Making of a Show – Gem Capers

by | May 12, 2017 | History

May, 2017

The third part of “Looking Back in History” is about “Making of a Show”. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the newspaper clippings about the first Austin Gem and Mineral Show held in 1951 and seeing the transition from the beginnings to our present day Gem Capers. Hope you feel the same.

Throughout the years the show has been held in many different venues beginning with the Austin Public Library. Other locations included Baker School Gymnasium, LCRA Building, O. Henry Middle School, Hancock Shopping Center and the Municipal Auditorium. One of the more interesting locations for me and perhaps for members who have lived in Austin for a while is the Montgomery Ward store that was located in Capital Plaza Shopping Center. (Today it’s the Target store.)

When the show began members were sharing their collections of semi-precious stones, rough and faceted minerals, fossils and fluorescents. Within two years they were demonstrating silver smithing, faceting and displaying equipment used in the different crafts.

The main purpose of the show was always educating the public about rocks and mineral. Therefore at its conception there was no admittance fee. In fact the show asked for donations until the 1980’s when admission was charged. The donation in 1970 was $.50 for adults and children were free. By 1972 adults were $1.00 and children were $.50. Starting in the 1980’s admission included seniors for $.75 and School Day was $.10 for students and scouts.

The show was originally held for two days. As the club grew so did the show. By the time it moved to the Hancock Center it had its first official name- Gem Fair. It was now a three day show which included Children’s Day on Friday. It’s, also, the first time the articles mentioned official dealers- two of which were San Juan Gems and Alamo Rock Shop.

In 1976 Gem Capers officially began. It was a national show and AGMS hosted AFMS and SCFMS. There were 51 dealers and a four day pass was offered. A full page article/ad was in the Austin American Statesman and it included details of the show and special exhibits.

It’s great to see that our show continues to educate and involve the public. Our members have always been active in making each show a success. Hopefully this article inspires more of you to volunteer and watch as our visitors, especially the children, show their love for rocks and minerals during Gem Capers 2017!!

Answer to last month’s trivia question: The junior members have been called, Pebble Pups(1951), Boulder Grabbers(1973), and Future Rockhounds(2017).

Trivia Question for this month- Who held the following offices for AGMS- Secretary in 1977, 2nd VP in 1979 and Treasurer in 1981?