By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Practical Taxidermy - A manual of instruction to the amateur in collecting, preserving, and setting up natural history specimens of all kinds. To which is added a chapter upon the pictorial arrangement of museums. With additional instructions in modelling and artistic taxidermy.
Author: Browne, Montagu
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Practical Taxidermy - A manual of instruction to the amateur in collecting, preserving, and setting up natural history specimens of all kinds. To which is added a chapter upon the pictorial arrangement of museums. With additional instructions in modelling and artistic taxidermy." ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.










Curator, Town Museum, Leicester.



Revised and considerably Enlarged,

With additional Instructions in Modelling and Artistic Taxidermy.







Plate I Peregrine Falcon on Flight

Showing Method of Binding etc.

Frontispiece--see chapter V






THE First Edition of "Practical Taxidermy" having now run through the
press--with, I venture to hope, some profit to students of the art, if
I may judge from the many hundreds Of letters I have from time to time
received--the publishers have invited me to revise such parts of the
work as may be expedient, and also to add many technical methods of
modelling animals an artistic manner.

I do this the more readily because of the narrow way in which most
professional Taxidermists bolster up their art in a secret and
entirely unnecessary manner--unnecessary because amateur can, but by
the severest application, possibly compete with the experience of the
technical or professional worker. No pictorial artist ever pretends he
has a special brush or colours with which he can paint landscapes or
sea pieces at will; he knows that only thorough mastery of the
technicalities of his art--supplemented by wide experience and close
application--enables him to succeed as he does, and to delight people
who, seeing his facility of handling, may imagine that picture
painting is very easy and could be readily acquired--perhaps from
books. So it is with the Taxidermist. Those, therefore, who procure
this book, thinking to do all attempted to be explained therein
without long study and without a knowledge of anatomy, form,
arrangement, and colour, may put it on one side as useless. These
pages are merely an introduction to a delightful art, which must be
wooed with patient determination and loving pains until technical
skill invests it with beauty.

If I can be of any assistance to my readers, I invite them to write to
me if at any time they are puzzled or temporarily disheartened; merely
asking them to remember:

(1)--That, not being in business, I cannot of course answer purely
business communications; and (2)--Not being a man of infinite leisure,
it must also be remembered that a properly directed envelope for
return to the inquirer is of consequence when minutes are precious.
Unlike the Prime Minister, I do not like post-cards, and never answer
them if from unknown correspondents.

I may here mention that this edition is not only considerably
enlarged, but has several woodcuts and four plates added, three of
which latter have been engraved from photographs specially taken for
this work.

I say now, in conclusion, work hard, study hard, and look to good
modellers and painters--and not to bird-stuffers--for conceptions of
form, arrangement, and colour, and in the end, believe me, you will
achieve a better success than attends the labours of those who follow
in the old paths of careless or inartistic Taxidermy.






TAXIDERMY, which is derived from two Greek words, a literal
translation of which would signify the "arrangement of skins," appears
to have been practised in a limited degree ages ago, for may we not
say without doubt that the first taxidermists were the ancient
Egyptians, who, despite the fact that they seldom or never appear to
have removed the skin as a whole, as in our modern methods, yet,
taking into consideration the excellent manner in which they preserved
their human or other bodies for thousands of years by the aid of
injections, spices, essential oils, or what not, they may, I think, be
fairly placed in the front rank as the first taxidermists the world
has known. For an account, of the arts used in embalming see
Herodotus, who says:

In Egypt certain persons are appointed by law to exercise this art
(embalming) as their peculiar business; and when a dead body is
brought them they produce patterns of mummies in wood imitated in
painting, the most elaborate of which are said to be of him (Osiris)
whose name I do not think it right to mention on this occasion. The
second which they show is simpler and less costly; the third is the
cheapest. Having exhibited them all, they inquire of the persons who
have applied to them which method they wish to be adopted, and this
being settled, and the price agreed upon, the parties return, leaving
the body with the embalmers.

In preparing it according to the first method, they commence by
extracting the brain from the nostrils with a curved iron probe,
partly clearing the head by this means, and partly by pouring in
certain drugs; then, making an incision in the side with a sharp
Ethiopian stone, they draw out the intestines through the aperture.
Having cleansed and washed them with palm wine they cover them with
pounded aromatics, and afterwards filling the cavity with powder of
pure, myrrh, cassia, and other fragrant substances, frankincense
excepted, they sew it up again. This being done, they salt the body,
keeping it in natron seventy days, to which period they are strictly
confined. When the seventy days are over they wash the body and wrap
it up entirely in bands of fine linen smeared on their inner side with
gum, which the Egyptians generally use instead of glue. The relatives
then take away the body, and have a wooden ease made in the form of a
man, in which they deposit it, and, when fastened up, they keep it in
a room in their house, placing it upright against the wall. This is
the most costly method of embalming.

For those who choose the middle-kind, on account of the expense, they
prepare the body as follows: They fill syringes with oil of cedar, and
inject this into the abdomen, without making any incision or removing
the bowels, and, taking care that the liquid shall not escape, they
keep it in salt during the specified number of days. The cedar oil is
then taken out, and such is its strength, that it brings with it the
bowels and all the inside in a state of dissolution. The natron also
dissolves the flesh, so that nothing remains but the skin and bones.
This process being over, they restore the body without any further

The third kind of embalming is only adopted for the poor. In this they
merely cleanse the body, by an injection of syrmoea, and salt it
during seventy days, after which it is returned to the friends who
brought it.

The account given by Diodorus is similar, if we except the cost and
time of embalming. The most expensive way of embalming costs a talent
of silver (about 250 pounds sterling); the second, twenty-two minae
(60 pounds); and the third is extremely cheap. The persons who embalm
the bodies are artists who have learnt this secret from their
ancestors. They present to the friends of the deceased who apply to
them an estimate of the funeral expenses, and ask them in what manner
they wish it to be performed, which being agreed upon, they deliver
the body to the proper persona appointed to that office. First, one
who is denominated the scribe, marks upon the left side of the body,
as it lies on the ground, the extent of the incision which is to be
made; then another, who is called the dissector, cuts open as much of
the flesh as the law permits with a sharp Ethiopian stone, and
immediately runs away, pursued by those who are present throwing
stones at him, amidst bitter execrations, as if to cast upon him all
the odium of this necessary act, for they look upon everyone who has
offered violence to, or inflicted b wound or any other injury upon a
human body to be hateful; but the embalmers, on the contrary, are held
in the greatest consideration and respect, being the associates of the
priests, and permitted free access to e temples as sacred persons.

As soon as they have met together to embalm the body thus prepared
them, one introduces his band through the aperture into the abdomen,
and takes everything out except the kidneys and heart, another
cleanses each of the viscera with palm wine and aromatic substances;
lastly, having applied oil of cedar and other things to the whole body
for wards of thirty days, they add myrrh, cinnamon, and those drugs
which have not only the power of preserving the body for a length of
time, but of imparting to it a fragrant odour. It is then restored to
the friends of the deceased; and so perfectly are all the members
preserved even the hair of the eyelids and eyebrows remains
undisturbed, and the whole appearance of the person is so unaltered
that every feature may be recognised.

Sir J. Gardener Wilkinson ("Manners and Customs of the Ancient
Egyptians") from whom I have quoted, says that:

"The extraction of the brain by the nostrils is proved by the
appearance of the mummies found in the tombs; and some of the crooked
instruments (always of bronze) supposed to have been used for this
purpose have been discovered at Thebes."  The preservatives appear to
have been of two classes, bituminous and saline, consisting, in the
first class, of gums, resins, asphaltum, and pure bitumen, with,
doubtless, some astringent barks powders, etc. rubbed in. Mummies
prepared in this is way are known by their dry, yet flexible skins,
retracted and adherent to the bones; features, and hair, well
preserved and life-like. Those mummies filled with bitumen, have black
skins, hard and shining as if varnished, but with the features
perfect, having been prepared with great care, and even after ages
have elapsed, are but little susceptible to exposure.

Of the mummies of the second class (also filled with resins and
asphaltum), we must assume that their skins and flesh have been
subjected to sodaic or saline products; for Boitard, in a work
published at Paris in 1825, says that an injection is made with oil of
cedar and common salt, also, that they wash the corpse with nitre and
leave it to steep for seventy days, at the end of which time they
remove the intestines, which the injection has corroded, and replace
their loss by filling the cavity of the abdomen with nitre. This is
also borne out by Wilkinson, who says:

"On exposure to air they (the mummies) become covered with
efflorescence of sulphate of soda, and also readily absorb moisture
from the atmosphere."

It appears, also, that after the period of preparation (thirty, forty,
or seventy days, as fixed by various authors), the corpse was
relieved, in the first-class ones, of all the old saline, nitrous, or
resinous products, and re-filled with costly resins, aromatic spices,
and bitumen; which, says Monsieur Rouyer:

"Having styptic, absorbent, and balsamic qualities, would produce a
kind of tanning operation on the body, which would also, no doubt, be
heightened by the washing with palm wine."

He here broaches the ingenious and highly probable theory, that the
corpse, during its mummification, was placed in stoves of a certain
temperature, where the heat gradually and closely united the various
preservative agents before mentioned. They were then swathed in linen
bandages of great length, and enclosed in beautifully painted and
gilded cartonages; the faces were heavily gilded and the eyes imitated
in enamel; they were then inclosed in three or four cases, also richly
gilded and painted, and finally "mounted" in a sarcophagus.

Common people appear in some cases to have been merely salted and
plunged in liquid pitch, others were simply salted and dried. Mummies
prepared by these methods freely attract moisture--are ill preserved,
and, therefore, as a matter of course, fall to pieces easily on
contact with external air.

In summing up the process of embalming, as described by the authors
just quoted, we find a few problems of more or less difficulty, and
which none of them appear inclined to solve; and I do not wonder at
this, as the attempt, in my own case, in one or two instances, has
involved days of study and references to dozens of medical and other
works with but a meagre result. However, to take them seriatim, we can
assume, I think, with some show of evidence, that the Ethiopian stone,
mentioned as being used to make the first incision in the corpse,
might have been a piece of obsidian or basalt, but most probably was
merely an ordinary sharp flint of a dark colour.

The first chemical used in embalming is the hardest nut of all to
crack, and on which I have most exercised my intellectual teeth--and
that is natron. Now, what is natron? [Footnote: Natrium is the old
Latin term for the metal or base we now call sodium. The old names for
some of its salts were: Natron Carbonicum--or Bicarbonate of Soda;
Natron Vitriolatum--or Sulphate of Soda; discovered or re-discovered
about 1670. Nitrum =Carbonate of soda.] Ordinary dictionaries and
authors tell us, as a matter of course--carbonate of soda. In support
of this theory M. Rouyer writes:

"The natron would be used just as it was got from many of the lakes of
Egypt, where it is found abundantly in the form of carbonate of soda."

Pereira, in "Materia Medica," though intimating that natron is not to
be confounded with nitre, says, in speaking of carbonate of soda:

"This salt was probably known to the ancients under the term of

Now, as Nitron is more likely, from its etymology, to be translated
"nitre," we are landed into another difficulty, if by nitre we mean
saltpetre, for that will, as we all know, preserve animal tissue for a
certain time; however, I do not think we can translate natron as being
nitre (saltpetre), for in former days many salts were included under
the general term nitre; for instance, our common soda and potash, the
chemical composition of which was unknown until Davy, in 1807,
extracted the metals sodium and potassium from those salts. Boitard
expressly states:

"Il parait que ce natrum était un alkali fixe, et pas du tout du nitre
comme quelques auteurs l'ont pensé; ce qui semblerait appuyer cette
opinion, c'est que lea femmes egyptiennes se servaient de natrum pour
faire leur lessive, comme on as sert aujourd'hui de la soude."

In Peru the soil may be said to be impregnated with nitre, but that is
nitrate of soda, and not really saltpetre (nitrate of potassium), as
many people imagine who hear it called simply nitre.

Mr. Thos. W. Baker, who has most obligingly unearthed several old
works for me, says:

"Now I think of it, natron is perfectly familiar to me as apparently a
mixture of broken soda crystals and a brown earth which is sold in the
bazaars of India, under the name of 'sootjee moogee,' for domestic
purposes; and I know, from experience, that unless it is washed off
paint work directly it is passed over it with a cloth all the paint
comes off bare, sometimes to the wood."

Again, he says:

"In Bayley's Dictionary, circa 1730, I find the following: 'Natron;
or, a Natron, from Gr. Natron (?), a kind of black greyish salt, taken
out of a lake of stagnant water in the territory of Terrana, in

Also see "Penny Cyclopaedia," vol. xvi, p. 105, "Natron, native
sesquicarbonate of soda (see 'Sodium'):"

"The Natron Lakes, which are six in number, are situated in a valley
bordering upon Lower Egypt, and are remarkable for the great quantity
of salt which they produce. The crystallisations are both of muriate
of soda (or common salt) and of carbonate of soda. ... The 'Natron' is
collected once a year, and is used both in Egypt and Syria, as also in
Europe, for manufacturing glass and soap, and for bleaching linen."

Turning to "Sodium" for the sesquicarbonate, which is found native in
Hungary, and also near Fezzan, in Africa:

'By the natives it is called "Trona." It is found in hard striated
crystalline masses, and is not altered by exposure to the air, but is
readily soluble in water. This salt appears to be formed when a
solution of the carbonate of soda is heated with carbonate of ammonia,
and probably also when a solution of the bicarbonate is heated. Its
taste is less alkaline than that of the carbonate, into which it is
converted when strongly heated by losing one-third of its carbonic

That it was one of the products of soda cannot reasonably be doubted.
Biborate of soda (with which I have been experimenting lately) has
certainly wonderfully preservative powers, especially in conjunction
with common salt, or saltpetre; but then it has not the caustic
properties of natron. May not natron have been a fixed alkali, or has
the native carbonate of soda more caustic and antiseptic properties
than the usual carbonate of soda of commerce, which plainly cannot be

We have here a most interesting subject to solve as to the component
parts of the ancient natron; my suspicion is that natron, as used by
the Egyptians, was a mixture of biborate of soda, caustic soda, and
muriate of soda. [Footnote: The following report appeared in the
California Alta, 24th June. 1874:

"AN INTERESTING DISCOVERY.--Several weeks ago we mentioned the
departure of Mr. Arthur Robottom, Birmingham, England, on a search for
borax in the southern part of California. He has now returned,
bringing news of an interesting and valuable discovery. Beyond the
Sierra Nevada, in the Enclosed Basin of North America, about 140 miles
in a north-eastward direction from Bakersfield, there is the bed of a
dry lake filled over an area of fifteen miles long by six wide with
saline crystals to a depth of about six or eight feet. The appearance
of the surrounding country clearly indicates that water once stood
sixty feet deep here over a large area, the ancient beach being
distinctly traceable. The most remarkable fact about this-saline
deposit is that in its middle there is a tract, five miles long and
two wide, of common salt, while on the outside there is a deposit of
borate of soda, three feet thick, and under this a lower stratum
composed of sulphate of soda and tincal mixed together, from one to
three feet thick. These minerals are all in crystals, the sulphate of
soda and tincal forming a solid mass, almost like stone in its
hardness. The borate of soda is of a dirty hue, but the salt, which
lies above the level of the entire deposit, in some places to a depth
of seven feet, is white as snow. The report of natural deposits thus
situated will appear very improbable to scientific men, for there is
nothing to account for the separation of the salt from the borates, or
for the accumulation of salt above the level of other crystalline
deposits. We have Mr. Robottom for authority, and the country is open
for those who wish to examine for themselves. The place can easily be
found. It is known as the Borax Fields in the Slate Range, and will be
examined carefully by many competent men, since the tincal--a crude
borate of soda--is a valuable mineral, and can be separated, at little
expense, from the sulphate of soda."]

The next chemical agent we have to notice (which should, however, have
appeared prior to natron), is palm wine, used in the first process of
cleansing the intestines; this would doubtless act as an astringent,
and would, of course, tend to coagulate the liquid albumen contained
in the body (in a similar manner to our ordinary spirits of wine),
which, if followed by a caustic alkali (such as natron may have been),
to dissolve the solid albumen, fibrin and gelatine, ought certainly to
have exercised a decidedly tanning influence.

Following this is oil of cedar. The present oil of cedar (ol cedrat of
commerce) cannot be intended, as that is made from the citron, and
being merely an essential oil can have little of the antiseptic or
corrosive qualities imputed to the ancient oil of cedars. May it not
have been a product distilled from the actual cedar tree (one of the
coniferae) similar to our oil or spirit of turpentine? I have,
however, been unable to discover any writings in certain support of
this theory; "Encyclopaedia Britannica" merely mentions it as "a
certain oily liquor extracted from the cedar;" while Boitard boldly
says, "... Sans doute l'essence de terebenthine." [Footnote: The
Detroit Review of Medicine and Pharmacy for July, 1876. gives a report
of a case of poisoning through an overdose of oil of red cedar (oleum
juniper virginianae) which supports my theory as to there being
extracted an oil from the Lebanon (or other) cedars partaking of the
nature of turpentine and totally distinct from ol cedrat.]

Whatever may have been the composition of--and manner of applying--the
foregoing agents, it is certain that they had the effect intended, for
Diodorus writes fully within bounds when mentioning the life-like
appearance of the features in mummies, as we know by later
discoveries, for there are some well-known specimens still in
existence of which the eyelids, lashes, eyebrows, and hair are still
in their natural state, and this after an interval of thousands of
years. In some mummies, for instance, the contour of the features is
plainly discernible, and surely this is scientific "preparation of
specimens" not to be excelled in the present day.

The Egyptian mode of embalming was imitated occasionally by the Jews,
Greeks, Romans, and other nations, and has sometimes been adopted in
modern times, but never to the same extent or perfection as they
attained. The only other method which is known to have been adopted as
a national custom was that practised by the Guanches, the ancient
inhabitants of the Canary Isles. Their mummies are particularly
described by M. Bortj de St. Vincent, in his 'Essai sur les Isles
Fortunées.' Numerous and vast catacombs are filled with them in each
of the thirteen islands, but the best known is one in Teneriffe, which
contained upwards of a thousand bodies. The mummies are sewn up in
goat or sheep skins, and five or six are commonly found together, the
skin over the head of one being stitched to that over the feet of
another; but those of the great are contained in cases hollowed out of
a piece of savin wood. The bodies are not bandaged, and are dry, light
tan-coloured, and slightly aromatic. Several of them are completely
preserved with distinct, though distorted, features.

The method of embalming adopted by the Guanches consisted in removing
the viscera in either of the same ways as the Egyptians practised,
then filling the cavities with aromatic powders, frequently washing
and anointing the surface, and, lastly, drying the body very carefully
for fifteen or sixteen days in the sun or by a stove.

[Footnote: My friend, the late Thos. Baker, wrote me, some time before
his sad death by shipwreck: "In an old work which I have, 'A General
Collection of Voyages,' I find the following relating to the
'Guanches' in vol. i, book ii, chap. i, page 184, 'The Voyage of Juan
Rejon to the Canary Islands, AD. 1491': 'When any person died, they
preserved the body in this manner: First, they carried it to a cave
and stretched it on a fiat stone, where they opened it and took out
the bowels; then, twice a day, they washed the porous parts of the
body, viz, the arm-pits, behind the ears, the groin, between the
fingers, and the neck, with cold water. After washing it sufficiently
they anointed those parts with sheep's butter (?), and sprinkled them
with a powder made of the dust of decayed pine trees, and a sort of
brushwood which the Spaniards call Brefsos, together with the powder
of pumice stone. Then they let the body remain till it was perfectly
dry, when the relatives of the deceased came and swaddled it in sheep
or goat skins dressed. Girding all tight with long leather thongs,
they put it in the cave which had been set apart by the deceased for
his burying place, without any covering. There were particular persons
set apart for this office of embalming, each sex performing it for
those of their own. During the process they watched the bodies very
carefully to prevent the ravens from devouring them, the relations of
the deceased bringing them victuals and waiting on them during the
time of their watching.'"]

So complete is the desiccation of these mummies, that a whole body,
which Blumenbach possessed, weighed only 7.5 lb, though the dried
skeleton of a body of the same size, as usually prepared, weighs at
least 9 lb.

In some situations the conditions of the soil and atmosphere, by the
rapidity with which they permit the drying of the animal tissues to be
effected, are alone sufficient for the preservation of the body in the
form of a mummy; this is the case in some parts of Peru, especially at
Arica, where considerable numbers of bodies have been found quite dry
in pits dug in a saline dry soil. There is an excellent specimen of a
mummy of this kind in the Museum of the College of Surgeons, which was
brought from Caxamarca by General Paroissien--like most of them, it is
in a sitting posture, with the knees almost touching the chin, and the
hands by the sides of the face. It is quite dry and hard; the features
are distorted, but nearly perfect, and the hair has fallen off. The
Peruvian mummies do not appear to have been subjected to any
particular preparation, the dry and absorbent earth in which they are
placed being sufficient to prevent them from putrefying. M. Humboldt
found the bodies of many Spaniards and Peruvians lying on former
fields of battle dried and preserved in the open air. In the deserts
of Africa the preservation of the body is secured by burying it in the
hot sand; and even in Europe soils are sometimes met with in which the
bodies undergo a slow process of drying, and then remain almost
unalterable even on exposure to the air and moisture. There is a vault
at Toulouse in which a vast number of bodies that have been buried
were found, after many years, dry and without a trace of the effects
of putrefaction; and in the vaults of St. Michael's Church, Dublin,
the bodies are similarly preserved. In both cases putrefaction is
prevented by the constant absorption of the moisture from the
atmosphere, and through its medium from the body by the calcareous
soil in which the vaults are dug.--Penny Cyclopaedia, vol. xv, p.

Having now given a brief sketch of the best-known methods of
preserving Nature's greatest handiwork--Man--I may mention that the
Egyptians also devoted their energies to the preservation of those
things more intimately connected with our theme, namely, mammals,
birds, etc. A people who knew how to preserve and arrest from decay the
carcase of so immense an animal as the hippopotamus (a mummy of which
was discovered at Thebes), or the various bulls, cows, dogs, cats,
mice, ichneumons, hawks, ibises, fishes, serpents, crocodiles, and
other sacred animals (mummies of which have been and are constantly
found), must have had some glimmerings of taxidermy; many of the
subjects are preserved in so beautiful a manner that mummied ibises,
hawks, etc, are occasionally discovered even in a good state of
preservation, and Cuvier actually found in the intestines of a mummied
ibis (Ibis religiosa, a species still found, though rarely, in Egypt)
the partly-digested skin and scales of a snake!

From this period of the world's history I can discover but few links
to the chain of Practical Taxidermy.

True it is that the Greeks, Romans, and the tribes which inhabited
ancient Britain must have had some knowledge of preserving Skins of
animals slaughtered by them in the chase, for we everywhere read of
the skins of lions, tigers, wolves, etc, being used for purposes of
necessity, as in the case of those barbarians who clothed themselves
with skins as a protection from the inclemency of the weather, and
also in the case of the luxurious Greeks and Romans, who used skins in
the adornment of their persons or homes. In fact, the conversion of
skins into leather must be of the highest antiquity, for, in the Leeds
mummy described in 1828, there was found on the bandages of the head
and face a thong composed of three straps of leather, and many of the
Egyptian divinities are represented with a lion or leopard skin as a
covering for the throne, etc.; and do we not read in many places in
Holy Writ of leather and of tanners?--a notable instance, to wit, in
Simon, the tanner--in fact, the ancient history of all nations teems
with the records of leather and of furs; but of the actual setting up
of animals as specimens I can find no trace.

I doubt, however, if we can carry taxidermy proper farther back than
to about 150 years ago, at which date naturalists appear to have had
some idea of the proper preservation and mounting of natural history
specimens; but Réaumur, more than a century and a quarter ago,
published a treatise on the preservation of skins of birds; however,
as his plan was simply setting up with wires birds which had
previously been steeped in spirits of wine, his method did not find
much favour. It appears that, just after that time, the system was
tried of skinning birds in their fresh state, and also of cutting the
skins longitudinally in two halves, and filling the one half with
plaster; then the skin was fixed to a backboard, an eye was inserted,
and the beak and legs were imitated by painting: and this was then
fixed in a sort of framework of glass. This system is still followed
to a certain extent; for, fifteen years ago, when I was in one of the
Greek islands, a German came round the town selling birds mounted in
the same way, and also mounted feather by feather.

To quote now from the translation of a French work, published by
Longman, Rees, and Co, in London, in 1820, we find that "A work
appeared at Lyons in 1758, entitled 'Instructions on the Manner of
Collecting and Preparing the Different Curiosities of Natural
History.'" [Footnote: The sixth edition, twenty-three years later, has
this title, "Taxidermy, or the Art of Preparing and Mounting Objects
of Natural History for the use of Museums and Travellers, by Mrs. R.
Lee, formerly Mrs. J. Edward Bowdich. Sixth edition, 1843. Longman,
Brown, Green, and Longman."]

The author was the first who submitted some useful principles for
taxidermy. He ornamented his book with many plates, more than half of
which are in all respects foreign to his subject, as they simply
represent shells, and other marine productions, with their

In 1786, the Abbé Manesse published a volume under the title of
"Treatise on the Manner of Stuffing and Preserving Animals and Skins."
He presented his work to the Academy, who made a favourable report of

Mauduyt has given a memoir on the manner of preparing dead birds for
forming collections. (See la 5ème "Livraison de l'Encyclopédie,
Méthodique, Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux," t. i, deuxième partie, p.
435.) By studying his method we may, with perseverance, be able to
mount birds well, although he had never prepared them himself, for he
has composed his memoir from the notes which Lerot furnished him, who
mounted them very well, and who merited the confidence which Mauduyt
had accorded him in all the preparations which his fine collection

An old sculptor, living at Lahaye, devoted himself to the practice of
taxidermy, and in a short time surpassed all those who had employed
themselves in mounting animals, especially large mammalia.

It seems that neither the English nor the Dutch have published any
work which treats of the method of mounting animals according to

In 1801 we were not more advanced than they were. What we possessed of
this kind appeared insufficient to amateurs. Notwithstanding, many
derived advantage from the memoir of Mauduyt, but being inserted in
the "Encyclopédie Méthodique," it was not always easy to procure it.
There was, besides, only the work of Abbé Manesse, and the tediousness
of the means which he pointed out frightened all those who desired to
learn taxidermy. The professors of natural history to the central
schools of the departments felt more than ever the want of a work
which furnished the method of preserving and augmenting their
zoological collections. In 1802 their wishes were nearly accomplished,
for there appeared almost at the same time two works on taxidermy, the
one by M. Nicholas, a chemist, the other by M. Henon. M. Nicholas
makes an analysis of all that had been said before on the preparation
of animals. This view comprehends nearly half the volume.

Bécoeur, of Metz, was the best apothecary in that city. He mounted
fresh birds in the greatest perfection, and by a little practice one
is sure to succeed with his method. He opened his birds in the usual
manner, that is to say, by the middle of the belly. He easily took out
the body by this opening without cutting any of the extremities; he
then removed the flesh by the aid of a scalpel, taking the precaution
to preserve all the ligaments; he anointed the skin, and put the
skeleton in its place, carefully dispersing the feathers on each side.
He ran the head through with an iron wire, in which he had formed a
little ring at nearly the third of its length; the smallest side
passed into the rump in such a manner that 'the ring of the iron wire
was under the sternum. He then passed a wire into each claw, so that
the extremities of the wire united to pass into the little ring; he
bent these extremities within, and fixed them with a string to the
iron in the middle of the vertebral column. He replaced the flesh by
flax, or chopped cotton, sewed up the bird, placed it on a foot or
support of wood, and gave it a suitable attitude, of which he was
always sure--for a bird thus mounted could only bend in its natural
posture (?). He prepared quadrupeds in the same manner.

It remains for us to speak of a little work published by Henon and
Mouton Fontenelle. They had at first no other object than to read
their manuscript to the Athenaeum at Lyons, of which they were
members. They were earnestly solicited to print it, and published it
in 1802. The authors speak of birds only. They describe an infinity of
methods practised by others, and compare them to their own, which,
without doubt, are preferable, but too slow to satisfy the impatience
of ornithologists.

The book from which I have just quoted seems to have been the only
reliable text book known at that period, and with the exception of
certain modern improvements in modelling and mounting, contains a mass
of--for that day--valuable elementary information. In fact, the French
and German taxidermists were then far in advance of us, a stigma which
we did not succeed in wiping off until after the Great Exhibition of

Although, as I have just said, the French and Germans excelled us in
the setting up of specimens, yet their collections did not, in all
cases, exceed ours in point of interest or magnitude, for the old
taxidermists had been at work prior to 1725, at which date it is
recorded that the museum of Sir Hans Sloane (the nucleus of our
British Museum collection) contained the following number of
specimens: Mammals, 1194; birds, 753; reptiles, 345; fishes, 1007. A
gradual increase appeared by 1753, when the figures stood: Mammals,
1886; birds, 1172; reptiles, 521; fishes, 1555. A great proportion of
these were, however, not stuffed specimens, but simply bones and
preparations of fleshy parts in spirits. Nothing shows the gradual
rise and progress of taxidermy better than the history of the British
Museum, which, under the then name of Montagu House, was opened to the
public by special ticket on Jan. 15, 1759.

Soon after its opening the natural history collections appear to have
claimed more interest from the public, for in 1765 we had a very good
collection of butterflies, and in 1769 the trustees acquired, by
purchase, a considerable collection of stuffed birds from Holland. The
restrictions on visitors were, however, vexatious, people of all
classes being hurried through the rooms at a tremendous speed--vide
Hutton, the Birmingham historian, who visited it in 1784, and relates
how he would fain have spent hours looking at things for which only
minutes were allowed. From this period up to 1816 (at which date the
valuable ornithological collection of Col. Montagu was purchased for
the nation at a cost of £11,000) the additions to the natural history
galleries were not many, probably owing to the troublous times;
however, when we had succeeded in breaking the power of Napoleon and
restored peace to Europe, naturalists and taxidermists found that the
public had then time and inclination to devote themselves to their
collections or works.

Accordingly, during the next twenty years many works (including those
before noted) were written on taxidermy, the most notable being by
Swainson, Brown, and that eccentric genius Waterton, whom we may call
the pioneer of our present system of mounting, and who, in his usual
caustic style, pointed out the very inferior way in which specimens
were then mounted.

At the end of his "Wanderings in South America" appeared a treatise on
Taxidermy, but, as he decried the use of arsenical preparations, and
mounted his birds without wires in a fashion peculiar to himself, his
system did not find favour in the eyes of the school of rigid
stuffing, who had not then worked out the present happy compromise
between his style and theirs. His patience must have been
inexhaustible; indeed, the Rev. J. G. Wood, who knew him well, has
told me of many instances in which he spent days in scraping out the
hands and feet of the larger apes until he got them as thin as paper,
and also of his delight when he invented the kid-glove substitute for
a peacock's face much to the astonishment of the reverend gentleman.
Of course; all these works on the preservation of natural history
objects and the labours of collectors directed the public mind to the
contemplation of natural history.

The British Museum at this time also--relieved of a few of the
restrictions on admission--became more popular, and in 1836 we find
the natural history collections were as follow: Mammals, species 405;
birds, species 2400; constituting altogether in specimens the sum
total of 4659. Of reptiles we could boast--species 600, specimens
1300; fish 1000 specimens. These figures did not contrast favourably
with the Paris Museum as in the days of old for now Paris stood:
Mammals, species 500; birds, species 2300; grand total of specimens
6000. Of fish the French had four times as many as we (and beat us,
proportionately, in other sections), while we were far in advance in
this class of the Vienna and Berlin Museums. In shells (not fossils),
London and Paris were equal and much superior to Berlin and Leyden. In
1848 an extraordinary increase (marking the great interest taken in
taxidermical science) had taken place; we now had added to the British
Museum since 1836, 29,595 specimens, comprising 5797 mammals, 13,414
birds, 4112 reptiles, 6272 fish.

In mammals and birds we held the proud position of having the finest
and most extensive collection in the world, while in reptiles and fish
we were again beaten by Paris. In proof of the growing interest taken
in natural history, we find that in 1860 the number of visitors to the
natural history department was greatly in excess of all the other
departments; and at the present time the attendance has greatly
increased, as also the objects exhibited, a fact patent to all who
will take the trouble to visit the British Museum, or to inspect the
official catalogues published from time to time, a synopsis of which
cannot at present be given owing to their extent and variety; but we
can assume, I think, that we have as complete a natural history
collection as is to be found in any of the museums of the world.
[Footnote: Some idea of the extent of the National Natural History
Collections may be gathered from the pages of the recently-published
British Museum "Catalogues" 1874-82, where, in many instances, the
number of specimens of a certain order of birds contained in the
Museum falls very little short of the ascertained number of species
for the whole of the world.]

Though taxidermy flourished, as we see, for some years previous to the
Great Exhibition of 1851, yet that decidedly gave a considerable
impetus to the more correct and artistic delineation of animals,
especially in what may be called the grotesque school instituted by
the Germans, which, though it may perhaps be decried on the score of
misrepresenting nature in the most natural way possible, yet teaches a
special lesson by the increased care necessary to more perfectly
render the fine points required in giving animals that serio-comic and
half-human expression which was so intensely ridiculous and yet
admirable in the studies of the groups illustrating the fable of
"Reinecke the Fox," which were in the Wurtemburgh Court, class XXX.
and were executed by H. Ploucquet, of Stuttgart. These groups, or
similar ones, are now to be seen in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.

In nearly all of these groups the modelling and the varied expressions
of hope, fear, love, and rage, were an immense step in advance of the
old wooden school of taxidermy; specimens of which are still to be
found in museums--stiff, gaunt, erect, and angular. Copies of those
early outrages on nature may still be seen in the dreary plates of the
anything but "animated" work of "poor Goldie," who, as Boswell said,
"loved to shine" in what was least understood.


From this era the English artists, having had their eyes opened by the
teachings of the foreign exhibits of 1851, steadily gained ground, and
the Wards having the sense to employ, in the first instance, foreign
artistic workmen, rapidly pushed to the front, until the finest animal
study of ancient or modern times was achieved by one of them--the
"Lion and Tiger Struggle," exhibited at Paris, and afterwards at the
Sydenham Crystal Palace. This, and one or two analogous works, carried
the English to the foremost ranks of zoological artists; and now that
we embellish our taxidermic studies with natural grasses, ferns, etc.
and with representations of scenery and rockwork, in the endeavour to
carry the eye and mind to the actual localities in which the various
species of animals are found--an advance in art not dreamed of fifty
years ago--and also correctly model the heads and limbs of animals, we
still hold our own, and are as far advanced in taxidermy as any other



THE decoying and trapping of birds, etc, is a somewhat delicate subject
to handle, lest we degenerate into giving instruction in amateur
poaching; but the application of my direction I must leave to the
reader's own sense of fitness of time and scene, and object to be
snared. And now, before launching into my subject, one word in season.
Observe as a golden rule--never to be broken--this: Do not snare,
shoot, nor kill any more birds or animals than you absolutely want--in
fine, do not kill for killing's sake, or snare in wantonness. Let all
you do have reference to some object to be attained, either to procure
specimens wanted for a collection, or, in cases of necessity, for
food. Bear this in mind, for, without sympathy with creatures
fashioned in as complex and beautiful a manner as ourselves, we can
never hope to be true naturalists, or to feel a thrill of exquisite
pleasure run through us when a new specimen falls to our prowess. How
can we admire its beauty when alive, or feel a mournful satisfaction
at its death, if we are constantly killing the same species of bird
for sport alone?

Another thing: kill a wounded bird as quickly and humanely as
possible, which you may always do by pressing its breast just under
the wings with your finger and thumb, bearing the whole weight of the
palm of the hand on the sternum or breast-bone, and gradually
increasing the pressure until life is extinct. This plan suffices for
even the larger birds, provided you can find a means of holding them
firmly while you employ both hands in the manner previously indicated.

