A QUIRKY item with an interesting history is among several curious lots at an auction in North Yorkshire this month.

The Victorian taste for anthropomorphic taxidermy showing quirky portrayals of life have become increasingly sought-after at auction in recent years.

The natural history and taxidermy auction at Tennants Auctioneers on Friday, June 19 includes examples of mice shooting and fishing.

However, one particular lot to watch – an anthropomorphic diorama of card playing red squirrels, dated 1870-1900. T

The squirrels are in a lavishly furnished interior, four gathered around a pedestal dining table playing cards, complete with a decanter and glasses, cigars and a cribbage board.

There are two further squirrels to the right, one relaxing upon a chaise longue with cigar in hand, the other standing in conversation with cigar in hand. The niche lot is being offered with an estimate of £3,500-5,500.

Reputedly, the diorama came into the current family’s possession in lieu of a previous debt owed to their grandfather.

It has remained in the same family since the early part of the 20th century and has never before been available on the open auction market.

Tennants’ specialist Robbie Bright comments “this is an exceptional example of anthropomorphic taxidermy. The workmanship is impressive, and the interesting provenance adds something extra special to the lot. It is not often that collectors get an opportunity like this”.

The lot will come up at the end of the 252 lot auction which also includes antique and modern high quality taxidermy birds and animals, a private collection of cased British animals by James Hutchings of Aberystwyth, a superb collection of unusual World birds from the Peter Farrington collection and a small collection of cased fish by John Cooper and W.F. Homer.

A fully illustrated catalogue is available on our website. www.tennants.co.uk