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Gone Fish'n   Friday January 30th

It was sunny and windy today with a high of 63 degrees. All in all, not a bad day for a little fish'n. However, it looks like Tucson's weather is taking a turn for the worse with a low pressure system moving in. Cooler temperatures and some rain is forecast by our esteemed meteorologists for this weekend. Bring your sweaters, and a rope...

Today I wanted to do a little more shaking out on my gear, so I checked out the show activity in the same general area I visited on Tuesday to see what was new. While most of the shows have not yet officially started, I found plenty of earlybird dealers to visit who already set up and doing business. It's Showtime!

I stopped back in at the Mineral and Fossil Co-op dealers building to see how they were coming along. Here is your basic Pleaseasaur kit patiently awaiting assembly. Now let's see... the knee bone connects to the... This was a long necked reptile which probably took a few fish out of the gene pool back in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era.

It was about 3pm when I stopped by the Co-op building and they didn't have power to the lights yet. At left are several electricians who were hard at work wiring a panel to help remedy that situation. Center and right are a couple of more interior shots to show off the size of this new facility and also the tremendous job that's still ahead for these dealers to get set up. While there, I asked one of them when this show would be ready and open... I was told tommorrow.

I do not think I'd want to be a participant in the set-up party they must be planning for tonight to make that happen.

Mineral and Fossil Co-op, 1635 North Oracle Road, Tucson AZ 85705

Right next to the new Co-op building is the Ramada Inn, which hosts the 'Mother of All Fossil Shows' at Tucson. While there are many other shows where fossils are being exhibited and sold, this show has attracted the most fossil dealers and hosts the largest concentration of them.

Most of the dealers here are receptive to retail traffic from collectors and hobbyists, and this is a popular show with Tucson residents and their children.

While this show doesn't officially start until February 4th, I found about a dozen dealers already moved in and ready for traffic and business, or close too it. One of them was Chinese Minerals and Fossils, Inc.

On the wall they displayed this upscale Kueichousaurus specimen, which looked to be somewhere in the neighborhood of four to five feet from one side of the slab to the other. It's from the middle Triassic and Guizhou province, China. The asking price on this Kueichousaurus was $45,000.

Below the Kueichousaurus were flats of fossilized dinosaur eggs. These varied quite a bit in size and shape with the particular species. The oblong eggs shown above right are Elongatoolithidae from the late Cretaceous and JiangXi province, China. They were priced from about $50 for a broken, partial specimen, to $550 for a complete one with good definition. The rounder egg fossils in the center were all definitely above leaverite class and were priced from about $500 each to $1400 for a pair.

This dealer displayed some nice mineral specimens as well. Shown is a nice scalenohedral calcite from Hunan province, China. This particular specimen was about 10 inches across and wanted $800. Other larger and smaller specimens of the same material were offered between about $250 to $2500.

Chinese Minerals and Fossils Inc. Phone: (317) 837-9848 Fax: 317-837-9848 Email: Fossil888@aol.com

Just south of the Ramada Inn some more dealers had moved in at the Desert Pavilion Show in the parking lot of the Sonoran Desert Marketplace. One of them was Den's Petrified Critters from Rock Springs, Wyoming. Den's had a large area filled with specimens of Wyoming fossilized fish. These come from massive deposits in Wyoming's Green River Shales and are ubiquitous at the Tucson Show. I was given a very nice little booklet, A Fish Story, as a handout, which describes these fossils and the process of quarrying them.

Shown above center and right are some smaller specimens of Knightia, which are present in over 60 percent of the fossils found at this locality. Some places have very heavy concentrations in a single layer, indicating a mass mortality. The fossils in these smaller specimens were about 2-3 inches long and were priced from about $16 and up. The aesthetic group of three shown above right wanted $36. These fossils are popular with collectors due to their availability and relatively low price.

Shown at left is a Priscacara, which grew to a maximum size of about a foot. They are rarer than Knightia and resemble a modern day bluegill or sunfish. This specimen was about 5 inches long and was priced at $150. Shown center is a Mioplosus, which grew to a maximum size of about 16 inches and has a mouthful of small teeth. Mioplosus may have been predatory upon Knightia and Priscacara. This one was $60 and about 7" long. All of these fish date from the Eocene Period about 55 million years ago when the Green River Lake System was formed in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. The Green River Shales accumulated to a depth of 200 feet in some areas.

Shown at right is a larger specimen which would heavily tax just about any wall hanger. This specimen is about 3-4 feet square and I'm told one this size takes a long day's work to prepare. This specimen was $684 net. Other larger specimens in this class wanted $500 to $800 or so.

If you needed some fossilized flys to use to bait a stone fish, Den's had those too! This specimen had a wingspan of about half an inch and wanted you to cast away $12.

Den's Petrified Critters, Rock Springs, WY

Another dealer set up at the Desert Pavilion Show was Midwest Minerals and Mining, owned by fellow Tucson resident, Stan Esbenshade. A lot of Stan's specimens were from Reynolds County, Missouri. Shown center is a gemmy twin calcite from Reynolds County which was about 6" across. It was priced at $60. Shown at right is another Reynolds County calcite specimen on matrix with pyrite. The crystal cluster was an easy 6" across and the overall length of the specimen was about a foot. It wanted $400.

Stan also had some very nice, transparent Elmwood, Tennessee calcites, mostly crystal tips. Stan related that the humongous crystals in the pocket were so massive and intergrown, the only way to economically collect it was to cleave off the crystal tips.

Stan also offered flats of slabbed and polished Illinois and Mexican fluorite slabs. The specimen shown backlighted at left is Illinois material and was priced at $24.

Fluorite is the theme mineral for the Show this year. I already have several nice fluorite specimens in my collection, but of course there's always room for another... I'll also be looking for some fluorite for a lapidary project or two. Besides a pendant, I may also try faceting a large, exhibition fluorite if I can find a suitable piece of rough during the show.

Stan Esbenshade, Midwest Minerals and Mining, Tucson, AZ - Showings by Appointment Only - Phone: (520) 293-8474

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