Victorian Taxidermy Information
Victorian Antique Taxidermy
We get asked to recommend Victorian Taxidermy dealers and Victorian
Taxidermy Resources by our friends, we now include below examples of Victorian taxidermy and useful information and contacts in this arena. Please feel free to browse. If you have any specific informtion pertaining to cases and or Victorian taxidermist, please let us know and we shall put it in this section of the website.
The aim of this website apart from buying good quality examples of this artform is also to create a centre of information so that individuals can expand their own personal knowledge and also contribute to shared knowledge of this subject matter.
We are always very interested in Purchasing Victorian Taxidermy, please respond via this on-line form of what you have for sale. HERE
Alternatively you can simply call 07917 052624 and we will be more than pleased to take your call. Single items or collections will also be considered.
Interesting glass plate of an English Victorian taxidermist. Interesting to see the species mounted which include Red Squirrels, Ptarmigan in winter pluamge and Dippers. The taxidermist is unknown currently, but an interesting window in history nevertheless.
Victorian Taxidermy Collections
We have just completed a review of Major European Bird Collections.
This was partly due to the term "value" being attributed to cases of birds either by certain artists and their rarity in terms of availability. This term has always intrigued, given the fact that taxidermy has been so out of fashion for so long.
The need therefore to understand the number and therefore the potential availability of such items is of interest.
We concentrated on "major" collections as to be able to determine the exact number of small collections would be too onerous. Therefore we concentrated on those collections that were once private and are now in public hands. Collections that were obtained principally around 1830 onwards until say 1920.
Merlins by The famous Victorian Taxidermist Peter Spicer of Leamington Spa.
The figure outlined below also does not include birds eggs, skeletons or nests.
Clearly many of the major firms, Ward, Gunn, Spicer, Kirk, Murray, Cullingford etc etc would have been commissioned to undertake the work as it would have been a requirement to ensure that the items were anatomically correct.
Anyway the total figure for items of either bird skins or mounts of birds only in the UK, is approximately. 1.2 million items. In museums today clearly we only see a fraction of these on display. Image the task just to ensure that they remain in good condition?. Still think this stuff is rare?
Although Victorian Taxidermist's attitudes to wildlife seem almost barbaric by modern standards, it should be remembered that Victorian naturalists did not access to binoculars or cameras. Often, the only method of identifying flying specimens was to shoot first and study afterwards. This is not an excuse, merely a factual reality. Also in the defence of the Victorian and perhaps the suggestion that they were responsible for the decimation of various species, this is perhaps true. It is however nothing compared with today's industrial society. Habitat loss, liberal and perhaps unregulated use of herbicides, insecticides have also taken their toll. Not to mention massive growth in the worlds population and the demands that makes. Yes the Victorians played their part, but today we are causing significant envrionmental damage, the results of which we have no knowledge.
Cornish Choughs by The famous Victorian Taxidermist Hutchinson of Derby. This firm were famous for their mixed cases of both British birds and Exotic birds imported following Darwin's successful expeditions around the globe. Choughs were extinct from Cornwall for a number of years, but it is understood that they are now back and numbers are increasing steadily.
The chough was once widespread around the coasts of Britain but has declined since the early nineteenth century, with only about 300 pairs left, mainly in Wales, the Isle of Man and western Scotland, although a larger population is present in Eire. A decline in suitable feeding habitat is thought to be the main reason for the loss of the chough from England, with many of the well-grazed pastures that were once common along the coast ploughed up for arable crops or overgrown with scrub.
Cornwall was once a stronghold for Choughs, they last nested in the county in 1952, long after they had been lost from the rest of England. As the chough declined, so it became an increasingly prized target for egg collectors and trophy hunters and this may have finally sealed the bird's fate in Cornwall.
In 2001 four wild choughs were seen in west Cornwall and three took up residence, leading to hopes that they might stay to breed. Developments were eagerly awaited during the early spring of 2002 and to everyone's delight two of the birds began nesting. By mid-April they had built a nest tucked away out of sight within a sea cave and the female had begun to incubate a clutch of eggs - the first Coughs to breed in Cornwall (and England) for 50 years.
A team of dedicated volunteers provided a round-the-clock watch over the birds to ensure illegal egg collectors could not raid the nest and thereby ruin any chance of the chough returning to Cornwall.
Charles Willson Peale was was born in Chester, Queen Anne's County, Maryland, the son of Charles Peale and his wife Margaret. In 1749 his brother James Peale (1749-1831) was born. Charles became an apprentice to a saddle maker when he was thirteen years old. Upon reaching maturity, he opened his own saddle shop; however, when his Loyalist creditors discovered he had joined the Sons of Liberty, they conspired to bankrupt his business.
Peale had a great interest in natural history, and organized the first U.S. scientific expedition in 1801. These two major interests combined in his founding of what became the Philadelphia Museum, and was later renamed the Peale Museum.
This museum is considered the first It housed a diverse collection of botanical, biological, and archaeological specimens. Most notably, the museum contained a large variety of birds which Peale himself acquired, and it was the first to display North American mammoth bones.
The display of the mammoth bones entered Peale into a long standing debate between Thomas Jefferson and Comte de Buffon. Buffon argued that Europe was superior to the Americas biologically, which was illustrated through the size of animals found there. Jefferson referenced the existence of these mammoths (which he believed still roamed northern regions of the continent) as evidence for a greater biodiversity in America. Peale's display of these bones drew attention from Europe, as did his method of re-assembling large skeletal specimens in three dimensions.
Charles Peale's longroom.
Although Peale continued to paint, his later years were dominated by a growing interest in natural history and science. Ingenious exhibits of stuffed animals and birds (as well as the reconstructed skeleton of a mammouth that Peale himself unearthed) shared the spaces at Peale's museum with his renderings of American heroes and other notables.
A true "universal man" who plunged with equal enthusiasm into taxidermy, "moving pictures,"
making false teeth and designing mechanical farm equipment, Charles Willson Peale is best
remembered as the "Artist of the American Revolution."
His collection of birds inspired ornithologists like John James Audubon, Charles Bonaparte, and Alexander Wilson, and his stuffed specimens became the basis for works such as Wilson's American Ornithology and Godman's American Natural History. Peale's remarkable museum was celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic, as his work fascinated and inspired others to investigate the world of nature.
Charles Peale's Montgomery Masterdon 1801.
By 1810, the museum had also acquired 21 specimens of the simia or "monkey tribe," and Peale even had high hopes to one day include actual specimens of Homo sapiens in the museum. He settled, however, for costumed figures of different races of mankind which he made himself. Numerous species of fish, shells, frogs, turtles, lizards, water snakes, cranes ducks, geese, herons, quail, bears, squirrels, leopards, tigers, wild-cats, fox, raccoons, and rabbits filled the museum. Additionally, the museum also had a zoo where live animals such as a grizzly bear could be viewed up close.
Over the years, he had developed a method of preserving animals which involved the use of arsenic. The arsenic made his health deteriorate, and Peale moved away from the city in an attempt to recover. In 1810, C.W. Peale left the museum in the care of his son, Rembrandt, and bought a farm in Germantown. Shortly thereafter, his second wife died, and Peale married a third time. He died on February 22, 1827 in his bed in his home in Germantown, Maryland.
Upon Peale's death, the museum was sold to the showmen P.T. Barnum and Moses Kimball, who split it up. Today, much of the collection is in the Peale Museum in Baltimore. Rembrandt Peale founded the Baltimore museum and designed the building; it is now managed by the Maryland Historical Society.
Born in 1522, Aldrovandi lived between the times of Da Vinci and Galileo. Like these geniuses of their times, Aldrovandi too got himself in hot water with the church. Arrested for heresy for espousing anti-trinitarian beliefs, Aldrovandi was transfered to Rome. On a sort of loose house-arrest, the time in Rome proved to have a silver lining; Aldrovandi began to cultivate an intense interest in the natural world.
Up to this point, very little existed in the way of collections of natural specimens. The only collections belonged to apothecaries and were liable to be ground up into medicated powder on a moment’s notice, but Aldrovandi was about to change all this.
His interests ranged widely from botany to zoology to geology, a word he is thought to have coined. At the young age of 31, after serving out his sentence for heresy, he began collecting anything of natural interest he could get his hands on. He would eventually assemble over 18,000 “diversità di cose naturali” creating the first great cabinet of curiosity, one of the first natural history museums (open only to scholars and aristocrats), jump starting the modern study of natural history. Ole Worm, who was to create one of the most famous cabinets of curiosity modeled his after Aldrovandi, and Linnaeus, who created the system of taxonomy, called him the father of natural history.
Aldrovani was an obsessive collector and he had a taste for the bizarre. One of the many books he wrote was Monstrorium Historia, a compendium of all known human and animal monstrosities. His collection contained what would have been some of the earliest taxidermy. He even owned a dragon or two. Shortly before his death he gave his collection to the university of Bologna. It would be another 50 years before Aldrovandi’s collection was acquired by another Italian naturalist and showman, Ferdinando Cospi.
Ferdinando Cospi would take the collection and add greatly to its contents, though not always its credibility. Adding such natural wonders as fish-bird hybrids and a mermaid, Cospi went so far as to have a dwarf act as the guide to the now enormous collection of natural wonders. How the dwarf felt about his dual role as guide and addition to the collection is unknown, though easily surmised
"The Pugilists". This image looks like the work of Edward Hart of Winchester.
