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American fossils and natural wonders on the auction block at Bonhams this spring
Juvenile Tenontosaurus tilletti skeleton. Estimate: $150,000-180,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Offering a distinguished collection of some of the finest natural history items available on the international market, Bonhams spring 2013 Natural History auction, May 22 in Los Angeles, is particularly strong with notable American fossils, including dinosauria and a selection of vertebrates and invertebrates.

A special offering of historic glass from the Manhattan Project is also available, as are numerous delightful natural history items suitable for use in interior design. For the seasoned collector, as well as the enthusiast, this sale offers a comprehensive selection of distinctive natural history items.

The dinosauria selection is highlighted by an exceptional juvenile Tenontosaurus tilletti skeleton that was discovered in autumn 2008 in Montana (est. $150,000-180,000); a Tyrannosaurus rex maxilla (upper “jaw”) from Montana featuring seven teeth – with five mature teeth and two emerging teeth seen (est. $70,000–90,000); an 11-foot dinosaur leg from a new, undescribed species of a North American long-necked dinosaur (est. $30,000–40,000); and an exceptional T. rex tooth from Wyoming (est. $12,000-15,000).

A rare Jurassic crocodile (est. $70,000-90,000) is a formidable offering, as is the skeleton of a massive woolly rhinoceros of the last Ice Age (est. $70,000-90,000.) A giant prehistoric “Irish Elk” skull with antlers measuring five feet across the width (est. $30,000-35,000) represents the largest species of deer to have ever existed. A selection of rare Lebanese fish (estimates ranging up to $18,000) is also notable.

Distinctive American vertebrate fossils include the skull of a marine reptile (mosasaur) from Kansas (est. $35,000-40,000); a reconstruction of a gigantic megalodon jaw (the largest shark species that ever existed) boasting 138 huge fossilized tooth specimens (est. $50,000-60,000); and an impressive skull of a Titanothere (an extinct rhinoceros-like animal) from the Brule Formation, Wyoming (est. $20,000-25,000.)

From Wyoming, four exceptional fossil murals with limestone matrices, fitted with a French cleat system for wall display, will be offered. Prepared in deep relief, an unusual fossilized palm flower evokes a modern art piece (est. $20,000-30,000); a magnificent 51-million-year-old palm is a stunning presentation (est. $40,000-50,000); a pair of book-matched palm flowers, part and counterpart of the same fossil flower specimen, are incomparable ($15,000-20,000); and a framed limestone mural of fossil fishes displays like a fossilized “aquarium” (est. $12,000-15,000.)

A brilliant opalescent ammonite from Canada is on offer, exhibiting the brilliant reds and greens, on a plate of irregularly shaped gray-black matrix, for which the finest specimens of this locality are known. The large specimen measures 19 inches in diameter (est. $45,000-55,000.)

Displaying a single flower-like “blossom” on a “stem,” in a vertical slab of its natural gray-black matrix, a 72-inch-long Jurassic “sea lily” from Germany is at once graceful and dramatic (est. $15,000-20,000.) The extinct creature, though plant-like in appearance, was actually a filter-feeding marine animal.

Also offered are two stunning lots of fascinating scientific glass from the Manhattan Project: a mushroom-cloud-shaped sculpture entitled “First Light (est. $100,000-125,000) and a sculptural specimen (est. $20,000-30,000), both offered on lighted basalt bases.

Featured are two mineral sculptures by Lawrence Stoller, creator of the centerpiece of the “Eleven Tears Memorial” at ground zero in New York: “The Guardian,” produced of smoky quartz on an artfully designed illuminated base (est. $25,000-30,000) and “Chrysocolossal,” an impressive sculpture made of the mineral chrysocolla (est. $18,000-22,000)

Numerous impressive interior design elements will also be made available: A pair of elegant chairs carved of Indonesian petrified wood ($8,000-10,000), a black petrified wood slab tabletop with stainless steel base (est. $6,000-7,000) and numerous affordable lots: a natural onyx globe of neutral color with varied horizontal tonal striations, lighted from the interior, evoking a planetary orb; several lots of polished petrified wood bookends; seaside décor items such as a framed collection of coral specimens or shark jaws.

Auctions of natural wonders at Bonhams will begin May 21 with the Gems, Minerals & Lapidary Works of Art sale where the first carved ruby scale-model of a dragster will be featured at public auction. This unique vehicle is modeled after the famed Greer-Black-Prudhomme Dragster, which was raced by Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, built by Kent Fuller and tuned by Keith Black. Carved by designer Luis Alberto Quispe Aparicio from solid panels of ruby, the model is detailed with Obsidian tires, a gold vermeil engine and a polished rock crystal wind screen. The dragster measures approximately 60 centimeters in length and is estimated to bring $150,000-200,000, among others.

Today's News

April 17, 2013

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Christie's to present masterworks of Impressionist & Modern art at Evening Sale on May 8

World's first major museum exhibition of Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair opens at Tate Modern

Sotheby's announces the most signed books by George Washington to come to a single auction since 1904

American fossils and natural wonders on the auction block at Bonhams this spring

One million euro stolen gold egg recovered near French-Swiss border during a routine roadblock

James McNeill Whistler's etchings and lithotints of the River Thames on view at the Fine Art Society

Exhibition at the Fleming Collection features the timeless art of weaving tapestries

Spanish court sends Chinese businessman, art dealer and fraud suspect Gao Ping back to jail

Art Basel announces Unlimited: 79 groundbreaking artworks on display this year

East & West: A private collection from Eaton & Anouska Hempel to be offered at Christie's

Superb saber-tooth tiger skeleton, massive gold nugget lead ancient fossils, minerals and gems at I.M. Chait

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$1 million gift from Linda and Bill Custard endows directorship of SMU's Meadows Museum

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