Next month in Los Angeles, Bonhams' Natural History auction will give collectors the chance to purchase a little piece of the universe, as a superb collection of meteorites goes under the hammer.
The sale will feature a wide range of items from beautiful otherworldly Pallasites to rare, iron-encrusted Octahedrites. The stunning variety of specimens is matched by the variety in prices, offering collectors of every level a chance to invest in something 'out of this world'.
At the top end of the sale stands the Canyon Diablo Meteorite, a stunning example of a 'complete individual' Octahedrite from the asteroid that struck Earth 50,000 years ago creating the famous Barringer Crater in Northern Arizona.
The incredible Canyon Diablo complete meteorite
Priced at $50,000 - $60,000 and weighing 128lbs it is certainly the largest and probably most famous piece in the sale, having had such a (literal) impact on the Earth's geography.
One of the auction's other notable items is an enormous slice of Moon rock described as 'the finest lunar meteorite ever discovered'. The piece has a display surface larger than any other known example, and is remarkably close in appearance and composition to the original Apollo mission Moon rocks.
Such lunar material is several million times rarer than top-quality diamonds and this is reflected in its price of $20,000 - $25,000, despite the fragment weighing a mere 8.6g.
At the other end of the scale we find two small specimens from the Sikhote-Alin meteor that struck Siberia on February 12 1947.
Although both small specimens measure around 3 inches in length, they are of particular interest due to the recent date of the Sikhote-Alin strike and the fact that it was a 'witnessed fall'. Many collectors specialise in meteors that have eye-witnesses to prove their authenticity.
Two small samples from the Sikhote-Alin meteorite
The specimens have an estimate of $200 - $300 for the pair, proving that the meteorite market is truly accessible to anyone.
Small examples such as these are an excellent way to start a collection, and the relative rarity of meteorites means they are likely to appreciate in value.
The market is still a relatively young one, but the boom in online auctions has opened it up beyond museums and specialist collectors to a far wider audience. The internet has also made it much easier to research the authenticity of many meteorites offered for sale, although it has also created a market for cunningly-created fakes.
Auctions such as these offer not only a fascinating insight into the creation of our Solar System, but an opportunity to own a million year-old piece of its history. And in terms of an investment opportunity, meteorites could go on to prove the sky (and beyond) is the limit.
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