Bonhams New York Natural History Auction

. May 5, 2010

On May 27th Bonhams New York will present their highly anticipated Natural History auction. Consisting of over 443 lots, the sale includes fossils, meteorites, amber, zoology, lapidary arts, minerals and exotic gemstone jewelry.

“Sales of fossils at our October 2009 auction in Las Vegas broke multiple world auction records,” co-director of Bonhams’ Natural History Department, Thomas E. Lindgren points out. “With the upward sales trend in this collecting area, expectations are running high.”

Highlighting the sale is a magnificent Xiphactinus audax, from the Niobrara Formation of Western Kansas. The largest of all bony fish species, it existed during the Cretaceous Period and could be found in the intracontinental seaway that divided the western third of North America from the rest of the continent. Measuring twelve feet in length it is estimated at $150,000-200,000.

Of great interest are several examples of Ice Age megafauna: a Woolly Rhinoceros skeleton; a Stegodon skull from Asia; and a Giant Ground Sloth skull. The fully mounted Woolly Rhinoceros example is estimated at $70,000-90,000. The extremely rare Stegadon specimen carries an estimate of $60,000-80,000, the impressive Giant Ground Sloth skull, is estimated at $50,000-60,000.

Dinosauria lots to be offered include a large leg bone from a Brachiosaurus (est. $15,000-20,000) and an impressive and unique Tyrannosaurus rex tooth (est. $12,000-15,000) thought to have been swallowed by the dinosaur during combat or predation.

A selection of 30 meteorites, ranging in estimate from $600 to $75,000, will also be offered. Standing out is a Pallasite specimen originally from the collection of the British Museum of Natural History. Containing olivine crystals, which are sometimes referred to as “gemstones from outer space”, the lot is estimated at $13,500-16,000. A complete Martian meteorite will be offered as well. Usually sold in tiny “part slices”, the present lot is a rarity and carries an estimate of $4,000-6,500. Also to be presented is a meteorite thought to have originated on the planet Mercury which is estimated at $3,500-4,500.

Large gold nuggets figure prominently in the Minerals section with an unusually large one from the frigid waters of Alaska (est. $30,000-40,000). With the average weight of nuggets from this area being one troy ounce, this 20.6 ozt. example figures among the larger nuggets found in that State. Two even larger nuggets from Australia are featured weighing in at 125.02 ozt and 71.64 ozt and are estimated to bring $190,000-220,000 and $100,000-150,000 respectively. A selection of smaller nuggets from both localities are also offered including a novel heart-shaped nugget (est. $3,500-4,500) which is perfect for gift giving.

The Sam Nasser Collection of Minerals features nearly 120 small cabinet specimens grouped by country of origin into 15 lots. The high-graded collection of a long-time mineral dealer/enthusiast they are sure to be of interest to both seasoned collectors and even members of the mineral hobby seeking well-priced items for resale. Offered without reserve, estimates for each lot are $1,000-2,000.

A collection of 850 mineral eggs (pictured, left) carved in the renowned gem-cutting center of Idar-Oberstein, Germany will also draw attention. Estimated at $150,000-200,000 the group was formed over a 40-year period by noted gemstone carver, Dieter Jerusalem, now retired. It includes pink tourmaline from California and other precious materials such as morganite, amber, aquamarine and many minerals from mines now long closed.

Collectors of rare gemstones will also be excited by a very large faceted Tanzanite, increasingly difficult to obtain in this country due to trade embargoes enacted by the Tanzanian government. Carrying an estimate of $18,000-25,000 it weighs an impressive 71.98 carats, the cushion-cut stone is still wearable.

In an effort to bring our clients unusual jewelry selections unobtainable elsewhere, the Exotic Gemstone Jewelry section features the works of several “new” artists: Angela Conty, Steven Battelle, Loretta Law and Helen Serras-Herman. All fine goldsmiths, designers or gem sculptors in their own right, with decades of experience in their fields, their works are being offered for the first time at public auction.

Amongst the most highly desirable jewelry lots is a black opal and diamond pendent in the shape of a butterfly. Obtained directly from the miner, it features an 18.27 carat black opal from Lightning Ridge, Australia, mounted as a pendant, the design and name of which – Schmetterling (Butterfly) – was inspired by the shape and rare color play of the magnificent stone, (est. $35,000-40,000).

Rockhounds and cowboy buffs will find the lots deaccessioned from the now-closed Roy Rogers – Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri particularly desirable. Items of note will include a large group of decorative petrified wood, agate and jasper specimens, many of which were collected by Rogers himself (est. $600-800); a unique men’s Fire Agate and yellow gold ring, handcrafted by Rogers (est. $500-700); a rare published Arkansas Quartz specimen, accompanied by a copy of the Gem and Mineral magazine where it was featured on the cover in April 1968 (est. $700-1000); and a large group of Native American arrowheads and hand tools (est. $1,200-1,500) . All items are being sold “without reserve” to benefit the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Trust The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans lots, as well as other selected Natural History highlights, will be on exhibit at Bonhams’ Los Angeles galleries May 6-7, 10am-5pm. The New York exhibition begins on Saturday, May 22nd and will continue through the morning of the auction, which takes place on May 27th at 1PM EST. The illustrated auction catalog for the sale is presently online at

Category: Auction News

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