The Specimens

Sea-Mice (Mouse) – Aphrodita aculeate, Grant Museum of Zoology

Sea-Mice (Mouse) – Aphrodita aculeate, Grant Museum of Zoology

Amidst an assortment of variously preserved worms, hand-labelled as a family cluster in the Grant Museum of Zoology, sits an apparent anomaly. The jar of Sea-Mice (Mouse) stands out not only as a taxonomic bluff, but most strikingly due to its luminescence, as opalescent hairs radiating from the backs of the little creatures (roughly 8cm [...]

Submitted by: Hermione Spriggs | Leave a comment

Tiger Head No. 773, Bhopal, 21st April 1932

Tiger Head No. 773, Bhopal, 21st April 1932

I bought this tiger head mount from a dealer in 1985. The trophy bears a label ‘Bhopal, 21st April 1932’. Its quality, style and oversized black wooden shield indicate preservation by the Van Ingen factory in southern India. Their work turns up frequently in museums and British auction sales. The tiger would represent their output [...]

Submitted by: Pat Morris | Leave a comment

Thorpe Wagtail Case, ca 1920s

Thorpe Wagtail Case, ca 1920s

The purpose of my extensive collection of antique taxidermy is to illustrate the many diverse facets of this subject. Everything has a tale to tell, often with interesting details of its acquisition. It is hard to select a ‘favourite’, but this case of wagtails has a strong claim. It was probably set up by Charles Thorpe of Croyden (in the 1920s?), and has a tinted backdrop shading from pale blue to yellow, characteristic of cases signed by this taxidermist [...]

Submitted by: Pat Morris | Leave a comment

Tessa Farmer: March of the Anti-Fairies

Tessa Farmer, The White Lie (detail), rat, mosquitoes, plant roots, insects, 2011

Tessa Farmer is a sculptor who works with taxidermy and entomology in order to conjure her imaginative vistas. In 2007, she undertook a residency at the Natural History Museum, London, where she studied a microscopic species of parasitic wasp known as mymaridae or fairy flies on account of their diminutive size. Farmer is no ordinary taxidermist [...]

Submitted by: Catriona McAra | Leave a comment

Memento mori 2011: still life with waterfowl

memento mori 2011: still life with waterfowl

From my field notes, June 2011, kitchen sink, Withington: On Wednesday, I try to pull back the skin from the wings a bit further; I succeed partly on one side where I pass the elbow just barely; no way I can make it closer to the wrist. On the other side, I cannot even strip [...]

Submitted by: Petra Tjitske Kalshoven | Leave a comment