Taxidermy & Natural History

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.


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Fur flies in taxidermy oddity

24 June 2019

‘Boxing Badgers’ is one of just two known occasions when the celebrated taxidermist Peter Spicer (1839-1935) ventured into the strange world of the anthropomorphic tableau.

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Pick of the week: Heavyweight bid as Aztec mosaic made of feathers sells to Paris museum

03 June 2019

A remarkable example of 16th century cross-culture art – a feather ‘mosaic’ picture made in Mexico for Christian conquerors – has been purchased at auction by the Musée du Quai Branly.

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Dodo skeleton pieced together by 19th century naturalist features among specimens of extinction at Christie’s auction

29 April 2019

A near-complete dodo skeleton found and assembled in the 19th century features in Christie’s Science and Natural History sale next month.

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We’re back: Skeleton of rediscovered dinosaur species exhibited in Heathrow Airport before going up for auction in France

08 April 2019

A 155m-year-old one-of-a-kind diplodocus skeleton has been moved from the shale beds of Wyoming to Heathrow Terminal Five, a stopover on its way to auction in France.

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Fairs form a natural approach to source stock

18 February 2019

Two owners of antiques and vintage businesses who buy extensively from fairs and markets in the UK are showcased here.

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No, it isn’t a huge carrot…

18 February 2019

It’s not every day you see an auctioneer holding a 5ft 6in (1.67m) long sperm whale penis. Then again, it’s not every day that you see the sort of lots that are offered in Sworders’ Out of the Ordinary auction.

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Auctioneers offer golden oldies

10 December 2018

Illustrated here are some of the oldest lots ever auctioned – three in the Evolution Sale at on November 20 at Summers Place Auctions (25/20% buyer’s premium) of Billingshurst, West Sussex, and the other from Fonsie Mealy (23% buyer’s premium inc VAT) of Castlecomer, Ireland, in a sale held on the same day.

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Previews: £30,000 plus

12 November 2018

Our weekly selection from salerooms and dealerships.

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Getting stuffed is a good move for auctioneers

15 October 2018

Taxidermy, having emerged in a few years from a dusty, rather unseemly subject to a rostrum hot topic, continues to flourish across the country.

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Bird brains: saleroom sells large African taxidermy dioramas

13 August 2018

As both a collecting and a decorating sphere, taxidermy is one of the major growth areas over the past decade.

Dinosaur skeleton at Aguttes auction

Skeleton of new species of dinosaur brings 30-minute bidding battle

09 June 2018

Three bidders – one French, one Japanese and one Swedish – did battle for half an hour in the chase to acquire the skeleton of a new species of carnivorous dinosaur at a Paris auction this month.

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Poor passenger pigeon finds a new nest

02 April 2018

With species extermination very much in the news following the death of the world’s last male northern white rhino, there was added poignancy to a cased and stuff bird offered at Summers Place Auctions (25% buyer’s premium).

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A mermaid at auction? Half mammal-half fish creation in demand at Sworders’ Out of the Ordinary sale

19 February 2018

This late 19th century ‘natural history’ specimen purports to be the mummified body of a creature that was half mammal and half fish.

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Taxidermy is hot stuff in Shropshire

05 February 2018

Henry Shaw (1812-87) is a well-known name in the world of antique taxidermy.

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Hey bulldog: Saatchi buy has less sale bite

08 January 2018

Renowned as he is for promoting – indeed, creating – markets in art, advertising mogul Charles Saatchi appears to have over-estimated the taxidermy market when bidding at the sale of the Will Fisher Collection at Christie’s South Kensington in February 2012.

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Mammoth skeleton bid to €430,000 at auction in France

22 December 2017

A rare complete mammoth skeleton from Siberia dating from the late Pleistocene era sold for a hammer price of €430,000 (£380,530) in a sale held by Aguttes in Lyons.

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Narwhal’s twisted appeal

02 October 2017

Narwhal tusks, once sold for colossal sums to Elizabethan gentleman as unicorn horns, continue to be in demand as sculptural natural history objects of contemplation.

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A Spicer terrier with a tale

02 October 2017

Early to spot the rise of interest in taxidermy, Tennants’ (18.5% buyer’s premium) latest Natural History sale on September 20 was led by a top-quality diorama with a back story adding to its appeal.

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Burdett whale tooth sets scrimshaw record in US sale

25 July 2017

In an August 2016 ATG wrote that the scrimshaw market had been in the doldrums but was showing signs of a return to buoyancy. Judging by the latest results from Massachusetts auction house Eldred’s, bidders are certainly prepared to push the boat out for the best examples.

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Salmon cast reeled in at Mitchells

08 May 2017

Catch of the day at Cockermouth auctioneers Mitchells’ (20% buyer’s premium) sporting sale on April 8 was a cast of a salmon. The 48lb fish, cast by Mallochs of Perth, was estimated at £1800-2000 but was reeled in by a Scottish enthusiast at £5200.

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