As space collectors will be aware, it’s now less than two weeks until the sale of the second part of Rob Elliott’s famous collection of meteorites.
Elliott wasn’t struck by the collecting bug until his mid-30s, but then took to it in earnest and chased round the globe to find them.
Those going up for sale this month mostly follow the standard practice of being sold either as they were found, or by careful slices. But another intriguing, or galling, outcome may have befallen some of them: being shaped into other objects.
Rob Elliott’s meteorite collection
In recent times, people have rendered items such as jewellery, watches and other ornaments with unearthly materials. Even a version of the iPhone has been created with a combination of meteorite and tyrannosaurus tooth.
My least favourite of all was a letter opener with a meteorite handle.
That’s a piece of material which has travelled across space for millions of years, before hurtling down onto our little blue ball. Now it’s being used to ease the strain of opening gas bills and round-robins from that couple nobody likes…
To a large extent this is a modern habit. But, for at least one type of item, it’s been going on for a long, long time.
Swords are thought to have been made with meteorite for centuries – though naturally very rarely and only for powerful leaders. Attila the Hun is supposed to have owned a sword made with meteorite, as the strangeness of the material leant an air of magic.
But surely nobody owns magic swords these days? Step forward a renowned master of magical ideas, author Terry Pratchett. Not only does Pratchett own such a sword, but he forged it himself at home.
Pratchett and friends dragged roughly 80 kilos of iron ore out of a field, then added some meteoric iron donated by a friend and smelted it at home.
“Thunderbolt iron has a special place in magic and we put that in the smelt” he told the Times Higher Education Supplement.
“I remember when we sawed the iron apart it looked like silver. Everything about it I touched, handled and so forth … And everything was as it should have been, it seemed to me.”
A freshly-made silvery sword made with metal from the skies by Terry Pratchett? There must be many collectors who’ll see something magic in that.
Meteorite collection image from: Rob Elliott
Terry Pratchet image from: TerryPratchett.co.uk