Williams & Sons, Dublin 1850-1941
Wonderful postcard depicting the front of William's shop in Dublin dated 1908.
Female Shovelor duck by Williams of Dublin.
This firm was founded by two brothers and was then joined by their father at a later stage. The postcard indicated above is dated 1908 and demonstrates the capability of the firm with the scale and diversity of the subject matter. Fish and birds were common, but more exotic animal preparations were also clearly undertaken as they are present in the image. We have made the assumption that the gentlemen pictured in the image is one of the Williams clan but which one, it is not possible to ascertain.
Williams cases varied in design from domes, to flat fronted cases to all glass constructions. The quality of the work however is superb. We have seen many examples of fish by Williams of Dublin and also more interesting birds such as a female Marsh Harrier and a Shovelor duck (which appears to be in eclipse plumage). This case in particular has an interesting background; we have assumed that the landscape is perhaps where the bird was shot. Another case depicting English waders was recently sold at auction and sadly the contents of this case were dismantled and sold separately, perhaps for greater financial gain.
The message on the postcard states that a Peregrine Falcon was shot in a field in Silo on the 4th of August 1904 and sent to Mr Williams on the 5th of August 1904. We have no image of the result mount nor indeed any confirmation as to whether this mount was created for the client, a Mr G.W.Wood.
Wonderful postcard depicting the description of the bird that was sent to Williams & Sons 1908.
Case of Waders in winter plumage by Williams & Sons
African Elephant foot by Williams of Dublin
European Pike by Williams of Dublin.
The fish mounts we have had the opportunity to view have nearly always been mounted in flat fronted cases and more typically originate solely from fish that have been obtained in Ireland. This could be from visiting sportsmen to the region, who upon acquiring a fish that pleased them, had it mounted locally. Another reason is that fish "fade" quickly and therefore would not have travelled as well as other specimens.
It has also been reported that the last remaining brother / son of the taxidermy family moved from Ireland to Leicester and then finally to Norfolk where he continued, following his retirement from Leicester museum in 1969, until his death in 1977.
This ended almost 125 years of contribution to the art of taxidermy. It is interesting to note that although this firm in one form or another produced work for such a long period that very few items come onto the market for sale today. Should anyone have any further information and or indeed images to increase the knowledge of this firm then please contact us as we would be delighted to receive them.
Female Marsh Harrier by Williams of Dublin.
Victorian image of inside the Hunterian Museum.
Wonderful restored Gannets, by unknown Victorian Taxidermist.
Freak Kitten by Walter Potter of Bramber in West Sussex. Victorian mount, please refer to the page dedicated to Walter Potters work on this site.
Wonderful image from historic Smithsonian exhibition of Whales and Dolphins.
Kestrel and Sparrowhawk by Lowne of Great Yarmouth. Victorian case. Walter Lowne, active from the 1870s until 1913, had a taxidermy shop on Fuller's Hill in Great Yarmouth. On January 1st 1902 an exhausted rail, cinnamon in colour and about the size of a Moorhen Gallinula chloropus landed on a small fishing boat off the Suffolk coast at Hopton-on-Sea. It was taken to nearby Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, where it was taken in by a local taxidermist, Mr Walter Lowne, and kept alive for two days. It is not clear if the bird then died of natural causes or was killed to be stuffed. The bird was identified with the aid of books and skins lent by a Professor Newton, in particular it was the plate in Dresser's Birds of Europe which apparently clinched the identification
An original image of Thomas Hall.Image also depicts a Toucan
This is an email recieved from Australia. Many thanks. They also kindly provided the etching of Thomas Hall, as pictured above. As descendants of Thomas Hall of City Road we have a particular interest in the items mentioned on your gallery page 3. You note on both items these are circa 1890. This is unlikely as the last bearer of this name who continued the business of bird stuffer, died in about 1860. As far as we have been able to establish, his son, also Thomas did not continue with the trade. You are probably aware, that the most well known T. Hall of Finsbury issued tokens in 1795 for his busines in City Road, so it is most unlikely that he was still working a hundred years later :-) We would be most interested to know if you have any history of the items currently in your possession. Sincerely Ed McKie. We have not see too many examples of the work by this taxidermist. We do own a pair of Ruffs and once a Shovelor duck, but the taxidermy is not great, but that said the preservation is better than some of the taxidermist who proceeded him. James Gardner by example tend to fall apart with moth infestation.
An original copper struck coin stating how Mr Hall felt about himself at the time. These coins were struck around 1795-1830. One of the earlist UK taxidermists. This coins depicts a Toucan
An original copper struck coin stating how Mr Hall felt about himself at the time. These coins were struck around 1795-1830. One of the earlist UK taxidermists. This coins depicts a Toucan
An original copper struck coin stating how Mr Hall felt about himself at the time. These coins were struck around 1795-1830. One of the earlist UK taxidermists.
An original copper struck coin stating how Mr Hall felt about himself at the time. These coins were struck around 1795-1830. One of the earlist UK taxidermists. This coins depicts a Rhino, Armadillo and Kangaroo
White Negress Copper Penny
1795 White Negress Penny
Copper penny token issued in 1795 by T. Hall for his Exhibition of Curiosities and Natural Phenomena situated on the City Road, London.
Obverse - An African woman standing in a long dress, half right, 'Mrs NEWSHAM THE WHITE NEGRESS'. Reverse -'THE FIRST ARTIST IN EUROPE FOR PRESERVING BIRDS BEASTS Etc'. Edge - 'MANUFACTURED BY W. LUTWYCHE BIRMINGHAM'. Diesinker Dixon, manufacturer Lutwyche.
Thomas Hall of No. 10 City Road was a taxidermist, curiosity dealer and proprietor of an exhibition of stuffed birds and animals, curiosities and natural phenomena. He was the owner and exhibitor of the first Kangaroo ever to be brought to Europe which is an illustration of the importance and popularity of this establishment in Georgian London.
However, in line with the values of the day, animals were not the only the exhibits at this museum and sadly deformed humans, dwarfs and Africans were also put on show as a curiosity and this penny token advertises one of them.
Amelia Newsham was probably an albino African and there are records of a 'white negro girl' being exhibited at the Bartholomew Fair in London at 'a penny a look', some several years before the date of this token.
1795 White Negress Penny
It is likely that Mrs. Newsham was that girl and in 1795 she was in the 'employ' of Thomas Hall. Contemporary accounts describe her as being the child of black Jamaican parents, she had African features but white skin and white hair - some four to six inches long with the Constancy and colour of sheep's wool.
Born a slave in Jamaica, she was sent as a gift from her owner to his son in London. Later she was sold on to two men who exhibited her across England. At this point she met and married an Englishman and from then on she continued to exhibit herself as the "White Negress", after she gained her freedom.
She was still alive in 1824 for at that date the Cabinet of Curiosities magazine described her as 'Born in Kingston Jamaica, arrived in Britain as a young girl where she married an Englishman by the name of Newsham by whom she had six children and although white herself, they were all mullatoes'. She was still exhibiting at that time and would recite a poem to viewers regarding the amazing curiosity that she was.
The Salter Collection which is now the Oaklands Museum,Chelmsford Essex.
Peter Spicer of Leamington Spa
The firm of Peter Spicer and Sons was established in 1798 by Thomas Spicer, a saddler and harness maker
Peter Spicer is regarded as one of the greatest British taxidermists. He ran a large taxidermy company in Leamington Spa during the late 19th century and early 20th century. His cased work is characterised by evocative painted backdrops and highly realistic bases made from papier-mache with dried vegetation, real pebbles etc.
Peter Spicer set up in business as a taxidermist in 1860 at 4 Upper Parade, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, the son of John (1811-1866) the first Spicer taxidermist and with a shop in Jury Street, Warwick, and became one of the most famous firms. He was also a keen artist, particularly of dead game, exhibiting at the RBSA between 1879 and 1899. For more information follow the link below the Peter Spicer page on this site.
Egyptian Nightjar by Robert Duncan of Durham.
Arab Courier Attacked by Lions is the most dynamic and best-known piece of taxidermy ever created by French naturalist and taxidermist Jules Verreaux. Verreaux designed this extraordinary exhibit for the Paris Exposition of 1867, where it was awarded a gold medal. His aim was to portray life in motion and to stir the emotions of viewers-an aim very different from that of other taxidermists of his time.
Arab Courier features a now-extinct subspecies of lion, the Barbary lion, which was gradually eliminated from its North African realm by expanding human settlement in the Saharan and coastal regions of North Africa. The "Barbary" region of the Mediterranean coast between Egypt and the Atlantic Ocean was historically occupied by the "Berbers" in the second millennium B.C. After falling to the Arabs in the seventh century A.D. and a thousand years of Arab control, it was by the 19th century under European colonial influence, and included such states as Algeria, Tunisia, Tripoli and Morocco. France, as a leading colonial nation, dominated Algeria by mid-century. At the time of the Paris Exposition of 1867, it was a logical nation to interpret the natural history of the region to the scientific world and the general public.
Verreaux fashioned the lions and the camel from metal frameworks wrapped with excelsior or straw, over which the animal skins were stretched. Although some or all of the original skulls and teeth were used, facial details were cast in plaster. The human figure was constructed of steel rods wrapped in horsehair or excelsior and covered with a knitted cotton fabric. The face and hands are painted plaster casts.
