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BONES UNDER THE HAMMER

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Written by Tooba Masood

s any collector will tell you, the auction house is the place to go if you’re looking for something a little less off-the-peg. A recent example comes courtesy of Christie’s, where in April this year, an anonymous bidder spent £66,000 on a massive pre17th century egg belonging to the now extinct elephant bird. At 21cm in diameter and 30cm in height, the egg was over 100 times the size of a chicken’s egg. The elephant bird, a native of Madagascar, was the largest bird ever to have lived and is said to have resembled a heavily-built ostrich. With long legs and talons, it grew to around 10ft tall and was hunted to extinction between the 14th and 17th centuries. Also in April, a rare fragment of a Dodo femur bone was set to be sold for an estimated £15,000 at Christie’s. The bone was excavated in 1865 by George Clark, a natural history enthusiast, and is believed to have been the first dodo bone up for auction since 1934. There are far more unusual things to splash your hard earned cash on, however. In 2011, one of John Lennon’s molars was sold for £23,000 at Omega Auctions, an auction house that deals with music and movie memorabilia. Lennon gave the tooth to his housekeeper, Dot Jarlett, in the 1960s as a souvenir for her daughter. Jarlett’s son told the BBC that Lennon said: “Dot, will you dispose of this?” then changed his mind, and added that since her daughter was a Beatles fan, she should give it to her.The authenticity of the tooth was verified by a sworn legal affidavit signed by Dot Jarlett herself. Similarly, in 2009, a lock of Elvis Presley’s hair was sold for $15,000 (nearly £10,000), while in an earlier auction in 2002 the hair had been

sold for nearly 10 times as much. The clippings reportedly came from 1958 when Elvis had to cut his hair in order to join the army. This particular lock was from the Gary Pepper collection (Mr Pepper being the president of the King’s first fan club). “Elvis gave Pepper the hair so he could send it out with fan mail while Elvis was abroad,” said Mary William Kohnke, a director at Chicago-based auction house Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. “We do not do any DNA authentications at our firm but it [the hair] was examined by a leading expert in the US in the field of celebrity hair and found to be his.”

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eanwhile, back in the UK, in 2010 Dominic Winter Book Auctions sold the ashes of Frisky the cat, who appeared in more than 1,000 episodes of Coronation Street, for a reported £700. The Gloucestershire based auction house previously found itself in the limelight in 2004 after selling a slice of Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding cake for £200. To deter ants, the auction house had it wrapped in special waxed paper. A year later, a five finger cigar case, which was a wedding

IN THE 1960s, JOHN LENNON GAVE HIS TOOTH TO HIS HOUSEKEEPER “AS A SOUVENIR FOR HER DAUGHTER”, WHO WAS A BEATLES FAN. IT LATER SOLD FOR £23,000

UPCOMING AUCTIONS Dominic Winter Book Auctions: Printed books, maps and documents: 24 June Facial hair of Charles I: TBA Christie’s: Pop culture: 26 June The Exceptional Sale: 4 July Saeed Motamed Collection: 7 October Vintage couture & accessories: 13 November The Collection of the Late Mrs T S Eliot: 20 November Paul Fraser Collectibles: Buzz Aldrin’s space suit and a complete set of Apollo 11 crew autographs: ongoing Leslie Hindman Auctioneers: Vintage couture and accessories: 20 August Property from the estate of Betsy Pickering Kaiser: 11 September Bonhams: The doll collection of Alexandra and Sidney Sheldon: 24 June

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The Eccentrist  

A new quarterly magazine that offers a ‘meander away from the mainstream’ by documenting the more unusual and offbeat people, places and ide...

The Eccentrist  

A new quarterly magazine that offers a ‘meander away from the mainstream’ by documenting the more unusual and offbeat people, places and ide...

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