Robert Elliott’s Space Memorabilia Collection

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2015-06-26 10:46:01

Robert Elliott’s Space Memorabilia Collection is a large, private collection of meteorites, parts of the moon and Mars, asteroids, and space artifacts.Robert Elliott

Robert Elliott is a British “meteorite chaser” and collector.

He studied electronic engineering at Kingston University and founded a career in that line, including working on the Trident project.

The collection

Elliott’s collection is arguably the greatest meteorite collection in the UK. In 2009, it contained over 1,000 meteorites gathered over a period of 13 years.

Elliott found the meteorites using a makeshift metal detector consisting of a magnet strapped to an old golf club and gathered them from across the globe.

The highlight of his collection is the 5.8kg Hambleton meteorite, which he found whilst walking with his wife near Thirsk, North Yorkshire in 2005.

The Hambleton is the largest ever found in the UK, and is a pallasite, a rare type typically regarded as the most beautiful in existence and accounting for only 1 percent of all meteorites.

The Hambleton consists of gem-like olivine found in its metallic matrix but was covered with a thick rusty crust when found.

The collection also included a piece of the Lake Murray Meteorite, the oldest known meteorite in the world. It was found in 110 million-year-old rock in Oklahoma, USA.

Elliott discovered the stony Glenrothes meteorite in 1998, the first that he found in the UK. The Glenrothes and Hambleton meteorites were unusual finds, as the UK climate is profoundly unhelpful to their preservation.

He also owned a piece of the large Barwell, or ‘Christmas’, meteorite, which was famous for falling on Christmas Eve 1965 and striking cars, windows and plant pots.

Other items of note included a polished slice of the Esquel meteorite from Argentina, a piece of the Warbar meteorite, and a fragment of the 200 year old Wold Cottage meteorite.

Elliott's collection included a part of the famous Park Forest meteorite which fell in Chicago, “peppering the area with space rocks, hitting and damaging several homes in the area”, according to the BBC website.

Alongside his meteorites, Elliot also owned a Salyut 7 helium tank, which fell from a Russian space station into Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1999.

Sale

In August 2009, Elliott put 171 items from his collection up for auction through Lyon and Turnbull.

Pieces of the Warbar and the Wold Cottage meteorites sold for £2,400 and £3,100 respectively. A piece of the Lake Murray meteorite sold for £4,000, while the fragment from the Esquel meteorite fetched £2,400.

The highest selling item was a 910g piece of the Barwell meteorite which sold for £8,000.

However, the Hambleton meteorite was one of 18 unsold items; neither the main mass of 5.8 kg nor the polished part slice of 725 g was sold. There was a reserve of £25k.

Gavin Strang, director of auctioneers Lyons & Turnbull, said he was “over the moon” with the result, claiming there had been “global interest in the sale”.

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