Summers Place Auctions sells Emmen Zoo's Natural History Collection

15/06/2016     Natural History

Summers Place Auctions sells Emmen Zoo's Natural History Collection in white glove sale

Summers Place Auctions sold the Natural History Museum collection of the Emmen Zoo on
Tuesday, 7th June 2016. The whole collection from the zoo based in northern Holland sold
for over £240,000 – every single lot sold making this a white glove sale.
The highlight was the duck-billed dinosaur, Harpocrasaurus stibengi, called “Freya”,
which sold for £95,000 (hammer/ £120,800 including premium and VAT). It was bought in
the sale room on behalf of a private client and had been estimated at £50,000 – 80,000.
Almost as big as a T-Rex, it lived 75 to 67 million years ago and was discovered in North
America. It is around 7.5m long and 3 m high and would have weighed about 4 tonnes. It
was a bipedal/quadrupedal herbivore and is virtually complete.
A rare Hoplophoneus, a sabre-toothed cat, sold for £32,000(h/ £41,600 incl.) to a
telephone bidder. It had been estimated at £5,000 – 8,000 and is part of an extinct group
of predatory mammals that were characterized by their long, curved sabre-shaped canine
teeth. These large teeth extended from the mouth even when it was closed and the
animals were found worldwide from the Eocene epoch to the end of the Pleistocene epoch
11,000 years ago. The new owner is intending to lend the cat to a museum.
The skeleton of the progenitor of today's horses the Eohippus, Early Eocene epoch,
found in North America and much smaller than today's horse, carried an estimate of
£4,000 – 6,000, but sold to a telephone bidder for £20,000 (h/ £26,000 incl.).
Rupert van der Werff, Summers Place Auctions specialist says: “Owing to the relocation of
the zoo, we were able to offer this collection on a no reserve basis with the exception of
some of the top lots. The sale did, however, prove that there is a competitive market in
Natural History now as most lots sold for top or above estimate. Most pieces went to
private buyers, but several of them have indicated that they intend to loan their purchases
to museums.”
An extremely rare bird fossil from the well know Green River formation in
Wyoming sold for £12,500 (h/ £16,250 incl.) to a telephone bidder – over four times its
top estimate.
A rare Hyrachyus skeleton from the Eocene and probably from South Dakota sold for
£10,500 (h/£13,650) in the room (est £5,000 – 8,000) and a Brontotherium
magacerops skull sold for £10,000 (h/ £13,000 incl/ est.£2,000- 3,000).
An exceptionally rare fossil Orthacanthus shark (est £1,000 – 1,500) sold for £4,500. A
rare fossilised bird mounted skeleton which is only 15.5 cm high sold for £3,200 just over
top estimate. While a rare Palaeochiropteryx bat fossil sold for £5,500 (est £1,000 –
The museum collection of 180 lots was formed during the 1980’s and early 1990’s and has
some remarkable specimens, some of which can no longer be bought outside their country
of origin. Estimates ranged from as little as £30 with many lots not carrying a reserve price
and so the sale saw a lot of interest, especially from new buyers.
The sale started on a high with the first lot, a fossil Pecten plaque from the Miocene,
selling to a telephone bidder for £2,300 (hammer against an estimate of £800 - 1,200).
Smaller items did very well with a fossilised crab from Italy, Miocene, selling on the
telephone for £4,000 – 16 times its high estimate. A rare ancient jellyfish fossil from
Nevada sold for £1,000 against an estimate of £80-120.
Errol Fuller, Summers Place Auctions' Natural History curator, says: “I am delighted that so
many people realised their chance to buy something remarkable from this comprehensive
collection. The result speaks for itself. There has been an interest in Natural History in the
higher end of the market as well as in the lower one and it may have been the stepping
stone for many new collectors.”
The zoo was originally founded in 1935 and as its needs evolved it has gone through
several expansion programmes, notably in the 1970’s and most recently with the move to
the new Wildlands centre which opened this March. Sadly the museum no longer fitted in
with the new aims of the centre, which as well as being a major visitor attraction has had
considerable success in its breeding programmes of Indian elephants amongst others.
For further information on the auction, please visit or call 01403 331331.
For press information or images please contact Silke Lohmann
( 07932 618754).