Tuscon Ring Meteorite
The Tucson Ring Meteorite is an extremely rare iron meteorite that was discovered near Tucson, Arizona, in the mid-19th Century; so named for its signet-ring shape. Today, the main mass of the Tucson Ring resides at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
Background and History
It remains unknown precisely when and where the Ring fell to Earth, but it is first thought to have been described in a treatise written in 1845 by a Mexican official, José Valesco. Valesco described a mountain pass between Tucson and Tubac (now thought to be Box Canyon within the Santa Rita mountain range), where he noted the discovery of a large ring-like piece of raw iron that had been transported over 30 miles to nearby Tucson. Here it was being used as an anvil by a local blacksmith.
The Ring was eventually abandoned by the blacksmith and was not referred to again until 1860, when it was found by a medical officer named Bernard Irwin, who bequeathed it to the Smithsonian. A year later, Irwin contracted a man named Augustin Ainsa to transport the meteorite for him. It took Ainsa two years to reach New York, where he handed the task to his brother Santiago for the remainder of the trip.
Upon reaching the Smithsonian, Santiago claimed that it was his family who had discovered the Ring in 1735, leading to it being named to Ainsa Meteorite. Protestation from Irwin led to the Ring being renamed, first to the Irwin-Ainsa Meteorite and finally to the Tucson Meteorite.
Meteorite Collecting Groups
New and experienced collectors alike may wish to find out further information about the many forms of collectable meteorite, or simply socialise with fellow enthusiasts. There are a number of organisations around the world that exist to provide just such a service.
One of the largest of these groups is the International Meteorite Collectors Association. The I.M.C.A. state that its primary goal is to aid collectors in finding authentic pieces of meteorite, to learn more about them and to be able to buy, sell and trade with confidence.
Collectors may also be interested in visiting the home pages of the British and Irish Meteorite Society, Meteorite Information and Meteorite Collector.
Collectors’ Guide and Notable Sales
Pieces of the Tucson Ring Meteorite are significantly rare to find for public (or private) sale, however there are a number of websites that have handled sale of pieces of the Ring in the past. Collectors interested in obtaining their own piece would be well advised to consider some of these sites as an option for current or future purchase. The websites listed below were advertising pieces of Tucson Ring for sale as of October 2011.
Mile High Meteorites advertise micromounts (small pieces of meteorite, usually less than 1g in weight) of Tucson Ring for $75. These would be ideal for a first-time collector or as a stop-gap before investing in a larger piece of meteorite in the future.
If you are interested in obtaining a larger piece of Tucson Ring, Impactika have had three pieces for sale as of 5th September 2011. The pieces vary from 2.29g (16x15x1mm) for $515 to 3.04g (21x16x1mm) for $675.
Finally, Bob Holmes’ Meteorite Collection has advertised the sale of a 6.24g part-slice of Tucson Ring for $2,500. This website along with all others listed request email contact if you are interested in making a purchase.
Sales of pieces of Tucson Ring are significantly harder to find at auction than for private sale. In fact, major online auction site Heritage Auctions has only had one notable sale of Tucson Ring since its inception. This piece was a 4.7g slice (25x15x2mm), which sold for $2,390 on 6th June 2010.
Collectors should be aware that due to its rarity and popularity, a number of scams have arisen surrounding sale of Tucson Ring. The most notable “Tucson Ring Scam” took place in 2006, when a Tucson resident openly advertised a 3kg piece of Ring for sale. Upon closer inspection by meteorologists, this turned out to be a poor quality piece of the much more common Campo del Cielo meteorite.
Meteorite collection is a hobby that can be enjoyed by enthusiasts of all ages around the globe. For some, the joy of hunting for pieces of fallen meteorite is almost equal to actually making a find. For others, it is the rare pieces that command the most interest. Amongst the many meteorites that have fallen to Earth over the centuries, not many can be said to be as unique (in both composition and history) as the Tucson Ring Meteorite.
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