BEVERLY HIlLLS — What with the green movement in the global mainstream and “Land of the Lost” capturing imaginations, everyone it seems wants a piece of the planet. The place to pick up collectible minerals, fossils, meteorites and dinosaur bones is I.M. Chait’s Natural History auction coming on June 28.
The auction, 1 PDT at the I.M. Chait Gallery in Beverly Hills and on-line at www.chait.com, features more than 300 specimens from both the ancient realm and the natural one.
Given the publicity “Ida” (Darwinius masillae) recently generated, there is bound to be plenty of interest in I.M. Chait’s Mosasaur skull (lot 331). Found in the Khouribga phosphate deposits of Morocco, this deadly swimming reptile prowled the oceans over 65 million years ago. The relatively diminutive skull, just over 2 feet long and about 2 feet high, exhibits vicious looking teeth to set the imagination on edge. It is expected to draw strong interest at $40,000.
From Germany comes a superb Jurassic Ichthyosaur. Lot 330, shown in a gray shale plaque, has such fine detailing that one can examine the texture of its tiniest bones. Small pointed teeth, graduated disc-shaped paddle bones, a curved ribcage and exceptional three-dimensionality at its head and rostrum drive the estimate of this nearly 6-foot long fossil to $40,000.
Oddly compelling is a huge dinosaur mortality cluster (lot 343) of ceratopsians. Of the genus Psittacosaurus, notable for being the most species rich of the dinosaurs, these fossils are caught in death mask like detail that shows the beak-like skulls, slender ribs and tailbones of three species. The cluster measures 21 1/2 inches long and carries a high estimate of $25,000.
Dinosaur collectors will find collectibles in all price ranges. For instance, a sphere (lot 162) comprised of agate-filled Haversian canal tubules, painstakingly carved into a perfect orb and then polished, is estimated at a low $400. In the low mid-range is a T-Rex tooth (Lot 341) estimated at a high of $3,500.
Colorful, crystalline formations of gold, tourmaline, crystal and quartz, amethysts and aquamarines – minerals that have appreciated nearly tenfold in half as many years – make the sale sparkle.
A giant quartz crystal city (lot 13) that once dominated the entrance of the Kunsang Palyul Choeling temple in Montgomery County, Md., reaches skyward for an amazing 34 inches. With crystals growing upon crystals, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the skin of the jacaré, a South American caiman. The power of the crystal goes to the bidder who can approach the high estimate of $60,000.
A high-tone two and one-half inch Australian gold nugget (lot 35) weighing in at 19.1 ounces, with botryoidal raised areas and pitted crevices, is expected to fetch a high of $32,000.
Meanwhile, a lilac-colored kunzite crystal (lot 44) contrasted against a stark white matrix of crystallized cleavelandite is a stunningly transparent example of the gem quality minerals found in Afghanistan. This pristine example, 6 inches tall, will likely command about $22,500.
A collection of multi-colored tourmalines (lots 39–43), with monikers like “watermelon,” in clusters and columns, from Brazil and Afghanistan, are expected to catch more than one eye. The gem-like minerals carry estimates of $2,000 to $9,500.
The sale is also rich in meteorites with the Henbury Meteorite (lot 170) dominating the collection. The rugged looking, 39-pound iron specimen is from a shower that occurred over 5,000 years ago near Alice Springs, Australia. It is estimated at a high of $24,000.
A complete slice of Glorieta Mountain, N.M., (lot 169) is a “siderite,” composed completely of iron. With a fusion crust, this specimen has been etched with nitric acid to expose the Widmanstatten pattern that criss-crosses it surface. It is estimated at $3,500.
Another fantastic collection is the grouping of arthropod fossils (lots 288–299). From a Hollywood Hills collector, it includes shrimp and dragonflies, waterbugs, beetles and lobster fossils. Their estimates range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
For a complete listing of I.M. Chait’s June 28 Natural History Auction, visit www.chait.com.