Garden and Natural History Auction highlights

24/04/2014     Garden Furniture & Statuary

Garden and Natural History Auction highlights
On Tuesday, 20th May 2014 Summers Place Auctions will be holding their next sale - The Garden and Natural History auction which includes a huge variety of Natural History related lots and a private collection of 40 lots built up over the last 30 years. The collection includes an extremely rare clouded leopard, mounted by the celebrated taxidermy company Rowland Ward. Estimated at £6,000-10,000, it is one of only a handful of fully mounted examples to have come onto the market in living memory. Other known examples are in the National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan and the Smithsonian Institute. This sale offers the opportunity to another institution or a private collector to own this 137 cm long clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), which stands majestically on a natural base.*

Highlights among the fossils included in the sale is an Ichthyosaur stenopterygius. The 111cm long specimen comes from the famous fossil locality at Holzmaden, Germany and is of historical importance. The Jurassic deposits here are around 180 million years old (some 20 million years younger than similar deposits at Lyme Regis) and are known for the exquisite state of preservation of the fossils that occur there. This particular ichthyosaur is a remarkable example, and was painstakingly uncovered from the surrounding matrix by the world-renowned preparator Bernard Hauff (1912-1990). The Hauff family were famous for the production of fossils and their work can be seen in the Urwelt-Museum Hauff, Holzmaden. The Ichthyosaur is estimated to fetch £20,000-30,000.

At an estimate of £9,000-12,000, a highly important Narwhal Sailors' Cane with silver mounting and walrus ivory top has one of the most romantic provenances while also be of great historical importance. The inscription says: 'Brought home in the Fox by Geo. Edwards' and 'Sent out by Lady Franklin 1859' - clearly connecting it with the famous Franklin expedition, which saw Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) set off from England in 1845 to locate and chart the elusive Northwest Passage. Neither he nor any of his crew of 129 men ever returned - their disappearance became one of the great mysteries of nineteenth century Britain. Lady Franklin herself sponsored one of the expeditions to search for her husband in 1859 and she gave this cane to the search troupe to give to her husband. Sadly they finally discovered a note that stated that Franklin had died on June 11th 1847.** There are another 28 canes and sticks included in the sale with estimates starting from £80 to £1,200.

Among the bones, skulls and tusks included in the sale, is an Ice Age mammoth tusk from the Taymyr peninsular, Siberia (outside curve 115cm) – it's displayed on an iron stand and estimated at £4,000-6,000. A very rare pair of painted Whales ear bones, both about 15 cm high, are expected to sell for £1,000-2,000. These early 19th Century bones are painted to heighten their resemblance to human faces. Also included in the sale are several Dayak skulls – the Dayak peoples were once famous as head hunters and it was common practice to carve designs onto skulls that were obtained. Among the lots are a Dayak skull with boar's tusks ( £900-1,200), a finely carved Dayak skull (£1,200-1,500) and an early 20th century Dayak carved Sun Bear skull
(£600-800). Three Asmat ancestor skulls from New Guinea, all with feather headdress and nose piece are estimated to fetch £1,500-2,000 each. There is also a possible record Lion skull (Panthera leo) – the 42 cm high skull was mentioned in the Rowland Ward archive as being the largest known to them (est. £500-700).

Among the more decorative items are a mahogany tusk gong stand by Van Ingen of Mysore. The early 20th Century, 28 cm high stand with brass bell shaped gong is estimated to fetch £150-250, while an Indian elephant ivory gong stand with copper gong (circa 1880, 50 cm high) is estimated at £600-1,000. Two leopard skins and a big lion skin with a superbly mounted head and impressive mane (all early 20th century with estimates from £400 to £2,500) are also included in the sale.

This sale also has a section of watercolours, prints and photographic material. There are four lots of watercolours of exotic animals from Australia and the Pacific, with estimates starting from £800 and £1,200 each. They are of a scientific nature and are likely to have been carried out on one of the French expeditions during the middle of the nineteenth century, possibly one of Jules Dumont d'Urville's expeditions, which resulted in his great masterpiece Voyage au Pole Sud dans la corvettes l'Astrolabe et la Zelee. Animals included are a red Lemur, red rumped chevrotain from Fernando Po Island, marsupials and to different species of squirrels.

A pencil drawing of a Micmac Indian entitled "Louis Julian, Micmac Indian of Miramachi" attributed to Major General O'Halloran, who studied the language and customs of the Micmac around 1840 is expected to fetch £600-800. A collection of 17 glass slides from 1910 of Antarctic interest are estimated at £300-400 and a set of three silver gelatin prints taken from 19th century positive glass slides produced for the British Museum of Natural History. Showing skulls of a porcupine, a dolphin and the exoskeleton of an armadillo (est. £600-1,000).

