Cave Formation on Sale on EBay

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Postby Teresa » Dec 24, 2006 10:22 am

hewhocaves wrote:
in my view, its origin is irrelevent. if it's calcite, aragonite, or gypsum and takes on any of several layered forms (i.e. is not simply a crystalline expression of the mineral) commonly found in caves (eg. icicle, layered, drapery flower or helectitic) it cannot be sold. Provision could be made for crushed formation to be sold if its mixed in with limestone (i.e. as part of a quarrying operation). I think this is simple enough for even lawyers and judges to understand. If they can't grasp that, then i suspect the basic tenets of law are beyond them anyways.


Good luck, John. You're then taking on the travertine bathroom and flooring industry. And people who can afford travertine in bathrooms are way richer and more influential than either you or I.
Not to mention the marble flooring and sill industry (much of which is not true marble). Also the Mexican onyx trinket industry, and that will likely not make show cave and roadside attraction owners happy (most of whom no longer sell cave 'rock specimens' by mutual agreement, but do sell scads of Mexican onyx chess sets, book ends, little animals, and so forth). And the cabochon lapidary/jewelry makers who use carbonate botryoidal minerals (such as malachite--copper carbonate and rhodochrosite) in their jewelry. If you say 'layered minerals' you're impinging on agates, sardonyx and a whole bunch of other things out there. (Sure, they are quartz, but tho you and I can tell the difference in a trice, most people can't.) What about geodes? They are, in effect, little entranceless caves.

You also miss and do not protect many other cave minerals which form botryoids, stal (I occasionally see pyrite, limonite, rhodochrosite and malachite stal at rock shows) dogtooth spar (almost always come from underground voids) and include caviform minerals from mines, which are legal. These other minerals, though more uncommon, actually bring more money.

I don't see any way to entirely stop the sale of cave rocks (both speleothems and speleogens) without banning rock and mineral specimen sale entirely. And I will never agree to that. It's hard enough to get people interested in geology as it is.

I've got nothing against prosecuting to hades and back dealers who rape entire Chinese caves, and set up tables of nothing but cave stal at places like the Tucson rock show. Or the New Agers who sell stal as the new replacement for rhinoceros horn. (I've gone after a couple of these). Most people I've talked to listen to my concerns. Throw the book at the egregious offenders, and make examples of them. But going after the people who have one or two cave minerals amongst thousands of other specimens for sale isn't worth it, and actually would encourage a tailgate/black market in cave minerals.

There are even rock collecting books which put formations in with petrified wood--there is a special category of rock sales in which the provenance of petrified wood is tracked, to make sure it isn't coming off public lands. We're making progress at about the same speed as it took to get cavers to quit writing on cave walls. But generally:

In the immortal words of Jimmy Buffett: "it's the god's honest truth, it just ain't that simple."

I've got to go bake cookies now. Happy holidays to you, John--I respect your position, but I simply don't agree with it.
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Postby hewhocaves » Dec 24, 2006 1:52 pm

Teresa,

nah.. you're still making it more comlpicated than it is. The chemical formulas I'e described and the forms i've described get the lion's share of the publicity. It doesn't infringe on the granite / marble people or vug minerals (many of which aren't calcite at all). As for the New Agers, IMHO they can go back to hawking vareities of quartz, which is about all they should be allowed to touch. Colored plastic would be more in line with the scientific accuracy of their concept of energy, anyway.

As for the traventine industry, meh. I happen to hold a special place in my heart for traventine, so I wouldn't be particuarly upset if they got put out of business.

Anyway, you are correct in one massively major point - the odds that someone in government would even listen to such a proposal can be described in two words - slim and none. So it's all just hypothetical anyway.

And merry xmas to you as well. I'll be having a nice polish xmas meal in about four hours and then it's likely ill be called on to play 'Santa'.

Anyone want my prunes and rice? how about my poppyseeds and noodles?? :?

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Postby Ed Hansen » Mar 6, 2007 12:47 pm

item # 200086249217

I reported it to eBay, btw

the last buyer backed out, and now she's trying to well the same rock again, same price.

(I'll introduce myself later... I just joined your site today)
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Postby Mustard Devil » Mar 6, 2007 1:07 pm

Item numbers 190089313687, 190089696071

More cave formations for sale, Im surprised Ebay allows this.

Im off to report these 2.
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Postby Teresa » Mar 6, 2007 1:30 pm

They can probably slam the person with the NM rock, but the other two specimens are labeled from Mexico and Morocco. That will be more difficult, as many state laws treat rocks from overseas differently than domestic rocks, if they mention overseas specimens at all. In most places sale of stal from out of the country are legal.
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Postby graveleye » Mar 6, 2007 2:12 pm

I have a "devils advocate" scenario I would like to throw out there. I know of an abandoned limestone quarry where decades ago they blasted into several caves which have pretty much been gutted of the formations, but not quite. And even out in the tailings piles you can pick up all sorts of agate, stals, flowstones... you name it. It is laying about and the county who owns the quarry has no problems allowing rockhounds out to collect what they want.

