Victorian cased diorama of birds of paradise native to New Guinea – £18,000 at Tennants.

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It came from a private source and had been given a guide of £3000-5000.

The case, thought to have been made by famed taxidermist Rowland Ward of Piccadilly, was probably mounted c.1880-90, not long after some of the first scientific expeditions to New Guinea’s West Coast.

One of the specimens in this five-glass table display case standing 4ft (1.21m) high is the Paradisaea raggiana first identified in 1873 by the Italian explorer and naturalist Luigi D’Albertis and named after his friend the Marquis Raggi of Genoa.

As early as the 1880s concern was raised regarding the widespread use of exotic bird feathers in the millinery trade. From 1905-20, tens of thousands of bird of paradise ‘skins’ were exported annually to feather auctions held in London, Paris, and Amsterdam.

Impressive horns

The sale also included the dispersal of the collection from Kilberry Castle, a baronial tower house in Argyll that has been home to a branch of Clan Campbell for over 450 years.

Many of the trophies from the family collection dated from the second half of the 19th century, including the Assam water buffalo horns and skull mount which sold for £5800. The adult specimen was taken in Assam, northern India in 1852, its impressive set of horns spanning 5ft 5in (1.66m).