El Taco shavings display (Campo del Cielo, iron IAB-MG)


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Most people reading this have a specimen of Cape York in their collection. It’s an historic specimen with a timeless story surrounding it. However, the vast majority of Cape York in collections comes from Agpalilek in Denmark. So, how many of us can say we have a specimen of the actual Ahnighito mass that Captain Peary made legendary?


Not very many of us…


Similarly, most of us have some Campo del Cielo in our collection. If you are a Meteorite collector you’d be crazy not to have something representing Campo in your collection since it is one of the most iconic specimens. How many of us though can say we have a specimen from the Gancedo mass, the El Chaco mass, or the famous El Taco mass?


Not very many of us…


Today, for El Taco at least, that changes.   🙂


Available here are 32 custom display cases which each contain three subgram shavings (similar to those pictured here) from the El Taco mass of Campo del Cielo, each displayed along with a photo of the original mass. The shavings were acquired through the chain of provenance indicated below. Each specimen case will come with my provenance card indicating the chain of provenance to me. If collectors would like additional proof of provenance I provide copies of private correspondences between myself and the source.


See below for more regarding the provenance of these specimens as well as a brief history of the El Taco mass.


Regarding El Taco:

Found in 1962, El Taco is one of the largest masses of Campo del Cielo, originally weighing in at nearly 3100kg. Like many meteorites it was found by a farmer plowing his field. Subsequently a joint exhibition between the United States and Argentina facilitated the transportation of the mass to the Smithsonian Institute, the ultimate goal being to share the specimen between the two countries. At that time there was no saw in the United States large enough to cut the beast so it was moved again to the Max Planck institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. The photo that accompanies each of the specimens sold here was taken just before the specimen was cut, and shows the line of demarcation which the saw took to cut it in half. The huge specimen took more than a full year to finish cutting, at which point the two masses were distributed to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, and the planetarium in Buenos Aires.


Four decades passed by and the two masses remained apart from each other until being reunited for a relatively brief exhibition which took place in Frankfurt, Germany. Photos of the masses during this exhibition can be easily found online via a Google search. The book “El Taco, A Chapter in the History of the Campo del Cielo Meteorite, Volume 1”by Faivovich and Goldberg, details this exhibition and the history of El Taco more.


Regarding provenance:

Dr. Radha Ganapathy published various papers on meteoritics, primarily through the University of Chicago. He once visited the laboratory of the late Dr. Truman Kohman, whose research of the Campo del Cielo meteorite, and El Taco in specific is well known. During that visit Kohman gave Ganapathy some specimens of Campo for his own research, one of which was a vial full of metal shaving taken from the El Taco mass. All the specimens are small, curvilinear shavings which have been stored without desiccant for years. For this reason many have developed a thin rust around them as would be appropriate even for Campo after years of being unprotected from the elements. These specimens came directly from Dr. Ganapathy.


Of course the only specimens of El Taco in private collections would have originated from one of these two masses. I have no way to know which mass these shavings came from. It could be either of the two halves, though given Kohman’s proximity to the Smithsonian they are more likely to have been taken from that mass. Unfortunately for the scientific community Dr. Kohman has passed away…


I’m sure that somewhere in the world someone has a larger more impressive specimen of El Taco to brag about. It can be very difficult to find specimens of the historic named masses of irons like Campo, Cape York, or Canyon Diablo. I had been collecting for years before I saw a proven specimen of Ahnigito with reliable provenance come available, and since then I have never seen another. Luckily for me I bought it when I saw it. Similarly I have never seen a specimen of El Taco on the market before this, and chances are it will be years before any others are for sale.


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