Taxidermy bites back: stuffed animals proving popular at auction

Taxidermy, which was long out of favour, is very much back in fashion. Spectacular examples of colonial-era taxidermy from various outposts of the British Empire attracted significant interest at Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers' "The Chatsworth Fine Art Sale" on Tuesday. An Indian tiger-skin rug with "snarling" head mount by the British Raj taxidermist, Van Ingen & Van Ingen of Mysore, which once adorned Coolavin house in Co Sligo, made €3,200. That was almost three times the top estimate (€750- €1,250) and was bought by an English collector. A rare African colobus or white-tailed monkey from a private country house in
Co Cork was bought by a Northern Irish collector who paid €3,000 (€220-€350). There's more taxidermy going under the hammer in the Adam's "Country House Collections" auction at Slane Castle, Co Meath including a semi-albino cock pheasant, estimated at €100-€200.

Fans of natural history who don't quite want to go the whole hog and can't stomach what Tennyson described as "nature, red in tooth and claw" will also find at Adam's a fascinating selection of rare books including Game Birds of India, Burmah and Ceylon by Allan Octavian Hume and Charles
HT Marshall (€250-€350); and wonderful watercolours of "native and exotic birds" by Mary Battersby, a Regency artist from Co Meath, with estimates from €600 to €2,000.