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
Dave Carothers.

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

Dave Carothers (DC) I was 53 when I bought my first meteorite.  Kind of late in getting started, but, thatís OK.  In July 2005, I was recovering from a heart attack and triple bypass.  I had a lot of free time on my hands and as a result, I was spending a lot of time on the computer and on eBay looking for Civil War minnie balls (I collect them too).  On the afternoon of July 11, 2005, I happened to see one of Mark Bostickís auctions for a meteorite.  I had never heard of or even considered such a thing as collecting meteorites.  I was intrigued and began looking at all the other meteorite auctions that day.  The idea of collecting something that dated to 4.5 billion years of age, came from outer space, and was just so beautiful hooked me immediately to this great hobby.  Since then, Iíd have to say that Adam and Greg Hupe, Mike Farmer, Mark Bostick, have contributed greatly to stoking the fire in my heart about collecting meteorites.  I canít forget all the great people on the meteorite-list either for their keeping the interest alive.

(MT) What was your first meteorite?

(DC) My very first meteorite was a 17.1 gram Dhofar 020 individual.  I won it on an eBay auction, July 11, 2005.  Later that same evening, I also won bids for a 1.468 gram Galatia partial slice and two NWA 267 fragments (12.3 grams and 5.1 grams).  By the end of July, I had 36 meteorites.  I currently have 357 unique specimens out of a total of over 500.

Dhofar 020 from my collection. My very first meteorite.
Photo courtesy of Mark Bostick.

(MT) Do you still have it?

(DC) Yes, indeed.   I still have two of the other three meteorites I bought that same evening.  The 5.1 gram NWA 267 specimen, I gave to my son.

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

(DC) At present, Iím still building my collection and learning the basics. The special interest areas of thin sections, photography, chemistry, etc. are all of interest to me,  but of the lot, photography is probably the closest to my heart.  When I see the magic worked by Geoff Notkin and Tom Phillips it inspires me to want to get more acquainted with this particular aspect of meteorites.  Given my current time constraints, however, Iíll have to delve into these areas at some time in the future.

(MT) Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?

(DC) My wife and son are both interested in meteorites.  They love to see my latest acquisitions and will actually stop and listen to me expound on the latest bits of knowledge Iíve obtained relating to the subject of meteorites.  My co-workers are also interested to the same extent.  None of them, however, have taken the interest to the next logical step --- collecting.

(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.)

(DC) My approach to collecting is and always has been to establish a collection based on what I like.  I just so happen to like ALL meteorites, so I guess my philosophy is to put together as diverse a collection as possible.

Gibeon from my collection.  A meteorite with character.
Photo courtesy of Carsten Giessler.

Kunashak from my collection.  A beautiful combination of chondrules and shock veins.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Bernhard Brinker.

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

(DC) 125 unique locations.

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

(DC) My collection is in a display case.  The case is air tight and I also use a desiccant to ensure any possible humidity issues are controlled.

(MT) In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?

(DC) My computer is used to maintain my collection database and spreadsheet. These contain all the pertinent information about all my meteorites --- date bought, cost, seller, meteorite name, classification, etc. I also use the computer and Internet connection to gather information about meteorites in general, my specimens in particular, and to look for new specimens to add to my collection. The best part of using the computer is being able to reach out to meteorite collectors, sellers, and researchers. These folks are a great resource for learning about meteorites. The only problem with using the computer is that I have developed a Pavlovian response when I see an image of a meteorite with nicely formed chondrules in a solid matrix. Needless to say, drool and keyboards are not compatible.

From my collection - ahhhh chondrulesÖÖ.  Photo courtesy of Greg Hupe.

(MT) Do you ever hunt for meteorites?

(DC) Not yet, but I REALLY want to.  I canít think of anything Iíd like to do more than to actually find a meteorite.

(MT) What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?

(DC) There is no one favorite meteorite in my collection. 

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

(DC) I have no overall favorite.

(MT) What makes these of special interest?

(DC) Each and every meteorite in my collection is unique and beautiful and therefore all are of special interest.  What is really interesting is that each meteorite is unique to each and every other meteorite.  Additionally, each fragment and slice of a particular meteorite is unique to the other fragments and slices of that meteorite. You can readily see this when looking at the various Sikhote Alin shrapnel and individuals.  Each piece has been individually sculpted as it entered the earthís atmosphere and again as the meteorite broke up.  I see the same in the individual slices of meteorites that are often up for sale.  They may all come from the same meteorite, but each slice has different characteristics and is different in appearance. Each is beautiful unto itself and itís own unique shape and characteristics. 

A beautiful example of Sikhote-Alin from my collection.
Photo courtesy of Jim Strope.

(MT) What meteorites are currently on your wish list?

(DC) My wish list consists adding any and all meteorite specimens that I donít already have.

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

(DC) Iíve been successful using eBay and buying directly from sellers.  Iím very careful who I buy from and Iím happy to say that all the sellers (except one) Iíve dealt with thus far have all been fantastic.  I havenít had the opportunity to attend any of the shows, but I have plans and reservations for Tucson 2007. 

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

(DC) My collection is limited in this regard thus far.  At present, I have several tektites and a 61.1 gram specimen of Libyan Desert Glass in my collection.

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

(DC) No, not yet.  Maybe some day in the future --- theyíre on my list of things to investigate.  I think it would be fun.

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

(DC) As stated previously, I maintain my collection in an air tight display case. I also use a desiccant to help control any potential humidity issues.

Thanks for the interview.