[meteorite-list] Excessively Large Reward a bad precedent.
From: Dave Gheesling <dave_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sun, 29 Mar 2009 18:40:57 -0400
In response to some criticism around the recent Augusta, Georgia, news, I'm
sharing just a few thoughts about the "excessive" reward itself and the
intent. With all due respect, this will be my only post to the list on the
First, Darryl shouldn't be brought into the discussion of whether the reward
was acceptable to the handful who chimed in against it, as this was my
Keep in mind that the target audience was Georgians living in Augusta, not
the meteorite list. Additionally, there are always subtleties which are
modified by passing through the reporter's prism (or don't make it through
at all), and long ago I've learned to accept that messages sent through the
media don't always come across precisely as anticipated. The primary point
is still obvious: there is a large reward for the recovery of a certain
meteorite. I agree that the scientific fascinations meteorites have
delivered to us are what the hobby is or should really be all about, but,
rather unfortunately, the majority of locals in fall areas do not seem to
care about that yet.
I've been fortunate to work with quite a good many Georgia students through
the educational outreach work I've done in the state, and from the start it
quickly became apparent that Georgia meteorites bring the subject closer to
home for them. Thus, I've become passionate about acquiring and preserving
these specimens whenever possible, and if something survived the recent
event east of Atlanta the same feelings would apply. A spectacular
meteorite from the West fall was recently and promptly diced up "for quick
sale [at] maximum profit," so presumably the reward for such a complete
specimen related to that fall was "inferior" rather than "excessive."
This reward is specifically for one stone from a particular Georgia meteoric
event, and this can quite easily be explained to landowners in other
localities. This is ostensibly accomplished every day within the meteorite
community, as evidenced by the very wide range of prices paid for different
specimens - a range which frequently can defy logic. All people are not as
ignorant or simple-minded as has been recently suggested, and in the end
market forces of supply and demand will prevail. And, in spite of the risk
associated with a substantial reward for a single specimen with a minimum
size, I stand by the underlying fairness of my offer. It seems to me less
greedy to pay a finder more, not less, for a meteorite, particularly when
the objective is not to flip it for sale at a quick profit. The information
age has been here for some time now, anyway, so access to stories such as a
dealer acquiring a stone similar to the one I'm seeking "peeling $100 bill
after $100 bill [so a local finder could then] buy a new subcompact car,"
for example, are already quite available.
The handful of personal attacks in response to the article was, well,
disappointing. This was a retrograde meteoroid, which hurts chances of
survival. Eyewitness accounts were few. It has been and is forecasted to
continue raining heavily here. Much of the potential hunting terrain is
dicey, for various reasons. A tragic local story consumed local coverage,
and the local media declared this story to be "at least temporarily dead"
unless something else happened. Our media efforts were about one thing:
catalyzing the recovery of meteorites. Qualifying our backgrounds, though
this wasn't presented exactly in the way it was discussed, was part of the
process of having the reward taken seriously. The proposal of a
"gentleman's agreement" has been pretty well addressed by the list already,
but my sense is that the individual happiest with the amount of the highest
reward is likely to be the one who was first to make it. It's unclear how
that might change, and, collusive bargaining probably isn't advisable ground
to tread, anyway.
Lastly, but certainly not least, a very large part of the interview was
about just how incredible and groundbreaking Marc and Jeff Fries' work
around the interpretation of airborne data has been, but, for whatever
reason, this did not yet receive its proper exposure in the local press
coverage of this event. There is no doubt, however, that this work will get
it's due soon enough.
From: meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com
[mailto:meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com] On Behalf Of
ensoramanda at ntlworld.com
Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 6:35 AM
To: 'Meteorite List'; almitt
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Excessively Large Reward a bad precedent.
Hi Al, All.
That was exacty my thought Al. We have had lots of talk about hunters
needing to charge high prices for West to get a return. I understand that
travel, research and all the other costs and time involved have to be taken
into account when working our price, but actually $10 000 for a kilo leaves
a very good profit if West is selling at $50 - $100/g. Those who collected
a 100g stand to take up to $5000. If less than that is collected I can see
that folks could easily make a loss out there, so a dilema!.. but the TKW
has risen steadily and may rise more....so more will be for sale and as you
say Al...even without the initial rewards news gets around and landowners
soon wise up by checking the internet. Dealers/hunters are always going to
be competitive in being the first out there to offer pieces to make their
profit and thus high prices are out there within a few days for anyone to
West has a great story behind it due to the number of hunters out there
reporting back...but in my opinion is not really any more special than many
other fresh falls that are priced much better and certainly not a fall like
I agree that more should be stressed about the science...but newspapers like
a good story and the price will always come to the fore.
I can't see how a gentlemans agreement will change anything once the first
stones are up for sale at that price.
....and falls in easily accessible areas are always going to attract other
'amateur' hunters/treasure seekers that are likely to upset the locals.
but the hunt story, posts and photographs of the West Fall have been
extraordinary...so thanks to all those who shared their experiences...I wish
I had been there.
My twopenneth/ramble anyway.
Graham Ensor, UK
---- almitt <almitt at kconline.com> wrote:
> The trouble with a gentleman's agreement is you need two gentlemen.
> Another problem with all this is, the next fall, when specimens are
> found, the first thing that the owners are going to do is go to the
> Internet and put in a search of meteorites and price. What they will
> find is all the insane priced items, what meteorites sold for in West
> Texas and other localities like Park Forest. It is all on the Internet
> and it does not go away.
> --AL Mitterling
> Meteorite-list mailing list
> Meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
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Received on Sun 29 Mar 2009 06:40:57 PM PDT