IMCA Insights – July 2008
Ensisheim Meteorite Show 2008
by Norbert Classen

Welcome to the July issue of IMCA Insights and our second meteorite show report for this year, Ensisheim 2008. The show was opening its gates for the 9th time from June 20 to 22, 2008, and like last years shows it attracted many international visitors, collectors, dealers, and scientists from all over the world. If you have never been to Ensisheim: it's the place of one of the oldest witnessed meteorite falls, and it's an absolute must for every guest to pay at least a short visit to the remaining mass of the Thunderstone of Ensisheim which fell in 1492, and which serves as the centerpiece 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.

Main Mass of the Ensisheim Meteorite

The remaining main mass of the famous Thunderstone of Ensisheim
Photo courtesy Francesco Moser

The show always starts on Fridays – the "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 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 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.

The New Guardians of the Ensisheim Meteorite

The New Guardians of the Ensisheim Meteorite: John Kashuba,
Mike Farmer, Hans Koser, Svend Buhl and Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin
Photo courtesy Mirko Graul

Like last year, I missed the opening ceremonies due to a tight work schedule at my office, but I'm glad to announce that two of the five new Guardians are IMCA members: Hans Koser from Uruguay, and Dr. Svend Buhl from Germany. They were enthroned by Jean Marie Blosser, the Grand Maître de la Confrérie des Gardiens de la Météorite d'Ensisheim, and welcomed by Zelimir Gabelica, the organizer of the show. After the ceremonies it was time for the obligatory Friday night dinner party at "La Couronne", with more visitors than ever. According to Zelimir, about 90 guests had reserved for the dinner party - including many guests from overseas such as our Mrs. Vice-President Anne Black who unfortunatelly could attend the show just on Friday.

International Guests at the "La Couronne"

International Guests at the Friday dinner party at "La Couronne":
John and Mary Kashuba & IMCA Vice-President Anne Black
Photo courtesy Mirko Graul

I arrived at the show on Saturday at about 10 a.m., and I was welcomed by a lot of friends such as Christian Anger from Austria, and Luc Labenne from France. As usual, it took me more than an hour to get into the Regency Palace as there were too many people to welcome, and to talk with. When I finally entered the main hall where all the dealers had their tables I was delighted to see that about half of them were IMCA members, such as Erich Haiderer, Moritz Karl, Sergey Vasiliev, Philippe Thomas, Laurent Jaworski, Marcin Cimala, Hans Koser, Mirko Graul, Martin Altmann & Stefan Ralew of Chladni's Heirs, Ali and Mohammed Hmani, Marc Jost, Peter Marmet, Jürgen Nauber, Hanno Strufe, Andreas Gren, Siegfried Haberer, as well as our new member Giorgio Tomelleri from Italy. Please forgive me if I forgot to mention the one or the other.

Giorgio Tomelleri and his Dar al Gani Finds

IMCA Member Giorgio Tomelleri from Italy and his Dar al Gani Finds
Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe

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. However, compared to the previous years, there seemed to be not as many new finds and falls, and especially the Moroccan tables weren't filled with too many new goodies - maybe except for interesting looking achondrites that were advertised as lunars but which will probably turn out to be impact-melted eucrites. This stuff looked too similar to well known "lunar wrongs" such as the eucrites NWA 2910 and NWA 3159. Neat samples, nevertheless.

However, there were a few promising new stones around, such as a prospective new Martian meteorite from Libya (not yet for sale because the classification process hasn't been completed. Marc Jost from Switzerland also had an intriguing new olivine-rich achondrite from NWA, also still under classification. Neither me nor other seasoned collectors had an idea what to make of this one - maybe a new ungrouped achondrite? Only time, and detailed studies will tell.

Marc Jost & Peter Marmet from Switzerland

IMCA Members Marc Jost & Peter Marmet from Switzerland
Photo courtesy Mirko Graul

Even though there wasn't much new stuff around I had the opportunity to fill a few holes in my own collection of planetary meteorites: Stefan Ralew of Chladni's Heirs had reserved a wonderful part slice of his new and unusual lunar basalt NWA 4898. It's a 1.359g slice, and if you want to view it just click the hyperlink to open a high-resolution photo in a new browser window. Stefan had two other goodies that I added to my collection - a 1.051g slice of the lunar meteorite NWA 4881 (paired to NWA 3163, and NWA 4483), and a marvellous 1.722g full slice of a dual-lithology pairing of the lunar NWA 773/Anoual pairing grouplet. This lunar trio really made my day, and so I decided to go outside and have a beer on the square in front of the Regency Palace, and to have a closer look at my new goodies in the sunlight.

Stefan Ralew of Chladni's Heirs

Stefan Ralew of Chladni's Heirs and Dr. Knut Metzler
Photo courtesy Mirko Graul

On my return to the Regency Palace I decided to visit the small museum downstairs where the famous main mass of the Thunderstone of Ensisheim resides up to this day. Each year the show is accompanied by special meteorite exhibition, and this years exhibition had some marvellous samples of historic specimens from Russia and Eastern Europe. Among them was a fantastic large endcut of the original historic "Pallas Iron", the Krasnojarsk pallasite, a 262g specimen of the Lipovski pallasite (never had seen that before!), a fully crusted 1.7kg individual of Ochansk, a 17g full slice of Krymka, and assortment of great Sikhote specimes, and many, many more - all accompanied by historic museum labels.

An endcut of the historic Pallas Iron

A Marvellous Specimen of the Historic "Pallas Iron", Krasnojarsk
Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe

Not to forget about some of the other highlights on exhibit - as an achondrite collector I couldn't help but to drool over such mouth-watering samples such as a 9.7g crusted fragment of the aubrite fall Pesyanoe, a 35g partial slice of Vetluga, a 9.7g crusted slice of Padvarninkai, or a 88g full slice of Chervony Kut, all three witnessed eucrite falls that are impossible to get. What a great treat!

A 88g Full Slice of Chervony Kut

A Crusted 88g Full Slice of Chervony Kut, Cumulate Eucrite
Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe

Quite a few of these fascinating and ultra-rare museum size samples were on loan from IMCA member Sergey Vasiliev who also offered a great selection of rare historic finds and falls at his table such as marvellous samples of the historic howardite and house hitter Yurtuk. And if this wasn't enough, Sergey was also celebrating his birthday during the show - one hell of a lucky guy!

Sergey Vasiliev and his Meteorites

Lucky Birthday Child Sergey Vasiliev and his Great Meteorites
Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe

After the show it was time for the annual Saturday Evening Party, a great opportunity to socialize with fellow collectors, to talk about our favorite subject, and - last but not least - to have a lot of fun! I thoroughly enjoyed this years show, and I’m looking forward to see you all next year in Ensisheim.

Saturday Evening Party

Saturday Evening Party in front of the Regency Palace
Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe

PS: If you are visiting Ensisheim, you should also consider to stay a few days longer, and to attend the nearby Mineral Show at Ste. Marie aux Mines - one of the largest rock and gem shows in Europe which is also attended by many meteorite people. It's always opening its gates in the week after the Ensisheim show, and this year it had a marvellous meteorite attraction - the 2.7 ton main mass of the Seymchan pallasite which was recently found by a Russian team of prospectors, and which was on exhibition in Ste. Marie for the first time. A real sight to behold!

The Main Mass of Seymchan at Ste. Marie

Ste. Marie aux Mines Show: the 2.7 ton Main Mass of Seymchan
Photo courtesy Hanno Strufe

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