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 Peter Marmet of MARMET-METEORITES.


That's me at the Ensisheim Meteorite Show 2005. Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe.


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

PM - About five years ago - at the age of 51- I attended a course to improve my knowledge and to help me teach lessons to my school kids about our solar system. On the last evening of the course our teacher left the room and then came back with two REAL meteorites. I couldn‘t believe that a private person could own a REAL meteorite, and this was a kind of a "struck-by-lightening" experience for me. The very same evening I searched the internet and found some interesting information. My passion for meteorites began!

MT - What was your first meteorite?

PM - It was a Canyon Diablo...or was it a Sikhote-Alin?

MT - Do you still have it?

PM - No, I 'upgrade' my Canyon Diablos and Sikhote-Alins from time to time.

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

PM - I focus on European falls of the 19th century, especially if they have a museum number painted or a label of provenience or even better: both! But I also like unequilibrated NWAs and nice, fully crusted NWAs and Lunar and Martian meteorites. In addition, I love to see my thin sections through my home-made polarized-light microscope. I like to photograph my meteorites. I‘m not so much the scientist concerning meteorites, and when I read excerpts from the Meteoritical bulletin, very often I have a feeling that I‘m trying to read Chinese;)! For me, the historic background of a meteorite is often far more interesting, and I like to read old sources describing the circumstances of the fall.


Aldsworth, England, fell 1835, 1.38 g


Aumieres, France, fell 1842, 7.83 g


Knyahinya, Ukraine, fell 1866, 33.5 g


MT - Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?

PM - Not really. They keep calling my meteorites "stones" or even "pebbles" ... and that says it all!

MT - 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.)

PM - Even though rust is not a big problem here, I prefer collecting stone meteorites. And talking about aesthetics, I have to admit that from time to time I don‘t buy an interesting meteorite because it is simply too ugly. One special interest for me are items from the one and only H.H. Nininger. I have almost all of his books, most of them hand signed by Nininger himself. I have picture postcards from his museums and meteorites with his hand painted numbers on them along with their hand written labels. I especially like his Canyon Diablo spheroid bottles.


The famous Nininger spheroids.

MT - Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?

PM - The meteorites in my collections come from about 200 different locations, counting all of NWA as one location.

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

PM - A lot of my collection pieces are kept in Riker boxes. I have many stone meteorites (mainly NWAs) and some iron meteorites in a glass cabinet. They have been in there for years now and they show no rust at all. Rusting is not a problem here at all. In addition, I have only a few classic irons in my collection like Sikhote-Alin, Canyon Diablo, Gibeon, Cape York, and Lake Murray, to mention a few.


Glass cabinet full of black beauties (mostly NWA's) and some irons.

PM - In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?

MT - Well, I buy most of my meteorites with the help of the computer from my favorite, well known meteorite dealers who are all over the world. I also buy some on eBay from people I know. I do have my own internet site: ( http://www.marmet-meteorites.com/ ). And in addition I‘m a member of the I.M.C.A. ( http://www.imca.cc ) and the Meteorite List. Here in Switzerland there are very few meteorite people so with my computer I can contact the world...wonderful!

MT - Do you ever hunt for meteorites?

PM - Well, it‘s almost hopeless here in Switzerland...and I have not made it to the hot or cold deserts yet...but who knows, one day....

MT - What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?

PM - It's not one meteorite but three: Utzenstorf, Rafruti and Twannberg - all from Switzerland and all from my home county (canton) Bern!
 


Utzenstorf, Switzerland, fell 1928, 8.731 g


Rafruti, Switzerland, found 1886, 14.9 g


Twannberg, Switzerland, found 1984, 29.8 g
 

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

PM - Well, there is my Stannern (stone) with a Vienna museum label and my Willamette (iron) and the pallasite from the Antarctic Thiel Mountains....and of course, not to forget Ensisheim and Tabor!


Stannern, Czech Republic, fell 1808, 53.7 g



Willamette, USA, found 1902, 14.7 g


Tiel Mountains, Antarctica, found 1962, 11.38g and a 12.4 g fragment of ALH 76009
and an original letter from U.B. Marvin to E. Olsen of the Field  Museum in Chicago.


Ensisheim, France, fell 1492, 4.1 g

 


Ensisheim, France 12.1 g
 


Tabor, Czech Republic, fell 1753, 12.9 g

MT - What makes these of special interest?

PM -Well, they are exceptional in different ways: The Stannern was traded from the Vienna museum, and the, amazingly, other part of the Stannern was found by coincidence, by Mike Farmer about one year later in a US collection. And it is also a very rare historic meteorite. Everybody knows the exciting story of the Willamette meteorite. Antarctic meteorites are very rare in private collections, and Thiel Mountains is an even rarer Antarctic pallasite!

MT - What meteorites are currently on your wish list?

PM - There are some very rare historic European falls that are on top of my wish list, e.g.: Siena (Italy 1794), Mässing (Germany 1803), High Possil (Scotland, 1804), one from Asia: Ogi (Japan, 1741)...and many more.

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

PM - I have more than 100 meteorite books, but otherwise no, I focus strictly on meteorites...that's expensive enough;-)...


My meteorite book shelve.

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

PM - From time to time I cut and polish stone meteorites or I etch some irons.

MT - Thank you for allowing us to interview you.