Byline: Harry Hawkes
Dinosaur mania is the latest fascinating subject which is gripping collectors and antiques dealers.
Lynne Elliott, a respected antiques dealer from Lancashire, is one of a number of experts in the field of pre-history artifacts who have noticed an increased interest in dinosaurs and other pre-history items in the past few months.
She says: "Monsters have been with us for a long time now, and over the years this interest has gathered pace since Jurassic Park hit the cinema screens and Walking With Dinosaurs arrived on television.
"However, dinosaurs have captured the imagination of people for generations, long before Disney's artists taught them to smile.
"Indeed, so great is the interest in our pre-history that artifacts generally described as antiquities have become highly collectable."
Mrs Elliott, who next week has a stand at the Antiques For Everyone show at the NEC in Birmingham, said: "Dinosaur eggs are a typical example. At an antiques fair last year, TV news crews descended with gusto on one dealer who happened to have a rather fine dinosaur egg among her display of Chinese pottery.
"It was quickly sold to a collector from the Isle of Man with a request for another five for each of his grandchildren.
"Single dinosaur eggs and nests of several eggs have appeared for sale anywhere between a few hundred and tens of thousands of pounds. Usually laid in clusters and often quite well preserved, size and condition is most important, for some eggs look like lumps of concrete.
"To be sure that an egg is authentic it can be X-rayed through the offices of the British Museum or a professional scientific body, and usually the scan will reveal the outline of the embryonic creature inside. This renewed interest in our prehistory has sparked interest in antiquities - an area of where many exceedingly old artifacts can be bought for quite modest amounts.
"In fact, while museum collections are a very valuable source of knowledge there are many more rare and valuable antiquities in private hands than can ever be seen in public institutions. …