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Prices... an outsider's view, with thanks

Hi List,

I'd just like to add my comments to the rumbling debate about prices. Maybe
there are others out there who feel the same, who'll agree with me, I don't

I'm an enthusiast, a very small scale collector. How small? Well, I have a
small blue card-file box sat on my bookshelf over there, to my left, sitting
on top of my photo albums full of Hale-Bopp pics I took last year, and inside
that box are a Canyon Diablo specimen, a Sikhote Alin specimen, an etched
Gibeon slice, a single and small Holbrook stone, a couple of tektites and a
little box with some Zagami dust secured inside. Of pallasites, and other
exotics which you all take for granted I have only pictures, and mental
images, hopes and dreams... 

I'm frustrated but I'm happy. I started collecting meteorites because, as an
amateur astronomer, I wanted to be able to hold, to actually *hold* a piece of
the universe which I spent so long observing, loving from afar; I have grown
up largely on my own, standing in muddy fields at midnight watching Perseids
skip across the sky like stones across a pond... and I saved and scrimped and
saved some more until finally, finally, I sent off for a Canyon Diablo
specimen, and when I opened that envelope and held that piece of metal in my
hand I just stared at it, and at the picture of Meteor Crater on the page of
the book opened beside me, and I felt a link with the universe, a bond with
it... I looked at the meteorite, and at the book, and thought... "wow... THAT
made THAT...!!!!" and I was hooked.

After that I learned, with growing amazement, that I could buy other
meteorites! I got a Haag catalogue, a Bethany Catalogue, others, and was
amazed at what I could buy... or what I'd be able to buy if I had the money,
which I didn't... so I saved and saved and saved, and very, very slowly my
collection grew until I had what I considered to be a collection
representative enough to allow me to use them. Yes, I said USE them. You see,
I'm sure many of you on this List have youir collections housed in wonderful
display cases, beautifully arranged and lit, and I would love that, really I
would, but I just can't afford that, and will never be able to. So, instead, I
take my little metal friends into schools to show the kids I hand them round,
let them hold them in their dirty, grubby hands, feel how heavy they are, see
the look in their eyes when it clicks, when they realise that they're holding
something that came from space...!!! WOW!!!!!! 

On Saturday I'm putting my meteorites in an exhibition of space and astronomy
"stuff" here in my town, and hundreds of people will get to hold that piece of
Canyon Diablo... and they'll go home amazed that they had actually held a
piece of rock from space (yes, I known it's metal, but most insist on calling
it rock!)... 

I want more. I want a lot more, of course I do, we ALL share that feeling
right? Right now I really want to wake up in the morning with nough money to
let me buy my fiancee a meteorite ring or pendant, but unless I manage to
convince some publishers that my ideas really WOULD work then that is unlikely
to happen... and I'll probably just add another small specimen to my box now
and again. I have a Wants list, and I take it out now and again, and look at
my catalogues and depress myself as I think "If only..." and I read the
postings on this List and read all about Portales and Monahans etc and I
laugh, amazed at how "the other half live"... 

... and then I open my box, take out my Moldavite, hold it up to my study lamp
and see the way it shines like jade... I see the delicate flow lines traced
out on its surface... I feel the texture... and I smile again, because I still
can't believe I'm actually holding - damn! I'm actually holding!!! - a piece
of the Solar System!!! And it's beautiful, it's actually a thing of beauty, a
rough, unpolished jewel with its origins in the cold, dark of space... and one
night I took it outside with me and looked at Mars **through** it, focussing
the planet's light through it into my eye like a lens, just to make that
connection stronger...

But I am well aware that I wouldn't be able to do that if it wasn't for YOU
guys who go in search of specimens, who hit the road and do the groundwork on
behalf of people like me, and I thank you for it!!! I do, because in my world,
of a crappy low-paid job, where a "big decision" is "Hmmm, do I buy toilet
roll or shaving foam this week?" I can't take off in a station wagon and go
scour a strewn field. The best I can do is keep my eyes open wherever I go, in
the admittedly optimistic hope of stumbling across something on a hillside, or
beach or stream bank... 

So, as for all this discussion re. prices, fine, go ahead and argue amongst
yourselves, it's obviously fun for you and it's entertaining for "us", the
little guys to listen in. Sure, it's a business, and I'm sure some of you make
a great living from it, but I know you pay for that, in many ways, so Go For
It, I say! I don't begrudge any of you a penny, not a penny: you do the work,
and - going back to an earlier argument - if it wasn't for you then many
meteorites would end their days wedging open a farm gate or stopping some
faded paperbacks from sliding off a shelf... so as long as we can ensure that
researchers get to study EVERYTHING then you have my blessing to chase em down
guys, take no prisoners...

But just... well... while you're wheeling and dealing, and sticking zeroes
onto your prices in a race to make the longest number, please bear in mind
that swimming around you sharks and whales are god knows how many of us little
fish,  who follow you hoping to pick up the scraps that fall from your
mouths... don't forget us? Please?  I have to think - I have to *hope* - that
inside all of you that wide-eyed amateur spark of excitement and pride still
shines, that your initial motivation AT LEAST is the hunt, the quest, and not
the money.  

Just don't forget that for every one of You there are a thousand of Us out
here, dreaming of the day we can afford a piece of one of those meteorites
which stopped being "sexy" for you a long, long time ago. 

When I get my meteorites back on Sunday I won't reach into that display case
and bring out an investment, or a piece of capital, I'll bring out a piece of
metal left over from the birth of our Solar System, and imagine it spinning,
waltzing through space, lit by the distant, dim Sun, a thousand lifetimes away
from Earth...

Please tell me we all at least have *that* in common..?

Stuart A


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