Prehistoric and Ancient Treasures in Dallas Natural History Auction

Heritage Auctions presents a dramatic array of natural history treasures in its Signature® Natural History Auction, live, in-person and online at www.HA.com on Jan. 17, 2010.

“Heritage Natural History auctions are always about offering the broadest array possible,” said David Herskowitz, Director of Natural History Auctions at Heritage, “and one look at our lineup for January is ample evidence of our continued success. There is something in this auction to appeal to absolutely every collector at any level.”

There can be no question that the Western World has long been obsessed with all things Ancient Egypt, and especially so since the discovery of King Tut’s Tomb in 1922 and no one object is the source of more fascination than mummies.

That allure is front and center with one of the auction’s key highlights, an authentic Egyptian Mummy Head, which, judging from its well-executed mummification, has a possible date to between the New Kingdom and the Ptolemaic period. It is estimated at $25,000-$35,000.

“This incredible specimen is indeed the actual head from an Egyptian mummy,” said Herskowitz. “It’s a remarkable specimen, complete with the original wrappings over the top of the head and part of the neck region with several cervical vertebrae still attached. Imprints around the eye sockets suggest that they were once covered, possibly with coins with which to pay for passage to the afterlife. It exhibits no distortion and is beautifully prepared, indicating that this may well have been a high status individual.”

No Heritage Auctions Natural History event would be complete without an outstanding grouping of dinosaur fossils and bones. A remarkable, beautifully preserved 75% original skull of a Cretaceous period Protoceratops andrewsi, one of the world’s best-known dinosaurs and an important sheep-sized ancestor of the giant horned dinosaurs like Triceratops, leads the way (estimate: $35,000-$45,000), while an outstanding and rare 75%-8 0% complete Pteranodon sternbergi, or “Flying Dinosaur,” estimated at $40,000-$55,000, is sure to garner equal attention and spirited bidding.

“In the world of high-end mineral collecting there are almost no specimens more famous, or valuable than the ‘Blue Cap Tourmalines’ found 37 years ago in the Tourmaline Queen Mine in San Diego, CA,” said Herskowitz, “and most of those are in museums and some are in private collections. So it’s with great pleasure that we are offering a large Blue Cap Tourmaline from this important find in our January Auction. This is the first one I’ve seen on the market in about 12 years.”

Besides the considerable size of some of the crystals recovered, they were – and are – immediately recognizable from their almost unheard of reddish-pink bodies and deep navy blue terminations, all remarkably in the same crystal.

The number of large or multiple crystal specimens, like this example, was very small and most of these have been the crown jewels at the Smithsonian Institution and a small number of other collections. This amazing example has graced the private collection of Signore Walter Lago of Italy for 37 years, is comprised of two major and one minor crystal, measuring respectively 4-½ x 2 inches; 2 ½ x 2 ½ inches; and 1 ½ x ½ inches. Estimate: $110,000-$140,000.

“If I had to make a comparison with any other aspect of Natural History finds,” said Herskowitz, “I’d say that having a large Blue Cap Tourmaline is equivalent to finding a fully intact T-Rex; it’s that spectacular.”

Further Highlights include, but are certainly not limited to:

Very fine collection of Taxidermy from a Texas collector: More than 85 Taxidermy specimens, ranging from a Russian Grizzly to deer, primates, African Antelope and a giraffe.

An actual moon rock – Exceptionally rare and unique Lunar Meteorite exhibiting three distinct lithologies: Estimate: $25,000-$35,000.

The rarest of all Martian Meteorites – A Chassignite: Estimate: $3,500-$4,500.

A superb T-Rex tooth: An exceptionally high quality specimen, with only a small percentage of restoration, measuring 3 3/8 inches long by a massive 1 3/8 inches across the base. Estimate: $8,500-$10,000.

An extremely rare T-Rex hand claw: Throughout the lengthy fossilization process it was slightly crushed but has retained its deadly elegant curve and beautiful appearance, measuring 2 5/8 inches around the curve with almost no restoration. Estimate: $1,600-$2,000.

Rare nest of seven Raptor eggs: This nest comprises seven good-sized egg specimens, the largest of which is an impressive 9 inches long, with a further three poking out from underneath. As is usual, there is some cracking to most of the fragile fossil shells, but several retain good coverage with superb texture, nestled in the natural clay matrix which measures 22 x 15½ inches. Estimate: $8,500-$10,000.

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