Wednesday, June 02, 2010

It’s only natural: the National Wildlife Property Repository auction

Looking for a coat made out of Siberian weasel?

Sure, weasel doesn’t sound as warm and inviting as ermine, but on a cold winter’s night, a fur coat’s a fur coat, no?

Anyway, sorry to have gotten your hopes up, but the Siberian weasel coats are gone, to the highest bidder, who picked up the lot (12 coats) for $4,450.  Thus reporteth the Wall Street Journal, in an article on the U.S. Wildlife Service’s rolling auction, in which they’re selling off hundreds of thousands of articles of clothing, furniture, and knick-knacks that were confiscated because they violate regulations governing international trade in things wildlife.

They’re running the auction to make some room in their warehouse, and to raise some money to fund conservation programs.

The “goods” in the warehouse include a “beribboned walrus penis.”

Frankly, I’m surprised there’s a market for that item. Come on, who doesn’t already have a beribboned walrus penis? (Well, maybe not beribboned…)

And just because it’s in the warehouse, doesn’t mean it’s going to make it to the auction block.

Much of the booty is sent  “to schools, zoos and museums for exhibits.” Some of it gets junked (medicinal potions, which may suggest the fate of the beribboned walrus penis).  If something contains an endangered species, it can’t go on the auction block. And some of it is deemed too “crass” for sale:

That includes a belt made from the spotted fur of a Margay, a South American jungle cat. The unlucky creature's head, stuffed and glassy-eyed, is still attached, whiskers and all. It serves as the buckle.

Also on the crass list:

…a handbag made from a whole toad—tanned and shellacked, with a zipper down its belly. And … a knickknack made from a crocodilian reptile known as a caiman, posed with a pipe in its mouth and an ashtray in its claws.

Gosh, whatever happened to a monkey made out of coconut shell? (Oh, I remember, someone ‘won’ it at Christmas Eve Yankee swap a few years ago. They probably tossed it out.)

The sale is in the hands of Lone Star Auction, and, sorely disappointed at the thought of missing out on a Siberian weasel coat, I headed on over to see whether there’s any good stuff for sale.

Mostly it’s python pocketbooks and ostrich boots.

There are lots of lots of 10 of Marc Jacobs snake-skin handbags, and the bidding’s up over $1K. (These, and other lots, typically make their way on to eBay.)

A Ballantyne men’s striped shirt had been confiscated because it had shell buttons. Mother of pearl, that’s harsh.

I mean, a shell?

Wasn’t the clam, like, eaten? Chopped up and put in a can of Snow’s chowder?

There were other shell-based goods for sale, including a set of 459, 3-inch shell curios.Lot: G-26 - (459) SHELL CURIOS - Main Image 

I get the ostrich-lizard-python-cobra bans. But what am I missing with the shells? Are they supposed to stay in-country to prevent beach erosion? Do we want to protect our home-grown shell-curio industry? Or do we need to keep shells in their country of origin so that natives can use them to “pave” their driveways, as they do on The Cape. (By the way, those driveways are ouchy to walk on if you’re barefoot. Better to crunch down on those shells in a pair of ostrich boots. If you were so lucky as to purchase them at auction.)

Is there are People for the Ethical Treatment of Shells group that I don’t know about?

Perhaps they could explain why shell curios are unwanted on our shores.

And too bad the bidding’s gone wild – up to $135 when I checked – those 459 shell curios would make a mighty fine Yankee swap gift.

Lot: G-20 - CHANEL HAT - Main Image

Meanwhile, if you’re still annoyed that you missed out on the Siberian weasel coat, you can try for a Siberian weasel hat.

Supposedly Chanel, but the Wildlife folks can’t vet the authenticity of the brand. Sure looks like the real deal to me. 

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