Hobbies, Crafts, Games, and other Pastimes

Most of my hobbies involve collecting items. Collecting stamps provides a wonderful educational experience. You get to find out about the many different countries of the world and the people, places, and things they consider important. Collecting sea shells connects you with life in the seas which cover three-fourths of our planet. Collecting meteorites puts you in touch with other worlds in our solar system. Some meteorites even contain remnants of materials formed before our solar system even existed.

My other pastimes include art and photography, genealogy, music and opera, theatre, and television.

Coin collecting (numismatics)

As a child I collected U. S. coins of all types. Now I collect Roman coins of the Syrian Roman emperors, especially Elagabalus, which depict the sacred stone of Emesa. This stone, which was probably a meteorite, ties into my interests in astronomical catastrophism. I also collect coins bearing images of endangered wildlife such as the okapi, mountain gorilla, and pygmy hippopotamus.

Conchology (sea shell collecting)

"It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson

My family spent many summer vacations in Florida when I was a child. I often went beachcombing and amassed a collection of seashells. It's been over twenty years since I last acquired any new shells. Hopefully all the nice shell-filled beaches won't be gone whenever the collecting bug strikes me again.

Magic and sleight-of-hand

I have always been fascinated by conjuring and sleight-of-hand. I especially like card tricks. I learned quite a few of these as a child. My favorite? Out of This World or any of its variants.

Meteorite collecting

I collect meteorites, tektites, and other impact-related rock structures such as shattercones because of my interest in astronomical catastrophism. A large part of my collection consists of micromount or macromount specimens. Micromount specimens usually weight up to a gram and generally fit in a 1" square display box. Macromount specimens usually weigh more than a gram and generally fit in a 2" square display box. I do have some large pieces as well, for example, 22 pound and 4.5 pound specimens of Campo del Cielo. The prices for meteorites have reached astronomical (pun intended) proportions in recent years. In many cases the only economical way to obtain a specimen of a meteorite is to purchase a micromount or macromount. This is particularly true for rare meteorite types such as Martian meteorites where the going price often exceeds $2,000.00 US per gram, and lunar meteorites where the going price often exceeds $35,000.00 US per gram.

I like to purchase meteorite endpieces which show the original crust on one side and the interior (sometimes polished) on the other. An alternative is to purchase a whole unbroken specimen or fragment, and a second specimen which is a slice to reveal the interior structure of the meteorite.

I have been satisfied with all the meteorite dealers I list below Your mileage may vary. There are many other reliable dealers as well. Make sure the vendor from whom you purchase a meteorite specimen guarantees its authenticity. There are a lot of bogus "meteorites" out there. This is particularly true on eBay. Over the past few years eBay has become one of the principal marketplaces for meteorites. Many fine meteorite dealers sell on eBay, but so do less reputable vendors. One way to tell a reliable vendor is to look for the International Meteorite Collectors Association logo on an eBay auction. Members of this association pledge to sell only genuine specimens. I am myself a member, although I do not sell meteorites. Ken Newton's MeteorWrongs on eBay offers sage advice on spotting bogus meteorites offered for sale on eBay or elsewhere.

Origami and paper-folding

I don't remember who first introduced me to paper-folding -- probably my mother or grandmother. I had learned to fold a number of origami sculptures by the time I entered school at the age of five. I also remember creating cut-paper puppets and landscapes. I don't do paper-folding very often anymore, but I still remember how to create some of the first items I learned, like the Samurai helmet, the piano, the ship that turns into a sailor's shirt, and the fox.

Stamp collecting (philately)

My oldest sister piqued my early interest in stamp collecting. As a youngster in France, she compiled a fine small collection of stamps from France, French colonies, and Germany. In my teens and early twenties I bought the big Scott's stamp albums, mounted all of my sister's collection in these, and added many thousands more stamps. Later I moved my French area collection to hingeless albums from Lindner and Lighthouse, and to Scott specialty albums which I converted to hingeless format using Hawid mounts. I haven't used hinges even for used stamps for years because of the poor peelable quality of every brand I've tried. The days of those wonderful old Dennison hinges appear to be long gone, although Subway Stamps is trying to revive the formula.

I haven't done much with my world-wide collection for about twenty years. Instead I've concentrated on my Francophone area country collections and a variety of topical collections on subjects of interest to me. These include dinosaurs and prehistoric animals; prehistoric man and cave art; space and astronomy with subcollections on meteors and meteorites and Halley's comet; art and paintings; cryptozoology and endangered species; and cats, among others. I mounted the older parts of my topical collections on blank album pages from various manufacturers using Showgard and Hawid mounts. Now I nearly always use Lighthouse Vario stock pages. Similar archival quality stock sheets are available from other manufacturers, including Lindner and Safe. Most of the time I use the six row double-sided black-back pages to hold everything. I enclose the vario pages in archival quality clear sheet protectors made of polypropylene or Mylar-D. I store the sheets in three ring binders. Using stock sheets and page protectors is more expensive than using good-quality stock books, but it is much easier to revise the location of stamps and pages with loose-leaf stock sheets.

Advice for Collectors

There are unscrupulous dealers in "meteorites," "ancient coins," and other collectible items. Some items sold as "fossils" are simple concretions, and some "meteorites" are just common terrestrial rocks or even slag from blast furnaces. I have even seen very realistic-looking fraudulent "sea shells" made of paste. Counterfeit coins and stamps can fool even the most careful collectors.

Know with whom you are dealing when buying meteorites, stamps, coins, or any other collectibles! Be particularly on your guard when using auction services such as eBay. If an item is listed for auction by a reputable dealer, you may be able to pick it up at a bargain price. On the other hand, you may be able to locate the same item at a comparable or lower price directly from a dealer. Caveat Emptor.

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Last modified by pib on April 13, 2005.