Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Treasures Abroad: Ancient Egyptian Bronze Cat Salvaged From Bin; Sells For £52,000

No matter how old a cat is, it seems that it still has those nine lives when it comes to self preservation. A rare artefact from ancient Egypt nearly ended up in a skip recently, as its owners cleared out a relative’s house in Cornwall, England, thinking it was just junk. But believe me, this is certainly one feline you’d regret putting out at night.

Luckily, local auctioneer David Lay salvaged the 2,500 year-old Egyptian cat bronze cat, complete with hoop gold earrings, from the bin after realising its significance. And what’s more, it’s believed that the piece may have once belonged to Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.

The statue was initially too hot to touch as it was sitting in front of an imitation fire, and it was assumed it must be a cheap imitation. But Lay took it away to make sure and found the statue not only dated back to the 26th Dynasty, but was likely to have come to Cornwall through an auction house that dealt with the estate of Howard Carter after his death in 1930.

The owner of the house, Douglas Liddell, died in 2003 but had spent a lifetime working at Spink and Son, one of London’s oldest and most respected art and antiquity dealing institutions. Mr Lay organised for the cat found in the house clearance to be taken to the British Museum, where the head of the department of ancient Egypt and Sudan described it as a ‘finely modelled and beautifully proportioned piece’ and dated it to approximately 700-500 BC.

The cat was auctioned at Penzance Auction House yesterday and was expected to fetch between £5,000 and £10,000. But the hammer eventually came down at £52,000 plus buyer’s premium. It has been sold to a London dealer. The ancient Egyptians were certainly way ahead of their time when it comes to social media – their walls were covered in pictures of cats well before Facebook was around.

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