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Nininger Moment #26 The Sale of the Nininger Collection Part 2

With the sale of the first part of the Nininger Collection the Niningers for the first time in thirty five years were able to pay off debts, their mortgage, and go on a cruise. Nininger had carefully filed away many letters from people that had meteorite related stories that he wish and hoped to someday investigate. While the sale of the first part of the collection had relieved a number of the Niningers problems, Harvey was still thinking about how to dispose of the remaining collection to a suitable home and what to do about the American Meteorite laboratory that was run by his son in law Glenn Huss and his daughter Margaret. It was Haveys hope that the museum would be self sufficient and self supporting. Harvey had figured that in the 4,600 days of operation that a half million visitors had visited in that time, that verbal talks and lectures had been give to groups of 2 to fifty which meant that some 7,000 one hour lectures had been made during that time. Even with this interest, the American Meteorite Museum couldn’t support itself and the Huss Family.

After the sale of first part of the Nininger Collection and having a basis to go by for prices, the remaining collection was inventoried and a price structure was then place on the remaining collection. The Niningers were shocked to find out that the remaining collection was worth over a half million dollars. Nininger mentioned the importance of inventorying his items and a lesson from not doing that prior to the first sale and his low estimates. The collection could have been sold for much less than its true value.

Later in the fall of 1959, the Arizona State University indicated a desire to acquire the collection again. With the growing interest in space, missiles, rockets and satellites meteorites were an obvious connection to many studies necessary at that time. Many scientists, institutions were hounding the Niningers with many requests for material they really didn’t want to part with. Again the Arizona State University expressed an interest in the Nininger Collection and requested a cost for the remaining collection. A letter to the Arizona State University was written and an offer to sale the collection for half the catalog value but they would consider offers from out of state if definite interest was not shown in a reasonable amount of time. The interest was on again off again as they worked to secure the necessary funds. With no firm offers from the university, the Niningers sent out letters to a number of major institutions that the remaining Nininger Collection of Meteorites was available for sale.

Much thought went into how to preserve one of the only museums dedicated to the science of meteorites but in the 1960s finally the Niningers decided to close the American Meteorite Museum pack up and store the Nininger collection in the advent a firm offer was made on the remaining collection. Finally a firm offer came through after the slow moving institutional mills completed their operations. The remaining Nininger Collection was assured a lasting place in the halls of Arizona State University at a value that was considered a fair price at $275,000 far below listed value. Four days later Glenn and Margaret Huss along with their family made the move to Denver for a new life and to carry on the name and work of the American Meteorite Lab. An era was over and the museum was gone forever.

Source: Find A Falling Star By H.H. Nininger

The Nininger Moments are articles or books written originally by Harvey Nininger and put into a consolidated form by Al Mitterling. Some of the items written in the moments might be old out dated material and the reader is advised to keep this in mind.

–AL Mitterling

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