After its debut in Paris 1867, Arab Courier Attacked by Lions made its way to the United States. This Paris Exposition, like other 19th-century world's fairs in Paris and elsewhere, produced works of art and exhibit materials that were dispersed after the great exhibitions closed. In 1869, the American Museum of Natural History purchased the Arab Courier. Except for a brief hiatus in 1876, when it appeared at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, the exhibit remained at the American Museum until 1898. Arab Courier was the first animal group ever acquired by the American Museum.
Arab Courier was wholly unlike other animal exhibits of its day, which were typically single specimens stiffly mounted and affixed to drab wooden pedestals, and displayed mechanically in rows. While the public lavished the exhibit with attention and praise, museum administrators and scientific staff at New York museum found this theatrical display ill-suited to an institution devoted to scientific pursuits. It was decided that the exhibit should be disposed of.
The Carnegie Institute has often been credited with rescuing the exhibit, but in fact that honor belongs to American Museum of Natural History curator Joseph Asaph Allen. Allen realized its historical value as well as its enormous potential to attract and delight visitors, and he knew that Andrew Carnegie's new museum in Pittsburgh was in need of impressive new exhibits. After Carnegie Institute's purchase of the exhibit and a complicated shipping process, the exhibit arrived in Pittsburgh and required cleaning, repair, and renovation before reassembly.
Frederick Webster, of Carnegie Institute, was a graduate of Ward's Natural Science Establishment in Rochester, New York and was nationally recognized as an innovator in developing animal habitat groups for exhibition. He was ideally qualified to renovate the Arab Courier group. The camel required the most extensive work. Wood, wire and excelsior were added to the neck for additional support and the ears and eyes were repaired. He also remodeled the mouths and tongues of the camel and lions and cleaned and waxed their teeth. In addition, the hides, clothing, saddle and other paraphernalia were thoroughly cleaned. When the exhibit was reassembled it was encased in glass for the first time in its history, and it went on display at the Carnegie Museum in November of 1899.
Designed over 100 years ago to be viewed from all sides, it was displayed that way until 1958, when the case was last opened for cleaning and a background was painted by museum artist Ottmar Von Fuehrer. The current Exhibits staff has dispensed with the background in order to display Arab Courier as designer Verreaux originally intended-visually unhindered by supports or other obstructions.
Tympanuchus cupido cupido
The heath hen, a subspecies of the prairie chicken, was once found in the eastern United States. Before the American Revolution, it was common from Maine to Virginia. As the human population increased, the heath hen population decreased, largely due to hunting.
It was once considered quite tasty and was rather easy to kill. Prior to the American Revolution, the heath hen was found in the eastern United States from Maine to Virginia.Expanding human populations in colonies caused great reductions in heath hen populations. By the 1870s the only heath hens left, occupied a tiny island called Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. By 1907 there were fewer than 100 heath hens left in the United States.
Efforts were made to save the remaining heath hens and a sanctuary was created for them on Martha's Vineyard, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts. By 1916 the population slowly increased to over 800 birds, but a large part of their breeding ground was destroyed by fire that year. This, along with an unusually harsh winter the following year and an increase in the goshawk population, reduced the heath hen population to 100 birds. By 1920 their numbers had doubled to 200 birds.
In 1921 a disease carried by domestic chickens spread to the heath hen population and their number dropped to 100 birds. By 1927 there were only 13 heath hens left. The last heath hen died in 1932. Another documented North American extinction
Ole Worm, a Danish Naturalist
Ole Worm was born in rhus, where he attended the city's grammar school, which was known for its humanist traditions. At the age of 13 he was sent to Germany to continue his education, first at the high school in Laneburg, and later in the Hanseatic town of Emmerich, where he had family. All of his subsequent university education
In 1605 he commenced theological studies in Marburg, and later in Giessen, but after two years he decided to specialize in medicine. In the spring of 1607 he was studying in Strasbourg, and then later in Basel, where he studied under a physician who possessed an outstanding collection of natural history specimens, of which some had been inherited from the pre-eminent collector Conrad Gesner (1516-65).
It was also here in Basel that Ole Worm became acquainted with that branch of medicine known as iatrochemistry, and first encountered the ideas of Theophrastus Paracelsus (1490-1541) - which were aimed at finding the chemical element that would cure all illnesses. From a botanist Worm learned the significance of collecting plants systematically, as well as the principle that direct observation is the basis of scientific advancement.
In July 1613 Worm was recalled from England and appointed Professor of Latin at the University of Copenhagen. He lived and stayed in Copenhagen for the rest of his life. He was married in 1615 to a daughter of the senior Professor of Medicine, Thomas Fincke (1561-1656), becoming at the same time brother-in-law to his friend Caspar Bartholin. Worm was later to become Professor of Greek, Physics, and finally in 1624 received a chair in his original subject, medicine. Added to this, Worm served as Rector of the University several times, the first time being in 1627 and the last in 1654.
Ole Worm commenced his systematic collecting activities in 1621 when he took over the chair of Physics and introduced instruction by the study of objects at the university. For the rest of his life he continually added to his collection, which is described in 'Museum Wormianum', published in 1655 after his death. Frederik III purchased the collection and it subsequently entered the Royal Kunstkammer.
As well as being a professor, a writer and a collector, Ole Worm served throughout all the many years as a doctor to all levels of society - from royalty to the most poverty-stricken in Copenhagen. He remained in the capital during several epidemics of plague in order to tend his patients. He died during one such epidemic in the summer of 1654 - of a bladder disease.
Perhaps the oldest example of British taxidermy. An African Grey Parrot owned by the Dutchess of Richmond. This bird still resides in Westminster Abbey, London. The date on the picture is 1702, which means the bird was preserved before that date.
Wonderfully preserved Chimpanzee, perhaps by Rowland Ward.
Wonderfully preserved Chimpanzee, perhaps by Rowland Ward.
Wonderfully preserved articulated Dodo skeleton.
Wonderful preserved plate demonstrating the disection process, very little has changed over the years. This is a Victorian plate from an old book.
Wonderful preserved Kingfishers and Wood Sandpiper by Franklin. Very old and rare case.
'The Trial Of A Rat For The Murder Of A Chick'
A very good example of early 20th century Victorian taxidermy, depicting an anthropomorphic courtroom scene, to include: a rat; field mouse; barn owl; tawny owl; ferret; cockerels; sparrow hawk; magpie; shrew; mole; vole; hedgehog; and others. This case whilst in the style of perhaps Water Potter was in fact created by 'W. Hart, Bird & Animal Preserver, Christchurch, Hants', much of his work center around specimens gathered in Sussex and Hampshire. Therefore the Potter influence should be no surprise given the original location of the Potter collection. This piece however waas created Lord Stuart de Rothesay.
When Country Life visited Highcliffe they found this "grotesque masterpiece" against a wall in the conservatory. The rather macabre display was illustrated by Country Life when writing about the castle on 8th May 1942. In its day it formed part of a large collection of works of art belonging to the Stuart-Wortley family at Highcliffe. It is understood that the work is coming up for auction in 2008.
. This is a postcard picture of that case.
Colour image of the above case.
Colour image of the above case.
Colour image of the above case.
Colour image of the above case.
Colour image of the above case.
Darwin's theory of evolution sparked science-based challenges to religious belief. Public scientific lectures and demonstrations were popular. This was a time of world exploration and thousands of exotic and unknown animals were arriving in London as those returning from expeditions brought taxidermy collections home. These specimens, for the most part dead and preserved, though with the occasional live animal, were bought on arrival by taxidermists, collectors and dealers in skins. They were prepared and then sold on to museums and private collections. Victorian gentlemen were obsessed with collecting. Many had private collections filled with stuffed animals, natural history paintings and 'curios' from other cultures.
The key to the durability of Victorian taxidermy lies with the preservatives used. In one recipe, laid down by the 18th-century French taxidermist Becoeur, arsenic was mixed with white soap, camphor and salt of tartar and lime to form a preservative known as arsenical soap. This not only preserved skin and prevented the decay of remaining flesh, but was also effective against insect attack. Natural History Museum has been opened since 1881. Richard Owen, the founder, arranged expeditions around the world to collect treasures for the museum
Gideon Mantell and Baron Georges Cuvier
The interrelationship between both men at a time when Natural History and Victorian Taxidermy was developing cannot be underestimated. Both were men of science with a passion for the natural world and both were ultimately recognised for their efforts in this arena. Mantell certainly would have conversed with Darwin and he certainly knew Richard Owen, The Founder of The Natural History Museum, Kensington, that houses Darwin's Taxidermy collection that the likes of Robert Duncan and Joseph Cullingford help to create.
(Provincial Geologist of Lewes East Sussex)1790 1852. .
Legend has it that while the country doctor Gideon Mantell was visiting a patient, his wife Mary Ann took a short stroll as she waited for him, and when Mantell finished his house call, she presented him with a puzzling tooth. In fact, this account can't be confirmed since Mantell didn't record at the time just how he acquired the tooth, and gave conflicting accounts later. What's certain is that the tooth was unlike anything he had ever seen. It was typical of an herbivore. Could it belong to a mammal? Mantell was confident that it came from Mesozoic strata, and there were no Mesozoic mammals known to science in the early 1820s. Even today, there are no known Mesozoic mammals of significant size, and Mantell's tooth was huge.
