The Pied Pyper of Curiosities

The Pied Pyper of Curiosities

Highlights from the  fascinating Gary Pyper Collection are to be offered as part of Sworders’ upcoming annual Out of the Ordinary sale. 

10 November 2022 

Gary  Pyper  began  collecting  at  a  very  early  age.  A  fascination  with  objects  and  the  stories  behind  them  proved  a  welcome  alternative  to  school  textbooks  and  was  the  impetus  behind  his first regular Saturday job, working alongside his friend’s father at the local auction house. By the mid-90s, having studied industrial design at university, he was filling vans with mid-century design  and  running  them  into  London.  However,  highlights  from  the  Gary  Pyper  Collection  offered  as  part  of  Sworders’  annual  Out  of  the  Ordinary  sale  on  Tuesday  7  February  display  a  more eclectic eye. From the fossil of a keichousaurus, a marine reptile from the Triassic period (estimate £300-500) to a pair of leather miner's helmets (estimate £300-500), this is the stuff of the Wunderkammer.

 A collection of lots from the Gary Pyper Collection.

 A collection of lots from the Gary Pyper Collection. 

‘Objects  give  me  a  tangible  connection  to  the  past  and  to  the  craftsman  who  shaped  them,’  says Gary. ‘If something makes me feel intrigued or enlightened in some way, then I add it to the collection.’

For  Gary,  there  was  also  the  joy  of  the  hunt:  ‘the  more  unexpected  the  discovery,  the  more  rewarding  they  are.  Many  of  the  objects  in  the  collection  were  found  by  scouring  local  flea  markets by torchlight, or simply by following up on a random conversation with a stranger.’ It was in this way that he came to own items as diverse as a carrier pigeon message written in code during the Boer War (estimate £150-250) and a 5000-year-old ‘eye’ idol from the ancient Syrian city of Tell Brak (estimate £400-600). Some of the most spirited stories found in the objects Gary sourced have proved invaluable in inspiring the same fascination with the world in his children: ‘educating  my  kids  became  one  of  the  main  motivations  -  and  justifications  -  for  maintaining  such a large and quirky collection. They are both entering into teens now so it’s time to share the contents with a wider audience and free them from the solitude of the attic.’

late Uruk Period, ca. 3300 to 3000 BCE, Near East, modern Syria, Tell Brak, a Tell Brak idol, of abstract form with perforated eyes, the green stone with amber flecks

Late Uruk Period, ca. 3300 to 3000 BCE, Near East, modern Syria, Tell Brak, a Tell Brak idol, of abstract form with perforated eyes, the green stone with amber flecks,9cm high, £400-600

To find out more about the Gary Pyper Collection in our upcoming auction, please contact




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