THEY may have been frowned on in recent years as unwanted relics from an era before conservation awareness gripped the world.
But now hunting trophies are being tracked down through the nation’s auction houses as interior designers look to snap them up as the latest must-have accessories.
The stuffed heads of some the world’s most exotic creatures are now back in fashion after decades of being dismissed as relics of a time when hunters blasted their way through Africa, shooting endangered animals to near-extinction.
To cater for the demand, more than 100 trophies from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries – including tigers, lions, leopards, gazelles, deer and even a golden eagle – are being offered for auction in North Yorkshire.
The collection, assembled from 30 different owners from the north of England and further afield, are expected to fetch up to £120,000 at the Tennants auction house in Leyburn on November 24, with estimates ranging from £300 to £2,000 each.
And despite the soaring popularity of the macabre trophies, Adam Schoon, the specialist in charge of the sale, is aware the lots might not be to everyone’s taste and is quick to point out that all the lots are being sold with appropriate licences.
He said: “Life has changed and the old trophy hunters are starting to shed their collections.
“But a new breed of collector is emerging. Interior decorators – people who have never been near a gun in their lives – are snapping them up for castles, country estates, even modern houses.
“Designers are finding they look exciting in a modern interior.”
The head of a Bengal tiger, shot in Mysore, southern India, 120 years ago is estimated at between £1,000 and £1,500 – but may fetch considerably more.
Then there is the head of that Indian rhino, killed between 1900 and 1910 and preserved by renowned London taxidermist Rowland Ward. It should fetch up to £1,200.
The skull and 68in antlers of a moose shot in Canada – together with a photograph of German hunter Heinz Becker holding it – is also up for grabs, with an estimate of between £300 and £500.
The 85-inch head of a crocodile killed in Tanzania in 1966 may also be snapped up for a modest £150, and a golden eagle, killed in 1920, may fetch £350.
Dozens of other stuffed rare birds, including a scarlet ibis, also feature.
Horse-racing also features heavily in the autumn sale at Tennants and among the most sought-after lots are three pictures linked closely to John Scott, the legendary 19th century trainer.
Among the three lots is an oil painting by Harry Hall, one of the most well-regarded horse artists of his generation.
The picture features Cyprian, the winner of the 1836 Oaks which was trained by Scott and is estimated to fetch £7,000-£9,000.
The three paintings are being sold by an unnamed vendor originally from Helmsley, North Yorkshire.
He inherited them from his father, a York solicitor and a racing enthusiast.
14 November 2006
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