Out of this world! (Part 2)

I really wish I could convey all the necessary information about meteorites for collecting, but that would be impossible. So, I thought I’d focus on three more.

  1. Thumbprint
  2. Oriented
  3. Widmanstätten patterns

Thumbprint

As a meteor flies through the earth’s atmosphere, heat and pressure cause the surface to melt and experience ablation (removal of material vaporization, chipping or some other erosive process). If the meteor is tumbling through the air, it can result in deep regmaglyps, otherwise known as thumbprints.

In some cases, the thumbprints can be so deep that they go through the meteorite. Here’s an example.

Meteorites with features like this are extremely popular in collecting. They can add some serious visual interest (and it’s always good to have a talking point or two on your items). In addition, they can add serious value.

Oriented

Oriented meteorites are essentially the opposite of those with thumbprints. The meteor, as it’s flying through the atmosphere, settles into one position. It will then developed a nose-cone of sorts, oftentimes with characteristic flowlines and fusion crust (all highly collectable). This photo shows a small oriented meteorite . . . note the flow lines at the top.

Widmanstatten Patterns

Unique to each meteorite fall, Widmanstatten patterns are found in iron and pallasite meteorites. When a meteorite is sliced, polished and etched with acid, iron-nickle crystals appear.

This example, from the Muonionalusta fall is much different from the following Seymchan meteorite.

As I said before, there’s really so much more to learn about meteorites! One last thing, however, that can really add value to a meteorite is if it actually struck as it crashed.

In 1984, a meteorite fell and struck a mailbox in Claxton, Georgia.

In late 2007, this mailbox was auctioned by Bonhams for $83,000!

That photo at the mailbox is my favorite meteorite-related photograph of all time! It definitely needs a new caption!

In 1992, a meteorite crashed into the trunk of a 1980 Chevy Malibu in Peekskill, NY. Having just purchased the car for $300, the owner turned around and sold it $10,000! The car has been on display in museums around the world, including both the American Museum of Natural History and France’s National Museum of Natural History.

If you’re really interested in learning more about meteorites, or perhaps you’re interested in buying one or two, Heritage Auctions (out of Dallas, TX) has an all-meteorite auction this October. Once I receive the catalog, I’ll go through it and share my thoughts!

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Out of This World!

There’s something magnetic about collecting natural history.  Even when surrounded by amazing artifacts from sports and movies, people will connect in some primal way with material that’s natural.

Meteorites can hold a fascination that goes beyond that! I can still remember buying our first meteorite from a gallery in Laguna Beach. I was enthralled when I saw it . . . a nice chunk of metal from the Campo Del Cielo find. My wife was less than impressed, noting it looked just like a hunk of metal. I, however, couldn’t stop running my fingers over it, stunned that I was actually touching something from outer space!

When I bought that first one, I knew very little about meteorites. It turns out that the Campo Del Cielo meteorites would be the 1991 Upper Deck baseball set of meteorites. Extremely popular, but very common.. Larger examples, such as this 270 pound example from our collection, would the the 1991 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card in gem mint condition!

Now, with years of experience collecting meteorites, I’ve learned a few things. In this post, let’s cover some basics . . .

What is a meteorite? Before an object can be a meteorite, it must be a meteoroid and a meteor.

  • Meteoroid: A small  piece of debris in the solar system. When it enters the earth’s atmosphere, it becomes a . . .
  • Meteor: Often called a shooting star, a meteor is created by the object entering the earth’s atmosphere. Friction and pressure create heat and light, forming a fireball flying through the sky.
  • Meteorite: If the meteor survives contact with the earth, it is now classified as a meteorite, becoming a highly valuable object to scientists and collectors around the world.

Types of Meteorites:

  • Stony: The most common meteorite (94%), these are made up of stone (hence the name!). There are subdivisions within this catagory, but for now, just know that these are the most common to fall. They are rarer within collections, however, because they often look just like other rocks. It can take high-level isotopic analysis for confirmation. (The example shown before is a Plainview meteorite, so named because it fell in Plainview, Texas).

  • Iron: Approximately 5% of meteorites that fall to earth are iron-based. While rarer, they are easier to find and make up larger percentages of collections. The Campo Del Cielo example above is a great example of this one. Here’s another photo of a smaller Campo piece.

  • Stony-Iron: The rarest of all meteorites, these examples make up 1% of meteorite falls. Sliced, these can be spectacular, often combining the iron matrix with gemmy material known as peridot (not the same as earth-based peridot).

There is so much more to meteorites and collecting than what I’ve talked about here. A follow-up blog will delve into more detail, because we’ve only touched the surface of the subject.

Collecting meteorites is becoming more and more popular, and you can now watch a reality showed called Meteorite Men on the Discovery Channel! It’s worth checking out.

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Absolutely modern magic!

