From the outside, it's an unremarkable industrial warehouse, home to Duke's Auction House. But the stench of turpentine marks it out from the other buildings on the Grove Industrial Estate in Dorchester, Dorset. It's the first clue that inside lurks a haven of Victorian taxidermy.Today's auction--marking the dispersal of the Brading Experience, a former museum on the Isle of Wight in England and handled by Duke's auction house in Dorset--will also include scores of waxworks featured at the museum for decades, among them "a waxwork of a whitehaired tramp wearing loose fitting rags" and "a half-length waxwork of a torso with a knife plunged into his chest," not to mention the epic taxidermy you see above, and much, much more.
Step in, and you'll see a Bengali tiger on its hind legs, 8ft tall, lunging claws-first (and canines first) towards you. Behind him is a peacock, glorious tail splayed behind it.
To the right are three zebras, a camel, baby rhinoceros and seven lions, the lioness twisted on the ground, sinking her incisors into a bloodied antelope. All in all, there are 250 animals, many of which are the treasures of an eccentric 19th-century professor and explorer.
Elsewhere are grotesque figures: shrunken monkey heads on spikes, Siamese lambs conjoined at the head, a velvet coffin with the body of a 16-year-old Congolese boy (complete with an elephant's head stitched to his corpse), and dozens of glass-eyed waxworks with liver- spotted skin or daggers plunging into their chests.
Oh, and a blue dress once worn by Princess Diana.
The above quote and images are from the Daily Mail, which featured a well-illustrated article about the auction; You can read the full article--"Yetis, unicorns and even flying kittens: Inside the worlds zaniest zoo"--by clicking here. You can view the entire catalog of sale items--prepare to be astounded!--here. You can find out more about Duke's auction house by clicking here.
Wish I lived in England right now...
P.S. If this topic interests you, then you won't want to miss tonight's lecture by Robert Marbury at the Coney Island Museum, entitled "A Rogue’s Approach to Stuffing It: Taxidermy in Contemporary Pop, Art and Sub-Cultures" at 7:00 PM! Click here for details.