Among the tribal art, a ceremonial feather headdress from the first half of the 20th century, containing cassowary feathers and cowrie shells from Irian Jaya (once the western half of New Guinea) is estimated at £500-600. The sale also includes 21 lots of West African Tribal art, which contains many unique pieces from the Congo including an Ngwagba wooden butterfly mask (circa
1950. est £1,200-1,500), a Pende chiefs walking stick made in the form of a rifle and an umbrella (late 19th century est. £600-800), a Songye/Tetela community or village carved wood female figure (2nd half of 20th century, est. £3,000-4,000), a large Vili carved wood fetish in the form of a two-headed dog (circa 1930, est. £4,000-5,000), a Conganese male wooden figure with a
chimpanzee skull (2nd half of 20th Century, est. £1,000-2,000) and an important Mangwetu maternity figure carved in ivory (circa 1940, est. £8,000-1,0000).

Amongst the more macabre lots is a felons skull from the early 19th Century in an antique glass dome is expected to fetch £2,000-3,000. The skull inscribed John Parker hanged for robbing Henbury Church and De Boudrie's school, has been partially cut away to serve as an anatomical specimen, and comes with a photo copied newspaper article on how Parker was executed at
“Glocester Gaol” and born in the parish of Langley, near Chippenham.

Two mummified dogs and a cat, each in a 43 by 59 cm case, are expected to fetch £2,000-3,000. An Egyptian mummified hand (B.C. in later glass dome) is expected to sell for £2,000-3,000 and a mummified Human head (reputedly Egyptian, Ptolemaic) carries an estimate of £1,000-2,000.

Among the taxidermy lots, there are several other lots by Rowland Ward, including a Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus), which stands 185cm high (£3,000-5,000), a 148 cm long Puma (Panthera) (£3,000-5,000) and a blue Monkey (Cercopithecus Mitis Elgonis) (1st half 20th Century, est. £600-1,000). A Salmon (Salmo salar), which has been prepared in the style of Malloch of Perth will be sold in a 130cm case with inscription "Taken from the spey by H MacMillan July 1909", weight 37lbs is estimated £2,000-3,000.
The sale also has 350 lots of garden sculpture and ornament including contemporary sculpture, which will be followed by The Alistair Morris Garden Collection of Garden related Implements, Art and Memorabilia sale to be sold by sealed bid, closing on Thursday 22nd May. The sale comprises approximately 1,600 items such as tools and implement, watering cans, awards and medals, books and ephemera, advertising and promotional items, paintings, artwork, novelties and games, and personal memorabilia.
The main collection covers the period of popular gardening from 1850 to 1950, but also includes rare and earlier pieces dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Formed over a 25 year period, the collection initially served as research for part of the internationally successful book Antiques from the Garden, which was first published in 1996 and then reprinted in 1998. A second edition was published in 1999 and reprinted 2001. Highlights include a wonderful and amusing painting by William Weekes (fl. 1864 –1904) entitled The Gardener's Lunch, a very rare 17th century pottery watering pot, and a leather sand bucket from the Royal Gardens at Kew circa 1830, plus a number of iconic copper watering cans dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The collection is expected to fetch a six figure sum. Amassed by Alistair Morris, who is a consultant to the Museum of Garden History (now the Garden Museum) and the National Museum of Gardening.

It is Alistair’s wish that the collection be kept together in the hope that it’s new home will inspire another generation of both gardeners and collectors.

*The clouded leopard is the most elusive of the big cats and is indigenous to the forested belt east of the Himalayas and through South East Asia and China, south of the Yangtze River. As a forest dweller, very few people have ever had the chance to see a clouded leopard in its natural habitat. Rowland Ward (1848-1912) the most celebrated of all taxidermists, operated from
premises in Piccadilly. Here, he catered to Dukes and Duchesses, the rich and famous, and sportsmen the world over. He was so successful, and his reputation so great, that following his own death in 1912, the company he founded stayed in business for another 60 years,despite the general decline in interest in taxidermy through the twentieth century. Ward himself made many
innovations in terms of taxidermy, and always maintained that a good taxidermist was not simply a craftsman but an artist.

** Two expeditions were launched to find traces of the original voyage but nothing of significance was located. From stories told by Inuits, however, rumours circulated that Franklin's ships, the Erebus and Terror had become icebound, the men had attempted to march overland and many had succumbed to the cold. Some, however, had resorted to cannibalism. This caused a scandal in Victorian Britain and in a final attempt to resolve the issue and the controversy, Lady Franklin herself sponsored a new search in a vessel called The Fox. After many hair raising adventures the ship became frozen in the Arctic Ice and the crew undertook overland marches in search of Franklin and his men. They finally discovered a cairn at Victory Point, Canada and a note that stated that Franklin had died on June 11th 1847.

Viewing times: Friday 16th to Monday 19th May 10am to 4pm and on the morning of the sale, or by appointment at Summers Place Auctions, The Walled Garden, Billingshurst, West Sussex, RH14 9AB.

The catalogue will be available a month before the sale and will be fully illustrated on the website.
For further information on the auction, please visit or call 01403 331331.
For press information, images or to interview any of the specialists,
please contact Silke Lohmann ( 07932 618754) or
Rachel Aked (