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- Subject: Opinion
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org (STEVEN R. SCHONER)
- Date: Thu, 09 Jul 1998 14:19:38 -0700 (MST)
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I tried to post this earlier, but it does not seem to have gone
through. This will, however, be the last time I will address the
As I stated before, meteorite prices are getting out of hand.
We can thank dealers for that.
Because of the internet, and numerous news stories that publish
exaggerated prices that dealers pay and charge, more and more people
are becoming aware as to how much specimens are worth. And we are
the ones that determine what meteorites are "worth". Eventually
prices will be so high that less wealthy collectors will unable to
afford them. What will happen then is that less meteorites will be
sold. And with everyone demanding exorbitant prices nothing will
move. Maybe then prices will go down, but it may be a long time
before that happens. (As with other "collectables" I have seen pricey
coins and antiques sit on store shelves for years.)
Then there are the demands of the finders.
They, knowing virtually nothing about metorites other than that they
are "worth their weight in gold", will sit on them for a long time
before they sell. And if they have a good source of income, they may
never sell until they get the price that they want. I have seen this
For years I have urged a set price for wholesale purchases--
A price that is set and all agree to. When I first stared collecing
many, many years ago, a beautiful 50 lb brenham turned up. The finder,
heard that I was interested in meteorite, and called me up. 50 lbs
was a lot of meteorite for me then, and I had no idea what to pay, and
neither did the farmer have any idea what to ask.
I called Harvey Nininger and asked him, I spoke with G. Huss, too.
Their suggestion. If a good specimen, $20 - $30 per/lb. If really
exceptional, maybe a bit higher. Never once did, Nininger or Huss
ask me anyting about the piece. Then when the farmer asked to call
around for verification of my offer, I gave him a list of Universities,
meteorite expert, including Nininger and Huss.
They ALL confirmed my offer, and not once did any of them try to
outbid my offer, though a few offered to pay the same.
The field price of most meteorites was $10 - $20 per/lb, and somewhat
higher for exceptional ones, or falls.
I am a realist, the "good old days" will not return, but we as dealers
and collectors should agree to all honor a reasonable "field price".
And also have a bit of ethics not to outbid a person who has made a
first offer when a new meteorite turns up.
Dealers, and now some of the universities, won't do it.
They have to outbid each other in their quest to be "the first" to get
the "new one".
Escalating wholesale and retail prices for everyone.
I have even heard of some dealers maliciously overbidding just to
keep the other guy from getting the piece. They never intended to
pay what they offered. Then the owner gets put out when the
overbidding dealer stalls in coming up with the promised cash. The
owner is left with the impression that their meteorite is worth more
than it actually is.
Bad business practice in my opinion.
And with the escalating prices of meteorites come other problems as
well-- Theft from museums. Are major and minor meteorite collections
going to have to have armed guards like what is required for King Tut's
treasure? Most budget strapped museums, and institutions cannot afford
such security measures-- so the result may be that collections will be
locked away for safe keeping. Only the big irons will be out on display.
What a disservice to the public, whose only exposure to meteorites may
be what they see in museums.
We as dealers, and collectors must do something to regulate ourselves,
otherwise government may do so buy putting limits on the meteorite trade,
as has been the case with ancient artifacts. Not only are there domestic
laws that regulate the finding and trading of such items, there are
international agreements (UNESCO), with stiff penalties for violations
of those agreements.
What do you think about Canadian, Australian, or English Commonwealth
laws regulating meteorites? How about such laws in the U.S.?
Though many of you think it is unlikely, with all the exesses I have
seen recently, I disagree.
Continue in the course that we taking, and it is only a matter of
time before such occurs.
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