This feature is devoted each month to one of the personalities within the meteorite community. This month we are delighted to share an interview we had with Rob Wesel of Nakhla Dog Meteorites.
My name is Rob....and I'm a meteorite addict
It all started about twelve years ago when I was in a science museum gift shop. There it was, a piece of another world. The meteorite was Gibeon, the price was high, but that which I thought could only be seen behind glass now had the potential to be on my shelf to see, to touch. The whole notion was amazing. I had been a collector of natural history and cultural artifacts for some time but I had never imagined this. I put it on my Christmas list and a few short months later it was mine. Though small, it was displayed with great care and every day I would look it over having no idea what those etched lines were and certainly no idea there were more to be had.
Fast forward three years. Perhaps I was bored, perhaps my Father's enthusiasm for fish (and incessantly observing and talking about them) had instilled a desire to listen to those who were enthusiastic about anything. Either way I was compelled by a billboard at the local fairgrounds advertising antique glass to turn in and see what it was all about. That was the first of many, I went to every show from poodles to guns to plants, Bigfoot, quilts...just to listen. One week it was gems. I figured "cool, we'll see some diamonds and rubies and such.". I found diamonds and rubies and such but what I didn't anticipate seeing was meteorites. There they were, a whole booth, manned by a guy named Patrick Thompson, the son of Edwin Thompson of ET Meteorites who I would later come to know very well.
Three thousand dollars later I had four new meteorites and a collection was born, an addiction was born. I had four new meteorites and...a fifteen page price list. I had four new meteorites, a fifteen page price list...and a furious wife. That was the end of big buying for a few years, but the price list stayed close and occasionally I would save up enough for another piece.
Then the internet came to my home, then I started to learn, then I started to shop, then the addiction grew worse. I soon learned that the only way to collect was by doing some selling. Those early times were important to the development of my collection but I do not recall them fondly. The notion was great but the act of breaking up pieces was difficult. Through persistence and natural evolution I came to know names of suppliers and buyers. I focused and refocused my collecting habits. At first it was volume, as is the case with many new collectors, but I soon found I had a very lopsided collection with a hundred micros and the five big pieces that were my first purchases so I bought less and bought bigger.
March 26, 2003 changed all that. Park Forest, Illinois. That fall did me in. I had no money, I took it all out on credit, I went, I had to go. It was amazing, electric. A detailed account can be found here. Around the time of the fall, a metlist member named Harlan Trammel spoke of risk and reward with the simple phrase "Go big or go home". While I am sure he was not the first to utter such words, they rang loudly in my mind upon my return home. I had gone big, but I could go bigger. Credit still extended I spoke with a Steger, Illinois resident named Cramer who had accumulated a kilo of fresh meteorites. I leveraged my whole collection and went big, I wrote a check that made my hands shake. The initial investment was made before the meteorites arrived in my mailbox, even to my surprise. I went big, it worked. It's the same thing I had been doing but I didn't have to smash perfectly good meteorites up to do it. The wife agreed to a separate account for doing this sort of thing.
Three years after that fall gets us to present day. The premise is still the same, collect like hell, go as big as I can. I now run Nakhla Dog Meteorites and it all goes to allow me to collect. I have a full time job specializing in vascular access at the local hospital. I work three days a week there to support my family (my wife Colleen, Logan who is four, and Christina who is one year old) and the other four days are for playing meteorites. That sense of awe I had many moons ago in the science museum gift shop has never left. The awe is what it's all about and, as such, I try to collect meteorites with stories attached to them. Historic specimens are a close second
Thuathe, Valera, Elbogen,Ensisheim, Peekskill, Park Forest, the Barringer story, Brenham, the list goes on. If they sent people running or got them acting weird or doing the uncommon I'm all over it. I like fresh stones and beautiful pieces like Thuathe Gujba And even unclassified NWA's
My entire collection can be seen here. I keep them now in a custom built case. It was Christmas about five years ago and the meteorites were still in the living room. Only a small pile as this was pre Park Forest but a modest collection and aside from my wife (no kids yet) my pride and joy. I came home from work to find the entire lot piled into a mound covered with that fake snow stuff making a Christmas scene. I knew something had to be done. After a couple years of searching I couldn't find the right thing so I set out to my own.
So why the dog? Great story! Many thanks to Paul and Jim for all their work at Meteorite Times and for allowing me the chance to better introduce myself.
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