Collector plans cut-price space rock sale

Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:43am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Cosmic rock collectors and inventive investors could snap up scraps of the solar system at knock-down prices in a sale planned by a leading British meteorite dealer next Tuesday.

Rob Elliott, who has been collecting and dealing in rare meteorites since the mid 1990s, plans to sell his 171-lot collection through Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull.

The cheapest space rocks are expected to fetch less than 100 pounds ($160), while a helium tank that fell to earth from an old Russian Salyut spacecraft could sell for 8,000 pounds and the biggest spender could stagger away with a 5.8 kg piece of polished asteroid core.

"They come from way out there, from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter," Elliott told Reuters, adding the interplanetary items were a good option for investors still wary of property or stocks.

"Meteorites could be the way to go because some of the starting prices we have got on these meteorites are very much lower than you would normally see them advertised," he said.

Most of the items do not have a reserve price. But Elliott expects his Hambleton meteorite, discovered in Yorkshire, England, to sell for the most money.

"If I was still a meteorite dealer, that would have a price tag of a quarter of a million pounds sterling," he said.

"But because I'm liquidating my stock, the estimate is 60,000 to 90,000 and the starting price is going to be substantially lower than that."

Elliott, who has scoured the globe for out of this world objects over the last decade, plans to limit his search to Britain for a while after becoming a grandfather.

(Reporting by Daniel Fineren; Editing by Steve Addison)