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 newlyweds Jan & Yvonne Bartels.

Holbrook, 2005


What or who got you interested in meteorites and how old were you when you got your first meteorite?

I read an article about meteorites in an astronomy magazine. It was something so hard to believe that, besides a scientist or a museum, I could have one myself. Since I was about twelve or thirteen years old I had a major interest in fossils and minerals and of course in astronomy. A good friend of mine here in Holland had a shop loaded with these rocks and a little later I started to combine the two hobbies, asked my friend if he could get me a meteorite and my new way of life was settled…..collecting space rocks!!

What was your first meteorite?

Well, the same old almost boring story I guess. A Canyon Diablo from about 70 grams. You should have seen my face holding that piece for the first time. I was about sixteen years old I think ( I’m now something like 43 I believe!) but I will never forget that moment. It was so hard to believe this came from outer space!! Many of us collectors must know what I mean for sure.

Do you still have it?

Oh Yeah and I’ll never sell this one at any price!! Even though it’s not so special or a beauty to look at but I just love that little creep!!

New Orleans, 17.6 grams

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

No not really. I just like anything that has the word meteorite written on it.

Does your Family share in your interest in meteorites?

Well in fact I have a strange life. My wife Yvonne (still funny to hear me say that, “my wife”) and I recently got married at the Meteor Crater Arizona. She is the one that has to be slowed down every once in a while. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Before we met at the observatory in my hometown of which I am president of, she already was interested in meteorites. These last few years the collection almost grew explosively since we’re in this together. Man I love that woman!!

Meteor Crater wedding

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.)

In fact I think over the years we turned more and more into the “story tellers”. I just love the ones like Peekskill and Park Forest and so on. Funny now I think about it because I don’t get so exited when I see all the most exotic ones on EBay or wherever. We have a few NWA’s but just to show that in the Sahara meteorites can be found. I guess it’s also because a large part of our lives goes to the observatory. Most of the collection is on display there for our visitors. They are more interested in the larger pieces to see and touch and the ones that tell a story then trying to find that little crumb of NWA very exotic. I guess this is why we got more of these then all different petrologic types.

Do you mind saying how many locations your collection represents?

I really have no idea! The few hundreds of pieces we have come from all over the world but a large amount is from the United States for sure.

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

Well it’s on display at the observatory in large show cases. The large Campos are more in the open so our visitors can touch them. We have “don’t touch”  signs with these but we just know they can’t keep their hands of them. Once in a while we steel brush them and put another grease layer on it so we can laugh  again to see their hands get dirty. Oh well, I know how it feels when you touch a rock from space for the first time. About one third of the collection is kept on display here at our home in show cases to.

In what ways do you use your computer for meteorites?

In fact, I almost only have a computer for the meteorites. I just love to visit every website which has anything to do with meteorites. Keep records of our collection and so on…..We also have our own website as well at for those who are interested.

Do you ever hunt for meteorites?

Holland is a bad environment for meteorites. We only had four witnessed falls in our whole history. This year (2005) we were lucky to get the chance to go to the U.S to get married in the first place but we also spend two days in Holbrook without finding anything of course but we just loved it. I really envy all my “colleges” when I read their stories from the deserts or any known strewn field.

What is your favorite meteorite in your collection?

This is easy. Our Park Forest 178 grams “Garza” stone. I traded this one with Rob Elliot and we also got the damaged wooden joist from the attic and large pieces of ceiling plaster with it. I still get sleepless nights from that darn thing. I should put it on display at the observatory but ever since I got it it’s in our collection here at home.

Garza stone, 178 grams

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

It’s more then one actually. Our Peekskill slices, two of the four Dutch meteorites, extremely rare stuff. Our almost one kilo Plainview with Nininger number. A huge Beeler from Bob Haags collection. I’ll better stop, I just love ‘m all. Oh, one more, a large oriented Gao which Michael Johnson keeps nagging  me about for quite some time now. No way Mike, buy your own!!

Plainview, 970 grams

What makes these of special interest?

Well as I mentioned before, I love meteorites that tells a story. The house and car smashers. The ones that has great names like Nininger attached to it. This year we were also lucky to visit the Tucson show. We really purchased great meteorites from the most famous dealers we only knew from the internet. The 52 grams Barwell from Edwin Thompson for example is just one we like not only for the Barwell itself, but we got it from E.T. Also pieces from Bob Haag, Al Lang or Mike Farmer, to name just a few, means just that little extra more to these pieces. We come from a country with only a very few collectors and dealers so please show some understanding here!!

Barwell, 52 grams

What meteorites are currently on your wish list?

The other two Dutch ones should be great and the 2,2 kilo Garza from the Hupes if I only had the cash for that. I just want to glue our 178 grams piece back on that one where it broke of!! A piece of Claxton with the mailbox!......yeah, I’m a dreamer!!

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

Most of our meteorites come from Marvin Killgore and brought back to Holland by a friend of ours who is also a friend of Marvin. We also have lots of EBayrites and pieces from international Mineral and Gem Shows here in Holland. Also trading here and there helped a bit.

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

We do have a small tektite collection although we have to run into one on a mineral show or something. We don’t really focus on such related items although I know we should. It’s part of the hobby, I know!!

Beeler, 775 grams from From the Robert Haag collection

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

Don’t laugh…many years ago, in my beginning years of collecting, I got my first small 13 gram sample of Allende which had a pretty weathered look. Believing all meteorites were extremely hard to cut I impacted my piece with a grinding machine. Within a second my nose was stuffed with carbon and all what was left was little over a gram of Allende. Still have it under a magnifier to remind me how stupid I was. Ever since then I only attack our irons (not the slices).

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

At the observatory we have some small devices that collects the moisture in the show-cases. This works pretty well. The collection at home is kept in show-cases to but without special protection. Nevertheless all pieces are stable ever since I got them.