A SYLACAUGA METEORITE
Talladega County, Alabama (33°14’ N, 86°17’ W)
This fresh partial slice has two edges of fusion crust delimiting its grey matrix with a rich profusion of iron-nickel flakes suspended throughout. Modern cutting.
39 x 32 x 2 mm (½ x ¼ x ⅛in.)
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Dr. James Schwade Meteorite Collection, Kankakee, IL
Swindel, G. W. and Jones, W. B. (1954). "The Sylacauga, Talladega County, Alabama, Aerolite: A Recent Meteoritic Fall That Injured A Human Being." Meteoritics, 1(2), 125–132.
Nobel, J. (2013). “The True Story of History's Only Known Meteorite Victim.” National Geographic. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
Please note that this lot is the property of a private collector.
Second image: Photo by Jay Leviton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images.
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Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
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The only documented instance of a meteorite injuring a person occurred on November 30, 1954 at 2:46 pm in Sylacauga, Alabama. The fireball from which the meteorite originated was seen in broad daylight across three states and its descent was accompanied by sonic booms. Some eyewitnesses thought a plane had crashed; others felt this extraordinary event was the nefarious doings of the Soviets — the result of rampant Cold War paranoia. Two meteorites were recovered. One crashed through the roof of Ann and Eugene Hodge’s home, where it bounced off a radio and struck Ann Hodges while she napped. While Hodges and her landlord fought over the meteorite’s ownership, the U.S. Air Force took custody. While the law favored the landlord, public sentiment was solidly behind Hodges, who exclaimed, “God intended it to hit me. After all, it hit me!” The second meteorite was found by a local farmer, Julius McKinney, who quickly sold his specimen to the Smithsonian. The proceeds from this sale enabled McKinney to purchase a new car and home. The Hodges finally owned the meteorite that punctured their roof (and almost Ann herself) after a year of legal wrangling and a payout to their landlord. However, interest had waned during the course of the year and when the Hodges couldn’t find a buyer, they donated the rock to the Alabama Museum of Natural History. Never having recovered from the emotional distress associated with these events, Ann Hodges suffered a nervous breakdown and died at the age of 52.
Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalogue note.
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