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Press Release - December 4, 2018
Meteorites, Gold Specimens Offered in Heritage Auctions’ Nature & Science Auction
Sale also features exceptional fossils, gemstones, lapidary art
"This auction represents a wonderful assortment of Natural History with a superb grouping of vertebrate skulls, broad assortments of gold specimens, meteorites, gemstones and fossils, and beautiful works of lapidary art," Heritage Auctions Nature & Science Director Craig Kissick said. "My personal favorites are the massive Ceratopsian Skull, the incredible Dire Wolf Skull, the incomparable Lunar Meteorite, the phenomenal Aquamarine Gemstone and the largest Gold Nugget.
"But the sale includes outstanding options for collectors of all levels and with a wide assortment of collecting tastes. There really is something for everyone."
The result of a collision between a meteorite and the moon that knocked loose a piece of the lunar surface, NWA 8641 Lunar Meteorite: Large Piece of the Moon (estimate: $300,000-500,000) is a massive (7-1/2 inches long and 6.4 pounds) matchless end piece of a lunar meteorite. Similar samples brought to earth by Apollo astronauts are deemed property of the United States government and controlled by NASA at the Johnson Center and at the Smithsonian Institution, but this sample’s organic separation from the moon allow it to be offered to the public. One of the larger meteorites on record and the 8,641st meteorite recovered and classified in Northwest Africa, it is recorded in the Meteoritical Bulletin. This sample is extremely fresh, and not "weathered," and therefore has not been "terrestrialized" through exposure to the Earth’s elements. Only about 750 pounds of lunar material – including that brought back by astronauts and that which fell in the form of meteorites – exists on earth, more than six pounds of which is found in this lot.
From the state whose residents take pride in the notion that bigger is better comes The Largest Mass of the Largest Stone Meteorite Found in Texas – Clarendon (c) (estimate: $25,000-35,000). This mass, the discovery of which is detailed in the Meteoritical Bulletin, is now a centerpiece at the Monnig Meteorite Gallery at TCU in Fort Worth. Discovered in West Texas, the 345-kilogram Clarendon meteorite, from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, was the largest ever found in the state and the third-largest ever found in the United States. The discovery coincided with the recovery of additional fragments, of which this is the largest. Accompanied by a custom display armature, this specimen is characterized by patches of caliche that accent the milk chocolate-colored matrix of the largely flat example with a parallelogram-like that naturally cleaved off the main mass of the meteorite.
A Ceratopsian Dinosaur Skull (estimate: $200,000-300,000) is the most complete known specimen of its kind from the Late Cretaceous of the Hell Creek Formation in North America. The half skull of an unidentified Ceratopsian species measures 88 inches from the tip of the beak to the back of the squamosal, and is different from other Ceratopsians – including Triceratops horridus and Triceratops prosus – in part because of its large and narrow nasal horn, the relatively short brow horns and a frill (shield) that is relatively small in relation to the rest of the skull. Experts believe the differences between this Ceratopsian and other Late Cretaceous Ceratopsians should help facilitate the naming of a new genus and a new species. It was collected in 2012 and prepared by Neal Larson, who dedicated an estimated 1,200 hours to the preparation and mounting.
Among the most fascinating lots offered in the auction is a Dire Wolf Skull (estimate: $30,000-50,000). The "fearsome dog" has been called the canine version of the saber-tooth cat. Similar in size to the largest of modern gray wolves and a likely pack hunter with a "hypercarnivorous" lifestyle, the Dire Wolf disappeared at the end of the Ice Age like most of the giant mammals of the Pleistocene. Scientists believe that these powerful predators, who were represented by the dogs on HBO’s Game of Thrones, supplemented their fleshy diet by crushing bones in order to extract nutrients from the marrow. Unlike many specimens, which have been found in California tar pits, this one-of-a-kind collector’s specimen was found near the Nodaway River in Page County, Iowa. The skull consists of a maxilla and a mandible, which was fully reconstructed. The major part of the 11.31-inch, museum-quality skull is in exceptional condition, having been preserved with roughly 90 percent of the original bone material intact.
A huge (4.31 by 2.97 by 1.54 inches and nearly 20 ounces) Gold Nugget (estimate: $40,000-60,000) from Victoria, Australia, is a dazzling specimen in a class with few peers. The specimen’s beautiful natural form and vibrant luster make it a perfect collector’s piece, augmenting its rare combination of size, shape and the brilliant color often associated with Australian Gold. Its consistent appeal means any side could be the primary display.
Another large Gold Nugget (estimate: $25,000-30,000) comes from Eagle Creek in the Circle Mining District in Alaska’s Yukon-Koyukuk Borough. With right golden coloration and atypically clean appearance, it weighs 12.5 troy ounces. Measuring 3.19 by 2.52 by 0.74 inches, the nugget has one concave and one convex side, each with an intriguingly complex texture.
Cut from a Brazilian large gem-quality rough specimen, this 402.22-carat Aquamarine (estimate: $200,000-300,000) comes from the world-renowned Minas Gerais region of Brazil, which is famous for minerals. This massive rectangular, emerald step-cut investor-grade rarity features a rich greenish-blue hue and crystal clarity.
A 42.3-carat Imperial Topaz (estimate: $50,000-70,000) hails from the same Minas Gerais region of Brazil. From the rarest of the Topaz family, the size, alone, makes this sample an absolute rarity. In an elongated cushion shape with a modified brilliant cut, it displays the iconic deep golden yellow hue, which is found only in Brazil’s Ouro Preto district. Cut and polished to create an abundance of scintillation, it is accompanied by a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certificate.
Other top lots include, but are not limited to:
· Gemstone: Bicolor Tourmaline – 56.79 Cts. (Nord-Kivu Democratic Republic of the Congo): estimate $40,000-60,000
· Gemstone: Green Beryl – 363.73 Cts. (Minas Gerais, Brazil): estimate $40,000-60,000
· "Gem" Dinosaur Bone – (Morrison Formation, Utah): estimate $25,000-35,000
· Backgammon Set with Board and Pieces (Stone Source: Shattuckite - Democratic Republic of Congo / now Zaïre; petrified wood: Arizona): estimate $25,000-35,000
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
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Steve Lansdale, Public Relations Specialist
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