Having read the numerous comments, here and elsewhere, about the high price of mineral specimens, I have another perspective I'd like to share with you.
First off, some basic comments. I agree that there are a lot of cases (far too many) of exorbitant pricing out there (online, shows, take your pick). I've seen pricing at Tucson and elsewhere that I truly feel is just plain nuts. What I want to convey is that I think that a lot of what has been said and written on this is overly simplified - there's a lot more to this.
As some of you may know, I have had a booth for the last two years on the main floor of the TGMS show at the Tucson Convention Center. I have just returned home from the backbreaking chore (at least for these old bones) of taking it all down, repacking it all, and bringing it "back to the barn" for some future day. The amount of work (and associated costs) that dealers such as myself undertake to do one of these shows would truly amaze you, were you to walk in one of our shoes, even for a day, at a major show such as TGMS. It wasn't until I got into this business that I had even a remote comprehension of how much work it is. I have run numerous businesses in my career (non mineral related) and I can tell you that being a mineral dealer is the most labor intensive business I have ever seen - bar none.
When I sell a specimen to someone, I treat the person who buys a $20 rock (or even no rock!) with the same courtesy and attention that I would someone who buys a $2000 piece. Why? Because a) I believe that what you put out into the universe tends to be what you get back and b) because I hope they will remember that they were treated well, given as good a deal as possible, and come back (and hopefully tell their friends too). In short, I do not look at the customer who comes to me as an opportunity for me to extract every last cent I can from that sale. I view it as an opportunity to obtain (or keep) a repeat customer.
I don't "demand price" my specimens. If I get a better deal when I buy the specimen, that is reflected in the price. I'll give an example. I was out of cavansite, so before the main show started, I bought a flat of 12 - cabinet sized, good color, they were nice. I got a good deal on them. Cavansite is still very popular and I could have priced them at $100-125 each based on what others were selling similar ones for. I priced them at $60 each. The whole flat was gone very quickly. Did I make a killing? No. Did I make a reasonable margin? Yes. But most importantly, will that person remember that they got a really good price on their cavansite and come back? I think (and certainly hope) so. Had I sold them at $125 they most likely would have viewed their purchase as average or high and have forgotten who I even was. So, the good news is I sold all my cavansite. The bad news? Now I'm out of cavansite again.... :-)
So, in summary, while I agree that there are numerous cases of pricing that are patently ridiculous, do bear in mind that not all of us are money grubbing fiends. :-)
I deliberately did not go in to all of what has to happen to make a specimen available for sale in order to keep this post to a reasonable length. I think some of you might find it interesting. If so, I'll start another thread on it.
I also have some observations of how some of this pricing craziness has come to pass and would be happy to share this as well if there is any interest.
Thomas W. Corson OBG International
firstname.lastname@example.org Green Valley, AZ 85614
World-Class Minerals For World-Class Collectors