Mar 1, 2018
Normally I do not send around a report, but now that I have some responsibility with the FMS, I consider it a duty (and a nice one). I have been going to the Tucson shows for 30+ years and have seen just about everything, but every year is a bit different, and there is always much to see and learn. These days I travel to most of the world’s large shows—so a comparison is in order too. I visit about 100 or so vendors that I have purchased from previously at Tucson. Most know me by sight and a few by name. All look for my UV lights. Some don’t have rooms but arrange meetings. Often I am surprised by what they bring. But sometimes disappointed.
This year was best characterized by interesting fluorites. I first discovered el Tule Mexico fluorescent LW red fluorite at Top Gem. They have had el Tule fluorites for years and they never showed much of anything—but this year it changed! TG had about 500 pieces in many flats their first day and I found 4 or 5 that fl. as good as any Mapimi fluorites. Perhaps a bit lighter in saturation, but all nice aesthetic specimens. More specimens came in after much of the first wave of FMS enthusiasts left, but few showed much response. Still the seed is there---I will ALWAYS be looking at these in the future, and I alerted the first wave of FMSers that were around (you know who you are!). The next fluorite was a chance find at Spirifer minerals---a fine Berbes, Spain fluorite----purple in physical color and bright red/pink under LW (Convoy). The Berbes fluorites are all nicely crystallized, unlike the Mapimi ones, so the value is there just for the aesthetics. This piece had 3 inch crystals and was 5 inches across. I already have a 10 inch Berbes piece in my collection but this was choice. It got shown around the dinner table one evening under Convoy glare. These Berbes fluorites are not the ones that show the dodecahedral terminations on the cube faces---in fact they must be earlier crystallied ones. Often fluorescent red ones can be seen in the cubes. The red fl. ones are not common, but you need to check the cube ones only to find them.
Next up was a new find of fluorite from Morocco—a new section of the el Hamman mine. It is a dark yellow brown fluorite that looks a bit like the clay center Ohio material, but does not fluoresce like it. Bright pink under the Convoy and blue-white under SWUV. The base of each specimen had bright blue fl. like most el Hamman material. The vendor had 5 really good pieces, which I bought, and another 11 decent pieces. I passed on those but now regret it. Maybe he will have them in France at the St. Marie show. If so I’ll jump on them. Interestingly, I have a number of similarly physically colored fluorites in my collection from Europe but not Morocco—and they fluoresce somewhat similarly----so the physical absorption is related in some direct way to the fluorescence color. I plan to investigate this.
Still One other interesting fluorite is that from Erongo, Namibia that fl. deep blue LW but a pink-orange SW. It occurs not in nice crystals but in unusual forms, sometimes stalactitic. I found a very fine and large one to my surprise at The Uncarved Block and jumped on it. A better piece than any I had seen in Namibia, and I am told these are rare. I must try to get a decent photo of it to show around. This baby will not leave my collection. Rather hard to photograph the fluorescence colors.
Another find of red fl. fluorite was from China, noted by Mark Cole at one dinner. I ran this down and found that many Chinese vendors had it----a new find called “tanzanite fluorite” due to its purple color. Only a few percent of specimens had red LW fl, but it could be found. I bought a few pieces for study.
Although I consider myself jaded with respect to calcites I still picked up a few at Top Gem. They had specimens from a few Mexican localities with bright red cores and outer blue-white emission. Unlike in past years I saw nothing from Russia that looked interesting. Chinese calcites from a number of localities were interesting, including a few new manganocalcite localities. Unfortunately all of these were monomineralic and hence they seemed less desirable.
Calcite on fl. quartz SWUV Peru 6”
Mt. St. Hilaire (MSH) Quebec
One dealer had a nice suite of choice MSH specimens. I selected several of his best. One was a choice serandite with many leucophanite xls all over it. He had a small but choice example of green-fluorescing genthelvite, but not large enough for my collection. I found essentially no MSH specimens anywhere else at the shows---whereas I had seen quite a few in the European shows. MSH is closed—quite a shame.
I found the Westward Look show to be a disappointment. A lot of “eye candy” minerals and few old great classics. Nothing from Franklin and only 2 specimens from Mt. St. Hilaire. Amazing! Evidently the classics don’t sell here (Tucson) and they can be better found at Munich and St. Marie-- my own observation. Still there were a few things to note. A large complex wine-colored scheelite from Korea was available at WL. These are so much nicer than the Pingwu China scheelites, but command high prices. This one was 10k$ and worth it. Large and perfectly crystallized.
Among the other shows there is the Zinn show at Hotel Tucson CC, and the shows at the RedLIon Inn and Riverpark Inn. Riverpark continues to improve for minerals and I found as much there as at the HTCC. RedLIon is more mixed but good specimens can be found---many dealers keep the best specimens “in the back”. The HTCC show has the most mineral dealers, but I feel that the overall diversity has been falling in recent years. Nowhere near as good as the old Executive Inn shows of 10+ years back. I did not even bother going to the 22nd street show as I had found nothing there in past years. The so-called “Tucson New Mineral Show” was also quite disappointing with maybe two good dealers (IMHO).
It is useful, if you have a sellers license, to go to TG and the other wholesale venders. There are now two wholesale dealer locations on Oracle Rd----almost across the street from one another. I obtained many nice specimens (e.g. bright fl pyromorphite) from these vendors.
Worldwide show comparisons
For me, Tucson has faded as the place to go for the best minerals. It is close to CA so I will continue to go, and the weather is usually nice. However at both Munich and St. Marie there are as many (roughly) mineral dealers, but all within walking distance at one location—and the shows are only 3-4 days long. Intense but fast and thus cheaper to attend. Also many very good European dealers do not come to Tucson, because of the expense of the long show durations and shipping costs, so you miss these at Tucson. And some that do come to Tucson have much larger presence (and diversity of specimens) at the European shows. I will report on these shows also this year, perhaps in more detail for those who don’t know about them. Perhaps some of you can enlighten me on the great finds at the TGMS show.