Mundrabillia, Australia: Where it all began.

Where it all began:

Mundrabillia, Australia

Zmenj Meteorite
 

The etched face of of this 69g end section of Mundrabillia brought joy to its owner, and the touchable wonders of space to hundreds if not thousands of students in its several decades as the cornerstone of my collection.

Twenty or so years ago, I bought my first meteorite, an etched end section of Mundrabillia, and the magic began. The iron was purchased as a teaching aid to share with students who were learning about space science. The specimen came from David New and was chosen under his guidance as a nice, affordable example of a meteorite that would serve my needs well. He was right. But instead of being one of the many buyers of a meteorite who never make the turn to a former collector of meteorites, I followed his suggestions for the next decade buying almost everything he suggested. And he was never wrong as far as I was concerned.


Zmenj Meteorite
 
While the etched piece of Mundrabilla was my first meteorite, this was the first specimen card in my collection.

Back in those days of long-distance telephone fees and no internet, meteorite were advertised in mailings, and inquires were made one at a time over the phone. It didn’t take the collector long to learn that what was listed in the mailed flyer was likely just a sample of what was available. Once on the phone with the dealer, the true scope of the potential offerings came into focus.

Decision making back then contained the elements of one-on-one attention. If I was on the phone with David, then at that moment, I was first in line for whatever he had to offer. On more than one occasion I passed on buying a sample David suggested only to call back a few hours or a day later only to learn it had sold minutes after I hung up.


 

Mundrabillia Meteorite

 
Is that rust or dirt? On achondrites like Millbillillie its obvious, but on irons like Henbury, Boxhole and Mundrabillia its not so obvious. Mostly its rust. Sometimes it a combination of the two. And in those wonderful non-sanatized examples, its authentic Australian soil which just happened to be the only documented witness to the fall of Mundrabillia.

For me, those early days of meteorite collecting were truly magical. For many of us, the only specimens we knew of where in museums and our own collections. It took the internet to provide a global venue for sharing our collections with each other. The internet has also dramatically changed our was of exchanging meteorites. Pictures are a must, and instead of a tens or hundreds possible buyers receiving a listing in the mail, there is no ceiling to the number of people who can view a meteorite offering, which of course also means the collector is considerably more savvy with market values and available specimens. But in the long run it is the relationships and stories the meteorites fostered that really make collecting a joy.

As 2012 greets us, I will be again taking a break from writing my Accretion Desk columns with the detail I usually put in to my tales. Many projects are taxing my time so even carving out the small handful of hours needed to create an Accretion Desk has become a challenge. I want to enjoy spinning my meteorite yarns, and with m time constraints right now, I see no option but go to to a more simplified type of Accretion Desk.  And I’m just as excited to see what that is as you are.

Until next time….


The Accretion Desk welcomes all comments and feedback. accretiondesk@gmail.com

About the Author

Martin Horejsi
Dr. Martin Horejsi is a Professor of Instructional Technology and Science Education at The University of Montana. A long-time meteorite collector and writer, before publishing his column The Accretion Desk in The Meteorite Times, he contributed often and wrote the column From The Strewnfields in Meteorite Magazine. Horejsi is currently a monthly columnist in The Science Teacher, a journal by the National Science Teachers Association. Horejsi specializes in the collection and study of historic witnessed fall meteorites with the older, smaller, and rarer the better. Although his meteorite collection once numbered over a thousand pieces with near that many different locations, several large trades and sales have streamlined the collection to about 250 locations with all but 10 being important witnessed falls. Many of the significant specimens in Horejsi's collection are historic witnessed falls that once occupied prominence in the meteorite collections of Robert A. Haag, James Schwade, and Michael Farmer. Other important specimens were acquired through institutional trades including those from The Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University, and other universities.
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