I'll be honest, I want to go out there too. If someone is going to own and possess something like that, why not me? Is this wrong? And would it be wrong to sell what I have collected (even though selling is not something I would do)?

Just being the old stick in the mud. Of course I would never condone going into a normal cave and breaking off formations for any reason, but in instances like this, I dont see a problem. Maybe someone else does though.
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Postby wendy » Mar 6, 2007 2:23 pm

graveleye wrote:I have a "devils advocate" scenario I would like to throw out there. I know of an abandoned limestone quarry where decades ago they blasted into several caves which have pretty much been gutted of the formations, but not quite. And even out in the tailings piles you can pick up all sorts of agate, stals, flowstones... you name it. It is laying about and the county who owns the quarry has no problems allowing rockhounds out to collect what they want.

I'll be honest, I want to go out there too. If someone is going to own and possess something like that, why not me? Is this wrong? And would it be wrong to sell what I have collected (even though selling is not something I would do)?

Just being the old stick in the mud. Of course I would never condone going into a normal cave and breaking off formations for any reason, but in instances like this, I dont see a problem. Maybe someone else does though.


Personally I'd find having formations on display in my home kinda creepy, as I think of the cave as 'living', it would be like chopping off the fingers of a good friend and having them over my fireplace, they just don't look as good when they aren't where they belong.
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Postby JoeyS » Mar 6, 2007 2:23 pm

The only argument I can see is that your collection, if seen by someone else, could maybe encourage others to go collect their own (from who knows where). Seeing a couple basketball sized stalactites on a shelf might make a guest think *hey, those would make great bookends*. Before you say "I know my guests; they all belong to the Sierra Club..", think about your kid(s) friends. You really can't predict what a 14 year old will do if he and some buddies go spelunking.
Again, unlikely scenario, but possible.
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Postby graveleye » Mar 6, 2007 2:36 pm

I understand your points. But, its either going to be me picking them up, or someone else. They are already broken, and just laying about on the ground. The quarry is being used as a landfill now, and eventually all of it will be underneath a pile of rotting garbage. I find beauty in stones, and its hard to leave them out there for the rednecks, and to be buried underneath tons of banana peels.
No one would ever see them, and anyone who might would be given the explanation as to how they came into my possession. My house is like a museum, but it sure isnt open to the public.
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Postby JoeyS » Mar 6, 2007 3:21 pm

For full discosure, I have a slalactite in my rock collection. It was given to me by another caver who received it from a sketchy fellow that used to stalk her. She thought it was bad karma and passed it off to me :shock:
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Postby Teresa » Mar 6, 2007 3:56 pm

I know a lot of cavers who are also rockhounds, or have geology degrees or something and end up as the recipient of lost bits of stal. Generally, the rocks are homeless, as the person who passes it on either doesn't know or doesn't tell where it is from--and they are usually in sad shape from drying out, and not very useful to scientists because of that. You cannot put them back where they came from, but it doesn't seem right to pitch them in the rock garden or the trash, either.

I've never collected stal in a mine, or a quarry or a cave, but they've found me anyway.

They can be teaching tools for kids, however. As in, "What's wrong with this rock?" "Well, it's not in a cave where it belongs." "See how dull it is? That's because it was really pretty in the cave, but it dried out in the low humidity out here."

I suppose mine will have to be buried with me when I die.
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Postby Illinois Caver » Mar 7, 2007 4:13 pm

One also has to remember that speleothems used to be sold at commercial cave souvenir shops. I received a set of stalagmite bookends from a former student of mine. They were given to her by her grandmother who purchased them over 40 years ago at a commercial cave.

I use them for demonstration purposes in my classroom (being an Earth Science teacher and geologist) when I talk about cave formations and conservation.

Just my two cents...

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Postby graveleye » Mar 7, 2007 9:01 pm

Hey Troy, I just want to thank you for what you are doing for cave conservancy in the classroom! This is just the sort of thing that needs to be done more often. If you have any class outlines as to how you approach the subject, please share them. I'm certainly not alone in recognizing that one of the most effective ways to protect caves is through the classroom, and especially in karst areas! Good work! :kewl:
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Postby Illinois Caver » Mar 8, 2007 8:24 am

The great thing about introducing caving/karst science is that we are a few hours away from karst geology, so it is a unique subject to my students. Plus it gives me an excuse to bring in gear!

I'm in the process of updating my school webpage where I have lessons posted. The caving/karst stuff isn't posted yet, but should be soon.

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Postby wendy » Mar 12, 2007 2:47 pm

here is a new auction that needs reporting 280092881707


the auction ended on that 120lb piece of popcorn, i had noticed that they were selling it under crystals to try to get us off the trail. But I'm sure it will pop up again.
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