Iron, IAB-sLL. Toluca, Mexico, first known 1776. Complete etched slice. Weighing 331.6 grams and measuring 124 mm x 108 mm x 5 mm. First known in 1776, Toluca, Mexico has enjoyed a long history of human interest—both historic and modern—and there exist documented examples of Toluca meteoric iron being employed in tool making as far back as the eighteenth century. Noted meteoriticist Vagn Buchwald wrote: “The natives of Xiquipilco searched for the iron fragments after each rainstorm, and they needed no other supply of iron for the forging of their agricultural implements.” In an earlier text (1831) Ramirez stated: “The Indians of Xiquipilco make spades and axes of the iron, and the owners of...haciendas use it for plows.”
Toluca also played a vital role in modern meteorite science, as it was the primary destination for seminal meteoriticist H.H. Nininger’s first epic meteorite hunt in 1929. Dr. Nininger recovered a large number pieces which he later sold and traded, forming the foundation of his highly influential business. Nininger describes the adventure in his classic autobiography Find A Falling Star: “While we walked about, waiting for word to get around, I myself picked up a little three-pound meteorite in one of the fields...we bought 700 pounds of meteorites. One of our last purchases was a barreta, a crowbar- like tool fashioned from a meteorite.”
Sales and trades from Nininger’s finds and purchases helped establish his importance and, later, the American Meteorite Laboratory and his meteorite museum near Meteor Crater. Since Nininger went on to carry out pivotal and groundbreaking work at Brenham [SEE LOT 2449], Canyon Diablo [SEE LOTS 2417 and 2418], and many other sites, wrote numerous books and a multitude of papers on meteorite science, and eventually co-founded the Meteoritical Society, which is the preeminent academic meteorite body, one could argue that Toluca—which provided both seed money and material for his extraordinary career—was the foundation of modern meteorite science. Without the funds Nininger acquired from his first big expedition, it is possible that the enormous scientific accomplishments of his later, action-packed life would not have been possible. This complete polished and etched slice displays a particularly exotic and geometric Widmansta¨tten pattern and was beautifully finished by an expert preparator.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.