Meteorite sale not as earth-shattering as was thought

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By Cara Sulieman

SCOTLAND’S answer to Indiana Jones sold his meteorite collection today – but the results weren’t as earth-shattering as the experts thought.

Estimated at over £500,000, Robert Elliott’s collection of rocks – which included a piece of the moon – raised just £130,000 when they went under the hammer at Lyon and Turnbull.

The enthusiast’s collection included pieces of meteorites from all over the globe, including the Barwell Meteorite which fell to earth on December 24 1965.

It was the highest selling item – fetching an impressive £8,000.

Lake Murray

It was quickly followed by a piece of a meteorite that fell in Iowa and was bought for £6,800 by the Estherville Chamber of Commerce, returning the rock to the place it was found.

As well as the big hitters, some more rare items were sold, including the oldest meteorite on earth, the Lake Murray meteorite, which sold for £4,000.

Closer to home, the Glenrothes meteorite was sold for a more humble £280.

It became the first of its kind to be found on UK soil when Robert found it in the summer of 1998.

In his search for the rocks, Robert Elliott, 48, has had guns pulled on him and traversed the most dangerous regions in the world and been bitten by lethal tarantulas.

“Bag-load of cash”

Robert says collecting meteorites is one of the most exciting hobbies in the galaxy.

He said: “If I heard a meteorite had landed in America I would jump on a plane with a bag-load of cash and try and get there before other the other guys.

“More often than not you don’t get it – but the end result when you do is worth it.

“Yeah it’s been dangerous – I’ve been bitten by flesh eating spiders and all sorts, spiked myself on cactuses and got into general scrapes.

“I was once in the Arizona desert checking out a place where a meteorite had fallen in the early 1900s.

“Pulled a gun”

“It happened to be on a Navaho Indian reserve and a lot of people used to hunt for bits of old Indian pottery, so they’d stopped people from going there.

“Word got out that there was this British guy out in the desert up to no good and the next thing I knew there was this Sheriff coming towards me in his car.

“I was walking towards him with my big golf stick – so he pulled his gun on me.

“It was all quickly resolved and luckily he let me go.”

200 years

The star piece in the collection is the Hambleton meteorite from North Yorkshire worth up to £90,000 – which Robert found with a home-made metal detector made of a magnet tied to a golf club.

“I take a golf club, cut the end off, and stick a magnet on the end and jab at anything on the ground that looks like a possibility.

“That’s how I found the Hambleton myself in 2005. It was a heavy rusty chunk from out of space – but it had been sitting in the wet soil for 200 years.

“Inside it had semi-precious gemstones and it’s the rarest ever found in the UK.

“It’s one of only one per cent of all meteorites – and the scientist at the Open University are still working on it – but they think they’ve found a new mineral never seen before.”

Worldwide interest

Gavin Strang, Director of Lyon & Turnbull said “The fact that the meteorites come from all over the world has meant that we have had global interest in the sale, with film crews from Russia, the USA and the UK covering the story.

“This is the first meteorite auction to be held in the UK and with many international phone bidders and a packed saleroom we are needless to say over the moon with the result.”

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