Lady Cust's egg, Great auk egg no.21
Description: Eggs of the Great Auk are regarded as being among the most sought-after of all natural history trophies. The Victorians thought of them so highly that every surviving egg was listed and its whereabouts carefully recorded. At this time more than 60 had survived and each of these had been collected in the years before 1844, when the bird itself became extinct. Today, almost all of those that still exist are in museums from which they will never be released. Only three remain in private hands, so these eggs are much rarer than those of other valuable antique eggs. Each egg has been given a name and its history recorded. The first record of Lady Cust?s Egg is that it was bought in Paris during the first half of the nineteenth century by the celebrated naturalist William Yarrell who presented it to Lady Cust. No-one knows quite why he did this, but she kept it for many years. At her death it passed into the collection of another well-known ornithologist, George Dawson Rowley, and it has passed through the collections of several other illustrious naturalists in the years since his time.