Superb saber-tooth tiger skeleton, massive gold nugget lead I.M. Chait May 4 Natural History Auction The finest known example of a saber-tooth tiger skeleton and a hefty Australian gold nugget join ancient fossils, meteorites and mineral specimens in I.M. Chait's May 4 Natural History Auction.
tableau consisting of a Mosasaurus skull with a vividly colored 13¼-inch ammonite positioned in its jaws. The gaping mouth, with its array of spiky upper and lower teeth, provides a stark reminder of why the Mosasaurus species was so widely feared 65 million years ago. The 32-inch-long skull of a reptilian creature many times the size of a modern-day great white shark was “wired for intimidation,” Chait said. The double-fossil display of skull with ammonite could make $30,000-$38,000 at auction.
Other fascinating animal fossils include the rare skull of an ancient South American penguin (Lot 281), est. $2,500-$3,500; a baby Triceratops skull (Lot 311), est. $25,000-$35,000; and the large, powerful-looking tail of a Hadrosaur (Lot 303) in whip-like pose, est. $20,000-$25,000. An extraordinary fossilized Rhamphorhynchus muensteri, or pterodactyl (Lot 312), documents one of the first vertebrates to make the transformation to flight. Wings are clearly present on the form of its hollow-boned, lightweight body captured within a limestone slab. Estimate: $70,000-$80,000.
Many collectors jump at the chance to acquire distinctive parts from prehistoric animals. Several outstanding entries in the upcoming sale would fit the bill nicely, starting with the brow horn of a Triceratops horridus (Lot 306) from the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota. An immense 33 inches in length on an ebonized metal display stand, it is expected to attract a top bid of $10,000-$12,000.
A well-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex tooth (Lot 307) is estimated at $10,000-$12,000; while a nicely delineated Raptor claw (Lot 310), 65-68 million years old, could scratch up $2,000-$2,500.
The precious gems section could not have a more regal centerpiece than the exquisite marine-life chess set (Lot 97) designed by gemologist and jewelry designer Sylvia Quispe, Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Truly the crème de la crème of chess sets, its 32 playing pieces replicate sea creatures crafted from rich purple Tanzanian rubies and royal blue Afghan lapis with solid 18K gold. The ruby pieces are mounted on Peruvian pink opal seashell and starfish bases, while those of lapis are raised on quartz. The playing board is, itself, a work of art, with alternating squares of quartz and black obsidian. The set is housed in a handsome mahogany box. Fit for a king – or modern-day kingmaker – this masterpiece of uncompromising quality is estimated at $150,000-$170,000.
Mineral specimens are led by a sensational gold nugget with natural quartz (Lot 23) that was discovered in the Australian state of Victoria. The intense yellow color of the metal denotes an exceptionally high carat content, and its gold content, alone, weighs in at a robust 3100g (99.67 ozt). Exceptional by any standards, it could realize an auction price of $275,000-$325,000.
A premier example of a Canadian iridescent ammonite (Lot 271) from the Bearpaw Formation, Southern Alberta, Canada is a biogenic gemstone that would top many a collector’s wish list, this 17in ammonite gleams with electrifying colors and could fetch $38,000-$45,000 at auction. Another mineral highlight is a large, complete meteorite (Lot 220) from the famous fall at Campo del Cielo,