THEY fell out of the sky and now they have provided a major cash windfall for a Milton of Balgonie man, reports MIKE DELANEY.
The meteorite collector has revealed that he scooped £58,000 from the latest auction of the ‘space rocks’ he originally scooped out of the ground.
The sum, netted from an auction held in Edinburgh earlier this month, was well above what the lots were expected to achieve, revealed the 50 year-old.
The sale, at Lyon and Turnbull, has attracted particular interest because it had included one meterorite, part of which had previously been sold to the late pop superstar Michael Jackson.
Rob explained: “The ‘Jackson’ meteorite went for £1,100, which was over four times its estimate, and the little fragment of the Strathmore meteorite, which fell in Perthshire in 1917, sold for £3,200
“The highest price realised was for the largest surviving piece of the Hambleton meteorite which I found in Yorkshire in 2005 - this was sold for £9,000. Another slice of the same meteorite sold for £2,600
“Considering that these things fall out of the sky and don’t cost me any more than a tank of diesel fuel or a ‘plane ticket to go and find them, it was a pretty good day!”
Ron was also responsible for finding what has become known as the ‘Glenrothes Meteorite” in an undisclosed location in, or around the town in 1998.
“Most of it is now in various natural history museums around the World, and it’s also been sold to meteorite collectors, in the United Kingdom and overseas,” he added.
“It was a very small meteorite - just 14 grammes - so there wasn’t very much to go round.
“I have only a few small scraps left here now - it’s very rare material though, and it still has a high value, even as tiny fragments.
“I only had a tiny, half a match-head sized speck of Glenrothes weighing a miniscule 40 milligrams in the auction - I didn’t sell on the day, but has since sold to a private buyer for £200.”
Rob raised £120,000 from his first sale and a third one is being provisionally scheduled for 2013 - “so long as I can put together a nice collection - it’s not easy though, so we’ll have to wait and see on that one,” he explained.
He is Britain’s only full-time ‘hunter’ of meteorites - pieces of asteroids which have survived crashing through Earth’s atmosphere and landing without being destroyed and only 20 of which have ever been found throughout our islands.
That included the Glenrothes one, which was discovered completely by accident, while he was fishing and spotted some “interesting” looking pebbles which he pocketed on a hunch.
Some time later, he found them again and suspected they were meteorites, something that was confirmed when they were tested.
“It had literally been a case of finding a falling star and putting it in your pocket,” Rob added.