The collectability and coolness does not end with vintage magic posters! Modern magic posters are often more affordable, easily found, and more likely to be a magician you’ve seen in person!

Growing up, I was first introduced to magic by Doug Henning and his “World of Magic” specials in the 1970s!

Posters like these:

have great color, and really bring back of a lot of memories.

Just about everybody knows who David Blaine is. He really became popular in the 90s with his street magic videos. You know, the ones with people flipping out because he could levitate, or throw a playing card through glass. Later in his career, he really switched into escape-style magic, along with feats of endurance. Posters were available for these events, and they were often an homage to past magicians and artwork.

And my personal favorite:

I love the artwork on these. You can see, as the times change, what used to be little imps (red devils) have turned into sexy women. Another bonus to collecting modern magicians and posters is that you can often find them signed!

Cards as Weapons! That is a title of a book written by amazing magician/historian/actor Ricky Jay! Want to throw a playing card hundreds of feet? Want to impale a watermelon, or the back of a room with a card? This is the book you need! While the book is rare, a poster of the book cover is even rarer!

Over the years, Ricky Jay has done some amazing limited engagement shows around the country! Not only does he show off amazing magic, but the shows are art, directed by playwright/director David Mamet.

As many of Ricky Jay’s books are about the history of magic and other assorted curiosities, it’s no surprise that he’ll have a poster act as an homage to a great.

Not only is this based on the spectacular Kellar poster, it also harkens back to the Chung Ling Soo poster in the previous post!

As you can see, modern magic posters have plenty of allure. They’re rarely as expensive, easier to find in nicer condition, often signed, and are of magicians you can see in person!

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Absolutely magical!

One of the great benefits of collecting posters is that you can actually use them as decoration. Frame up a great poster and you’ve created a spectacular display for your home or office.

Plus, there is an unending variety of types to collect. Concerts? Check! Movies? Check! Travel? Check! Museum Exhibitions? Check! There really is something for all interests and wallets.

I collect magic posters. I’ve always been attracted to the vibrant colors, the imagery, and the characters!

With the intent of hyping the show, these posters tried to show as much as possible! There’s a common theme in magic posters from the early 1900s . . . people had a fascination with the Far East, and magicians did all they could to cash in on it!

(Random note . . . Harry Blackstone, shown in the poster above, was the father of Harry Blackstone, Jr, who had a Saturday morning tv show, and introduced hundreds of thousands of children to magic every week. He certainly influenced me).

Look at the colors on this “George, The Supreme Master of Magic” poster. They truly pop!

Again, note the eastern influences. This poster also shows another collected sub-genre of magic . . . the imp. The little red devilish guys that were often used to show a connected with an other-worldly force. As a bonus, one-sheet posters like this aren’t expensive, ranging from $300 to $750, depending on condition.

One of the most stunning magic posters was of a magician named Harry Kellar. This is the one poster I want the most!

How simple is this? Striking image and the name. Boom! Kellar is coming to town, and you must see him perform! Kellar posters aren’t cheap, and easily venture into the thousands of dollars for a nice one!

Another favorite magician of mine was Chung Ling Soo, the “Marvelous Chinese Conjurer.” His story is fascinating, and I highly suggest Jim Steinmeyer’s biography The Glorious Deception.

How beautiful is this poster? Again, simple. His image, his name, and a great tagline! In his day, Chung Ling Soo was as popular as Harry Houdini, bringing in huge crowds all around the world. Chung Ling Soo posters were always beautifully designed, with amazing dragons, flowers, and other Far East imagery. Usually only found in half-sheet size, they’re not cheap, costing at least a few thousand.

Harry Houdini material is always popular. Posters of his work are rare. Those you do find tend to be from his movie serials. You can find beautiful broadsides, though. This one is also from my collection.

This broadside poster, from 1905, shows Houdini traveling with a vaudeville group. Even then, early in his career, he was the star of the show. At this point, Houdini really made a name for himself escaping from handcuffs (his attempts at starring as a pure magician were duds).  Later on, as his escape attemps got more complicated and hyped, his stardom increased, becoming the most well-known magician in history.

Magic posters really connected with me. The colors, the images, the influences . . . all played a role in why I collected them. Not only that, they gave me a doorway to a fascinating time in our history. If you have any more interest in this era, I also suggest another book by Jim Steinmeyer, The Last Greatest Magician In The World.

(look for another blog post soon, detailing more modern magicans and posters).

Enjoy.

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5 Random Things In My Office

Collecting comes in all shapes and sizes. There are people who collect for investment, people who collect for pleasure, and people who collect as a diversion. Nor is it always about money. Sometimes we collect because something holds a memory for us.

I thought I’d show and discuss a few items here at my office. There are so many neat and random things that I must limit myself to just five (for today)! Some have monetary value, some have none. All of them have a place in my heart for some specific reason.

#1 is one of the few sport items we decided not to sell.