Again: if collecting eggs, be content with half the sitting of a nest,
and if you know of a very rare nest of eggs, do not take them all in
your acquisitive greed. If you see a rare bird, on common land, you
may as well secure him as let "Jack Smith" make him up in a sparrow
pie; but if the bird is on preserved land, or in a retired spot where
no one is likely to harry it, do think a minute before pulling
trigger, and ask yourself three questions:

1. Will this bird be likely to stay if unmolested?

2. Is it likely to have a mate?

3. Will it nest here?

If you can answer any of these questions in the affirmative, why,
"don't shoot, colonel;" for think of the aid to science, and your own
satisfaction, if you can discover anything new in its habits, or
verify any doubtful point. Many rare birds would nest here if
undisturbed, and come again with additions. The Hoopoe, or golden
oriole, for instance, and many other rare birds, would nest, and,
indeed, do nest here when allowed.

An interesting account of the appearance of the great bustard in
Norfolk, and the pains taken through the kindness of Lord Lilford to
provide it with a mate, appeared in the Field of April 8, 1876. But
alas! everyone is not so considerate, and we have but a select few of
such self-sacrificing people.

I presume no notice is required how to set the first trap on our list
--I mean our boyhood's old favourite, the brick trap, or the sieve and
string, both very well in their way in hard weather; but a notice may
be required as to the uses to which the next simplest trap, or springe
(the horsehair noose), may be applied. For the very few people who do
not know how to set it, I will, in the manner of Col. Hawker, who did
everything at the time which he wished to explain in writing, proceed
to make one.

Fig. 1--Loop in wire.

Here, then, I have a black horsehair about two feet long; I double it,
holding it between the right-hand finger and thumb, leaving a little
loose loop of about half an inch long; from this point I proceed by an
overhand motion of the thumb to twist it up; on reaching the bottom I
make a small knot to prevent its unrolling; then, pushing the knotted
end through the eye of the loop, I thus form a loose noose. I then
attach a piece of wire to the free end by a twisted loop (see Fig. 1).

With about half a dozen of these springes coiled in an oval tin box I
am ready to snare any small bird whose haunt I may discover. Birds
which are nesting can easily be caught by placing one noose in the
nest and others round the edge or mouth, making fast the end wires to
any contiguous branch or twigs. Moorhens or water-rails, which swim or
run through the constantly frequented tracks which they have made in
dense undergrowth or rushes in bogs, may be captured by attaching
these nooses to a string stretched across--indeed, a writer in the
Field, of July 8, 1876, says, speaking of Turkestan:

"Ducks are caught by rather a clever arrangement with horsehair nooses
attached to a string, which is stretched over the ditches and canals
used for irrigation, and so close to the water that the ducks are
compelled when swimming under the string to stretch out their necks,
when they are easily caught in the hanging nooses."

Also a useful plan for catching plovers or snipes, which haunt the
edges of streams having a narrow margin between the bank and the
water, is described by him as used for catching quails:

"One method is simplicity itself: a hair noose is fastened to a lump
of clay well worked together; a number of these appliances are
scattered about the lucerne fields, which the quails are fond of
frequenting; the bird caught in the noose is prevented from flying
away owing to the weight of the lump of clay and its getting easily
entangled in the grass."

Wheatears and ortolans are caught by suspending a hair noose between
two turves placed on end and touching each other in the form of the
roof of a house; to this shelter the birds constantly run on the
approach of danger, or even, apparently, through timidity, on the
gathering of storm clouds.

With this springe, also, thrushes and similar birds are described as
being snared by Mr. Gould (in his "Birds of Great Britain"), who,
giving Mr. Box as his authority, says:

The thrush is a great source of amusement to the middle, and of
profit to the lower, classes during its autumnal migration. Many
families of Liege, Luxemburg, Luneburg, Namur, parts of Hainault, and
Brabant choose this season for their period of relaxation from
business, and devote themselves to the taking of this bird with
horsehair springes. The shopkeeper of Liege and Verviers, whose house
in the town is the model of comfort and cleanliness, resorts with his
wife and children to one or two rooms in a miserable country village
to enjoy the sport he has been preparing with their help during the
long evenings of the preceding winter, in the course of which he has
made as many as from 5000 to 10,000 horsehair springes and prepared as
many pieces of flexible wood, rather thicker than a swan-quill, in and
on which to hang the birds. He hires what he calls his 'tenderie,'
being from four to five acres of underwood about three to five years
old, pays some thirty shillings for permission to place his springes,
and his greatest ambition is to retain for several years the same
tenderie and the same lodgings, which he improves in comfort from year
to year.

The springes being made and the season of migration near, he goes for
a day to his intended place of sojourn, and cuts as many twigs, about
18 in. in length, as he intends hanging springes. There are two
methods of hanging them--in one the twig is bent into the form of the
figure six, the tail end running through a slit out in the upper part
of the twig. The other method is to sharpen a twig at both ends, and
insert the points into a grower or stem of underwood, thus forming a
bow, of which the stem forms the string below the springe; and hanging
from the lower part of the bow is placed a small branch, with three or
four berries of the mountain ash (there called "sorbier "); this is
fixed to the bow by inserting the stalk into a slit in the wood. The
hirer of a new tenderie three or four acres in extent is obliged to
make zigzag footpaths through it, to out away the boughs which
obstruct them, and even to hoe and keep them clean. Having thus
prepared himself, he purchases one or two bushels of mountain ash
berries, with the stalks to which they grow, picked for the purpose
after they are red, but before they are ripe, to prevent falling off:
these he lays out on a table in the loft or attic. The collection of
these berries is a regular trade, and the demand for them is so great
that, although planted expressly by the side of the roads in the
Ardennes, they have been sold as high as 2 pounds the bushel; but the
general price is 5 francs.

We will now suppose our thrush-catcher arrived at his lodgings in the
country--that he has had his footpath cleared by the aid of a
labourer, and that he is off for his first day's sport. He is provided
with a basket, one compartment of which holds his twigs bent or
straight, another his berries; his springes being already attached to
the twigs, he very rapidly drives his knife into a lateral branch, and
fixes them, taking care that the springe hangs neatly in the middle of
the bow, and that the lower part of the springe is about three
fingers' breadth from the bottom. By this arrangement the bird
alighting on the lower side of the bow, and bending his neck to reach
the berries below, places his head in the noose. Finding himself
obstructed in his movements, he attempts to fly away; but the
treacherous noose tightens round his throat, and he is found by the
sportsman hanging by the neck, a victim of misplaced confidence.

The workman, who at this season earns a second harvest by this
pursuit, carries on his industry in wilder districts, or he frequently
obtains permission from his employer to set springes in his master's
woods. In this case he supplies the family with birds, which are
highly appreciated as a delicacy, especially when almost covered with
butter, with a few juniper berries, and some bacon cut into small dice
and baked in a pan. The rest of his take he sells at from 5d. to 10d.
per dozen.

No person who has not lived in the country can imagine the excitement
among all classes when the "grives" arrive. If the morning be foggy,
it is a good day for "grives"; if bright, bad "tenderie"! The reason
is obvious. When the birds arrive in a fog they settle at once in the
woods; if bright, they fly about, seeking the most propitious place
for food.

It appears that redwings and fieldfares are caught by this method
also, as well as a few ring-ousels and blackbirds.

"Stonehenge" says that the springe just described was used for snaring
woodcocks, in the following mariner:

"It used to be the constant practice on all the hill downs in these
parts to place out underwood or furze, about a foot in height, to a
very great extent along the ground, in the shape of a letter V, at the
apex of which an opening would be left, where a hair noose or springe
would be set, which seldom failed to yield the pot-hunter a nightly
supply, as the cock would run along the side of the brushwood feeding,
not taking the trouble to top over it, until he was led into the
snare; but this plan is now, owing to the scarcity of cocks, when
compared with former years, very seldom practised."

Ptarmigan are said by Daniels, in his "Rural Sports," to be led up to
springes in nearly the same manner, stones being substituted for

Another mode of making a springe, which is a capital plan for catching
almost any bird, whether it be a percher or a runner, is this: Procure
an elastic wand (hazel or osier makes the best) of about 3 ft. 6 in.
long, to the top of which tie a piece of twisted horsehair about 3 in.
in length; to the free end attach a little piece of wood of 2 in. in
length, by the middle, cutting one end to an obtuse point, flattened
on the top and underneath. Just underneath this little crosspiece
attach two horsehair springes, at right angles; next cut a little
fork, or rather angle piece, from a tree, one end of which is to be
quite 4 in. long (to drive in the ground), the other end about 0.5 in,
measuring from underneath.

To set this trap, push the long wand into the ground until about 3 ft.
of it is out; then, at a distance of 2 ft, drive in the fork piece,
until only 0.5 in. clears the ground; next bend the wand down in the
form of a bow, and bring the pointed end of the crosspiece under the
peg, or fork, planted in the ground at the other end. The free end is
now a little elevated, while the middle is held very lightly on the
point of the catch, and its opposite end rests lightly on the ground.
On the "ticklish" setting of this everything depends.

Next place some blades of grass or light moss so as to hide the fork
piece at the back and sides, taking care that no small sticks
interfere with the proper working of the trap; strew some suitable
seed or bait on the grass or moss, and then carefully place one
horsehair noose in such a manner as to trap a bird should it merely
hop on the crosspiece, and the other noose arrange so as to catch it
by the neck should it attempt to seize the bait or to pass. In either
case it dislodges the crosspiece, which instantly flies up, suspending
the bird by the neck or legs in one or both of the nooses. The
appearance of the set trap before the grass or moss is arranged is as
represented in Fig. 2, which I have drawn from a trap set for that

Sometimes this trap (or properly springe) is set with another fork
placed at right angles to the other, and sufficiently distant from it
to just catch the opposite end of the crosspiece, and though, perhaps,
this plan allows it to be set a little finer, it has many


Yet another modification of the same springe. The wand or
spring-stick, crosspiece, and nooses as before, but instead of the
simple catch, use a complete bow, with both ends stuck in the ground.
At some little distance from this drive in a straight piece of stick;
next procure a piece of stick with a complete fork or crutch at one
end. To set it, draw down the spring-stick and pull the crosspiece
under the bow by the top side farthest from the spring-stick. Now hold
it firmly with one hand while you place the forked stick with its
crutch pressing against the opposite upright stick, and bring its free
end against the lower end of the crosspiece, and adjust both as finely
as you can. Finally, arrange the nooses in such a manner that if
either of them or the crutched stick is touched the latter falls, and
releasing the crosspiece, the spring-stick flies up, and the bird with

To see the setting of this at a glance, vide Fig. 3 (showing only one
noose, however), which I have "cribbed" from a tail piece of Bewick's,
putting it a little out of drawing to show it up.

Fig. 3--"Springe" FOR SNIPE.

The next simple trap to be considered is evidently the pit-fall, used
only, however, for large and fierce animals, and varying in
construction in different countries. For descriptions of methods of
baiting for and catching such animals as lions, leopards, tigers,
elephants, etc, consult almost any book on African or Indian field

Of poisons or intoxicants for capturing birds or animals, I do not
intend to treat, as they are better left to gamekeepers and poachers.

Dead-falls, such as the "Figure of 4 trap," are easy to make, and
useful for killing small animals. The materials required are simply
three ordinary pieces of wood, a small piece of string, or, better
still, wire, and a large, heavy, flat paving stone, or slate. Having
procured three pieces of wood of half an inch square by one foot long,
we call one the "upright," which is simply brought to a point at one
end, somewhat like a chisel. The second is the "slanting stick," which
should be cut to about 8 in. long, having a nick in it about half an
inch from one end, about half way through its depth; the other end is
brought to a chisel point on its upper surface; the third, which is
the "foot" or "bait stick," has a square notch, the thickness of the
upright, cut in it, about three inches from one end; the inner end of
this notch is relieved a little, so as not to bind on the upright too
much. Within half an inch of the other end another notch is cut, but
at right angles to the last, that is to say, this last notch is cut on
the top, while the other is cut at the side; the outer or top notch
also slopes inward. At the inner or side notch end drill a little
hole, through which place a piece of pointed wire to receive the bait.

The appearance of the three sticks when set is best explained by Fig
4; A. is the upright, B the slanting stick, and C bait or bottom
stick. To set it, take the upright in the left hand, chisel point up,
pick up B with the right hand, place it with its notch fitting on the
top of A, and keeping the slanting stick pressed down firmly, you hold
the two in proper position. This has relieved the left hand entirely,
which now is used to pick up c; place the side notch of this on the
upright A, slide it up until its end nick is caught by the point of B;
a sufficient leverage, as it were, being attained on this, we can hold
the whole of the trap now with the right hand. By grasping B with the
fingers of the hand in opposition to the palm, while the thumb presses
it down on the top, the left hand, being at liberty, is used to drag
the stone and to raise one end to fall on the top of B; the weight of
the stone now sets the three parts in opposition to each other. An
animal touching the bait in the slightest manner is sufficient to
destroy the nice balance of the whole affair, and down it comes with a
run. The sizes given--from a trap I have just set--are, of course, for
small animals only, but it may be enlarged or decreased to any extent,
at the pleasure of the operator.

Fig. 4--"FIGURE of 4" TRAP.

As "Stonehenge" and "High Elms" have introduced some improvements, I
may as well quote the former:

The Figure of 4 trap is composed of a large square piece of stone or
slate propped up in a peculiar manner with three pieces of wood, which
are arranged in the shape of a 4.

In examining this figure it will be seen to consist of a perpendicular
limb or upright, of a horizontal one or stretcher, and of a short
slanting stick, as the third is called. The upright is usually cut
about half an inch wide, shaved to a thin edge at top, but "High Elms"
recommends it to have a forked foot to keep it from twisting, and a
notch in it to prevent the stretcher slipping down. The slanting stick
has a notch cut in it half an inch from its upper end to receive the
top of the upright, while its lower end is shaved off to fit in a
notch in the upper surface of the front of the stretcher. Lastly, the
stretcher has this notch in front, and another notch cut in its side
by which it is caught by the upright and held in its place.

A bait being tied to the external end of the stretcher, and a stone
placed so that it will lie flat on the ground, the whole is ready for
setting, which is effected as follows: Raise the stone, and support it
by the notched end of the slanting stick held in the left hand, the
notch itself looking downwards, then place the upright with one end on
the ground and the other in this notch, and let it carry the weight of
the stone, which will have a tendency to tilt up the slanting stick
still held down by the left hand; finally, hitch the middle notch of
the stretcher in the upright, with its front notch facing upwards,
then bring the lower end of the slanting stick down to this front
notch, drop it in, and the trap is set. Of course, it requires that
each part shall be carefully adapted to the others, but when the trap
is seen set it will be readily understood, practice being, however,
required to set it properly.

I quite agree with "High Elms" that the footed upright is an
improvement; but I am inclined to doubt the advantage of the double
notch between the upright and the stretcher. I have tried both, and I
cannot find that there is any great superiority in his plan; but,
perhaps, though I have exactly followed his directions as given in the
Field, I may have omitted some point of practical importance. In
setting the Figure of 4 trap, the height of the upright and the size
and weight of the stone will be proportioned to the animal for which
it is set. I do not like the trap myself, as it cannot be concealed so
well as the steel trap, and, indeed, has no advantage except in
cheapness. Dozens of them may be set in the woods, and if stolen
little harm is done, as the cost is barely a penny apiece if made in
large numbers. I have also known pheasants caught by the head and
killed in them, the flesh with which they are baited being often
attractive to tame-bred birds, which usually are fed with more or less
of it in their rearing.

Mr. G. S. Purden has informed me that he has succeeded in capturing
birds alive with this trap by hollowing out the ground where the stone

Another "deadfall" for taking capercailzie in Norway is described by
Mr. Yarnell in his "British Birds":

"Where the trees grow thickly on either side of a footpath, two long
pieces of wood are placed across it; one end of these rests on the
ground, the other being raised a foot and a half, or somewhat more,
from the surface, and supported by a piece communicating with a
triangular twig, placed in the centre of the path, and so contrived
that on being slightly touched the whole fabric falls; a few stones
are usually placed upon the long pieces of wood to increase the
rapidity of the drop by the additional weight. Birds running along the
footpath attempt to pass beneath the barrier, strike the twig, and are
killed by the fall of the trap."

Taking birds by means of bird-lime is my next consideration. Bird-lime
is made either from boiled oil or from holly-bark, but the making of
it is not "worth the candle," it being so easily bought from any
professional bird-catcher.

To those who wish to make their own, I commend the following: Take
half a pint of linseed oil and put it into an old pot, or any vessel
that will stand the fire without breaking. The vessel should not be
more than one-third full. Place it over a slow fire and stir it until
it thickens as much as required. This can be ascertained by cooling
the stick in water and trying if it will stick to the fingers. When
sufficiently boiled, pour into cold water, and it will be found ready
for use.

I have submitted the foregoing to a practical birdcatcher and maker of
bird-lime, and he has "passed" it as correct, only adding that the oil
takes somewhere about four hours to slowly boil before it becomes
sufficiently tenacious for use. Holly-bark he does not believe in, as
he says it takes too long to make; but that is no reason why we should
pass over bird-lime made from this substance. The "Encyclopaedia
Britannica" says:

"It is usually prepared by boiling holly-bark ten or twelve hours, and
when-the green coat is separated from the other it is covered up for a
fortnight in a moist place; then pounded into a rough paste, and
washed in a running stream till no motes appear. It is next put up to
ferment for four or five days, and repeatedly skimmed. To prepare it
for use, a third part of nut oil or thin grease must be incorporated
with it over the fire."

Bird-lime can also be made from many other plants, but the best
quality is made by either of the two methods mentioned above.

The "Edinburgh Encyclopaedia" says further that:

When bird-lime is about to be applied to use, it should be made hot,
and the rods or twigs should be warmed a little before they be dipped
in it. Where straws and cords are to be limed it should be very hot,
and after they are prepared they should be kept in a leather bag till
used. In order to prevent bird-lime from being congealed by cold, it
should be mixed with a little oil of petroleum; and, indeed, before
the common kind can be used at all, it must be melted over the fire
with a third part of nut oil or any thin grease, if that has not been
added in the preparation.

The smaller kinds of birds are frequently taken with bird-lime, which
is one of the most eligible modes in frost or snow, when all sorts of
small birds assemble in flocks, and which may be used in various ways.
Put the bird-lime into an earthen dish, with the addition of one ounce
of fresh lard to every quarter-pound of bird-lime, and melt the whole
gently over the fire. Take a quantity of wheat ears, with a foot of
the straw attached to thorn, and, having warmed the lime, that it may
spread the thinner, lime about six inches of the straw from the bottom
of the ears. Scatter a little chaff and thrashed ears over a compass
of twenty yards; stick the limed straws into the ground, with the ears
inclining downwards, or even touching the surface; traverse the
adjoining places in order to disturb the birds, and make them fly
towards the snare, and, by pecking at the ears of corn, they will
become so entangled with the limed straw as to be easily taken by the

The lime may also be applied to cords, rods, and twigs, especially
when it is intended to entangle the larger birds, such as snipes and
fieldfares, and for this purpose the following mode may be adopted:
Take the main branch of any bushy tree, with long, straight, and
smooth twigs, such as the willow or birch, clear the twigs from every
notch and prickle, lime the branches to within four fingers of the
bottom, leaving the main bough from which the others rise untouched by
the composition, and then place the bush where the birds resort. For
small birds two to three hundred single twigs, about the thickness of
a rush and three inches in length, may be stuck in sheaves of flag and

In hot and dry weather the twigs may be placed around the rivulets,
ditches, and pools to which the birds come for drink, covering the
waters at the same time with brushwood, so that they can have no
access to quench their thirst, except at the spot where the twigs are
fixed. For this purpose the rods or twigs should be about a foot in
length, limed to within two inches of the thickest end, which is stuck
into the bank in such a manner that they may lie within two fingers'
breadth of the ground, and as the birds do not alight at once upon the
place where they are to drink, but gradually descend from the higher
trees to the lower, thence to the bushes, and lastly to the bank, it
is useful to fix a few branches about a fathom from the water in a
sloping direction, with a few lime twigs fastened upon them on which
the birds will as frequently be caught as on those which are placed
nearer to the water. The best time for this sport is from ten to
eleven in the forenoon, from two to three in the afternoon, and about
an hour before sunset, when the birds come to the watering places in
flocks before they retire to roost.

The application of bird-lime is of ancient origin, and is practised in
many countries. Pennant gives an account of how to take Small birds by
liming twigs around a stuffed or tethered live owl. I have heard of
this plan being adopted, but have not tried it myself. From the
curious manner in which small birds usually mob an owl, I should fancy
it would succeed.

According to Folkard's "Wildfowler:"

"There was also a method much in vogue previously to the invention and
discovery of decoys, of taking wild fowl with lime strings made of
packthread or string, knotted in various ways and besmeared with
birdlime; these were set in rows about fens, moors, and other feeding
haunts of the birds, an hour or two before morning or evening
twilight. This plan was to procure a number of small stakes, about 2
ft. in length, sharpened to a point at the nether end, and forked at
the upper. These were pricked out in rows about a yard or two apart,
some being placed in a slanting direction, and each stake siding one
with another, within convenient distances of 4 yds. or 5 yds, so as to
bear up the strings, which were laid upon the crutches, and placed
loosely about 18 in. above the ground. The lime strings were thus
drawn from stake to stake in various directions, and lightly placed
between the forks at the top of the stakes, some rows being higher
than others; and in this manner the whole space occupied by the stakes
was covered with lime strings, as if carefully laid in wave-like
coils, or placed in different directions, the ends being secured to
the stakes with slip-knots, so that upon a light strain the whole of
any string which might be touched by the bird became instantly loose,
and, sticking to the feathers, the more it struggled to free itself,
so much the more the string twisted about it, and thus the bird was
quickly entangled, and became an easy prey. In this manner numbers of
wild fowl of the largest species were taken at night at the moment of
sweeping over the ground at very slow flight, just before alighting;
and it would appear that this method of fowling was particularly
successful in taking plovers, which generally alight on the ground
thickly congregated together.

A similar method was employed for taking wild fowl with lime strings
placed over the surface of rivers and ponds frequented by those birds,
and apparently with remarkable success. For this purpose it was
necessary to procure a waterproof bird-lime wherewith to dress the
strings, which were knotted in a similar manner to those employed for
taking birds on land. The strings so prepared were in serpentine coils
from stake to stake, the stakes being forked at the top, and of
similar form to those last described, but of sufficient length to
reach the bottom of the water and obtain a firm fixing in the mud.
Some of the stakes were placed on the banks of the water or in any
manner so that the lime strings could be drawn across and about the
surface in different directions, resting here and there on some or
other of the stakes or any boughs or overhanging trees, in such a way
that the birds, when in the act of alighting on the water at night,
might strike against the lime strings and become therein entangled.

The principal secret of success in this and the preceding device was
that of placing the lime strings in shaded places over the most
assured haunts of the birds; and it was only obtainable on dark
nights, or in good shade, for whenever there was sufficient light for
the birds to see the least sign of the snare spread for them the
fowler had no chance of making any captives. (And be sure to take this
caution not to use these strings in moonshine nights, for the shadow
of the line will create a jealousy in the fowl, and so frustrate your
sport.) And as wildfowl in their descent, just before alighting on the
water, diverge from their accustomed angular figure, and spread
themselves more in a broad front line, a whole flight sometimes comes
swooping into the fowler's snare all at once."

A method of trapping, with the assistance of bird-lime, might, I
think, be tried with some chance of success. It is to insert a piece
of fish in a cone of paper well smeared with bird-lime, and to throw
down a few of these prepared cones in places accessible to gulls,
herons, and such birds, who, in attempting to seize the fish, would be
effectually hoodwinked, and thus easily secured.

Hawking, by which birds are captured by trained falcons, is of the
highest antiquity. Pennant mentions that the Saxon King Ethelbert (who
died in 760) sent to Germany for a cast of falcons to fly at cranes
(herons?). As this sport has now fallen into disuse, I must refer my
readers for particulars to Blaine, Daniel, Freeman, Harting, Captain
Dugmore, and to occasional articles by one or two modern falconers in
the columns of the Field.

The infinite variety of nets used in the capture of various birds
requires almost a chapter by itself; but it will suffice for the
present one if we mention those most generally used, or the most
striking varieties. First, then, comes the ordinary "clap-net" of the
London and provincial bird-catchers. The "Edinburgh Encyclopaedia"
says, with regard to clap-nets:

"Birds are also taken with nets during the day, and especially in
those seasons of the year when they change their situation; in the
month of October, for instance, when the wild birds begin to fly, and
in March, when the smaller kinds assemble for pairing. They are
chiefly on the wing from daybreak to noon, and always fly against the
wind. The birdcatchers, therefore, lay their nets towards that point
to which the wind blows. The nets employed in this way are generally
12.5 yds. long and 2.5 yds. wide, and are spread on the ground
parallel to each other, in such a manner as to meet when turned over.
They are provided with lines, fastened in such a way that, by a sudden
pull, the birdcatcher is able to draw them over the birds that may
have alighted in the space between those parallel sides. In order to
entice the wild birds to alight amongst the nets, call birds are
employed, of which there must be one or two of each of the different
kinds which are expected to be caught, such as linnets, goldfinches,
greenfinches, etc. Besides the call birds there are others denominated
flur birds, which are placed upon a moveable perch within the net,
called a flur, and which can be raised or depressed at pleasure, and
these are secured to the flur by means of a brace or bandage of
slender silk strongly fastened round the body of the bird. The call
birds are deposited in cages at a little distance from the nets, and
as soon as they see or hear the approach of the wild birds, which they
perceive long before it can be observed by the birdcatcher, they
announce the intelligence from cage to cage with the greatest
appearance of joy, and they proceed to invite them to alight by a
succession of notes or short jerks, as they are termed by the
birdcatcher, which may often be heard at a considerable distance. The
moment that the call is heard by the wild birds they stop their flight
and descend towards the net, and so great is the ascendancy and
fascination of the call birds that they can induce the others to
return repeatedly to the nets till every bird in the flock be caught."

Being somewhat afraid that this description would not meet all the
practical requirements of the case, and knowing myself but little or
nothing of this mode of birdcatching, I thought it advisable to
interview a practical man. Having at last succeeded in capturing a
specimen of the genus homo, species birdcatcher, I prevailed upon him
(through the medium of a tip) to impart his stock of birdcatching
lore, and to cut me patterns of play-sticks and pegs, and also to
correct my rough sketches when necessary.

The sum and substance of my interview is as follows: The nets, which
are of two pieces, are each about twelve yards long by two-and-a-half
yards wide, and are made with a three-quarter mesh of what is
technically called two-thread. The staves at each end, to which the
nets are permanently attached, are made of red deal, ferruled and
jointed at the middle, in the manner of a fishing rod, for the
convenience of carriage. The length of each when put together is about
five feet six inches, being thus shorter than the width of the net.
This, it will be readily observed, allows for the bagging of the
net--an important particular, as, if the nets were strained tight with
no allowance made for bagging, the birds would flutter along the
ground until they got out at one end or the other. As it is, they roll
themselves up in the meshes, and effectually entangle themselves while
attempting to escape.

A strong line, called the top line, made of clock line, passes the
whole length of each net, and is protracted some feet past the staves
at either end. A similar line runs along the bottom made of
three-thread or whip thread. This is called the bottom line. There are
then two unattached cords of some strength, called the pull line and
the forked line, which latter is attached, when required for use, to
the two staves nearest the birdcatcher, at the intersection of the top

Eight pegs are used, made of hard wood, generally ash, four of which
are called the "chief pegs." The whole of the pegs are notched, for
the convenience of attaching a line.

The method of laying the clap-net is best described with the aid of a
drawing (vide Fig. 5).

The first thing to be done is to lay down the right-hand net, and to
drive in the two chief pegs where shown, namely, at the bottom of the
staves, to which they are attached by a loop of strong cord, acting as
a hinge. The two end pegs are then driven in the ground at some little
distance from and in an exact line to the chief pegs. The bottom line
is then made fast at each end, as also the continuation of the top
line. The two pegs, lines, and staff thus forma triangle at each end.
The other net is then laid in such a manner that when both are pulled
over, one net shall overlap the other to the extent of six inches. It
is then turned back and pegged down in the same way as the right-hand
net. The next operation is to tie the forked line to each top end of
the staves, a nick being cut in each for this purpose.

Exactly in the centre of the forked line the pull line is knotted, at
the other end of which the birdcatcher stands at varying distances,
according to the bird he wishes to catch; for instance, for linnets or
goldfinches, thirty to forty yards; for starlings a greater distance
is required; or to capture these wary birds a better plan is to place
the nets in one field while you retire into another, bringing the pull
line through an intervening hedge.

Cages containing birds are dispersed about on the outer edges of the
nets, the best, or call birds, being placed farther away; in fact, my
informant thinks that if all the cages were placed a moderate distance
away from the nets it would be better, as he has found that the usual
red or green cages have been the means of "bashing "--i.e.
frightening--the wild birds away from the nets.


"When doctors differ, who shall decide?"

On mentioning the above to another birdcatcher he gave a huge snort of
dissatisfaction, and roundly swore that my man knew "nought about it,"
for he always set his cages as near the nets as possible; "for don't
it stand to reason," quoth he, "that if you set your cages fur away,
your 'call birds' will 'tice the wild 'uns down round 'em? an' they
won't come near your nets."

An important actor in the performance is the "play-bird," which is a
bird braced by a peculiar knot or "brace," as shown in Fig. 6, on an
arrangement called the play-stick.

The "play-stick" is resolvable into three parts, Fig. 7 being the
ground peg, formed of a piece of hard wood about six inches long,
having a round hole bored through close to the top, through which the
"play-line" passes. Immediately underneath is a square slot for the
reception of a piece of brass tube beaten flat at one end (Fig. 8),
while the other end is left open for the reception of the "play-stick"
(C, Fig. 9), simply a rough twig or piece of hard wood, upon which the
bird is tied by the "brace" (Fig. 6)--which is constructed, as shown
in drawing, by doubling a piece of string, tying a knot in the centre
and then joining the ends. The head and body of the bird is thrust
through, so that a loop catches it on each side and in front of the
wings, the legs and tail being thrust through the other, one loop
coming on each side of the body behind the wings. A swivel is attached
at one of the knots, and, by another piece of string, is made fast to
the play-stick near its end. The bird is thus perfectly free so far as
the wings and legs are concerned.

Fig. 6, 7 & 8--"Play-stick" parts

The "play-stick," as a whole, is represented in Fig. 9, which shows
the bird in repose, with the end of the stick (C) resting on the
ground, the play-line passing through a hole in the ground peg (A),
while the part marked B works in the slot in the same.

A little food and water are put down by the play-bird's side, to which
it addresses itself in its intervals of rest. Directly birds appear,
the play-line is smartly pulled, which has the effect of jerking the
play-bird upwards, while at the same time it flutters its wings to
regain its perch. This motion is mistaken by the wild birds as a
natural proceeding; they accordingly alight around the play-bird, to
assist it in feeding. The pull-line of the net is then smartly jerked,
which causes the forked-line to fly inwards, and, acting on the hinged
pegs and top and bottom lines as by a lever, the staves rise from the
outside, become perpendicular, and finally fall over, inclosing all
within the open space in the nets.


The "Play-bird" is always placed on the left hand of the birdcatcher,
about two yards into the net. Sometimes more than one play-stick and
bird are used; all are, however, played by the same string. The best
birds are, however, contrary to my expectations, not used, as the
constant pulling up and down, to say nothing of the worry of the
falling nets, very soon kills the poor little "play-bird." From
Michaelmas to Christmas would appear to be the best times for

Many rare birds not calculated on by the operator, are procured in
this way. I allude to hawks, which constantly dash at the call, or
play-birds, of the netsman. I remember seeing, taken in a lark net on
the racecourse of Corfu--one of the Ionian Isles--a most beautiful
male specimen of the hen harrier (Circus cyaneus, Macg.); and here in
England I have received, within the last few years, one great grey
shrike (Lanus excubitor, 1.), four or five hobby hawks (Falco
subbuteo, 1.), a dozen or more merlins (Falco oesalon, Tunstall), and
a great number of sparrowhawks, and kestrels, all captured by this

Draw-nets are those used by fen-men and others at night for taking
lark, snipe, plover, etc, by dragging a long net of a certain
construction over the fields and swamps. The actual originator of this
method of capture as applied to snipe and such birds, appears to have
been Mr. Daniel himself (vide "Rural Sports," vol. 3, p. 179).

Glade nets, which are nets stretched in narrow glades or ridings in
woods from tree to tree, are used chiefly for taking night-flying
birds, such as woodcocks, or wild ducks. Folkard thus describes their

"The proceedings connected with the use of glade nets appear to be
very simple. These nets are of lengths and breadths proportioned to
the places in which they are suspended. They are simply pieces of fine
thread netting, edged with cords adapted to the extent of the lint.
The glade net so formed is suspended between two trees, directly in
the track of the woodcock's flight. Both the upper and lower corners
have each a rope attached to them which, as regards the upper part of
the net, is rove through sheaves, iron rings, or thimbles fastened to
the trees on either side at the top of the glade at a moderate height,
varying from ten to twelve or fifteen feet. The falls of the two upper
ropes are joined or so adjusted that they form a bridge, to the
central part of which a rope is attached of several yards in length,
which the fowler holds in his hand in a place of concealment, and thus
commands full power over the net, being able to drop it down suddenly
and intercept the flight of any birds which may attempt to escape
through the glade; or he can draw it up as suddenly from the ground to
a perpendicular position. A stone, of about 5 lb. weight, is attached
to each of the lower cords of the net, so that when the fowler lets go
his controlling rope the weight of the stones forces the lower part of
the net down in an instant with a strong fall, and, at the same time,
they draw up the upper part of the net. The fowler having stationed
himself in such a position as to command a full view of the glade in
which his net is placed, beaters are employed to flush the cocks from
their retreats; immediately on one or more flying in the direction of
the fowler a signal is given, and just as the bird approaches the net
it is suddenly let down or drawn up, when the woodcock, flying
forcibly against it, is immediately ensnared. The instant the birds
have struck the net the fowler lets go another rope, which is
generally looped to a stake within reach of his arm, and the whole
net, with the birds entangled, then drops to the ground. In forcing
themselves forward in their endeavour to escape they form the net into
a sort of bag, which makes their capture more certain."

Nets are in some parts of the world set under water to procure wild
fowl. I remember, when in Norfolk, a gannet being brought in by one of
the fishing boats; the bird had become accidentally entangled in one
of the nets whilst attempting to rob-it of some fish.

Small nets of a few yards long, made of fine black silk, with a small
mesh, are used in some parts of the country for taking kingfishers.
These nets are stretched across a small watercourse or the arch of a
bridge in such a manner that, a little "slack" being allowed, the bird
is taken to a certainty in attempting to pass. So fatal is this net
when skilfully set, that I know one man who adds several pounds to his
income in the course of a year by taking kingfishers in this manner.

For the netting of hawks by a contrivance called the bow net, which
was formerly used in England, see Blaine's "Encyclopaedia of Rural

Many birds (notably sea and rock birds) are to be procured by
descending the rocks attached to a stout line. But this highly
dangerous work had better not be attempted by the tyro. For an ancient
but interesting account of rock fowling in the Orkneys, see Pennant's
"Arctic Zoology," page 29. The same system is still adopted on many
parts of the coast. In fact, I recollect (when some years ago I
visited the Isle of Wight on a collecting expedition) seeing two men
with ropes and an iron bar going to the top of the "Bench" (a famous
place for sea fowl), and while one man was let down over the edge of
the cliff his fellow remained at the top to answer the pull of the
"bird-line" and look after the safety of the "man-rope" and iron bar.
So fascinating did this appear to me that, having been "between heaven
and earth" once or twice before, I volunteered to "go below;" but I
found that the fowlers did not care for the risk, or the loss of time,
and booty, involved in letting an amateur down.

