Will bidders shell out for world’s largest egg?

One of the world’s largest eggs, over a foot in length and laid by the now extinct elephant bird, is currently up for sale at Curated Auctions, going under the hammer on December 8 in its auction Objects of Wonder: Including Relics of Extinct Beasts.

The gigantic elephant bird towered over other birds at 10 feet high, weighed half a tonne and laid eggs up to 100 times larger than the average hen’s egg. It is thought that the elephant bird became extinct around 1200 but was certainly extinct by 1700.

The egg has an estimate of £4,000-£6,000, but other examples have realised as much as £100,000 at auction depending on the condition.

In the same auction is a genuine and very rare T. Rex tooth, estimated to realise between £10,000 and £15,000. Meaning ‘Tyrant Lizard King’, Tyrannosaurus rex is perhaps the most immediately recognisable and iconic of the dinosaurs. Its popularity being catapulted by its depiction in the 1993 film Jurassic Park. In October 2020, the T. Rex skeleton known as Stan sold for $31,847,500 – the highest price ever achieved for a fossil, which goes to show how highly sought-after specimens of T. Rex are and specimens of this quality are rarely offered for sale.

The sale also includes relics of extinct beasts such as dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, giant Irish elks, megalodon sharks, cave bears, woolly rhinoceros, and numerous extinct birds. The most iconic of all extinct creatures must be the dodo, and the sale includes three dodo bones, all certified as genuine by the world- renowned expert, Errol Fuller, which range in price from £1,200 to £2,000.  Dodo bones very rarely come on to the open market, and the privileged private collectors who own them are very few. A dodo bone from the collection of Viktor Wynd sold in 2021 for £5,000, and Christie’s sold a full Dodo skeleton from another collection for nearly half a million pounds in 2019. The bones in this auction come from a UK-based private collector, who was also the source of the dodo bone that Viktor Wynd sold in 2021 and as far as we know, his small collection of bones are the only ones to come on to the open market since 1934.

A number of extinct bird feathers have been consigned for sale from the same collection – these include the passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet and the ivory billed woodpecker. This auction represents a rare opportunity to acquire these relics from creatures that are gone forever.

As well as these star lots, the auction features over 300 lots of taxidermy, curiosities, natural history and objects of the Wunderkammer (German for ‘room of wonder’ and based on the idea of having a collection of naturalia (items created by the earth and items drawn from nature), mirabilia (unusual natural phenomena), artificialia (items wrought by man), ethnographica (items from the wider world), scientifica (items that brought a great understanding of the universe) and artefacta (items relating to history).

Commenting on the unusual sale, specialist and founder of Curated Auctions, Rachael Osborn-Howard, said: “I am so excited to present these exceptional items to the public, and this auction offers buyers a very rare chance to own a piece of true natural history, sourced from across the world. From the Madagascan elephant bird to the Mauritian dodo, from the T. rex tooth excavated in the US, to the woolly mammoth bones dredged from the North Sea, this collection of diverse objects will surely inspire wonder and awe, just as the original collector’s cabinets did.”

Simon ‘the stuffa’ Wilson is a celebrated taxidermist famed for preserving the favourite horse of The Apprentice celebrity Luisa Zissman last year. The auction features a number of his works, including a magnificent full mount taxidermy polar bear, a ‘floating’ bear on balloons and other incredible creatures. Wilson is one of the most famous taxidermists, having produced the star lot of the Aynhoe Park sale in 2021; a taxidermy giraffe floating to the sky on a bunch of balloons; which realised a record-breaking sum of £100,000 at auction. Wilson’s taxidermy and animatronic works of art have featured in numerous film and television productions, and he sources animals that have died from natural causes from zoos and farms. The polar bear carries an estimate of £12,000 – 18,000.