take a $40 specimen price it at $800 and then offer it on sale at a keystone price. While some dealers still prefer this business model, do we really want to go back to this?

Change is inevitable, how you adapt will define your success.

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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 11:52    Post subject: Re: An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine  

Plus ça change...plus c'est la même chose
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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 12:14    Post subject: Re: An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine  

Peter Megaw wrote:
Plus ça change...plus c'est la même chose


Tellement vrai, Peter

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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 13:08    Post subject: Re: An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine  

The only constant in life is change. It happens whether we want it or not, and often in ways that were once hard to imagine. Either we try to adapt while still finding pleasure and reward in what we are doing, or we move on to something new. If we have the energy, we can even try to direct a small part of the change, but many times that amounts to swimming against the current and we eventually get tired of it. It is easy to get nostalgic about how things used to be in some past time that is now seen through rose-colored glasses, but the past is water under the bridge, as they say. I personally find little satisfaction in whining on about how things are seemingly not as good as they once were.

What we can do is to try and focus on seeking out what we enjoy in this hobby. Personally, the drastic rise in the value of good specimens means that I can afford fewer of them. The shift of many local shows away from minerals and towards general attraction items such as beads and trinkets means that I now must be more selective about where I spend the time and money, and concentrate on attending major world-wide shows in hopes of adding to the collection. But this has given us the chance to develop a world-wide group of friends who we meet up with a couple times a year and enjoy our mutual pursuits.

Aside from spending money, the hobby is always in dire need of people willing to spend their time and efforts on education and outreach. We all can do research and write articles. We can volunteer to put in displays at shows that might grab someone's attention and get them interested in minerals and science. There are lots of proactive things we can all be doing to help push change in a direction we might want to go. Pining away for what is most likely an imagined golden age of the past doesn't do much for the present unless we use it as a motivation to try and shape the direction of change.
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PostPosted: Jul 03, 2018 13:46    Post subject: Re: An editorial to enlighten us from the Le Règne Minéral magazine  

Hi Everyone - yes, this is a familiar topic of discussion in the UK too. We have a preponderance of what are often referred to as "bead shows", and relatively few "proper mineral shows" - these being principally The Bakewell Rock Exchange (the largest UK mineral show), the Sussex Mineral Show in Haywards Heath, and the series of four or five Oxford Mineral Shows. Recently a new show, organised by Don Edwards, has been launched at Leyburn in Yorkshire, and a small local show now in its second year is run in Weardale.

I think that Jesse is right in flagging the contributions that we, perhaps more experienced collectors, can bring to the hobby to encourage newcomers. Exhibitions, volunteering activities through local museums, giving surplus specimens to interested youngsters, and links with local schools all have a part to play. And yes, publications - articles in general or specialist magazines, picking up on local themes and stories all help, and locally themed guides and historical accounts have a place to play too.

I have just started work (yesterday) on the layout of a new book on the Minerals if the English Midlands which I expect to see published later this year - it seeks to paint a portrait of the region and will, I hope, do something to raise awareness among the general public of the mineralogical and mining heritage of the English Midlands, and perhaps to encourage people to delve a little deeper into their local history and geology. Time will tell!

For anyone interested to know more about the project, I'll be posting periodic updates on progress on my website
https://www.britishmineralogy.com/wordpress/?page_id=791
(link normalized by FMF)



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