It was, indeed, a wonderful sight. I crept as closely as I dared, and
lying on my breast looked over the cliff. Hundreds of feet down, the
sea, lashed into breakers by the breeze, crept up the steep black rock
walls, or tumbled over the half-hidden crags; and yet, though you
could see the white war of waters, but the faintest murmur of this
battle between land and sea could be heard--below and halfway up, the
puffins and guillemots were sitting in rows, or flying off in droves
as little black specks on the white foam.

Here I learned that they often baited fish-hooks with offal or pieces
of fish, for the purpose of catching the gulls, and this brought to my
mind the quantities of robins, thrushes, and such birds I had seen
caught by fish-hooks baited with worms and pegged down in the olive
groves of the Ionian Sea.

I notice that Pennant mentions that the lapwing is decoyed into nets
by the twirling of looking glass. I have seen exactly the same thing
myself on the Continent applied to the taking of larks. A cylinder of
wood, inlaid with pieces of looking-glass, is fixed 'between two
uprights, and made to revolve by means of a small crank and wheel, to
which a line is attached. The netsman, retiring to some little
distance, keeps the cylinder in constant motion by pulling the line,
at the same time keeping up a soft whistling noise with his mouth. The
larks flutter over the twirler, and seemingly dazzled, descend on the
ground between the nets which are then pulled over in the usual

Steel traps are of many shapes and sizes, and are best procured ready
made from a good firm, though I have known a few country blacksmiths
who could turn them out decently. As everyone knows this, the ordinary
"gin," or tooth trap, used for capturing rats or other animals and
birds, no description is, I think necessary, further than to say that
the springs should be highly tempered, and that the teeth should not
be too long. These traps can be set in various places with or without
baits--in the water, on the ground, up a tree, or on a post; but
post-traps proper, which are chiefly useful, when set unbaited, for
catching hawks, are made with an arm and spring at right angles to the
plate, so that they may be fastened to the post which supports them.
In setting these traps great care and skill are necessary; and in
giving directions how to do this properly, I cannot do better than
quote "Stonehenge," who says:

"First lay the trap on the ground, then mark the outline of it,
allowing half an inch clear all round; out away the turf to this
pattern, and in the centre dig a hole deep enough to receive a strong
peg and the chain which fastens the trap to it, which will thus be
entirely concealed; drive in the peg, arrange the chain neatly upon
this and in the channel for the spring, and then set the trap in its
place, temporarily propping up the plate by a piece of twig, which can
finally be withdrawn by a string; take care so to out away the turf
that the jaws are only just below the level of the ground. Having done
this, cut a very thin slice of the turf which was removed to make way
for the trap, leaving little more than the grass itself with a ragged
edge, and lay this gently on the plate, and withdraw the prop. Then
cover the spring in the same way; and, lastly, put some more shreds of
grass or leaves over the jaws themselves, but in such a way that the
former will not be caught between the teeth when the trap is sprung.
When the keeper can do all this so neatly that the trap cannot be
discovered by the eye at two or three yards distance, and yet will be
sprung by half an ounce weight being placed upon the plate over and
above what it has already, and without leaving anything between the
jaws, he may be considered a master of his craft. All this should be
done with strong leather gloves on the hands, and with as little
breathing over the trap as possible. The object of these precautions
is to avoid leaving any scent behind, which might alarm the vermin,
who are always suspicions of any place where they have reason to
believe man has been at work."

Daniel, in his "Rural Sports," says:

Otters are taken in an unbaited trap, for they reject every kind of
bait, This trap must be placed near his landing place, which will be
found by carefully examining the edges of rivers or ponds, either by
his spraints, his seal, or the remains of fish (for in whatever place
he eats his plunder he always leaves the tail or hinder parts of the
fish undevoured). The trap must be set in and covered with mud to
prevent his seeing it; the instant the trap "strikes," the otter
plunges into the water with it, when its weight, preventing his rising
to the surface, soon destroys him. The trap will seldom be drawn more
than twenty yards from the spot, and with a grappling iron is soon
recovered. If the place where he comes out of the water cannot be
discovered, upon the ground where the remains of fish are left, out a
hole near the edge of the water, and place a trap or two upon a level
with the ground and cover it over carefully with moss.

This aqueous method of trapping, is also recommended for taking all
birds of the crow tribe. The bait in this case is an egg, so secured
that on the bird walking along a prepared pathway to seize the
delicacy he springs a concealed trap, and fluttering into deep water
drowns by the weight of the attachment.

Another method of setting the trap on land for the taking of some
animals, which, says Daniel, speaking of the marten (now a rare animal
in most parts of England), is a sure way of catching this destructive
little animal in a park or covert which is railed in, is to cut a
groove in some of the posts or gate posts, in which set an unbaited
steel trap, and as they constantly run along the posts and pales early
in the morning to dry themselves, in leaping up from the ground upon
the place where the trap is set, they are sure to be captured.

Fish is recommended as bait for weasels, polecats, etc, although I
think the best way of trapping such animals is to form an enclosure of
brushwood, etc, in which peg down some live bird, leading two narrow
pathways from it from each end and exactly opposite each other, in
each of which place an ordinary steel trap, unbaited, concealed in as
skilful a manner as possible. The animal running along one of these
pathways, to seize his prey, is inevitably trapped. Be sure and have
two openings, or this plan will not succeed. Cats may be trapped in
this manner.

St. John, in his "Highland Sports," mentions that if a wild cat, or
fox, can be killed, and the body placed in the usual haunts of its
kind, well surrounded with traps, curiosity or some such feeling will
impel them to visit the "dear departed," and in walking round they
often succeed in springing the traps, and remaining as mourners in a
fashion they did not intend.

Hawks may be trapped by first capturing their young, and pegging one
or more to the ground, and surrounding it or them by concealed traps.
This cruel but highly effective way succeeds by reason of the old
birds seeing or hearing their young, and attempting to release them.

If part of a bird or animal killed by a hawk can be found, a good plan
is to allow it to remain, surrounding it also with concealed traps, as
they usually return to finish their meal, and that sometimes after the
lapse of days.

The "box trap" is used for catching many animals for which the
ordinary gin is used; but the advantage which it possesses over the
latter is that it captures all animals alive, which, in the case of a
hare or a rabbit accidentally getting in, is of consequence, as it may
be released unhurt, whereas the ordinary steel trap, if accidentally
sprung by them, would have killed or maimed them to a certainty. These
box traps can be bought ready-made at many places; but, for those who
wish to make one themselves, I must refer them for plans and
description to Col. Hawker, or "Stonehenge." Almost anything does to
bait a gin or box trap with--bits of flesh, fish, offal, half-cooked
red herrings, etc.--and it is a generally understood thing that if
half-putrid flesh or entrails of any animal are rubbed over traps or
the thorns or bushes placed as entrances to traps, hares and the like
will seldom go near.

Of course, a very small trap must be used for small birds, and baited
either with seeds, bread, worms, or a small piece of fat meat, which
latter is a most tempting bait for the birds of the genus Parus

There are several other made traps, such as the trap cage; the best of
which has a bird as a decoy partitioned off from the actual trap. This
is a useful little trap in some seasons, and is well known, being
easily procurable at any of the bird fanciers'.

Mr. James Hiam, well known in Worcestershire for his "Notes on Natural
History," sends me the following description of his method of trapping

"I find the best way to trap bullfinches is to procure a caged bird,
also what is known as a trap-cage, putting the tame bird in the lower
part, placing a bunch of blackberries or privet berries in the top
part; and hanging the cage against a wall or tree out of the reach of
cats. I have reserved a stook of bunches of blackberries by inserting
their stems in water, grape-fashion, for a succession of food for
bait. I have also caught scores, if not hundreds, on bird-lime, but
this injures their plumage and is somewhat troublesome, especially to
anyone not accustomed to handle it. I have also caught them in a bat
fowling net at night out of thick hedges. I find a trap cage or cages
best, for bullfinches generally go in small parties, and I have taken
two out at once from two separate cages, while others waited round and
were caught afterwards.

The well-known and easily imitated call of the bullfinch at this
season of the year (autumn) appears to have a greater attraction--for
what reason I cannot say--than at any other period; there is also a
great difference in individual call birds. The best should be
selected. When fresh caught, bullfinches are best placed in a low kind
of box cage about six inches deep, with wires only on one side. Such
cage may be easily made out of a soap box from the grocer's, giving
them a good supply of canary and hemp seed and water. If they refuse
to eat the seed, which sometimes happens, give a few blackberries or
such other food as they feed on at the time; the seed of the dock is
always a favourite dish in the winter, and the probability is in a day
or two they will take to the seed, which should be strewed over the
bottom of the cage."

The nightingale trap (perhaps not quite so well known) is a compromise
between the bow net and the spring trap; it is useful for taking most
insectivorous birds, is easily made by anyone possessing a little
mechanical ability, and is to be bought cheaply at most of the bird
shops. As I have been asked, however, by many correspondents in the
country, where such things are to be procured, they are informed that
in the classic retreat of the Seven Dials--that is to say, in the
street running through from Charing Cross to Bloomsbury--are to be
found many bird fanciers' shops where the nightingale trap can be
procured for something under a couple of shillings.

In setting all of these traps be sure to touch them with the hands as
little as possible, especially if setting a baited trap. Gloves are
recommended to be worn, scented with musk when baiting for stoats,
weasels, etc, and with vervain or valerian if baiting for cats.

I will proceed now to the consideration of decoys. Decoys are of two
classes, fixed and mechanical, or those easily removable and natural.
Of the former the most important is what is called a decoy for wild
fowl, viz, a large tract of land and water specially fitted up with
nets of the sorts most suitable for taking ducks and similar birds,
and near which it is unlawful to fire a gun. For a thoroughly
exhaustive and interesting article on decoy ponds, see Folkard's "Wild
Fowler," pp. 44-94.

Some singular and highly original methods of catching birds are
described by ancient and modern authors. Pennant, in his "Arctic
Zoology," vol. ii, page 550, describes a quaint but doubtful method of
decoying wild geese in Siberia; he also, at page 311, records how
immense numbers of willow grouse are taken by a curious mode of

Folkard also mentions an ingenious way of capturing wild fowl in their
own element by the aid of calabashes. This, however, I think, "must be
seen to be believed," though I am bound to confess that it is partly
corroborated by other writers.

Of the lasso or the "bolas," used in South America for capturing
certain animals and birds, no description need be given, as this
method of trapping is only to be performed by a person trained from
childhood to ride and throw the lasso. The same remark applies to the
use of the blowpipe (see Bates's "Amazons"), and the Australian
"boomerang" and "throwstick."

Regarding the use of the blowpipe, I see that an American author on
Taxidermy, who has written a very good book on the subject--albeit he
has, perhaps unwittingly, cribbed my title of "Practical
Taxidermy"--appears to have attained remarkable proficiency in the use
of this weapon, and describes also his method of making it, thus:

"The blowpipe is of great service for collecting warblers and other
small birds. It should be made by encasing a long glass tube in wood,
to prevent breaking. The ordinary glass tubes used by glass-blowers
make good blowpipes, which should have a diameter of 0.5 in. and be
not less than 6 ft. long.

To encase a pipe with wood, take two strips of straight-grained pine,
and plane or "gouge" out a half-round groove the full length of each,
glue them together, and wire firmly over the glass pipe. When the glue
is dry, remove the wires, and plane the wood round until it has a
diameter of 1.5 in.; if smaller it will sag, and not do good shooting.
Putty balls should be used, and blown with a quick puff, which is
easily acquired by practice. The putty is thickened with whiting until
the pellets will roll hard, but they should not be dry enough to

With this novel gun I have killed as many as fifty-six warblers in
less than a day, and spoiled but few specimens in killing."

Rowland Ward, also, in his "Sportsman's Handbook," appears to favour
the use of the blowpipe, and very correctly says at page 9:

"The implement is so simple and so easily constructed that the price
of it is inappreciable. About 3 ft. length of any straight metal or
wooden tubing, 0.75 in. diameter, through which a pellet the size of a
marble may be thrown, will serve well, but an even longer tube may be
chosen. The pellet should be of clay or any putty, rolled in the hand
to easily pass through the barrel without too much windage. It should
not touch the mouth, but be lightly placed just in the orifice, by
stopping which with the thumb the tube can be conveniently carried
loaded, muzzle up, ready for the most rapid use. To propel the pellet
the puff must be sudden and powerful. There is a proper way of
effecting this. When a practitioner first begins to use the blow-pipe,
it is a common error to eject the breath only direct from the lungs;
he should acquire the habit of inflating his cheeks, so as to make a
storage of wind, as it were, for each shot; that, added to the breath
from the lungs, gives a force which will sometimes astonish him. The
hand follows the eye in aim, and practice will often develop
unthought-of proficiency."

The catapult is also a first-rate weapon in a skilful hand for
procuring small birds. I must confess I cannot use it as well as some
young friends of mine, who knock over nearly every sitting bird they
aim at, and even now and then are successful with such difficult shots
as at swallows on the wing; a novice, on the contrary, nearly always
succeeds in stinging his fingers and missing the object aimed at.

I remember also, when a boy, using a very effective weapon, which I
should describe as a catapult gun. It was, if I recollect aright,
fashioned similarly to a cross bow, the bolt, however, from which was
ejected from a little wash-leather bag by means of very powerful
India-rubber springs, which being released by a trigger delivered a
bullet or small shot from a tube with amazing force and precision. I
do not know if such guns are made now, but I should imagine that
anyone with a little ingenuity could construct one for himself.

All these appliances, with the well-known air-gun, are chiefly of use
for collecting the smaller birds with a minimum of noise. There are
several small collecting guns made which do the work required in a
much more thorough manner. Messrs. Bland, gun-makers, of Birmingham,
some time since showed me an elegant little double-barrelled central
fire gun, which seems to be just the thing for the purpose. Messrs.
Clarke, of Leicester, also make a small single-barrelled central fire
.410-bore collector's gun, but as before observed, they are only fit
for small birds at short ranges.

I have lately procured a small walking-stick gun .410-bore, central
fire, with a removeable stock, which I have found of great service in
collecting small birds--bringing down swifts and swallows flying, at
moderate ranges.

Many birds, especially males, in the breeding season, are taken by
decoying them into nets or snares by tame or wild birds of the
opposite sex; in fact, advantage was wont to be taken of the pugnacity
or devotion of the Ruffes when "hilling," by previously setting
springes or nets on their battle-ground, into which said snares they
danced, when courting or fighting (see Daniel, vol. U, p. 212).

Poachers also sometimes take cock pheasants by bringing an armed
gamecock into the woods and hiding themselves, while the domesticated
bird challenges and gives battle to the unarmed wild one. The boldness
of cock pheasants during their breeding time is wonderful; many
instances having come under my notice of wild pheasants coming from
the woods to do battle with aviary ones, and also with farm-yard

A highly interesting account of the ludicrous actions and
insensibility to fear of the capercailzie, and blackgame, when
courting (and through which they are easily shot), is given by a
writer on Norway in the Field of March 27, 1875; and this brings us to
the greatest of all aids for the procuring of specimens--I mean the
shot-gun and rifle. So much of success depends upon being a clever
marksman, and also upon having a good general knowledge of woodcraft,
that although for instructions in guns and shooting I refer the reader
to Col. Hawker, Daniel, Blaine, "Stonehenge," Folkard, Greener,
"Wildfowler," and many others, yet a few words on some peculiar, and
in some cases well-known, methods of decoying birds within gunshot,
may not be out of place.

The stalking-horse was, no doubt, the earliest decoy or shield under
which the ancient fowler got near his birds with the crossbow or gun.
It was sometimes a mere framework of wood, covered with painted canvas
to represent a horse or cow, or was a real animal trained to feed and
move in a natural manner in the midst of the fowl. In the first
instance, the fowler carried the framework in front of him, and made
his shot through an opening; in the second case he gently urged the
animal on, hiding behind, and making his shot under the belly, or over
the back. For ancient methods of stalking, see Gervase Markham; for a
modern method, see "Bustard Shooting in Spain," in the Country of Jan.
21, 1875, and current pages of the Field.

Decoying birds by imitating their notes or cries is an art which the
collector must acquire. Many mechanical calls for wood pigeons,
curfews, and other birds are made. One call, which I do not think is
made or used in England, is a Greek idea for decoying thrashes. It is
a whistle formed from two discs of thin silver or silvered copper,
each the size of, or a little smaller than, a "graceless" florin, or
say an inch across; those discs are--one fully concave, and the other
slightly convex, both have a hole in the centre and are soldered
together by their edges in the manner shown in Fig. 10. [Footnote:
Since writing this I find there are now sold to boys, for the large
sum of one-halfpenny, whistles formed in tin, of almost similar
construction to those described. I never yet found anyone to make them
"speak" properly; boys not knowing how to modulate or inspire the
breath. I have now tried one of them against my silver whistle, and I
cannot say which has the better tone.]


The concave part is placed in the mouth, pressing against the teeth,
and by inspiring the breath and modulating the tones with the closed
or open hands, as the case may be, a very perfect imitation of the
song-thrush's note is the result. This, the arriving or newly-arrived
birds hear, and, imagining it proceeds from the throat of one of their
species, who, entirely at his ease, is letting the ornithological
world know how excessively overjoyed he is at his safe arrival, alight
in the trees which surround and conceal the treacherous imitator, and
quickly fall a prey to the ready gun. So infatuated are they, that
enormous quantities are killed by this method early in the season; in
fact, I knew one person who shot one hundred and four, besides other
birds, to his own gun in one day.

Quails may be called from a distance if the sportsman hides himself
and imitates with his mouth their peculiar cry, "More wet, more wet."

There are many other birds which come to call in addition to quail.
Woodpigeons and doves will sometimes be attracted to an ambush by
making a soft cooing noise with the mouth and the hollows of both
hands, but the most successful way of procuring both of these birds is
to build a hut with boughs in the hedge of a field to which they
resort, in which hut the shooter hides himself, keeping perfectly
quiet, and not attempting to shoot until the birds have begun feeding,
as woodpigeons, or doves, when they first alight "have their eyes all
about them," the slight rustle even of the gun being brought to the
present, is enough to scare them, and a snap shot at a flying dove is
rarely successful when you are penned and cramped up in a little bough
hut. Pea, tare, and barley fields, when they are first sown in the
spring, and pea and corn fields, after getting in the crops in the
autumn, are their especial haunts, though they do not despise turnip
leaves and acorns.

Salt marshes are also especially favoured by all the pigeon family in
quest of salt, of which they seem to be inordinately fond. Fresh water
rivers in hot weather are also sure spots to find them; and a stuffed
pigeon is a good decoy in some seasons, if placed in front of a place
of concealment.

Perhaps it may be as well to mention that often, while lying in wait
for wild pigeons, you will observe the advent of one or two tame ones,
or even a flock from some neighbouring farmyard, and, as some of these
pigeons are almost certain to closely resemble the wild stock dove
(Columba oenas, 1.), some little discrimination is required to
distinguish the two species.

The Gannet or Solon goose (Sula bassana, Hewitson) is said to be taken
by the strange device of floating a plank out at sea, to which a fish
is attached, in such a manner that, on the bird dashing down on the
half-submerged plank, it strikes itself with such violence as not
unfrequently to break its neck or breastbone. On mentioning this to
Mr. Frederick Ryland, he assured me that he has in some instances
observed the marks of the bird's bill, which had indented the plank--a
pretty conclusive evidence of the extraordinary force of its descent.

Many other birds besides pigeons are attracted by "stales," which was
the ancient name for a representation of the living bird by stuffed
specimens or wooden images; knots and godwits, says Daniel (vol. iii.
p. 214), were attracted into nets by this mode. Gulls and terns I have
often found attracted by a stuffed bird, or, when one can be shot,
should it be left to lie on the water, or propped up on land, as if
alive, the others almost always hover around it. Sheep's lights thrown
on the water is another good decoy for gulls.

Ducks are sometimes attracted by dummies of indiarubber sold at some
of the shops for that purpose, but the best modification of this is
the French "hut system," described at length, in his usual amusing
style, by the once-renowned Col. Hawker.

A more singular way still, of decoying these birds to the gun is by
the American fashion of "toling," a lucid description of which I
append, culled from the pages of Folkard's "Wildfowler:"

"There is one system of fowling practised in America which is as
curious in performance as it is interesting. It is probably one of the
most remarkable methods ever invented, and approaches the nearest to
the system of decoy as practised in England of any of the arts
employed by the people of a foreign country for the capture of
wildfowl. The method alluded to is termed "toling." I am unable to
trace the origin of the term, unless it simply implies a death knell,
for such it assuredly assumes to those birds which approach within
range of the secreted sportsman. This singular proceeding is said to
have been first introduced upwards of fifty years ago near
Havre-de-Grace, in Maryland; and, according to traditional testimony,
the art was accidentally discovered by a sportsman whilst patiently
lying in ambush watching a paddling of wild ducks, which were a little
beyond the range of his gun. Whilst in a state of doubt and anxiety as
to whether they would approach near enough to be shot, he suddenly
observed them raise their heads and swim towards the shore apart from
his ambuscade; and, whilst wondering at the cause of so strange a
proceeding, his attention was directed to a fox which was skipping
about on the shore, and evidently enticing the ducks to approach. This
accidental discovery of so weak a point in the nature of the feathered
tribe led the sportsman to turn it to advantage, and thence arose the
curious art of "toling." To practise it successfully the sportsman
requires simply the services of a dog, which he uses in a similar way
to that of a "piper," employed at an English decoy. [Footnote: The
word "toling" may be explained as a corruption of "tolling," i.e.

For the purpose of "toling," the American sportsman erects blinds or
screens on the margin of some lake, the resort of wildfowl; when any
birds are in sight upon the water, he, with his dog, takes up a
position behind the screens, and by throwing small bits of wood or
pebbles up and down the shore, he keeps the dog in active motion so as
to attract the attention of the birds, and induce them to swim towards
the shore within a few yards of the screens, when, if they do, the
sportsman immediately discharges his fowling piece at them, and
sometimes kills large numbers at a shot. The principal things to be
observed are, a strict silence, and to keep the dog constantly in
motion, and all the time in sight of the ducks. The little animal
should be encouraged to skip and bound over the rocks and stones in
front of the screens, and to flourish his tail about with playful
vivacity. He must never bark, for that would alarm the fowl and cause
them to fly away immediately.

Red or chestnut coloured dogs with long bushy tails are best for the
purpose of "toling"; the nearer they approach a fox in colour and
appearance the better."

Tubs may be sunk on the seashore into which the shooter gets at the
approach of night (or even a "skip" or basket may be used to sit on)
to wait till flight time to procure specimens; but having myself sat
in a marsh at night between a river and the sea in Norfolk more than
once for several hours during a very severe winter, I cannot recommend
this as a torrid amusement--indeed, the melancholy "sough" of the sea,
and the pale glitter of the stars in the half-frozen pools, whose dead
and dry sedges rustle in unison to the icy blasts rushing from the
dead white north, make even the most hardy long for the old armchair
by the cozy fireside.

A writer in the Zoologist some years ago appeared to think that iodine
was a species of enchanter's wand in rendering your presence unknown
to wildfowl. I have never tried it, having but little faith in cunning
nostrums concocted for the taking of either birds or fish; but as he
is a gentleman of standing and great experience, I will quote his
words from which I drew my inference:

"A cormorant once perched himself on my back as I lay concealed on a
rock enveloped in a drab driving coat, which so closely resembled the
rock in colour that even he was deceived, and, taking my back as the
highest pinnacle, accommodated himself accordingly; neither did he
discover his error till my hand grasped him by the legs. I have
frequently had cormorants and shags perched around me within a few
feet; but their suspicions seemed generally to be aroused by human
smell, unless I had rubbed iodine on some part of my clothes."

The landrail or corncrake, whose peculiar rasping cry we hear in the
grass or young corn in the spring of the year, is easily called to the
gun by rubbing one notched bone over another, or, better still, using
that peculiar instrument of torture worked at fairs, and called a
"scratchback"--the same which, in the palmy days of Greenwich or
Charlton fairs, was retailed to the cry of "All the fun of the fair
for one penny".

In bringing this chapter to a close, let me not omit to mention that
all shot birds should immediately have the mouth, palatal slit, and
nostrils, stopped with tow or cotton wool, to prevent the blood from
running out and soiling the feathers; then, if possible, always wrap
each specimen separately in paper, smoothing the feathers in their
proper places before doing so. Also, never carry a shot bird by its
neck, as the weight of the bird's body depending from the neck must
stretch the latter beyond its fair proportions.

I have here briefly glanced at a few of the many ways of taking birds
and beasts; to have described them all would have required a special
volume double the size of the present one. I think, however, I have
said enough for all practical needs; but in case any reader should
require fuller information, I must refer him to such articles as he
will find week by week in The Field, Land and Water, or the American
publication, Forest and Stream.

Good text books, also, on Trapping, etc, are W. B. Lord's "Shifts and
Expedients of Camp Life," Captain Darwin's ("High Elms") "Game
Preservers' Manual," Jefferries' "Amateur Poacher," "Gamekeeper at
Home," etc. For details as to the hunting and scientific shooting of
foreign large game, with directions as to the vulnerable spots to be
aimed at, I must again refer the reader to articles from the pen of
such men as Sir Samuel Baker, G. P. Sanderson, "Smoothbore," "The Old
Shekarry," Gordon Cumming, Jules Gerard, C. J. Andersson, Emil Holub,
F. C. Selous, etc, all of whom have either written books on sporting,
or whose articles are still to be met with in late numbers of The



A BAD workman, it is said, always quarrels with his tools. If this be
so, it is equally certain that a good workman, though he may make
shift with indifferent implements of his craft, yet always prefers the
best and most labour-saving tools he can procure. The chief point of
difference, however, between the skilled and unskilled workman is,
that the former may and often does get the best results with the
fewest possible tools, while the other must surround himself with
dozens of unnecessary things before he can "do a stroke." This being
so, I propose to point out to my readers in a few words, and by means
of drawings, how very few tools are required to skin and set up a bird
or small animal. My remarks will, therefore, be addressed as much to
the amateur as to the tyro desirous of becoming a professional; in
fact, I wish it to be understood that I write as much to educate the
one as the other.

The first and almost indispensable tool is the knife (I say almost,
because I have known a person begin and finish a small bird with a
pair of scissors); nearly any small knife will do to make the first
incision, but experience has shown the most useful shape to be as in
Fig. 11, which is the skinning knife; the blade, it will be observed,
is long and narrow, 3 in. to 4 in. along the cutting edge, and half an
inch across; the handle, which should be of box, lignum vitae, or any
hard wood susceptible, of a high polish, is 3.5 in. in length,
exclusive of a half-inch brass ferrule; the shape shown is the most
comfortable and handiest to work with. Fig. 12 shows a broader and
stronger knife, five-eighths of an inch across, having a somewhat
differently shaped hard wood handle, as the knife is intended for
heavier work. Fig. 13 shows a broad strong blade, one inch across, and
of an entirely different character; this, which is useful for the
rough, large work, to be hereafter mentioned, has a perforated tang,
to which two half rounded pieces of hard wood should be bolted. Length
of blade and handle, 4 in. each.

My reason for having all of these handles of polished hard wood is,
that blood and dirt will the more easily wash off. All of these knives
are best procured at the leather sellers', for the reasons that,
first, the shapes drawn are always in stock; secondly, they are
manufactured of the finest and toughest steel; and thirdly, their
expense is trifling. The handles, however, are usually of softwood,
unpolished, and had better be replaced at the turner's. The knives
when first purchased are about 4 in. long in the blade; for skinning I
think them pleasantest to use when ground or worn down to 3 in. or 3.5
in.; this, however, is a matter of individual taste.

I have, since the above was written, found that some dealers in
leather and shoemakers' "grindery" sell knives of varied and
serviceable patterns--other than those described--all of which have
hard wood handles. Dissecting knives and scalpels, to be procured at
any Surgical instrument maker's, are also very useful for fine work.
"Transfixion" knives are of service when engaged upon very large
animals, and here also come in the post-mortem hooks.

Fig. 11, 12, 13--SKINNING KNIVES.

The next most important tool is the scissors, two pairs of which
should be procured, one pair long and fine, 5.5 in. or 6 in. long (see
Fig. 14), for use in small and delicate work connected with birds; the
other about 4 in. long, of a different shape and much stouter and
stronger (see Fig. 15). These are used for general work upon larger
birds or small mammals.

Fig. 14--SCISSORS, No 1. pattern.

Fig. 15--SCISSORS, No 2. pattern.

For still heavier work connected with mammals, and especially with
fish, I prefer a pair of small spring shears, 6 in, to 7 in. long,
similar to those used by gardeners for grape-pruning.

Fig. 16.--Bell-hangers' Pliers.

Fig. 16 brings us to a really indispensable adjunct to the
taxidermist's kit--the compound or bell-hangers' pliers; these pliers
are as the ordinary holding ones at the top, but have a cutting plane
fixed lower down (those with flat, not raised, cutters, are to be
preferred); the figure gives a good idea, but the grip should not be
quite so broad as they are usually made; from 8 in. to 10 in. is the
most useful size. The 10 in. is rather large, but is, perhaps, the
best for professional needs. [Footnote: These pliers are sometimes
made with a nick at the intersection of the joint to form a cutting
plane for thick wires.]

Fig. 17 shows the ordinary cutting nippers, 4 in. to 5 in. long,
useful for cutting fine wires or pins, in situations where the use of
the other pliers is impracticable. Remarks as to grip as before.

Fig. 17--Cutting nippers.

Both of these articles should be of the best workmanship and
materials. Buck, of London, and Stubbs, of Warrington, may be
recommended as good makers.

I lately procured a very handy little pair of cutting nippers of
elegant workmanship, used chiefly by watchmakers, and made in Paris.
These are excellent for delicate work or for cutting very fine wire or
entomological pins (see Fig. 18).

Fig. 18--French Cutting Nippers

I now figure a most necessary little pair of pliers for dressing the
feathers of birds. These are also used by watchmakers, are of neat
construction and differ from most pliers in having an obtusely rounded
point (see Fig. 19, A and B). These, which I call "feather pliers,"
are in conjunction with a small, thick, round, camel-hair brush (used
by artists for "washing in"), indispensable for "feathering up" birds,
a process to be described later on.

Fig. 20 is the next, and I fancy I hear some reader exclaim, "What on
earth has a goffering-iron to do with taxidermy?" I reply: This shaped
tool is wanted for artfully conveying small morsels of tow, etc, into
the necks and hollow places of birds' skins. It may be easily made in
this wise: Procure as small and fine a pair of goffering-irons as you
possibly can, and have them drawn out and brought to a fine yet obtuse
point by some smith, and you thus get a finished tool for about half
what it would cost to make outright. Length, when finished, should be
somewhere about 10 in.

Fig. 19--Feather Pliers

A large and a fine crooked awl with handles, a file, and a rough stone
from the leatherseller's, are other things to procure, and these, with
the ten tools previously particularised, some tow, wool, wire, eyes,
and a needle and thread, a pot of preservative paste, and a piece of
wood or a wire for a stuffing iron, are all that the amateur or the
professional requires to skin and stuff a small or medium-sized bird
or mammal. Cost of the stone and tools (which, with ordinary care,
will last for years) should be within the reach of all.

Fig. 20--Tow Forceps

The "stuffing iron" mentioned above is best made, if wanted for small
birds, from the broken steel of a wool comber's "devil," about nine
inches long, fixed in a bradawl handle of about four inches, or, if
for large birds or mammals, the iron may be made from a broken fencing
foil, to any size between twelve and thirty inches, with suitable
handle. In either case the smallest end is driven into the handle, and
the top is filed across with a smooth nick, to push in, but not to
retain the tow. See Fig. 21.

Fig. 21--Stuffing Iron

This, I would point out to the non-professional reader, is a much more
satisfactory way of getting thoroughly efficient tools than going to
the expense of ordering a box of "bird-stuffing implements," at a cost
of many pounds and finding one half of them unnecessary, and the other
half worthless.



HAVING skinned a zoological specimen, we require, as a matter of
course, to anoint the inside of the skin with some preservative, for
the purpose of arresting decomposition and general decay, and also
defending it from the ravages of insects for an indefinite period.
Many things will partially cure a skin; for instance, rubbing it with
dry earth and exposing it to the sun, as I have done with some success
when hunting abroad; chalk also will do, if nothing else can be
procured. I have at the present moment a raven's head cut off by a
rifle ball, cured only with chalk, and which is now, after a lapse of
twenty years, in as good a state of preservation as need be. Still we
require other aids than sun and chalk to properly preserve our
specimens, especially in our usually cold, damp climate; and if we ask
what is the sine qua non, a chorus of professional and amateur
taxidermists shout out, "Arsenic, of course."

I propose to show the fallacy of this, being quite of the way of
thinking of Waterton, who says, "It (arsenic) is dangerous to the
operator and inefficient as a preservative." I will, however, give
everyone a chance of doing exactly as he pleases by jotting down three
different recipes for arsenical soaps. The inventor of the first of
these appears to have been one Bécoeur, of the now world-renowned
Metz. Bécoeur appears to have flourished about the year 1770, and his
formula is still commonly used. It is compounded as follows:

No. 1.--Bécoeur's Arsenical Soap.

Camphor,                         5 oz.

Salt of tartar,                     12 oz.

Powdered arsenic,                 2 lb.

Lime in powder (or powdered chalk),     4 oz.

White soap,                     2 lb.

Cut the soap into small slices as thin as possible, put them into a
pot over a gentle fire with very little water, stirring it often with
a wooden spoon; when dissolved, add the salts of tartar and powdered
chalk; take it off the fire, add the arsenic, and stir the whole
gently; lastly, put in the camphor, which must first be pounded in a
mortar with a little spirits of wine. When the whole is properly mixed
together it will have the consistence of paste. It may be preserved in
tin or earthenware pots, well closed and cautiously labelled. When
wanted for use it must be diluted with a little cold water to the
consistence of clear broth; the pot may be covered with a lid of
pasteboard, having a hole for the passage of the brush, by which the
liquor is applied. (There appears in this formula to be an error in
giving 12 oz. of Salts of tartar, which should, I think, be reduced to
2 oz.; also the proportion, of arsenic and soap is clearly excessive
with regard to the quantity of the lime or chalk.)

Swainson appears to have used a composition somewhat different from
the preceding. He describes it as follows:

No. 2.--Swainson's Arsenical Soap.

Arsenic,             1 oz.

Distilled water,         6 drms.

White soap,         1 oz

Camphor,             2 drms.

Carbonate of potash,     1 drm.

This mixture should be kept in small tin boxes; when it is to be used
moisten a camel-hair pencil with any kind of spirituous liquor, and
with it make a lather from the soap, which is to be applied to the
inner surface of all parts of the skin, and also to such bones as may
not be removed.

The next formula is of my own arrangement; I have used it, and have
found it quite equal to any of the other arsenical preparations, which
is not saying much for any of them.

No. 3.--Browne's Arsenical Soap.

Arsenic,                     1 lb

Distilled water                 6 drms

Soft soap,                     2 lb.

Whiting (or powdered chalk),         3 lb.

Camphor or tincture of musk,         2 oz.

Place the arsenic in an old saucepan (which is not to be used for any
other purpose whatever); put the whiting over it, next pour sufficient
water over it to make it into a thick paste, then add the soft soap,
stir the whole well together, add a little water, and place on the
fire to boil, adding from time to time water sufficient to render the
whole mass of the consistence of gruel. When it boils up it is
sufficiently well done; take it off the fire, and place outside in the
open air to cool, as the fumes, if given off in a close room, are
highly prejudicial to health. When nearly cold, stir in the camphor,
previously pounded to a fine powder by the addition of a few drops of
any spirit--spirits of wine, gin, rum, turpentine, etc. If musk is used
it is sufficient to stir it in the mass, or 1 oz. of pure carbolic
acid (previously melted) may be substituted for either the camphor or

The reason for stirring in the camphor, musk, or carbolic acid, when
the arsenical paste is nearly cold, is twofold--first, to prevent the
inhaling of the metallic fumes, which readily attack the lungs; and
secondly, to prevent the said fumes or heated air carrying off with it
the volatile essences of those drugs. The quantities given are
sufficient to fill two six-pound Australian meat tins, which form
capital receptacles for arsenical paste, and should be soldered up,
only to be opened as required for use. As this quantity is, however,
perhaps too much for the amateur, the proportions may be decreased,
and what is not in actual use had better be soldered up in the tins
just referred to, and which may be found very useful, besides, for
such purposes as paint pots, etc. Carefully label this preparation
"Poison," and place it out of the reach of children.

