ELEPHANT BIRD EGG
An intact and complete elephant bird egg. [Madagascar, 17th century or earlier]
The complete egg 310mm. high, weight approximately 2kg, hollow centre, 2 small holes
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Please note, Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is no applicable to this lot
Condition is described in the main body of the catalogue, where appropriate.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
EXTREMELY RARE EGG FROM THE NOW-EXTINCT ELEPHANT BIRD.
The elephant bird was a ratite (or flightless bird) of the genus Aepyornis, which comprised a number of species (possibly seven), of which the term most commonly refers to the Aepyornis maximus. Indigenous to the island of Madagascar, the elephant bird typically grew to a height of about three metres tall and usually weighed some 450kg. For reasons that remain unclear, but may include hunting by European settlers and the loss of habitat due to deforestation and/or climate change, the elephant bird became extinct possibly as early as the thirteenth century (cf. Steven M. Goodman and William L. Jungers, Extinct Madagascar (2014), p. 64) and certainly by the end of the seventeenth century (the eggs may also have been collected for food and certainly the shells were used to transport water by the Malagasy during the nineteenth century). Elephant birds’ eggs are believed to be the largest of any oviparous animal, and they became sought-after rarities and curiosities during the late nineteenth century – especially intact examples – and the interest in them continues to the present day.