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December 2014 - Dallas

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F or centuries in Europe, trophy hunting was the exclusive domain of royalty. The sport of kings (and kaisers), the taking of large animals in the wild and mounting their horns and heads on the walls of royal hunting lodges was de rigueur. No royals were more passionate about hunting than Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, whose extraordinary personal trophies are available for purchase in Dallas at Pettigrew — inside a large, locked room. The Royal Hunt Collection is the largest known collection of Imperial German hunting trophies in private hands outside of Europe. It has been organized and marketed by Houston's Suzanne Coppola of Laurier Blanc and appraised by Tuscan- based longtime Antiques Road Show expert James Supp, who has valued it at more than $2.5 million. Consisting of about 430 pieces — mostly from the 1890s — The Royal Hunt Collection includes mounts from the Hapsburg and Hohenzollern dynasties, as well as the famed Rothschild and Eulenburg families. "It's huge," Supp says. "For a collection of this magnitude to have survived two world wars, with all the property confiscation that occurred, and to make it across the Atlantic intact, is incredible. The royal Hapsburg connection is astonishing, again, to have over here. There are collections in Europe owned by the Hapsburgs, but they have since become tourist attractions." The pieces were curated over a 40-year period by an anonymous Dallas collector who is a longtime member of the Dallas Safari Club and friend of Kaiser Wilhem's descendants, says Supp, who has devoted more than 100 hours to authenticating and tracing the provenance of each piece. It helped that many of the mounts still have the original plaques and inscriptions detailing the history of the particular hunt. On other mounts, the plaques bearing inscriptions were damaged or destroyed and have been meticulously restored, with the work overseen by the collector. The trophies are draped with royal medallions, coats of arms, crowns and wappen — helmet front plates of mostly WWI vintage that denote the regiment's province or state — or with officers' gorgets or veterans' medals. But despite the imperial connections, the trophies are surprisingly austere. You might find a few Swarovski-encrusted medallions and fine enameling here and there, but no precious stones were used, and metals were made from mercury-fired gilded brass. "You have to understand, these guys were traipsing around in diamond-studded clothing with strict protocols to their everyday lives," Supp explains. "Hunting was their escape, and the insides of their hunting lodges … While they were still palaces, the decoration would be understated, masculine, simpler. It was their man cave." Thousands of trophies fill the royal families' hunting lodges in Europe. "All these guys did was hunt," says Supp. "Ferdinand [Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este, 1863-1914] was said to have killed 200,000 animals. These huge collections were meant to impress, to show off how much leisure time you had." For the Kaiser, hunting was also an opportunity to socialize and meet with his ministers, who followed him from lodge to lodge. "He hunted twice a day — once in the morning and again in the afternoon," Supp says. "It was where he was the happiest." Reportedly, when the Kaiser abdicated in exile in Austria after WWI, he was given two weeks to leave and 20 freight cars for the total of his royal belongings. Not surprising, the Kaiser filled them all with 35,000 heads of deer, says Supp. Some of the most spectacular pieces in the Royal Hunt Collection are an 11-foot- tall cross of St. Hubertus, the patron saint of hunting, which was originally installed in the chapel at the Imperial Rominten Hunting Lodge in East Prussia, and a pair of fallow deer mounts, notable for their matching antlers. The twin stags were chosen by the jagermeister (hunting master) for Kaiser Wilhelm and Emperor Josef to hunt during the 25th jubilee of the Emperor's reign. Many of the trophies are red stags, the largest of the European deer. "The ones in this collection are huge," Supp says, with 20-or-more-point antlers and four-foot spreads "that are just enormous. You very rarely see deer that size any more." Coppola is collaborating with Pettigrew Fine Furnishings showroom in Dallas for a series of private viewings and cocktail receptions for interior designers and collectors. Interested parties may also view the collection by appointment. The collection opens to the public mid-January. A catalog is available in print and online. Information 513.760.0040, suzanne@laurier; online catalog Pettigrew Fine Furnishings, Dallas Design District, 1805 Market Center Blvd., 214.747.2232. Stag PARTY BY REBECCA SHERMAN From the Eulenberg Hunt, 1892 (a year best known for tremendous red stags) with Sachsen Reserve Officer's gorget Vintage photograph depicting the Rothschild collection at an Austrian hunting estate Antelopes, springbok and impala from the African Hunt collection, taken by Thomas Von Prince in Tanga and presented to Kaiser Wilhelm II African Hunt collection piece from Tanga, presented to Kaiser Wilhelm II. Wappenschild is of the Lion's Order Germany Colonial Service medal, 2nd class, mounted on sunburst. This giant red stag is one of the oldest in the collection, belonging to King Frederick William III of Prussia, 1770-1840 Red stag belonging to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, part of the Kings of Bavaria collection Eleven-foot-high St. Hubertus cross with 250-year-old hunting horn, commissioned by Kaiser Wilhelm II in honor of St. Hubertus. The Royal Hunt collection on display at Pettigrew Red stag, European mount with cornice from a Bulgarian castle From the Eulenberg Hunt collection, a magnificent red stag from 1892 with the Prussian eagle wappenschild

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