I have given the foregoing formulae, not because I have the slightest
faith in any of them, but simply for the benefit, or otherwise, of
those persons who elect to use arsenical preparations in defiance of
the teachings of common sense, and in deference to the prevailing
notion that arsenic is the only poison extant which has extraordinary
preservative powers. This I flatly deny, after an experience of more
than five and twenty years. Let us dissect the evidence as to the
claim of arsenic to be considered as the antiseptic and preservative
agent par excellence.

Its advocates claim for it--First, that it dries and preserves all
flesh from decay better than anything else known; secondly, that if
the skin is well painted with arsenical soap no moth or maggot will be
found to touch it. This, then, is all is wanted--immunity from decay
and protection from insects. Now I maintain that arsenical mixtures
are not only most dangerous, but quite useless also for the purpose.

Arsenic is simply a drier of animal tissue to a certain extent, but so
are hundreds of other agents not so dangerous. It is also perfectly
useless as a scarecrow or poison to those bêtes noire of the
taxidermist, the larvae of the various clothes and fur eating moths of
the genus Tinea, or the larvae of Dermestes lardarius, murinus, and
other museum beetles. They simply laugh arsenic to scorn; indeed, I
believe, like the Styrian arsenic eaters, they fatten on it. I could
give many instances. Of course, when you point out to a brother
taxidermist--rival, I mean; there are no brothers in art--the fact
that somehow this arsenical paste does not work the wonders claimed
for it, he replies, "Oh! ah! yes! that specimen, I now recollect, was
done by a very careless man I employed; he never half painted the

All nonsense! Men, as well as masters, lay the "preservative" on as
thickly as they can. Verbum sap.! A great outcry is being made at the
present day as to arsenical wall papers and ladies' dresses--very
properly so; but did it never strike any taxidermist--they must read
the papers some times, even if not scientific men--that if it was
dangerous to live in a room, the paper of which contains a barely
appreciable quantity of arsenic, it was also dangerous to work all day
in a shop amid hundreds of specimens actually reeking with arsenic,
and giving it off when dry, and when handled, in the form of dust?
Painted on the skin while wet is bad enough; but what shall we say to
those--well, we will not use harsh terms--who calmly tell you that
they always use dry arsenic. Incredible as the statement may appear to
the scientist, yet it is true that I have seen a man plunge his hand
in the most matter-of-fact way into a box containing dry arsenic, and
coolly proceed to dust it on a skin. What is the consequence of this
to the user of wet or dry arsenical preparations? Coughs, colds,
chronic bronchitis, soreness of the lips and nose, ugly ulcers,
brittleness of nails, and partial or complete paralysis. I knew a man
who formerly used dry arsenic, whose constitution was thoroughly
broken up by it. Again, an amateur of long standing called on me some
time since, paralyzed in one hand--the doctors could make nothing of
him. I said at once, "You have been using quantities of arsenic, and
probably dry?"

Much astonished, he said "Yes;" and he had never mentioned this fact
to his numerous doctors, who worked, of course, in the dark, when, by
a course of antidotes taken at first, he might have been saved.

Used alone, arsenical paste is worse than useless for animals, causing
them to "sweat" at once in certain places, and preventing your pulling
them about, as you must do if modelling; again, if used for fur, you
seldom or never can relax by that crucial test of a good preservative,
i.e,--plunging in water.

Yet one question to the advocates of arsenic. If it possesses the
chief advantage claimed for it, why use camphor in museums under the
idea that it drives away moths?

Perhaps it will be as well to point out secundum artem the pros and
cons for the use of arsenic.


Advantages claimed.                          Disadvantages.

A perfect dryer of              Will often "sweat" skins, especially
  animal tissue.              those of mammals, for which it is useless.

Keeps all things free             Is not of the slightest use for
from attack of insects.                    this purpose.

Easier to make and use                        Denied.
than any other preparation.

Gives off poisonous fumes
when hot.

Deposits metallic
arsenic when drying.

Gives off poisonous dust
when thoroughly dry.

Causes colds, coughs, etc,
which turn to bronchitis,
paralysis, etc.

Having now summed up in the case of Common Sense versus Arsenic, I
challenge contradiction to any of my statements, and ask, Why use a
dangerous and inefficient preservative agent, when a harmless
preservative, and that quite as good worker and dryer as arsenic, will
suffice? I have invented a soap for which I claim those advantages,
and as to its deterrent principle re insects, I am convinced that it
is quite as good as the other, for is there any one thing
known--compatible with clean-looking work--that will prevent the
ravages of the maggots in birds' skins? I answer, No!--if we except
one thing, too dangerous to handle--bichloride of mercury, of which
anon. Let me whisper a little fact, and blow the poison theory to the
winds: The real secret of success is to case your specimens up as soon
as practicable, or to keep them always in full light, not poking them
away in obscure corners, which the Tineidae and other pests
love--hating light as the Father of Evil is said to hate holy water.

My Preservative formula is as follows:

No. 4.--Brown's (Non poisonous) Preservative Soap.

Whiting or chalk,         2.5 lb.

Chloride of lime,         2 oz.

Soft soap,                1 lb.

Tincture of musk,         1 oz.

Boil together the whiting and the soap with about a pint of water;
then stir in the chloride of lime (previously finely pounded) while
the mixture is hot; if this point is not attended to, the mixture will
not work smoothly; when nearly cool, stir in the tincture of musk.
This will about fill a 6 lb. Australian meat tin. Caution: It is not
necessary to hold the mouth over the mixture while hot, as chlorine is
then rapidly evolved. This mixture has stood the test of work and
time, and I therefore confidently bring it to the notice of the public
as completely superseding the arsenical paste or soap for small
mammals and all birds; indeed, numbers of persons, totally unknown to
me, have written to me about its advantages.

One says: "I have followed the bird-stuffing now for several years in
connection with another trade, but I have never seen anything to touch
it before. I have quite given up arsenic, and can get on fine without
it, and only wish that I had known the grand secret before."

Another: "Your recipe for preservative unction (non-poisonous) is
simply invaluable to taxidermists. I have been trying for a long time
to make a non-poisonous unction, but never fairly succeeded; always
had a doubt as to their efficacy, prejudice had something to do with

A third says: "I have tried your recipe, and am well satisfied of its
qualities for preserving skins, having tried Swainson's, and
Bécoeur's, and yours, and after a twelvemonth have relaxed the skins,
and give my favour to yours as a toughener of the skin."

None of the above correspondents are known tome, and their opinion was
sent unasked. Those people I do know who are using it are perfectly
satisfied, as I myself am after a constant use of it for the past
seven years. I find that skins dressed by it are not "burned," as some
people may think, but relax most perfectly after a lapse of years by
any method, even by the water process spoken of hereafter. I do not
think it any better or worse than the arsenical preparations for
preventing the attacks of insects, but the addition of tincture of
musk (a lasting perfume) has seemed to me to be a great gain. One
person wrote to me stating his opinion that the lime unduly corroded
the wires used in setting up. I believe this might happen in cases
where the mixture was used in a more fluid state than directed,
namely, as a paste of a creamy consistence. I know of no evil effects

Of course the mixture, if kept exposed, dries up in time, and is then
best wetted with a little warm water, into which a few drops of
tincture of musk have been stirred. Where there is more fat or flesh
than usual, say, on the inside of the wings, or on the leg bones, or
inside the mouth, a small quantity of carbolic acid wash (Formula No.
16) will be found useful to dilute the preservative paste. Carbolic
acid, however weak, must not be used on the thin parts of the skin of
small mammals or birds, as it dries and shrivels them up so quickly as
to seriously interfere with subsequent modelling.

Though many insects eat the skin itself, yet how is it possible to
guard against insects which attack the feathers only of birds (as the
most minute species of the little pests do) by an agent which
professedly cures the skin only? I remember once seeing the most
comical sight possible, a stuffed cock and hen entirely denuded of
feathers by thousands of a minute tines, their dry skins only left;
they were as parchment effigies of their former selves. Difficult as
the matter is, I yet hope to show both amateurs and professionals how
to considerably increase the chances of preservation. It is this:
After using the soap, and having the mammal arranged or bird stuffed
ready for "cottoning," brush over the whole of the feathers, legs,
toes, and beak, with the following preparation:

No. 5.--Waterton's Solution of Corrosive Sublimate.

To a wine-bottleful of spirits of wine add a large teaspoonful of
corrosive sublimate; in twelve hours draw it off into a clean bottle,
dip a black feather into the solution, and if, on drying, a whiteness
is left on the feather, add a little more alcohol.

Care must be taken not to handle the bird more than absolutely
necessary after this operation, for reasons which I will give below
when speaking of the following recipe, which I have extracted from a
little book professedly written by a well-known taxidermist, though I
believe he knew nothing at all about it until it was published.

The preparation referred to, which should be labelled "Dangerous! Not
to be used!" is as follows:

No. 6.--Gardner's Preservative.

Arsenic, 6 oz.

Camphor, 1 oz.

Corrosive sublimate, 3 oz.

Spirits of wine, 0.5 pint.

Yellow soap, 2 oz.

"Put all these ingredients in a pipkin, which place over a slow fire,
stirring the mixture briskly till the several parts are dissolved and
form one homogeneous mass. This may then be poured into a wide-mouthed
bottle and allowed to stand till quite cold, when it will be ready for
use. Of course, these quantities may be increased or decreased
according to the size of the animal to be operated on; but the
proportions here given must be preserved."

Did it ever occur to the gifted author of this that stirring camphor
and spirits of wine briskly over a slow fire would be as quick a way
as could be invented of summoning the fire brigade; also, that nine
ounces of poison to eleven ounces of other ingredients, well worked
into the hands at different times, as it must be, when handling, or
returning skins painted with it, would not tend to lengthen the life
of the learner? Corrosive sublimate being a mercurial preparation--i.e,
bichloride of mercury--I ask any chemist amongst my readers what
effect three ounces of that dangerous preparation, six ounces of
arsenic, yellow soap, and spirits of wine would have upon the
constitution? Would it not be readily absorbed through the hands
into the system? and next comes salivation, and then--the last scene
of all!

Yet another little treat for the amateur desirous of committing
suicide under the transparent pretence of studying taxidermy. This,
which I have culled from the pages of "Maunders' Treasury of Natural
History," is, by a fine irony, entitled Bullock's "Preservative"

No. 7.--Bullock's Preservative Powder.

Arsenic,             1 lb.

Camphor,             0.5 lb.

Burnt alum,          1 lb.

Tincture of musk,     12 oz.

Tanners' bark         2 lb.

"Mix the whole thoroughly, and after reducing it to a powder pass it
through a sieve. Keep in close tin canisters. This powder is more
particularly adapted to fill up incisions made in the naked parts of
quadrupeds and the skulls of large birds. It has been strongly
recommended to us, but, being perfectly satisfied with our own, we
have never tried it."

With regard to the foregoing composition I have a few words to say,
which are these, that the reason I have copied it is that I have met
with it in more books than one, and I wish therefore to call special
attention to it, that it may be labelled "Dangerous," and that anyone
using it will do so at his peril. Fancy shaking arsenic up in a sieve,
and afterwards dusting it in con amore! Really, if people will use
poisons, and others put themselves to considerable pains to invent the
most deadly compounds for them, is it not criminal carelessness that
such things should be published without a word of warning as to their
character or effects?

Powders, as a rule, being made of astringents, dry the skin too
quickly (especially if a bird is being operated on) to perfectly shape
the specimen. As they are useful, however, to fill up and quickly dry
cavities in the wings, and such like, of large birds, etc, and in some
cases even to prepare a skin for future stuffing, I will give a powder
of my own composition, the chief point of merit of which consists in
its being harmless to the user, and also that it has been tried on a
large bird's skin, which it so effectually preserved and toughened
that, eighteen months afterwards, it was relaxed and stuffed up better
than the usual run of made skins:

No. 8.--Browne's Preservative Powder.

Pure tannin,         1 oz.

Red pepper,         1 oz.

Camphor,             1 oz.

Burnt alum,         8 oz.

Pound and thoroughly mix, and keep in stoppered bottles or canisters.

The foregoing preparation, though perfectly efficient for small
mammals (say up to squirrel size) and for birds, is not sufficiently
strong to penetrate the skin and thoroughly fix the hair of the larger
mammals. For this purpose the older taxidermists used a wash or
powder, composed of equal parts of alum and nitre (saltpetre). This
had the double disadvantage of rendering the specimen cured by its aid
almost dripping with humidity in damp weather, and efflorescing with
the double salts around the eyes and mouth in dry weather. Alum alone
was frequently used by those unaware of its peculiar property of
deliquescing in heat as well as in humidity.

I have, I believe, at last succeeded in arranging the proper
proportions, and in substituting, for the worse than useless crude
alum, the alum ustum or burnt alum, which is not affected by moisture
(at least to any appreciable extent). The proportions are:

No. 9.--Browne's Preservative Powder for Skins of Mammals.

Burnt alum,             1 lb.

Saltpetre,                 0.25 lb.

Pound and thoroughly mix.

This, well rubbed into the skin and fleshy parts of mammals, is a
certain and thoroughly trustworthy cure, and will penetrate through
skin a quarter of an inch or more thick, fixing the hair or fur in a
most admirable manner, and has the double advantage of being harmless
to the person using it, and beneficial even if it gets on the outside
of the skin of the specimen; indeed, it should be rubbed in on the fur
side if the specimen is at all "high" when brought in. In all cases it
is a good plan to thoroughly rub the outside of the ears, eyelids,
nose, and lips, with this composition before skinning. I consider this
the greatest boon to the animal preserver ever invented, and those to
whom I have imparted the formula are loud in its praise, as witness
the dozens of letters I have received from all parts during the last
seven years.

If the proportions given are adhered to, no crystallisation of salts
will take place around the eyes and mouth. Should this, however,
happen from any cause, a stiff brush dipped in olive oil may be used
to remove it and prevent its reappearance.

After the mammal is stuffed and mounted, it may be washed over with
Waterton's Solution (previously given) or the following, which ought
to preserve the specimen from the attacks of insects:

No. 10.--Preservative Wash.

Corrosive sublimate,             1 oz.

Tincture of camphor (or musk),     1 oz.

Methylated spirits, 1 quart.         1 oz.

This solution must be kept in a bottle, carefully labelled "Poison,"
and when used is not to be touched with the hands, but laid on with a

It constantly happens that parts of the bodies of animals--notably
their fore and hind limbs, and their heads even--are required to be
preserved for some considerable time for purposes of modelling their
contour or muscles; it then becomes necessary to find some preparation
which will keep large pieces of flesh sufficiently sweet and firm to
model from. For the first edition, I had written to a scientific
friend as to the preparations now in use at the various hospitals for
the preservation of subjects, etc, to which he answered:

"As far as I can glean from various sources, the medical profession
has only within the last few years attempted to preserve whole bodies.
Parts have, of course, been preserved in alcohol of some kind until
they have literally crumbled away. At St. George's Hospital they use a
preservative fluid, invented by the hospital porter (dissecting-room
porter). The subjects are kept in a slate tank filled with the fluid.
To show the efficiency of this fluid, I might mention that the first
subject arrived much decomposed some months since, but is now quite
fresh and sweet. The muscles inevitably lose a little of their colour
in the preparation, which is all the change as yet observed. At Guy's
is used a preparation of glycerine and arsenic, but at the present
moment I do not recollect the exact proportions. At King's College,
the method invented by Sterling, of Edinburgh, is used. All other
hospitals have the old methods in vogue, such as preparations of

Since then, I have had occasion to go more deeply into the subject and
have used some of the formulae which follow, viz, rectified spirits,
Moeller's Solution, and various preparations of lime.

Messrs. Medlock and Bailey's bisulphite of lime (calcium) is most
highly recommended by analytical experts for preserving large joints
of meat and fish; and, indeed, the experiments conducted under
scientific and Government supervision have abundantly proved its
value. Its price is not great. For large joints the following is the

No. 11.--Messrs. Medlock and Bailey's Formula.

Bisulphite of lime,     1 gall.

Common salt,         0.25 pint.

Water,             2 to 4 galls.

The following, taken from the "Year Book of Pharmacy for 1880,"
appears to be a very efficient formula; like all the rest of such
formulae, it contains a certain percentage of arsenious acid:

A new Preserving Fluid.--The Prussian Secretary of State for Education
has caused the publication of the following compound and method of its
application, discovered by Wickersheimer, the Preparator of the
Anatomical Museum of the University of Berlin, who had at first
patented the compound, but was induced to renounce his patent claims.

No. 12.--Wickersheimer's Preserving Liquid, No. 1.

In 3000 parts of boiling water dissolve 100 of alum, 25 of sodium
chloride, 12 of potassium nitrate, 60 of potassa, and 10 of arsenious
acid, let cool and filter. To every 10 litres of the filtrate add 4
litres of glycerine and 1 litre of methylic alcohol. [Footnote: A gram
= 15.444 grains troy; a litre = a little more than 11 pints.]

Its application differs with the special objects to be preserved. In
general, the objects must be impregnated with it. If the objects are
to be preserved dry, they are soaked in the liquid from six to twelve
days, and afterwards dried in the air.

Ligaments, muscles, and other animal objects remain perfectly soft and
movable. Hollow organs, as lungs and intestines, should be filled with
the liquid previous to immersion in it; after being taken out, and
before drying, it is advisable to inflate them with air. Injecting the
liquid into a corpse will preserve the latter completely, and the
muscular tissue will always retain the natural colour of fresh
corpses. To preserve the outward appearance of the latter, they should
be well impregnated externally and enclosed in air-tight oases; this
is only necessary to preserve the exact original appearance; if it
is not done, the body will keep equally well if thoroughly injected,
but the exterior will gradually become somewhat dry and dark coloured.
Plants may likewise be preserved by this liquid. [Footnote: So
expensive a preparation is, I think, sufficiently well replaced by
salt, corrosive sublimate, and distilled water (see Formula No. 27).
M. Decandolle exhibited, some years since, a branch of a coffee tree
which had been perfectly preserved for fifty years. It was then
pointed out that the efficacy of such solutions (saline) depended on
their being boiled and applied to the plants hot (not boiling).]

The following is a modification of the above, useful for comparison as
to relative strengths for injection and immersion:

No. 13.--Wickersheimer's Preserving Liquids, Nos. 2 and 3.

                          For Injecting.         For Immersing.

Arsenious acid             16 grams               12 grams.

Sodium chloride            80 grams               60 grams.

Potassium sulphate        200 grams              150 grams.

Potassium nitrate          25 grams               18 grams.

Potassium carbonate        20 grams               15 grams.

Water                      10 litres              10 litres.

Glycerine                   4 litres               4 litres.

Wood naphtha                0.75 litres            0.75 litres.

My friend, Dr. Priestley Smith, surgeon to the Birmingham Eye
Hospital, has kindly given me his formula for a process which most
admirably preserves delicate parts of animals. Having been enabled to
give him some eyes of rare animals and fishes (whales and sharks), he
showed me the process which is now fully explained in the following
extract from the British Medical Journal of Jan. 10th, 1880:


Several friends and correspondents have asked me to refer them to a
description of the method which I employ for the preservation of
ophthalmic specimens, examples of which were exhibited in the annual
museum of the Association in Cork last summer. I published an account
of it in the Birmingham Medical Review for July, 1878; but, as several
improvements have been effected since that time, I shall be greatly
obliged by being allowed space in this journal for a brief description
of my present method.

No. 14.--Priestley Smith's Formula.

The following are the solutions, etc, employed:

1. Mueller's Fluid--viz.

   Bichromate of potash 1 part,

   Sulphate of soda 1 part,

   Water 100 parts;

2. Hydrate of chloral and water, 1 in 20;

3. Glycerine and water, 1 in 4,

4. Glycerine and water, 1 in 2--i.e, equal parts;

5. Glycerine-jelly--viz.

   Best French gelatine 1 part,

   Glycerine 6 parts,

   Water 6 parts,

   Soak the gelatine in the water until swollen, then heat and add
   the glycerine, add a few drops of a saturated solution of carbolic
   acid, and filter hot through white blotting-paper;

6. A thick white varnish made by mixing oxide of zinc with copal
   varnish in a mortar.

The eyeball is placed, immediately after excision, unopened, in
Mueller's Fluid for about three weeks, light being carefully excluded.
It is then frozen solid by immersion for a few minutes in a mixture of
finely powdered ice and salt, and immediately divided into lateral
halves by means of a sharp-edged table-knife. The portion to be
mounted is then placed in chloral solution for some weeks, in order to
remove the yellow colour; light being still excluded, and the fluid
being changed until it is no longer discoloured by the bichromate. The
specimen next lies for twenty-four hours or longer in the weaker
glycerine solution, and is then transferred for a similar period to
the stronger glycerine solution, after which it may be mounted in the
jelly without danger of shrinking. A specimen-jar being two-thirds
filled with melted jelly, the half-eye is placed in it, the concavity
upwards. When every interstice is filled, it is turned over (care
being taken to avoid the inclusion of an air-bubble), and held in a
central position in contact with the bottom of the jar. When cold and
firmly coagulated, the jelly is coated over with white varnish. A few
days later, when the surface of the varnish is firm, this again is
thinly coated with a film of jelly, and thereby preserved from the
ultimate danger of cracking. The jar is fixed with glue into a
suitable wooden stand. The gelatine which yields the strongest and
most colourless jelly is that manufactured by Coignet and Co, of
Paris, obtainable in packets, and known as the "gold-label" variety.
The specimen-jars, admirable both as to material and workmanship, have
been made expressly for me by Messrs. F. and C. Osler, of Broad
Street, Birmingham, from whom they may be obtained in any
number.--PRIESTLEY SMITH, Birmingham.

Glycerine retards fermentation and decomposition to a remarkable
degree. It combines readily with alcohol or water.

Boracic acid in small quantities mixed with a solution of saltpetre,
i.e, 1 to 50, is stated to be of service in the preservation of flesh.

Previously salted meat cannot be preserved this way; salting evidently
removes the phosphates. Action of boracic acid would, no doubt, set up
acid phosphates, which are the prime causes of the preservation.

A preparation of borax has been brought out by Mr. Robottom, of
Birmingham, who claims for it that it preserves all animal and
vegetable tissue, as well as being useful for tanning skins. I shall
refer to this preparation further on. Carbolic acid (pure) will be
found a valuable ally of the taxidermist. Calvert was the chief if not
the only maker of the pure preparation, which is sold in 0.5 lb. or 1
lb. bottles in a solid crystalline state, as if it were frozen. The
bottle, with the stopper temporarily removed, must be plunged in
boiling water to melt out as much as is required, to which must be
added many times its weight or quantity of water. This diluted
preparation will be found of infinite service in the hot summer months
for pouring in the "gentle" infested throats or wounds of mammals and
birds preparatory to skinning. Diluted and poured on a little burnt
alum or pure tannin, and the mixture well shaken together, it forms an
exceedingly strong preparation, as well as a valuable one, for
painting the noses or pickling the tongues of animals before or after
skinning. Two strengths of this will be found very useful. Thus:

No. 15--Carbolic Wash, No. 1 (for Mammals).

Glacial carbolic acid,             2 oz.

Burnt alum or pure tannin,         1 oz.

Water,                             1 pint.

Keep in stoppered bottle labelled "Poison," and shake up before using.

No. 16.--Carbolic Wash, No. 2 (for Birds).

Glacial carbolic acid, 1 oz.

Water, 1 pint.

Keep in stoppered bottle labelled "Poison," and shake before using.
Carbolic acid is a caustic poison, and therefore must be handled

It sometimes happens that the taxidermist, if in a large way of
business, is called upon to destroy the insects infesting, it may be,
the entire collection of heads or skins hanging in some gentleman's
hall. No better or more effective way of doing this is to be found
than plunging them entirely in a bath composed of:

No. 17.--Carbolic Acid Wash, No. 3 ("Poison").

Carbolic acid,               1 lb.

Sal ammoniac,              0.5 oz.

Corrosive sublimate,         3 oz.

Pure tannin,                 4 oz.

Hot water,                   4 galls.

Mix this up in some out-house, or in the open air away from the house,
if a fine day; and when the mixture is cold plunge the heads or skins
in, holding the former by the horns, and stirring the latter about
with a stick; in fact, allowing the mixture to touch the hands as
little as possible.

It is, I believe, more efficacious if laid on hot than cold, but the
danger to health is greater. I venture to say that if there is
anything which will preserve objects for an indefinite period it is
corrosive sublimate. Deadly though it be, and dangerous to work with,
it has the advantage of being used as a finishing preparation, and
therefore need not, except in extreme cases, be handled.

Instead of rectified spirits of wine, I have used with much success as
an exterior wash for valuable bird skins, the following:

No. 18.--Preservative Wash.

Pure sulphuric ether,         1 pint.

Corrosive sublimate,          6 grs.

Keep in a stoppered bottle, labelled "Poison," and when used apply
with a brush. This is more rapid in its evaporation than spirits of
wine, but is very expensive. Of course, the more rapidly any spirit
evaporates, and deposits poison previously held in solution, the
better chance you have of not spoiling your specimens.


I have lately given a great deal of attention to the preservation of
fishes--and especially large ones--in some fluid which should have
four advantages:

1. Perfect preservation of the specimen--and which also, if a foreign
one, is consequently a long time in transit.

2. Its freedom from causing great shrinking or shrivelling of the

3. The points 1 and 2 being so well balanced that the specimen is in a
fit state--after many months--either to be treated as a specimen shown
in fluid, or to be mounted by the process of taxidermy.

4. The comparative cheapness and facility of carriage of the
preservative medium.

In trying to obtain all these advantages there seem almost insuperable
difficulties in the reconcilement of these diverse conditions.

Dr. A. Guenther, F.R.S, the eminent, ichthyologist and Chief of the
British Museum, recommends, in his new book, that pure or rectified
spirits of wine (56 per cent. over-proof) be the only thing used for
fishes, for permanent preservation in glass jars or tanks, and this
even for ordinary fishes 3 ft. to 4 ft. in length, or even up to 6 ft.
in length, if eel-like. "Proof" spirit (containing only 49 per cent.
by weight of pure alcohol as against 84 per cent. contained in
rectified spirit) is, says Dr. Guenther, the lowest strength which can
be used.

These will then stand as

No. 19.--Rectified Spirits of Wine (56 per cent. over-proof),


No. 20.--Proof Spirits of Wine.

If a spirituous solution is absolutely required, I would substitute
for pure spirits of wine methylated spirit (alcohol containing a
certain percentage of impure gum or undrinkable wood spirit) as being
cheap and sufficiently good for some purposes. It will not, however,
bear any diluting with water; it must stand, therefore, as

No. 21.--Methylated Spirit (undiluted),

or as

No. 22.--Alcoholic Solution, No. 1.

Methylated spirit,             1.5 pints.

Burnt alum (pounded),            2 oz.

Distilled water,               0.5 pint.

Saltpetre,                       4 oz.

This, which is to be well shaken together, becomes milky at first, but
will soon fine down, and may then be decanted.

No. 23.--Alcoholic Solution, No. 2.

Methylated spirit,              3 parts.

Glycerine,                      1 part.

Distilled water,                1 part.

Although turpentine will not preserve reptiles or fishes, yet, struck
with the perfect manner with which I was enabled to preserve
soft-bodied beetles for nearly a year in benzol or benzoline, I lately
tried if this cheap and colourless liquid would be of service for
other subjects, with the result that I have now some frogs (six or
seven) in a glass jar containing benzoline which have been immersed
for over three months, and have apparently undergone less change than
if in spirits for the same length of time. Whether they are likely to
be permanently preserved by this method I cannot, of course, yet
determine, but if so, it would be a great gain, owing to the
brilliancy of the liquid, its cheapness, and its advantages over all
alcoholic spirit in its less powerful action on the sealing wax or
coating used over the corks or stoppers of the glass preparation jars.

There is no doubt that pure spirits of wine will preserve objects for
a great length of time, but the cost is very serious to most persons,
or even to institutions of less importance than the British
Museum--added to which the strong spirit unquestionably shrivels and
distorts such objects as fishes and reptiles, whilst, diluted to any
appreciable extent, spirit will not preserve anything for any great
period. To obviate these inconveniences chemists have invented more or
less perfect preservative fluids, the oldest perhaps of which is

No. 24.--Goadby's Solution, No. 1.

Bay salt,                        4 oz.

Corrosive sublimate,             4 grs.

Alum,                            2 oz.

Boiling water,                   2 quarts.

Keep in stoppered bottle labelled "Poison."

[Footnote: "Bay salt" is salt formed by evaporation of sea-water in
shallow lagoons or "salt-pans" exposed to the rays of the sun.]

No. 25.--Goadby's Solution, No. 2.

Bay salt,                  0.5 lb.

Corrosive sublimate,         2 grs.

Arsenious acid,             20 grs.

Boiling rain water,          1 quart.

Keep in stoppered bottle labelled "Poison."

Note that, corrosive sublimate being a remarkably difficult thing to
dissolve, even in pure spirits of wine, it may not be generally known
that the addition of a saturated solution of sal ammoniac, in weight
about half an ounce, is sufficient to dissolve many ounces of
corrosive sublimate. Thus a solution useful for some purposes is
easily made as follows:

No. 26.--Browne's Preservative Solution.

Saltpetre,                          4 oz.

Corrosive sublimate,             0.25 oz.

Alum,                               2 oz.

Sal ammoniac,                   0.125 oz.

Boiling water,                 half gallon.

Keep in stoppered bottle labelled "Poison."

This, it will be seen, is a modification of Goadby's Solution.

In the three preceding formulae the corrosive sublimate must be
dissolved in a small quantity of spirits of some kind, or, as
explained above, by the addition of a strong solution of sal ammoniac.

No. 27.--Saline Solution for bottling Fish and Reptiles.

Bichloride of mercury (corrosive sublimate),      1 grain.

Chloride of sodium (common salt),                90 grains.

Distilled water,                                  1 pint.

Intimately mix, set aside, let settle, and when clear, decant and
preserve in stoppered bottles. The following might also be tried:

No. 28.--Camphorated Fluid for Preserving Fishes, etc.

To distilled water, sixteen parts, add one part of rectified spirits
of wine and a few drops of creosote, sufficient to saturate it; stir
in a small quantity of best prepared chalk, and then filter. With this
fluid mix an equal quantity of camphor water (water saturated with
camphor), and before using, strain off through very fine muslin.

The bisulphite of lime (see formula No. 11, ante) would also, no
doubt, be excellent as a preservative for fishes if not quite so much
diluted. Chloride of zinc, much diluted, is recommended as a good

Dr. Priestley Smith's formula (see No. 14, ante) would do exceedingly
well for small specimens to be subsequently arranged in glass-topped
tanks, as at the British Museum.

Another formula, sometimes used in the medical schools for preserving
parts of subjects, and useful as a pickle for fish and reptiles, is a
preparation called Moeller's Solution:

No. 29--Moeller's Solution.

Bichromate of potash,     2 oz.

Sulphate of soda,         1 oz.

Distilled water,          3 pints.

A saturated solution of chromic acid is also used for the same
purposes. The chief disadvantage which both this and Moeller's
Solution possess in common is their colour--a rich golden one--which,
of course, stains everything with which they come in contact. This,
however, is easily removable by the Hydrate of Chloral formula (see
Priestley Smith's formula, No. 14, Section 2, ante).

This last (Moeller's Solution) I have kept purposely until the end, as
it is the formula which, in my opinion, fulfils all the four
requirements stated in the opening paragraph, as desirable in the
preservation of the lower vertebrates. On my appointment to the
curatorship of the Leicester Museum I had occasion to overhaul the
"pickles" and prepare some fresh specimens, and was very loth to use
expensive spirits, or even methylated, for large fish, and therefore
tried many things with varying results. At last I was driven back on
Moeller's Solution, and by its aid saved some specimens which were
slowly rotting in other fluids, and successfully "pickled" such flabby
things as sharks' eggs, sea anemones, and large-sized "lump fish." It
was then tried on common "dog-fish," one of which came out limp, yet
perfectly tough, and was skinned as an experiment after a month's

One day two large "topers" (a small species of shark), about six feet
long, were sent from Scarboro'. My taxidermist being very busy at the
time, I decided to give Moeller a severe test and pickle them.
Accordingly--their viscera only being removed--they were tumbled into
a large tub containing 2 lb. of bichromate of potassa to 20 galls. of
spring water. This was on 13th Sept, 1882; I looked at them on 17th
July, 1883, and they were perfectly fresh, quite limp, unshrivelled,
and yet so tough as to be capable of any treatment, even to being cast
as models, or "set up" by the taxidermic art; and this after the lapse
of ten calendar months--a time more than sufficient for even a sailing
vessel to come from any part of the world.

I changed the solution once, the total cost from first to last being
one shilling and fourpence. Had pure spirit been used, the expense
would have been many pounds, to say nothing of the great shrivelling
which would have taken place by now. I must therefore think that
Moeller's solution is, for the purpose, one of the best things ever


Generally speaking, pure alcohol is the best for this purpose.
Chloride of zinc would doubtless be of considerable service, and I
notice that Woodward, in his "Manual of the Molluscs," says that
chloride of calcium, made by dissolving chalk, or the purer carbonate
--white marble,--in hydro-chloric acid until effervescence ceases and
a saturated solution is obtained, is most useful as a preservative, as
it "keeps the specimen previously steeped in it permanently moist
without injuring its colour or texture; while its antiseptic
properties will aid in the preservation of matters liable to decay."

Possibly some of the beautiful preparations in the Fisheries
Exhibition of 1883 were prepared in this manner, and such objects as
the sea-anemones, with tentacles expanded as in life, may have been
instantaneously killed by osmic acid.


No doubt, every one notices how the ordinary wax, which is used as a
protective coating for bottles or "preparation" jars, is attacked by
the contained spirit in such a manner as to be useless as a preventive
of evaporation. Ordinary sealing wax, "bottle wax," beeswax, or
paraffin wax, being useless, we are driven back on a very old recipe
of the French naturalist M. Peron, who claimed for it advantages which
it certainly possesses.

No. 30.--"Lithocolle" for Sealing Bottles.

Common resin.

Yellow beeswax (or paraffin wax).

Red ochre (in powder).

Oil of turpentine (turps).

The proportions of this luting are determined by putting more or less
resin and red ochre, or turpentine and wax, as the "lithocolle" is to
be more or less brittle or elastic. Melt the wax in the resin, then
add the ochre in small quantities, and at each addition of this stir
the whole briskly round. When the mixture has boiled seven or eight
minutes, pour in the turpentine, stir it round, and set it near the
fire to keep it warm some little time. To ascertain the quality, and
if it requires more or less wax, put a little out on a cold plate, and
note its degree of tenacity.

It is rather dangerous to prepare, and is best managed over a gas jet
or stove, so arranged that the flame does not rise above the edge of
the iron pot containing the composition; if this is attended to, not
much danger can arise, especially if, in case of the composition
firing, the lid of the pot be immediately clapped on.

Apply with an old brush, or by repeatedly plunging the neck of the
bottle in the luting before the latter becomes cold. I have used an
application of glue with great success on corks over spirits, by
procuring the best glue, making it rather thin, and applying it whilst
hot in successive coats. It will not do, however, for non-alcoholic
solutions, nor for glass stoppers, from which it scales off when cold.


In all cases when "pickling" animals it must be remembered that the
first pickle, whether alcoholic or not, is essentially deteriorated by
the bloody mucus and water which exudes from the specimens, especially
if large and "flabby;" this, of course, reduces the strength of the
preservative medium. It is well, therefore, to have from three to four
different vessels, in which the objects shall be successively immersed
for several days, or even weeks, until, coming to the final
preparation jar, they shall not stain the liquid in which they are
ultimately to rest.

