Auction throws up £4,000 slab of whale vomit

A section of hugely prized ambergris, which is a key ingredient in the world’s most exclusive perfumes, could fetch up to £4,000 at auction.



Produced in the digestive system of sperm whales to protect their intestines from the sharp beaks of their favoured food, squid, Ambergris is highly valued by perfume makers as a ‘fixative’ that allows the scent to endure much longer.   

The 20cm long, 700 gms waxy section going to auction at McTear’s was discovered on Luskentyre beach on the Isle of Harris.

Also featuring amongst the 225 lots in the two Cabinet of Curiosities auctions on 22nd and 23rd February, will be a four billion year old iron meteorite from the famous Campo del Cielo crater field in Argentina.  The space rock, which is believed to have fallen to earth some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago is estimated to fetch between £1,500 and £2,000.


In addition, the auction will include a range of fascinating items such as detailed anatomical models, taxidermy, fossils and rare geology and natural history books.

Commenting on the sale, McTear’s auctioneer, James Spiridion, said: “Following the success of the first Cabinet of Curiosities sale in 2022, the decision was taken to make it a firm fixture in the McTear’s calendar.  There has been huge interest from vendors which has resulted in a wonderful selection of curious items, including a very rare and much sought after section of ambergris.  It is incredible to think that the world’s most exclusive perfumes contain traces of this bizarre marine compound.”

Day two of the auction will feature the marine natural history collection of Scottish collector Dr. J. Gordon Todd.  Amongst the 65 lots will be an impressive collection of exotic shells and coral, and other examples of marine life from across the globe. 



James Spiridion continued: “Dr Todd spent a lifetime travelling the world collecting a range of fascinating marine items, and the auction reflects the passion and enthusiasm he had for natural history.  Amongst the diverse selection of lots we have a juvenile thresher shark, an impressive selection of crab species and even a giant worm shell.”

The Cabinet of Curiosities auctions will take place on 22nd and 23rd February.


What's it worth?

Find out what your items are worth by completing our short valuation form - it's free!

Get started

Get the McTear's News!

Sign up for our free newsletters - we'll never pass your details on to third parties. 

Get in touch

Upload images if relevant to your enquiry Add file
Select fileChange Remove