A Chat With a Fossil Salesman
I went to the The North Atlanta Gem, Mineral, Fossil, & Jewelry Show held at the North Atlanta Trade Center in Norcross this afternoon. I'd hadn't been to any show/exhibition of this nature since the Scout Shows I'd go to at I think the Georgia World Congress Center when I was a wee lad.
It was really interesting. I wasn't really interested in all the jewelry available, since that seems like the kind of gift one gets a girlfriend and I'm single right now. I focused most of my attention on the fossils that were available for sale.
Alan Stout, who has a Web site selling fossils, was a particularly social dealer, so I decided to interview him. He apparently is really well-known for triceratops horns--he's sold around ten this year. He had one for sale for $3999, although I think he was willing to go as low as $3700-ish. He said although a lot of people came to look at his wares, there were relatively few buyers. Due to the poor cost/benefit ratio, he said he probably won't do any more shows like this one.
He did have a lot of really interesting stuff available, including an actual wooly mammoth tusk for $4500.
"It's a perfect piece, all solid ivory," he said. "It's really nice. It even has the normal wooly mammoth shape."
(Not quite sure what that means, but I think he said it was curved.)
The tusk was originally from Siberia, where it had been dug out from under the permafrost.
He also had the toe of a camarasaurus, a Jurassic-era sauropod. He found the toe himself. He said he could distinguish fossils from ordinary rocks because they're typically lighter (although they're heavier the more mineralized they are) and rocks tend to be more rounded. He gets most of his dinosaur bones by traveling out west and buying from fossil hunters.
He also had a whole Keichousaurus hui, an extinct aquatic reptile from Central Asia. That one was $299, a dollar cheaper than the other keichousaurs on display at the show. He said he had a friend in Washington State who imported them, so he didn't have to travel to Asia to get them.
"He gets them legally because he's a government official," Stout said. "He sells them out of China."
Stout said that 70 percent of his business is done abroad, with 30 percent done in the United States.
I didn't buy anything from Stout because however interesting and unique his wares were, they were very expensive, even the little fossils like the ammonities and trilobites. I did ask him if he had any display cases I could buy--I've got a lot of small fossils in an old I Spy box at home and they should probably be displayed. He didn't have any with him, but I could find some on his Web site.
I think once I have some free time, I'll go to http://www.dinolandplus.com/ and buy a display case. That's Stout's Web site, by the way.
I did buy a pair of ammonite fossils on a stand from another vendor. I think I'll set them up on top of my bookshelf and when I get the display case, set the other fossils up there too.