By using the various strengths of each preservative fluid one under
the other, in which to steep the specimens, proper results will be
obtained, by the exercise of a little forethought and judgment.
Filtration through blotting paper or charcoal is necessary from time
to time, and expensive spirits may be re-distilled when becoming too
weak by constant use.

Large fishes must have small cuts made in the walls of the abdomen to
allow the fluid to properly penetrate. In cases where the specimen is
not required for dissection, the removal of the viscera facilitates
the ultimate preservation.

If at 'any time it is necessary to throw away a quantity of
inexpensive spent liquor which may smell offensively, a small quantity
of the crystals of permanganate of potassa will instantly deodorise a
large quantity of fluid, and this without adding to it any offensive
scent of its own, as in the case of chloride of lime or carbolic acid.
The vessel must be afterwards well rinsed out in clean water, as 'the
potassa temporarily stains everything in contact a rich purplish red.

Some experiments which I conducted with benzoline incontestably proved
to me its valuable properties. I experimented on a Cornish chough--an
old specimen, infested with maggots or larvae of the "clothes" moth. I
immediately plunged it in benzoline, took it out, drained the
superfluous spirit off, and rapidly dried it by suspending it in a
strong current of air.

It took but a short time to dry, and, though the feathers were very
slightly clotted after the operation, yet, by a little manipulation,
explained hereafter, they soon arrived at their pristine freshness,
and all the insects which previously infested it were effectually
killed. I afterwards found on another specimen--a short-eared owl--two
or three larvae feeding on the feathers. I poured a little benzoline
over them in situ, and they fell off, apparently dead. I kept them for
a day, and by that time they were shrivelled and undeniably dead.

Here, then, we have the two elements of success--a perfect destroyer
of insects, and an agent not damaging, but positively beneficial, to
the feathers of birds when applied; added to which, is the remarkable
cheapness of benzoline. Caution--do not use it near a candle, lamp,
nor fire, as it gives off a highly inflammable vapour at a low
temperature; it also fills a house with a peculiarly disagreeable
odour, finding its way upstairs, as all volatile gases do; so it had
better always be used in the workshop or outhouse.

I have just discovered--and feel very "small" that I did not do so
before--that benzoline perfectly preserves birds "in the flesh" for a
considerable time. I tried it on a razorbill (Alta torda, 1.), which I
placed in a "preparation" jar, filled with common benzoline at 1 s.
per gallon. The bird was simply cut under the wing to allow the
benzoline to penetrate, and was left for three weeks; at the end of
which time it and taken out, cleaned in plaster (as described in
Chapter XI.), and made a most excellent taxidermic object! The
advantages of this to the overworked professional are obvious.

In very severe cases I have used turpentine ("turps") with excellent
effect; in fact, as a destructive agent for insects, I prefer it to
benzoline, having now mastered the hitherto fatal objections to its
use on birds' skins. For the skins of mammals there is nothing to beat
it. This will be enlarged on in the chapter on "Relaxing and Cleaning

In thus speaking of benzoline and turpentine as agents in the
destruction of insect plagues, I mean, of course, that the specimens
should be plunged into, or have poured over them either benzoline or
turpentine. This seems to have been lost sight of by some former
correspondents of mine, one of whom writes--"In your toxicological
section, I do not find any opinion on atmospheric poisoning of acari,

"If not giving you too much trouble, I should be glad to know whether
you think spirits of turpentine would be efficacious if allowed to
evaporate in a case of birds in which moths have lately shown

"I am unwilling to have them taken out, in fact they have not been
cased twelve months, and I thought of boring a hole in an obscure
corner with bit and brace, and inserting a saturated sponge, and then
closing it again.

"Waterton says--'The atmosphere of spirit of turpentine will allow
neither acarus nor any insect to live in it: Do you believe this?"

My answer to him, and to all such correspondents, was that I had
repeatedly proved that all such little vermin did not care a bit for
the fumes of benzoline, nor of any spirits whatever, as I had caused
gallons of turpentine, etc, to be poured into large cases containing
specimens without producing the smallest effect, unless it absolutely
touched them, but that I had partly succeeded by introducing cyanide
of potassium (deadly poison) into small cases containing birds,
through a hole bored for the purpose; but it was objectionable:

(I) on the score of its danger to health, should the poisonous vapour
escape; and

(2) because it deliquesced rapidly in any but the driest atmosphere,
by its affinity for damp, and, consequently, often caused mildew in
cases of birds, etc, into which it had been introduced. The fumes of
sulphur during combustion are, on the contrary, really of service in
destroying insect life, as evidenced in the fumigation of hospital
wards, etc, but I cannot tell how anyone may burn sulphur in specimen
cases without half choking himself, and probably setting on fire the
fittings and spoiling the work altogether. It is also objectionable
because it readily discharges certain colours from fabrics, flowers,
and birds' feathers. My advice is, therefore, to pull to pieces any
case infested with insects, to burn all fittings not absolutely
valuable, and to drench with turpentine all specimens, together with
all the rockwork and fittings desired to be retained. [Footnote: I
would indeed advise the destruction by burning of the birds themselves
even, should they be common specimens, or easily replaced.]

Crude creosote, in little pots or saucers, is a great deterrent to the
visits of insect plagues; it cannot, however, be exposed openly, as
its scent is overpowering and decidedly unhealthy for use in private
houses. In museums it does very well if cased up.

With regard to camphor in museums, although it is so constantly used,
I consider it of no use as a deterrent. A small piece of tallow
candle is equally efficacious, and of late I have had much more faith
in insect powders, the best of which is, I believe, compounded of the
petals of the Russian tansy (Pyrethrum roseum). This has certainly
some principle contained in it not obvious to our senses. It is
perfectly harmless to man, and to domestic animals, but on insects its
action is entirely different. I cannot as yet discover whether insects
eat it, or if its smell overcomes them, whether it repels, or attracts
them to their doom. A series of experiments has left me just as much
in the dark as ever. Certain it is that I have never found insects
among skins over which it has been strewn.

There is, however, one slight objection to its use, which is that it
stains light-coloured skins, if at all greasy, with its fine,
brownish-yellow dust. This is, however, but a trifle, easily avoided,
in face of its unquestionable value. I have used it now for many
years, and have never had cause to alter my opinion as to its
efficacy. The best only must be procured, from some well-known
wholesale house, price about 3s. per lb. That sold made up in small
quantities is generally adulterated and useless. No curator should
ever be without it, and a small quantity should always be placed
inside a newly-made skin. It can also be worked up in many of the
preservative pastes, or macerated in spirit as a wash, for the inside
of skins.

Baking or stowing maggot-infected specimens is recommended by some
authors, but I strongly object to it in the case of old or valuable
skins, firstly, because the heat can seldom be properly regulated,
unless in an apparatus specially constructed; secondly, because heat
sufficient to kill the larvae is also sufficient to crimp or twist
some part of the plumage or render the skin, if an old specimen, too
crisp or tender for ultimate handling; thirdly, because even a
moderate degree of heat is sufficient to set free the fat contained in
the skin, and thus spoil the feathers.

Perhaps the tyro may remark, "But in a preserved and stuffed skin
there ought to be no fat to ooze out." Quite true, there ought not to
be, but as skins are usually dressed with arsenical soap, the fat,
instead of being dried up, is beautifully conserved, ready to run out
at the slightest provocation, or be drawn out by the capillary
attraction of the threads used in sewing up--another hard knock for
arsenical pastes!

Writing about pastes reminds me that no taxidermist should be without
a pot of flour paste, which is far better and more cleanly than gum or
glue for sticking in loose feathers, etc. For a small quantity,
sufficient to fill a jam-pot, take

No. 31.--Flour Paste.

Good wheat flour,     2 oz.

Essence of cloves,     0.5 a teaspoonful.

Water,             0.5 pint.

Mix the flour with part of the water in a basin, being careful to
crush out all the lumps, and work it up smoothly to the consistence of
thick cream; add the remainder of the water, and boil for a few
minutes in a saucepan. Turn out into a jam-pot, and when nearly cold
stir in the essence of cloves; this latter gives an agreeable odour to
the paste, is not poisonous, and preserves the paste indefinitely from
turning mouldy. A few drops of carbolic acid may be used instead of
the cloves; but in this case the pot must be labelled "Poison."

Strong gum water may be made from gum arabic, into which a little
powdered white sugar is stirred. Essence of cloves prevents mould in
this also, unless there be an excess of water.

A fine paste, useful for paper or photographic work, is made from

"Dextrine," in powder, is cheap and strong, easily soluble in cold
water, but as a paste shows up on feathers, etc, much more than
wheat-flour paste.

Cement, for uniting broken bones or fossils, or to fix shells, etc, on
tablets, is, says the late Frank Buckland, made thus

No. 32.--White Cement.

Beeswax,                         1 part.

Powdered plaster of Paris (best fine),     5 parts.

Resin,                         4 parts.

Warm the edges (when possible) and use the cement warm.

I would advise the plaster being stirred into the other two
ingredients as wanted. The great objection to this and to all the
"coagulines" is that the edges of the specimen require warming, which
cannot always be done.

Another good colourless cement is

No. 33.--White Cement, No. 2.

Gum tragacanth in powder,         1 part.

Gum arabic (acacia) in powder,     1 part.

Glacial acetic acid,             a few drops.

When used, moisten the gums with a little of the acetic acid diluted.

Gum mastic dissolved in alcohol, and white shellac dissolved in
naphtha, are two other white cements.

Where, however, colour does not matter, take

No. 34--Brown Cement.

Common shellac,         0.25 lb.

Spirits of naphtha,     0.5 pint.

Place them in a bottle in a warm situation on a closed stove, or in a
vessel containing hot water. Be careful of fire. The edges of bones or
undersides of fossils are smeared with this, tied with string, and
left for a day or so to unite.

The reader has now a repertoire of poisonous and harmless preparations
from which he may choose. As for myself, for the preservation of
birds, I pin my faith to formula No. 4, viz, my Preservative Soap for
the inside of the skin, and a wash of benzoline or turpentine
liberally applied from time to time--say twice a year--to the outside
of all uncased or exposed specimens. This, it will be seen, entirely
does away with the use of any poison, and yet is proved to be of the
highest efficacy.

For those who do not object to expense nor to the use of a poisonous
preparation, a wash of Waterton's Solution (No. 5), or the sulphuric
ether preparation (No. 18), can be substituted for benzoline or
turpentine. I mention the expense, because only rectified spirits of
wine, or pure sulphuric ether, will do for birds; the methylated
spirit, though of service for washing over most subjects, is not so
good when applied to the delicate feathers of birds, as it leaves on
drying a certain impure residuum behind it.

For mammals I recommend my formula of burnt alum and saltpetre (No.
9), followed by a wash of benzoline or turpentine twice a year, or by
any one of the mercurial preparations given.

On a retrospect of this chapter it will, I think, be admitted that, if
I am adverse to the use of any poisonous preparations in taxidermy, I
at least point out the why and wherefore, as also an alternative
course, showing at the same time the benefits and defects of both
systems. I now, therefore, leave the amateur to choose for
himself--bearing in mind the time-honoured aphorism, chacun à son

Plate II Skeleton of Peregrine Falcon


Explanation: follows:




A, skull; B, upper mandible; C, lower mandible;

D, cervical vertebrae (9);

E, humeri (sing. humerus); F, radius; G, Ulna;

H, carpus, or wrist I and J, metacarpal bones (8); i, "knuckle" joint;

K, pollex (first digit, or "'thumb"); K2 and K3 second or "index" digit,
and next or third digit;

1, pelvis or "ossa innominata" ilium, ischium, and pubes anchylosed;

M, femur; N, tibia; O O, fibula;

P, metatarse, or "tarso-metarsus" (3, sometimes 4 bones);

p, actual "knee" joint; q, "heel," or tibiotarsal joint;

Q, hallux (first or "big" toe), called in ornithology the "hind" toe

R, fourth (or outermost) toe; S S sternum, or breast bone.



IN order that this shall be a thoroughly practical chapter, I will, in
my method of working, copy the admirable plan of my old sporting
favourite, Col. Hawker, who, when wishing to note down some difficult
point, was in the habit of doing with his own hands all things
pertaining to the matter at issue, because, as he said, he might not
make mistakes when subsequently writing upon knotty subjects intended
for his readers' consideration.

I have, therefore, specially procured a starling, as I consider this
bird the very best for the amateur's purpose, not only on account of
the toughness of the skin, but also because, being a medium-sized
bird, it presents no difficult points in skinning, and with this bird
before me I shall minutely instruct my pupil, pointing out each step
that has to be taken and each difficulty that is likely to arise.

As I shall have occasion constantly to refer to the various parts of
the skeleton, I now give an engraving of that of the Peregrine Falcon,
in order to help my explanations in the future (see Plate II.).

Having placed ready for use the skinning knife (see Fig. 11), the
scissors (Fig. 14), and the cobbler's crooked awl in handle, a pot of
preservative mixture, some cotton wool or wadding, some tow, and a
needle and thread; lay the starling on its back on a piece of clean
paper, the head of the bird pointing from the operator; then seize the
bird by the sides of the head with the first two fingers and thumb of
the left hand in opposition, the awl held in the palm of the right
hand, and a piece of wool between the right-hand finger and thumb;
then insert the point of the awl between the upper and lower
mandibles, and, having opened them, keep them open with the first
finger of the right hand, removing the piece of wool which should have
been previously placed there by the sportsman (see instructions re
shot birds, at end of Chapter II.). Replacing it with the fresh piece
of wool held in readiness, plug the nostrils in the same manner.

As even this simple operation will have somewhat disarranged the
feathers of the head and neck, smooth them down with the fingers,
taking care, however, not to stretch the neck in doing so. The next
operation is to hold the left-hand wing with the left hand, and with
the fingers of the right hand break or disjoint the bone of the wing
as close to the body as possible, i.e, across the "humerus" (E) (in
the case of large birds, or for some special purpose, this bone is
often left intact, but the amateur will be puzzled how to subsequently
arrange it in the skin if unbroken). Repeat this on the other wing.
For those whose fingers are not strong enough to do this effectually,
I recommend a small pair of flat-nosed pliers, some sizes larger than
the "feather pliers" (Fig. 19).

Large birds may have their wings broken at the humeri (E) by striking
them with a stick or hammer in such a manner as not to break nor
seriously disarrange the feathers; the largest-sized pliers (Fig. 16)
may also be used for this purpose, but in that case a piece of clean
rag should be folded in the jaws of the pliers so as to envelope the
upper and under surface of the wing, in order to protect the feathers
from injury. Practice will, however, point out the best method of
doing this. Next take hold of the legs with the fingers and gently
twist them out of joint at the junction of the tibia and femur.

Now, keeping the head of the bird toward you, part the feathers away
from each side of the sternum or breast-bone; then with the knife held
short in the hand, the point placed exactly in the centre of the bird
(calculating from the bill to the tip of the tail), make the first
incision just on the right side of the breast bone down to the vent,
taking care not to cut so deeply as to expose the intestines. Now turn
the bill towards your right, and gently lay hold of the cut edge of
the skin, which you see shining whitely in front of you; then with the
point of the knife--the cutting edge kept on the flesh--gently loosen
the skin above, below, and downwards. Completely reverse the bird, and
repeat this for the other side.

At this stage the body may be held down, with the knife pressed on the
side of the breast bone, and thus the two first fingers of the left
hand may be advantageously employed--but in a very gentle manner--to
loosen the skin around the upper part of the breast-bone from the
inside, while the thumb regulates the pull from the outside. All must
be done with the feathers kept as much away from the flesh as

Fig. 22--Starling--Showing Position of First Incision and the
Commencement of the Removal of the Skin.

Fig. 22 shows the appearance which the specimen should now present.

The skin being, as it were, nicely "persuaded" from the flesh (more
being done by pushing than by pulling), the legs begin to appear. Take
hold of the one nearest to you with the right hand, at the same time
inserting the fingers of the left inside the skin; then, by gently
pushing up with the right hand, free the legs sufficiently to show the
second joint, where it has been previously twisted or broken.

Laying down the knife, and picking up the scissors, force their point
underneath the joint, marked P in Plate II, and cut it completely off;
it should then be clear of the flesh, showing the skin on either side
as if it were a stocking turned inside out. Pull it gently by the claw
back into its proper position, and there leave it, and do the same by
the other leg, turning the bird again for that, purpose.

Both the legs should now be entirely free, not holding to the body at
any point. Taking up the knife again, carefully work with it down
toward the tail, and as far round the back as you can get with safety.
Now let the bird rest on its head, as it were, with the beak from you,
and, placing the fingers with the thumb on the back (which is now
underneath), the middle finger on the root of the tail inside, flanked
by the first and third fingers keeping down the skin on either side,
cautiously insert the knife through the skin of the vent, and cut that
free, cutting upward in a slanting direction; having done this,
carefully cut away on the root of the tail, at the same time freeing
it wherever it sticks; then, when nothing but one bone, that is to
say, the last caudal vertebra, holds it, slip the knife underneath and
cut with a drawing motion upward. The tail is now entirely separated
from the body.

Now advance the fingers of the left hand and seize the bottom part of
the loosened body with the right hand, and by pushing with the
finger-nails, and occasionally using the knife where the tendons hold
the skin, gradually work up the back, turning it round and round, and
working very carefully until the place where the wings have been
previously broken is arrived at. Again lay down the knife, and taking
up the scissors, cut the wing nearest to you away from the skin; do
the same with the other side; and now the only thing which holds skin
and body together is the neck. Taking the whole of the body in the
hand, proceed with the fingers of the other (using no knife) to
gradually cause the skin to leave its attachment at the neck. With
care work over the head by the same means, and here progress is
stopped by the skin being held on either side of the face by a little
membrane; this is the inner skin of the ears.

Regaining the knife, slip the point underneath, and gradually lift
them out, cutting towards the flesh and not towards the skin. This
done, the skin will appear darker, immediately above this point. These
are the eyes; carefully cut on top of them with a very gentle motion,
until they are skinned to where only a very thin membrane hides them
from view; arrived at this, the knife-point must be pushed gently
underneath, and an upward cut made, which, if carefully done, entirely
severs the eyelids from the retaining membrane. The exact point shown
in Fig. 23 is now reached.

Fig. 23--Skin of Bird Turned Ready for Severance from Body

After this sever the skull from the neck at the point where the dotted
lines A--B are shown in the drawing. This exposes the brain without
cutting off too much at the base of the cranium, the shape of which is
wanted for subsequent operations. After the body is completely
severed, proceed to pull the tongue out (unless wanted for show) by
placing the knife on the other aside of it in opposition to the thumb,
give a smart pull, keeping an even pressure on, and the tongue will
come out with little or no difficulty.

Next enlarge the orifice at the back of the head by cutting a
triangular piece out towards the palate or roof of the mouth, scooping
the brains out with the point of the knife, having a small piece of
paper in readiness to receive them. During this operation hold the
beak of the bird through the skin of the neck by the two first
fingers, and thumb, the latter being uppermost, the other fingers
being employed in keeping the remainder of the skin with the feathers
out of harm's way.

Inserting the point of the knife at the back of the eye, place the
thumb on the eyeball and gently pull it out, taking care not to let
the point of the knife cut upward so as to burst the eye, or the
effect will be to liberate the dark-coloured pigment or the vitreous
humour, and thus wet or stain the feathers. Having done all this,
there will still remain some little flesh at the back of the eye and
the junction of the mandibles, and this must be carefully cut away so
as not to dis-articulate the latter. The Preservative Paste now comes
into requisition, and with this the skull and orbits are well painted
inside and out. A little tow, previously chopped by the medium of a
sharp pair of scissors, is now pushed into the empty skull, with the
"stuffing iron," which is a small piece of thick wire (see Fig. 21).
For large birds the tow forceps (see Fig. 20) may be conveniently

Having neatly filled the head with the tow, proceed to put a small
piece of cotton wadding in each orbit. (Note, be careful that tow only
is pushed into the head, as if never so small a piece of wadding gets
into the cavity of the head it will effectually prevent any subsequent
mounting of the specimen, as, singular though it may appear, a small
piece of wadding is more than a match for a pointed wire.)

During all this time the neck must be kept as short and as little
stretched as possible. In some birds a line of fat will be observed
extending from the neck to the back or even to the breast, which must
be as carefully as possible scraped off the skin by using the edge of
the knife, guided by the thumb. Having done this, paint the neck only
with the preservative, and lay the skin on the paper, back upward and
tail from you; the under part of the head in this position points

Place the thumbs of both hands, their nails touching each other, at
the back of the head with the first two fingers of each hand placed in
this wise: forefingers along the side of the face, second fingers
underneath on the top of the skin of the head; then, by gently pushing
with the thumbs and pulling or scratching, as it were, with the other
fingers, gradually force the head through until the mandibles appear,
as also the eyelids. Let go with the right hand, still keeping the
thumb of the left pressing against the head; and, by gently working
with the two first fingers of the left hand outside the feathers, and
by pulling the beak upward and toward you with the right, the bird is
returned to the position shown in Fig. 22.

As the bird now lies, it is optional whether the flesh is cleaned away
from the root of the tail first or from the legs and wings. I will,
however, in this case take the wing on my right. Place the right hand
underneath, lift the wing as far up into the skin as possible, and by
holding it tightly in that position with the finger and thumb of the
left hand, a ridge of skin becomes visible, running down each side,
and framing in, as it were, a little oval-shaped piece of flesh, i.e.
that lying between the "radius" and "ulna" The broken bone and flesh
of the wing is now toward you. Clean the flesh away from this and then
devote the attention to the before-named oval-shaped piece of flesh.
Putting the point of the knife down on the right, lift and scoop away
(using the greatest care meanwhile) some small pieces of flesh. This
by degrees reveals the top of another little bone, from under which
all the flesh to be seen must be scraped away; anoint this freely with
the preservative, and return it to its normal position after tying a
small piece of strong thread through the loop of the bone (in large
birds a little tow should be placed in the cavity).

If this process is too tedious, or not quite comprehended by the
amateur--i.e. the clearing out of the flesh between the radius and
ulna--the smaller bone of the two--the radius (F, Plate II) may be
twisted or cut out entirely, leaving only the larger bone of the two
to clear of flesh. Sometimes--but this with large birds only--the wing
may be advantageously cut from the outside along its entire length
underneath, the flesh removed, skin dressed, and the cut carefully
sewn up.

Do the same by the other wing, and then push the leg on the same side
up through the skin, pushing the skin down with the fingers and thumb
of the left hand, and pulling with the right, until you have stripped
the skin nearly down to the so-called "knee," q (not the proper knee,
however, that being situated higher up--Plate II), or tibio-tarsal
joint. At this joint a bundle of little "leaders," or muscles,
assemble; cut them away from around the bone (without interfering with
the joint, however), and they will roll up with the flesh to the head
of the bone previously cut off at the proper knee joint, and can there
be easily pulled off. (In practice, it will be found that retaining
the full length of this bone--the tibia--is not desirable for
subsequent operations; it may therefore be advantageously shortened by

Anoint with the preservative and neatly wrap a piece of tow around the
leg-bone (or tibia) to the supposed shape of the flesh previously
removed. Return the leg to its natural position; and repeat the same
on the other side.

The tail is now the only thing left which requires to be freed from
flesh. Keeping the beak still from you, push the tail, with the left
hand, as far up into the body as possible, then clear it of every
particle of flesh by scraping and cutting, taking care to cut away the
oil ducts or glands--usually full of a thick fat--and being careful
also not to cut away the attachment of the roots of the feathers to
the skin; anoint with the preservative, and return. Several little
streaks of fat in various parts of the skin may now be seen, which
must be carefully scraped away.

The wing bones must now be tied nearly together by the pieces of
thread previously attached; the distance between them varies with the
size of the bird's body previously removed (this knowledge is, of
course, gained by experience, but amateurs are recommended to take
careful measurements of this and other analogous points). The whole of
the skin of the back, body, and throat is to be well anointed. Now
take the forceps (see Fig. 20), and form a little neck of tow on it,
introduce it into the skin, leaving the end of the tow resting against
the back of the head. Then insert some larger pieces of tow with the
fingers or tongs into the body, and when you have shaped it as nearly
as possible to the original body of the bird--taking care to nicely
observe the adjustment of the several parts--neatly sew up the skin
with a fine needle and thread by an under stitch on the edges of the
skin, drawing it tight after two or three stitches; and thus proceed
until the bottom is reached, avoiding the common fault of sewing the
feathers in with the stitches.

Some few ends of tow will possibly be protruding from the lower part,
which must be cut off before the final stitch. The bird's legs are
tied one across the other, and the wings pressed close to the body in
the proper position; the neck is also shortened, and a little narrow
band of paper is cut, and placed underneath the bird, brought round
the butts of the wings or shoulders, and pinned together on the top of
the breast; a needle and thread are inserted through the nostrils, the
thread is brought round underneath the bird's lower mandible, and is
tied in a knot to keep the beak closed.

In the course of a week or so, when sufficiently dry, the bandage is
removed, and thus we have what is technically called a "skin."

This is the loose body method of making skins; perhaps a better plan
is making a body--see farther on--on wire, which should not come
through the top of the head, or on a piece of stick (a lucifer match
with the top broken off will do for small skins) coming into the base
of the skull; this gives a great support to the neck, and prevents the
common fault of the skin breaking away just above the shoulders.

If great nicety is desired--and neatness in making a skin is
everything--remember particularly not to overstuff it; it will really
require just about half as much packing as you would at first imagine
sufficient to fill it. Be careful as to the set of the wings, at the
shoulders especially; and after having coaxed every feather with
loving care into its proper position, wrap the whole skin in a sheet
of wadding, leaving the ends open, and put away in a secure place to

Another method of shaping skins whilst drying is described by Mr.
Batty, the well-known American taxidermist, who makes a drying board
for small skins in the following manner (see Fig. 24): Procure a piece
of board of the length and width you require, on which nail on edge
0.75-inch slips of wood two inches high at intervals required; between
these supports stretch stout cardboard in the form of "gutters." In
these, padded in wadding, the skins rest until dry.

Fig. 24--"Set" or Drying Board for Birds' Skins.

Often blood and other substances clog and spoil the feathers of a
bird; how to remove these will be found explained in the chapter on
Cleaning Birds' Skins.

Fig. 25--Starling Properly Made Into a Skin With Label Attached.

In noting the sex of a bird an important matter, only managed in most
cases by the aid of a little dissection--it will be necessary to cut
the body, after it is out of the skin, through the ribs along the side
close to the back, open it, and look upon the kidneys (dark coloured
masses apparently let into the hollow of the back-bone at the
narrowest part of the body) for the sexual organs.

If a male, there will appear just upon the upper end of the kidneys,
one on each side of the back bone, two little oval-shaped bodies,
usually of a dull white or light yellow tint (do not mistake the
supra-renal capsules--quite yellow, small, and a little higher up--for

If a female, these two small oval bodies will be replaced a little
lower clown by a string or bundle of eggs, very minute in some
seasons, but strongly marked and large in the breeding season. It is
sometimes difficult to tell the sex--in young birds especially; but a
good plan is to get a bird, known by its plumage to be a male--say a
cock sparrow--and a female bird, and dissect out these organs, putting
them in spirits in separate bottles, the organs of each sex attached
to its part of the bone and kidneys, and keep them for reference until
experience teaches the way to readily decide sexes.

A label is attached to the legs, giving scientific and common name of
bird, sex, locality, and date, and name or initials of collector.

No. 1. STURNUS VULGARIS, 1. (Starling).

Sex.--Male Juv.

Colour of irides--Dark brown.

Colour of beak--Dark slate.

Colour of legs & toes--Reddish-brown.

Leicester, 21/9/83. Collector, MB.

In the cases of such birds as the hawks, which have bare spaces around
the eyes (sub, and super-ciliary patches) and around the base of the
beak (cere), note down the colours of these parts also. In the cases
of rare birds the measurements of the extreme length from tip of beak
to tail--again from inner edge of gape to vent, the bill and tail
being measured separately from those points--should be carefully
taken, as also the length of culmen, carpus, and tarsus, and set down
in inches and tenths, on the label, or in the note book, when the
matter becomes too voluminous. The reference number and name, in the
latter case, will be sufficient for the label, thus keeping it very
small. In ordinary cases, all information, excepting name, date, and
collector's name, may be written on the back. Part of the label may be
printed ready for filling in.

Another plan of skinning a bird is to work upward instead of downward,
and by raising the skin on top of the breast and throat to approach
the neck, which is then cut off by slipping the point of the scissors
underneath. This gives room for one wing to be loosened, and
ultimately cut off, the other one then easily follows as a matter of
course, and by alternately skinning away the back and the breast, the
legs and the tail are arrived at, which are treated as before
described. This method is useful in cases where the lower extremities
are badly shot or "high," but is otherwise objectionable, as, in any
other but the most careful hands, it is apt to stretch or split any
delicate skin, in the attempt to get the shoulders out, but for which
I should have nothing to say against it. Curiously enough, however, it
is more practised by amateurs than by professionals.

One of the most important, however, of all methods of skinning ever
invented, is that known as skinning from under the wing; it is perhaps
more difficult to a beginner than the other way of skinning, but its
advantages are enormous. Supposing you have a bird very badly shot, or
one with its wing half torn off or ripped underneath, as sometimes
happens, you then, instead of complicating matters by making an
incision in another place, take advantage of the ripped side and cut
it open there.

The birds, however, for which this system is invaluable are sea birds,
or all birds having white or very light coloured breasts. To cut such
birds on the breast practically ruins them, for however well a sea
bird's skin may be cleaned, there still remains some little greasiness
between the roots of the feathers; and in spite of the most careful
sewing, the capillary action of the thread used in stitching up
(aided, of course, by the position of the mounted bird--breast
downward) is sufficient to draw to the surface whatever oily fat or
grease remains in the skin; and though it may not show for a few
months, yet, sooner or later, a rust coloured line of grease appears,
and in spite of all cleaning will reappear, and gradually spread over
the breast, destroying the beauty of perhaps a unique specimen.

To skin a bird from under the wing, select the worst side, or that
injured the most by shot, etc, and laying the bird with that side
uppermost, make an incision from just above the leg to just under the
wing. Push the leg-bone up, and cut it off with a pair of scissors;
then work the skin away a little from the back, and as much as
possible from the breast, gradually working your way until you see the
wing-bone, which cut off. Careful skinning brings you to the neck and
windpipe, which also cut off. The whole of one side of the bird is now
skinned out with the exception of the tail; come downward on the
opposite side to your incision, and across the breast until you can
cut off the remaining wing; having done this, keep skinning downward
until the leg is arrived at, and cut off. Nothing now holds the skin
to the body but the tail-bone, which separate. Clean and finish the
bird in the ordinary way.

I shall now suppose that, instead of making a skin (as previously
described), you desire to stuff the specimen with the ultimate idea of
its forming part of a collection mounted in the same manner as the
birds are mounted in the British Museum--namely, on turned stands as
perches; or, as is usual now, to form a unit of a characteristic group
mounted in a more artistic manner in a shade or a case.

For the purpose of this lesson I have "relaxed" the original starling
we before made into a skin, and shall now mount it, keeping to one
bird, so as not to confuse the learner.

In "setting up" a bird we require to use wires. The sizes of wires are
determined by gauges. Thus the smallest sized wire made is that known
as Gauge 28. This and the two following numbers, 26 and 27, are only
required for the humming birds; 28 is, however, a good size for the
least. 24 will be found a good size for the smaller kinds of warblers
and finches up to canaries. 21 is a useful general size for a great
number of small birds, and will do for such a bird as the hawfinch. 19
is a good size for thrushes and starlings, and will also do very well
for squirrels. 16 is a good useful size for many things--will do for
such birds as the landrail or pigeons. 13 is a good size for such
birds as parrots, and that or the next largest size will do for owls.
12 will do for the larger hawks, such as the peregrine falcon, etc. and
for small dogs. 9 is more suitable for foxes and larger dogs. 7 will
do for eagles. 5, 3, and 1 approach so nearly to bars as to be fit
only for the larger animals.

As a rule, however, practice enables a person to use smaller sized
wires than appears possible to him at first. I would here also
recommend that "galvanised" be used instead of the common "annealed"
wire (never use "hard" wire) for all purposes, excepting for large
animals. Its advantages are very great, as I can personally testify.

If you decide on mounting your bird on a turned stand, you will, if
not possessing a lathe yourself, have to call in the assistance of a
turner, who will, for a small sum, turn the requisite stands, which
may be either in mahogany, boxwood, ebony, or ivory, according to your
taste and the length of your pocket. If, on the contrary, you decide
to ultimately mount your specimen in a case or a shade, you had better
provide yourself with some wire of a suitable strength, and some tow,
which latter you will proceed to wrap round the wire to within a
couple of inches of one end--forming, in fact, an artificial twig,
which you may bend to any shape, riveting the unbound end through a
piece of wood of sufficient weight to balance the bird when set up.

Having, then, before you, as the first indispensable adjunct, the
turned stand or artificial twig (a natural one does in some cases),
the stuffing irons, file, crooked awl, pliers, scissors, wire, tow,
needle and thread, pins, and some fine darning cotton, which is called
"wrapping cotton," you proceed to business thus: The bird being
skinned, all the flesh cleaned out, and well dressed with the
preservative up to the point previously described--leg bones being
wrapped and wings being tied--lay the bird down on a clean piece of

Having selected the wire of two sizes, of a suitable thickness, the
thinner for the body wire and the other for the leg wires, cut the
three, with the aid of the pliers, a little longer than the body and
legs respectively, pointing each wire at one end with a file--not
rounding the points, but leaving them with cutting edges.

Taking up the thicker or body wire in the right hand and some tow in
the left, commence at about an inch from the point to tightly and
neatly bind on the tow in the shape of the neck, and of nearly the
same length that the neck was before being cut off--that is to say,
making the artificial neck somewhat longer than the neck of the skin
(if properly taken off and not abnormally lengthened) appears to be.
The reason for this is that the natural neck, being carried between
the clavicles forming the furculum or "merry-thought," is bent
downward and forward between them when perching (see Fig. 22); hence
the artificial neck must imitate nature so far as that, when inserted
in the skin, it may be also bent forward and downward, and afterwards
thrown back on the body in a natural position.

Of course, if a bird's neck is to be represented very short, as it
will be in certain attitudes, the artificial neck must be almost, if
not quite, done away with; indeed, the shortening of the neck of the
mounted specimen depends almost entirely on the absence of stuffing
above the shoulders. Be sure, also, not to stuff the skin too wide
about the shoulders; if so, the "butts" of the wings will never come
into place, nor allow the feathers of the breast to be brought over
them in a natural manner.

It is exceedingly difficult to instruct in these niceties of detail;
close observation--note a canary or any song bird at rest--added to
experience, will alone teach the amateur these points. To excel in
mounting animals the arts of drawing and modelling from living
examples must be cultivated; the amateur taxidermist thus gains the
requisite knowledge to help him in his art. [Footnote: It may perhaps,
be necessary to warn the non-scientific that whenever I speak of
animals I include fishes, reptiles, and birds with the mammals.]

Having shaped the neck to your own satisfaction, proceed thence to
form the body, by continuously wrapping the tow round and round the
wire, keeping the shape, however, somewhat flat on the sides, full on
the breast and back, and narrowest at the lower extremity of the body,
where it comes in between the legs to the tail. About an inch of the
wire should now be left unbound, which turn up on the back of the
false body to prevent the tow slipping off; next take some cotton,
which wind all over the false body to keep the tow in its place,
adding, as you go on, small pieces of tow, and binding them on where
depressions or faults appear.

