Anatomical Study of the Common Fairy
From the private collection of Octavius Rookwood (August 16, 1853 – July 17, 1936), American British pharmaceutical entrepreneur, explorer and occult researcher.
This specimen was acquired by Rookwood during a stay with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire at their home, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, UK. A farmer from the village of Allestree, situated approximately 30 miles to the south of the Chatsworth estate, discovered the small fairy body when his faithful rat catcher left the limp remains on his kitchen floor. The cat normally left daily 'glory gifts' for the farmer which comprised of mice, rats and small birds but during the spring of 1902 it started to leave dead fairies. Rumours spread throughout the local villages and the farmer began to exhibit them at the pubs and cattle shows for a small fee. Rookwood got wind of the story and promised the farmer a handsome reward if he could supply him with a fresh specimen. The farmer promptly delivered two fairy corpses to Rookwood; one complete and another partially devoured by the farm cat.
The framed specimens were exhibited at the Royal Anthropological Institute in London for a number of years before disappearing in 1911. They were rediscovered in 1998 during the restoration of Rookwood's ancestral home by the National Trust. Dismissed as a late Victorian sideshow oddity, the fairies were auctioned at Sotheby's to raise funds for the upkeep of the estate and purchased by a private collector believed to be a prominent Canadian businessman.