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 David Bryant of Spacerocks UK.

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

David Bryant (DB) When I was about eight, I found a rounded, dark, crusted rock lying in a shallow crater by a sandy path in the southern UK. I sent it to the Astronomer Patrick Moore, who invited me to his house. He told me a lot about meteorites, but said my stone wasn't a space rock because it wasn't attracted to a magnet! I now wonder whether I might have thrown away an achondrite, in my youthful ignorance! Although disappointed, meeting him sparked my interest in all things astronomical, and meteorites in general. I met Sir Patrick recently and reminded him of the occasion and his comment: he astonished me by saying that he didn't believe that Martian meteorites originated on the red planet!

(MT) What was your first meteorite?

My first 'real' meteorite was a 20g piece of Sikhote shrapnel that I bought to add to my rock & mineral collection back in the late sixties. It cost a fortune! A little later I added a small tektite: the size I would sell for fifty cents today. Then it cost me the equivalent of $20! Third was an unclassified NWA: you don't want to know how much I paid for that!

(MT) Do you still have it?

I still have all three, yes!

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

I do like polished slices! If I were to express an area of real interest, it would be chondrules and chondrule formation. Like most of us, I'm fascinated by planetaries, too. I've had the honor of meeting a good number of Apollo Astronauts, and always offer them a DaG 400 display!

Captain James Lovell, Apollo 13 Cdr, accepts one of Martin Altmann's lunaites from David,
saying "Thanks for that! I went to the Moon twice, but never got my hands on any before!"

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

My wife Linda is a partner in 'Spacerocks UK' and. like me, studied astronomy to degree level. She is just as fascinated by meteorites as I am. We have four children, of whom only my scientist daughter Jane and her lawyer partner Ash have an interest in meteorites. They spend days hill-walking with a magnet stick!

(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.)

I like all types equally, but have to admit I find stones showing good-sized chondrules most appealing!

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

As a full-time meteorite dealer I can't allow myself to add too many stock items to my collection: not good business! What I like to do is make up framed thematic displays such as groups of HEDs / SNCs / carbos / primitives etc. which I hang in my office. As a free-lance lecturer, I keep a collection to hand round at lectures: this includes a very large tektite, 2kg unc NWA stone, a large Campo and a box of KT specimens from around the World.

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

The framed items are displayed on my office wall, the lecture samples are packed in my lecture kit with my data projector and remote mouse!

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

I maintain four space-related websites which require constant updates: I really hate it when people have loads of great items on their sites which turn out to have been sold months before! I also master the British & Irish Meteorite Society website. I keep data-bases of meteorites and customers and, of course, most of my business is by e-mail.

(MT) Do you ever hunt for meteorites?

Yes! But with spectacular lack of success. I've looked in all the likely places (ancient glacial moraine, dry stone walls, prehistoric sites: nothing! Unbelievable that Rob Elliot found Glenrothes whilst out fishing!

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

Hmmmmmm.... Hard one! I have a nice big slice of Gujba I'm quite partial to! And a decent lump of Murchison!

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

Even harder. I'd probably go with Tagish Lake for its rarity and possible origin.

(MT) What makes these of special interest?

I'm a romantic at heart: I love the idea that TL might have a cometary origin. I've seen a dozen or so comets: first two were the super-bright 1957 pair.

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

Any UK fall / find! Appley Bridge would be nice!

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

All of the above equally!

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

Yes indeed! I'm fascinated by impacts and all related materials: I think Ries shocked belemnites are really excellent! Poor things: brought to extinction by the KT event, and then clobbered again as fossils! I do think it's a massive shame that the Bristol impact layer (of green micro-spherules) is no longer accessible. I only have a few titchy fragments.....

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

I have a 12" saw and a lapping table and prepare slices of common stony materials: I haven't had the nerve to cut up anything really valuable yet!

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

Norfolk, UK, is about the driest place in Great Britain. I honestly never have any corrosion problems, though I do protect my pallasites with silica gel unit.