This being finished secundum artem, insert the pointed end of the wire
or false neck up the neck of the specimen, pushing the point of the
wire right through the skull until it comes out at the crown of the
head. Now gradually, by persuasive means, pull the skin over the false
body; and lift the starling up and observe what faults are
apparent--possibly a little difficulty exists at the shoulders, if so,
press them in with the thumbs, and then note if there are any
apparently hollow places; if so, fill them out with a little more tow.
See that the back is nicely sloped, that the breast is full enough,
and especially if it be even and narrow between the legs. Having
observed all these points with great exactness, proceed to nicely sew
up the skin with the stitch previously mentioned.

Then select two other pieces of wire of the right size, and point them
each at one end. (Note.--The wires are generally a size or so stronger
for the legs than for the body.) Taking a wire in the right hand, open
the claws of the bird with the other, so as to expose the sole of the
foot, into which push the point of the wire, forcing it up the leg on
its under side between the skin and the bone--be careful how you pass
under the so-called "knee" joint. Pulling the leg now downward and
upward, that is to say, toward the breast, push the wire right through
the false body to the other side, until it comes out under the wing on
the side farthest from the leg. With a small pair of pliers turn the
point downward, pull the wire at the foot, and it is thus clenched and
firmly fixed; do the same with the other leg.

Remember that if the leg wires are not firmly clenched in the made
body, and are not perfectly stiff and tight, all your labour goes for
nothing. Now bring together the skin at the lower part with your
fingers, and push a small wire through the root of the tail up into
the made body.

Picking the bird up with one hand, bend the legs into their proper
position, bend the neck a little downward and backward on the front,
then forward and downward from the back of the head. Place the leg
wires through two holes bored in the crosspiece of the stand, or
through the natural twig, or wind them round on the false twig and
make them secure. Run a fine pin (entomological pin, No. 2) through
the shafts of the feathers of the tail to cause them to dry in proper
shape, then neatly insert the eyes (putting a small piece of putty in
the orbit previously), bringing the eyelids over with a fine needle,
being exceedingly careful not to rip them, and not to have them too
staring, a very common fault with the amateur. See that the wings are
fixed in their right places with one or more pins or wires.

Place one pin in the centre of the breast and in the middle of the
back (all of these pins must be left half-way out), proceed to nicely
arrange the feathers in their proper places by the aid of the crooked
awl and feather pliers (see Fig. 19). Having done this till it appears
as nearly like the living bird as possible (which constant practice
and close attention alone will enable you to do), take the "wrapping
cotton," and, having made a loop on one end, fix it to the pin on the
back. Bring it across to the pin on one of the wings, and across in a
zig-zag manner to the other pins in the wings, binding down the back
first. Then attend to the breast and under tail coverts, taking care
to bind down more securely than the others those feathers which will
start up (usually the upper wing coverts). A careful binder working
properly will shape his bird by binding. Tie the mandibles if they are
wanted closed, and cut the wire off the head, as it permanently
raffles the feathers if left until the specimen is dry.

This is binding for a closed-winged bird; but for one whose wings are
to be thrown up, say a hawk on flight, the modus operandi is slightly
different; wire stays and card braces now supplement "wrapping"
cotton. The bird being opened on its worst side is stuffed in the
usual manner as far as getting the neck up into the skull, the
attached body is now bolted through near the top of the cut by the
wing, by a long wire sufficiently strong to keep the bird suspended;
this wire, being firmly clenched on the opposite side of the body to
the cut, has its free end, of course, depending from the incision
under the wing.

The next thing to do is to support the wings in the position necessary
to represent flight. For this purpose, point four wires sufficiently
long to extend the wings, and to come through the body to be clenched.
Two of these wires should be of a size thinner than the other two.
Select the wing on the side of the body farthest from the cut, and
enter the point of one of the thickest wires in the wing at the end of
the part called the "metacarpus" (i, Plate II); push it gently along
between the bone and the skin--meanwhile holding the wing with the
left-hand fingers--along the side of or between the "radius and ulna,"
finally pushing it into the body at the shoulder, and clenching it
when it comes through, which it should do under the opposite wing at
the cut. It is often very difficult or impossible to get the wire to
go through the "carpus;" it will suffice, therefore, if, after coming
along the metacarpus, it just misses the carpus and enters the skin
again at the junction of the radius and ulna. If properly managed, the
wire will be snugly hidden in the skin of the wing by the feathers of
the parts along which it has travelled.

Do likewise with the other wing, but this wire often cannot be carried
right through to the opposite side, and must therefore be firmly
secured in the body on its own side; next fix the legs in the manner
before detailed, or, as the bird is to be represented on flight, the
wires need only be entered at the tibia-tarsal joint (q, Plate II).
Push a wire in the tail, and sew up the incision under the wing.

The bird has now its wings, legs, and tail fixed, and the free end of
the supporting wire is sticking out from under the wing. Fix this wire
firmly through the top of a narrow strip of board at such a distance
as to miss the outspread wing; let this board also be long enough to
allow of one end being fixed in a vice or screwed to the edge of a
table, whilst the hawk or other bird clears its surface. The bird
being now "shaped up" a little, take the two thinnest wires and enter
the point of one in each wing at the end of the fleshy part of the
wing (really the bird's middle finger), or through the base of the
first quill, an inch or so from the other wire. This last wire travels
along the outside of the feathers under the wing, and is consequently
not hidden at all when pushed into the body: its use is to curve the
wing upon it into a graceful shape, and when the bird is sufficiently
dry it is pulled out, the first wire at the shoulder being quite
sufficient to bear up the wing when set.

As, however, the wing feathers start up here and there, and do not
readily conform to all the curves of the wires, the wiring and binding
must be supplemented by "braces," which are narrow strips of cardboard
pinned in pairs at intervals below and above the wing, and held in
position by pins running through both braces from the under to the
upper surface. For explanation of this see Plate I (Frontispiece), a
hawk properly "set up" and "bound" to represent it swooping on its

Putty sometimes greases light-coloured skins around the eyes; it will
be well, therefore, to insert in its stead a little "pipe" or
modelling clay worked up stiff. (Clay will be treated of in a
subsequent chapter. It will be found useful for the faces of some
sea-birds and hawks, and indeed for the greater part of the body and
legs of large birds. The Cassowary in the Leicester Museum has been
worked up largely in this manner.)

Steel pins with black bead heads are first-rate helps to binding. They
are sold in various lengths, and being long, sharp, and fine, quite
supersede ordinary pins.

Audi alteram partem! Let us now take the evidence of Waterton:

"You will observe how beautifully the feathers of a bird are arranged;
one falling over the other in nicest order, and that, where this
charming harmony is interrupted, the defeat, though not noticed by an
ordinary spectator, will appear immediately to the eye of a
naturalist. Thus, a bird not wounded, and in perfect feather, must be
procured, if possible, for the loss of feathers can seldom be made
good; and where the deficiency is great all the skill of the artist
will avail him little in his attempt to conceal the defect; because,
in order to hide it, he must contract the skin, bring down the upper
feathers and shove in the lower ones, which would throw all the
surrounding parts into contortion.

You will also observe that the whole of the skin does not produce
feathers, and that it is very tender where the feathers do not grow.
The bare parts are admirably formed for expansion about the throat and
stomach, and they fit into the different cavities of the body at the
wings, shoulder, rump, and thighs, with wonderful exactness, so that
in stuffing the bird, if you make an even rotund surface of the skin,
where the cavities existed, in lieu of re-forming them, all symmetry,
order, and proportion are lost for ever.

You must lay it down as an absolute rule that the bird is to be
entirely skinned, otherwise you can never succeed in forming a true
and pleasing specimen.

You will allow this to be just, after reflecting a moment on the
nature of the fleshy parts and tendons, which are often left in.
First, they require to be well seasoned with aromatic spices;
secondly, they must be put into the oven to dry; thirdly, the heat of
the fire, and the natural tendency all cured flesh has to shrink and
become hard, render the specimen withered, distorted, and too small;
fourthly, the inside then becomes like a ham or any other dried meat.
Ere long the insects claim it as their own, the feathers begin to drop
off, and you have the hideous spectacle of death in ragged plumage.

Wire is of no manner of use, but, on the contrary, a great nuisance,
for, when it is introduced, a disagreeable stiffness and
disarrangement of symmetry follow.

The head and neck can be placed in any attitude; the body supported,
the wings closed, extended, or elevated; the tail depressed, raised,
or expanded; the thighs set horizontal, or oblique, without any aid
from wire. Cotton will effect all this.

A very small proportion of the skull bone--say from the fore part of
the eyes to the bill--is to be left in, though even this is not
absolutely necessary. Part of the wing bones, the jaw bones, and half
the thigh bones remain. Everything else--flesh, fat, eyes, bones,
brain and tendons--are all to be taken away.

While dissecting, it will be of use to keep in mind that, in taking
off the skin from the body, by means of your fingers and a little
knife, you must try to shove it, in lieu of pulling it, lest you
stretch it.

That you must press as lightly as possible on the bird, and every now
and then take a view of it, to see that the feathers are all right.

That, when you come to the head, you must take care that the body of
the skin rests on your knee; for, if you allow it to dangle from your
hand, its own weight will stretch it too much.

That throughout the whole operation, as fast as you detach the skin
from the body you must put cotton immediately between the body and it,
and this will effectually prevent any fat, blood, or moisture from
coming in contact with the plumage. Here it may be observed that on
the belly you find an inner skin which keeps the bowels in their

By a nice operation with the knife you can cut through the outer skin,
and leave the inner skin whole. Attention to this will render your
work very clean, so that, with a little care in other parts, you may
skin a bird without even soiling your finger ends.

As you can seldom get a bird without shooting it, a line or two on
this head will be necessary. If the bird be still alive, press it hard
with your finger and thumb just behind the wings, and it will soon
expire. Carry it by the legs, and then, the body being reversed, blood
cannot escape down the plumage through the shot holes.

As blood will often have issued out before you have laid hold of the
bird, find out the shot holes by dividing the feathers with your
fingers and blowing on them, and then, with your penknife or the leaf
of a tree, carefully remove the clotted blood, and put a little cotton
in the hole. If, after all, the plumage has not escaped the marks of
blood, or if it has imbibed slime from the ground, wash the part in
water without soap, and keep gently agitating the feathers with your
fingers till they are quite dry. Were you to wash them and leave them
to dry by themselves they would have a very mean and shrivelled

In the act of skinning a bird you must either have it upon a table or
upon your knee. Probably you will prefer your knee, because, when you
cross one knee over the other, and have the bird upon the uppermost,
you can raise it to your eye, or lower it at pleasure, by means of the
foot on the ground, and then your knee will always move in unison with
your body, by which much stooping will be avoided and lassitude

With these precautionary hints in mind, we will now proceed to dissect
a bird. Supposing we take a hawk. The little birds will thank us with
a song for his death, for he has oppressed them sorely; and in size he
is just the thing. His skin is also pretty tough and the feathers
adhere to it.

We will put close by us a little bottle of the solution of corrosive
sublimate in alcohol, also a stick like a common knitting needle, and
a handful or two of cotton.

Now fill the mouth and nostrils of the bird with cotton, and place it
upon your knee on its back with its head pointing to your left
shoulder. Take hold of the knife with your two first fingers and
thumb, the edge upwards. You must not keep the point of the knife
perpendicular to the body of the bird, because, were you to hold it
so, you would cut the inner skin of the belly and thus let the bowels
out. To avoid this, let your knife be parallel to the body, and then
you will divide the outer skin with great ease.

Begin on the belly below the breastbone, and cut down the middle quite
to the vent. This done, put the bird in any convenient position, and
separate the skin from the body till you get at the middle joint of
the thigh. Cut it through, and do no more there at present, except
introducing cotton all the way on that side from the vent to the
breastbone. Do exactly the same on the opposite side.

Now place the bird perpendicular, the breast resting on your knee,
with its back towards you. Separate the skin from the body on each
side at the vent, and never mind at present the part from the vent to
the root of the tail. Bend the tail gently down to the back, and while
your fingers and thumb are keeping down the detached parts of the skin
on each side of the vent, cut quite across and deep till you see the
backbone near the oil gland at the root of the tail. Sever the
backbone at the joint, and then all the root of the tail together,
with the oil gland dissected from the body. Apply plenty of cotton.

After this seize the end of the backbone with the finger and thumb,
and now you can hold up the bird clear of your knee and turn it round
and round as occasion requires.

While you are holding it thus, contrive, with the help of your other
hand and knife, by cutting and shoving, to get the skin pushed up till
you come to where the wings join on the body.  Forget not to apply
cotton; cut these joints through, add cotton, and gently push the skin
over the head, cut out the roots of the ears, which lie very deep in
the head, and continue skinning till you reach the middle of the eye;
cut the nictating membrane quite through, otherwise you would tear the
orbit of the eye; and after this nothing difficult intervenes to
prevent your arriving at the root of the bill.

When this is effected cut away the body, leaving a little bit of
skull, just as much as will reach to the fore-part of the eye, clean
well the jaw bones, fasten a little cotton at the end of your stick,
dip it into the solution, and touch the skull and corresponding parts
of the skin, as you cannot well get at these places afterwards.

From the time of pushing the skin over the head you are supposed to
have had the bird resting upon your knee. Keep it there still, and
with great caution and tenderness return the head through the inverted
skin, and when you see the beak appearing pull it very gently till the
head comes out unruffled and unstained.

You may now take the cotton out of the mouth. Cut away all the
remaining flesh from the palate, and whatever may have remained at the
under jaw.

Here is now before you the skin without loss of any feathers, and all
the flesh, fat, and unclean bones out of it, except the middle joint
of the wings, one bone of the thighs, and the fleshy root of the tail.
The extreme point of the wing is very small, and has no flesh on it,
comparatively speaking, so that it requires no attention except
touching it with the solution from the outside. Take all the flesh
from the remaining joint of the wing, and tie a thread about four
inches long to the end of it, touch all with the solution, and put the
wing bone back into its place. In baring this bone you must by no
means pull the skin. You would have it to pieces beyond all doubt, for
the ends of the long feathers are attached to the bone itself. You
must push off the skin with your thumb and forefinger. Now skin the
thigh, quite to the bone, cut away all flesh and tendons, and bare the
bone, form an artificial thigh round it with cotton, apply the
solution, and draw back the skin over the artificial thigh; the same
to the other thigh.

Lastly, proceed to the tail, take out the inside of the oil gland,
remove all the remaining flesh from the root till you see the ends of
the tail feathers, give it the solution and replace it. Now take out
all the cotton which you have been putting into the body from time to
time to preserve the feathers from grease and stain.

Place the bird upon your knee, on its back, tie together the two
threads which you had fastened to the ends of the wing joints, leaving
exactly the same space betwixt them as your knowledge of anatomy
informs you existed there when the bird was entire, hold the skin open
with your finger and thumb, and apply the solution to every part of
the inside. Neglect the head and neck at present; they are to receive
it afterwards.

Fill the body moderately with cotton lest the feathers on the belly
should be injured. Whilst you are about the following operation you
must recollect that half of the thigh--or, in other words, one joint
of the thigh bone--has been out away. Now, as this bone never moved
perpendicular to the body, but, on the contrary, in an oblique
direction, of course, as soon as it is cut off, the remaining part of
the thigh and leg, having nothing to support them obliquely, must
naturally fall to their perpendicular; hence the reason why the legs
appear too long. To correct this, take your needle and thread, fasten
the end round the bone inside, and then push the needle through the
skin just opposite to it; look on the outside, and after finding the
needle amongst the feathers, tack up the thigh under the wing with
several strong stitches. This will shorten the thigh and render it
quite capable of supporting the weight of the body without the help of

This done take out every bit of cotton except the artificial thighs,
and adjust the wing bones (which are connected by the thread) in the
most even manner possible, so that one joint does not appear to be
lower than the other, for unless they are quite equal the wings
themselves will be unequal when you come to put them in their proper
attitude. Here, then, rests the shell of the poor hawk ready to
receive from your skill and judgment, the size, the shape, the
features, and expression it bad ere death and your dissecting hand
brought it to its present still and formless state. The cold hand of
death stamps deep its mark upon the prostrate victim. When the heart
ceases to beat and the blood no longer courses through the veins, the
features collapse, and the whole frame seems to shrink within itself.
If, then, you have formed your idea of the real appearance of the bird
from a dead specimen you will be in error. With this in mind, and at
the same time forming your specimen a trifle larger than life to make
up for what it will lose in drying, you will reproduce a bird that
will please you.

It is now time to introduce the cotton for an artificial body by means
of the little stick like a knitting needle; and without any other aid
or substance than that of this little stick and cotton your own genius
must produce those swellings and cavities, that just proportion, that
elegance and harmony of the whole, so much admired in animated nature,
so little attended to in preserved specimens. After you have
introduced the cotton, sew up the orifice you originally made in the
belly, beginning at the vent. And from time to time, till you arrive
at the last stitch, keep adding a little cotton in order that there
may be no deficiency there. Lastly, dip your stick into the solution
and put it down the throat three or four times in order that every
part may receive it.

When the head and neck are filled with cotton quite to your liking,
close the bill as in nature. A little bit of beeswax at the end of it
will keep the mandibles in their proper place. A needle must be stuck
into the lower mandible perpendicularly.

You will shortly see the use of it. Bring also the feet together by a
pin, and then run a thread through the knees, by which you may draw
them to each other as near as you judge proper. Nothing now remains to
be added but the eyes. With your little stick make a hollow in the
cotton within the orbit, and introduce the glass eyes through the
orbit; adjust the orbit to them as in nature, and that requires no
other fastener.

Your close inspection of the eyes of animals will already have
informed you that the orbit is capable of receiving a much larger body
than that part of the eye which appears within it when in life, so
that were you to proportion your eye to the size the orbit is capable
of receiving it would be far too large. Inattention to this has caused
the eyes of every specimen in the best cabinets of natural history to
be out of all proportion. To prevent this, contract the orbit, by
means of a very small delicate needle and thread, at that part of it
farthest from the beak. This may be done with such nicety that the
stitch cannot be observed, and thus you have the artificial eye in
true proportion.

After this touch the bill, orbits, feet, and former oil-gland at the
root of the tail with the solution, and then you have given to the
hawk everything necessary, except attitude and a proper degree of
elasticity--two qualities very essential.

Procure any common ordinary box, fill one end of it about
three-fourths up to the top with cotton, forming a sloping plane. Make
a moderate hollow in it to receive the bird. Now take the hawk in your
hands, and after putting the wings in order, place it in the cotton
with its legs in a sitting posture. The head will fall down; never
mind. Get a cork and run three pins into the end, just like a
three-legged stool. Place it under the bird's bill, and run the
needle, which you formerly fixed there, into the head of the cork.
This will support the bird's head admirably. If you wish to lengthen
the neck, raise the cork by putting more cotton under it. If the head
is to be brought forward, bring the cork nearer to the end of the box.
If it requires to be set backwards on the shoulders, move back the

As in drying the back part of the neck will shrink more than the fore
part, and thus throw the beak higher than you wish it to be--putting
you in mind of a star-gazing horse--prevent this fault by tying a
thread to the beak and fastening it to the end of the box with a pin
or needle. If you choose to elevate the wings, do so, and support them
with cotton; and should you wish to have them particularly high, apply
a little stick under each wing, and fasten the ends of them to the
side of the box with a little beeswax.

If you would have the tail expanded, reverse the order of the
feathers, beginning from the two middle ones. When dry, replace them
in their true order, and the tail will preserve for ever the expansion
you have given it. Is the crest to be erect? Move the feathers in a
contrary direction to that in which they lie for a day or two, and it
will never fall down after.

Place the box anywhere in your room out of the influence of the sun,
wind, and fire, for the specimen must dry very slowly if you wish to
reproduce every feature. On this account the solution of corrosive
sublimate is uncommonly serviceable, for, at the same time that it
totally prevents putrefaction, it renders the skin moist and flexible
for many days. While the bird is drying, take it out and replace it in
its position once every day. Then, if you see that any part begins to
shrink into disproportion, you can easily remedy ft.

The small covert feathers of the wings are apt to rise a little,
because the skin will come in contact with the bone which remains in
the wing. Pull gently the part that rises with your finger and thumb
for a day or two; press the feathers down; the skin will adhere no
more to the bone, and they will cease to rise.

Every now and then, touch and re-touch all the different parts of the
feathers, in order to render them distinct and visible, correcting at
the same time any harshness or unnatural risings or sinkings,
flatness, or rotundity. This is putting the last finishing touch to

In three or four days the feet lose their natural elasticity, and the
knees begin to stiffen. When you observe this, it is time to give the
legs any angle you wish, and arrange the toes for a standing position,
or curve them to your finger. If you wish to set the bird on a branch,
bore a little hole under each foot a little way up the leg, and,
having fixed two proportional spikes on the branch, you can in a
moment transfer the bird from your finger to it, and from it to your
finger, at pleasure.

When the bird is quite dry, pull the thread out of the knees, take
away the needle, etc, from under the bill, and all is done.

In lieu of being stiff with wires, the cotton will have given a
considerable elasticity to every part of your bird, so that when
perching on your finger, if you press it down with the other hand, it
will rise again. You need not fear that your hawk will alter, or its
colours fade.

The alcohol has introduced the sublimate into every part and pore of
the skin, quite to the roots of the feathers. Its use is twofold:
First, it, has totally prevented all tendency to putrefaction, and
thus a sound skin has attached itself to the roots of the feathers.
You may take hold of a single one, and from it suspend five times the
weight of the bird; you may jerk it, it will still adhere to the akin,
and, after repeated trials, often break short. Secondly, as no part of
the skin has escaped receiving particles of sublimate contained in the
alcohol, there is not a spot exposed to the depredation of insects;
for they will never venture to attack any substance which has received
corrosive sublimate.

You are aware that corrosive sublimate is the most fatal poison to
insects that is known. It is anti-putrescent, so is alcohol, and they
are both colourless. Of course, they cannot leave a stain behind them.
The spirit penetrates the pores of the skin with wonderful velocity,
deposits invisible parts of the sublimate, and flies off. The
sublimate will not injure the skin, and nothing can detach it from the
part where the alcohol has left it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

All the feathers require to be touched with the solution in order that
they may be preserved from the depredation of the moth. The surest way
of proceeding is to immerse the bird in the solution of corrosive
sublimate, and then dry it before you begin to dissect it."
(Waterton's "Wanderings in South America.")

On reference to the instructions given previously, and those last
quoted, it will be seen that the two systems are diametrically opposed
to each other. I will, therefore, now point out the objections to a
general use of Waterton's plan.

First, let me premise that I entirely agree with him in his opening
paragraph as to selecting, when practicable, a bird as little damaged
as possible; but I need not remind professionals, or amateurs of some
practice, how seldom these conditions exist, especially in the
instance of birds sent to them for mounting, by people totally
ignorant of the first principles of taxidermy. Where a great number of
feathers are missing, the loss must be repaired by the insertion of
similar feathers placed one by one in position by the aid of strong
paste, in which a little of the corrosive sublimate preparation (see
chapter on Preservatives, ante) or carbolic acid has previously been
stirred. He is also quite right when he insists upon the specimen not
being stuffed as a round ball of feathers, as some tyros are in the
habit of doing, and also when he says that the bird must be well

With the next paragraph, as to the uselessness of wire, I totally
disagree, and for this reason, that, although I have myself proved it
possible--having many years ago followed Waterton's instructions--to
mount a bird entirely without wire, still it is at the best but an
amateur's "dodge;" and I can fearlessly assert that it will not stand
the test of work and expediency. It is, in fact, impossible to
dispense with wire, if taxidermy is to be followed as a profession.
As to putting cotton wool between the flesh and the skin, practice
will enable one to do without this. To me it would be a great
nuisance, unless in the case of much grease, of persistent bleeding,
or clots of extravasated blood occurring. All the rest of the
instructions on skinning are sound and practical, except where he
advises the knee to be used instead of a table. A little reflection,
or, better still, a trial, will convince anyone that nothing can
compare in practice with a table or bench for comfortable working.

I do not hold, either, with the total removal of the skull. For
instance, how are you to exhibit the superciliary ridge which gives so
distinctive a character to the very bird Waterton selects--the
hawk--if you cut it away? I have tried both plans, and I
unhesitatingly say that you cannot give character to the heads of the
larger birds if you remove the skull (unless, of course, you choose to
model it up in clay, etc, as in the heads of mammals), though I agree
that you must free the skin from all its surroundings. I have at the
present moment several birds (set up by a man in the West of England),
in which the skulls have been removed; the skin has shrunk in at the
back of the head and at the mandibles; and in one instance--an
osprey--the bird has entirely lost its nobility and eagle-like
appearance by the removal of the ridge above the eye.

I cannot urge the advisability of making the body larger to allow for
shrinking, inasmuch as in the case of certain birds--notably
gulls--which should present an even' surface on the breast, the
opposite effect will be produced if the false body is unduly large, as
then, in place of the evenness so desirable, a division will appear in
the centre of the body, which entirely mars the beautiful symmetry of
the sea-bird's breast. No perceptible shrinkage can, however, occur if
the body is properly made and packed; and here is shown the vast
superiority of the made body of well-wrapped tow over that made of
loose cotton inserted in the skin, bit by bit.

The eyes I prefer to insert in the larger birds after the specimen is
dry, as then any little fault in the shape of the head is easily
rectified through the orbit, the eyelid, of course, being previously
relaxed (with cotton wool dipped in warm water) to do this and to
receive the artificial eye.

Waterton's method of setting up birds may be dismissed in a few words;
it is impracticable for anyone but an amateur who has unlimited time
at his disposal, and who does not object to spend about a couple of
days over one specimen, and who has also ample room for the large
collection of different-sized boxes he must accumulate.

In using the corrosive sublimate the student will do well to carefully
read the chapter on Preservatives, and then make up his mind. I may
here mention, however, that I should not advise anyone to work on a
bird previously saturated with a solution of corrosive sublimate.

It has been said, De mortuis nil nisi bonum; but, while fully
acknowledging the force of the remark, as also the great scientific
attainments and love for natural history which distinguished the
illustrious traveller, I cannot allow anyone who reads his
entertaining works to be misled into wasting time in an unprofitable

Another way of setting up a bird may be described as follows: Provide
yourself with four wires--two of which are for the legs, a long one
for the body, and a shorter one for the wings; let us suppose we have
another starling in front of us. For this bird take a suitable piece
of wire about three inches long (pointed at both ends), and bend it
down at each end for the distance of an inch, which of course leaves
one inch in the middle at a right angle to each end; this is called
the wing-bearer. Then place a little piece of tow inside the skin to
fit along the back, and on to the top of this lay the wing-bearer,
pushing the pointed ends down and into the hollows of the wing-bones
(which must be left nearly their full length to admit of this).

Next take the body wire, also sharpened at both ends, and a little
longer than you require, and at a sufficient distance from one end
form with the pliers a loop similar to Fig. 1, so that it comes about
the centre of the projected body; one end will thus be much longer
from the loop than the other. Run one end (the longest) right up the
body to come out at the crown of the head (the head itself being
previously stuffed), push it through a sufficient distance, so that
the looped end falls within the incision of the skin; so soon as it is
passed inside pull the looped end down, and push its point through the
root of the tail; the loop should now, if accurately calculated, come
just in the centre of the body incision.

Pack underneath the wire at all points with little pieces of finely
cut tow, not forgetting the neck. The wire should now be protected
from touching the bird on its underside. Now take the leg wires, point
them and pass them up the legs as before described; when they appear
within the skin by the side of the legs, push the ends of each one
through the little loop on the body wire, and by the aid of the small
pliers and your finger and thumb twist them tightly up or down the
main wire. If properly done, the bird should be capable of being
lifted by one leg wire and should feel perfectly stiff and firm.
Proceed by the addition of cut tow to gradually form the body, which,
when arranged to your liking, sew up.

This, in contradistinction to the other method, is called the soft
body, and is not a plan which I at all recommend. Sometimes a cork is
pushed on at the main or body wire to act in the place of the loop;
the leg wires are then pushed through and clenched on the other side,
and the skin is filled with cut tow as before.

Another system of forming an artificial body for a bird is by means of
"peat." [Footnote: "Peat" is compressed vegetable fibre cut from old
bogs, and is sold by the dealers, in dried cakes about 1 foot long by
6 inches by 2 inches.] Having provided yourself with one of these
bricks of peat, you cut it with a sharp knife to as near the shape
required as possible, having the natural body before you as a guide,
finally inserting it in the bird.

My objection to the use of peat for this purpose is, first, the dust
and dirt caused by the waste pieces; and, secondly, the fact that
birds mounted on this system have a tendency to look "wooden," as,
unlike a body formed of tow, that made of peat is stiff and
unyielding, and, therefore, after it is once in the skin, it cannot be
pressed into shape where defects appear, and is of course not so
easily altered. After a long and patient trial of the peat body, I
have become convinced of its many disadvantages, and have of late
years returned to my first plan--the body made of well wrapped
tow--nor do I think anything will compare with it, for the reasons
above stated. Peat in the case of very large birds (ostriches, etc.)
and mammals is useful, but for the ordinary run of birds I decidedly
veto its application.

Birds with larger heads than necks, such as ducks, etc, must be treated
in one of three ways. First, after skinning out the body, and cutting
off the neck from the inside, cut with the strong scissors a
triangular piece away from the base of the skull, from which extract
the brain, and then compress the sides of the face (mandibles) between
your finger and thumb from the outside, at the same time endeavouring
to "slip" the head (now somewhat elastic by the removal of the base of
the skull) through the neck.

Do this whenever possible; but for those birds whose mandibles resist
any amount of moderate pressure, of which the larger ducks,
woodpeckers, etc, are examples, the second plan must be adopted, which
is to cut (after the removal of the body) on the crest of the head of
a specimen--if a crested bird--or along the sides of the face if
failing in this particular; the head may then be carefully skinned,
leaving it attached as much as before directed, brains cleared out,
eyes extracted, etc, then painted with the preservative, head nicely
stuffed with chopped tow, and returned in the skin, and finally very
neatly sewn up. If this latter operation be well performed, and
especially if the stitches are drawn tight, the seam ought not to

A more tedious method is to extract the brain and eyes through the
roof of the mouth, or from the back of the head (after the neck has
been cut off), but neither of these plans will bear comparison with
"slipping," or with cutting on the crest, or by the side of the head,
as by these latter methods you do not miss any flesh by the sides of
the face in skinning out.

Let me give an instance. In the eider duck, the flesh of the face is
protracted along the sides of the bill; if, therefore, you fail to
open on the crown, or by the side of the face, you must of necessity
miss these, or have ten times more trouble in feeling your way to it.
If the processes by the side of the face are entirely missed, the
consequences are an unsightly and inartistic shrivelling; it is as
well, therefore, to make a note of all birds having such a

Amongst the birds which may be instanced as having heads too large to
pass the neck in the usual manner, we may place the whole of the
ducks, geese, and swans, though the heads of the herons and divers,
which appear to be as large and yet have as small necks as the former
birds, pass easily. Again, the head of the great or crested grebe
passes, while that of the little grebe sticks. Of the three
woodpeckers found in Britain, the heads of the great-spotted and
lesser-spotted will not pass the neck, but the head of the other, the
green woodpecker, the largest looking of the three, will pass if care
be taken. These things being noted and borne in mind will save the
tyro a considerable amount of trouble.

In concluding this chapter, let it be noted as an unalterable
doctrine, that no white-breasted birds, sea birds especially, are,
under any pretence whatever, to be cut on their breasts. How many
birds pass through the hands of the professional, spoiled by a neglect
or ignorance of this rule, it would be impossible to say, nor are
amateurs the only offenders in this particular. Grebes, etc, which have
wings hardly sufficient to hide the cut beneath, can be cut on the
back, between the wings, and skinned out that way; and if the breast
is, as it should be, fronted for the "showpiece," the effect, if
skilfully done, is very fine.

I have lately given a great deal of attention to this method of
skinning from the back, having found it necessary in mounting young
birds which otherwise showed an unsightly cut on their naked breasts.
I found that the modelling was much truer and more effective by this
method, and therefore extended it to mature specimens with the result
that I now think no birds, excepting the very largest, perhaps, should
ever be opened on the breast. I am quite convinced that if a person of
any experience makes up his mind never to skin a bird by any other way
than by the side or back, he will have no reason to ever regret his
decision. Should a bird be required for flight, undoubtedly the proper
place to cut it is under the side; the suspending wire then comes
along the off side and is hidden by the wing. If the wings are to be
raised and the breast or side shown, cut it on the back; if closed
wings, the same; in either case the cut is perfectly hidden, and is
where it should be, out of the way of grease.

Perhaps it may be as well to state here that--contrary to my usual
custom of working from the lowest to the highest animal form--I have
written upon birds out of their proper natural order; the reason being
that birds are always selected because of easiness of treatment for
the student's first lessons in taxidermy, before his teacher allows
him to "try his 'prentice hand" on the more difficult branches of the



Plate III Skeleton of Otter


A, skull;

B, lower maxillary (or jaw) at point of articulation with upper;

C, cervical vertebrae (7); D, dorsal Vertebrae;

E, lumbar vertebrae; F, sacral vertebrae;

G, caudal vertebrae;

H pelvic girdle, or "ossa innominata" (ilium, ischium, and pubes

I, femur; i, patella, or "knee pan";

J, tibia; K, fibula;

1, tarsal, and meta-tarsal bones, and phalanges of digits, of pes or
hind foot;

M, scapula; N, humerus; O, radius; P, ulna;

Q, carpal and meta-carpal bones, and phalanges, of digits, of manes or

R, dorsal and sternal ribs.


THE art of setting up quadrupeds in a natural and life-like manner is
of so recent a date that few, if any, of the manuals on taxidermy do
more than glance at it. True, they nearly all give directions, in an
off-hand way, as to the skinning of mammals; but their instructions
are so vague and meagre that, though confessing that the subject is no
easy one to write upon, I yet feel that we may, perhaps, improve, in
point of detail, on what has gone before.

In accordance with my usual custom, I have procured an animal--a fox--to
illustrate my instructions, and, the learner having got out the whole
of the knives (previously figured) and the whetstone, may proceed to
work in the following manner:

Measure the fox, as a preliminary, taking note of his length, breadth,
and fineness of limb; length and thickness of muzzle and side of face;
and, having aided the recollection by the use of the callipers, and
made all necessary notes, lay him on the skinning table, back
downwards, and, separating the fur on the stomach at about two inches
from the root of the tail, gently insert the point of the skinning
knife (keeping the handle well down) under the skin, and continue the
cut to within about ten inches of the chest, between the fore
limbs--that is to say, up to the first rib, which may be felt with the
finger and thumb. If an ordinary-sized fox, this will allow the cut to
be of about the same length, viz, ten inches. Be very careful, in
making this incision, to cut the top skin only, and not that which
retains the bowels.

Having done this, commence to clear away the skin from the flesh on
one side by using the point of the knife in a slanting manner between
skin and flesh. The fox being with its head from you and directly to
your front, the side which you naturally begin on first would be the
one on your left; turn the fox now so that its head comes to your left
hand instead of directly to your front, and skin in the same manner on
the other side, which is now from you. The skin of a fox being very
thin about this part, as indeed, nearly all over its body, you must be
careful while making your cuts to release the skin, not to push the
point of your knife through. As you get along the side of the fox, use
your knife, point downward, cutting edge toward you, on the inner
side, and from you on the outer, with a scraping motion to separate
the skin from the body at the sides.

No doubt, by this time you will be somewhat troubled with a discharge
of blood; if so, use sawdust or silver sand, either of which will not
dirty the skin, but yet affords a good grip. (Plaster is very commonly
used instead of either, but, though a capital absorbent of blood and
grease, I object to it, except in the instances of white or very light
coloured furs.) Silver sand is, I think, the best of all, as sawdust
is apt to get into some furs, and it requires a great deal of pains to
get it out again.

By a little management of the point of the knife, and by undercutting
slightly, you expose the thighs of the hind limbs. The fox lies still
in front of you with its head to your left. Changing your position, go
to the tail, and, seizing the foot nearest to you with your right
hand, and the skin with your left, push and pull at one and the same
time until you expose the knee-joint, or rather--to speak more
correctly--the articulation of the "femur" or thigh bone (i, Plate
III.) with the two smaller bones ("fibula" and "tibia") which form the
shank (K and J).

