“In the year of Our Lord 1492, the Wednesday before the feast day of Saint-Martin, the seventh day of November, a strange miracle occurred. On that day, between the eleventh and the twelfth hour of noon, came a great thunder clap, then a long noise that was heard far around, then a stone fell from the air on the village of Ensisheim…”

Thus begins a 16th Century document describing one of the other newsworthy events of 1492. The record continues, “It was surely a sign from God, such as had never been seen before, or read or written about.”

Indeed, the Ensisheim fireball created a great deal of commotion. It fell five weeks after Columbus landed in the West Indies — and at a time where it was not believed rocks could fall out of the sky. Austria’s Emperor Maximillian is said to have interpreted the Ensisheim event as a divine sign to declare war on France — a decision that turned out to be quite provident. He gained three provinces and retrieved his daughter who had taken up with the French King. Meanwhile, back in walled town of Ensisheim, the mysterious stone had been carried to the church and tethered to a chain in a dungeon — ostensibly to prevent it from departing in the same way it arrived.

The main mass can be seen in the same church today. This partial slice was deaccessioned by The Natural History Museum in London; it showcases Ensisheim’s characteristic blue-gray matrix. Now offered is a specimen of Europe’s oldest preserved meteorite.

Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalogue.

37 x 43 x 4mm (1.5 x 1.66 x 0.1 in.) and 14.00g
The Natural History Museum, London
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