Ivory Coast tektites (“Ivoirites”) have long been the most difficult tektite to obtain. To say “impossible” would not be far off the mark. Only a few hundred have ever been recovered, and given their homeland’s propensity for war and strife, it has been decades since anyone has gone there with the purpose of searching for more. But recently, against all odds, an old collection of about 120 specimens has surfaced, and collectors, museums, and universities are scrambling to add examples to their collections while they can.
The story of their discovery was detailed in a March, 2014, Meteorite Times article written by Dr. Alain Carion and translated by Anne Black. In summary, the collection was assembled by Ms. Madeleine Bouguarel from a family cotton plantation near Daoukro in western Cote d’Ivoire. They were part of a small lot of personal posessions carried out of the country when the family fled political unrest about 1970. A couple of years ago, a great-grandaughter of Bouguarel’s, who apparently understood nothing of their significance, found them in an attic and offered a selection for sale at a Paris flea-market. A collector recognized them for what they were, and arranged to purchase the entire collection, which he in turn offered to well-known Parisian dealer, Dr. Alain Carion. Based on an atypical sample, Alain initially turned them down, but a year later decided to take a closer look at the entire assortment and realized that he was being offered an historical opportunity. The rest of us got our first look at an initial offering at the 2014 Tucson show, and another lot was offered at the recent show in Ensisheim.
Termed “the rarest of all tektites” by Dr. Carion, the collection (and the majority of all the previously reported specimens) are mostly spherical to sub-spherical. Most are bright and fresh, although a few show minor terrestrial abrasion. Research has quite firmly established that they were ejected from an impact at the 10.5 km diameter Bosumtwi crater in Ghana about 1.07 Ma ago.