Monday, 12 April 2010

Unicorns, flying cats and other stuffed stuff.

The world is a weird and wonderful place, filled with eccentric people and fabulous animals. And this is nowhere more evident than the seriously creepy/magnificent / unusual (delete as applicable) collection going under the hammer at an auction house in Dorset. 

The entire contents of Brading The Experience museum are up for sale, waxworks and taxidermies mostly. Including rogue taxidermies of creatures that simply don't exist: unicorns, flying cats and a yeti (although the jury is still out on the yeti's non-existence).

Taxidermy is a art that seems to be coming back into vogue. The Victorians loved it. In the days before conservation, it was perfectly acceptable to bring home an actual lion from your travels abroad, have it stuffed and displayed in your study. Assuming you could afford it. Although most taxidermies are not that big. 

These days, it's a specialist art. Not many people know how to do it, and not many people are interested in learning, but there are still some taxidermists left. Some doing it as an art form, others as a business. 

The biggest collection of taxidermy I've seen is at Cliffe Castle in Keighley. No lions, but plenty of birds, rodents and creatures of the British countryside. It's quite a thing to see animals preserved in such a matter. So lifelike you'd think they are breathing. In fact, when we took dd1 and ds a few years ago, dd1 asked if they came out of the cages at night. It's not hard to believe they would. 

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