It was o dark thirty on a fall Saturday morning as three fluorescent mineral collectors set off from Manassas, VA for Fairless Hills, PA. Two of us (John and Pat) live in the area and will be collecting with the silver pick. Our third comrade (Charles) drove from Kettering, OH and brought twenty or so flats of fluorescent rocks to sell. Charles collected these rocks in several locations in Arizona and New Mexico when he lived in those States. We had all been through this early morning drill before but it was not any easier to get going. However, once we get on the way it seems to always be worth the approximately 200 mile trip. Traffic in the Washington, DC – New York City corridor (as we call it here) is not too bad in the early hours of most Saturdays, so it was this day and we make it in good time (about 3.5 hours) arriving at 8:00 am. Coming back it was a different story (about 4.5 hours dodging the worst of traffic).
With visions of glowing rocks soon to pass from one collector to another, we quickly unload Charles’s boxes. Once proper relocation of rocks from car to display table is done, it is every man for himself. Charles arranged his specimens for sale by location and Pat and I started looking around and greeting our fellow collectors and sellers of rocks that glow. In not too many more minutes, Ultraviolation 2017 will officially begin.
As a short digression to provide background, Ultraviolation is a unique rock and mineral show in that only fluorescent minerals are sold. This is the 28th Ultraviolation sponsored and run by the Rock and Mineral Club of Lower Bucks County (Pennsylvania). This show, like all of the other Ultraviolations the three of us have been to, is in the First United Methodist Church on Trenton Road in Fairless Hills, PA. The show is in a large room with a dealer area consisting of about four 3’x8’ tables on each side and eight tables in the center of the room. This year all tables are occupied with sellers of rocks and lamps. The show runs from 9 am-4 pm. The host club also provided delicious and reasonably priced lunch and snacks.
Once every one is set up the emcee, Chuck O’Louglin, rings a small cooking timer bell and announces that the louder cowbell will ring momentarily. When the large cowbell rings everyone knows we have started the rotation sequence for the remainder of the show: approximately 20 minutes of darkness followed by approximately ten minutes of artificial white light. This sequence is repeated at the sound of the cowbell until the show is over and the artificial white light stays on.
At the sound of the first darkness cowbell, at the same time ears notice the sounds of humming UV lamps and eyes quickly adjust to the darkness interrupted by glowing rocks. It took me a little practice to avoid bumping into other rock hunters as we aimed for our targets of potential and likely purchases. Having scouted out rocks in the white light, I knew where I wanted to go, but so did everyone else. At the beginning of the show I liken it to a feeding frenzy with each glow rock hunter trying to bag the most precious or desirable rocks as soon as possible. These prizes often have more than one hunter and there is a dance to get to the front of the crowd (or “rival hunters”), grab a prized rock to further consider buying it, or to actually buy it. Some hunters are more diplomatic and sensitive to their fellow hunters in this process than others are. Later in the show there more elbow room to take along look at sale items and more of an opportunity to look for markdowns or to negotiate a lower price.
Random Photos of Shoppers and Dealers
There were other very nice selections of all manner of fluorescent rocks, so that there was something for everyone in almost every size and price range. This year a special new seller was Rhett Peterson with his the Engenious Designs lamp series Rhett Peterson. Rhett came all the way from MO. Rhett introduced his freshly built 120 Watt shortwave display unit for which he was taking orders.
From memory here are some of the rocks and their sellers that stood out to me because of my personal interests:
Franklin Mineral Museum had a number of more uncommon Franklin white light minerals for sale.
Chris Luzier had mostly Franklin minerals with an emphasis on several large and showy esperites.
Phil Shizume also had a wide variety of Franklin specialties.
Dick Bostwick and Tema Hecht had a number of unusual species from unusual and classic locations.
Howie Green had self-collected Greenland, Sweden and MW specialties with a special box of LW fluorescent pieces.
Charles Grogan had AZ and NM rocks from Miller Canyon, Hull Mine, and Patagonia, (all in AZ) and Kelly and Silver Hill in NM.
Others had lovely rocks difficult to describe in just a single sentence.
There were two excellent (droolworthy) but not for sale displays: SW Franklin minerals by Lee McIlvaine and LW minerals from around the world by Howie Green.
However, as important as it was to collect with the silver pick new and exciting pieces for our displays and collections, it is more fun to get together with old friends. It give me great joy to catch up on friends collections and other things they have been doing. Often I have a chance to meet folks, who I know are in the FMS, whom I have conversed with by email or seen on facebook, or who you have seen in photos. With great anticipation I am now dreaming about the NERF Ball only a little more than a month away.
Howie's LW display - white light and LED