A sprinkling of meteorites lands in Heritage's natural history auction



2015-06-26 12:04:10

A sprinkling of meteorites lands in Heritage's natural history auction

From an octahedrite's silvery lattices to a pallasite's gem-like olivine, a range of beauties is on show

Heritage is holding a Natural History auction in a couple of weeks' time, and as always space collectors will be on the look out for meteorites of all shapes and stripes.

There are eight spacerocks on offer in the sale. Somewhat unusually for Heritage there are no pieces that would require exceptionally deep digging in ones pockets, but there are some nice entry-level, investment-grade pieces nevertheless.

Firstly, there is a fragment of the famed Campo del Cielo meteorite of Argentina. It seems that the impact of the meteorite was observed when it fell 4,000 years ago, and was sufficiently spectacular that stories of it passed down through the centuries, and led to the naming of the area ('Campo del Cielo' means 'valley of the sky').

An iron meteorite (an octahedrite to be precise), it is coveted around the world, and the listing of $700-900 for this 4,500g piece seems a little modest.

Esquel pallasite meteorite slice Esquel pallasite slice

Also hailing from Argentina is a slice of the Esquel meteorite - a pallasite. Pallasites are usually regarded as the most beautiful meteorites in the world, and many believe the Esquel to be the finest of the lot.

This squared slice of the meteorite is 20.9g and possesses the characteristic gem quality yellow-green olivine crystals embedded in a silver-coloured nickel-iron matrix. At $300-500 it represents an excellent opportunity for a space collector to own something truly spectacular without breaking the bank.

The expected top lot for the section, however, is another octahedrite, this time from Sweden. The famous Muonionalusta meteorite was not observed, but is thought to have landed a little earlier than the Campo del Cielo: over 800,000 years ago (modern man appeared around 200,000 years ago).

Muonalusta meteorite slice Muonalusta meteorite slice

In fact the fall is thought to have occurred far to the north of where it was discovered, meteorite fragments having been dragged south by glacial action over millennia.

The 595g slice displays silvery Widmansttten patterns of latticed nickel-iron alloys kamacite and taenite. Its $1,000-1,400 estimated price tag seems reasonable given the fascination of these patterns.

Heritage's Natural History auction take place on October 17 in Dallas, Texas with online bidding available.

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Images: Heritage Auctions

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