Trophies from the Days of the Raj.
When Albert Reginald Dicks came home from a career with the Indian Forestry Commission, he brought with him his young East End-born wife Dolly, two young sons and, among his personal possessions, a leopard skin rug and a tiger skin rug as mementos of their time serving there under the British Raj.
Now, having passed through two generations of his family, the rugs are stunning entries in the August 1-2 two-day sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries.
Dicks was a Forestry Commission Conservator based at Chikalda hill station, a small, cool and luxuriant village in Northern India. Among his duties was the protection of villagers and their cattle and he shot the animals after they made repeated attacks.
Both were sent to the factory of legendary taxidermists Van Ingen & Van Ingen in Mysore, where they were preserved as trophies.
The tiger rug is the more valuable of the two. Mounted with open mouth showing teeth and with glass eyes, all on black felt, it measures 103ins x 79ins and due to its fine condition, is estimated at £4,000-6,000.
The leopard rug is preserved in the same realistic manner, a hallmark of Van Ingen’s work. Smaller at 72ins x 60ins, it is estimated at £500-700.
Albert Reginald Archibald Dicks was born in Chiswick, Middlesex in 1874, and was in India with the Forestry Commission from 1895 to 1929. His family recall him returning briefly, shortly after the Great War, and advertising in the Daily Telegraph for a chauffeur to drive him on a tour of Scotland.
East End girl Ada Dorothy Brookes, although she preferred to be called “Dolly” came from a family of 12. She had driven an ambulance in the war and answered the ad, carrying a copy of the newspaper to identify her when they met. He proposed to her during the trip and she, 24 years or so his junior but keen not to have to return to her previous life, accepted.
The couple returned to India where, as a new bride, she found an incredible and unfamiliar life, with servants and a nanny to look after her son, David, who was born in Ranchi In 1923. Travel was by elephant in the camps that were set up around the forests and the villagers treated the couple like royalty.
They left India in 1926 to take an extended holiday along the lines of the Grand Tour, before taking a villa in Florence, where her second son, Clement was born in 1926. The family returned to India again until 1929 and eventually went home to England, settling at Selbourne House in Woking.
The rugs will be offered on the second of the two-day sale, which comprises some 900-plus lots of silver, jewellery, watches, pictures, works of art, books, ceramics, militaria, antique and sporting guns, furniture, clocks, barometers, furniture and collectors’ items, which will be on view as follows:
Saturday July 29 10am-4pm
Sunday July 30 12 noon -4pm
Monday July 31 10am-7pm
Mornings of the sale from 8.30am.
For further information, please contact the auctioneers on telephone number 01227 763337