A Historical Directory of Taxidermists: Bird and Animal stuffers, Naturalists, Beast and Bird Preservers in Southwest England and Wales. Early 19th C to Mid-20th C.
A directory complied by Kelvin Boot
Published by MPM Publishing
Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
This book is a must have for any researcher exploring the lives and work of taxidermists from Southwest England and Wales during the 19th and 20th Century. 140 pages in black and white including some images of taxidermists trade labels.
The book is a thorough directory of the taxidermists trading in the area at the time, the introduction cites how the directory was researched, exploring printed documents, not only naturalists publications but newspapers, trade directories and census records where taxidermists may have been mentioned or advertised. Exploring what the life of a taxidermist may have been like and how just like today it was the ‘celebrity’ taxidermists that would have been more likely to be written about.
The introduction to the book also takes us through the history of the early beginnings of taxidermy and the progression of the profession’s name from stuffers to the birth of ‘Taxidermy’. Interesting insight into the history of the word we use so freely today. In fact when the word Taxidermy was originally used it was not so readily liked according to the Naturalist’s Notebook sighted in the directory ‘Taxidermist is called a vile word. Taxidermatist, or dermototaxist, is more correct’ (Pg 6). I really enjoyed this reminder that my profession was ‘invented’ and was a craft being practiced by a small few but that just one man (Louis Dufresne) chose the word Taxidermist and in the end this became the most popular.
The directory itself is split into three parts grouping those working within South West England, the Channel Islands and Wales & Isle of Man. The book is in alphabetical order of surname. Each listing includes the taxidermist’s name and job title, for example taxidermist, bird dealer, bird preserver or stuffer. Some of the listed taxidermists had other jobs such as hairdresser or watchmaker for example and when known these are also listed. Kelvin Boot has added his references to where each taxidermist’s details have been found, their addresses and dates active in the profession. When the location of specimens within museums created by a taxidermist is known this is also listed. And some further details of interest for some of the taxidermists are listed as well, such as ‘declared bankrupt’ or information of the taxidermist’s wives/husbands and family from census records.
There is a thorough bibliography and reference listing at the back along with newspapers and trade directories consulted and referred to within the text.