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Life of a Dealer

Julia Barton

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A box of dinosaur teeth
(Julia Barton)
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The Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase is underway in Tucson, Ariz., this weekend. It's the largest in the world and "rockhounds" are there from around the world. It's their chance to check out one another's wares and dish some dirt. The whole affair is stranger than you might think. Reporter Julia Barton spent a day with the people who deal in treasures of the Earth.

Notes from Producer Julia Barton...

I live in downtown Tucson, ground central for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. The workers begin putting up large tents in my neighborhood in early January. The show transforms this sleepy part of town into an international mecca. It becomes a great venue for radio stories, as people from around the world are here selling everything from Siberian mammoth tusks to Brazilian gemstones.

I wanted to do a story about the dealers at the Ramada Inn because they represent some of small-time dealers who still come to Tucson every year, the geology geeks who come as much to find new discoveries as to make a buck. I spent a day with three Germans who share a room to sell their wares—fossils, meteorites, artifacts, and geological oddities. They sleep on the floor as they can't afford an extra room. It was a slow day, so they and their fellow dealers had plenty of time to talk. And a whole other world of wheeling and dealing emerges after dark, I found out.


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