The unicorn taxidermy above is up for auction right now at Duke's Auctioneers as part of the "Brading Collection of Taxidermy, Waxworks, Costume and Similar Items." The collection is from the Isle of Wright museum Brading The Experience. Also on the block: a flying cat, a taxidermy "Yeti," a "Wooly Pig," and a slew of other curiosities. From the Daily Mail:
So how did these taxidermies first find their way on to the sleepy Isle of Wight?"Yetis, unicorns and even flying kittens: Inside the worlds zaniest zoo" (Daily Mail)
Legend has it that they were originally collected by a mysterious academic in the late 1800s called Professor Copperthwaite. Somehow, the story goes, his collection found its way into the hands of an antique dealer based somewhere in the North of England, who then sold them on to Graham Osborne-Smith, the man who opened the museum on the Isle of Wight in 1965.
Professor Copperthwaite was said to have had a thick, curly grey beard, wore long-tailed coats and pinstripe trousers and travelled the world collecting the strange, deformed animals.
'He was a real eccentric,' says Ball. 'He went around the world on tours collecting weird things like the two-headed Siamese lamb and did experiments gilding animals like swans in silver foil.'
His most remarkable find was a huge stuffed brown bear that stands on its hind legs dressed in boxing gloves and a red-and-gold sash. Nicknamed 'Battling Bruno,' he was said to have been a famous fighting bear who was transported across America to take part in bear-fighting contests sometime in the 19th century.