Taxidermy evolved out of the tanning trade, whose practitioners preserved the skins of animals for use as clothing and blankets. In the early part of the 19th century, some of the first so-called trophy animals were crudely stuffed with scraps of fabric by upholsterers. Later in the Victorian Era, the art of taxidermy as we know it today evolved, pioneered by, among others, Carl Akeley, who worked at the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Although Akeley was one of the leading innovators of taxidermy, excelling in the realistic mounting of mammals, later in his life he would reject the practice of bagging animals such as gorillas just so they could decorate a museum diorama, let alone a hunter's study. By the end of his life, Akeley had devoted himself to protecting these creatures—Africa's first national park was established in 1925 in no small part due his efforts.
Today, collectors of taxidermy have a range of animals and pieces to choose from. Gameheads are perhaps the most well known form of taxidermy. These include zebras, kudu, and other African animals whose heads are attached to pedestals that are designed to hang on a wall.
In the United States, the practice of mounting deer heads is very common, especially if it's a buck with a full rack of antlers. Complete animals known as full mounts tend to be of smaller species such as bobcats and fox, as well as skunks and raccoons.
Mounted fish is another popular taxidermy type. Birds from peacocks to pheasants to roosters mount well, too, as do quail and falcons.
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Creative Taxidermy In MayfairLondonist, November 28th
This inaugural show — Natural Selection — features taxidermy by the likes of Polly Morgan, and prints such as Andy Warhol's Endangered Species set. But the star attraction is the work of Jaap Sinke and Ferry van Tongeren, who even put on demonstrations...Read more
How Do You Make a Living, Taxidermist?Pacific Standard, November 26th
Katie Innamorato had no plans to become a professional taxidermist. As with many non-traditional careers, it just sort of happened, which surprised even the once-hopeful veterinarian. She talked to Pacific Standard about balancing teaching classes with ...Read more
From mermaids to monsters: The taxidermy mummies on show in Japan?Photos?RocketNews24, November 20th
Ningyo (Japanese mermaids – the word literally means “person-fish”) have a long and interesting history, but they aren't the only ancient fake taxidermy on show in Japan. Across the country are all kinds of other fascinating specimens: “mummies” of...Read more
From the field to the wall: The art of taxidermyThe Missoulian, November 16th
It starts in the field, said Jeff Welch, owner of Trails West Taxidermy in Helena, as many hunters are learning to make the proper cuts on an animal to allow a taxidermist to use the skin called a “cape” for a mount. Two decades ago, 80 percent of...Read more
In Stitches: Tales from the Frontlines of Sustainable DIY TaxidermyCleveland Scene Weekly, November 11th
Detroit-Shoreway resident Mickey Alice Kwapis has been practicing taxidermy for years — and trying to dispel its unpleasant reputation. Her career has taken her all over the world, though she's got some classes coming up here in Cleveland for those...Read more
Off the wall: Alt-taxidermy contest takes the craft to new levelsPhilly.com, November 11th
Beth Beverly of Diamond Tooth Taxidermy located on the 2600 block of Martha St. in Philadelphia. Photograph of Beth in her studio on Friday afternoon October 31, 2014. She is participating in the Philadelphia, Alt-Taxidermy competition. ( ALEJANDRO A...Read more
Taxidermy Sculptors Strut Their StuffHyperallergic, November 6th
Robert Marbury's Taxidermy Art: A Rogue's Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How To Do It Yourself (Artisan Books, 2014) could easily be divided into a couple of books, both larger than this volume. One would be a practical guide to doing taxidermy...Read more
DIY Taxidermy May Be for You, If You Have the GutsNew York Times, October 29th
If you visit Alison Raleigh at home, in Hoboken, N.J., one of the first things you're likely to notice is all the taxidermy: There's a deer head in the bathroom, a stuffed pheasant and crow on the mantel, a ram's head in the study. She bought a lot of...Read more