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Victorian Antique Taxidermy
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The Booth Collection
Founded by Edward Thomas Booth, naturalist and keen on all aspects of Natural History. He was born in 1840, to a moneyed family. Early years were spent in education in Brighton and then on to Trinity College Cambridge where is studied only intermittently, as finally asked to leave having spent more time on the fens shooting and observing birds rather than studying.
Edward returned to Brighton in 1865 and he created the Booth Collection in 1874. The taxidermy museum was dubbed “home of the dioramas". Being one of the first exponents of observing birds in their natural habitat and then re-creating this as close as practical possible. His detailed notes and sketches bear witness to this detail. Booth is one of the finest Victorian Natural History bird taxidermy collections in the UK.
Edward Thomas Booth. 1840-1890. Pictured here holding a walking stick which is in fact a "410" shotgun.
Introduction to the First Edition dated 1876 by Mr. E T Booth in his own words
As a catalogue does not need a Preface, I will simply state by way of introduction that all scientific arrangements has been given up as hopeless in a collection where the chief objection has been to endeavour to represent the birds in situations somewhat similar to those in which they were obtained. Many of the cases, indeed being copied from sketches taken on the actual spots where the birds themselves were shot.
The few notes that I have recorded are solely my personal observations and with two or three exceptions (all noted) not a book of reference has been opened.
Those who expect to find a long list of rarities I am afraid will be sadly disappointed as in order to avoid exhibiting or describing a specimen with which I was only acquainted by hearsay, I have restricted the collection entirely to birds that have fallen to my own gun during my various excursions in the British Isles.
This is an additional page to compliment the exisitng images.
Victorian Kestrels with chicks. Specimens shot / obtained from Canty Bay, East Lothian, June 1867. The case was a direct copy of the nest in the rocks that overhung the road between Kinlochewe and Gairloch in Ross-shire. .
Victorian European Red Kites with chicks.
Victorian Cattle Egret
Victorian Red Necked Phalarope with eggs and chick. Interestingly the female is the one with the bold plumage. The duller male to the left, which incubates the eggs is on the left. The eggs can just be seen beside the newly hatched chick.
Victorian Curlews with chicks
Victorian European Coots with chicks.
Victorian Shellducks with chicks. The birds are abundant on many parts of the coast. They may be found as residents however more commonly in the Northern than in the Southern division of the island, but in severe weather they are frequently driven from their usual haunts and make their appearance on any open water.
In some quarters they are known as "Burrow Ducks" their name being derived from their habit of breeding in rabbit warrens, the nest usually placed at a depth of four to five feet in the burrow. By the time the young ate hatched the parent birds, female especially generally present a very dirty and rugged appearance. The confined entrance and passage to their nursery most notably being the main cause of their threadbare condition. Most waterfowl conduct their newly hatched young under the shelter of reeds or long grass that may be found near to hand, but this species if not quite out to sea may be found with their brood on the open sands The young birds though seen in such a seemingly unprotected state are by no means easily procured.
On the first sight of danger they scatter in all directions and each one taking a line for itself, it seldom that more than one falls a victim to the pursuer. If surprised amongst the sandbanks and bent grass the colour so resembles the surrounding objects that they are almost trodden upon without being perceived.
The male and female in the case were obtained just before the breeding season being shot early in the Spring of 1867 in Gullane Bay in the Firth of Forth. The old birds belonging to the brood were killed but the soiled condition of their feathers would only have given a very poor condition of what handsome birds they had been a few weeks earlier. The young were taken in Dornock Firth in June 1868
Victorian European Great Crested Grebe with eggs and chicks. Great Crested Grebe
After all the persecutions of this curios bird has undergone for the sake of the feathers it is a remarkable fact that it is still numerous in several parts of Great Britain and though its haunts are rapidly becoming restricted by drainage and other innovations the Broads in the Eastern Counties with their extensive reed beds are likely to afford it safe asylum for several years to come During the Winter even should the weather prove mild the majority of these birds take their departure from their Summer quarters and found for the most part singly either on the tidal rivers or the open sea.
