The Historical Collection of Natural History and Taxidermy from Hodnet Hall was sold at Tennants Auctioneers on 15th January and achieved a remarkable 100% sold rate and a total hammer price that was almost 70% over the top estimate. Bidders from across the world joined in the live online sale to secure a piece of an extraordinary private collection with such a fascinating history.
Hodnet Hall in Shropshire has been the home of the Heber family for centuries. The collection of Natural History and Taxidermy dates from the early 1870s to the 1930s and was amassed by several generations of the family on frequent expeditions around the world, many of which were detailed in written accounts and photograph albums, which were lent to Tennants and reproduced in the catalogue with kind permission of the Heber-Percy family. Amongst an extraordinary litany of voyages around the world were two hunting trips made by Algernon Heber Percy (1845-1911) and his wife Alice to Canada in 1877 and 1878, and numerous voyages taken by Hugh Lewis Heber-Percy (1853-1925) to Australia, Africa, India, the Far East and beyond. Read more about the voyages.
The family’s trophies were preserved by leading London taxidermists, as well as those local to the family seat in Shropshire, and were originally displayed in pride of place in the main hall. Following the use of Hodnet Hall as a convalescent home for wounded officers in the First World War, the trophies were given a new home in the stables. The stables were later turned into a tearoom to visitors to the spectacular gardens at the hall, where the trophies have amazed visitors for years. Now the restaurant is due to be refurbished and modernised, the trophies need to find new home.
The top lot of the sale was a Monumental Cased Diorama of Australian Marsupials, Animals, Birds and Reptiles, circa 1892 by Rowland Ward. An extraordinary example of the famous taxidermist’s work, the case measured nearly 2.5m wide and sold for £25,000 (plus buyer’s premium). Further impressive cased dioramas that topped the sale included a diorama of Birds Native to Australia attributed to Rowland Ward, which sold for £17,000 against an estimate of £4,500-6,500.
Further notable results included a full mount North American Black Bear (circa 1877), stood holding on to a tree trunk that sold for £6,500, and a Kashmir Deer or Hangul (circa 1887) by Rowland Ward that sold for £4,000.
The sale achieved a total hammer price of £171,050 with a 100% sold rate.
All auction entries are sold strictly in accordance with CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) regulations, and any necessary licences or Pre-sale approvals are obtained from Animal Health, Bristol.