Copyright - M.Bandli - Historic Meteorites

Bydgoszcz, Poland
Found in 1850 - IIIAB Iron

Collection No. B220.1 - A 25.8 gram part-end. This specimen was acquired by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP) during the early 1900's. It would remain there, in America's oldest natural history institution,  until 2006 when, due to unfortunate circumstances,  the entire collection was sold to a consortium of mineral dealers. Below: An excerpt from ANSP's 1933 catalogue of meteorites showing the matching Schwetz specimen in their inventory


Going back one more custodian, we can see that this Schwetz originally came from Foote Mineral, who, by 1912, was a major distributor of meteorites. At the time, this specimen originally costs $27.50, or roughly $1 per gram. Adjusted for inflation, this would equate to about $540, or roughly $20 per gram in 2011 dollars.

One of Foote Mineral's sales points were the fine glass specimen boxes included with each specimen, which pre-date the Riker Mount by several decades. Below: An advertisement from Foote Mineral's 1912 Meteorite catalogue.

Schwetz has seen some serious action as evident in the photo above. 160+ years above ground and thousands under have taken a toll on this iron. This part-end left Foote Mineral in freshly prepped condition, so we can see what 100 years of handling and storage can do to the etched surface of an old iron. We have decided, for now, to leave it this way. We like to think of its condition as a testament to its long institutional history.

Circumstances of the find as described by Gustav Rose (1850):

"In the spring of 1850, during the leveling of a sandy hill for the railroad on the left bank of the Blackwater near Schwetz on the Vistula, a mass of iron was found about four feet beneath the surface of the soil at the junction of the upper sand with the subjacent loam. The mass of iron was somewhat fissured and a small portion could be broken off without difficulty, which, to be certain that it consisted of iron, was forged. The rest was cleft into pieces at Schwetz. After the mass had been recognized as meteoric iron the whole was sent to Berlin. The separate portions, when rearranged, still exhibit the original form of the mass, which is somewhat that of a rectangular prism, completely rounded off at the edges. The height of this prism was about 9 Prussian inches, the sides of the base, 5 and 4 inches, the longitudinal circumference, 24 inches, and the breadth, 17 inches. A fissure which traversed the fragments runs nearly parallel to a plane passing through the diagonally opposite longest edges of the base. The weight of the entire mass was 43 lbs 4 oz. The outer sides of the fragments are rounded and coated with hydrated oxide of iron, the internal surfaces which formed the surfaces of old fissures, were also oxidized; but in parts the fracture was jagged."

After reading Rose's report, we are almost certain that our specimen is a sample that was cut from along the edge of one of these fractures, as evident by the jagged and broken crystals along the top edge of our specimen.


Gordon, S.G. (1934), Meteorites in the Collections of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia , 35 (for 1933) , pp 223-231.  

Gustav, R. (1851), Remarks upon a recently found mass of meteoric iron. Philosophical Magazine, 1, pp 517-518.

For further reading, we highly recommend Andrzej Pilski's fantastic article in IMCA Insights, Commemorating the Schwetz Iron:

The Schwetz Monument which was erected recently at the place of the find. Courtesy of Jan Woreczko and Wadi of