Scotland's largest sale of taxidermy 'this century' set to be held as country house emptied

Scotland’s biggest auction of taxidermy in recent times is set to take place when the ‘Downtown Abbey-style’ contents of four Scottish estates go up for sale.

Perth auctioneer Iain Smith said the sale of the high-quality taxidermy was the biggest in Scotland this century, with more than 50 pieces coming from a single household near Crieff.

He said the four-day auction next week had “a touch of Downton Abbey” given the collection of hunting, shooting and fishing items drawn from country houses from across Perthshire and Angus.

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Lots going under the hammer also include horse-drawn carriages dating back to the late Victorian era, one which the owner used to ride to church every Sunday until shortly before his recent death.

Mr Smith, who owns Iain Smith Auctioneers at Perth Airport, said: “We have a wonderful collection of taxidermy, largely from estates in the Crieff area.”

He added: “It is certainly the best collection I have seen coming onto the market in more than 20 years. I know taxidermy isn’t to everyone's taste these days, but there are many collectors out there at home and abroad and this is sure to stir a great deal of interest.

"With a bit of luck, much of it will remain here in Scotland. They are of museum quality, many in cases and dated, and the standard of workmanship has been very impressive. It’s an extensive collection, more than 50 pieces in all."

Animals to be sold include a near 30lb salmon caught on the River Earn in 1939, a 31lb pike caught on Loch Awe in 1936 and a case of white Arctic hares, foxes and owls.

The case of Arctic Hares which will come up for sale next week. PIC: Contributed.

A capercaillie that was shot on an Angus estate in 1899 is also for sale. It has been a protected species in Scotland since 1981, with numbers dropping from around 20,000 in 1970 to around 1,000 today.

Mr Smith said: “Many of the pieces are around 100 years old when taxidermy was commonplace and perfectly legal.”

The sale includes Scottish countryside paintings and a number of fishing reels, including a number of coveted modes made by Hardy and Malloch of Perth.

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Mr Smith said: “The reels are very collectable. They won’t see the riverbank again though. They are usually kept in display cases.

Auctioneer Iain Smith with some of the taxidermy that will come up for sale at his Perth auction house next week. PIC: Contributed.

"There’s definitely a touch of Downton Abbey and about next week’s sale. Most of the items have come from hallways and drawing rooms in country houses or even their tack rooms.”

Around 3,000 items will come up for auction next week, including a governess carriage for two that would have been drawn by a single horse.

Mr Smith said: “We have placed an estimate of £500 to £700 on that one and around £1,000 on the late Victorian-era carriage for four with its candle lit gig lamps.

“It would have been used for picking up guests from the train station back in the day, or on trips around the estate. We do know one of the carriages was used until relatively recently when the elderly gentleman of the house would take it to church in Comrie on Sundays.”

This stuffed 31lb pike from Loch Awe will also come up for sale. PIC: Contributed.

The taxidermy is scheduled for Wednesday's sale, with the carriages to go under the hammer next Friday.

The capercaille, which has been a protected species in Scotland for more than 40 years, which is due to sell at auction in Perth next week. PIC: Contributed.

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