Thursday, January 6, 2011

Correspondence of the Sydney Mining Museum - Part IV - Meteorites

Aristides Brezina (1848-1909) was one of the most famous curators of the Vienna meteorite collection, a position which he obtained in 1878 on the retirement of Gustav Tschermak (1836-1927).  He considerably expanded the meteorite collection through his connections with other scientists such as Sir Lazarus Fletcher (1854-1921). A short biography of Brezina can be viewed on The Naturhistoriches Museum Wien website.

A 1905 letter from Brezina to George W. Card, which was found in the correspondence of the Sydney Mining Museum, shows that a trading relationship between the two men had been established.  It is interesting to note that Brezina had retired from the Vienna Museum in 1896, so in 1905 he was continuing to trade with Card as a private collector.  This is evident because there is no letterhead on his note to Card.  In his letter, Brezina is interested in exchanging samples for specimens of the Barraba and Bendock meteorites.     The letter is transcribed as follows:

Inf: Bingera
& Barraba regarded
as identical.  The
latter not cut.  
16-11-05                                                                               Vienna 11/10/05

Curator Mining and Geological
Museum Sydney

Dear Sir

I should be glad to exchange again with the museum; Barraba hexahedrite and Bendock mesosiderite are not yet represented in my collection, perhaps other meteorites have been found since 1902 and would be welcomed in exchange against other meteorites not represented in your collection. 

Yours most faithfully,

Dr. Aristides Brezina

Images of the letter are listed below.  Click on the image once to enlarge, and again to enlarge futher.

Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

Copyright © Mark I. Grossman

A handwritten note on the upper left hand corner of the letter is especially informative.  It states that the Bingera and Barraba meteorites were considered identical by Card, and the Barraba sample was not cut for Brezina.

Preliminary note on the Bingera meteorite, New South Wales, was read before the Royal Society of New South Wales on December 8, 1880 and was included in A. Liversidge, The Minerals of New South Wales (London: 1888), pp. 218-220.  The meteorite was found by some gold miners in the Bingera region of Australia and weighed 241 grams, and is pictured in the image below (click once to enlarge, and again to enlarge further).   

According to J. Mingaye, Records of the Geological Survey of New South Wales, VII (1904), pp.308-310, a small fragment of the Barraba meteorite was presented to the Geological Survey by a Mr. H. Porter of Hillgrove, but as noted, George Card considered this meteorite identical to Bingera.  An illustration of the Barraba meteorite is displayed below (click once to enlarge, once more to enlarge further).


The Brezina letter is a further example of the notable scientists and collectors who corresponded with the Sydney Mining Museum.


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