A Model of an Ostrich, German, mid-18th Century.

The silver base bears a town mark for Augsburg, the head and neck are of Meissen porcelain. This would have been collected as an extravagantly mounted curiosity and probably used as a table decoration.

Ostriches are native to Africa. They have been hunted for food, their feathers and their skins since ancient times. In the West, they have always been regarded as exotic curiosities and feature largely in heraldry and legend. In the Middle Ages it was believed that ostriches were able to digest and take nutrition from any substance, including stone and iron. The horseshoe that this bird carries symbolises this myth, which persisted until the 18th Century.

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