Mantell lived in Lewes, a small country town. He did everything a doctor could be expected to do, but his specialty was obstetrics. At a time when 14 women died for every 1,000 births, the dedicated Mantell only lost two patients in 2,400 deliveries.
Outside his demanding medical practice, Mantell found time for geology. Although the animal associated with the odd tooth would ultimately prove to be among his greatest contributions to science, it was hardly his first. When he started digging fossils, all the known fossil assemblages from Cretaceous England were marine, but Mantell found remains of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems that he named the Strata of Tilgate Forest. He began finding bones of gigantic animals as early as 1820 and published his first book The Fossils of South Downs or Illustrations of the Geology of Sussex in 1821. His friend Charles Lyell later encouraged Mantell to narrow his focus and concentrate on fossil reptiles and fish.
Leach's Petrel by Sheals of Dublin. Victorian case dated 1867
Victorian Avocets. .
Victorian Water Rail. .
Pair of Ringed Plovers with eggs. Victorian case.
After finding the puzzling tooth, Mantell showed it to other scientists, but they all dismissed it, the great Cuvier initially attributing it to a rhinoceros. Cuvier's dismissal was a blow to Mantell's confidence, but ultimately he remained firm: This tooth, along with other remains he found, belonged to a giant herbivorous reptile. In convincing other scientists of this, he had to demonstrate that the tooth was from Secondary (Mesozoic) strata. Through careful study of the rock layers, Mantell did just that, but members of the Geological Society of London saw little reason to listen to him. Discouraged but persistent, Mantell sent Cuvier more teeth and persuaded the French savant to reconsider his earlier decision
In 1825, Mantell published Notice on the Iguanodon, a Newly Discovered Fossil Reptile, from the Sandstone of Tilgate Forest, in Sussex. Perhaps because he had been snubbed for so long by the Geological Society, he had the paper read at a meeting of the even-more-prestigious Royal Society. The paper was an instant success. Mantell was soon elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and made an honorary member of the Institute of Paris. But success often comes at a price. Mantell began feeling too far away from the action in Lewes and in 1833 moved his family to Brighton.
Great Crested Grebe by FE Gunn. This is the finest Great Crested Grebe I have ever seen. The Grebe is floating on glass that resembles water. Most Victorian grebes are incorrectly mounted as if Penguins. FE Gunn has made a true representation of the bird as if the bird was still alive. The Grebe pictured here is about 100 years old
Victorian Deer Slot Silver Paperweight. Likely to be made in Scotland.
In his first popular lecture in Brighton, Mantell assured the local physicians that he wasn't there as a rival, then gave local prospective patients the somewhat contradictory assurance that his geological studies wouldn't detract from his dedication as a doctor. The prospective patients didn't believe him, and he never established a successful medical practice there. His finances became so desperate that the town's council finally "saved" him by turning his big house into a public museum. Setting up the museum in his home left one room for Mantell and no room for his family; they had to move. Though the Mantells may have stayed together from time to time, Mary Ann left her husband for good in 1839. Not long afterwards, one of their sons moved to New Zealand, and one of their daughters died of tuberculosis. Ironically, the museum in Brighton ultimately failed, and Mantell had to sell off the collection anyway. Perhaps even worse, he found himself upstaged by Richard Owen.(Founder of the natural History Museum in Kensington in 1881).
Though they started out on friendly terms, Mantell and Owen became bitter enemies over the years, squabbling over pterosaurs, Mesozoic birds and moas, along with dinosaurs. Owen even tried to prevent the Royal Society from awarding Mantell the Royal Medal. Mantell's discoveries of Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus had linked his name with the Age of Reptiles for two decades. But by establishing the Dinosauria, Owen effectively made the "terribly great reptiles" his own.
Along with his family and much of his fame, Mantell's health deserted him, too. A carriage accident injured his spine so badly that he was plagued by constant pain, and eventually by crippling deformity. Ultimately the accident cost Mantell his very life - in a desperate attempt to dull the pain, he accidentally overdosed on opiates in 1852.
Baron Georges Cuvier
Without a doubt, Georges Cuvier possessed one of the finest minds in history. Almost single-handedly, he founded vertebrate paleontology as a scientific discipline and created the comparative method of organismal biology, an incredibly powerful tool. It was Cuvier who firmly established the fact of the extinction of past lifeforms. He contributed an immense amount of research in vertebrate and invertebrate zoology and paleontology, and also wrote and lectured on the history of science.
Biography of Cuvier 1769-1832
Cuvier was born on August 23, 1769, at Montbéliard, a French-speaking community in the Jura Mountains that was not under French jurisdiction at the time; it was ruled by the Duke of Württemberg. Cuvier studied at a school which the Duke had founded, the Carolinian Academy in Stuttgart, from 1784 to 1788. He then took a position as tutor to a noble family in Normandy, which kept him out of the way of the worst of the violence of the French Revolution; there he was named to a position in the local government and began to make his reputation as a naturalist. In 1795, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire invited him to come to Paris; he was appointed an assistant, and shortly thereafter a professor of animal anatomy, at the newly reformed Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle (National Museum of Natural History). Cuvier stayed at his post when Napoleon came to power, and was appointed to several government positions, including Inspector-General of public education and State Councillor, by Napoleon. Cuvier continued as a state councillor under three successive Kings of France; he thus accomplished the almost unbelievable feat of serving under three different, opposing French governments (Revolution, Napoleonic, and monarchy) and dying in his bed. All the while, Cuvier lectured and did research at the Musée National, amazing his colleagues with his energy and devotion to science. By the time of his death he had been knighted and made a Baron and a Peer of France.
We are interested in Purchasing Victorian Taxidermy, please respond via this on-line form of what you have for sale. HERE
The Passenger Pigeon
The Passenger Pigeon, once probably the most numerous bird on the planet, made its home in the billion or so acres of primary forest that once covered North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Their flocks, a mile wide and up to 300 miles long, were so dense that they darkened the sky for hours and days as the flock passed overhead. Early explorers and settlers frequently mentioned passenger pigeons in their writings. Samuel de Champlain in 1605 reported "countless numbers," Gabriel Sagard-Theodat wrote of "infinite multitudes," and Cotton Mather described a flight as being about a mile in width. Population estimates from the 19th century ranged from 1 billion to close to 4 billion individuals. Total populations may have reached 5 billion individuals and comprised up to 40% of the total number of birds in North America.
It was cool, 55 degrees, that day 100 years ago on farmland near
Sargents, in southern Ohio's Pike County.
Eye witness account of one of the last encounters
Press Clay Southworth was just 14 years old when he persuaded his mother to let him take the 12-gauge shotgun and shoot the bird that was eating the corn on the family farm.
"I found the bird perched high in the tree and brought it down without much damage to its appearance," Press Southworth would write 68 years later at the age of 82. "When I took it to the house Mother exclaimed - "It's a passenger pigeon!'" Young Press Southworth shot this passenger pigeon on March 24, 1900, but it would take more than decade for anyone to determine that Mr. Southworth's quarry that day was the last passenger pigeon ever
recorded from the wild. The Southworth passenger pigeon survives today as a specimen at
the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus; it is called Buttons, because the woman who prepared the specimen used black shoe buttons for its eyes. The Ohio Historical Society is using the occasion of the 100 th, anniversary today to raise the awareness of visitors and school children to the spectre of extinction, calling the anniversary an "unfortunate
milestone in history." And just 14 years later, on Sept. 1, 1914, the last passenger pigeon
in the world died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo. Martha was discovered lying on the bottom of her cage at 1 p.m.
Passenger Pigeon from Canada with history outlined below. .
One small episode in the story occurred on Friday June 6, 1884 when a field naturalist, Ed. F.G. White, took his gun and headed off to Cummings Woods near Ottawa to hunt. He shot at least one passenger pigeon which ultimately came into the hands of S.H. Herring who mounted it for display. Eventually the beautifully-prepared bird was acquired from its original owner by Alfred (Fred) Eugene Bourguignon, an Ottawa businessman and ornithologist and a long-time member of the Ottawa Field Naturalists' Club. The treasured ornamental specimen was given to the Canadian Museum of Civilization by Mr. Bourguignon's widow, Marie J. (Flynn) Bourguignon, in his memory.
Great flock as the wildlife artist Audobon and taxidermist Henry Ward would have witnessed. None are alive today.
The notable decrease of passenger pigeons started when professional hunters began netting and shooting the birds to sell in the city markets. Although the birds always had been used as food to some extent, even by the Indians, the real slaughter began in the 1800s.One of the last large nestings of passenger pigeons occurred at Petoskey, Michigan, in.1878.
Here 50,000 birds per day were killed and this rate continued for nearly five months. When the adult birds that survived this massacre attempted second nestings at new sites, they were soon located by the professional hunters and killed before they had a chance to raise any young. None are alive today????????. A truly spectacular piece of extermination.)
Passenger Pigeons of North America, now extinct due to man's wanton extermination of a single species. Victorian case
Breeding colony of Gannets in a case which measures 20 feet by 15 feet. Magnificent case from the Booth Collection.
