Rock auction supports geology students

luorescent minerals were set in a black box to accent the fluorine-bearing mineral up for auction in the Union.:Claire Padgett


luorescent minerals were set in a black box to accent the fluorine-bearing mineral up for auction in the Union.:Claire Padgett

Chloe Daley

Once a year, area rock hounds head to Sac State to place bids on crystals for the mantle and raise money for the Geology Club.

Private individuals and public organizations donated the rocks, which ranged from fluorite to petrified wood and ammonite to geodes.

For several hours, hundreds of collectors watched the silent auction tables while bidding on the 19 items in the live auction, some of which sold for more than $400.

Moving slyly through the crowds during the live auction, Jim Jesen spurred fierce bidding wars, winning several items and upping prices for the sake of club donations.

Jesen sold minerals to help pay his college tuition while majoring in geology. After 40 years in the field, he knows the types of pieces he wants for his own collection.

“I usually spend about $600 (at the auction). I look for size, color and overall appearance,” he said.

After a couple years, Jesen said people began to notice when he would bid on a certain item. He adopted a subtle way of moving about the room and holding the paddle to his chest to keep them off the scent.

But rock geologists were not the only ones placing bids.

Eleven-year-old Isabella Lee kept her eyes glued to the silent auction tables. While she didn’t win a polished pink egg, she did take home several other items.

“We got the geode and a little shark tooth. I put my name down to get it for my sister for Christmas,” Lee said.

Suzanne McNaughton, class of ’87 and geology club alumna, took home four high-priced rocks. She spent $461 on a vanadinite cluster. When another audience member asked her what she would do with it, she replied, “Admire it, love it, cherish it.”

“I support the geology department, I remember what it was like to be a student with finances. You look at this as contributing to the geology (club) and I still get some nice rocks,” McNaughton said.

David Takacs, regional transit operator, took home a fish fossil for $70.

“I wanted something that would look good on the mantle, distinctive. If you get tired of it you can donate it again to the geology club,” he said.

Last year’s auction brought in about $9,000 for the club. While the numbers make the club appear affluent, the proceeds go toward the expensive fields trips required for classes.

The donations only help students with their supplies for class trips to places like Bodega Bay and Nimbus Dam. Geology major Jay Heffernan will have to pay his own way for the required trip to the Mojave Desert during spring break.

“It’s an expensive major. You don’t need a sleeping bag and a compass for a business major,” he said.

Heffernan said the auction has risen in popularity.

“Davis is trying to get ideas, I know they are going to try to have their own. Now that they are – we want to beat them in it,” he said.

Chloe Daley can be reached at [email protected]