Christie's to offer meteorites from the collection of Michael Farmer

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Christie's to offer meteorites from the collection of Michael Farmer
End piece of Springwater Meteorite. Estimate: £70,000 - 100,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2022.

LONDON.- Christie’s presents Meteorites from the Collection of Michael Farmer, the first online-only sale of rare meteorites from London, open for browsing from 18 March with bidding from 23 March to 6 April. The auction will offer a selection of 84 remarkable meteorites, including Lunar and Martian meteorites, alongside a specimen which contains the oldest matter mankind can touch. Offering a wide range of estimates, with many lots offered without reserve, the sale offers spectacular examples of meteorites suited to any collection.

James Hyslop, Head of Science and Natural History, Christie’s: “This sale marks the first online auction of meteorites from London. This Collection has been amassed over nearly three decades by Michael Farmer, who has travelled the world in search of the rarest meteorites. It is a really exciting opportunity for collectors to acquire some of the best examples on the market, including many in pristine condition and with outstanding provenance.”

Leading the sale is the main mass of the Santa Filomena Chondrite weighing 38.2 kilograms (estimate: £150,000-£250,000), the largest stone meteorite recorded from Brazil. On 19 August 2020 at 10:18am a fireball lit up the sky above of Eastern Brazil. Entering the Earth’s atmosphere at 15.36 km/s, at a 43.1° inclination, it travelled 61.3 km in 4 seconds. About 80 kilograms of material was recovered with most pieces weighing under two kilograms. This meteorite was collected before being touched by rainfall, leaving its surface in pristine condition.

Further highlights include a very large specimen of the Allende meteorite (estimate: £70,000 – 100,000), the oldest matter known. Considered one of the most studied and important meteorite falls in history, the Allende meteorite fell in Chihuahua Mexico on 8 February, 1969, at 1am. The slice displays a charcoal-hued matrix filled with a galaxy of inclusions including abundant CAIs (Calcium aluminium inclusions), which is among the oldest material in existence, dating to the formation of the solar system over four billion years ago.

The sale will also feature meteorites studded with gems from outer space including the end piece of the Springwater meteorite (estimate: £70,000 – 100,000). The Springwater meteorite is a perfect example of a stony-iron. It is polished to a mirror finish on the cut face, displaying beautiful olivine crystals set in a nickel-iron matrix. In the 1930’s when the meteorite was discovered by farmers clearing their fields, the lucky finders profited by selling during the Great Depression. Several masses were found; however the largest was thrown down a deep well before it was recognised as a meteorite and was lost. In 2008 Michael Farmer found a hand drawn map in the archives of the Arizona State University Center for Meteorite Studies, which led Michael’s team to Springwater to re-discover the field with several meteorites unearthed, including this one.

The Moon is among the rarest substances on Earth with only 750 kilograms of lunar meteorites known to exist. The auction will present a complete lunar slice of Rabt Sbayta 006 (estimate: £5,000 – 8,000), a Moon rock ejected from the lunar surface following an asteroid impact. The meteorite was found in 2016 near Rio de Oro, Gataa Sfar Western Sahara and the present slice weighs 82g. Many of the common minerals found on Earth’s surface are rare or absent on the Moon and some lunar minerals are unknown on Earth.

On 18 July 2011 a bright fireball exploded into many pieces over the Oued Drâa valley in Morocco. It was the most recent of only five observed falls of Martian meteorites. The determination of Martian origin is the result of research by scientists throughout the world. This complete individual of the Tissint martian meteorite fall (estimate: £30,000 – 50,000) was probably formed as a basalt flow at or near the surface of Mars.

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