Our first sale was held nearly 30 years ago as part of Sotheby's Country House saleroom at Summers Place in Sussex, since which time the sales have flourished, establishing a global reputation. Following restructuring, the department is staffed by a team who, between them, have nearly 200 years of Sotheby’s experience.
This is the sixth annual Summers Place Evolution auction, and this year's selection is as fine, if not finer, than any that have gone before.
The sheer variety and quality of the items featured is staggering in its intensity, and such is the intrinsic fascination of so many of the lots that it is difficult to choose highlights. Even the less highly priced items are wonderful examples of their kind.
Meteorites are always objects that arouse a great curiosity, and this is for a variety of reasons - not least among them being the idea that some people have, that these heavenly fragments were the means of first bringing life to Earth. Among those offered here are two truly enormous and rare examples of what are known as Gibeon meteorites. These particular meteorites come only from Namibia, and are so highly prized that export from that land is no longer permitted. These two marvellous examples have been in the UK for many decades, however, and arrived here when it was possible to acquire such rare things. It is now virtually impossible to find specimens that even begin to approach these in size!
As always, we have some stunning fossils, including a wonderfully decorative and truly ancient crinoid. There are also examples of more recent extinct creatures - a mammoth and a moa.
Exquisite mineral specimens are increasingly sought after as items with incredible decorative appeal, and there are many examples on display that are simply stunning.
Vintage taxidermy is another area of collecting that increases in value and popularity year on year, and for this sale we have assembled a number of fabulous antique examples. One remarkable survival from the Victorian era is a colossal glass dome housing no less than three plumed birds of paradise. At the time of its production, these specimens would have been regarded as incredibly important and almost unique imports from the mysterious island of New Guinea. Alongside it is another huge dome containing several South American cotingas, antique examples of which are these days regrettably stripped of their feathers by fly tying enthusiasts; these, however, are still in perfect condition. Also featured are some examples of New Zealand birds that, though common in the 19th century, are now threatened with extinction, as is the gharial - a crocodile that once inhabited Indian rivers in their tens of thousands, but which now numbers in the low hundreds.
All in all, this is an intriguing sale of the very rare, the exceptionally beautiful, and the genuinely fascinating.
As ever we are always happy to provide condition reports on any lot and if you want to visit before the official viewing times, just give us a ring.
James and Rupert