The Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences, formerly the "American Association of Paleontological Suppliers" was organized to create a professional association of commercial fossil and mineral collectors and preparators for the purpose of promoting ethical collecting practices and cooperative liaisons with researchers, instructors, curators and exhibit managers in the academic and museum paleontological community.
During February 1977, the few fossil dealers attending the Tucson Gem and Mineral show met in the Marriot Hotel (also known as Holiday Inn on Broadway & now the Radison City Center), downtown Tucson, to discuss the formation of a collective association. Included at the meeting were Peter Larson, Neal Larson, Gerald Berry, Bob Harris, Allen Graffham and Hugh Rose.
The American Association of Paleontological Suppliers (the AAPS). This new organization was to serve as a united voice for the fossil industry. It was at this meeting that our Code of Ethics and our Constitution was born. These two important documents were drafted over the course of the following year. Allen Graffham of Geological Enterprises was elected as the first president of this organization. Bob Harris was elected Vice President, and James A. Honert, secretary-treasurer.
Founding Members (1978)
Black Hills Minerals, now Black Hills Institute of Geological Research - Pete Larson, Neal Larson, James Honert; Rapid City, SD
Geological Enterprises - Allen Graffham; Ardmore, OK
Geoscience Enterprises - Bob Howell, Roachdale, IN
Maloney's Fossils - Tom and Hilda Maloney; Willows, CA
Melloy's Fossils - George Melloy; Bethlehem, PA
Tetla - Gerald Berry; El Paso, TX
The Bug House - Bob Harris; Delta, UT
Ward's Natural Science Establishment - Steve Bryson; Rochester, NY
AAPS was the original idea of Hugh Rose, who later became an honorary member
The AAPS met for its second annual meeting, again at Tucson in Feb. 1978. Prospective new members had to be nominated by a current member and elected by a majority of the membership. All new members were elected that way until 1997 when membership was opened up to fossil business. There were still methods in place to remove members if they did not comply with the AAPS Code of Ethics. Associate and Honorary Members were allowed as early as 1980. Annual dues were originally $50 and stayed that way until the late 1990's when they were reduced to $10.
In 1979, most of the fossil enterprises that attended the Tucson show were brought together by George Topham who organized the first fossil show at the Sheraton Pueblo. At this time, several new members were added, including Leon Theisen, Warfield Fossils and Tom Johnson. Throughout the 1980's, the organization continued to grow and add more members, mostly those associated with the Fossil Show at the Pueblo. By the early 1990's there were more than 60 member businesses and several Associate members of the AAPS. By 1989 the fossil show moved to the Ramada Inn on Oracle with Marty Zinn. That hotel changed its name several times becoming the Vagabond 2003. In 2005 the fossil show moved to the Inn Suites and the new Ramada Inn along St. Mary's Road.
The IAPS (International Association of Paleontological Suppliers) was created in the early 1990's to help foreign businesses organize and become aware of the US and other countries legislation regarding the import and export of fossils from different countries in the world. The first president of this organization was Kirby Siber of Siber & Siber from Aathol, Switzerland. The organization adopted the code of ethics of the AAPS, and used the AAPS constitution as a guideline for their constitution. The IAPS became incorporated with the AAPS in 2000.
NAS and Peter Larson in the 1980's
Fighting bad legislation
Creation of a Science Officer (1988), advisory members, and honorary members
It became apparent that we should do something more with our funds than to use them to fight government legislation, so in 1990 we started the James Welch Scholarship. Our first scholarship was named for a long time member, James Welch of Montana Geological Materials, from Billings, Montana, who died of a heart attack while collecting fossils at Glass Mountain, in the Permian of Texas. From 1990 until 1995 we worked quite closely with the Paleo Society who chose the recipients to award our scholarships.
In 1992 we added a scholarship for vertebrate paleo students and created the Charles Sternberg Scholarship.
By 2002 it was determined that we should incorporate the AAPS under an International name, since we had many want-to-be members from other countries. At the Denver show in September, the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences (AAPS), was born, this new organization was composed of the former American Association of Paleontological Suppliers (AAPS) and the International Association of Paleontological Suppliers (IAPS).
The Charles H. Sternberg Medal was created by the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences (AAPS) in January of 2003 to honor very special friends and members of our organization who have given a large portion of their life to paleontology. This is the highest honor that our organization can bestow on any person, whether they are an AAPS member or not.
The A. Allen Graffham Research Grant was created in 2006 and funded by Geological Enterprises.
The René Vanderveldt Research Grant was created in 2007, first recipient in 2008, funded by Korite International and Canada Fossils.
During 2010, the AAPS created a grant in the name of of Dan Rigel, a longtime member and supporter of the AAPS, who ran Caveman Lapidary along with his wife, Hope. When Hope passed away in 2020, the name of the Grant was changed to Dan and Hope Rigel Educational Grant. The grant is funded primarely by Applegate Lapidary.
The AAPS created the William H. Mason III Preparators' Grant during 2020, to assist both fossil and meteorite technicians to preserve and stabilize specimens destined for museum displays or research collections
- one year terms for officers
Allen Graffham 1977-1979
Peter L. Larson 1979-1986
Gail Hebdon 1986-1990
Glenn Rockers 1990-1992
Jon Kramer 1992-1994
- two year terms initiated for officers during the summer of 1994
Mike Triebold 1994-1996
Bill Mason 1996-2001
(note, there was no election held in the year 2000)
Neal L. Larson 2001-2005
- two - consecutive two year term limits for any office adopted Sept. 12, 2002
Mike Triebold, 2005-2008
Tracie Bennitt, 2008-2012
Neal Larson, 2012-2016
- term limits for any office abolished February 6, 2016
John Issa 2016-2020
Craig Kissick 2020-2023
Andre LuJan 2023-2025
AAPS Vice Presidents
Bob Harris, 1977 - 1978
1978 -1986 A. Allen Graffham, Bob Harris, & Roy Young?
Larry Martin, 1986-1987
James Welch, 1987-1988
Gale Hebdon, 1988-1990
Japheth Boyce, 1992-1994
Nathaniel 'Sandy' Ludlum, 1994 - 2001
Mike Triebold, 2001-2003
Charlie MacGovern, 2003-2005
Rick Hebdon, 2005-2009
Dave Kronen, 2009-2013
John Issa, 2013-2016
Ed Rigal, 2016-2023
Neal Larson 2022-2024
James A. Honert, 1977-1980
Neal L. Larson, 1980-1986
Robert A. Farrar, 1986-1992
Janet Maxim, 1992-1996
Candy Nuss, 1996 - 2001
JJ Triebold, 2001-2003
Larry Hutson, 2003-2005
George Winters, 2005-2008
Bill Mason, 2008-2011
John Issa, 2011-2013
Rick Hebdon 2013-2015
Nathaniel 'Sandy' Ludlum, 2015-Present
AAPS Treasurer Position created 2015
Jane Murray, pro tem 2015
Jane Murray, 2016-2019
Katherine Taylor, 2019-2020
Rick Rolater, 2020-2023
Tracie Bennett, 2023-2025