West Sussex-based Summers Place Auctions is confident that lots won at its Conversation Pieces sale will spark many a dinner-party discussion in their new owners’ homes. So much so that, ahead of the March 20-21 auction, it is holding its first-ever dinner in its saleroom.
The March 14 dinner (£50 per head) will kick off with a drinks reception and preview of the auction, where there will be time to talk to specialists about the curios up for sale before the dinner begins. The three-course meal, prepared by chef Mike Keen, will include Lion’s Head mushrooms with beer puffs; an aptly named main Under the Hammer - a guinea fowl schnitzel filled with Gruyère cheese and Sussex-cured ham (vegetarian options will be available); followed by a coffee crème patisserie and whisky zabaglione dessert. Every course will feature wine pairings selected by Taurus Wines.
Food for thought will definitely come from, among other curios, the elephants in the room: a family of majestic mammoth skeletons (male, £115,000 to £150,000; female and baby, £80,000 to £120,000; adolescent female, £50,000 to £80,000). Guests lacking space for a herd at home may find a pair of Chinese dinosaur eggs (£1,200 to £1,800) more to their taste, or an exceptional taxidermied North American passenger pigeon (£4,000 to £6,000).
It’s also not every day that a jaguar (£5,000 to £8,000) is overshadowed but pulling off that trick will be a pair of giant bronze lions (£80,000 to £120,000) modelled on the famous big cats in Trafalgar Square by Sir Edwin Landseer. Commissioned for London’s Camden Lock Market, they’ve been rendered homeless by redevelopment work, along with a monumental bronze stallion (£20,000 to £30,000) in the midst of jumping over a log, which is part of the sealed bid section of the auction.
An impressive range of garden sculptures is also up for sale, from Adam and Eve (£5,000 to £8,000) and Pandora (£5,000 to £8,000) to Mr Punch (£5,000 to £8,000) and a pair of playful leopards (£30,000 to £50,000). Not to mention other miscellaneous items, including an obelisk and sphere made from ruby-flecked fuchsite (£1,600 to £2,500) and a coffee table (£5,000 to £8,000) with a mother and baby hippo poking up through its glass surface.