An Article In Meteorite-Times Magazine
by Martin Horejsi of  Martin Horejsi's Meteorite and Tektite Books


Esoteric Collecting: Part 1

Seeing Double: When One Specimen Number Is Not Enough

This is the first installment of an intermittent series of articles addressing some of the sub-collections (or esoteric collections) that develop within larger meteorite collections. If left unchecked, the subcollection will become a full-blown formal specialization of the meteorite collection. But prior to its status as a specialization, a sub-focus of a collection is really nothing more than the observation that a few specimens have a unique characteristic in common. One of my reasons for this series in the Accretion Desk is to help collectors appreciate smaller groups of meteorites as collections in themselves. Sometimes the overwhelming number of meteorites available to collectors can actually stun the collector into "acquisition paralysis" with the end result of frustration as to which direction to drive a collection.

This month, the Accretion Desk will focus on meteorite specimens that have more than one collection number painted on them. Many meteorites, especially those from established collections such as the Huss or Nininger Collections contain a catalog number painted directly on the meteorite. But when a numbered specimen is transferred into another established collection, it is not uncommon for the curator to add their particular number to the specimen. Thus multi-numbered meteorite collecting is born.

For reference, the yellow cube is one cubic centimeter.


Forest City, Iowa

345 grams, Complete Individual

Complete individuals from this 1890 fall are rare enough, but to contain a Nininger number is truly a treat. Now add to that a Monnig Collection number and the specimen becomes an almost-one-of-a-kind piece of American meteorite history.


Knyahinya, Russia

54 grams, Complete Individual

In 1866, a fireball in the sky turned in to a shower of meteorites with the largest individual nearing 300kg! Furthermore, in 1879 and 1880, Otto Hann published articles about the plant and animal fossils he observed in Knyahinya thin sections. Those structures were later found to be chondrules.

This complete individual of Knyahinya was first cataloged into the Nininger Collection (153sb), then later into another collection (ms 103/2) of which I have yet to identify. Any ideas? Then the piece moved into the Arizona State Meteorite Collection, and then into Michael Farmer's meteorite collection, and finally into my collection. But where did Nininger get it considering it fell 21 years before he was born. And who will get it when I am through with it?


Holbrook, Arizona

59 grams, Half-individual

For some reason, the American Museum of Natural History in New York acquired and numbered an incredible number of Holbrook individuals. This specimen contains one of those distinct numbers (1138). But even more exciting is the bright red number (586) that was placed there by W. M. Foote, who was one of -if not The- first to publish a scientific article about the incredible Holbrook meteorite fall.


Holbrook, Arizona

11 grams, Complete Individual, Oriented

As if seeing double again, I discovered this gem on a dealer's list. Thus far, this is the only oriented Holbrook individual that also contains numbers both from the American Museum of Natural History in New York and that of Foote that I have ever seen. I'm sure there are, but where?


Shields, Kansas

18 grams, Polished Complete Slice

The American Meteorite Laboratory (AML) was established by Glenn and Margaret Huss on July 1, 1960. This slice of Shields contains an AML collection number (always begining with the letter H) on the edge, and what I believe is a Jim DuPont Collection number on the unpolished face.


Coldwater, Kansas

34 grams, Polished Partial Slice

Like the Shields slice above, this slice of Coldwater contains again what I believe is a Jim DuPont collection number. The other number is 9.5 (or 5-6 depending on your perspective) and is still an unknown to me. Suggestions?


Sahara 99030

442 grams, Polished End Section

In this variation on a theme, the specimen number is both painted and engraved into this Saharan specimen. For a while the Labenne Team was engraving the numbers, but I figure they got tired of all the work of engraving given the amazing success of their Africian exploits.


The Nininger Collection of Meteorites catalog

571.6 grams, Complete Individual, no crust

In yet another variation on a theme, this catalog of the Nininger Meteorite Collection has been signed twice by H. H. Nininger himself. I suspect that he signed the title page on principle, then inscribed and signed the book's front page when presenting the book to a specific person. I have seen some other double-signed Nininger titles so while rare, I know this one is not alone in the world.

The Accretion Desk welcomes all comments and feedback.