Orginal drawing 1851, denoting how taxidermy is prepared and exhibited. .
Gulls by Henry Ward
Wonderful 1925 image of Chicago Taxidermist. Who say's sex doesn't sell.
Probably the largest influence on Historical taxidermy was the work and discoveries made by Charles Darwin,naturalist, scholar and author of "The Orign of Species". Below is an exract from the work carried out by the University of Bradford. I hope you like it
Charles Robert Darwin was born at Shrewsbury, England, in 1809, the son of a well-to-do doctor. His mother died in 1817 when Charles was eight years old. In the following year he was sent to Shrewsbury School, where, to all accounts he was below average in all his subjects. Despite this failure to shine academically at school, as a young child Darwin developed an interest in the natural world becoming a keen collector of bird's eggs, insects and preserved fossils.
From 1825 to 1827 Darwin went to Edinburgh University to follow the family tradition and train as a doctor. Although he gained a degree in medicine Darwin decided against doctoring as a profession due mainly to the fact that he hated seeing illness and he couldn't stand the sight of blood! His Edinburgh years however were significant for, not only did he meet and become friends with Dr Robert Grant, a pioneer evolutionist, sixteen years his senior, (a man who stimulated his interest in rocks and fossils) he gained invaluable knowledge and experience by attending lectures on biology, zoology and chemistry, and learned the skills of taxidermy.
Deciding to become a clergyman in the Established Church, Darwin, in 1828, went to study theology at Christ College, Cambridge. While at the university with the encouragement of Adam Sedgewick, the famous professor of Geology from Dent near Sedbergh and Professor John Henslow, he continued to develop his hobbies in geology and botany.
Victorian Common Gull by Shopland of Torquay. Case now returned from the recent Andy Henry dispersal.
Trade label of Shopland of Torquay from the back of the case above.
On graduating in 1831, due to the influence of Henslow, Darwin was offered a position of naturalist on a ship, HMS Beagle, which was about to set off on a voyage to chart the South American coast. After a delay of several months, during which he overcame the disapproval of his father and while the ship was being refitted, the Beagle finally set sail at Christmas of that year setting a course for the Canary Islands; Cape Verde then taking the trade winds to Brazil and Argentina. Stopping for a time at Patagonia Darwin collected several significant fossil remains. The Beagle then set sail for the stormy waters of the Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn, and then returned to Beunos Aires, thus allowing him more time to explore. As he examined the rocks of the Argentinian hinterland he discovered more fossil remains of animals which resembled creatures living today but larger, different and extinct. When faced with such evidence he came to the conclusion that creation was a continuous process and that it had been going on for a long time. Certainly not a single week as stated in the book of Genesis.
The Beagle continued on its journey. On entering the calmer waters of the Pacific ocean the ship called in at Valparaiso, Chile, where Darwin undertook a six week tour of the Andes. It was while walking in these mountains, at an altitude of 12,000ft, that Darwin found a bed of fossil seashells. This puzzled the young botanist as these fossils had clearly been formed under the sea yet they were found at such a great height above sea level. Totally opposing the prevailing view held by the Creationists that fossil remains like these were found at such a great height because they had been left there by the flood of Genesis, Darwin concluded that they had been marine creatures living and dying in the sea and the rock formed containing such shells had been pushed upwards by tremendous earth movements long ago.
HMS beagle sailed on and reached the Galapagos Islands on 17 September 1835. Here Darwin encountered a host of rare, fascinating if not extraordinary creatures including giant tortoises and Iguanas. It came to Darwin's notice how the majority of birds, reptiles, shells and plants he collected were unique, found only on those islands and nowhere else. In an attempt to explain such variations within one species Darwin rejected the traditional idea of "fixity" - that creation had been instantaneous and fixed - and argued that the animal kingdom had evolved from something very primitive to something complex, and this change was still taking place. Each creature, he reasoned, would change or adapt according to the environment in which it lived and the food available.
The 235-ton HMS 'Beagle' was launched at the Royal Dockyard, Woolwich on 11 May 1820. She measured just 27 metres (90’4’’) in length, with a breadth of 7 metres (24’6’’). Specially commissioned for the new surveying programme, her career began in 1826 with voyages to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego under the command of Captain Parker King, returning to Plymouth in 1830. At the end of 1831, she again sailed for South America under the command of Captain Fitzroy. Charles Darwin joined the ship on this voyage as a naturalist. He developed his theories of evolution, culminating in his book 'The Origin of Species', during his time on board. The ship's captain, Robert Fitzroy, was an expert meteorologist who later established the Meteorological Office. The ship suffered a great deal of damage but was extensively refitted and improved throughout her life on the seas, often at great expense to her captain. For example, a mizzenmast was added to make her more manoeuvrable in the shallow coastal waters. In 1845, the ship was left as a watch vessel, and sold to Murray and Trainer in 1870 to be broken up
Charles Waterton (1782-1865)
Charles Waterton (1782-1865) is frequently cited as the type specimen of the British eccentric naturalist. His Wanderings in South America (1825) blended accurate observations of New World wildlife in the field (including the first good account of the behavior of sloths) with notes on politics, taxidermy, and the evils of the Hanoverian monarchy. From this sojourn, Waterton brought back the first curare for scientific and medicinal use in Europe, after witnessing its effective use in the field.
Waterton, known to all as the Squire of Walton Hall, was a dedicated ascetic and an even more dedicated climber.
One of the exhibits of Wollaton Hall being moved
Exhibits of Taxidermy
Exhibits of Taxidermy
Richard Owen Curator of The Natural History Museum
Sir Richard Owen, Curator and Founder of the Natural History Museum, Kensington. This is the man who would have commissioned taxidermists, the likes of Cullingford and Duncan to prepars some of the exhibits at the museum where Darwin's collection is now housed..
Richard Owen was the son of a West India merchant. He studied briefly at Edinburgh (1824), then at a private London anatomy school. Through hard work and serious networking, Owen pushed his way to the heights of Victorian science. In 1827 he was appointed Assistant Curator of the Royal College of Surgeons' Hunterian Collections and then Hunterian professor (1836), and conservator (1842). He was elected to a fellowship of the Royal Society in 1834 for his work on monotremes and marsupials. Following his mentor Joseph Henry Green, Owen promoted an idealist biology based on German Naturphilosophie. By the mid-1840s Owen was the leader of British comparative anatomy and an important exponent of a natural theology or attribution of design in nature. In 1842, he named the taxon Dinosauria. The support Owen lent to orthodox men of science and supporters of the status quo and sometimes a fawning elitism made him a favourite of elite conservative patrons. The royal family presented him with a cottage in Richmond Park and Robert Peel put him on the Civil List.
In his notorious review of the Origin of Species in 1860, Owen tried to undercut Darwin's priority by attributing evolution to a mysterious "continuous operation of the ordained becoming of living things". His work on fossils and dinosaurs (a word which he invented!) aroused much public debate. He was fiercely opposed to Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, which eventually led to his academic downfall as he was viewed as being old-fashioned - and a bit of a dinosaur himself! However, although he was misguided in his opposition to Darwin's theory of evolution, his fame as the British 'Cuvier' was popularly established.
One of the exhibits of of The Natural History Museum below the main stairs. Circa 1958.
Victorian Antique case of Waders preserved by Pratt of Brighton.
It is important to realise that taxidermy was never the preserve of the working man. These items were and still are the preserve of luxury. By there very nature they are coveted for not only who did them but also the species they represent.
It has been stated on many times that when you purchase an item of Victorian taxidermy you are to soem extent buying history. It has taken me a long time to realize this and the research on this website has lead me to the same conclusion that they are worth preserving.
Please see the "Booth taxidermy Collection" page on this website and judge for yourself if this is one of the finest examples of a complete Victorian Taxidermy collection that has survived to present day.
The Booth Collection
Let's look at some of the facts of Victorian Taxidermists. These items were produced at a time when:
The industrial revolution was in full swing
The list is endless and yet they were able to produce many fine examples of natural history without the aid of any of the above?. For that alone it has my admiration.
Great Britain still had am empire
There was very little sanitation to speak of
The car was yet to be in mass production
No television and limited forms of communication
No electrical refrigeration
No electric light bulb, mainly gas
Steam was the major form of locomotion
Limited running water in homes
No inside toilets for working class
Bathhouses instead of baths at home
Child labour was normal and legal
No votes for women
Most people despite the industrial revolution still worked in agriculture
There was no welfare state
Victorian Taxidermy's birth
THE 1851 GREAT EXHIBITION
The Great Exhibition of the Works and Industry of All Nations opened in London on 1st May, 1851. Approximately 100,000 objects were on display to the public from 14000 exhibitors, half of them British and in reality, was a celebration of British achievements put on for foreigners to admire and emulate.
To house the Great Exhibition, a huge glass conservatory designed by self-made man Joseph Paxton, was erected in Hyde Park more than a third of a mile long and 66 feet high. It became known as Crystal Palace because of the large amount of glass used in its construction.
The works of fourteen taxidermists were exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exhibition, the majority of those present could be found in Class 29 - Miscallaneous Manufactures and Small Wares.
The following names were those taxidermy exhibitors present at the 1851 Exhibition.
