An Article In Meteorite-Times Magazine

This feature is devoted each month to one of the personalities within the meteorite community. This month we are delighted to share an interview we had with Meteorite Dealer Jim Strope of catchafallingstar.com.

What or who got you interested in meteorites and how old were you when you got your first meteorite?

I was at a mineral and fossil show in Pittsburgh, PA when I ran across a vendor that had a few Meteorites for sale. They were Sikhote-Alin Shrapnel and I bought a couple of small ones for a dollar per gram (which was too much!!!). I did not know at that time that it was possible to own a meteorite. I was fascinated. I did some research and found some ads in the back of Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines. I bought some more meteorites from Blaine Reed, Bob Haag and Bethany Sciences through these ads.

About six months later, I met Michael Casper. He asked me to help him with his first Denver show. I then helped him out at the Tucson show and he convinced me that I should buy more meteorites than I needed so that I could sell some and help to fund my appetite for my new hobby. This was what really got me rolling.

What was your first meteorite?

The small Sikhote-Alin Shrapnel that I referenced above. My second meteorite was also a Sikhote-Alin that I bought from Blaine Reed. It was the more desirable regmaglypted type. I still have more Sikhote-Alin in my collection than any other type. This is one of my favorites. It weighs 475 grams.

Do you still have it?

No, I gave it as a gift to my nephew. He still has it though.

Do you have special areas of interest that you focus on in regards to meteorites (thin sections, photography, chemistry, age dating..etc)?

I have big display pieces. My collection mostly consists of large irons, pallasites, and planetary specimens. My collecting tastes changed over the years to the point where I think I am pretty settled in to what I like. There was a time when I had a lot more smaller specimens but I got rid of them over time.

Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?

Yes, they are all very interested in seeing any new acquisitions that I come up with. Big irons and pallasites are pretty enough to impress even non-collectors. Pieces of the Moon and Mars are also sure to please everyone.

Do you have any special approaches to collecting? (Type collection, only stones, only irons, only by aesthetics, etc. or any and all that you like.)

I guess I concentrate on aesthetics. I have very few small pieces. Most of my collection consists of large display specimens. I like having big irons sitting in my living room that I canít even lift.

Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?

Well, since I like big specimens, my collection really doesnít represent many localities. I only have 23 localities represented in my core collection. When you look at it in terms of location numbers, it sounds pretty pitiful doesnít it !

Is your collection displayed or kept in a dry box or both?

I have the majority of my collection on display all over the house. I like to enjoy my collection and not keep it locked away.

In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?

I use my computer to keep track of my collection in addition to accounting for my sales. I also develop and maintain my own website so I use it for that too.

Do you ever hunt for meteorites?

I have hunted for meteorites in Arizona, Texas, Chile and Oman. It has been a lot of fun traveling to hunt for meteorites. It makes you realize that perhaps prices are generally fair since it takes a lot of work finding them. I have approached any meteorite hunts that I go on as an opportunity for new experiences as opposed to a money making venture. My favorite trip so far was to Chile. We went to the Imilac strewnfield and the Monturaqui Crater.

What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?

Well, I have three specimens, which are tied for first place. Aesthetically, I like my 114 kg Gibeon

and 3.1 kg Imilac Slice.  Scientifically, I am fascinated with NWA 998 Nakhlite.

If I had to pick one out of these three, it would be NWA 998. I kept the nicest fragment out of that meteorite for my own collection, weighing 28 grams and covered with fusion crust

What is your favorite overall if it is not the one above?

My favorite overall type is the Sikhote-Alin Meteorite. That fall has quite a variety of specimen types Ė smooth, oriented, shrapnel, angular, round, I could go on and on. Each Sikhote-Alin specimen is unique in itís own way.

What makes these of special interest?

I think that all three are the most visually striking meteorites that I have. The Gibeon and Imilac can be easily enjoyed across the room while the NWA 998 is incredible under the microscope.

What meteorites are currently on your wish list?

Landes, West Virginia, my home state. I do have two nice sized specimens, but I have always wanted a complete slice.

What methods have been most successful in building your collection? (Buying at shows, from dealers by mail, auctions on the web, trading... etc)

Trading has been the biggest contributor to my collection, by far. Trades that I have completed with NWA 998 doubled the value of my collection in the past 2 years.

Do you also collect related materials like impact glasses, breccias, melts, tektites, shocked fossils, native iron rocks etc?

No, but I do have a few examples of all of those except native iron. I really enjoy looking at the minerals and fossils at the shows but I just donít know enough about them to commit to another area of collecting.

Do you prepare any of your own specimens? (cut, polish, etch, etc.)

I only do limited cutting and polishing. Small specimens.

Have you had to take any special measures to protect them from the environment?

I try to collect specimens that are resistant to rust since I live in a humid climate. I do keep and eye on all the irons sitting around the house and touch them up when needed. I WIPe them off periodically with a silicone gun cloth which seems to do a good job.