(520) 322-5773


"Limited Budget ... Unlimited Pleasure"

TGMS Member Post:  Jerry and Mary Glazman

As docents at both the TGMS Show and at the University of Arizona Mineral Museum, we have heard from a lot of parents and grandparents that their child/grandchild was interested in collecting rocks but everything that they saw was so expensive.  How could they encourage the child and not spend a fortune?  We were reminded of the first TGMS Show we ever attended which had a case displaying a collection of minerals that had been purchased at the shows for an average price of $10 each.  At the 2014 Show, we made the mistake (?) of asking, during the Docent meeting, why there wasn't a display case like that anymore.  Everyone thought it had been a really good display case, but since the person who did it was no longer doing it, we were asked 'why don't you do it.”  We could think of lots of reasons why we couldn't, like we had never put together a display case of minerals and had no idea how to go about it.  

But the seed had been planted.  So we spoke to Pat and Rose about the mechanics of entering a case at the Show. “Sure, just send us an email indicating interest and we will get the material to you for the 2015 Show.”  During the 2014 Show we made a point of checking out exhibits to see what could be put in various sized display cases and get an idea of what worked to make a display interesting and appealing.  We also checked out vendors to see what quality specimens we could find for around $10 per piece.  It didn't take long for our original concept of 10 or 12 inexpensive specimens and some text to morph into the idea of a display of inexpensive mineral specimens someone could buy plus examples of minerals we had self collected.  We could include some rockhound guidebooks as well as a pitch to join a rock and gem club reinforced by specimens we had won at club raffles and free give-aways.  So we put in our application for a display case.  We weren't sure we would have enough quality material to fill a four foot case but anything smaller was definitely too small. 

One of the biggest problems was coming up with a good title for the exhibit.  We kept coming up with things like “Collecting on a Shoe String” or “Collecting on a Budget” and those just didn't have the right tone.  It was literally the last minute for submitting the application for our case – everything on the form had been filled in except for the title - then we came up with “Limited Budget...Unlimited Pleasure.”

Once we had received notice that our application had been accepted, we continued to plan the case.  Then about a month before the show, we received an e-mail that all the four foot cases were needed for the competitive exhibits and only 30” cases were available.  We thought about what we could leave out of our planned exhibit.

However, the next day we received an e-mail that there was a pair of six foot high, three foot wide cases that had been set up at the bottom of the ramp going into the Arena at the 2014 Show.  If we wanted, we could have one of these cases.  We asked around but no one could remember exactly what those cases looked like.  Then Ken Don found a photograph of one of the cases and someone else remembered that the cases had come from Tucson Store Fixtures.  Sure enough, on the Tucson Store Fixtures web site was a picture of a “fiber optic” case that matched Ken's photo, It was 81” tall, 40” wide, with three glass shelves plus a base, fully wired with built in lights.  It was a beautiful case with curved glass doors front and back and glass on both sides.  Yikes!  In less than a day we had gone from a four foot wide case with glass on one side to about 12 linear feet of shelf space visible from four sides.  Did we even have enough quality material to display?  Glass shelves … we would need stands and things to display the minerals and protect the glass shelves plus label holders so people could read labels on higher shelves. 

A frantic month was spent in going though 30 years of self-collected minerals.  A lot of “why did I ever collect that?” stuff was disposed of, so it actually was a good thing.  Then the early shows opened and we needed to purchase the inexpensive minerals to be displayed. We planned to purchase as many as possible from vendors who would be at the TGMS Show. Armed with the show guides, we attacked the early shows.  Our original intent was to buy 10 to 12 small, quality mineral specimens at an average price of $10 or less. Enthusiasm did overcome judgment in a few cases (we kept finding things we really wanted for our collection) and ended up with 16 minerals at a total price of $158.91 meeting our goal of an average cost of under $10 a specimen. The least expensive was $3.00 and the most expensive was $25.00.

And then it was the day before the Show opened.  Set up hours were noon to 6 PM.  We planned to get there around 1 PM so vendors and exhibitors who knew what they were doing wouldn't be held up by us newbies checking in.  First problem.  We couldn't find our case. It wasn't in the Arena where it was supposed to be. It took about an hour to locate the case still out in the unloading area and still wrapped in plastic, then get it set up in the Arena.  While setting up the case, we were pleasantly surprised by the spirit of friendliness and co-operation between the vendors.  If someone needed scissors, a paper cutter, glass cleaner or whatever, no problem, someone else had it and shared.  Fortunately, loading the case didn't take as long as we had expected because at 6 PM we needed to be at the docent orientation meeting with Ellen Alexander.

The top shelf was too high to see anything laid flat on it so we put an assortment of books – rockhounding site guides, a BLM map, a mineral identification book – stood up so the covers could be read.

The second from the top shelf was the right height to see mineral specimens and that's where we put the 16 specimens we had bought. Specimens ranged from good sized chunks of Amethyst and Celestite geodes to a thumbnail sized Dioptase from Tsumeb.  Most specimens averaged one to two inches in size and included a Quartz cluster from Mt, Ida, a Quartz scepter from the Spruce claim, a Pyrite from Navajones, an Azurite from Copper Basin, a Pakistani Aquamarine, a Cavansite, and a Crocoite to mention a few. 

On the third shelf we put mostly smaller self-collected minerals and specimens won at club raffles and free give-aways.  These included Garnets from Montana, Peridot from San Carlos, Arizona, Sapphires (with examples of as found, after heat treatment, and heat treated and faceted), as found and polished Turquoise collected on a TGMS field trip to Nevada, Chrysocolla, Jasper and Carnelian, and some geodes, to name a few.  Minerals that could be cabbed or otherwise polished, we tried to display both the rough as collected and finished cabbed or polished pieces. 

On the bottom shelf we placed big, heavy specimens, like a large piece of petrified wood, a chunk of Golden Barite, a chunk of Blue Fluorite with Barite, a chunk of Arizona Blue Opal, and a yard rock with Calcite on Chrysocolla collected on a field trip to the Mission Mine, to show that it's OK to collect rocks that are just “pretty rocks” that catch your eye.  On the sides of the case, we displayed a few of the photographs that we had taken on club field trips.

Would we do it again next year if we have the chance?  You bet!! We learned a lot this year and are already planning how we can do it better.

Photos by: Jerry and Mary Glazman