Taxidermy & Natural History

Taxidermy, the art of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skins of animals for display, has been practiced on many vertebrate species, including mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and amphibians for a long time.

The early taxidermy pioneers date back to the 18th century, although the golden age of animal conservation was largely during the Victorian era, in part a result of increasing interest in the natural world and travel further afield.


Cabinet of fish sells for £8900

08 April 2003

Auctioneer Neil Freeman said that he could not remember a high price for multiple cased fish during his 20 years’ experience in the market for antique piscatoria. This 5ft 10in by 4ft 11in (1.78 x 1.50m) cabinet was one of a pair containing 15 brown trout caught by the ninth Earl of Coventry during a fruitful fly-fishing holiday in Ireland in 1879.

Fruits of the earth yield top prices

08 October 2002

With the antiquities market suffering from high prices and criminal scandals and a shortage of good material, it is no real surprise that collectors have turned to natural, as opposed to man-made, artefacts of greater age and, arguably, equal beauty.

Only the shell is left...

23 September 2002

THIS 75 per cent-complete shell of the extinct South American mammal known as the Glypdodont, pictured right, will be the star attraction of a highly unusual single-owner collection of ornithological and palaeontological specimens being sold by the Moulins auctioneers Enchères Sadde on October 20.

Is this a growth market?

26 June 2002

One of the more curious sections of Sotheby’s sale at Billingshurst on 21-22 May was devoted to natural, rather than man-made statuary.

The Lady of the Seashells?

19 December 2001

Sold for £90,000 as part of the November 15 Natural History & Travel sale at Sotheby’s was an album of 162 conchological watercolours put together c.1764-82 by Mlle. J.C. Xavery, a miniaturist of Dutch descent and probably the sister of the flower and landscape painter Jacob Xavery, who was working in Paris around the same time.

Not a fisherman's friend...

23 April 2001

UK: Some fishermen claim that pike have an appetite for human flesh – the elderly members of a crown green bowling club in Warrington say this stuffed and mounted 201b monster has been responsible for several fatalities among their anoraked colleagues in recent years.

No amount of cooking rendered the Dodo palatable, just extinct...

05 March 2001

UK: THERE is a distinctly nervous look about the Dodo pictured here, as befits a creature staring extinction in the beak. This “Facsimile of [Roelandt] Savery’s picture of the Dodo in the Royal Gallery at Berlin” is a plate from H.E. Strickland & A.G. Melville’s The Dodo and its Kindred; or the History, Affinities and Osteology of the Dodo, Solitaire and other Extinct Birds of the islands Mauritius, Rodriguez and Bourbon.

The case of the disappearing fish

13 March 2000

UK: The factors which make for a desirable cased fish are four-fold: the case (bowfronts are most popular), the label of a good taxidermist such as Cooper, condition and (as the joker in the pack) the beast itself.

Going shell, going well

17 May 1999

UK: THOSE decorative pieces worked by amateurs using seashells have always come low down in the art world pecking order but of late their attractions have become more and more appreciated as seen when an Irish pair of shellwork botanical studies took £26,000 at Mallams, Oxford, on February 3.

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