An Article In Meteorite-Times Magazine
by Martin Horejsi of  Martin Horejsi's Meteorite and Tektite Books


Happy Tucsoning in 2006
Sharing is an important part of meteorite collecting. Whether stories, pictures, experiences, or physical specimens, the exchanges between enthusiasts is a large part of the enjoyment of this sport. In this installment of The Accretion Desk, I'd like to share a few treasures and experiences from Tucson 2006. Although I did not expect (nor could afford) another windfall of specimens like Tucson '05, I did hope to return home with meteorite riches, both tangible and intangible. And Tucson '06 did not disappoint.


From the early morning drive filled with stars to the exceptional weather in Tucson, the entire trip was flawless. Flying over the Grand Canyon is always a treat, but the sharp morning sun contrasting the with the canyon walls added an especially welcome element of excitement to the scene.


I met Jim and Paul, the hosts of this great website, at the Tucson airport. Having experienced Tucson guides is worth every penny. They knew where everyone was located, how to get there, and the best shortcuts across town. Parking was a snap because Jim and Paul knew the parking lots like the back of a tektite.

Our first stop in Tucson was the party meeting around the Steve Arnold's Great Brenham Discovery. Here Steve poses with me and the world record oriented pallasite.



I pounded on Blaine's door early Friday morning to see if he wanted to go to breakfast. He did. But first, I had to dig through some wonderful new specimens he just got in on consignment. Ten minutes and almost $2000 later, we walked to Denny's for some of the saddest coffee I've ever had, but the rocks in my pocket made the coffee tolerable.

Pictured above is one of the treats I got from Blaine. Not only is it Weston, Connecticut, the most historic US meteorite there is, but it was once in the Robert Haag collection, About Weston's fall, Thomas Jefferson is reported to have said something like, "I would rather believe that two Yankee professors would lie, then stones would fall from the heavens."

Later that same day, I showed the stone to Bob Haag. He remembered it and even told me about how he acquired it from the Peabody Museum at Yale.

Pictured above is my slice of Weston sitting on Bob Haag's 1992 catalog entry for Weston; my slice as pictured in his collection.



While in Bob's room, I just had to pick up a few other goodies including this thin crusted partial slice of Kapoeta, a 1925 howardite fall from Sudan. Sitting on my upgrade list for a long time, Kapoeta is finally a full member of my collection.


Another on my upgrade list was Parnalee, an LL3 fall from India. Although this meteorite fell almost 150 years ago, the large TKW (mostly in one big individual) made me resistant to spending the expected amount of money a historic LL3 witnessed fall usually commanded. Therefore, until now, Parnallee in my collection was somewhat small by my collecting standards.


Bob Haag avoided bring his entire collection to the show this year. He said it was because the temptation to sell specimens was too great. Still, he had some amazing show pieces including a giant Allende individual, a huge slice of Zagami (for a cool $30k!), and a monstrous thin slice of Esquel (for more than three times the price of the Zagami slice!).

Here Bob is strumming the olivine in the bright Tucson sun. Of all the meteorite dealers I have ever met, Bob has got to be the happiest. His attitude is beyond positive, it is completely contagious. He seems just as happy when someone else gets a great specimen as when he does. I am glad I spent time with him and caught his attitude, especially with the extremely competitive auctions yet to come.

 


The absolute best meteorite party in Tucson is without a doubt the Meteorite Mayhem Bash by Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold. This year was especially grandiose for numerous reasons. First, as everyone knows, Steve Arnold found a gigantic Brenham.

Second, this was the first ever People's Choice Harvey Awards where those of us in awe of the energy and commitment of Geoff Notkin and company could receive the wondrous awards they have so kindly bestowed on others in the field.

And finally, I was able to join the ranks of the Harveyed. I was awarded a Harvey for Writing and Research for the almost 100 published articles and reviews I have in both Meteorite Magazine and The Accretion Desk at the Meteorite Times.

(photo kindly provided by Art Jones, the creator of both the Meteorite List, and Meteorite Central.



At the ferociously competitive Lang Auction on Saturday afternoon, I was outbid so fast on so many items, that I have a renewed respect for the seriousness of many collectors. While I still harbor a couple regrets that I did not continue bidding on some pieces, I am happy with my single winning: A 28g polished partial slice with crust of the 1904 Canadian fall named Shelbourne.


One of the funnier specimens I picked up was a arguably familiar looking individual of Sikhote-Alin. A laughing Mike Farmer showed me the piece. My only question was how much. He said it wasn't for sale. I pressed him. He said a price. I countered. He held firm. I used his computer to paypal his account so the piece would become mine.

Then when we ran into each other later, he kept asking to borrow the specimen to show others. I gave him the piece to enjoy for another few days, and picked it up later in the show.



At Michael Blood's Peoples Auction later that evening, I had fun bidding on several items, but I never expected to win any. However, on two occasions, my bid was the last. One was on a 11+kg Campo iron that ended at $225! I figure that was a pretty good deal, but it was not something I really needed, nor wanted to carry it home on an airplane. Luckily I found someone else who wanted the specimen and sold it before leaving for the night.

The other specimen I picked up at Blood's auction was a very nice polished complete slice of the Shergottite colorfully named DaG 735.

While desert stones are not usually on my collecting radar, this particularly nice piece is perfect for the space science workshops I conduct with teachers.

In fact, as I type this I am on a Boeing 767-300 en route between Atlanta and Salt Lake City. I just finished up a two-day teacher workshop at an observatory in Mississippi. A teaching dream come true, the workshop focused exclusively on meteorites!



Before jumping into the show again on Sunday morning, we stopped by Geoff Notkin's house for a visit and to see what meteorite wonders were abound.

Here Geoff poses with his personal Brenham individual along with souvenir pics of his adventures in the strewnfield.



Although Allende is not yet a historical meteorite, when it crosses the threshold into the past, I'll be ready. Eric Olsen had a few nice pieces that came from research samples John Wasson was using at UCLA.

The partslice has a Wasson number along the left edge, an ID tag, and a matching specimen card from Arizona State University.



 
Another very nice piece I picked up from Eric is this incredibly active thin slice of the aubrite named Pena Blanca Spring. Eric was reluctant to sell it, and I can see why. But hey, money talks.


 
Of the many treats of Tucson, one in particular was seeing a huge meteorite timeline poster that the Southwest Meteorite Center had on display. In the upper right-hand corner of the poster was a picture of a slice of Krasnojarsk. I though it looked very familiar. I was right because that exact piece resides in my collection. It is a fitting piece for the poster since the piece was once part of the Chaladni collection!

The upper image is one I took of the poster. The lower image is the specimen in my collection.



 
 

Historic falls are important. I also like stories and rare classes. Another treat from Blaine was this 11g polished and crusted part slice of Pillistfer, Estonia.

Besides being a 1868 fall and an EL6 chondrite, Pillistfer also hit a building during its arrival on earth.

 


I did not have a million dollars to buy Steve Arnold's Brenham, so instead I bought a hammer head that Steve dug up during his search for the big one.

Steve kindly provided me with a Certificate of Authenticity that came in handy when I tried to board my plane home with contraband in my carryon. Apparently hammers are on the list of no-no items. Luckily, nature ate away the wooden handle long ago making this specimen, according the TSA safety officer anyway, not a hammer and thus safe for flight.



 
As another Tucson show drifts into the past, I feel a richer person for attending. My wallet might argue, but it is truly great meteorite memories that keep me playing this game. Until next Tucson....

 
 

The Accretion Desk welcomes all comments and feedback.

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