Second Evolution Sale

9/07/2017     Latest News

Second Evolution Sale
Second Evolution Sale to take place at Summers Place Auctions in November 2014

Some of the rarest extinct species will be included in the sale.

The sale of “Misty”, the Diplodocus, in the inaugural Evolution Sale last November put Summers Place Auctions firmly on the map for all buyers interested in Natural History, whether for educational or decorative purposes. The second Evolution Sale will take place in the Sussex auction room on Wednesday, 26th November 2014.

The team of experts have already signed up some exquisite highlights for the November sale, including extinct birds' eggs and taxidermy, a distinct collection of fossils from the famous Holzmaden location and some unusual taxidermy.

Errol Fuller, curator of the Evolution sale, is particularly excited about the egg of an Elephant Bird (Aepyornis) included in sale, he says: “ I have written several books on extinct birds and the Elephant Bird has always been particularly fascinating. The egg of one of these birds is simply a miracle, it's over a foot in length (30 cm) and larger than any known dinosaur egg. In fact it is the
largest egg ever recorded and engineers have calculated that structurally and functionally it is impossible for an egg to be any larger.”

To put it into perspective the Elephant Bird egg is big enough to hold the contents of 7 ostrich eggs, 100 chicken eggs, or 12,000 hummingbird eggs. Extinct for some 500 years, the Elephant Bird lived only in Madagascar and looked like a gigantic ostrich, but was much heavier and more ponderous. Rare, intact examples of the eggs of this great wonder of the avian world are among
the most prized of all natural history trophies. This egg is estimated to fetch £30,000 - £50,000.

Although only extinct for 100 years, the Passenger Pigeon has become one of the great icons of extinction – on a par with the Dodo, Woolly Mammoth and Tyrannosaur. It is probably unimaginable to us, that a bird which is now completely extinct, existed in billions upon billions at the start of the nineteenth century. It is assumed that the species made up as much as 40 percent of the bird population of North America and may even have been the most numerous bird species on the planet.

It's been recorded that flocks were so large and dense they blackened skies and blotted out the sun. For reasons yet unknown, the birds were gone from the wild by the end of the century, the bird had simply vanished. Some survived in captivity, but the last one, called Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo on the 1st September of 1914 – exactly 100 years ago. Only a few stuffed
examples remain and the example included in the sale is also a female and in remarkably good condition, it was prepared around 1860 and is estimated at £4,000 - £6,000.

Another taxidermy lot which will create great interest, is one of Rowland Ward's famous body illusion works – the front part of a tiger in a characteristic bamboo-framed display case (circa 1890) is estimated at £7,000-£10,000. The idea seems to have been pioneered by Ward (perhaps even invented) during the 1890s for well-heeled customers, who could afford more than just a
head, but didn't really have the space for a full-bodied stuffed animal.

For painters, as much as for taxidermists, the head is the most important focus as it gives the creature immediacy. With the help of strategically placed foliage and the creation of an optical mystery, the head, shoulders and front limbs of a tiger or lion concealed the fact that most of the animal was missing. Amongst these types of taxidermy, Ward's are the most sought after. Errol Fuller's latest book, Voodoo Salon, gives an excellent insight into all the different forms of

Other taxidermy lots of interest, are a stuffed ostrich (est. £3,000 - £5,000) and kangaroo (est. £1,000 - £2,000) and a unicorn, which was made from a horse and a narwhal tusk by Simon Wilson of Animatronic Animals (est. £5,000 - £8,000). In addition, there are several lots of decorative taxidermy art.

Interesting skeletons include an extinct New Zealand moa, a flightless bird, which seems to have died out by 1400 CE (est. £70,000 - £90,000), the skeleton of an extinct cave bear (est. £15,000 - £20,000) and an ostrich skeleton (£5,000 - £8,000).

Over 50 lots from a private German collection of fossils are also included in the sale. Although mainly from the celebrated German fossil location at Holzmaden and Solnhofen, there are also ten lots of Carl Ullrich-prepared Eocene fish fossils from Green River, Wyoming. Amongst the Holzmaden highlights are a particularly unusual Ichthyosaur, which has been
preserved lying on its stomach, not its side, and is almost 150 cm long. It carries an estimate of £8,000 - £12,000. An Ichthyosaur head and foreparts (est. £7,000 - £9,000) and a magnificent Ichthyosaur Communis 53 cm high head (est. £7,000 - £9,000) are also included – all are early Jurassic.

The collection includes several Crinoids in excellent condition, but there is also an outstanding Jurassic Sea Lily plaque from Holzmaden of 50cm by 39 cm, which is estimated at £6,000 – £10,000 and a rare example, which featured some fossilised wood (Pentecrinus subangularis), which Crinoids were believed to attached themselves to (est. £4,000 - £6,000). There are also
several Ammonite plaques included, but an early Jurassic one with applied Holzmaden Ichthyosaur vertrebrae does stand out and is estimated at £4,000 – 6,000. An exceptionally rare and large positive and negative impression of a dragonfly from Solnhofen is estimated to sell for £3,000 - £5,000.

The highlight amongst the Wyoming lots is a Priscacara fish plaque with an estimate of £1,500 - £2,500 and another Priscacara plate from the same location, which is also known as an asphyxiation plate as the overlying predator specimen appears to be eating the lower prey fish (est. £2,000 - £3,000).

Rupert van der Werff, Summers Place's specialist for the sale, says: “We are really pleased with the variety and quality of lots we have already signed up for our November sale. We expect to get even more assignments over the next couple of months, promising to make our second Evolution sale truly spectacular. It will cater for collectors and museums, as well as anyone looking for some stunning feature pieces in their home.”

Viewing times: Friday 21st to Tuesday 25th November 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).

Notes to editors:
Summers Place Auctions are the world's leading auctioneers of Garden Statuary and fossil decoration. The sales are held in the new award winning 5000sq ft gallery nestling within 6 acres of walled gardens and the arboretum of the Victorian mansion, Summers Place. Their specialist sales of Sculpture and Design for the House and Garden in May and October include examples of the finest garden ornaments. Regular Natural History sales are also taking place with the main sale in November.

Errol Fuller is the curator for the second Evolution sale. He was instrumental in setting up the first sale last year with the sale of 'Misty', the Diplodocus. Errol is a renowned natural history authority and author of several books on extinct species and birds of paradise, including a recent book, co-authored with Sir David Attenborough (Drawn from Paradise) and his latest book Voodoo
Salon is an in-depth introduction to taxidermy. He has curated several exhibitions, including the acclaimed Lost Worlds Exhibition in 2004 in Qatar. Errol is also chairman of the Natural History vetting committees of the leading London Antiques Fairs.

Passenger Pigeon (est. £4,000 - £6,000)
An Ichthyosaur head and foreparts (est. £7,000 - £9,000)
Kangaroo (est. £1,000 - £2,000)
Rowland Ward tiger (£7,000 - £10,000)
Ichthyosaur (£8,000 – £12,000)
Positive and negative impression of a dragonfly (£3,000 - £5,000)
Ammonite with Holzmaden Ichthyosaur vertrebrae (£4,000 – 6,000)
Priscacara fish plaque (£2,000 - £3,000)
Crinoid (£6,000 – £10,000)

Forthcoming Sales:
21st October – Sculpture & Design for the House and Garden live sale
22nd October – Sculpture & Design for the House and Garden sealed bid sale
26th November – Evolution live sale