Victorian Taxidermy

John Alexander Cole of Norwich

John Alexander Cole 1838-1906, Taxidermist, Norwich, Norfolk

Victorian Great Crested Grebe by Cole of Norwich. The styles of the Norwich taxidermists were clearly very similar

Long Eared Owls, shot by Mr Jobson of Swanton Abbots, Norfolk and prepared by J Cole, Castle Meadow, Norwich.

It is suggested that John Cole served as an apprentice to James Gardner in London before establishing is own firm in Norwich. Interesting to note that he did not execute his cases in a Gardner style, preferring the box case, flat fronted appearance of TE Gunn, taxidermist also who resided in Norwich around the same time.

Victorian label by J A Cole of Norwich, from the above case

Barn Owl and Kestrel by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

European Bullfinches by John Alexander Cole of Norwich, circa 1885. Simple yet very effective original victorian case.

European Stone Curlew by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

Like Gunn and Roberts Cole specialized predominantly in bird taxidermy, sourced locally from the fens and estuaries in the Norfolk area (This was a perfectly legal practice in those days). The work undertaken is so similar to the work produced by TE Gunn that is could be argued that it was either in admiration or direct competition, given their location to each other. Personally we prefer the less flamboyant style of cases that Gardner tended to produce as they lack accuracy.. Subtle groundwork, with duck egg blue painted backdrops, complemented with very well executed taxidermy, were produced by nearly all the Norfolk taxidermists. Water effects were created using painted glass also. Cole and Gunn cases tended to have escaped the ravages of time due to the use of arsenic but more importantly the fact that being a box style of case, the exposure to sunlight would have been greatly reduced. Cole also specialized in more exotic birds and mammals but these were not the stock in trade for this taxidermist. The page contains some of the work produced by Cole as well as trade labels that illustrate his achievements. Mammals such as Foxes, Badgers, Otters, Squirrels and the like were also produced to the same exacting standards. Examples of this work are represented within this site and a page is dedicated to work undertaken by the Gunn family business.
Pallas Sandgrouse by JA Cole of Norwich.

Pallas Sandgrouse by JA Cole of Norwich.

TE Gunn had close links with Edward Booth of Brighton, not only providing some of the taxidermy that is present in the museum but also providing the dead birds for Pratt and Brazenor of Brighton to complete the dioramas. It is understood that Booth and Gunn were in correspondence in relation to specimens and most likely that they would have collected together given that a lot of birds that Booth shot were obtained from Breydon Water, a favourite hunting ground for nearly all the Norfolk taxidermist. Edward Saunders, Thomas Roberts and Walter Lowne all obtained birds from this region.
Pallas Sandgrouse by JA Cole of Norwich.

Pheasant by JA Cole of Norwich.

Red Squirrel by JA Cole of Norwich.

Oh how Andy would laugh. Woodcock by Cole of Norwich

Red Legged Partridge by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

Bull Finch (3)[1].JPG
Female Bullfinch by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

Bull Finch (4)[1].JPG
Groundwork by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

Greater Spotted Woodpecker (Cole)[1].JPG
Great Spotted Woodpecker by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

Hooded Crow by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

Bittern by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

Curlew by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

European Heron by J A Cole of Norwich. Victorian case.

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