Three very different meteorites reach the orbit of Heritage's November space sale


2015-06-26 12:07:00


Three very different meteorites reach the orbit of Heritage's November space sale

Alongside a range of Apollo memorabilia several spacerocks are going under the hammer

Heritage's much anticipated Space Sale this month contains many items that space memorabilia collectors would be excited to own with an Apollo 11 triple signed and flown commemorative cover leading the way ahead of a handbook for the mission's lunar module, Eagle, and a training suit of Apollo 15's Jim Irwin.

However, other collectors and investors may not be looking for pieces from the space race at all, but rather for natural space collectibles: meteorites. Heritage sometimes keeps these apart from the man-made pieces, placing them in the natural history auctions, but this time there are three choice examples on offer.

Most meteorites which fall to Earth are stony, and low in metal content, but all three of these are iron-rich meteorites, and all three have been a part of the celebrated Macovich collection of aesthetic iron meteorites. Apart from that, however, they could not be more different.

Firstly, there is a large end piece of a silicate iron meteorite recently found by nomadic Berbers in southern Algeria. It comes to the auction incognito, as a name has yet to be assigned.

Featuring the signature appearance of the most resplendent silicated iron meteorites, this end piece showcases large, dark silicate inclusions suspended throughout a crystalline metallic matrix; an intergrowth of alloys whose appearance is used in the identification of a silicated iron meteorite.

Incognito silicated iron meteoriteIncognito silicated iron meteorite

The surface of the specimen on offer has a dull platinum patina - a very unusual finish that is the result of natural sandblasting in the Algerian desert over a period of at least hundreds of years. Estimated at $14,000 - $18,000, bids open for the 4.3kg piece at $7,000.

Whilst 4.3kg is substantial for a meteorite fragment of any kind, it is dwarfed by the huge 'natural sculpture' piece of the world famous Gibeon meteorite. An octahedrite which was recovered by Namibian tribesmen, it weighs in at a hefty 37.6kg.

Much of the lot's appearance is due to events which took place on Earth with the particular depressions and muted reddish earth-tone patina developing due to terrestrialisation. It is expected to sell for $15,000-$18,500, and carries a reserve of $12,000.

Last, but not least, is a much smaller meteorite which was born beautiful: a large complete slice of a pallasite with peridot - that is gem-quality pieces of olivine in its iron-nickel matrix.

Imilac pallasite metorite sliceImilac pallasite metorite slice

Specifically it is taken from Chile's Imilac pallasite, regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of all pallasites, which are in general regarded as the most beautiful type of meteorite. The 706g slice, just 3mm thick, is estimated at $12,000-16,000 with a reserve of $10,450.

Heritage's space sale takes place on November 17 in Dallas. As always, there is absentee bidding available by phone and internet. Watch this space for the results.

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The Collections of Darryl Pitt | 16 December 2009

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Images: Heritage

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