Let go with your right hand, and by an arrangement of the fingers of
the left--difficult to describe--retain your hold of both the skin and
flesh of the leg, and re-commence skinning with the knife on each side
of the leg until you arrive at the hollow which lies behind, just
above the shank; this exposes daylight between skin and flesh, and
thus you may get your fingers between the two skins, and, finding the
articulation, or joint of the thigh (just mentioned), you push the
point of your knife in, and sever the ligaments, and then return the
loose shank to its skin.

Holding the fingers of your left hand underneath the skin--thumb and
bottom of the palm of the hand opposing--skin out the rest of the
thigh, which brings you just on top of the root of the tail. Turn the
fox in an exactly opposite direction, and repeat the process; you will
before doing this find yourself, perhaps, restrained by the skin of
the ventral orifice, which carefully cut out; this frees the limb
considerably. (I may mention that the animal skinner must not be
afraid of handling his subject; it is not so pleasant nor so delicate
an operation as skinning a bird, and, consequently, does not require
so fine a touch.)

You will now have exposed the tail at its back and front. Now double
up the fox, supporting it with your left hand, and get the whole of
the tail free at the root. Letting it rest on the table again, you
skin as far up the tail as you can go. The two thighs and part of the
back are entirely freed from the skin, but the tail still holds at
about three inches up.

Now get a pair of common pincers, such as are used for pulling nails
out, and place them so that the tail comes between their hollows; push
this against the part still unskinned; hold this firmly down on the
table with the left hand, and pull from the root of the tail with the
right. Very often the tail will not move past this point; in that case
there is nothing left but to cut it off at the root, and place the
latter firmly in a vice (after the animal is skinned out), and taking
both hands to the skin, cross the thumbs and two first fingers, so as
to obtain a good grip and yet prevent the skin of the tail from
turning inside out, and pull with all your might (jerking it at the
same time) until it slides.

Now free the skin from the back, working round to the front. During
this operation the fox must be frequently turned to get round the
sides and back. The knife being held short in the hand and guided near
the tip by the fore-finger considerably facilitates this. Endeavour as
much as possible to keep all the flesh and fat (if any) on the body,
and not on the skin.

Coming up now to the fore limbs you will find the skin hold
considerably between them at the chest. This is the place where an
amateur generally runs his knife through, which, I need hardly say, is
one of the worst places in which this accident could happen. Having
released the chest, skin all away from the back and shoulder; the
fore-arm now appears, showing the articulation of the humerus with the
radius and ulna. Skin all round it until you come to the return of the
fore-arm in precisely the same manner as you have done with the hind
limbs. This point is not so easy to find as is that of the hind legs,
but if you will twist the leg you will at once see the point of
junction, where slip the knife in and cut off as before. Turn the fox,
and treat the other leg in the same manner.

Arrived at the neck, skin all round until you arrive at the base of
the skull; you will then become aware of two cartilaginous bodies
standing up one on each side--these are the ears. Having skinned a
little on top of these, with your finger and thumb raise them slightly
and cut them away from their attachment at their bases.

Having freed both ears carefully, skin on the top of the head and the
side of the face, until, at about two and a half inches from the ear,
and in a line with it, you find the eye, which holds by a thin
membrane at this point; carefully skin on the top until the eyeball
shows through, and very carefully free it from its attachment all
round, except at its lower angle, i.e, that nearest the nose; do the
same with the other. Now skin a little more by the side of the jaw
until you find it firmly held by a return angle of skin; there leave
it attached. Turning the under jaw exactly uppermost, skin along the
bone toward the lip as far as you can get, not, however, entirely
relieving it from the jawbone at the side, but only until a thin blue
membrane appears, which take care not to cut through; this is inside
of the skin which comes between the lower lip and the teeth.

The fox's skin is now held to the body at five points, viz, the lower
corners of each eye, two; at each return of the jaw just underneath,
two more; and at the point of the junction of the two lower jawbones
close to the under lip. Procure a saw and saw the head off, so as to
expose the brain. On reaching the flesh under the jaw, slip the knife
up between on each side of the jaw, which will have the effect of
pulling out the tongue attached to the body; preserve the tongue for
further operations. With a small chopper, or a mallet and chisel, cut
away part of the bone by the palate, between which and the skull bones
the brains are included. This considerably assists the removal of the

A large quantity of flesh still remains at the top of the head, which
must be cleanly removed, and the eyeballs taken out. You will then
find just underneath the eye a bony ridge, running backward to the
base of the skull. Surrounding this is a pad of flesh, which hides the
attachment of the lower jaw with the upper. By digging underneath with
the point of the knife you remove all this flesh, taking care,
however, not to cut the attachments of the skin close by, which you
previously left, nor the ligaments which hold the upper to the lower
jaw. Both sides being served in the same manner, the skull presents a
tolerably clean appearance.

The ears are now nearest to the operator. (You will recollect they
have been cut off inside). All you can see of them, however, are two
shapeless masses of gristle surrounding a small hole. On the sides of
each--farthest from the head--you must begin cautiously skinning, and
by pushing your left hand through the aperture of the skin of the
body, assist this with your finger and thumb, pushed into the ear from
the outside, until by skilfully working with the knife and left-hand
fingers you turn the inside skin of each ear to its very edge and tip,
until, in fact, each stands up inside the skin, completely reversed.

The next thing which engages your attention is the near fore leg,
which you skin as far as you can go, in this instance to the next
joint, the one above the carpus or wrist joint. Repeat this with all
the limbs, in each case removing all the flesh from the two bones (the
radius and ulna of the fore limbs and the tibia and fibula of the
hind), which together form those parts of the bones you leave in. If
not done previously, now is the time to remove the tail bone. Finally,
rub every part of the skin on its inside, as also all the bones left
in, with the preservative recommended for mammals (No. 9), not
forgetting to push some up the hollow of the brush where the tail bone
has been.

Turn your fox's skin completely inside out, skull, leg bones and all,
until it comes to its normal position. Commence now from the pad of
each foot, and make an incision from near the toes to the point where
you left off. Skin round carefully and as much underneath as possible,
so as to expose all the flesh and sinews, which clear from off the
bone. Be sure to push your knife well round on the top of the bones,
which you may do by feeling with the knife and keeping the pad
uppermost. This is for the purpose of freeing the attachment of skin
around, to prevent ultimate shrivelling.

You may get nearly to the points of the toes in this manner, the only
places it should hold to the bone being the top of the last joint and
at the tips of the toes; the actual pad, which you will find loaded
with a thick fat, must be trimmed as well as possible.

Whilst doing all this take notice of the points of attachment and
shapes of sinews, etc, which you remove, especially those of the hind

It will be recollected that although we have returned the head,
nothing has been done to the upper lip or nose from the outside.
Accordingly the knife must be slipped the whole way round, beginning
at the nose and keeping as close to the teeth as possible, in fact, on
the very edges of the gums. This is important. Skin away now from the
bone of the upper jaw on each side; having bared this, come back to
the nose, the cartilage of which skin until you arrive at the extreme
tip; in point of fact, skin it entirely out, which is best done by
cutting a portion off inside, and then carefully skinning the little
bit which is left until the extreme tip of the nostrils is arrived at.
This requires great care, as the black skin on the top of the nose is
extremely thin. This is the very worst place in which a cut could be
made; and, although the cutting out of the nose could be done in five
minutes, the tyro will do well if he completes it in half an hour.

This being satisfactorily ended, free the flesh from the bone, except
at the attachment previously left at the corner of the eye. There is
now a smooth and shiny skin between the upper lip and the cut you made
to free it from the gums; this is the inner skin of the lips; the
knife must, therefore, be slipped between this skin and the outer
skin, and it must then be carefully separated the whole of the way
round, to the extreme edge of the upper lip; this requires nice
manipulation and great care. This inner skin now hangs down from the
inner lip, and forms a bag, the uses of which will be seen hereafter.

There still remains the inside of the bone of the nose to be cleaned
out with a pointed knife. The lower lip is now attached only at the
extreme tip; this must be cut away from the gum at that place and the
knife pushed underneath, by the side of the canine teeth, to still
further free the skin.

The skin is now ready for stuffing, when you have thoroughly rubbed
the preservative into the cut of the pads, and around the eyelids,
outside the ears, mouth, nose, and vent, or any damaged parts. If the
skin is allowed to remain for a night as it is, it will be all the
better, as it allows time for the preservative to penetrate. Throw the
tongue into a pickle of tannin and carbolic acid (see chapter IV, No.
15), and there leave it until wanted.

It will no doubt have been observed that I have used several tools not
previously mentioned as necessaries; my reason is that I assume no one
who aspires to become an amateur workman fails to provide himself with
such everyday implements as saw, chisel, chopper, hammer, pincers,
rule, etc, the only tool not in ordinary use being the "callipers,"
which are made of various patterns, and are used to take measurements
of breadths and depths in situations where the foot rule is useless,
such as spherical and cylindrical bodies. The price of a pair of
callipers need not exceed 1s.

When the skin is sufficiently penetrated with the preservative, lay it
on its back ready for stuffing. First take hold of the bone of the
nose and push the skull into the skin, so that it comes through the
orifice of the skin of the body. The back of the skull being now
toward you, proceed to push tow into the cavity whence the brains were
removed, also in the cavity of each orbit, between the articulations
of the jaws at the sides of the face, and the lower jaw--in fact,
everywhere where the flesh has been removed, forming it as well as you
possibly can to the shape which existed previously.

When you have modelled this as well as the nature of the tow will
allow, return the head through the skin to its first position. Next
cut four strong wires of suitable size, one a little stronger than the
others and somewhat longer than the whole of your skin, including
brush. Point this wire at one end and make two loops in it (each
similar to that in Fig. 1); one loop to occur about 4 in. from the
tail, and the other up in the chest, near the junction of the fore
limbs. Spread a sufficient quantity of tow inside the skin to run all
the way along the back and up the neck to join the head. Enter the
point of the wire through the orifice of the skin, push it up the
lower jaw into the hollow part of the skull, and holding the head in
the left hand, calculate so that the wire may come through the skin at
about the centre of the head, about 1.5 in. from, and above each eye.

Bear in mind that the skull being somewhat thick, it is the more
necessary for your wire to have cutting edges, as before explained.
Having pushed the wire through three or four inches, cut off the point
with your large pliers (Fig. 16) to prevent injuring yourself, turning
down the remainder to prevent the wire pulling through again. Push the
other end of the wire right up the brush, to do which you must bend it
back on itself about halfway up, straightening up as you proceed.

Next take four wires, somewhat longer than the legs, and pointed at
each end. Push one of these right up the foot in at the pad, along the
back of the leg, and up into the body, pushing it through its proper
loop on the body wire, and twisting it round and round the same with
your pliers until it is firmly attached. Fill the cut pad with chopped
tow, and nicely sew it up to its normal shape. Do the same with the
three remaining limbs. You should be able now to lift the fox by any
one of the leg wires, and find it support the remainder.

Having by this time determined the shape which the fox shall
assume--that is to say, if standing, running, or springing on its
prey--commence by gradually filling up the neck with suitable pieces
of tow, bending the head and neck as you wish; in point of fact,
shaping as you go on. Next work down the chest, and then fill up the
skin of the limbs with smaller pieces of tow, endeavouring to keep to
the characteristic shapes of the thin and thick parts (various
stuffing irons of different degrees of thickness will have to be used
during the process). Having filled up the fore limbs, bend them to
their required position and go to the hind, disregarding the body for
the present.

The hind limbs have more character in them than the fore, and are, in
consequence, harder to model; be the more careful, therefore, to pay
particular attention to the proper development of these limbs, bending
them into shape during work, and keeping the thighs nice and thin, and
distinct from the body. All the limbs being shaped, model up the
various parts of the body, not getting it like a sack, as is too
frequently the case, but producing those fine flowing lines which are
so necessary to ensure the perfect model of a zoological specimen.
Lift your work up from time to time, noting where inequalities appear.

The fox being now fairly well shaped, sew it up with a three-cornered
skin (or glover's) needle and string. A board is now to be procured,
of the necessary length and thickness, in which holes are to be bored
to receive the leg wires, which are then clenched underneath. This
operation, no doubt, will knock the specimen somewhat out of shape,
which, of course, is easily remedied, and having brought up the limbs
to their proper position, you will now address yourself to the
formation of the head and face.

This latter will possess but little expression, owing to the nose, etc,
being cut out. To remedy this procure a cork, which push into the
cavity whence the cartilage of the nose has been removed, roughly
shaping it, and covering it over with a pad of putty, pushing some
also into the skin of the nostrils at the same time. The inner skin of
the lips is still hanging down as a bag. Fill this up with sufficient
putty to allow for shrinking, sewing it to the outer skin.

The lips may now be adjusted in position by sewing the upper to the
under, if the fox is to be shown with a closed mouth, or by driving in
"needle points" in various positions, if the mouth is to be open,
until these parts set. Fill in the orbits with putty, attending to the
eyebrows, reproducing the various muscles underneath, and insert the
artificial eyes. All that now remains to be done is to push two
pointed wires down the back of the ears, and run them along each edge,
finally pushing them in the skin of the head, where required; the two
loose ends being twisted together at the top keep the ears in

The tongue, if intended to be shown, must be removed from the pickle,
cut on its under side, and skinned completely out to the tips and to
each edge. All the included flesh must then be cut away, and replaced
with putty, the cut sewn up, and it is then ready to be inserted in
the mouth in the required position, when modelled into shape.

The animal being stuffed and mounted to your satisfaction, you must
bear in mind, that although you have perfectly cured the skin--turning
it, in fact, into a species of leather--you have not rendered it proof
against the attacks of insects; it must, therefore, be washed over
with one of the preparations given in Chapter IV.

The preceding method of skinning and stuffing an animal is given, not
because it is the most scientific, but because it is the most
satisfactory to the learner, and is, indeed, the method which obtains
with the majority of taxidermists. Though perfectly efficient as far
as it goes, it yet possesses the disadvantage of allowing a certain
percentage of shrinkage, and that caused solely by the yielding nature
of the tow used to fill out the places where the muscles formerly
rested. To an educated eye this defect is at once recognised by the
uneven contour of the cheeks, superciliary muscles, and various parts
of the limbs, and also by the generally "wooden" appearance of the

The system on which I will now give a lesson is far more tedious in
its application, but certain in its effects, being, in fact,
substituting hard for loose stuffing, and differing from the foregoing
in one essential particular, viz, the modelling of the head and limbs
with a medium of an unyielding nature. To illustrate this, we will
take another fox or similar animal. After skinning it, as in the
foregoing lesson, you will, instead of leaving the leg bones in the
skin, cut them completely out down to the claws, which may best be
done by skinning down as far as you can, cutting the bones off at the
last joint, then making an incision above the pads, and slipping the
bones completely out; this allows you to work right down to the last
joint of the phalanges or toes, at which point you cut the bones free.

The head is now to be considered. When it has been cut off as before,
skin down to the eyelids, and instead of leaving them attached at the
lower angles, cut them completely away. Now take the skin off all
round the skull, until the return of the skin of the side of the mouth
is arrived at. Skin well under the jaw to the very tip, and now begin
under-cutting at the sides, coming up to the return angle--keeping,
however, well to the side of the skin. By cautious working you can
skin in between the inner and outer skins until you can touch the tips
of the lower teeth at the point of the jaw with your fingers.

Coming along from here by the side of the lower jaw, you skin by
undercutting almost to the inside of the mouth, taking care not to cut
the thin membrane which holds at the extreme edge. Still working along
the lower jaw, come right up until you can cut out, just under the
eye, the top end of the return. Leaving it attached by a thin membrane
'to the upper jaw, skin downward toward the nose, and, by undercutting
and using great care, completely skin up to the nostril, which sever.
Do precisely the same with the other side. The nostrils being
completely skinned out, the skin holds just below them.

Place the head on the table, standing on the base of its skull, the
ears toward you. Take the nostrils with the finger and thumb of the
left hand, and with the knife (the broad knife will be found most
useful here) very carefully work all round until you arrive at the
extreme tip of the inner skin of the upper jaw, which is now turned
inside out, and actually rests below the under jaw. Your cuts must be
made a hair's breadth at a time to get to the extreme edge. By this
time the severed nostrils will have fallen some little distance
underneath the under jaw. See, now, that the lips, both upper and
lower, as well as the inner angles of the mouth, are skinned inside to
the extreme edge at every point, or all your labour will be thrown
away. This operation is one of the most nice and difficult in the
whole range of skinning operations, and is equally difficult to
describe. Cut out the cartilage of the nose, slip out the tongue, and
generally trim the head in the usual manner, and well rub in the
preservative. If you should find too much of the inner angle left far
up in the mouth it may be cut off.

If the head were returned now it would be seen that the lower edges of
the inside skin of the mouth were the only points of attachment, and
even there only to the edge of the teeth all around them.

The skull bone being now only attached to the subject, literally by
the "skin of its teeth," you have the whole bone exposed to work on.

Fill up the orbits and hollow bone of the nose with any loose pieces
of peat, to give solidity to the next operation, which is, to cut
pieces of peat in an artistic manner to represent the flesh of the
cheeks, the chin, the top of the head, and the cartilage of the nose.
When the whole of these pieces are shaped to their required
measurements, attach them by string or wire to their neighbouring
bones in the manner which occurs to you as being the best. Having well
secured them, go over the whole with plaster of Paris, mixed with
water to the consistence of a stiff paste, merely smoothing it as it
sets, up to the required shape with a broad knife. The plaster will
soon set, and may be further rasped or trimmed into shape. Plaster
alone may be used, but my reason for making a substratum of peat is,
that if the former only is used it renders the head unpleasantly

The great advantage which this system has over the former is that, by
the unyielding nature of the medium, nothing can possibly shrink or
shift, and though this plan is, perhaps, more tedious, and certainly
requires more skill in its execution, yet it is, as a matter of
course, far preferable than trusting to tow alone for the formation of
the head.

Finally, place some putty or clay in the ears, nose, and around the
skin of the lips, and pull the mask over the model.

Pad the body, and put in the central body wire as before, also the leg
wires, but in this system you add another, but thinner, wire to come
up the back of each of the fore legs and the front of the hind, not
attaching these wires, however, to any point, but letting them come up
into the body, and merely wrapping them with tow to the large leg
wires in the necessary manner. This second wire partly supplies the
place of the small bone and muscles of each leg, and its natural
appearance is considerably enhanced by the application of putty or
clay to pad parts of the animal's legs and feet. Being of a yielding
nature, until dry, putty or clay may be squeezed and moulded into
proper shape to give character to the various parts. In the return of
the sinews of the legs, make their peculiar, hollow appearance by
stitching through from side to side. Wrinkles of the neck, etc, may be
treated in the same manner. Finish as before directed.

No shrinking can possibly take place in the most important parts;
hence the manifest advantages of this system; but as in practice it
requires some knowledge and experience, I have not ventured to insist
upon it previously, as it is too much to expect a tyro to take it up
until he is thoroughly grounded in the first system. An amateur,
however, who can skin and stuff fairly may try this, and I am positive
that he will succeed, and never again return to the "good old style"
of loose stuffing.

In cases where the animal (especially if small) is merely to be lying
down, three wires will sometimes be found sufficient, namely, one long
and strong body wire (with no loops) and two wires for the legs, one
of which will be run in at the right fore leg and cross the body, and
be pushed down the left hind leg and come out at the sole of the foot,
the other wire then crosses it reversely. The body wire (having no
loops) can be pushed in at the head through a hole previously made
with a bradawl. Ears may be filled in with brown paper, cut to shape,
instead of putty. Pieces of wood, peat, or clips of tin may be cut to
the form of the ears, and used to block them to shape, from the

A third system is for the smaller horned heads, such as deer, goats,
etc, which are begun somewhat differently, but are afterwards treated
in a similar manner. The usual way in which horned heads are skinned
is to cut them under the throat right up to the jaw, turning the skin
back, and then to skin upward to the horns. This, though perpetrated
by people who ought to know better, is based on entirely false
principles, for a head when finished being hung usually at some
height, you have constantly before your eyes the hideous spectacle of
a chain of stitches (which no art can successfully hide) running up
the throat and under the chin.

The buck's or goat's head, being, perhaps, the most easily obtained, I
will take one as an example. Make an incision exactly on the top of
the head, running from the back of the neck to just behind the horns;
then make two cross cuts up to their seats or "burrs," and, pushing
your knife down at the side of the nearest horn, cut the skin entirely
away, keeping as close to the horn as possible--in fact, shaving its
edge. When you arrive just above the eye, while doing this, you will
find the ear hold back the skin considerably. Skin it as much as
possible on the top, and, putting your finger underneath, cut it out
as usual. Now you can work all round the horn to join the cut at the
back. Do the same with the other horn and side, skinning away round
the neck to the under jaw and sides of the face until you find the
skin of each eyelid holds. Skin this completely off, not leaving it
attached anywhere, as also the skin on the forehead where it holds.
Continue and finish in the same manner as the fox's head.

The skins of the heads of bulls, large stags, tigers, etc, are best
taken completely off the bone, and the inside of the lips, nostrils,
eyelids, etc, afterwards skinned out and well cured; the skull-bone may
then be plunged in a copper full of water and boiled out; this saves
considerable labour, and also gets the skulls nicely cleaned and free
from grease.

The plan of taking the skin entirely off the head will be found of the
utmost advantage to explorers or collectors in foreign countries, as
the skulls may be numbered and a corresponding number scratched on a
tin, or written on a parchment label, which may be tied through the
eyehole of the skin. The skulls being left loose, their skins may be
packed in barrels, and if well rubbed in with my preservative (No. 9),
and looked at occasionally to prevent mildew, they will, after the
lapse of many years, only need relaxing to make perfect specimens. The
usual way of sending horned heads home from abroad is to leave the
skins attached to the skull, and the consequence is, that at the
various points of attachment the skin is improperly cured (often with
the--worse than--useless arsenic), and if they escape the inevitable
knocking about they receive in travelling, and get to England in fair
condition, the hair, when the skin is relaxed, sweats off,
particularly at the very places it should not, around the eyes, lips,
nose, and ears, and the labour of, perhaps, years of anxious
collecting and dangerous hunting is nullified.


I will now take a bull's head as our subject, to illustrate the method
of mounting such heads. I will assume that a fair piece of neck is
attached to the head, and having skinned the head completely off the
skull and preserved it, proceed as follows: When the bone is
sufficiently trimmed, should the meat have been cut off, or dry, if
the head has been previously boiled, tie together the upper and the
lower jaws at their points of articulation behind the eye, by the aid
of wire or string; tie also the tip of the lower jaw to the nose in
any manner that allows the teeth to come in their proper position as
in nature.

Attention to this point will give you a guide as to the length of the
model. The jaws being now rigidly fixed, lay the head down for a
while, and getting a piece of inch deal of suitable length, saw it to
the shape shown in Fig. 26, which also shows the method of attachment.

Insert the part marked A inside the head up to the return B; this
being inserted exactly in the middle of the skull, bore two or more
holes through the latter at the forehead, and make fast the bone to
the wood by strong screws. Block on each side of this board and inside
the jaws with pieces of peat nailed on with "French nails"
(Points-de-Paris) or pieces of pointed wire. At the place marked B (A
to B being now hidden) make up with wet plaster of Paris, which, while
filling up, serves also to steady the prop. Fill up the orbits with
any pieces of loose peat, paper, etc. Now carve a large piece of peat
for each side, cut to the shape of the cheeks, and attach them to the
jaw bones in their proper positions with wires driven right through
into the board, fill also the bone of the nose with peat roughly cut
to shape. Cut another piece of peat for the swelling of the under jaw,
and entirely model up with peat the front and sides of the neck.

Next mix some plaster of Paris, and go over the whole of the peat with
it, bringing it up level to the bones, nicely smoothing it over with a
knife, and, as it sets, adding more where required, or shaving it off
if in excess--in short, replacing the flesh, where it has been
removed, with peat and plaster. The front view should now present a
somewhat even appearance; the nice swelling of the cheeks being well
rounded off, as also under the jaws and on the top of the nose, etc.

Now draw the skin nicely over the model, taking care especially to get
the eye holes in their proper places around the orbits. This being a
guide for the truth of that part of the head, drive two wires through
the skin, into the bone above the orbits, to keep it in its place. Sew
the hair in position round the horns. Being now qualified to judge as
to the size of the neck-block, you will cut an oval, or rather
egg-shaped, piece of wood, out of inch stuff, to the required size;
this determines the breadth and length of the neck at the back. The
head-block of Fig 26 being cut off along the dotted line D, it of
course stands to reason that if the neck-board (Fig. 27) is screwed on
to it along its centre, the head, if the board is placed against a
wall, will now look downwards at the angle determined by the cutting
of D.

Having firmly screwed the oval neck-block to the prop, or head-block,
in such a manner that the top of the oval does not come above nor
interfere with the modelling of the back of the head, fill the inside
of the ears with putty, and also make up the back of the head and
neck, with peat and plaster of Paris between the wood and the skull.
Having previously cut the board somewhere near the dotted line E, the
throat and neck will now claim your attention, and will require the
nicest skill to show the various wrinkles, depressions, etc, where they
should occur. Putty or clay as a finish will be found of great service
at this stage.

Fig. 27--Neck-board for skin of head.

Constantly turn the head to the light, to see how you are going on. If
a horned head and heavy, many plans will occur to you for easily
supporting it, such as ropes attached to the horns, and to a beam, etc.
When all the head and back of the neck is adjusted to your
measurements, bring the skin over and around the edge of the oval to
its back, attaching it firmly there with strong tacks.

Nothing has as yet been done to the eyes, lips, or nose. Turn,
therefore, the bags of the skin of the eyelids inside out, and,
filling them with putty or clay, shape them and return. Fill up the
orbits also with putty or clay to receive the eyes, packing up above
and below them to show the various depressions and ridges. Turning the
nose up, fill the nostrils and bag of the lips with putty or clay,
being careful to show up all the wrinkles (the division in the chin,
if one exists), and, in fine, generally modelling and filling out with
putty or clay, of which you will use several pounds if you are working
on a large head.

Sew up the lips, or perhaps a better plan is to enter a skin needle,
charged with strong string, in at the lower lip, and bring the string
around wires driven in at the front and sides of the nose inside,
pulling your string over from side to side, and making a final stitch
in the most convenient situation. Nicely insert the eyes, bringing the
upper lids over, so as not to give too staring an appearance to the
animal, and hang the head up to dry by firmly attaching a very strong
hook of wire to the oval block, or by a small rope tied round the
horns at their base.

Note that the horns of goats, antelopes, etc, and bulls and cows are
set on a bony core, and must come off to prevent an offensive
effluvium. Placing the skull in a hot bed has been recommended,
boiling will sometimes fetch the horns off, but it very often happens
that nothing but time will loosen them. When this occurs wash the
cores and horns with carbolic wash (No. 15).

The student may, if he likes, fill in the eyelids, bags of the upper
and lower lips, and nostrils with putty or clay before drawing the
skin on the head; but in this case he will have to sew the inner to
the upper skins, in addition to which he will find many things occur
in drawing on and shaping the skin to render most of his labour
useless if these parts are modelled first instead of last.

The following system, the fourth, differs from all the preceding in
there being erected a sort of framework on which to mount the skin,
and hence is in use only for large animals. As an illustration let us
take the bear (which was the last large animal I caused to be set up
by this method).

Skin as before, subsequently removing the leg bones and head, and
modelling as in the second system, or working by the first method,
according to your degree of proficiency. To do such an animal as a
bear, however, you should remove all the bones of the legs, and skin
to the toes, as directed in the second system, also removing the
skull, and treating it and the skin of the head as before.

Procure now a piece of deal 2 in. square, and of the length which you
wish your animal to assume when finished, calculating from the centre
of the chest to the tail. In this wood fix a strong iron rod, or wire,
at one end, by boring two holes through it at some distance apart, and
pushing the end of the wire in at one hole, then beating it down and
clenching it through the other.

The bar of wood now represents the backbone, and the wire the neck of
the animal. Point the wire and push it up into the skull, which model
up as before, binding tow round the wire underneath to roughly form a
neck somewhat smaller than you intend it to be when finished. Pull the
skin over this, and adjust it so that you may see the places on the
wooden backbone where the fore and hind limbs will come. Having marked
the position of these, pull back the skin up to the neck, and bore
holes through the wood, at right angles to the other holes made for
the neck wire.

Taking now four rods or wires for the legs, point each at one end, and
screw the other with "nuts" to fit the screws, bend each rod for 7 in.
or more, at a sharp angle, at its screwed end, and push the pointed
end down the fore legs from the inside, so that the points come
through the ball of each foot, and having stuffed and bent the
fore-legs into shape, push the screwed part into, and through, the
corresponding holes in the artificial backbone; screwing on the "nuts"
on the opposite aides, which will of course prevent the rods from
pulling through again.

Finish the stuffing of the neck and chest, and coming along the body
repeat the same process with the hind limbs as with the fore. Greater
steadiness can be attained if required, by using two "nuts" instead of
one to each rod, that is to say, one on each side of the wood, No. 1
being screwed on first, the arm of the rod then pushed through the
hole, and "nut" No. 2 screwed up to its bearing.

For a nearly tail-less animal, such as the bear, it will be sufficient
to drive a strong wire through the stump of the tail from the outside,
to hold in the end of the "backbone," but a long-tailed animal will
require to have the tail-bearer inserted in the wood, in the same
manner as the neck wire, and the artificial tail run up the skin
before the legs are attached.

The extreme stability of the foregoing system is obvious, as the
"backbone" completely supports the weight of the skin and head, while
the leg rods support this in their turn.

Wood of suitable thickness must be used to mount the animal on while
drying, and the leg rods, if too strong to clench through on the under
side, may be screwed and "nuts" attached.

For the very largest animals, such as the elephant, a somewhat
different system would be adopted; a model in parts would be made,
fitted together, and the skin stretched over. A very interesting
account of the method adopted many years ago in the French capital is
here appended:

"The corpse of the elephant having been extended upon the ground
facilitated our taking and writing all its dimensions; the thickness
was taken by a sort of rule, which M. Lassaigne, cabinet maker of the
museum of Paris, invented at the time. This instrument is the rule
used by shoemakers on a large scale. The curves of the back, the
belly, etc, were taken by bars of lead, 0.75 in. thick. This metal, not
having any elasticity, accommodated or bent itself to the curves we
wished to measure and preserved the measurements until wanted. M.
Desmoulins drew the animal on one of the sides of the wall according
to all these measurements, in the workshop where the model was to be
constructed, in its natural size. This done, we proceeded to the
skinning of the elephant, which we were only able to place upon its
back by four corded pulleys fastened to the platform. In this position
we made an incision in the form of a double cross; the middle line
went from the mouth to the anus, the two others were directed from
each left foot to the opposite right foot; the tail and trunk were
opened underneath longitudinally. We scooped out the soles of the feet
within an inch of their edge, that the nails might remain in the skin;
to effect this we were obliged to employ the chisel and mallet. This
operation was very difficult.

After four days' labour of several persons we separated the skin from
the body; it then weighed 576 lb. We extended it on the ground to take
away the cutaneous muscles which adhered to its interior--particularly
to the head. In this state the skin was placed in a large tub; we
spread a considerable quantity of pounded alum in all its folds. We
then boiled some water with such quantities of alum that some pieces
still remained at the bottom of the boiler--that is, more than
saturated the water. This water was poured upon the skin, and we
continued to do so until the skin was covered with it 6 in. deep.

To render the dimensions of the model or shape which was to receive
the skin more exact, we modelled one-half of the skinned head in
plaster, as well as one of the hind and one of the fore legs.

All these measures being taken, Lassaigne constructed a factitious
body in linden wood. The reader would find the detail too long and too
minute if we were to describe the ingenious methods invented by
Lassaigne, either to cut the wood or to preserve the form he had given
to this great mass. But to avoid all prolixity, it will be sufficient
to observe that he composed this wooden elephant in such a manner that
all the parts could be separated. He opened a panel (it is immaterial
on which side of the body) and introduced himself into the interior by
means of this opening, either to diminish the thickness of the wood or
for any other purpose during its construction; the head, the trunk,
all was hollow; so that the body, alarming at first from its supposed
weight, might be easily transported from one place to another.

After taking the alum water from the tub where the skin was placed, we
heated it, and poured it, boiling, on the skin; we left it an hour and
a half in this state, after which we drew the skin out to place it,
quite warm, upon the shape. This was not an easy thing, but it was
rendered still more difficult by our finding the false body a little
too large--the skin would not entirely cover it. There was but one
thing which could be done; we could not diminish the wood without
destroying the proportions; besides, the iron pins, the screws which
fastened the work, would have lost their hold, and we should have run
the risk of overturning the edifice. We then took down the skin,
placed it on trestles, and diminished the thickness of it by the help
of large knives, cutting it away in thick and long shreds from the
whole of the inside. This work occupied five persons for four days. We
weighed these shreds and they amounted to 194 lb. During this
operation the skin had dried, and consequently lost its suppleness. We
put it back into a tub and covered it with soft cold water. The next
day we placed it afresh on the shape, and fixed it with wire nails and
large brads; those which fixed the edge of the skin were driven in
deeply, the others only half way, to accommodate the skin to all the
sinuosities of the model. We drew out a great many of them when the
skin was sufficiently dry.

This paring of the skin answered our purpose in two essential points:

first, by facilitating the means of enveloping the model entirely, the
form of which had not been altered; and, secondly, by ensuring its
speedy desiccation. This last had not been the least alarming, for we
feared that the humidity secreted in the skin might concentrate in
such a manner (notwithstanding we had taken the precaution to give the
wooden model a coat of oil paint) as to occasion mouldiness in the
parts exposed to the air. The alum with which it was saturated soon
crystallised on the interior, which at first gave it a very ugly grey
colour; but we entirely got rid of it by rubbing the surface of the
skin, first with spirits of turpentine, and then with oil of olives."

Some little hints which occurred to me as being useful to the animal
mounter I will now jot down: I have been frequently asked, "Supposing
I get a fat dog, or animal of any kind, to set up, how can I manage
such a subject satisfactorily? If I leave the fat on the skin I am
doing wrong in every way, and if I trim it cleanly off, as it should
be done, I stretch the skin to such an extent that my dog is
completely out of shape, and though formerly a 'pug' he speedily
becomes a 'greyhound.' In fact, I am in a quandary, and do not know
what to do."

My reply is: Try what a hot knife will do passed over the skin, with
sand or sawdust thrown on to absorb the fat as it melts off. Candidly
speaking, however, it is purely a matter of experience to trim fat off
a skin without stretching it to any alarming degree, and in very
fine-skinned animals, if we find them stretch in spite of all care, we
take advantage of wrinkles to sew up here and tuck in there, resorting
even, in extreme cases, to cutting away portions of the skin, notably
in those parts underneath, hidden by the subsequent operation of

The skin of the soles of the feet of some animals requires paring
down. The bear is an instance of this. The hands of monkeys also must
be carefully skinned out to the extreme tips of the fingers. These
latter animals are best skinned out from the back, as a great many of
our "relatives" have but little hair on the abdomen to hide the
stitches, added to which their usually upright position tends still
more to show up any defect in sewing.

Peat and straw may sometimes be used with advantage in the bodies of
large animals.

Moles may be very well mounted by being cut across from one hind limb
to the other, just under the tail, skinned out, preserved, and the
skin then filled with sand or dry plaster.

Hedgehogs, if required to be curled up, may be also filled with sand,
then tied up in a cloth, and hung up to dry.

Bats are skinned out from the back or front according to the position
it is required to show them in. A thin piece of wire is doubled; each
end is then pulled out at right angles for a certain distance up its
length, and pushed into the hollows of the bones of the "wings." The
animal is then stuffed with chopped tow, sand, or sawdust, sewn up,
leaving the doubled wire outside; a hole is then made in a board (of
the length and breadth suited to the specimen), through which the wire
passes, and the "wings" are kept in place, until dry, by fine
needle-points, or entomological pins passed through the joints, or by
braces of cardboard. The ears, if long, are best blocked with cork cut
to fit the inside, and then bound round with "wrapping cotton." The
shrivelled ears of these and much larger animals may be got into
proper shape by careful ironing.

