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- Subject: Perspective
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org (STEVEN R. SCHONER)
- Date: Tue, 07 Jul 1998 10:53:41 -0700 (MST)
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We need to get a grip, folks. With the last two falls (Monahans,
and Portales), it seems that no sooner had they hit the ground prices
went up, and up.
How high can prices go?
These now things cost more than equal amounts of gold or platinum.
The gap between "field" price and "dealer" price is closing.
Dealers will be pinched out, collectors, and universities will be
priced out. The only ones who benefit (if they have an interest in
meteorites) will be the ones whose property upon which the meteorites
fall or are found. And they may keep their meteorites because the
posted "internet prices" prices everyone out. (This seems to be the
case with the Portales main mass, as the finder has from what I hear
refused over $100,000-- an unprecedented price paid by universities.)
It seems to me that money has become central in this issue.
I am a dealer of sorts-- but not a "hard core" dealer. I have been
collecting, buying, selling and trading meteorites for 35 years of my
I am not as well known as many of the others who came into this
years after I did. My opinion on the price situation of today is
that things have gotten grossly out of hand.
Come on people-- What are meteorites really worth? There is nothing
about them that makes them intrinsically valuable, such as gold or
platinum. You can lay an ounce of either metal on the buyer's table
and there is no question as to the worth.
Meteorites on the other hand have value purely because we know
something about their origins, and the mystery of them. For most
laymen, they have no value at all because the value of their substance
is only the value of the elements that they are made of. Not much.
We as collectors value them because we are intensely interested in them--
Not because they are an "investment". Be a stock broker, or stock investor
if that is your mentality.
Dealers can run all out to be the first to get the fall-- pay high prices--
and run up the prices. Then hype it on the internet to make the high
priced sale. "Let's get the rich stockmarket people interested in
meteorites-- then we'll see some big money!"
Its easy to get caught up in all of that. Some of the dealers I have
spoken to say they are doing it more and enjoying it less. Money making
is a hard taskmaster.
But for me, meteorite hunting is a joy-- A joy that I have had since
childhood. And the child within me lives even now as I search meteorites
out. My perspective on the current situation is-- why should
anyone collect meteorites? What is your reason?
Is it because you want the rarest?
Or do you want to ammass the largest collection, with the best specimens?
(better own a bank)
Do you want to make money, and have what you think is an excellent
Or is it some other reason?
I collect, and hunt because I enjoy it. My collection is substantial,
but does not hold a candle to some of the others out there. But one
thing I can say about it is that it gave, and continues to give me
a great deal of satisfaction. Money has nothing to do with it. I was
and still am, enthralled with the origins of these objects, the. But
when I sell a piece, I set the price in terms of how much time, effort
and cost that I have in it. But I try not to look at my specimens simply
in terms of $$$, and would collect and hunt them even if they were
When I first started my collection back in the 1960's they were
To give you an idea of that, I was buying meteorites from Nininger,
and later Huss for pennies per/gram, and I thought then that that was
a high price. The highest I ever paid for any piece then was
$1.00 per/gram and that was for Kenna. I got Allende for less than
$10 per/lb, and a very nice 8 oz piece of Murchison direct from
Australia for $50 (Could have got two other complete stones with weights
of .75 lb, and 1.2 lbs, for an additional $200.) These were very high
prices then, and my Dad thought I was crazy spending my hard earned
cash on rocks. I have the Murchison, and the Kenna to this day. I
bought many other meteorites for just a few dollars per/lb. And I
found others for no more than the expense of time and the 50 cents
per gallon that gas cost back then. Not many people even thought of
collecting meteorites in the 1960's, and except for Nininger, and his
son-in-law Huss, there were no suppliers or "dealers".
I didn't see the value of these pieces, and the others in my collection
in terms of $$$, then, and I don't now. People often ask me how much my
entire collection is worth. I shrug my shoulders and say "How much is your,
or my family worth?"
For me, I just cannot put a $$$ value on my family, or my collection.
My collection will be donated to an institution after I depart Earth, and
I will take a detour on the way to my Maker in order to check out the
sources of meteorites first hand.
I see the value of meteorites in other terms.
Terms that are not so easy to express.
Some of my most cherished specimens are those that I found myself.
They may be common chondrites, or a rusty iron, or a pallasite from
Glorieta, or a sponge like piece from Imilac, but they mean more to me
than any piece that I paid $$$ per/gram to obtain.
Portales fell while I was searching Glorieta. I heard about it while I was
there, and considered going to Portales just to see for myself. Perhaps I
should have. But I didn't. Instead, I stayed at Glorieta, which I have
searched for over 15 years. It is an extremely difficult site, with rugged
terrain. It is criss crossed with treacherous ravines ascending into the
mountains. I stayed, and endured it in my quest for ever larger specimens
as I trace out the strewnfield. My quest was successful-- I returned home
with a tremendous 2,702 gram Glorieta "club" shaped meteorite, the largest
one of its type that I found thus far. I am very happy with my new find.
Someday, after all the hype and hoopla has subsided, I'll go there and
return with a peice of that, too-- one that I will find. I'll set it
beside the big Glorieta.
For 35 years I have kept a simple and time tested perspective on meteorite
hunting, collecting, and dealing-- The same perspective that drove my
friend and mentor, the late Harvey Nininger, to ammass the greatest private
meteorite collection ever.
Enjoy it first.
Money, and dealing is secondary. If selling pieces pays for the time
and effort to get them, fine. But if money takes away from the enjoyment
of collecting them, then find some other hobby, coin collecting,fishing--
Harvey Nininger's enthusiasm transcended the monetary considerations
that he had. He found a way when they were just mere curiosities, with
not much value at all.
It was his curiosity, his enthusiasm that sparked my interest, and the
interest of countless others, many who are prominent in the field of
Harvey Nininger was a "dealer" yes- but for him that was secondary.
And from what I remember him telling me, it was the "dealer" aspect of
his work that troubled him the most.
My dealer friends have often asked me why I don't go into meteorites
"full time.", and be an out and out "dealer".
My answer is:
"When you are dating a lady-- its all fun and games-- pure bliss.
"When you are married-- its nose to the grindstone-- pure work.
I have worked at other jobs, machinist, 10 years, Park Ranger 10 years,
and other jobs besides, all the while having my "affair" with meteorites.
What a great time I have had, what great people I have met (and not so
great ones, too). But it has all been fun- great fun.
And when a piece leaves my collection to join that of another who also
has an affair with meteorites, it gives me great joy that my fellow
collector appreciates it as much as I do. That is the joy of this
fraternity of meteorite collectors. We share not only our interest
in meteorites, but the joy and wonder that these objects inspire.
The Bible says, that "money is the root of all evil. No matter what
one may say about the Bible, I think this is true. Mix the love of
money with your love of meteorites, and you will muddy the pot.
That is my perspective on the matter. I am not concerned that I
don't have a piece of DAG 262; Monahans; or even Portales. They
will come to my collection when they come. Who knows-- maybe the
next one will fall in my own back yard!
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