Leonard Himes Dealer in Fine Mineral Specimens
The Graeber & Himes room as we left it for your enjoyment.
This page features Show Reports, Travel Notes, and other Items of Interest as they strike my fancy.
Museum From Parking Garage Vistors in the Gallery
Something else to make a trip to Tucson worthwhile.
Pictured above are Linda and Leonard with Lou D'Alonso, three years ago at one of Lou's favorite New Jersey diners. Lou passed away in July 2022 at age 99. If you are not a regular at shows in the northeast, you may not have known of him. Maybe as an introduction, let me refer to him as the Jack Halpern of the east! That is to say, a true gentleman, who was easily recognized at shows in coat and hat and smiling. Lou collected choice worldwide mineral specimens and particularly specimens from the northeast. He especially loved micromounting. His micromount collection is to be distributed to his micromounting friends, over 9000 mounts! Even more important than collecting, though, Lou loved teaching young people about minerals and was a regular presenter schools in his area. He will be dearly missed.
By the way, Jack Halpern is still enjoying his collection at age 103 and still every bit a gentleman!
The Denver Show in September has many facets, we start getting announcements about other happenings in town during the Showcase. I'll post them here.
Colorado is blessed with the top Mining School in the World and a spectacular part of it the Mines Museum. Now that Covid is not the problem it was, the Museum has returned to its schedule of holding an open house during the Denver Showcase, here is the announcement. A good time will be held by all!!
We have been predominately a show dealer for decades, but shows seem to be declining in importance, so we also have our Colorado showroom available by appointment when we are in town. We have our website, but not checkout carts and such because we enjoy the personal contact that talking to our customers provides.
With the advent of year-round showroom facilitates in Tucson we now offer you another shopping opportunity. Our Graeber & Himes showroom at the Tucson Fine Mineral Gallery is now open all year. Effectively, when we are not there, our inventory is managed by the knowledgeable staff of Crystal Classics. The building is open Monday through Friday from 10 AM until 4 PM. When you enter you will be greeted by an attendant who can show you any of the several rooms that are available and assist you with purchases. Enjoy looking through our cases. We restock each time we are in Tucson including January, March, May, and November. For travelers to the Southwest, we have enlarged the number of specimens for Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. Tucson is truly the nation's Mineral Specimen Destination! While you are there for a Gallery visit, be sure to walk or drive to the Alfie Museum, there is more about it below.
A Good Read
You probably know Heritage Auctions as a major source of fine minerals at their Natural History Auctions in Dallas. They also publish very useful internet magazine named The Intelligent Collector. It covers all manner of collectables and has good advice for collectors in general. The current issue has an article security for your collection. I recommend it to you. Check it out at https://intelligentcollector.com/safeguarding-your-collection. You might even want to subscribe to it and their auction catalogs are great way to learn about specimen values.
Besides the shows in Tucson and great attractions like the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Aircraft Museum, and Performing Art Center, Tucson is now the home of a world-class mineral museum. There has long been (and still is) a fine collection on the campus of the University of Arizona as part of the Geology Department, but as of this year, the all new Alfie Norville University of Arizona Mineral Museum is open. The Museum is housed in the most beautiful building in downtown Tucson. It was formerly the County Courthouse, but has been completely remodeled inside to become a museum and a separate Environmental Center. The Museum has became a full Department of the University and has secure funding for the future (but will still appreciate your financial support). The museum is now complete and offering daily visits.
The Alfie,as it is known for short, has special events, so be sure to subscribe to their calendar.
Tucson 2023 was once again the world's major mineral, gem, jewelry and fossil event. It was also the wettest, coldest, snowiest event I can recall from my visits there since the 1970s!
We were please to see international customers for the first time since Covid hit. We stayed busy at all three of our venues for the duration. That means that getting out to shop was difficult since we have no hired help, but we still managed to do some shopping and get the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society's show, the Grand Finale and show that started it all. With so many major dealers, like us, having to man extended venues, you might think the main show would be vacant. Not So! the exhibits are worth the small cost of admission and many smaller dealers have replaced the absent dealers. There are still some major dealer booths worth attending, too. There are more jewelry dealers taking up some of the space, but the show is still a major mineral event that all should support. You' even find minerals worth buying there, I did!
Mineral City must have around 100 rooms of minerals of all persuasions, from wholesale rocks material to exquisite top end specimens. A new section of the area called the Mineral Vault, opened across the street from the first Mineral City Building, but some dealers were concerned that their room might not be available in time and opted fro adjacent tents next door. Thus there were som unoccupied rooms this year, but 2024 will be in full swing there. One worried dealer was Rob Lavinsky (The Arkenstone) who arranged to move his operation into the nearby La Fuente building and is having some of his large area there remodeled to become his permanent home.
After 20 years of operation promoter Dave Waisman cancelled the Westward Look Show. However, that left some of his former dealers 'homeless'. So they ground together in the three original builds and continued the show with around 12 dealers. I didn't manage to visit the show, but those ywho did said there were some great minerals to be seen, but reported there was light traffic and the rooms they wanted to visit were often closed. I won't be surprised to see with no 2024 show there or the show moving its dates forward to open about the same time as Mineral City and others.
The Tucson Fine Mineral Galley was a busier place in its second year now that people realize it is there. Several new big name dealers such as Stuart Wilensky and Scott Rudolph open new rooms and surely drew top collectors; so does the courtyard social area with food and bar and of course the by-invitation Gala and the free lectures and special displays tha rotate during the event. The Gallery (for short) is a year-round operation and owner Ian Bruce is working with the Mayor's Office to promote Tucson as America's Mineral City. Like some of the other dealers in the Gallery, the Graeber and Himes room is open daily Monday Friday 10AM-5PM and during the May and November Open Weekends. It is short walk from t both the Tucson Art Museum and the Alfie Museum for a great visit any time of the year.
More about Tucson
If you have made it this far, I'm impressed. I hope you find the blog interesting.
The Chamber of Commerce in Tucson commissioned an economic survey of the 2019 Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase Expenditures.
Here are some of the findings.
They estimate a total of $131,426,030 in direct expenditures resulting from the 2019 Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. Lodging is the largest individual expenditure category ($45,831,096) – followed by Food & Beverage ($27,154,625).
Out-of-town Buyers traveled to Tucson from 42 different states (as well as Puerto Rico) and 17 foreign countries. Exhibitors traveled from 45 states (including the District of Columbia) and 42 foreign countries.
The 2019 Showcase encompassed 48 individual shows and an estimated 4,882 Exhibitors. The 2019 total gate attendance was estimated to include 457,259 Buyers, each of whom visited 6.97 shows (on average) – for a projected attendance of 65,604 unique persons.
Fully 99% of Buyers purchased one or more items on-site at the shows, most often Gems/Jewelry and/or Rocks/Minerals/Fossils. Among international Buyers, two-thirds report cumulative on-site purchases in excess of $10,000.
They estimated that $13,028,205 in local taxes (including sales, bed and rental car taxes) were paid on $122,866,042 of taxable expenditures made by Owners, Exhibitors and Buyers at the 2019 Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase.
My comment: Notice that none of this actually includes sales of specimens, although that is reflected in sales tax collections, but only partly since wholesale purchases must exceed retail and are not taxed.
If attendee purchases average $10,000 (real easy to do) that gets to $50 million immediately, and that only counts official vendors, not all of the 'tailgaters who also do huge amounts of business. So Tucson is big business, my guess is at least half a billion dollars. No wonder the show is so much appreciated.