Out of the Ordinary auction on 5 September 2013 celebrated the end of a month-long exhibition showcasing a host of eclectic items spanning all eras from the prehistoric natural world to the surreal realm of science fiction. Bidders competed fiercely for over 150 intriguing items, many of which were offered at auction for the first time. After much anticipation from collectors and visitors to the public exhibition, the sale realised a total of £1,283,775.
The top lot in the sale was the skull of a Triceratops, which sold for £193,875. Excavated from private land, this extraordinary beast with its three-horned head is one of the most famous species of dinosaur. One of the last survivors before the fatal mass-extinction triggered by an asteroid 65 million years ago, these 30-foot long herbivores lived with the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The horns and recognisable bony frill were probably used as defense against this fearsome foe. The example featured in the sale took around 3000 man hours to excavate.
Charlotte Young, Head of Sale, commented: This one-off sale was very well received, with strong attendance in the saleroom and energetic bidding from buyers in the room, on the phones and via the internet. The extended public exhibition attracted thousands of visitors throughout the month of August, many of whom had never before been to Christies and whom we hope to welcome again in the future. We were pleased to see activity from new buyers as well as known collectors, bringing the sale total to over £1.2 million. It has been a great pleasure to curate a sale with so many unusual and visually striking items. We look forward to the next specialist themed sale, the Art of Food and Drink in January 2014.
Further highlights included:
·`Architettura', a striking wood and metal trumeau with lithographic and transfer printed decoration, designed by Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988) & Gio Ponti (1891-1979) realised £91,875 against a pre-sale estimate of £40,000 to 60,000. Fornasetti's artistic friendship with Gio Ponti yielded numerous spectacular collaborations by the time the original 1951 prototype of this cabinet, now in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, was created.
· An elephant bird egg from Madagascar, pre-17th Century, sold for £67,875. The Elephant Bird was thought to be the giant flying beast known as the Roc (or Ruhk) in the tales of Sinbad and accounts of Marco Polo's voyages. The bird grew to around 10 or 11 feet in height and whilst probably unable to devour an elephant, as the Roc was reputed to do, it certainly was the largest bird ever to have lived. It was estimated to weigh up to 1100lbs (the largest ostriches might grow to 8 feet in height and weigh 300lbs).The birds are thought to have gone extinct between the 14th and 17th centuries.
· Maya, an exquisite painting of a girl in a curiosity shop by Hiroshi Furuyoshi (Japanese, b.1959) sold for over ten times the pre-sale estimate, realising £52,275 against a pre-sale estimate of £3,000-5,000.
· Cygan, a giant robot made in 1957 and a veritable celebrity of the 1950s and 60s made £17,500, selling to a private buyer in the UK, after competitive bidding in the saleroom and on the phones. It was one of the most sophisticated robots of its time with an ability to accept spoken commands and respond to light rays. When presented at London Olympia in 1958 Cygan amazed crowds, walking around the auditorium and even showing off some dance moves.
· A slice of fruit cake from Queen Elizabeth II's Wedding in 1947 realised £1,750.