LONDON – From floating giraffes to dodo bones, extinct bird feathers to flying beasts, as well as taxidermy, curiosities, natural history and so many more delights that tickle and test the imagination, the Curated Auctions sale taking place Wednesday, July 13 and dubbed Objects of Wonder & Relics of Extinct Beasts, is set to astonish. View the fully illustrated catalog on LiveAuctioneers.
Commenting on this highly unusual sale, Specialist and Founder of Curated Auctions Rachael Osborn-Howard said: “When I began working on this auction some six months ago, the scarce pieces I really wanted to source and include were a genuine dodo bone, a replica taxidermy dodo, a replica dodo skeleton and a taxidermy unicorn. Fortunately, luck was on my side, and all four are featured in this incredible auction.”
The now-extinct dodo was a large ground bird with a plump body, short wings and a large head with a hooked beak. Dodos were found on Mauritius up until the late 17th century, when they sadly died out. Osborn-Howard continued: “Dodo bones very rarely come on to the open market and the privileged private collectors who own them are very few.” The dodo bones in the sale date from before 1690 and include a rib bone (Lot 70, estimated at £600-£800); a toe digit (Lot 71, estimated at £500-£800); and a vertebrae (Lot 72, estimated at £800-£1,200).
Taxidermy replica dodos are highly popular as well. They are formed from domestic foul, purposefully bred during the course of years to produce the correct color feathers to resemble those of the real dodo. The example in the sale comprises a taxidermy body formed from a goose. It features a painted head and feet and is raised on a Victorian-style marble and wooden plinth. Its paper label is inscribed ‘Mauritius 1636,’ and it is estimated at £2,000-£3,000.
Another much-mourned extinct animal appears in the sale in the form of a bronze sculpture. Standing just above 13in high, the bronze woolly mammoth sports a brown patina, an impressive pair of tusks and an estimate of £2,000-£3,000.
Birds and beasts that are still with us are also on offer. Most notable among them is a taxidermy or osteology specimen of a penguin skeleton. The lot notes state it is a South American specimen of a Magellanic penguin, and it stands almost 16in tall. Its estimate is £400-£600.
Mythical creatures also make their presence known in the July 13 sale lineup, with a massive unicorn being one of the show-stoppers. Formed from a full-mount white horse, it is fitted with a simulated narwhal tusk that serves as its horn and it carries an estimate of £6,000-£8,000.
Examples of taxidermy art are included as well. Simon “The Stuffa” Wilson is a celebrated taxidermist whose works of art have featured in numerous film and television productions. He sources animals that have died from natural causes at zoos and farms. Wilson is represented by several works in the sale, including a Floating Giraffe that is estimated at £3,000-£5,000. A similar Floating Giraffe of his was the star lot of the Aynhoe Park sale in 2021, realizing a record-breaking sum of £100,000 at that auction.
The current rate of exchange is £1 = $1.20.
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