The cigognes (storks), Alsatian symbol and good-luck charm, were at their post and ready to welcome us all to the 20th Salon de Ensisheim on Friday June 21.
This year the Show was back in the Palais de la Regence, just in time to celebrate its anniversary where it all started in 2000. A commemorative medal shows the fall of 1492 on one side and the meteorite itself on the other.
But there have been a few changes.
The first thing visitors noticed was that the square in from of the Palace appeared to have shrunk. Two large tents were added to house new dealers. Altogether there were 70 this year, I was told, from all over Europe, the USA and Africa.
Because the old stone staircase was deemed unsafe, the entrance is now through the Museum where the meteorite still resides in its glass case. And visitors will then find another improvement-a large modern staircase and an elevator able to accommodate big meteorites; this should make some dealers very happy.
But those two modernizations take a lot of space. One large room and a good chunk of another were lost in the process, which explains the need for the two tents on the square. Also, while these improvements make it easier for the visitors, they somehow divide the show with the tents downstairs, the large main room with the sculpted ceiling on one side of the stairs, and smaller rooms on the other side. However it is still a very elegant site, much better than a gymnasium, and those details that can be ironed out during future shows. The future of the Salon de Ensisheim is certainly secure.
Friday was Dealers ‘day with the usual friendly chaos of everybody meeting, greeting, unloading, finding their new tables and setting up. Since my usual spot was taken over by the elevator I am now in a corner of the main room, not a problem at all. By 6pm we were all called down for the official opening of the Salon on the square. First was a speech by Zelimir Gabelica, President and organizer of the Show, welcoming everybody.
Then came the presentation of the five persons to be honored this year as honorary Guardians of the Meteorite.
A welcoming speech from Michel Habig, Mayor of Ensisheim, and a glass of Vin d’Alsace closed the ceremony.
Then everyone gathered under the largest tent for socializing, dinner and of course, more Vin d’Alsace.
The Show opened to the public at10am on Saturday morning and there must have been a line outside because the rooms filled up very quickly with visitors and collectors, I met one person who had driven 5 hours from Paris to be there early, and another had driven 8 hours from south-west France.
So what was there to see?
Of course with 70 dealers from many corners of this planet the choice was enormous, ranging from large but unclassified and unidentified “probable-chondrites” from Morocco to huge slices, to rare historical one-of-a-kind specimens.
The two most recent falls, Vinales (L6, Cuba) and Aguas Zarcas (CM2, Costa Rica) were very well represented, along with many of the small complete Imilac fragments found recently in the Atacama, more Twannberg pieces, more Morasko, more Almahata Sitta, and the ever present Sericho.
Also, spotted here and there on the tables of various dealers:
– A huge slice of Cape York with great troilite inclusions, 42 kilos I believe.
– A 2.5kilos slice of Portales Valley with large metal veins
– A new book by Svend Buhl, “For a fistful of rocks”, relating his adventures in the Sahara. It is labeled “Volume 1”, I hope that’s a promise.
– A large Sikhote-Alin, almost 8 kilos, shrapnel with documentation from the Vernadsky Museum in Moscow.
– A new lunar Meteorite-and this one was a rare mare basalt, most unusual.
– A super-rare fragment of Tourinnes-la–Grosse (a Fall from Belgium).
Of course the biggest star (figuratively and by weight) of the show was the large mass of Saint-Aubin found last October by Pierre Antonin and his team. At 477 kilos it is the second largest iron found in France after La Caille. And since they also found many fragments large and small, with a total weight of nearly 7 tons, it is by far the largest meteorite ever recovered in France.
It certainly was the star of the Show and attracted a lot of attention.
In conclusion, I believe this was a very successful show. Everybody seemed happy to be back in the Palais, there were many visitors and a huge selection of meteorites of all kinds and sizes, from giant Saint-Aubin to thin-sections, and prices to satisfy every budget and taste.
The dates have already been set for next year. So see you all there from June 19 to June 21, 2020. I already made my reservations.