IMCA Insights – July 2006
Ensisheim Meteorite Show 2006
by Norbert Classen

Welcome to the July issue of IMCA Insights and our first meteorite show report, Ensisheim 2006. As always, I had been anticipating this annual event for some time, not just because it’s so close to my home – just about 40km right across the French border – but also because it’s one of the best meteorite events on our planet. The Ensisheim show was opening its gates for the 7th time from June 16 to 18, 2006, and – could there be a setting more appropriate for such an event than the home of one of the oldest witnessed falls?

The Thunderstone of Ensisheim

On November 7, 1492 – the very year when Christopher Columbus reached the shores of the New World – a huge triangular stone landed with much noise in a wheat field outside the small town of Ensisheim, Alsace, then still belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. A young boy who had witnessed the fall led a crowd of curious people to the place where a black stone lay in a meter-deep hole. After they had pulled it out, people began chipping off pieces of the rock as talismans, until they were stopped by the town magistrate. Immediately, he had the unusual stone transported to his residence in an effort to protect it and his careless citizens.

Historic woodcut showing the fall of the Thunderstone of Ensisheim

The whole affair attracted very much public attention, causing Emperor Maximilian to visit Ensisheim 15 days after the fall to hold court over the “Thunderstone of Ensisheim” and to determine the meaning of the occurrence. After some consideration, he decided to take the fall as a good omen in his ongoing wars with France and the Turks. However, he ordered that the stone had to be preserved in the local church – fixed to the wall with iron chains to prevent it from either wandering around at night or departing in the same violent manner by which it had arrived.

Today, the remaining main mass of this most historic meteorite fall can still be seen in the Regency Palace of Ensisheim. It resides there in a small museum, and it regularly serves as the centrepiece of the annual Ensisheim show which is organized by the St. Georges Confraternity of the Ensisheim Meteorite Guardians (Confrérie des Gardiens de la Météorite d’Ensisheim) inside of the historic Regency Palace.

Meteor Beer & Meteorite People

The show always starts on Fridays – the so-called dealers day – with the dealers setting up their tables, trading meteorites, and having fun. Then, at 6 p.m., the main hall is closed, and the people gather in front of the Regency Palace for the official opening of the show, and the traditional ceremonies. It is time for the enthroning of the new Guardians of the Ensisheim meteorite – a very special honour since the Brotherhood of Guardians is a rather exclusive club that accepts just about a handful of new members each year, solely on appointment basis. Each appointment to membership honours the specific merits of the respective new member in participating in various ways to promote the historic Thunderstone of Ensisheim, as well as meteorites and meteoritics in general.

Six new Guardians of the Ensisheim Meteorite:
Stefan Ralew, Hanno Strufe, Jean-Pierre Herth, Rico R. Mettler,
Denis Leypold, Roger Warin (from left to right)
Photo courtesy Peter Marmet

This year, two of the new Guardians were IMCA members, Stefan Ralew and Hanno Strufe, both meteorites dealers and collectors from Germany. It was sad that I missed this special event, but I had some urgent business at our publishing house, and couldn’t manage to attend the show before Saturday. However, I’ve been told by various attendants that everybody was having fun at the ceremonies, and at the dinner party that followed at the La Couronne hotel-restaurant, close to the Regency Palace.

Next morning, the show opened to the public, and I was on my way to Ensisheim. I parked my car near to the Regency Palace and went over. At the beer tent near to the entrance I was welcomed by fellow collector Laurent Jaworski, and Philippe Thomas. So I first had a Meteor beer (yes, in Ensisheim they actually have a beer brand named “Meteor”) with them, and – of course – some meteorite talks. Other collectors, and friends gathered around us, quickly, and there were many hugs and hellos.

Together, we visited Marcin Cimala’s cutting service in the opposite corner of the square in front of the Regency Palace, and there were quite a few people watching Marcin cutting a neat Omani howardite sample for the Russian master meteorite hunter Dima Sadilenko from Comet Meteorite Shop. It had a great eucritic inclusion, and we were all amazed by Dima’s find. After that, Marcin did cut an individual of Dhofar 011, a great LL chondritic impact-melt breccia, also from Oman – a real sight to behold.

About two hours later (!), after another beer, and lots of meteorite talk with Sergey Vasiliev, Dave Schultz (one of the American visitors that I met for the first time in person), and other friends, I finally entered the Regency Palace to see what was going on in the main hall were all the dealers had their tables. More than 30 meteorite dealers had their goodies for sale, this year, and I was amazed to see that about half of them were actually IMCA members, such as Moritz Karl, Sergey Vasiliev, Thomas Dehner, Hanno Strufe, Frederic Beroud, Stefan Ralew, Pierre-Marie Pele, Andreas Gren, Peter Marmet, Marcin Cimala, Martin Altmann, Olaf Gabel, Sven Buhl, Philippe Thomas, Laurent Jaworski, and – not to forget our own Mrs. President – Anne Black. Please forgive me if I forgot to mention the one or the other.

IMCA member & meteorite hunter Frederic Beroud
with a great assortment of his Saharan finds
Photo courtesy Peter Marmet

On all these tables there were more goodies than one can possibly mention – historic falls, and fresh desert finds, enough to fill a book with all those rocks from space and the stories behind them, and certainly enough to make most museum exhibits pale in comparison. Naturally, I can only name a few, the real highlights.

