The recent reports of the Madagascar pochard on the brink of extinction makes this anniversary even more poignant. The 1st September 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Martha, the Passenger Pigeon, and the extinction of her entire species.You may not even have heard of Passenger Pigeons, but they once made up about 40% of the North American bird population and may even have been the most numerous bird species on the planet. It is probably unimaginable to us, that a bird which is now completely extinct, existed in billions upon billions at the start of the nineteenth century. It’s been recorded that flocks were so large and dense they blackened skies and blotted out the sun. Yet, by 1909, there were only two of them left and both were in captivity.
Martha, a resident of Cincinnati Zoo was the last of its kind and died exactly 100 years ago on the 1st September 1914. 100 years later, the tale of the Passenger Pigeon is a vital reminder of the fragility of the natural world and the tremendous impact man can have on the environment and the animals that share natural spaces with us.
Summers Place Auctions will be able to offer a Passenger Pigeon in the second Evolution Sale on 26th November 2014. Although only extinct for 100 years, the Passenger Pigeon has become one of the great icons of extinction – on a par with the Dodo, Woolly Mammoth and Tyrannosaur. Only a few stuffed examples remain and the one included in the sale is also a female and in remarkably good condition, it was prepared around 1860 and is estimated at £4,000 – £6,000. It is a rare opportunity to buy such a good example of one of these extinct birds.
To mark this sombre anniversary, Errol Fuller, the leading extinction scholar, is launching his latest book, The Passenger Pigeon, which provides a visual and literary celebration of the life of this species and a full account of its demise. Errol Fuller (author of Lost Animals, Dodo) presents a beautifully illustrated celebration of and memorial to Martha and her ilk. Drawing on illustrations, photographs, specimens, poems, ornithological journal articles, and historical accounts, Fuller creates a complete natural history of the passenger pigeon.
About the Author: Errol Fuller is an acclaimed artist and writer, and a world authority on bird and animal extinction. His many books include Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record (Princeton), Extinct Birds, and Dodo: From Extinction to Icon. His book The Passenger Pigeon costs £19.95 and is available in all good book shops and his book on taxidermy, Voodoo Salon, is available for £30 plus p&p at www.summersplaceauctions.com.
Viewing times: Friday 21st to Tuesday 25th November 10am to 4pm and on the morning of the sale, or by appointment at Summers Place Auctions, The Walled Garden, Billingshurst, West Sussex, RH14 9AB. The catalogue will be available a month before the sale and will be fully illustrated on the website.
For further information on the auction, please visit
www.summersplaceauctions.com or call 01403 331331.
Summers Place Auctions are the world’s leading auctioneers of Garden Statuary and fossil decoration. The sales are held in the new award winning 5000sq ft gallery nestling within 6 acres of walled gardens and the arboretum of the Victorian mansion, Summers Place. Their specialist sales of Sculpture and Design for the House and Garden in May and October include examples of the finest garden ornaments. Regular Natural History sales are also taking place with the main sale in November.
Errol Fuller is the curator for the second Evolution sale. He was instrumental in setting up the first sale last year with the sale of ‘Misty’, the Diplodocus. Errol is a renowned natural history authority and author of several books on extinct species and birds of paradise, including a recent book, co-authored with Sir David Attenborough ( Drawn from Paradise ) and his latest book Voodoo Salon is an in-depth introduction to taxidermy. He has curated several exhibitions, including the acclaimed Lost Worlds Exhibition in 2004 in Qatar. Errol is also chairman of the Natural History vetting committees of the leading London Antiques Fairs.
21st October – Sculpture & Design for the House and Garden live sale
22nd October – Sculpture & Design for the House and Garden sealed bid sale
17th – 28th October – Halloween online auction, a celebration of the weird and wonderful
26th November – Evolution live sale
James Rylands, Chairman of Summers Place Auctions, joined Sotheby’s in 1979, after gaining a degree in History of Art. He initiated the sales of Garden Statuary in 1986 and as a director of the company also qualified as a chartered surveyor. James co-wrote a book on Garden Ornament for Thames and Hudson and contributes articles to antiques magazines. As well as lecturing on many aspects of the antiques business, he also appears regularly on B.B.C. antiques programmes including “The Antiques Roadshow”. He is also Chairman of the sculpture Vetting committees for all the major London antiques fairs including Masterpiece, Olympia and LAPADA.