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 Bill Mason (Rusty).

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

Bill Mason (WM) My grandmother was a rock collector and whenever I visited her she’d let me look at the collection which was everywhere in her big house. The big heavy one I was told was a piece of a shooting star that came to earth. I’m 8 years old and wanted to know more. She went to the book shelf and handed me “Our Stone Pelted Planet” by HHN. I read it and that was the beginning of my love of meteorites.

(MT) What was your first meteorite?

(WM) When I was 9 years old grandmother gave me my first meteorite. A “Canyon Diablo” a four pound sculptured beauty.

(MT) Do you still have it?

(WM) Yup, I still have it and its’ brother 37# C.D. both by the way were purchased from HHN.

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

(WM) My initial love was just what they were and after I purchased a bunch of “Nantans” in Tucson, AZ. That turned in to a pile of rust in just a year. I had to find out why. I’m a geologist and a research chemist and corrosion was a challenge. I think I have solved the problem of corrosion in meteorites.

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

(WM) No, My children think they are interesting , but could care less.

(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.)

(WM) I admit to loving Irons and Pallisites best, though I own a pretty complete collection of all types of meteorites. In Tucson this last show I saw an NWA 5050 that brecciate and white in color. It was one of the most fascinating specimens I’ve ever seen.

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

(WM) Last count 22 countries. 618 specimens.

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

(WM) I keep the small ones in drawers for the sake of order. The bigger specimens are on the mantel piece and in glass display cases.

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

(WM) Order of a collection requires a computer as all the records and description are necessary if a collection is going to have any value.

(MT) Do you ever hunt for meteorites?

(WM) I’ve been on several hunts and I have not successfully found a meteorite. “damn”.

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

(WM) My big “Canyon Diablo” and then there is the, Seymchan,Brenham, are you kidding ? I love them all and I can’t help myself.

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

(WM) Muonionalusta from Sweden

(MT) What makes these of special interest?

(WM) The perfect quality of their beauty and they came from outer space untouched by the hands of man.

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

(WM) NWA 5050.

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

(WM) My most successful methods of building my collections have been with a FEW trusted dealers – I say this in earnest as I have been taken by a greed soaked individuals. I have bought from Blain Reed with the utmost confidence- I know he knows my taste and collection parameters so I can even give him an advance payment knowing that everybody wins when the credit is used up.

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

(WM) Yes I collect minerals, rocks and fossils My home is a museum and work shop. Lots of children visit me with their parents and I try and give back to this next generation – if I can get a kid to become excited about science and continue their curiosity about learning – then my life means something and the young person can enrich the world around him and all he touches.

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

(WM) I have a complete lapidary, optical finishing workshop and a vacuum laboratory for processing meteorites. I use diamond laps, I etch with Nitol and Ferric Chloride, I’m an expert in adhesives, coatings and sealants and use these in restoring the sick meteorite specimens to health. I also do research in to corrosion protection for meteorites. My NANTANS don’t rust anymore. My goal is to give to the meteorite collectors a means to guarantee them a corrosion free collection.

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

(WM) I protect my collection with my own chemistry. I clean them, I etch them, when desired, I either coat them with my own proprietary formula or store them in a emitter protected glass case. And if someone out there is frustrated about what to do about a ruster – I’m free.