In the entrance hall, a few Moroccan dealers were offering some fresh finds, and a variety of books were offered by the Astronomical Association. In the first room, Giorgio Tomelleri and his wife Gina from Italy displayed their fantastic Dar al Gani finds, including some fabulous main masses, and pieces of their Mars rocks DaG 489, and 670. Dima Sadilenko from Russia had a wealth of great Omani finds, such as complete individuals of the anomalous eucrite Dhofar 007, and the unbrecciated diogenite Dhofar 700, both offered at bargain prices. Left to Dima, Sergey Vasiliev and Moritz Karl had their tables, filled with expertly prepared historic meteorites, as well as fantastic slices of the lunar meteorite DaG 400, and the new Fukang pallasite with stunning large olivines.

More Meteorites & Meteorite Aficionados

I crossed the consignment room where a wealth of meteorites and tektites are sold by people who don’t have their own tables, and finally entered the main hall. To the right there was Ali Hmani and his son Mohammed – as always, they had the best selection of new NWA finds, such as their rare angrite main masses, a lot of HEDs, and new carbonaceous chondrites.

Then there was the German faction, represented by Andreas Gren, Martin Altmann, Svend Buhl, Olaf Gabel, and Stefan Ralew. As always, Andi had a great selection of expertly prepared iron meteorites, Martin convinced with a selection of reasonably priced historic falls and other rarities, and Svend surprised with a multitude of posters and reprints of historic meteorites and falls. Olaf had a fantastic selection of impactites while Stefan offered the best of the best of NWA for sale, rare acapulcoites, and other unusual classifications.

On the other side of the aisle there was the Swiss faction with IMCA Board Member Peter Marmet, Twannberg II finder Marc Jost, as well as long-time collector Jürgen Nauber from Zuerich. As a collector of historic specimens, Peter offered a great assortment of historic falls and pedigree specimens with old labels, and museum numbers. Marc had a wide assortment with Swiss made meteorite watches, as well as an extraordinary large slice of the Bear Creek iron meteorite – a real sight to behold! Seasoned collector Jürgen Nauber offered a wide variety of finds and falls, among them a stunning 2g fragment of Chassigny, thin slices of Stannern, and the hard to find eucrite Palo Blanco Creek – just to name a few of his goodies.

IMCA member Hanno Strufe’s table with
a great selection of rarities from NWA and Oman
Photo courtesy Peter Marmet

To the right, there was Hanno Strufe’s table. The new Guardian convinced with a striking display, as well as with reasonably priced meteorites from NWA and Oman, including some rarities such as his new bencubbinite, NWA 4025, and some neat eucrites. On the corner of the aisle, IMCA President Anne Black had her table with some hard to get American falls and finds. Most impressive among them was a crusted 2g plus slice of Acapulco, the original type specimen of the elusive class of acapulcoites – more than neat!

On the other side of the aisle there were even more guests from overseas, such as Mike Farmer who was offering some outstanding lunar specimens, including his latest find, Dhofar 1428, a lunar anorthositic breccia which displays very nicely. As another novelty, Mike was offering fantastic posters, “Meteorites from the Moon and Mars”, showing some of his best finds, and acquisitions – a must for every planetary meteorite lover. To his left, the ever-smiling Hans Koser from Uruguay had his table, and as always, Hans had the best selection of small to huge Campo irons. Talking about Hans: me and the other IMCA Board Members who attended the show were more than glad to receive Hans Koser’s application for IMCA membership, and to welcome him as a new member to our Association.

There were many more tables worth mentioning, such as Frederic Beroud & Christophe Boucher’s table, displaying a wealth of their own Saharan finds, including the now famous anomalous C4, Tanezrouft 057; Marcin Cimala’s table with a great selection of NWA’s as well as a great regmaglypted Morasko iron; Bruno Fectay’s and Carine Bidaut’s stall with a multitude of historic rarities, lunar and martian specimens, and a incredible large polished endcut of the bencubbinite Gujba; Peter Kümmels table with a wealth of German meteorite finds, and falls; Pierre-Marie Pele offering his comprehensive meteorite books and DVD’s; as well as Philippe Thomas’ table with a neat assortment of Moroccan falls, and rare NWA classifications. I could literally fill a book with all their goodies, and the stories behind them.

Polish meteorite dealer & IMCA member Marcin Cimala at his table
Photo courtesy Peter Marmet

The visitors of this year’s Ensisheim show were as illustrious and international as the dealers and exhibitors. There were scientists from all over the world, such as Dr. Juergen Otto from Germany, Dr. Beda Hofmann from Switzerland, just to name a few. Of course, Europe’s top collectors were also present, such as IMCA Board Member Christian Anger from Austria, or Kazimir Mazurek from Poland. The US collectors’ scene was well represented by Jim Strope, Dave Schultz, and Moni Waiblinger, and we all hope that more visitors from overseas will join us next year. Ensisheim is simply one of the best meteorite related events on this globe, and I’m sure you won’t regret it.

As always, we have to thank the organizer of the show, Zelimir Gabelica, for a great and most entertaining event – the Ensisheim show is growing bigger and better, each year! If you’re into historic meteorites and witnessed falls, you won’t find a better selection for sale at most reasonable prices. If you’re into NWAs and desert finds, you can either buy them unclassified from the Moroccan dealers, or you can get the rarest of the rare from well established dealers, and meteorite hunters. The weather is always perfect, although sometimes a bit hot, the food is good, and the opportunities of socializing, discussing, and partying with fellow meteorite aficionados are endless. I thoroughly enjoyed this year show, and I’m looking forward to see you all at next years Ensisheim show which will open its gates from June 15 to 17, 2007.

The Last Waltz: IMCA Board Members Anne Black & Christian Anger
dancing in front of the Regency Palace, Ensisheim
Photo courtesy Peter Marmet


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