Working from his landmark shop in Leamington Spa during the late Victorian and the Edwardian era, Spicer consistently produced cases of the highest quality admired for their naturalistic poses and settings.
The only Spicer cases that show animals posed in human activities and imbued with human characteristics are a mount made as a tribute to Walter Potter’s famous tableau The Death of Cock Robin and this pair of pugilistic badger cubs.
Purchased by the vendor at auction in the 1970s for £21, the 2ft 7in (78cm) case depicts the two (now slightly faded) mammals going glove-to-glove against the backdrop of grasses, bracken and a finely painted woodland scene.
Spicer’s trademark, a large pebble carrying a painted signature, appears in the foreground to the floor of the case.
Anthropomorphic taxidermy – the macabre 19th century craze that was popular with Queen Victoria herself – has a narrow but dedicated 21st century collecting base.
Offered at Tennants’ Natural History and Taxidermy sale in Leyburn on June 14 with an estimate of £3000-5000, the ‘Boxing Badgers’ sold to a UK private collector at £14,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium).