Inside Wealth

Want to buy a Jurassic fossil? You’ll need $50k


Jurassic Park comes to south England! Fossils, skulls and stuffed animals of the wild kind are to be auctioned on Tuesday with key pieces – including an 180 million years old fossil - expected to fetch thousands of dollars.

The Garden and Natural History auction, organised by Summers Place Auctions, which specialises in garden statuary and fossil decoration, will see hundreds of Natural History related lots put on the block in Billinghurst, Sussex.

But among the bones, skulls, tusks and other decorative ornaments, some key pieces, coveted for their rareness, should draw the bulk of the interest.

Summers Place Auctions

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Among the pieces going under the hammer is an extremely rare stuffed and mounted clouded leopard from the celebrated British taxidermy company Rowland Ward. While its estimated value is not amongst some of the highest - £6,000-£10,000 ($10,000-$16,800) – it is one of only a handful of fully mounted examples to have come to the market in living memory, according to the auctioneer.

This taxidermy lot, stuffed pre-1950, is one of 37 pieces auctioned from a private collection built up over the last 30 years. The anonymous collector has pledged that all proceeds from the sale of his collection will be donated to the Sue Rider cancer charity.

Summers Place Auctions

Another highlight and the most expensive item in the auction, is an Ichthyosaur stenopterygius fossil. This Jurassic deposits, "of historical importance" highlights the auction house, is around 180 million years old and in a remarkable condition. Itis expected to fetch between £20,000-£30,000 ($33,000-$50,000) .

There's also a Narwhal Sailors' Cane with silver mounting and walrus ivory top. The cane is connected to one of the great mysteries of nineteenth mystery Britain that rocked Victorian society with the rumours it generated.

The cane was given by Lady Franklin to the search group that set off to find the famous Franklin expedition. Lead by Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, the expedition, which left England in 1845 to locate and chart elusive Northwest passage, never returned and search parties never managed to find anything of significance. However, rumours started circulating that after the ships had become icebound, crew members had resorted to cannibalism to survive, which caused a huge scandal and prompted Lady Franklin to sponsor a new search.

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Summers Place Auctions

The cane was returned by the search group who had discovered a cairn at Victory point, Canada and a note that stated that Franklin had died on June 11th 1847. It has been estimated at £9,000-£12,000 ($15,000-$20,000)

To some relief for those with tighter purse strings, prices will start at £100 ($170) and include walking sticks but also an elephant foot mounted as a waste paper basket, estimated at £100-£200 ($170-$340).

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