It’s not unusual to find strange items coming up for auction. Just look at the weird things that have come up for sale in the 20-year history of eBay, like Justin Timberlake’s half-eaten French toast or Mayor Rob Ford’s crack-confessing tie. Thankfully, in the world of antique auctions, the strange and unexpected are classified as such for their rare and extraordinary value.
Dinosaurs are becoming quite the attraction of late. From a wooly mammoth to a cave bear and sabre tooth tiger, if it’s dinosaurs you’re looking for, then the Summers Place Evolution Auction is just the place to find them.
This year on November 25th, the headliner for the Evolution auction will be the Allosaurus, the first predatory dinosaur skeleton to be sold in Great Britain. The Allosaurus date back to the late Jurassic Period, about 155 to 145 million years ago, and were one of the biggest of their kind. This particular specimen measures over 9 feet in length and is expected to fetch anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million.
The director at Summers Place Auctions, Rupert van der Werff says: "We are pleased to be offering this skeleton to our global customers, and expect a lot of European and Asian interest in this. The Allosaurus, together with the T-Rex, has become the quintessentially large, carnivorous dinosaur in western popular culture. Given the size of this Allosaurus it also adds the cute factor and it may not just attract interest from museums, but could also be the wow factor in a luxurious living room."
That would have to be a very luxurious living room indeed!
The Largest Private Ventriloquist Dummy Collection
When you’ve been collecting for as long as Dan Willinger, it’s not easy breaking up your prized collection, especially when the objects in question stare back at you as if to say, "How could you!"
But as life would have it, circumstances left Willinger with no choice and after a painful decision, he’s parted ways with all but seven dolls from his collection of 250 ventriloquist dummies.
It’s an extensive collection that would impress historians and collectors alike, with several of the puppets falling into the true antique category. Topping the bill, though, for those of you in the know, are three George and Glenn McElroy dolls with provenance, and 60 Frank Marshall characters. Each dummy is expected to fetch $200 to $300 each, and $2,000 to $3,000 for the more valued ones, with a few rarities valued at $20,000.
The first half of this auction took place on September 26, and the following one on October 25, 2015 at Crown Auctions in New Hampshire.
The Magnificent Blue Moon Diamond
Sotheby’s auctions are known for setting world records, and the next Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction will be no exception. The headliner for this show is the very rare Blue Moon diamond, an exceptional beauty that will make auction history as the largest cushion-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond to hit the auction block.
David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division, commented: "The tremendous excitement last year over the discovery of a 29.62-carat blue rough diamond at the Cullinan mine in South Africa has now been proved to have been totally justified. Weighing in at 12.03 carats, the ‘Blue Moon’ diamond is a simply sensational stone of perfect colour and purity, combined with a superb cushion shape. Blue, for me, is the most mysterious and magical of all the colours of diamond, and the Blue Moon will now take its place among the most famous gems in the world."
This exceptional rare gem took more than six months to cut and shape into the exquisite cushion-shape – a job you should only trust to the professionals. Now the diamond weighs 12.03 carats. It has been classified as internally flawless by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and given the highest possible colour grading of any blue diamond in existence. It is estimated to fetch $35-55 million at auction in Geneva on November 11th.
Diamond in the Rough
From million-dollar diamonds to million-dollar paintings, and a remarkable find in a London flat of a work by South Africa’s foremost artist, Irma Stern. Valued at $2 million, the painting was casually hanging on the kitchen wall, covered in notes and reminders like a common-or-garden bulletin board.
The piece has an extraordinary provenance, starting with Nelson Mandela. The painting, entitled Arab in Black was used to fund Mandela’s legal defence in the 1950s. The unusual frame comes from one of the ornate antique door cases from Zanzibar, where Stern worked during the 30s and 40s. Stern used these kinds of frames for her most precious works, and thankfully so, as it is perfectly preserved and has been saved from its former, inglorious role as kitchen notice board.
The painting sold for $1,671,805 at Bonham’s South African Sale on September 9th.
Just For Fun
If you’re into surrealist art or if you’re a big fan of Pink Floyd, then take notice! The famous eyes, designed by Storm Thorgerson, went on sale on October 13th at Summers Place Auctions. These eyes stand 6 foot high, 3 foot wide, and weigh 50 kg each. They are one of ten pairs designed for Pink Floyd’s DVD, Pulse, and are expected to fetch $12,000-$16,000.