Local auctioneers 1818 have launched their own inquisition after two life size carvings of Spanish soldiers, or Conquistadors, were discovered at a house clearance near Ulverston.
The firm’s expert David Brookes says he has never seen anything like them in his 35 years of valuing antiques.
What he does know is that they are a pair of 19th century carved wooden statues, modelled in the style of native Spanish Conquistadors, and possibly made in the Black Forest region of Germany. Standing just under 7-foot-tall, including detachable plinths, the bare-chested warriors are depicted wearing animal skins and a helmet. Mirroring each other, they hold clubs which rest on their shoulders. The bases are well decorated with animal masks and seated heraldic figures. Mr Brookes adds that the carving is detailed and skilfully done and the wood is stained a deep brown.
“Beyond that, they are a complete mystery and one that we could do with solving” said David Brookes.
“We know the Victorians loved their busts and statues; everything from knights in armour, angels and lions to athletes wrestling serpents. Technological advances meant they were made out of all sorts of materials and ranged in size from the miniature to the massive. Statues were collected by the wealthy and the middle classes to decorate their homes and, in the case of these two soldiers, to make a grand statement possibly either side of a doorway of the foot of a staircase.
“I have asked colleagues and antique buyers for their opinions but nothing has come of it other than a bit of excitement and further speculation.
“I would love to know where they were made, and by whom, and how they came to find their home in a modern house near Ulverston. Unfortunately that story has been lost with the owner” added Mr Brookes.
The statues will be sold at 1818 Auctioneers two day sale on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 June at the firm’s saleroom at Junction 36, just off the M6 on the Cumbria, Lancashire border. They are estimated to make between £3,000 and £5,000 but, says Mr Brookes, they could easily exceed that figure given how unique and well-made they are.
UPDATE: The final hammer price for the statues was £19,500.