Birds of a feather at Tennants

Tennants Auctioneers recent Natural History and Taxidermy sale realised high prices for works by Victorian taxidermists Henry Ward and his son Rowland Ward.

Taxidermy at TennantsThe Natural History and Taxidermy sale comprised of 313 lots and reached a hammer total of £89,510, achieving a high selling rate of 91%. This strong section included several private collections, all contributing to the successful sale results; one particular collection of exceptional cased specimens, accounted for 11 of the top 25 results in the whole sale.

Robbie Bright, specialist cataloguer, commented, “The cases from this local private collection had been passed through the family but had remained in situ in a private museum, as they passed down through the generations. Overall they were in an excellent state of preservation and had certainly not been seen on the market before.”

Among them were cases by renowned taxidermist Rowland Ward (1848-1912), who left school aged fourteen, to work for his father and from there became a marvel in his own right, harnessing the advances of the Victorian era to develop and progress his international taxidermy company. Having received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria, Rowland Ward continued to carry out taxidermy on birds, big game trophies and develop novelty furniture and decorative household items. The social elite across the world were using his services and his creations are often seen as a natural history record of rare or unusual species, as well as decorative objects of social history. It is therefore no surprise that items by this renowned taxidermist
command extra interest at auction, resulting in strong hammer prices.

Great Bustards (Otis tarda), reached a hammer total of £3,100 and a rare pair of full mount Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), India, reached a hammer total of £2,500. Both items have gone to private collectors in the UK. The top lot of the sale, however, came from Rowland’s father, Henry Ward (1812-1878), in the form of two adult full mounts of Eurasian.

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