P.O. Box 1141
Delta, CO 81416
Ph/fax: (970) 874-1487
September 29, 2009
Here is an odd-timed offering. It should have gone out on the 15th but I was just opening up for the Denver Show. Last Tuesday I was still traveling home, so this is the earliest I could send something out.
The show was a bit slow on attendance, but not nearly as bad as might be expected (and actually, not as bad as last year). Those that did show up were serious about buying, so I did quite a bit better than last year (where I barely covered the show expenses). I guess being the only guy with a substantial amount and variety of collector's specimens really helped keep my place the place to hang out (I am sure the cooler full of beer had nothing to do with it though).
The only sour note that I hate bring up is the ever increasing theft issue and what it may mean for consignments in the future (and many of you have consigned items at one point or another over the years). I have been loosing more and more to theft every year lately. I have lost more in the past few years than all the previous 20 plus years combined (I will have officially been in business 25 years in October). I talked with a police officer and he commented that it is pretty much the case in all fields right now (so I shouldn't feel singled out). Interestingly, he commented that he thought that it is not really due to our difficult economy as much as it is the development of sites like E-Bay ("the biggest and best fencing operation ever conceived of and created by man" in his words). These sites make it very easy for a thief to dispose of stolen goods and too the end buyers in the field at a higher price no less. In earlier years the thief would be stuck trying to sell the goods back to other dealers at the same shows (hoping word had not spread to them about the missing items) or sell them very cheap to people not really related to the field who couldn't pass up a bargain. This is a BIG problem though and has me having to consider very serious, unwelcome changes to my show style.
Many have told me that I need to lock everything behind glass and only open cases for serious customers that are willing to wait for me to do it for them (and that can be quite delayed when things get busy). I personally don't like this option (though it may very well become a necessity soon the way things are progressing) . I, as a customer and "educator" like being able to handle things and look them over carefully (and letting people just learning about meteorites do the same) with out having to have a person hovering over me waiting for me to finish so they can lock up the case and move on to the next potential customer (this is why I pretty much avoid the locked case sections in antique malls when I am out hunting for "treasures" - too much time too much trouble, only to find that the price (usually the item is sitting on its tag) is too high). A fairly large number of my sales are to people that got interested by handling something from out of this world and were easily able to hand it too me and find that YES, they could actually afford it (things stuck behind glass tend to tell customers "if you have to ask, then you cannot afford it", so they usually do not ask). I do try to generally put small expensive items behind glass. I keep a careful eye on just who is opening up any of my cases (and will quickly appear next to them if they are anyone I do not recognize). This show showed me that this is not fool proof either. Matt Morgan's beautiful 86.4 gram Millbillillie end piece (I can send a picture too those that need one) not only managed to disappear under such conditions, but managed to do it on a slow day (no crowd confusion)from a case that is nearly impossible to open (so a quick casual slick open and close was NOT possible).
I am not sure what the answer security wise is in this case (a number of cameras recording everything - an easy task for Blake to set up, is one possible but expensive starting point). BUT, I probably need to change (and maybe eliminate?) my consignment policies for shows for the time being. I have been noted as being "easy" (to the point of winning a Harvey for "the dealer most willing to") and actually prefer to be that way (within reason and with a few restrictions) . But this quick loss just cost me around 20% of my profits from this show. This is serious business. If something of mine turns up missing (and plenty has the past couple years) that is very painful but at least it was ALREADY PAID FOR. A consigned item disappears and I have to pay for it out of show profits (and I try to not mark these up much so I don't make much on them even if they do sell). Right now I am considering simply shutting down accepting consignments for shows completely (no problems for mail-order sales) for a while. But then consignments allow me to have a really filled room with a really large assortment of things I would never be able to offer otherwise. Yet, the risks and cost have become so high, this seems my best option at this point.
I am considering (on Linda's advice) of having show consignors sign some kind of agreement that I am not responsible for stolen items (obvious negligence excluded of coarse). She tells me that all of the consignments she has done to clothing and construction materials shops has exactly such a clause in them (basically saying that they will do their best to protect the items but they are not responsible for loss or damage). This would mean that consignors could pull their material (or not submit it) if they did not like how I was handling it or planned to display it. One person has already commented that they certainly would NOT accept such a contract under any circumstances. Others have suggested a split of the lost value (I pay half of what I was going to have to pay if the item sold, the consignor looses half). I am hoping some of you out there will contact me and give me some of your thoughts on this (the reason I am bringing up this ugly issue in such a public way). Any and all comments are welcome and are helpful (no wrong answers here), I am truly confused, angered and disheartened by all of this right now and am hoping to find a workable solution for all of us.
Any way, on to some neat little specimens!
BELLE PLAINE, Kansas: (L6). Found 1950. Tkw = 96.4kg.
23.3 grams slice - 55mm x 38mm x 4mm - $60
GOBABEB, Namibia: (H4). Found 1969. Tkw = 27kg.
1.98 gram slice - 15mm x 13mm x 7mm - $20
HaH (222), Libya: (L6). Found 1997. Tkw = 3393 grams.
1.9grams slice - 16mm x 10mm x 4mm - $10 - 50% crusted edge.
HOLBROOK, Arizona: (L6). Fell July 19, 1912.
1.6 gram complete individual - 11mm x 10mm x 7mm - $30
OCHANSK, Russia: (H4). Fell August 30, 1887. Tkw = 500+kg.
.4 grams fragment - 10mm x 6mm x 4mm - $15
SONGYUAN, China: (L6). Fell August 15, 1993. Tkw = about 40kg.
19.6 gram slice - 48mm x 24mm x 5mm - $175 one crusted edge.
TOLAR, New Mexico: (H4). Found 1972, recognized 2002. Tkw = 5350 grams.
9.8 gram slice - 30mm x 30mm x 6mm - $30
15.3 gram slice - 60mm x 20m x 6mm - $45
WAGON MOUND, New Mexico: (L6). Found 1932. Tkw = 87.5kg.
2.0 gram "slice" - 14mm x 5mm x 10mm - $5
WICKENBURG, Arizona: (L6). Found 1940. Tkw = 9.2kg.
21.7 gram slice - 30mm x 29mm x 8mm - $80
IMILAC, Chile: (pallasite). Found 1822.
1.3 gram fragment - 12mm x 8mm x 5mm - $15
ESQUEL, Argentina: (Pallasite).
8.6 grams thin slice - 30mm x 20mm x 2mm - $215 - really clear crystals!
LIBYAN DESERT GLASS: Ancient stone tool
I got this from a professional archeologist that knows what he is doing (it comes with a signed card). It is a nice Neolithic Blade that was made from a really nice and clear piece of Libyan Glass.
2.0 grams - 33mm x 15mm x 3mm - $100