It was an exemplary and (being female) rare example of the passenger pigeon which once darkened North American skies as it migrated in its billions. Centuries of hunting and habitat loss resulted in the last of its species dying in a Cincinnati zoo in 1914.
The bird offered among the taxidermy section of the March 21 sale at Billingshurst was shot in the mid 19th century and is now mounted in a 20in (50cm) wide, 20th century case. Estimated at £4000-6000, it sold to a UK collector at £8000.
The following day’s sealed-bids sale at Summers Place also offered taxidermy, led by a c.1900 mixed case of vividly coloured tropical birds in a 2ft 7in (79cm) tall glass dome.
Against an estimate of £2500-4000, it sold to a Continental collector at £12,500.
Kiwi bought by European
A kiwi, happily still extant in the wild, though in serious need of protection, was a major attraction at the latest specialist taxidermy sale held by Tennants (20%) buyer’s premium).
A 12in (30cm) tall Northern Brown Kiwi was dated as late Victorian and its poor condition, signified by the catalogue caveat a/f, led to a £150-250 estimate.
There was no interest from New Zealand in it at the Leyburn saleroom in North Yorkshire on March 2, but a considerable amount from the UK and the Continent emerged, and the kiwi sold to a European collector at £2900.