[meteorite-list] 1876 Scientific American, Tucson Ring, NHM & the "Ovifak"

From: Sharkkb8_at_aol.com <Sharkkb8_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:48:57 2004
Message-ID: <9.1b234bfa.28cd4b98_at_aol.com>

I recently acquired an interesting 19th Century "magazine", which contains
descriptions of several meteorites, their compositions, their discoveries,
and the Museums in which they then resided. It is entitled "Scientific
American Supplement" and is dated 21 October 1876, and refers tantalizingly
to an unnamed "Exhibition" in New York. There is an engraving of the Tucson
Ring, which the article refers to as the "Irwin-Ainsa meteorite" and the
"signet meteorite". I'm curious if anyone can shed light on either of those
references (the article does credit the original discovery to a Juan Bautiste

There is another engraving, of the so-called "Ovifak (Greenland)" meteorite,
discovered in 1870 on "Disco Island" off the coast of Greenland (evidently
"disco" predates the 1970's, despite conventional wisdom ;-) The brief story
attached, describing its discovery and transit, is remarkably similar to that
of Peary and the Ahnighito et. al., some 25 years later. "Ovifak" is still
listed in the current Natural History Museum database as a "pseudometeorite",
with no other details, and only the following somewhat cryptic text: "It is
suggested that this and many other occurrences of native iron commonly
accepted as of terrestrial origin are in fact meteoritic, L.A. Kulik (1937)."
 Some specimens, according to the article, also went to the British Museum
and its counterpart in Copenhagen. I'd be interested to know the eventual
verdict....surely there was some final NHM dispensation on a 6+ ton rock,
meteoritic or no?! Dr. Grady?

Without going into great detail here, the article also analyzes meteoritic
composition with the science of the day, and once refers to the Cape of Good
Hope "meteor". URL's below for those interested. (Be forewarned....the
document is worn in places (after all, it's 125 years old!), and was printed
with exceedingly small type by present day standards. That, combined with
its newspaper-sized format, made the scanning a bit dicey, and forced me to
subdivide the single page into three images. The resolution had to be fairly
high, so the files are large and may require a minute or two to download.)

I collect antique and historic documents (especially those which have been
signed by historic figures), and have done so for much longer than I've
collected meteorites, so it's fun to find an item which combines aspects of


Received on Sun 09 Sep 2001 06:47:52 PM PDT

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