Dennis, Rev. J.B.P. - Bury St. Edmunds
Gordon, C. - Museum Dover
Harbor, Thomas - Reading
Beevor, J. (M.D.) - Newark - upon – Trent
Walford, C., sen - Witham Essex
Walford, J. - Witham Essex
Williams, Thomas Mutlow - Oxford St., London
Leadbeater,John - Golden Square, London
Spencer, Thomas. - Great Portland St., London
Gardner, James - Oxford St. London
Dunbar, William - Golspie, Scotland
Bartlett, Abraham Dee - College St, Camden Town
Hancock , J.A. - London
Plouquet , H. - Stuttgart, Wurtemburg (Germany)
Plouquet received rave reviews for his exhibits of birds and small and large game specimens, which at the time were amongst the finest examples of group taxidermy ever put on display to the public.
In one review, his life-size mounts, composed to imitate hunt scenes portrayed by famous artists were themselves described as “beautiful specimens of the art of the taxidermist".
Bartlett was of particular interest at the Exhibition for his display that included that of a lifesize reconstruction of the extinct Dodo bird.
Formerly an inhabitant of the island of Mauritius, the Dodo was discovered by the Dutch traveler Vasco di Gauma in 1497. The species was said by Dutch explorers to have existed on the island in abundance between the years 1598 and 1600 but became extinct soon afterwards .
Mention is made within the Great Exhibition 1851 catalogue (vol. 2, p.817) of the details of a stuffed Dodo specimen which formed part of the Tradescants Museum in 1600. This specimen passed into the hands of a Dr Ashmol, who later transferred it to the University of Oxford where it was virtually destroyed in 1755, all with the exception of the dried head and foot.
A notable absence from the London taxidermists present at the Great Exhibition was none other than John Gould, although he was represented through an exhibition of a new coloring technique of his plate books he had just patented.
However, Gould had the commercial mind to prepare an exhibition of stuffed taxidermy Hummingbirds and display them 3 miles away from Hyde Park in the Zoological Gardens of Regent Park. With the approval granted by the Zoological Society of London, Gould financed and constructed a wooden building some 60 feet long near the Zoological Lion house for the purpose of the exhibition. This was a shrewd move by Gould the businessman for had he exhibited the hummingbirds in the Crystal Palace where charging was forbidden, he would have earned nothing. At the Zoological Gardens he took full advantage of the huge crowds flocking to London to visit the Great Exhibition, charged his visitors six pence at a time and managed to make a good profit which was said to be eight hundred pounds.
The exhibition consisted of twenty-four elaborate display cases each approximately 2 feet 2 inches high and 1 foot 10 inches wide, arranged in rows and surmounted by canopies suspended from the ceiling to diffuse the light. The design of each case differed according to whether they had four, six, or eight panels of glass in their structure, and each rested on a wooden base, painted black and gold, which were all raised on a pedestal support.
Orginal drawing by John Gould 1851, denoting how he wanted the Humming bird cases to be exhibited. .
Each case contained between five and fifteen Hummingbirds, all strategically positioned to exhibit their chief characteristics and to emphasis the metallic iridescence of the male plume. Gould introduced the unusual innovation for the period of foliage and nests into the cases to give an impression of natural habitat, an unusual innovation for that period.
John Gould 1851, denoting the Humming bird cases exhibited in the Zoological Gardens of Regent Park. This is from the Illustrated London News at the time.
Seventy-five thousand people visited Goulds display of Hummingbirds in 1851, compared with over six million people who visited the Crystal Palace between 1 may and 15 October 1851.
. It is also interesting to note that the last single case, from the above exhibit, that is not in a museum recently sold on Ebay (January 2005)for £5,000. This case has not stayed in the UK. It appears to have been purchased by an American collector come dealer. This is another piece of Victorian Taxidermy of significance that shall not return to the UK. It's importance is clearly not recognised.
John Gould's Humming Birds. Date 1851
John Gould (1804-1881)
John Gould. .
Born in 1804 at Lyme Regis on the English coast, he was one of 5 children and the only son of John and Elizabeth Gould. Gould junior was nearly thirteen years old when his parents moved from Stoke Hill to Windsor where his father had taken the position of head gardener at Windsor Estate. A young Gould was able to expand his interest in ornithology at Windsor, where he would spend much of his free time when not assisting his father, exploring the estate and surrounding country side in search of nests, eggs and bird specimens.
By the time he was 21, John Gould had departed the horticultural field to pursue his growing passion of ornithology and taxidermy, a move that was to mark a turning point in his career, and one in which he was to never look back upon. He moved south to London, where in 1825 he set up his own business practice in taxidermy at 11 Broad Street Golden Square Soho. Gould married Elizabeth Coxen in 1827. Elizabeth traveled and worked with Gould until her death in 1841. Shortly after their marriage, Gould, who was a skilled taxidermist, acquired a collection of bird skins from the hill country of the Himalayas, many of them new to Europe. After he stuffed and mounted them, he realized their artistic possibilities, and his new life as a bird illustrator began. Elizabeth helped to draw, lithograph, and color many of his first plates. Over the next 57 years Gould published more than forty large folio volumes. He devoted his life to the study of birds and to the production of the "Gould Folios," which began publication in 1832. There were 41 volumes in all, containing a total of 2999 different prints, being the first near-complete ornithologies of Asia, Australia, Britain and New Guinea. The first set appeared in 1831 and the last in 1888, seven years after Gould's death.
In 1828 Gould accepted the position of Curator and Preserver to the Museum of the Zoological Society of London, at a salary of £100 per annum. At the same time he continued his private taxidermy business, acted as advisor to national institutions and travelled widely in England and on the Continent, buying and selling specimens.
He died in 1881, leaving a priceless legacy of beauty and scientific knowledge. He chose his own epitaph: John Gould the Bird Man.
Gould had always been his own publisher, financing his ventures largely from the advance subscriptions for his works. At the time of his death, his stock of unsold copies, unbound text and plates in various states, lithographic stones, drawings and paintings, amounted to nearly three tons. The entire lot, along with Gould's copyright, was purchased by the London bookseller, Henry Sotheran Ltd, and put in storage where it rested undisturbed for over 50 years. In 1936, Ralph Ellis went to London and when he left in December 1937 a great part of the John Gould archives went to America with him.
Source of the information is:
Original by John Gould 1851, of a pair of Hen Harriers, the male of which is inspecting a mole. .
Morse Museum 1901, pictured here a Male Lion two Hyenas and various Leopards, Zebra and others on the walls
Peregrine Falcons, nest,chicks and Grouse prey. Victorian case of Taxidermy and not a wildlife photograph.
Big Game Hunter and Friend of the "taxidermy" Ward Family
Sir Samuel White Baker (1821-1893), traveller and sportsman, was born on 8 June 1921 in London. He was educated at a private school at Rottingdean, at the College School, Gloucester, and privately at Tottenham, before completing his studies at Frankfurt in 1841. Baker visited Ceylon in 1846 and 1848, and established an English colony at Newera Eliya. He superintended the building of a railway connecting the Danube with the Black Sea in 1859, and travelled in Asia Minor, 1860-1861. In December 1862 Baker embarked on a journey up the Nile. He reached Mbakovia in March 1864, and named the lake there Albert Nyanza. He was knighted in 1866, and that year published an account of his African expedition. He travelled with the Prince of Wales to Egypt and the Nile in 1869, and was appointed Governor-General of the Equatorial Nile basin for four years. Sir Samuel White Baker (1821-93) wrote a number of popular travel and geographical works. His father was a successful West Indies merchant and his brothers were in their own right also successful men.
In 1843 he married Henrietta Martin. In 1846, as quite a young man he founded an agricultural settlement in Ceylon. He introduced English migrants and imported prize breeds of cattle to the island. It appears that his younger brother Valentine (Pasha) accompanied him and studied in ceylon. He wrote and published two notable books during this period, The rifle and the hound in Ceylon 1853 and Eight years wandering in Ceylon 1855. This is also the year that Henrietta died.
After a journey to Constantinople and the Crimea in 1856, he supervised the construction of a railway connecting the Danube with the Black Sea. In 1861 he married his second wife, Florence von Sass, from Hungary. In 1861 he began a tour of Africa, like others of the time, keen to find the source of the Nile. In the first two years of this journey he taught himself Arabic. He met with the explorers Speke and Grant, and with their advice and assistance, went on to be the first man to see and name Lake Albert . This bought him great fame and honour. In 1866 he was knighted. At this time he published a number of books on his travels, the Nile and Lake Albert.
In 1869 on behalf of the Khedive Ismail of Egypt, he commanded an expedition to the equatorial regions of the Nile, aimed at supppressing the slave trade there and to open the way for commerce and agriculture. The story of this expedition is recorded in his work Ismailia (1874). He remained Governor General of this territory ( Equatoria)for four years. On all his African expeditions and explorations, he was accompanied by his second wife. He also chased big game and published Wild Beasts and their ways 1890.
He died on 30 December 1893 at Sandford Orleigh, near Newton Abbot.
Detail of the North Atlantic Gannets, by unknown Victorian Taxidermist.
Victorian Mixed Seabirds by Shopland of Torquay
Trade label of Shopland of Torquay from the back of the case above.
Interesting article published by "The Times" recounting an expidition by a Victorian Taxidermist C.E.Akerley.