This is Dick Enberg’s scorecard from Nolan Ryan’s first no-hitter. On it’s own, it’s very cool. Nobody has thrown more no-hitters than Nolan Ryan (7). What’s even cooler, though, is that this was essentially my first Angels’ game. I was born May 14th, 1973. Nolan Ryan threw his first no-hitter on May 15th, 1973. My dad held me in the hospital while listening to this game! As I say to people . . . Angels fan since birth!

GO HALOS! #2 is a small glass “planet” by artist Josh Simpson.

It’s certainly not one of his major pieces. My parents have a few of his pieces (giant planets, glass plates, wine glasses), and they know how much I love them. So, very recently, they gave me this as a gift. I’ve been fortunate to try some glass-work, and it’s tough. The amount of work it takes to make something even this size is amazing.

#3 is very personal!

It’s amazing this piece has survived! I have memories of putting this puzzle together with my mother when I was sick with the chicken pox! However, looking online, I can only find these from 1997 and newer. I wasn’t living at home then, so there must be older ones. My mind can’t be failing me, right?

#4 is just cool, and people always want to look at it when they enter my office!

Yeah, that’s a sealed Bicycle deck of cards inside a glass bottle. It’s the official “Anything is Possible” bottle by magician Jamie Grant. I’m a big fan of magic . . . I collect random/cool/custom decks of cards, as well as vintage magic posters and books. There may be some of you out there who know how it’s done, but I don’t want to know! Magic is more fun when you don’t know!

#5 is very personal.

I do love collecting pens. What began with Montblanc and their Writer’s Series has morphed into something larger. This pen is a simple Caterpillar pen mixed in with some great vintage and/or custom pens. So, why do I have this? My wife’s father gave it to me at our wedding. Knowing I love pens, he brought this all the way from Denmark (where he works as a mechanic for Caterpillar). Are there thousands upon thousands of this type of pen? Sure . . . but this is the one he gave me! Thanks, Aage!

Ok, I know said 5, but I want to add one more.

This is a “Story People” vase from local artist and friend Brian Andreas. He’s a spectacular poet, great at being silly and poignant at the same time! This poem, one of my favorites, is always inspiring me, reminding me to look for the good in everything!

That’s it! 5 (plus 1) random things in my office!

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Did You Catch Olympic Fever?

The Summer Olympics are barely over, and already people have begin capitalizing on Olympic fever. Want an Olympic gold medal? Check out ebay (there seems to be an abundant amount of medals from the 2004 games in Athens).

From a collecting point of view, owning a gold medal is a highlight. Everybody knows what a gold medal is, and how one is earned. There’s a catch to the ebay ones, however.  They were unawarded. Invariably, the first question someone will ask upon seeing your gold medal is “Whose medal is it?” Having to explain that it was unawarded diminishes the collectable, in my opinion. Every time you show someone, you’ll have to talk about it.

You don’t see many actual awarded medals up for sale, and when you do, they’re usually older medals, given to athletes before money was big like it is in sports today.

Checkout Grey Flannel Auctions. They currently have a 1976 Gold Medal from Walter Davis (basketball).

I’d much rather own this medal, as it WAS awarded. Be prepared, though, for the inevitable second question of “why did he sell it?” That’s always a tough one to answer (and I might get into some of those reasons in a later blog).

Owning an Olympic medal is very cool! It’s instantly recognizable to people from around the world. Just as with any other collectable, be prepared to answer questions.

In related news, I read this article on NBCNEWS.com  . . .

It looks like you can own just about anything from the Olympics . . . from beds to batons! I look forward to seeing these auctions. I think it’ll be really interesting to see what some of these items sell for, and can imagine a bidding war for items like a baton from the Jamaica World Record setting 4 x 100 relay!

Finally, a personal connection. I was fortunate enough to attend many events at the 1984 Olympics! Some were a blast (team handball, volleyball) and some were duds (archery!), but everywhere you went, there was Olympic pin trading! I had my selection of pins and brought them with me to every event. I loved trading with other people (and being an 11-year-old made it easier). I still have the pins somewhere. I’ll have to find them, and show my kids! Perhaps I can get them involved in the Disney pin trading thing. That would be fun, right? Right?

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The journey begins . . .

My first blog post!

My name is Doug, and I’m a collector. I was raised in a family of collectors, with extremely varied interests. I’m hoping my experience in building collections, creating displays, and crafting narratives allow me to share a unique perspective on the collecting world.

My goals are simple . . . I want to discuss material up for auction, the “how” and “why” of collecting, and talk to other collectors. I want to learn about new areas of collecting. My knowledge is varied, with experience in books, sports, pop-culture, and natural history. But there’s more out there, from the mainstream collectables to the odd-ball material.

As this blog begins, so does my journey. Let’s see what catches my eye. I hope you’ll join me.

Doug

 

 

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