Sparkling like the stars... Beautiful slice of pallasite meteorite goes up for sale

Following on from their exciting auction of Oriental Art on March 21, which includes some exquisite Ming Dynasty antiques, I M Chait are offering a very different selection of items for auction in another of their classic Natural History sales.

Of course, whenever a natural history based auction comes up, space collectors are always on the lookout for meteorites, and indeed there is a great selection on offer here.

In December 2005 a very large meteorite was discovered in Kansas by Steve Arnold, co-host of the Science Channel's "Meteorite Men."

Scientists hailed the news as the most significant American meteorite discovery in decades. The meteorite curator at the American Museum of Natural History stated that this meteorite - the largest oriented meteorite with naturally occurring gemstones known to exist - was worth in excess of one million dollars.

At the same time as this discovery, a much smaller mass was also found by Arnold which did not receive the same attention. This dazzling complete slice was cut from this smaller mass.

Only 1% of all meteorites are pallasites - the most dazzling of all meteorites. Pallasitic meteorites originate from the mantle/core boundary of what was a large planetary-sized body that broke apart during the formation of our solar system (whose fragments comprise the asteroid belt).

Brenham meteorite pallasite
Dazzling... the slice of pallasite

The olivine crystals seen here are the result of small chunks of stone from the mantle having crystallized following their suspension in what was the molten iron core-and a cooling curve of millions of years which only exists in the vacuum of outer space.

Brenham meteorites intrigued Native Americans and have been found in Indian burial mounds as far away as Ohio. In the late 1800s, a young homesteader named Eliza Kimberly began collecting the stones as well. In 1882 scientists affirmed the meteoritic origin of several of the rocks Eliza found, and the area was dubbed "The Kansas Meteorite Farm."

The mass from which this slice is derived is among the very finest recovered; many Brenham masses contain no olivine at all and a large fraction of those that do frequently only contain opaque crystals.

This complete slice is a superior example and should make an excellent investment. Moreover, the provenance is that of the Philip C Mani Collection; it was Mani who financed the survey of the Brenham strewnfield.

The piece carries an estimate of $7,000-8,500 in I M Chait's auction which takes place on March 24.

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