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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
Final display for stuffed animals
stuffed animals
A classroom full of stuffed rabbits learn their alphabet
A stuffed polar bear, camel and a giraffe are among the thousands of stuffed animals and other exhibits which go under the hammer in Cornwall next week.

The display of thousands of stuffed animals at The Museum of Curiosities, at Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor, is on display for the last time this weekend.

The exhibition is the work of Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter.

And, according to some estimates, the collection could fetch up to 2m at auction.

One of the most unusual and eccentric collections ever to have been offered for sale
Jon Baddeley, Bonhams

About 10,000 items, including 6,000 stuffed animals, are to be sold at the auction on 23 and 24 September at Jamaica Inn, where they have been a major attraction since the 1980s.

The exhibits include kittens taking tea and bunnies learning their alphabet, as well as large wild animals.

Walter Potter, who died in 1918, taught himself as a boy to preserve birds and animals, and began his collection soon after leaving school.

His first specimen was his pet canary, which is now more than 160 years old and one of the oldest pieces in the museum.

One of his most famous pieces, The Squirrels' Club, which shows 18 European red squirrels socialising at their "club," is expected to fetch up to 6,000.

And one of the largest works in the sale, The Kittens' Wedding, which was exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum three years ago, could make in excess of 8,000.

"The Potter's Museum Collection is without doubt one of the most unusual and eccentric collections ever to have been offered for sale," said Jon Baddeley from Bonhams auctioneers.

"The ability of the exhibits of taxidermy to shock and entertain visitors today to the same extent as they were reported to have done 150 years ago, is remarkable."

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