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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Recent News: Taxidermy
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Some people see roadkill. Others see art waiting to happenVocativ, April 23rd
Taxidermy isn't usually thought of as a social activity, but sewing circles are being replaced by skinning circles these days—with ethically sourced animals, of course. Taxidermist-in-residence Divya teaches us the how-tos of New York's rogue...Read more
Madison Style: Antique store focuses on oddities, taxidermyMadison.com, April 23rd
Afterlife Antiques' inventory focuses on taxidermy, medical antiques, Masonic collectibles and unusual home décor. Odd taxidermy holds a special appeal to O'Connor. “I'm always on the lookout for interesting and unusual taxidermy,” she said. “I'm...Read more
'Bates Motel' 2.08 Recap: “That's the Great Thing About Taxidermy… It Goes ...High-Def Digest (blog), April 22nd
With only two more episodes (after this one) to go this season and Norman's girlfriend Cody out of the picture, 'Bates Motel' begins to put a laser-like focus on setting things up for the season ender. This week brings us one of the better episodes we...Read more
Inside the incredible world of Victorian taxidermyDaily Mail, April 21st
It's an art that divides opinion but no-one can deny the fantastical taxidermy produced by the Victorians pushed creative boundaries. One of the best was British taxidermist, Walter Potter, whose eccentric creations included rabbit schoolchildren and ...Read more
Online Concierge Serves Up Coffee, Cocktails And Taxidermy (Ethically ...Forbes, April 15th
Wondering where to take taxidermy classes using ethically obtained rabbits? Rishi Mandal can tell you. Mr. Mandal is the co-founder and CEO of Sosh, an online personal concierge service designed to keep you plugged in whether you're looking for the ...Read more
Walter Potter's Wonderfully Twisted Vintage TaxidermyVanity Fair, April 15th
These works, the subject of a new book, Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy (Blue Rider Press), may seem quintessentially Victorian in their merging of kitsch and morbidity—almost to the point of parody. But they also have a zany pop aspect...Read more
Crappy Taxidermy Internet Meme Is Really Sort of SadSlate Magazine (blog), April 8th
The Internet loves awful taxidermy. The people behind the Tumblr Crappy Taxidermy, established as a blog in 2009 and featuring a deep archive of torturous photographs, have a book deal. An unrelated Facebook account, Crap Taxidermy, has 105,000 likes...Read more
Apparently This Matters: Crap(py) taxidermyCNN, April 4th
(CNN) -- The art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting animal skins is called taxidermy, and it can range from classy to creepy depending on whether your subject is a moose, or, say, a homeless drifter. Of course, proper taxidermy is primarily reserved...Read more