A stuffed New Zealand kiwi bird which was found in a hoarder’s garage has sold for $4,580 at auction – more than 70 times its estimate.
The unusual piece of taxidermy was only expected to fetch £50 after it was discovered gathering dust between old cars parts and a motorbike. Auctioneers found the bird in a converted garage in Reading, Berks., after it had traveled 11,426 across the globe from New Zealand.
It’s believed it could have been brought back to Britain by a wealthy UK traveler during Victorian times when taxidermy became popular. The kiwi was sold by Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbys., with a guide price of between £50-£60 on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
Following bids from all over the world – including America and Australia – the hammer finally fell at £2,750. The total paid, with premium, by a private UK online buyer was £3,608.
“It was an astonishing result for an ancient feathered friend found in a makeshift garage converted from a coal shed. I came across the bird during a visit to a hoarder’s property in Reading, Berkshire. It didn’t even have a working kitchen. The kiwi was perched between old cars parts and a motorbike. It was in remarkable condition considering it had no cover to protect it,” said Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons.
“It went to auction with a modest estimate but winged its way to glory thanks to its scarcity value. We have sold numerous examples of antique taxidermy at Hansons but I have never seen a kiwi before. The discovery came about through a Derby client who instructed Hansons to carry out the house clearance. She was thrilled by the result,” he added.
“It’s an unusual find because the kiwi is a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand. It’s an iconic national symbol of the country. New Zealanders are known as Kiwis. Exactly how this particular bird travelled 11,426 across the world to the UK remains a mystery. I suspect it may have been brought back by a wealthy British traveler, perhaps from a Grand Tour of the world in Victorian times. It may have been inherited or purchased at auction many years ago,” explained Hanson.
“The Victorians made the art of taxidermy popular. They were enthralled by mementos of exotic travel. Taxidermy was seen as a physical display of knowledge, wealth and artistry. Decades before TV or internet, taxidermy offered a way to see and study creatures from afar. The rarity is enhanced because the kiwi is listed as vulnerable. There are five recognized species of the bird and all have been affected by deforestation,” he continued.
“However, kiwis are no longer hunted. The New Zealand Māori traditionally believed kiwi were under the protection of Tāne Mahuta, god of the forest. They were used as food and their feathers for ceremonial cloaks. Today, while kiwi feathers are still used, they are gathered from birds that die naturally and some Māori consider themselves the birds’ guardians angels,” said Hanson.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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