INTEREVIEW WITH METEORITE HUNTER GEOFFREY NOTKIN
Tucson EZ-Guide 2008
"English Geoff," an interview with Geoffrey Notkin of Aerolite Meteorites originally appeared in the 2008 edition of the Tucson EZ-Guide, published by Xpo Press. The interview was part of an 11-page feature article, "Tucson is the Meteorite Capital of the World," written by Lisa Marie Morrison.


FULL TEXT OF THE INTERVIEW

GEOFFREY NOTKIN
A.K.A. “English Geoff”

By Lisa Marie Morrison

A collector, science writer, dealer, and meteorite hunter with a finely-tuned eye for marketing and promotion, and the natural ability to spread his enthusiasm to everyone he meets

Relaxing with a glass of wine in his desert-landscaped north Tucson home, Geoffrey Notkin displays the air of an international man of mystery. Hidden behind tussled dark hair, intelligent eyes, and a dapper English accent combined with a New York turn of phrase lies a punk rock bassplayer, science writer, photographer and avid meteorite collector.

Geoffrey grew up in “rainy old London, England.” At an early age he had already developed an interest in the natural world and geology, exploring nearby rock quarries and hunting for fossils. Geoffrey’s ever-patient mother repeatedly took him to the meteorite room in the Natural History Museum in London where he “became obsessed with the idea of owning a meteorite, or maybe even finding one.” Even as a kid he intrinsically knew that meteorites were rare and was intrigued by them.

In light of this early fascination with meteorites it’s ironic that a family trip to the American southwest in 1971 allowed for visits to Albuquerque, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon, but there was no time to tour Meteor Crater. Nevertheless, that vacation planted the seed of thought in Geoffrey’s mind to—some day—live in this part of the world. “I was astonished by the grandeur of the landscape. It was larger than life—larger than dreams,” he muses.
Geoffrey moved from London to New York City in the early 1980s to attend college, but became distracted by rock ’n’ roll. While playing in various downtown punk bands he held a day job as the owner of a small graphics design firm and doubled as a freelance writer. In 1994, Geoffrey embarked on an impromptu solo expedition to Arizona to hunt meteorites. The location of that initial trip is a closely guarded secret, “If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” he deadpans. “In a fluke, I had the incredible luck to find a meteorite on my first day out. I went back to camp and thought: God that was easy! Of course, I didn’t find another meteorite for three years.” That discovery started his meteorite collection and is still on display in his home.

In a most fortuitous online moment, Notkin was introduced to meteorite hunter Steve Arnold, who—after months of email correspondence—invited Geoffrey to accompany him on a meteorite adventure to the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The expedition would prove to be life changing: “It was all over for me after that trip. There was no going back to regular life.” The 1997 trip to Chile also lead to an ongoing gig writing for Meteorite magazine and his articles and photography have appeared in many other publications including: Wired, Reader’s Digest, Robb Report, Rock & Gem, Geotimes, Seed, and Lapidary Journal.

Geoffrey’s first encounter with the Tucson gem and mineral shows came the next year. “The winter of 1998 was cold, snowy and horrible in New York City. When I arrived here in Tucson everyone was wearing shorts and sandals, and looking at rocks, and I thought to myself: What’s not to love?” Soon, annual trips to the gem and mineral shows became the highlight of each year. “It was like a collector’s fairy tale vacation. You stayed at a nice hotel, bought meteorites all day, and partied all night,” he laughs.

A change in personal circumstances offered an opportunity for Notkin to move from the New York area. In a decision he calls “one of the most momentous and ‘right’ I’ve made in my life,” Geoffrey chose Tucson. “I could have gone anywhere, but during the 2003 gem and mineral shows, I decided I loved Tucson so much I was never going home.” Since moving here, Geoffrey has followed a natural progression from being a meteorite enthusiast, hunter and collector to being a dealer. “When you live in Tucson, you are unlimited in what you’re able to purchase at the shows. Now when I see a huge meteorite for sale I can throw it in the back of my truck without having to worry about the shipping. The gem show is the most extraordinary event of its kind in history.”

In the Tucson meteorite business, Geoffrey has found a natural home for his combined interests, skills, and childhood dreams. Geology, art, web design, astronomy, photography, natural history, marketing, adventure travel, and treasure hunting have flawlessly combined to become aspects of his everyday life.

2008 marks the first year Geoffrey has a large-scale display of his merchandise at the show. He is exhibiting alongside top dealer Anne Black at the InnSuites, Room 230, from February 2 through February 16. When you stop by, Geoffrey is sure to have a great story to tell and a glass of wine to share. During the rest of the year, visit his web site at www.aerolite.org

This article is © by Xpo Press and reprinted here by kind permission of the publisher.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.

MORE ABOUT GEOFFREY NOTKIN
Meteorite hunter Geoffrey Notkin's media page
Meteorite hunter Geoffrey Notkin's bibliography of published articles

Contact Geoffrey Notkin of Aerolite Meteorites

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