There are shows across the country that are put on by Exposition companies, like the Edison Show and the Springfield Show. The differences between club shows and the professional shows are very obvious. It's like comparing a big supermarket to the corner store. Bigger layouts, grandiose displays, big name speakers, hundreds of dealers, and magazine style guidebooks, that you just will not find at a club sponsored show. The Annual East Coast Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show in Springfield, Mass. is one such show, put on by Martin Zinn Expos. I attended on Sunday, August 11, with club members Ron Schulz and Jess Jacobsen. After a pleasant 3-hour drive, we walked in the door to find a spectacular display of world-class minerals from the Carolyn Manchester Collection. There were over 30 cases containing displays from her collection. Carolyn is a retired school teacher, and has been collecting minerals for over 58 years, and the specimens presented for display were indeed stunning.
Her collection consists of over 2000 hand-picked museum quality specimens from around the world. I have included some photos of the displays. Shortly thereafter, the first door prize of the day was announced, and was won by our own Jess! The show itself was well laid out, in neat rows, which made it easy to navigate and find dealers. There were many fine mineral dealers who offered specimens I could only dream of. At some of the dealers, you would be hard pressed to find a mineral specimen priced under $500. But it was like walking through a huge museum, and that was worth the admission price. There were also several dealers featuring old books, mining artifacts, and relics from years past that were very interesting to browse. I did notice, however, an overabundance of bead dealers. Too many, to be honest. You had to walk past 2 or 3 bead dealers before you would find a true mineral dealer. This is one aspect I have been noticing more and more lately, and have been trying to avoid at our shows. I don't know if it's good or bad, but I don't want to see great rock, mineral and fossil shows transforming into bead and jewelry shows.
Anyway, getting back on topic, many of our Clifton, N.J. Show dealers were set up at Springfield. There were great deals to be had as well. One such dealer that was offering good buys was our friend, Rocko, who was offering a large collection of Aquamarines at very reasonable prices. Another was the Herks.com booth, where they were offering superb quality Herkimer Diamonds at fair prices. Warren Gonzales was also making deals and had a large selection to choose from. There were a few other dealers who were offering up to 50% or more off quality pieces. So, there was truly something for everyone. There was also a large wholesale-only section, but we were not able to gain access because you needed a tax ID card to get in.
By far, the most popular booth at the show was the Geode Cracking booth. The line was 20 deep all day long. The booth featured geodes from all over the world, which could be purchased and then cracked open on site. They had a large cracking machine which was going all day long. The kids especially enjoyed this feature. I mean, who doesn't like to see what's inside an unopened geode? There was also a sluice box where kids could pan for gemstones, but it did not seem to get much action during my visit.
The show also offered lectures on all 3 days. On Sunday, 2 lectures were offered. The first was by Kevin Downey, all about cave exploration and cave minerals. The second was by Bob Jones and was a discussion and slide show on the minerals of China. Overall, I enjoyed the show. I ran into many friends and fellow rockhounds. I got to speak to many of our Clifton dealers, and chat with a few prospective new dealers for us as well. It made for a very nice day trip, for sure.
Here are some photos from the show (click to enlarge):
- Jeff Wilson
Jeff Wilson is Vice President of the North Jersey Mineralogical Society and he frequents the local shows and provides reports. The North Jersey Mineralogical Society website can be visited at: