You Can Call Me Al!
Taxidermy, the art of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skins of animals for display, has been practiced on many vertebrate species, including mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and amphibians for a long time.
The early taxidermy pioneers date back to the 18th century, although the golden age of animal conservation was largely during the Victorian era, in part a result of increasing interest in the natural world and travel further afield.
Since then stuffed birds and beasts have been seen as curiosities at best - and at worst, macabre.
But when artist Damien Hirst pickled sharks and cows in formaldehyde in the early Nineties, followed later with a zebra, taxidermy gained a new following and now enjoys a cutting-edge image that has sent the value of top collectibles rocketing. Quality glass cabinet exhibits that could not be given away a few years ago can fetch thousands of pounds.
The renewed interest in art circles has been matched by a change in modern attitudes, which has revitalised the market. Items once shunned are being rediscovered as tasteful pieces of art, as well as unique talking points. The most collectible pieces have risen as much as tenfold in value over the past decade.
The most skilled of the Victorian taxidermists have been the best investments. Works by artisans such as Peter Spicer of Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, Rowland Ward of London, Gunn of Norwich, Gerrard of London and Hutchings of Aberystwyth in Dyfed, have seen prices rise the most.
Traditional animals such as foxes and badgers, stuffed by these names and which fetched £400 ten years ago, now go for up to £4,000. Rarer creatures, such as sought-after snowy owls in top condition, sell for as much as £5,000.
In our Club House auction on October 6th, we have some interesting specimens, a selection of which are shown below. Most importantly of all is an impressive albatross (who our team have fondly named 'Al').
The Club House auction offers a specialist platform for selling in this very buoyant market place. Call us now should you have creatures in your attic!
Impressive specimen in case seated on rockwork with limpets, crabs etc, wall mount on branch, 34cms high
ROWLAND WARD RED FOX MASK TAXIDERMY
On shield mount with carved initials and ivorine label 'Ashdown, Oct 6th 1913, Craven Hounds'
RARE AMERICAN BROWN BEAR SKIN RUG
By Jonas Bros, USA, full head mount with textile lining circa 1910
TAXIDERMY CASE OF RABBITS & BIRDS
Attributed to Thomas Jefferies of Carmarthen
Please see more taxidermy and other lots at The Club House auction now online!