“Kneeling on the leopard’s stomach and holding the forelegs apart with his elbows, the gasping taxidermist loosened his grip on the animal’s throat for a short breathing-spell. Almost immediately, he marked a flash of new light in the glaring golden eyes, and the battle went on as before, man against beast, brain and muscle against brute force.”
Thus did C. E. Akerley, an unarmed taxidermist on a zoological expedition to British Somaliland in 1898, beat the stuffing out of a ferocious African leopard. Akerley had been bitten and clawed to shreds before he finally succeeded in throttling the enraged carnivore. “The big cat’s body grew limp, and for the first time in history one of great jungle felines succumbed in fair fight to a weaponless man.” Akerley was photographed, his arms in bandages, standing alongside the strangled leopard; he eyes his former adversary with deep suspicion, as if the animal might yet return to life, and bite his head off.
Akerley’s historic bout with the Somali leopard is just one of many similar accounts of male bravado that appeared in the pages of The Wide World, a magazine of true adventures for men, which flourished between 1898 and 1965.
European Bittern. Victorian case.
Interestingly enough, it was at this time also (1840's-1900's) that many of the then famous Taxidermy companies and regional family businesses started up to feed this demand. Companies such as:
• Rowland Ward of London.Rowland Ward Taxidermy
• Peter Spicer and Sons of Leamington Spa. Peter Spicer of Leamington Spa>
• Murray of Carnforth. Murray of Carnforth>
• McCley of Inverness Scottish Taxidermy>
• T.E. Gunn of Norwich TE Gunn of Norwich.>
• Cole of NorwichNorfolk Taxidermy.>
• Cullingford of Durham J Cullingford and R Duncan.>
• James Gardner James Gardner of London.>
• John Cooper & SonsJohn Cooper & Sons of London.>
• Hutchings of Aberystwyth. James Hutchings Taxidermy
• Hine of Southport
• J CullingfordCullingford of Durham / Scientific Taxidermy.>
• Walter Potter Walter Potter of Bramber.>
• Hutchinson of Derby Hutchinson of Derby.>
• Thomas Jefferies of CamarthenJefferies of Camarthen.>
• H.T Shopland of Torquay Shopland of Torquay.>
• Hibbs of Ollerton
Victorian Cup made from a Foxes head.
Victorian Great Black Backed Gull with 3 chicks. Victorian case.
Victorian Moorhen in detail by Hutchings of Aberystwyth. Wonderful case.
Victorian Red Throated Divers in Winter plumage. Date unknown.
Victorian case of Red Grouse adn Ptarmigan by Malloch of Perth. Date unknown.
Victorian Hares Head by Bill Cox of Liverpool.
Victorian label by Bill Cox of Liverpool.
Victorian Woodcock with nest and eggs. Date unknown.
Victorian Bittern by TE Gunn in a Winter scene.
Victorian Ruffs in Summer plumage with nest and eggs. Date unknown. The Booth Taxidermy Collection.
Taxidermy in America, a historical perspective
The post-Civil War American natural history craze spawned a new institution – the natural history dealer – that has failed to receive the historical attention it deserves. The individuals who created these enterprises simultaneously helped to promote and hoped to profit from the burgeoning interest in both scientific and popular specimen taxidermy collecting. At a time when other employment and educational prospects in natural history were severely limited, hundreds of dealers across the nation provided encouragement, specimens, publication outlets, training opportunities, and jobs for naturalists of all motivations and levels of expertise.
This paper explores the crucial role that specimen dealers played in the larger natural history community.
After briefly examining the development of local taxidermy shops in the mid-nineteenth century, it then traces the history of four large natural history dealerships established in the United States during the latter half of the century: Ward's Natural History Establishment, Frank Blake Webster's Naturalists' Supply Depot, Southwick & Jencks' Natural History Store, and Frank H. Lattin & Co. By the early twentieth century, changing tastes in interior design, the growth of the Audubon movement, and the dramatic expansion of alternate training and job opportunities for naturalists led many specimen dealers either to shift their emphasis or to shut their doors.
Victorian case of Great Grey Shrikes with Mouse prey by Cullingford.
Below is a website that caters to the more "Eccentric" amongst us. If you are looking for Rabbits fencing, Freaks and what we would describe as "interesting / challenging items", then this is the website for you.
This famous London Taxidermy Store has been established for over 10 years.
Specialising in Victorian Taxidermy, Victorian Natural History and Victorian
Curiosities we have sold examples of every major UK taxidermist.
From an Elephant`s Ear Table by Rowland Ward to Boxing Squirrels and Fencing
Toads, from an Albino Mole by Spicer to an Elephant Skeleton by Gerrard and
Sons, every conceivable object has passed through the shop.
We continue to
source unique material for Private taxidermy Collectors, Interior Designers, Museums
and Institutions and Corporate Clients etc. all over the world. We have
helped to create many a Cabinet of Curiosities.
Victorian Dome containing two Java Sparrows. Likely to be the work of a London based Victorian taxidermy company Date unknown
Victorian Female Capercaille or Greyhen. Date unknown
The date line for our stock, in most cases, is 1947 although later items are
occasionally sold with requisite licenses where necessary. Victorian
Taxidermy and Edwardian Taxidermy is our speciality.
Located within 20 minutes from Heathrow airport and 40 minutes from London
West End. Chauffeur service available for US clients, should that be required.
The shop itself has appeared in many national magazines including "World of
Interiors" and "Harpers & Queen" and newspapers including The Independent
and The Guardian. Alexis often appears on television and radio, in the UK
and Japan, to discuss the fascinating world of Victorian Taxidermy, its
historical context and its relevance within the modern interior.
We purchase single items aswell as very large Victorian Taxidermy
Kittens by Walter Potter. Victorian
Rowland Ward Ltd
Once one of the largest taxidermy firms in the world, based in London.
His father, Henry, was the first taxidermist in the family and his two sons Edwin and Rowland carried on the family tradition. Both finally set up on their own, Edwin in 1865 and Rowland in 1872. It was Roland who finally became the best known.
James Gardner, 426 Oxford Street, London. This taxidermy business is thought to have been founded in the 1840's by James Gardner and continued by his son James Gardner. It is thought that a third generation of the same family was also involved as the business didn't close down until 1920's.The cases are generally gaudy in appearance with bright groundwork. However the taxidermy itself is normally of a high quality. Gardner cases however do have a tendency to suffer from insect damage frequently.
I would suggest that there are better examples of work out there that does not have the potential to fall apart due to insect damage. When they were originally made however, they would have looked spectacular. That's no reason to keep them today.
Hutchings Family of Aberystwyth
The family business was founded around 1860, this family was perhaps best regarded as one of the best provincial taxidermists. Well-presented cases and very fine taxidermy were there stock in trade. They specialized mainly in birds producing some spectacular examples of sea bird taxidermy, mostly shot locally to order for customers.
Foxes and badgers were also produced almost in an industrial scale. Many examples of foxes with prey exist; perhaps the only differentiator is the prey at the feet of the fox. Fish do exist but are very rare indeed, as are the more common species of birds like wood pigeons.
Hutchings prices have steadily increased over the years as more and more people recognize the quality. The supply of such taxidermy cases appears to be however never ending, so this should "cool" the market for certain items such as foxes and badgers. Birds however are more likely to remain in high demand.
The Hutchings family at rest.
James Hutchings with gun and dead game, no doubt going to form another mixed case.
Hucthings Fox and English Partridge.
The Hutchings "Mixed Case " for which they were famous
The Hutchings "Mixed Case" of Seabirds for which they were famous containing a Gullimott, Manx Shearwater, Razorbill, Puffin and Ringed Plover
The Hutchings Hare
The Hutchings Jay and Polecat. Wonderful case.
The Hutchings Nightjar in flight
Pictures copywrite to the Ceredigion Museum. Many thanks
For an excellent review of classic Victorian Taxidermy then please look at the page below.
[The Booth Collection]
Murray of Carnforth
The business was established in 1872 by Henry Murray working from premises in Scotland Road, Carnforth and continued with his son Albert James
until Albert retired in 1961. Murray’s taxidermy work was of the highest quality renowned for their picture frame cases with beautifully painted backdrops, mainly for the
private/commercial market, less often seen but just as spectacular were all glass cases containing single, pairs or family groups of specimens, Kendal
Museum has a fine taxidermy collection of such cases, among others, as the bulk of the Museum’s taxidermy is by Murray. They also excelled in hunting trophies being
kept busy by all the local hunts.As I am currently writing a book about Murray any information etc.
would be welcome, I also specialise in renovating picture frame cases however
badly damaged.Best regards Jeff Dent.
William Chalkley was a self-taught taxidermist, who opened his first premises at 11 Sussex Street, Winchester from c1875. In 1880 he moved to The Square and the firm remained there until long after his death.
He had, over a period of years, amassed and prepared a large taxidermy collection of Hampshire birds. After coming to an agreement with Alderman Jacob the collection was bought for the newly formed Winchester College Museum.
The commercial firm of Edward Gerrard’s was founded in 1853. The business was, and remained for more than a century, a family concern. By family tradition, the eldest son f the eldest son was always named Edward, a process that only faltered when Edward Gerrard, great great grandson of the company founder did not produce a son, but instead two daughters, Elizabeth (born 1930?) and Audrey (born 1931). As a result, EG’s younger son, Charles, named his eldest son Edward (born 1933), who became Managing Director of the firm until it finally closed down in the late 1960’s (apart from the hire business). Mr Edward ‘Ted’ Gerrard currently lives abroad, where he has pursued a career as an ornithologist. Copywrite Dave Chapman.
