Bronze horse from Camden market at auction of forgotten Victorian taxidermy

Monumental bronze horse from Camden Market

Monumental bronze horse from Camden Market - Credit: Archant

Garden ornaments don’t come much quirkier than the monumental bronze horse, which is up for auction with an estimate of £20,000-£30,000.

Barker Taxidermy collection

Barker Taxidermy collection - Credit: Archant

The horse was part of the decoration at Camden market in the 1980s and 1990s but was removed when the area it was in was redeveloped so comes with some nice local history attached.

In fact the draw of the Camden market name means the horse has bronze siblings spread throughout the world, according to Summers Place Auctions director Rupert van der Werff.

“We’ve sold a number of bronzes from the market in the past, which we’ve done surprisingly well with.

“We’ve sold them across the world: Asia, North America as well as domestically. It’s nice that they’ve got a history and Camden market is obviously a well known place. “They’re not just an anonymous work of art and it’s given people a chance to buy them rather than just getting scrapped.”

A case containing two toucans and an assortment of Australian parrots and pittas, �600-1,000

A case containing two toucans and an assortment of Australian parrots and pittas, �600-1,000 - Credit: Archant

If you prefer your ornamental creatures with a more furry finish, a forgotten hoard of Victorian taxidermy is also up for auction.

Untouched and forgotten in a Yorkshire basement since the 1970s, The Barker Collections consists of 80 lots by some of the best Victorian taxidermists.

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With the return to fashion of the form, the owner rediscovered the specimens and decided to sell to a new wave of enthusiasts.

“Mr Barker bought two existing collections in the 70s, put them in a room and forgot about them,” says van der Werff.

A case of whooper swans by Hibbs of Ollerton, �800-1,200

A case of whooper swans by Hibbs of Ollerton, �800-1,200 - Credit: Archant

“They were left in a big old Victorian manor house in the lower ground floor. It was the perfect place for taxidermy because there wasn’t any natural light and it was cold.

Heat and moths are the two biggest dangers to taxidermy.

The pieces are almost as good as new thanks to having been left alone and this is reflected in the £1,000-£1,500 estimates for some of the very best items, although some pieces will have starting prices closer to a tenth of that.

“They were all done for one family who lived in Yorkshire and stayed in that house until there was a house sale in 1973,” explains van der Werff.

“They were bought by Mr Barker and so have only really moved once from that house to Mr Barker’s house in 120 years, which goes a long way towards explaining why they are in such good condition.

“I’m not going to say an opportunity like this is completely unique but it’s unlikely that we’ll come across another collection quite like this, because who fills a room with taxidermy and then forgets about it?”