“We’ve Come a Long Way Baby”

By Jennifer Haley, AFMS Historian

I think you are going to love this bit of history. Did you know that California was the State that gave birth to competitive exhibiting of our earth science hobby? During the 1930’s and 1940’s there were few exhibits, but following World War II the interest blossomed. Prior to 1948 minerals were the only category usually displayed, and at that time display cases were not used. Instead exhibitors displayed their specimens on top of tables, and actually stayed with their exhibit so they could talk to people about them.

The use of risers on top of the tables came later and in time display cases were used, but without lighting as we know it today. The earlier exhibitors were determined and imaginative, using aluminum foil and mirrors which helped to reflect light on their exhibits.

History has a fun habit of recalling the first time for everything that’s a home run. During the 1950’s a store decorator named Mr. Craig, used a light blue flannel cloth and added a riser to show off his copper exhibit. From then on showmanship became an important aspect in competitive displays as it is today.

The AFMS Uniform Rules manual was developed following 1947, when regional conventions began being held, and competitive exhibiting became a popular, fun and valuable part of the shows. Soon it was realized there was a need for a standard set of uniform rules for showmanship, which every federation would follow when it came to competitive exhibiting.

Over the years, additions and changes have been made to the manual, to address the expanding areas of interest in our hobby. Beading was added to manual a few years ago, and this year, Meteorites. An example of how the manual has come a long way; is that spheres used to compete with cabochons for the same trophy, and micromounts no longer competes with cabinet minerals.

The manual is dedicated to the work of museum curators, many judges, competitive exhibitors, mineralogists and others. Only time will tell what changes and additions to the manual will be made. The purpose of Uniform Rules is twofold; it sets the standards for our members to be able to create successful competitive exhibits, and is a judge’s guide in the judging process. AFMS Uniform Rules was created to be supportive of our members, because the points a competitive exhibitor receives only belong to the individual, instead of exhibitors competing against each other.

As I write this report, society members across the nation are working on their competitive exhibits for the CFMS-AFMS Show & Convention, Ventura Rocks the Nation. Other members are getting their exhibits ready for their society and neighboring society shows. Some of you are helping pebble pups with their first exhibit. Your exhibits are a beautiful and educational introduction to the public about the hobby, and an inspiration to each other. You are the rock stars of the Earth Sciences and the Practice of the Lapidary Arts & Crafts, and will always be. You are the windows that open to our special world for all others to see. Keep up the good work!

History can be a beautiful thread that can weave longevity and meaning into the things we do today.

Go out and play, celebrate the joys of the Earth Sciences and the Practice of Lapidary Arts & Crafts. It is our gift to give, always has been and will always be. Never forget to create fun and beautiful memories for others, for in time, they will become a special part of history.