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Off Topic: Taxidermy

Posted on Dec 06, 2011 by Paul Tiernan

Taxidermy is surprisingly popular with 'the ladies' (we'd like to think!).

In these grim days of mass conformity, flat-packs, veneered particleboard and (yawn) neutral colour 'pallettes', a chap needs to be somewhat resourceful when it comes time to (re)decorate one's lair. A dapper fellow understands that the finishing touches make all the difference to appearance, and that the same rule applies at home.

On a recent trip to Paris I paid a Sunday morning visit (via the patisserie stall immediately outside the metro) to the Puces (flea market) at Saint-Ouen. I spotted a striking, bright-eyed, stuffed and mounted antique hare that would grace my sideboard very nicely. Sadly, the 900euros asking price was a bit strong (such are the prices in Paris these days that I had to reserve all my funds for Calvados and the occasional plat du jour!), but it did inspire me to further investigate the possibilties of antique taxidermy - both decorative and practical.

Late US President, Theodore Roosevelt, was an avid hunter and collector. You may want to start with something a little more modest!

A useful curio, perhaps? Delight your guests by offering them a hand-rolled cigar from an elephant's foot!


Aside from scouring auction rooms, eBay and private sales, we suggest that Chaps who might feel inclined to add a little 'stuffing to their stuff' should nowadays head to Viktor Wynd's 'Little Shop of Horrors' curiosity shop in deepest, darkest Hackney, London E8. As well as 'zoology', this exceptional emporium also has sections dedicated to Naturalia, Juvenalia, Erotica, Medicinae, Entomology and Osteology. Recommended for the more open-minded chap, Wynd states that "The Shop is perhaps best seen as an attempt to recreate or reinterpret, within 21st century sensibilities, a 17th century Wunderkabinett; a collection of objects assembled at a whim on the basis of their aesthetic or historical appeal. There is no attempt at creating or explaining, meta-narratives or educating anyone. It is merely a display of Naturalia and Artificialia designed to give pleasure to the creators of the Museum, who hope that you too will enjoy it."


There can be stiff competitions for some rarer items, though. In March of this year, a Northumbrian auction house witnessed a 'bidding war' among Chinese herbalists keen to acquire this antique Rhino's head! The head had reached £35,000 when the gavel came down.


Please Note: No animals were killed in the making of this article! All items featured are from a long gone age.

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