News & Insights

The Tinsley Skull Collection

30th April 2018.

An extraordinary collection of animal skulls is coming under the hammer at Tennants Auctioneers on 6th July, assembled over many years by Yorkshire pathologist Ellis Tinsley. Represented in the collection are a wide variety of captive-bred species from an African White Pelican to a Californian Sea Lion and examples of native species such as woodpeckers, polecats and even domestic dogs. All specimens died of natural causes.

From a young age, Dr Ellis George Frederick Tinsley (1932-2015) had set his sights on becoming a doctor and studied earnestly to accomplish his dreams. Absorbed by the natural world, he began collecting skulls in his youth, fascinated by their physiology and anatomy. After graduating from Emmanuel College, Cambridge with a degree in Natural Sciences, Ellis went on to qualify as a doctor at St Mary’s London in 1957. After working at Bishop’s Stortford, Canterbury and St James’ Leeds, where he specialised in Pathology, Ellis and his family moved to Skipton in 1969. From here he took up a consultant pathologist position as head of department at Airedale General Hospital, where he was to remain until his retirement in 1992.

Ellis’s early fascination with skulls was to endure for the rest of his life, and he built up this remarkable collection over many years. The majority of the skulls in the Tinsley Collection were sourced from zoos around the country through a veterinary friend of Ellis’, Andrew Greenwood. Greenwood is a partner at the International Zoo Veterinary Group, a freelance zoological practice established in 1976, which operates internationally from its base in West Yorkshire and acts as veterinary advisors to various conservation projects around the world.

Tennants’ specialist Robbie Bright says of the collection, ‘The variety and scope of this collection is unique, and it is sure to appeal to both specialist collectors and buyers looking for something fascinating and a little bit different.

A fully illustrated catalogue for the sale will be available on our website,, leading up to the sale, alternatively, please contact the salerooms for further details.

The sale of Specimens and Material derived from Endangered Species
All auction entries at Tennants 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.

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