The summer plumage is acquired early in the year. I have observed specimens with the frill or ruff fully developed in February and March and on one occasion as early as January 18th. The nest of this species is a large accumulation of the stems of the reed amongst which it is built, the whole of the structure together with its contents being perpetually moist. In the three or four instances where I have closely watched the habits of this bird I have discovered that the eggs are regularly laid on alternate days and the young I have also noticed being hatched at similar intervals
Victorian European Moorhen with chicks.
Victorian European Short Eared Owl with chicks.
Victorian European Ring Ouzels.
Victorian European Barn Owls with part adult chicks. The case is a direct copy of the bell tower in Plumpton Church, where the birds were obtained from in the 1870's
Victorian European Stone Curlews with eggs. The true home of this bird as the name denotes is the Eastern Counties. On the large warrens in the neighbourhood of Thetford and other parts of Norfolk it breeds abundantly. On the range of the South Downs in Sussex from above Worthing to Newhaven it is by no means scarce being most plentiful on the hills between Brighton and Lewes. I have noticed that all the nests I have discovered in Sussex have been placed on the slopes of the downs that either faced East or West. I have never met with this birds during the Winter, though I have heard of their being occasionally flushed from the turnip fields in late Autumn and it is most probable that they leave the country upon the approach of cold weather. I believe that it has been stated by most naturalists that the male and female are alike. This is certainly true as regards the plumage but as will be seen by the specimen in the case that the male has a knob about the size of two peas on the base of the beak, which is easily, distinguishes him from his mate. We are likewise informed that incubation lasts sixteen or seventeen days, but I am afraid that the patience of the birds, will have to be taxed for about five days longer before their downey progeny breaks the shell. The male and female and eggs are from the hills between Brighton and Lewes and were obtained in June 1872. The case is a correct representation of a nest found near Falmer, every stone and stem of furze being brought from their identical spot.
Victorian Little Owls by Pratt of Brighton.
Victorian Gargraney duck with chicks
Victorian Gyr Falcon.
Victorian Male Kestrel.
Victorian Merlins with eggs in a moorland scene. The female is in flight. Superb case by Pratt of Brighton, perhaps the best Merlin case they have produced.
Victorian Spoonbill. Most old gunners can remember the time when flocks of these birds were common every spring in the marshes and on the mudbanks around our coasts. A few however still make their appearance nearly every season about the middle of May along the flat country between the mouths of the Humber and Thames.
A Spoonbill when pitched by itself on a mudbank where food is plentiful is generally easily approached within gunshot, but its unusual appearance seems to so excite any Gulls that are near at hand that they immediately commence flying and screaming round the stranger and never cease their clamour till they have driven it out of their sight.
The male bird in the case had frequented Breydon mudflats for a week or ten days feeding whenever he could get a chance, but had been so persecuted that he never had time to settle for a few minutes before he was compelled to quit the spot. It was only by waiting near his accustomed feeding ground just at daybreak that I was enabled to get a shot at him. It is stated that many years before they bred in Norfolk nesting on the tops of trees in the same manner as a Heron. The specimens in the case were both shot on Breydon mudflats near Yarmouth, the female in May 1871 and the male in May 1873.
Victorian European Corncrake or Land Rails as they were once known with chicks.
Victorian European Great Crested Grebe with chick.
Victorian European Male Mallard with chicks.
Victorian European Female Mallard with chicks.
Victorian European Curlew with chicks.
Victorian European Great Crested Grebes on a frozen pond.
Victorian European Stone Curlew with eggs.
Victorian European Broad Billed Sandpipers.
Victorian European Water Rail.
Victorian European Black Terns.
Victorian European Short Eared Owls in a Winter Scene. The birds have suffered from fading.
Victorian European Black Winged Pratincoiles
Victorian European Curlew with chicks
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