Sea Birds by TE Gunn. Victorian. Copywrite Dave Chapman
William Crawford Williamson
Professor William Crawford Williamson FRS, the eminent Victorian scientist who was appointed as the first Professor of Natural History (Geology, Zoology and Botany) at Manchester in 1851. Williamson was one of the great Victorian naturalists who knew and actively corresponded with Charles Darwin, Louis Agassiz, T.H. Huxley and other great scientists of the day. He also knew John Dalton and famously tended the great man during his final days, feeding him broth and other liquid sustenance. Williamson trained as a doctor and practised as an eye surgeon as well as pursuing his studies in the natural sciences. He was instrumental in the development of the study of rocks in thin section and did pioneering work in palaeobotany. Now, 150 year after one man bridged the great natural science disciplines, in the Centre named for Williamson we again bring together the geological and biological sciences in interdisciplinary research.
This local Taxidermist was based in Stockport, Manchester in the 1920’s having left the family business, started by his father in the 1870’s in Brighton.
Born in 1844, he worked in Norwich all his life. He had a shop there and became known as one of the best taxidermists in the area. He died in 1923.
Common Terns by TE Gunn. Diorama contains nests, chicks and eggs. Victorian taxidermy case
George Swaysland founded this family firm, based in Brighton, in 1830. This was continued into the 1930’s by his son, and then his grandson, both called Walter.
Betteridge and Son
Founded in 1872 by John Betteridge, in Birmingham, his son continued until his death in 1958. This firm specialised in display work for museums and Bolton Taxidermy Museum has many examples of their work.
The Stuff of Dreams
Perplexed by negative perceptions of his trade, Kim McDonald tells Graham Snowdon how he is inspired by a passion for wildlife and guided by firm ethics
'There's a tiger in that freezer over there," says Kim McDonald. Is it my imagination or did the lid just twitch slightly?
That would be a turn-up for the books indeed because the tiger, or what remains of it ("just the skin and the head") has been in there for four years, ever since its sudden demise following a thankfully non-life-threatening incident involving a zookeeper's son and an open gate. Either way, McDonald doesn't seem keen to introduce us - mainly, it has to be assumed, because of the mountain of clutter piled on the freezer, atop which proudly sits a red squirrel with pins sticking out of its ears.
But then, ossified animals peer out from dusty nooks and crannies wherever the eye cares to roam in this gloriously ramshackle basement kingdom - from the glowering, black rhinoceros head as you descend his narrow stairway to the pair of kiwi birds, suspended in mid-gambol on a dusty plinth at the foot of his workbench. And the really odd thing is, I don't have to spend too long in here before the peculiar odours, the beady eyes and fluffy tails, the half-filled chemical tubs and the cascading drawers filled with inscrutable taxidermy accoutrements all start to feel - how can I put it? - like a natural habitat.
He disappears next door to make coffees while I clatter artlessly from one room to the next, snagging my bag on a horn protruding from a box. "Mind the antlers," he calls out, very much the genial host in this, his workshop by the banks of the Chelmer in Maldon, Essex, where he has spent more than 20 years lovingly restoring dead wildlife to a statuesque kind of glory. But McDonald knows geniality alone counts for little in a trade that, in the eyes of the public, needs some serious rehabilitation of its own.
"The problem with taxidermy is that the general public look upon you as a kind of a parasite," he says, bristling with indignation. "You go out, murder animals, so you can sell them to a macabre clientele who stick 'em on their walls and, you know, adore them. And people think that's all there is to it. Well it couldn't be further from the truth."
In fact he has a strong passion for wildlife, that inspired him to quit a highly paid career as a City broker in the early 80s to develop his taxidermy hobby as a going concern with wife Pauline. Certainly there is little trace of that former existence on view now. "It was a bit of a culture change, heh heh!" he recalls. "But I'd ended up on Valium and it was time to get out, to give up the shakes and the pains."
The couple had spotted a demand from local schools seeking to hire out stuffed owls and peacocks for classroom displays. Soon the business - if not the owls and peacocks themselves - took off. "Because that's the whole point of taxidermy - education," he says. "We used to have over a thousand-head of stock here. We ended up dealing with nigh-on 200 schools."
Soon his work began to attract the attention of the hunting and fishing brigade. Despite this bare necessity of a taxidermist's business, McDonald has never held any truck with the killing of animals for sport alone (and indeed, he disapproves of fox hunting). He will, however, handle dead game, which he justifies on the grounds that the animal has entered the food chain.
"When a fisherman brings in a [coarse fish] like a carp or a tench, I think, what did you kill that for? We're not interested." He looks genuinely upset by the thought. "But trout, salmon, bass... fine. He can eat the salmon - I don't want the meat, he don't want the skin, so we set it up for him in a case. That's the best of both worlds."
It is prohibited for taxidermists - or anyone for that matter - to handle most non-game animals killed for sport since 1947, so he keeps careful records of origin, including a signed declaration from the provider, thus ensuring his stock is drawn either from animals which have died of natural causes or, as is more often the case, from roadkill. "It's very strange, actually," he muses, "the people who come to you, who drive down the A12, see a dead tawny owl and think, that'll look nice on top of the TV."
So what are the bare bones - if that is the right expression - of a taxidermist's craft? "Right," he says, sniffing authoritatively. He lifts the lid on another chest freezer and we peer in. It is literally brimming with frozen former furry and feathered friends. "Obviously, you start out with a dead animal, they don't like it when they're alive," he says, plucking a green woodpecker from the freezer and plonking it down on his worktop with an unceremonious thud - not so much Monty Python's dead parrot as Kim McDonald's dead woodpecker.
Having established, then, that the animal is not simply resting, it must legally be tagged, logged and its origins accounted for. Once he is ready to begin work, McDonald begins by making a small incision, normally along the width of the animal's breast.
"Once you've done that, you literally skin it inside out. Just like this," he says, sliding his fingers in between his shirt buttons and waggling them around, "till you get to the beak. Then we cut the neck off. You clean the skull out - with birds, you leave the skull in along with the wing bones and leg bones. Then you wash the skin, just like you would a shirt. I normally use Daz, I think."
He then applies a camphor-based insecticide to the skin and the reconstructive process can begin. From this point, the technique is surprisingly simple; McDonald uses a traditional method of binding wood wool with string to recreate a form mirroring the animal's body mass. Having done this to his satisfaction, it is just a question of stretching the skin back over the body and wiring in the head and limbs.
"You should end up, once you've sewn it up, with something that resembles a bird," he explains cheerfully. The principle, he says, is the same for a tiny bird as it would be for an elephant, "except with bigger mammals, we tan the skin in a bath of acid, which turns it into leather."
I ask him what is the most challenging animal he has ever stuffed, and he pauses for thought. "I did a couple of monkeys once, for a zoo. And you've got them laid out and you look at their fingernails and fingerprints ... all very reminiscent of Aunt Maude." He shuffles uncomfortably. "You're dealing with a human being roughly. Alright, it's covered in hair, but it's a little bit uncanny."
McDonald prefers to work with birds these days and says most of all, he would one day love the chance to restore a great grey owl, which live wild only in parts of Canada and Siberia. "I've got a few feelers out with the breeders..." He pauses. "If you lose a great grey, you know, give us a bell. I mean they're worth four to five hundred quid so I'm not going to donk one on the head. But I wouldn't entertain that anyway. I'll wait for one to die naturally."
Even so, at those prices it is clear why the illegal trade in imported wildlife ranks second only behind drug-smuggling in the UK. To that end the UK Guild of Taxidermists - of which McDonald served as chairman for several years - has forged close bonds with the police, helping them determine whether an animal is likely to have died within the bounds of the law or not.
It is also through his affiliation with the guild that McDonald has come to specialise in the complicated field of taxidermy law, an increasingly lucrative sideline to his business which, with his 61st birthday coming up, he hopes will help him and his wife realise their dream of retiring to Spain. That process will be accelerated when, later this year, the lease expires on his workshop and he will clear out and relocate to a much smaller, purpose-built shed at his home. It will be a squeeze, but he says there will be enough room for the frozen tiger, which when completed is destined for the entrance foyer of a new big cat sanctuary.
He shows me back up the narrow steps where the sign proudly declares "No specimen is killed for the purpose of taxidermy." But one thing is still troubling me: that giant black rhino head looming above us. Surely that wasn't knocked down by a passing driver on the A12?
"Ah!' McDonald says. "He's quite a beastie, isn't he?" He reaches up with a broom handle and taps the rhino affectionately on the nose. There is a hollow thud. "It's fibreglass."
Below are some more companies that sell Taxidermy
An interesting French site now up, I suggest you take a look
Taxidermy4Cash does not undertaken taxidermy, rather we are collectors of
other people’s work, both current and historical we also offer web hosting,
a search engine submission service and increasingly one of the larger
article resource banks on the net. So if your keen to learn about Taxidermy
etc, then you know where to look.
We are always interested to here about new resource, if you feel a resource
should be listed here then please contact us.
WANTED. Please respond via this on-line form HERE
with a description of what you have for sale.[HOMEPAGE]
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