Mice, small leverets, or rabbits, will be found very useful, if
roughly stuffed, to place in the mouth or under the feet of birds or
small beasts of prey. These animals, if very young, had better be
placed for an hour or so in benzoline or in one of the hardening
solutions (Nos. 15 or 16). This remark applies with especial force to
animals as yet unborn, which the naturalist will sometimes find during
work, and will wish to preserve. These foetal specimens, however, let
it be remembered, are of the greatest consequence in the study of
embryology, and should always be preserved intact in a fluid medium of
some kind. Sometimes the operator comes across a foetus of some
rarity, which, if not large, can be preserved in a small "preparation"
jar, filled with best rectified spirits of wine, as being not too
expensive for such subjects.



THE subject to be now treated of is of so varied a nature, requiring
so great a knowledge of anatomy, and so much experience and aptitude,
that I have deemed it advisable to reserve for a separate chapter the
explanations of the processes to be learned, to avoid, at the outset,
confusing the learner by asking him to attempt too much. This chapter
may therefore be considered a finishing one, and, perhaps, it will be
best to be candid, and say at once, that no one should attempt the
mounting of animals by this method until he has fully mastered the
principles laid down in the foregoing chapter, and has learned the
characteristic attitudes and expression of some hundreds of animal

It is quite true that this art--which has for its end and aim the
better delineation of character as exhibited by the lower animals--is
not teachable unless the pupil is well grounded in anatomy, and is
also a clever draughtsman and modeller--in fine, an artist!--with all
an artist's perception of beauty of line and of form. I will here
indicate what I take to be the basis upon which a competent
taxidermist must proceed to become a zoological artist. First, then,
let him take lessons in drawing, pinning himself steadily to copying
pictures by the best masters of zoological subjects; as he advances,
let him draw from the casts of animals, when procurable.

Let him beware, however, of the conventional lion, and lion's head,
which are about as much like the real things as the donkey is like the
horse--just a family resemblance, nothing more. Having done all this,
let him copy animals from nature; and if he lives in or near London,
so much the better, there is the "Zoo" for him to study in. Indeed, it
is a marvel to me that, with the museums and the Zoological Gardens
surrounding them, so few London taxidermists attain even a respectable
proficiency in the correct delineation of animal forms. The pupil
being well grounded in drawing, will have observed many points in
animal anatomy not hitherto suspected by him, and will naturally wish
to know the why and wherefore of the swellings and depressions
occurring in his subjects. To this end he must study a little simple
anatomy of bones and muscles--their objects and meanings in different

The last stage is the reproduction, by modelling in clay, etc, of the
various parts of animals, the head, of course, in the instance of
large mammals, being looked upon as the chief motif in composition. To
do all this requires time and considerable perseverance, but, with the
facilities for study now offered by the various schools of art, he
should not despair of success in a few years' time after mastering the
first principles of his art.

I will now proceed to demonstrate how the learner may work himself up
to a respectable proficiency in modelling animals, should he possess
the necessary aptitude.

Let us divide our theme into three parts--First, mounting the skin of
the specimen, by using the skeleton as a foundation.

Secondly, mounting by means of a rough framework of wood and iron,
more completely than as instanced in the example of the bear mentioned
in the last chapter.

Thirdly, mounting on a model skeleton of carved wood and iron, to
represent, and to take the place of, the bones; somewhat in the manner
described for the elephant.

In each of these systems there is one point of resemblance, namely,
that the bones, or their semblances, are to be covered with hard
composition, of some kind or another, to replace the flesh and
muscles, and that the heads of mammals being often of great beauty,
and possessing certain characters of their own, are to be copied first
of all by one of two methods. Either they must be

(1) cast as a "mould" from the dead head, and the "return," or model,
again cast from that; or

(2) modelled from the dead head in clay, by the eye and by
measurements, and a mould taken from that, to be again cast into for
the model.

This latter, though entailing three processes, is the more correct,
and gives the best result when the modeller is experienced; but as the
former is the easier, and leads up to better things, I must describe
it first.

We will take as an example the most difficult head to cast--a horned
head--considering that, if we do this correctly, all others will be
easy enough. Here, then, is a stag's head, some modelling or
pipe-clay, some soft-soap, a hundredweight or so of common plaster of
Paris at about 4s. per cwt, two pails, or rather zinc or galvanised
iron buckets, one of them containing water. [Footnote: Pipe-clay quite
good enough for this purpose is sold by the pipe makers in dry blocks
or pieces, at about 6s. or 7s. per cwt. The clay must be soaked as
wanted in a bucket of water and beaten up with a stick or "bat" until
it is smooth, free from lumps, and of the consistence of very stiff
putty. It should then be formed into a square mass, and kept damp by
wet cloths.]

The first operation, after beating up the clay, is getting the head
into position; this will be easy enough should it be cut off from the
body, otherwise the head must be propped up on the table, whilst the
greater part of the body rests on boxes, or trestles, somewhat lower
than the table. A very little "gumption" will enable the learner to
cope with these small difficulties, always remembering, however, that
both body and head must be immovably fixed during the process of

Let us assume, therefore, the body arranged so that the head--face
uppermost--and part of the neck, rests on the table, firmly fixed;
supports, or stays of wood, fastened at one end to the horns by wires
or cords, and at the other end by nails to the table, will effect
this. The chin should be propped up a little from the surface of the
table, by means of a pad of clay which has been previously prepared;
next cut more slices of clay from the mass, and build in the front and
sides of the face in a straight line, to just under the nostrils, but
above the line of the mouth; smooth the clay--which should extend
outwards some two or three inches from the head--with water and a
broad knife. The lower half of the head is now hidden, mouth and all,
up to just above the upper lip.

Next fill in the nostrils and the lachrymal sinuses (the orifices
below the eyes) with clay, but in a careful manner, so that, although
they shall be filled up sufficiently to prevent the plaster from
running in to make "undercuts," they shall still preserve a certain
shallow imprint of their original form. Now mix your soft soap with a
brush until it becomes a stiff lather, and paint it all over the face
and hair of the head; build up a wall of thin board around the
clay--in the manner described in Chapter VIII. on Fish Casting--and
when practicable tie a thin board just in front of the horns, so that
the model may end there.

If, however, the back of the head down to the neck is required--which
it seldom is, for reasons explained hereafter--it must be managed by
"piece-casting." (See Chapter XII.) The head being nicely soaped, lay
a thin piece of string or strong hemp along the top of the face and
head, exactly in the centre, and extending from the clay under the
nostrils up to the back of the head in a straight line. Be sure that
the string is perfectly straight, and that it presses closely to the
nose before coming on to the clay.

Next mix the plaster, not in the usual manner, by adding water to it,
but by half filling a vessel with water, to which the plaster is
added, a little at a time, until enough is mixed to serve the purpose,
i.e, in sufficient quantity to cover the head with a layer some inches
thick. After it is well worked up and moderately thick, carefully pour
it over the specimen, taking it up as it runs down, and piling it up a
little thicker in the centre, to give stability to the mass. Just as
the plaster is setting--which a very little experience will
teach--lift the ends of the string upward through the plaster, which
has the effect of cutting it in two, but these halves will not fall
off of their own accord if care be taken.

The mould being allowed to set for about half an hour or an hour,
according to the quality of the plaster, is then ready for the next
operation, which is the turning of the carcase, so that the head may
also be turned upside down. Previously to this, should the mould show
the least sign of coming off, it will be as well to tie it on.

Supposing, however, that the wall of boards being removed, the head is
successfully turned until it rests with its centre on the table, it
may happen that the horns, being in the way, may require to hang over
the edge of the table to effect this properly, and that the head,
being rounded by the superior thickness of the mould, may require
propping. To describe the means for overcoming such self-evident
little difficulties as these, would only insult my reader's judgment.

The head, then, being now securely fixed face downwards, the clay
which hides the lower half must be picked off. This exposes the inner
edge of the mould, together with the lower jaw. Scrape the plaster to
a level surface, and cut two moderately large V-shaped nicks, one on
each edge of the mould, build up around as before with wood, and fill
in all interstices leading to the table below with clay. See that the
mouth is properly shut, introducing a little clay if needed. Brush
over with soft soap, not forgetting the top of the plaster mould, and
mix some more plaster and pour over the lower jaw, on to the edges of
the plaster mould, until stopped by the wall; build up thicker in the
centre, as before, and suffer all to dry for about an hour. After
this, pull away the walls, and all retaining clay, and the mould will
easily come away from the head in three pieces, i.e, two for the upper
surface, and one for the under.

The chief thing to guard against is not to get the plaster behind the
horns, so that it locks the front up. As, however, you may require to
cast more, in length, of the under surface than of the upper, you may
easily do this by lengthening the upper surface, when turned over,
with clay, and casting on to that. It is this system which gives the
diagonally-cut appearance to the model (see Fig. 28).

You have now three pieces, forming, when trimmed and put together, a
concavity representing the place whence the stag's head has been
extracted; bake these pieces in an oven for a day or so until
sufficiently dried, then examine them for flaws or air-bubble holes,
which fill up with clay, brush over inside with linseed oil or soft
soap, tie together, and fix the mould, nose downward, in a bucket or
pail, pack with wedges, and run in sand outside the mould to make all

Prepare some plaster and pour into the mould at the opening and before
it is quite set, scoop out some to make it hollow at the neck; allow
it to remain undisturbed for from two to four hours, then take it out,
undo the string, and gently tap the mould in every part with a small
mallet, rolling it every now and then upon the table; in a short time
you will hear something rattle, and perhaps a little loosening of one
edge or piece will take place; tap now very cautiously, lest you
should break anything; soon one piece will come off, which will
materially assist your labour; take time and have patience, and you
will be rewarded by seeing a perfect model of the stag's head come out
of the mould in due course. [Footnote: Baking, when practicable, will
often assist the parting of the mould from the model.]

I have said perfect, but I mean perfect so far as this system allows
of perfection. If you hold the model up to the light, or look down
upon it from above, you will see, if your eye is sufficiently
educated, that, although it correctly represents the hair even, and
all prominent features, yet that the weight of the plaster has perhaps
caused one eye to drop lower than the other, or twisted the mouth
aside, and given a different expression altogether to that needed.

What is to be done then? Nothing but altering the model, by cutting
and scraping it, until both sides are even, casting again from the
corrected model when necessary, that is to say, when it is desired to
get or to keep a very good one for reference. Remember that the model
is a little larger than you require it, so that the hair marks, etc.
must be trimmed away to lessen it. Shaving the hair all away from the
head, leaving only the naked skin, has been recommended as a
preliminary to casting; but this, of course, destroys one specimen
entirely, that others of the same size may be mounted from the model
made from the shaved head. Skinning the head first, and casting from
the flesh, does not help the amateur, as so many muscles and other
characteristic parts are cut away, that a model taken in this manner
is often worse than useless.

What, then, is our way out of this difficulty? Nothing but educating
the hand and eye to the point of being able to take a dead head, and,
by knowledge of its living anatomy, to model it in clay so truthfully
as to far surpass any other process whatever. I can, unfortunately,
give no directions for doing this. I can merely say, in the words of
many unpractical "guide books" to art: "Take a board, some tools, a
well-kneaded lump of clay; place the head before you in strong light,
and turn out a lifelike representation of it; wrinkles, muscles, and
all--in clay." To me, this is now far the easiest thing to do, but I
do not forget the time when I used perhaps a ton of plaster in
experiments, and wasted lots more, and learned many little arts before
I could model correctly.

Let this be a grain of comfort to the learner, that, although he must
waste a deal of good plaster ere he sees the "points," and before he
can model straight away, yet that he has an advantage which I, as a
self-taught man, did not possess--the advantage of some little
practical advice, such as is given in the pages of this work.

Now, "returning to our muttons," it must not be supposed that our
omega is gained when the tyro has modelled by eye, and by
measurements, his first head in clay; this has to be cast from, as if
from the dead head, and the resultant model touched up, where
incorrect, by cutting and scraping when too large, or by addition of
clay when too small. Sometimes it will be necessary to cast from this
again and again, but in all cases the mould and model should be
managed as before described.

Fig. 28--Stag's head in plaster from clay model.

Assuming that the student has managed a cast to his satisfaction, he
will see, by looking at the accompanying cut, Fig. 28, that the orbits
of the eyes are shallow, that only the upper line of the sinus shows,
that the lips and nostrils are also shallow depressions; all of these
parts must be hollowed out or undercut. To do this we require a knife
such as that figured No. 12 in Chapter III, and three other tools, one
a large crooked awl (sharpened at one edge), in handle, and steel
"undercutting" and "relieving tools" (see Figs. 29 and 30). [Footnote:
Messrs. Lechertier, Barbs, et Cie, of 60, Regent-street, London, have
many patterns of these for plaster work, at a low figure.]

Fig. 29--Steel "undercutting" tool.

Fig. 30--Steel "relieving" tool.

With these the eyes, nostrils, lips, etc, of the model, are relieved
and undercut, in order to take in the folds of the inner surfaces of
the skin of those parts. Be sure to hollow out the mouth upward toward
the nostrils, keeping it fine, however, at the lips, and not opening
it outward too much; the same with the nostrils, looking to the dead
head to note the beautiful curves which can be treated so as to
express, at will, rest, alarm, or defiance, according as the
under-cutting is managed; the eyes of the model must be hollowed out
and deeply undercut to receive the hollow glass globes (see Chapter
XII), and the eye pits (lachrymal sinuses) relieved.

Although we have cast the head whilst attached to the body in order to
get our difficulties increased, yet we will now imagine the stag's
head, with a long piece of neck-skin attached, severed from the body,
in the manner in which heads usually arrive from Scotland to be
mounted as trophies of the chase. The model being ready, the dead head
is now skinned, the skin being taken entirely off the head, and being
"double-skinned" as described, washed and cured, is now ready for

First, however, the horns must be sawn from the skull by cutting away
a triangular piece of the bone to which they are attached; drill this
bone for two long screws, by means of an American "twist-drill,"
fitted into an ordinary brace. Next, the prepared model requires
blocking; this may be done as shown at Fig. 26. A slot to receive the
board should have been previously cut in the plaster under-jaw of the
model, or, in a more simple and efficient manner (see Fig. 31), by
procuring a piece of "quartering," 3 in. x 2 in, about 2 ft. in
length, cutting a channel in the under-jaw and the back of the head to
fit it, wedging up, and pouring in wet plaster to make all secure. The
head of the model should be cut to receive the horns, leaving about
half-an-inch or more of plaster before coming to the wood.

The quartering protruding below the neck must now be fixed in a vice,
and the horns screwed in. seats, the screws coming through the plaster
and into the wood, which they should "bite" for an inch or so of their
length; wet plaster is then poured on the top, and the back of the
head made up by the addition of more. When dry the quartering should
support the model with horns attached, and all parts should be
immovably rigid.

Nothing remains now but to thin the skin all over the inside in a
careful manner, remembering, the thinner the skin the better the
points of the model will show up. When finished, simply draw the skin
over the model like a glove upon the hand, put a little clay in the
"bags" of the eyelids, perhaps a little about the nostrils, and fix
the various parts in the under-cuttings made to receive them, being
sure that the lips go in naturally, not leaving a thick edge outside.
The ears now require blocking; to do this many taxidermists run a wire
all around each ear from the inside, or put cardboard inside, sewing
another piece outside by the edges to give shape.

Neither of these plans is, I am sure, equal to my method of cutting a
zinc plate to the full size of the ear--when flattened out--and
inserting it between the skin, pushing it well up to the tip;
afterwards it may be elevated or depressed, and moulded to any shape,
or to any degree of convexity; a little clay placed at the base of
each ear improves its shape, and assists to fix it in position.

The last thing to be done is to cut the "quartering" to the length and
angle required, to determine upon the shape and size of the neck, and
to fix the neck block (see Fig. 27) to the "quartering" by screws.

Fig. 31--Back view of model with neck block inserted.

A A, the Horns attached to piece of Skull; B B, the Model; C,
Quartering on which the Model is mounted.

Try the skin of the neck for length and shape, and then fill up each
side of the block with peat nailed on, over which pour wet plaster,
making up the back of the head as you go on, keeping the neck in front
narrow, and of an elegant shape, using clay afterwards over all to do
this. During all this time you will no doubt have had the skin off and
on several times to get the shape to suit, and you will have taken
precautions not to break away the thinly carved parts around the
mouth, nose and eyes.

The very last operation is sewing up; this is done with a "skin"
needle (glover's needle) and strong hemp, double and waxed; commence
your stitches at the skin in front of one of the horns, bring it
around to the back, and enter your needle in the edge of the skin at
the side, lace across and across, including the other horn, in the
manner most convenient, being careful, however, to make every stitch
"tell," otherwise, as the skin dries, the horns will be left bare
around the "burrs," and ugly gaps appear. The neck being sewn up, is
to be nailed around its circumference to the neckblock by strong

The skin of the face is, perhaps, a little out of position; it must be
properly arranged on the model, and wire points of suitable size,
filed up from galvanized wire, must be driven into the eye-pits,
inside the corners of the mouth, the nostrils and ears, and also on
various parts of the face and the head, to prevent the skin rising
whilst drying. The eyes should now be inserted, and the skin of the
eyelids filled slightly, and drawn naturally around them. Hang the
head up as high as possible out of the way, and also because the room
is always warmest near the ceiling; two centre-bit holes of different
sizes, forming a kind of keyhole, may be drilled in the centre of the
neck-block, or strong wire bolted in the form of a loop near the top
to hang it up by.

Be sure all is sound and firm, as also the nail on which the specimen
hangs, otherwise your own, or your stag's, head may come to grief.
Plaster heads being very heavy at first, before drying, it is as well
to get them dried, if possible, in advance of the mounting, to obviate
great weight, and also a tendency to cause mildew inside the skin. It
is really astounding, however, to observe how very light plaster
becomes when thoroughly dry; clay of the same sized model is, on the
contrary, exceedingly heavy--more than twice the weight of plaster.

Sometimes it may be necessary, if wanting a frill of hair, or what
not, to be conspicuous, to keep it in position until dry, by brushing
on paste, or thick clay water, to stiffen the hair in the desired
manner. This can afterwards be brushed off, when the head is
ultimately cleansed, before screwing it on its shield. Foxes' and
other similar heads may be blocked best by the process sketched out as
relating to Figs. 26 and 27: and finally attached to suitable shields
(see Chapter XIII.)

Looking at the skeleton of the otter, Plate III, we at once observe
that it is placed in the position it assumed when the animal was alive
and walking with a stealthy, cat-like, movement. This skeleton is not
very unlike that of the fox, nor, if we except its smaller size, that
of the lion. Hence we shall be enabled to refer to it, from time to
time, as being sufficiently our guide to the mounting of these

We will not be too ambitious to begin with, and will, therefore, take
our old friend the fox for our first lesson. This is the animal sure
to be selected by all learners, and the reason is not far to seek--it
being of a manageable size, not too large nor too small; an animal,
moreover, of a picturesque habit of body, and about whose death more
or less of mystery hangs--this mystery so dear to the imagination of
the youthful amateur! In some places the death of the vulpine robber
of hen roosts is hailed with delight, and people are to be found even
--oh, horror!--willing to grasp in friendship the hand of the slayer.

In such a county as Leicestershire, foxes are not "accidentally"
killed, but when so, what bewailings over the "late lamented!" what
anathemas upon the villain's head who is suspected of "vulpicide"! If
it were not so serious a matter, one would be inclined to laugh over
Anthony Trollope's description, in the "American Senator," of the old
hunting farmer who moved himself and his dinner to the other side of
the table, in speechless indignation, lest he should be contaminated
by the presence of a sympathiser with a man who wantonly killed a far
too sacred fox, which gobbled up the aforesaid man's ducks and fowls.
Let this sad relation be a warning to all who look with acquisitive
eyes on the scented jacket of our "Reynard."

Moral, procure your specimens from the Highlands, where they are not
worshipped, nor protected, with a view to being hunted to death

Having procured our specimen, we lay it in state on the modelling
table, and, having decided to mount it by the first process mentioned
at the beginning of this chapter, viz, by using the skeleton as a
foundation, we have further to decide if the animal is to be
open-mouthed or not. In the first case, we shall require the skull, in
order to show the teeth and palate; in the latter case, we may discard
the skull if we choose, making a model of the head in a similar manner
to that of the stag, but with the difference that now, our specimen
not being horned, will make a mould and model much more easily.

We decide, then, to keep the skull as part of the skeletal foundation.
Skin out the animal in the usual manner, as described in the last
chapter, with these differences, that the skin must be split on the
underneath, from the vent to above the shoulder (in some cases, and
for some attitudes, this cut must extend up the throat); cross cuts
from this must extend all the way down the limbs, on their inside
surfaces. By these five cuts the body is released entirely from the
skin, the head being cut off at the nose, and the feet at the claws;
nothing, therefore, of the skeleton remains in the skin but the cores
supporting the claws.

Measure the body now carefully for size, etc, and treat the skin in the
manner indicated, and turning to the body, disjoint the hind limbs at
the junction of the femur with the pelvic girdle, and the fore limbs
at the junction of the humerus with the scapular arch (see Plate III).
Cut off the head (A, B), and trim it. If you cannot make a rough
representation in wood of the pelvic girdle (H) and scapular arch (M),
you had better cut these bones out and trim them, as they, or their
representatives, give a natural set to the limbs. Throw away the
remainder of the body. You now possess the complete skin, and also the
bones I, J, K, 1, and N, O, P, Q, together with the skull and the four
other bones, or their semblances. Having properly cured all these
parts, we will for this lesson take the skeleton of the otter and its
attitude as our guide.

Our first care, then, is to provide a block of wood, similar to that
in the illustration, for the animal to stand on; the length and width
of this are, of course, determined by the measurements which should
have been previously taken--its thickness should not be less than one
inch. The next thing to be done is to cut a piece of 0.5 in. or 0.75
in. deal to represent the body--now thrown away--figured in the plate
as D, E, F, and R; the shape as shown in Fig. 32 will be found the
most convenient.

To this attach, by bolting, a thick wire, to represent the neck (C),
and of sufficient strength to carry the weight of the head, also
another thinner one to take the place of the tail (G). At the point M
nail two small blocks of wood on each side of the body-board, in order
to slightly raise from its surface, and also attach thereto, the
scapulars; do the same at H, remembering that the thickness of the
blocks with bones attached determines the width of the chest, etc. Bore
holes along D, through which thrust stout wires to represent the ribs,
bending them into position, and bringing them over the edge of R, and
bolting each end into one or the other of the holes along its lower
surface. The wires must, of course, be cut of sufficient length to go
right through the holes at D, to form both sides of the ribs, ere
being finally bolted in the holes at R.

Fig. 32--False body of wood, with neck and tail wires attached.

We now have a cage, as it were, of wood and wire, terminating in two
long wires, in which state we leave it for the present. The next
process is to drill the leg bones (I and J, and N and P) with an
American twist-drill and brace, in order to push up a wire rod of
sufficient stoutness to carry the weight of the body; leave plenty of
length of wire above and below. [Footnote: In cases where drilling is
impracticable, it will be sufficient to firmly lash the bones to the
rod in the position which they should occupy during the subsequent

Next drill the bottom board to receive the wires under the feet, where
shown at 1 and Q; when firmly bolted underneath bend the rod with
attached bones into the positions shown on Plate III. Bend the upper
portion of the rods now at right angles, in order to go through the
scapulars and pelvis. Next take the cage (Fig. 32) representing the
body, with pelvic girdle and scapular arch attached, and ready
drilled, lift between the limbs, pushing the top wires--now at right
angles--through the holes drilled to receive them, bending these down
on each side. We have now a rough but fairly correct image of the
skeleton without a head.

Taking now the natural skull (A B), we open the jaws as much as
desired, and filling in the cavities with paper and tow, perfect the
shape by modelling with clay to replace the flesh. Fixing this on the
wire, C, we make up the neck with tow and clay, binding the former on
very tightly, and adding clay to give character, especially where it
approaches the chest. The cage must now be tightly packed with old
newspapers, brown paper, or clean straw, but with neither hay nor
"flocks." [Footnote: "Flocks" and sacking are the harbouring places of
Tinea Tapetzella, 1, a destructive little moth, the ravages of whose
larvae once cost me all the "soft" parts of a sofa, besides filling
the house before discovery with the perfect insect--eager to
perpetuate its race at my expense.]

Before this is done, however, it will be as well to interlace the
wires with tow, laid on as a thin sheet, and glued; be sure of the
shape now--if ever; let the cage be widest in the middle, tapering off
above and below and toward each end, being careful to make it a little
smaller, if anything, than the actual body; make up with straw and tow
at E, keeping this part narrow underneath; bind the tail, G, thinly
with tow, gradually thickening it as it approaches F; cover all these
parts with clay where required.

The fore and hind limbs, especially the latter, require very careful
modelling. To do this properly measurements and tracings of the shapes
should have been taken. Bind tow around all, to roughly represent the
form, and then artistically adjust clay to represent the muscles and
flesh. The appearance presented now should be as a clay model--without
hair--of the specimen taken in hand.

Nothing now remains but to take the skin, properly thinned down and
prepared, and try it over the model, altering the latter where it is
too large or too small. Perhaps it may be necessary to pull it
over--commencing at the head--several times before getting it quite
right. When fairly satisfied with your progress, commence stitching
the skin up from the neck, adding clay where wanted, noticing that, in
the position you are now working to, the neck will hang low, and
rather fine in front, between the fore limbs, and that the flanks will
be tucked up.

Go on sewing up until you are at the point behind the shoulders,
including the fore limbs in this; pad the skin at the toes with clay,
to replace the flesh previously cut away. Leave this now, and go to
the tail end; bend the wire down, and insert it in the hollow of the
skin of the tail, and work on the hind limbs, finishing as you go on,
and sewing up to the point between F and E. This leaves you the
remainder of the body to finish, and also gives you a chance to
dispose of any loose skin about that part. The clay and wire, being
both amenable to any alteration, can be beaten into shape where
required. Finally, sew up, and if your modelling is correct all the
remainder must of necessity be correct also.

To keep the skin in position on the model, tack it down with
galvanised wire points, or by stitching it through in places, such as
occur in the neck and various parts of the limbs. These wires can, of
course, be removed, and all stitches cut and drawn away when the
specimen is dry, at which time the eyes can be inserted, if not
previously done. In all cases, however, the specimen must be
thoroughly dried before it can be finished off by modelling the inside
of the lips and palate with wax or cement (described in Chapter XII),
or before the model tongue is inserted.

The foregoing thus describes the method which may be adopted to
educate the tyro to a correct idea of the osteology of his subject,
and, by analogy, to the osteology and relation of parts of many
others. It is practicable only in the case of mammals done from the
flesh, and whose skeleton is not valuable. In this system, as in all
the following, the model head of any animal, cast as described for the
stag, may be substituted for the natural skull, unless the teeth, etc.
are required to be shown. Model teeth carved from bone, or from wood,
subsequently coloured, are sometimes inserted in model heads, but this
is not recommended.

The next part of our theme deals with mounting skins from the "flat,"
when no body or skeleton is forthcoming, and is practised by masters
of the art, who know by experience the various positions assumed by
their subjects when in a state of Nature. By this means large animals,
such as tigers, lions, bears, etc, may be mounted from skins sent home
from abroad.

The skin having been relaxed and thinned (see Chapter X.), is put over
the model in exactly the same manner as described for the otter. The
model is, however, now determined by the size of the skin, which, when
perfectly soft, is folded together, legs and all, and shaped on the
floor of the studio, in somewhat the position required; from this a
rough tracing is made with red chalk on boards kept for that purpose,
or on sheets of brown paper. These are afterwards corrected by eye, or
by the aid of smaller drawings or good prints.

Inside this large finished tracing trace an irregularly-shaped long
oval, quite two inches smaller all the way round than the tracing of
the skin itself. Cut this out in stiff paper, and from it shape up one
or two boards of 1 in. to 1.5 in. deal, jointed together on edge; to
this "body-board" bolt by staples the four strong rods representing
the fore and hind limb bones. Let each have a right-angled crook where
they first spring from the board, to represent the scapular and pelvic
arches, then bend each one (more or less) at each joint (see Plates
III. and IV.) according to the attitude desired.

Insert these rods at the feet through a strong base made of 1 in. or
1.5 in. boards, remembering that, if the projected attitude of your
model demands the fore-feet raised, you must nail "quartering" on end,
to which attach a platform of board of the requisite height. Fix two
medium sized or one very strong rod for the neck, and one moderately
strong for the tail. In a large animal--and I am assuming that we are
now engaged on a lion--the wire ribs may be replaced by sections of
0.5 in. board, cut as in Fig. 33, and nailed vertically on each side
of the body-board. On the half-rounded surfaces of these, laths are
tacked, and afterwards covered with straw, or plastered over, just as
a plasterer would finish a partition; let this be kept somewhat
smaller than you wish it, in order to allow for its subsequent
covering with clay. From this proceed to model the limbs as before,
using plaster over the tow, and clay over all; next arrange the tail,
and, lastly, fix on the skull, if you possess it, or the plaster head,
which has been modelled and cast in the same manner as the stag's

The skin is then fitted on as before, with the difference that the
head part, which, perhaps, is split right through the chin, and the
tail, split up its whole length, will come on more easily, but will of
course require more sewing up. When finished, adjust the claws, the
mane, the ears (blocked with zinc as in the stag), and the mouth.
Should it be wished to open the mouth to express rage or what not, the
edges of the skin of the mouth, being no doubt destitute (in a "flat"
skin) of their inner lining (the mucous membrane), must have this
replaced by wash leather sewn all around to form the "bags" of each
side of the lips, previously mentioned.

These "bags" are then filled with clay or modeling wax, and when the
skin is put on over the skull, are pinched into proper shape and
attached by their inner edges to where the gums should be, or around
convenient teeth by stitches, or by strong wire points driven into the
bone, in the manner which will best commend itself to the learner.
Suffer it to dry, looking at it from time to time, and when perfectly
dried model the palate, etc. (should the animal be represented
open-mouthed), in the manner described in Chapter XII. So great a mass
of damp clay used on these large animals is apt to crack; paper may
advantageously be pasted over the whole surface before the skin is put
on, which will stick well and not interfere with the modelling.

Fig. 33--Section of half-inch board to represent ribs

Plate IV. Lion mounted from the "Flat".

Plate IV. represents a lion mounted by this method: A, B, the skull;
C, the neck rod (sometimes two); D, E, and F, the body-board; G, the
tail rod; and 1, 2, 3, and 4, the rods representing the parts H, I, J,
K, 1, and M, N, O, P, Q, in Plate III.

The last process of all is mounting, by means of a model skeleton of
carved wood, supplemented by iron rods. This is a system which
requires a slight knowledge of wood carving, and would be practised in
the case of having the skeleton of the large animal to model from, or
in cases where, having both skeleton and flesh, it is desirable to
retain the former as an osteological preparation, and to treat the
skin as a taxidermic object.

Supposing, then, we have a lion in the flesh, our first care must be
to determine upon the position and attitude it is to ultimately
assume. Not to perplex the student too much, we determine that it
shall take the attitude of our last example (Plate IV), or else that
shown in Plate III. Accordingly, we arrange it on a platform just
raised from the floor of the studio, when by propping and judicious
management we make it, although lying on its side, assume the position
we require.

We carefully measure and take a rough tracing of the whole. The
muscles are now worked up into position, and moulds taken from them,
or from such parts of the limbs as we require. By careful arrangement
of clay, wooden walls, and other packing, it is quite possible to take
a complete cast of the whole carcase. Piece-casting, however
(described in Chapter XII), assists us here. From these moulds we cast
reproductions of parts of the lion, which will be patterns for, and
greatly assist us when, ultimately modelling up.  The animal is now
skinned, and the skin prepared in the usual manner, i.e, stripped
entirely from the body, cured, and thinned down. The bowels are taken
out, the flesh is cut off the bones, and the parts H, I, J, K, and M,
N, O, P (see Plate III.), are copied by carving in lime-tree or beech
wood. [Footnote: Bones can be cast in plaster quite as easily as
anything else, and often take the place of carved wood.]

These models are then sawn longitudinally in halves, and each half
hollowed out to receive, and to be either tied, or wired on to, the
rods-1, 2, 3 and 4 of Plate IV. By this it will be seen that the model
is made up precisely as in that, the only addition being the
substitution of carved limb-bones in place of tow previously used to
bind over the rods. Clay or other substances is worked over these
"wooden bones," and the finishing processes are the same as the last.

The skeleton must be carefully mounted and articulated, as described
in Chapter XII. Be careful to get the ultimate phalanges of each limb
out of the skin, and by careful management we shall also be enabled to
get the bony core from the claw, and thus reap the advantage of having
two specimens instead of one only.

Large fishes--such as sharks; or reptiles, such as very large
alligators and crocodiles--may be mounted by slight modifications of
any of the foregoing processes.

Often hardened wax, linseed oil and plaster, plaster composition,
modelling wax, cobbler's wax, shellac, or what not, is used to
represent the muscles and "flabby" parts. Wax is also used to paint
over the mucous membrane, where shown or exposed. All this will be
found fully explained in Chapter XII, thus exploding all the rubbish
talked, and written, about "secret" or "patent" compositions, which,
when put on soft, will ultimately dry as hard as marble. These
wonderful "secrets" may be summed up under three heads--Clay, Plaster,
and Wax!



FISH being, perhaps, the most difficult things in the range of
taxidermical science to set up in a satisfactory manner, I would
impress upon the amateur to take particular note of their
peculiarities of shape and colour, and to practise upon any
easily-obtained and tough-skinned fish, such as the perch, which is,
indeed, one of the best of all subjects for the purpose.

However, as I have now before me a pike of over 11 lb, I will take it
to illustrate this lesson.

Provide yourself first with skinning knives (see Figs. 11-13) and a
tool previously figured, which I call the undercutting knife or
scraper (see Fig. 29). It is best made by an artisan, but may be
roughly fashioned by beating out a square piece of steel (a worn-out,
narrow, flat or square file will furnish this), while hot, to a flat
surface at one end, turning it at right angles for about an inch, and
filing each side of this return, as also the point (the latter
previously rounded) to a cutting edge, and afterwards giving it the
requisite hardness by "tempering" it in oil. Many tools used by the
gun stockers are to be bought ready made, which will fulfil all the
requirements of this tool, but it is so easily made that I consider
anyone with the least mechanical ability should be able to make one.
The object of this tool is to run in under bones and to cut and drag
out pieces of flesh through small openings.

Measurements being taken and a board provided on which to trace the
outline, select the best side of the fish--by which I mean the side
most free from bruises or "gaff" marks. Cover this with thin paper
(cap paper) or muslin, which readily adheres by the natural mucus
peculiar to fish. This process, it will be seen, keeps the scales fast
in their seats during the operation of skinning, and gives also a
"set," as it were, to the skin. The fins and tail must not, however,
be allowed to dry until the fish is finished. To avoid this and the
consequent splitting of these members, keep them constantly damped by
wet cloths or tow wrapped around them.

Lay the worst side uppermost, and then cut the skin from head to tail
in a straight line. A mark called the subdorsal or lateral line is an
excellent guide for this. With a strong pair of scissors,--or rather
shears, cut through the scapular arch (the large bone beneath the
gills--see Fig. 34, A). Slip the knife under the edges of the cut
skin, and lift the skin the whole of the way up at about an inch in on
both sides of the cut. Having carefully separated this from the flesh,
take the broad knife in your hand, and, holding the skin lightly in
the middle, with a scraping motion of the knife on the skin free it
from the flesh. If the knife is held in a proper manner, slanting
inward towards you, this will be done very easily. Take care, however,
when approaching the fins not to cut outward too much, or you will rip
them out of the skin. Fig. 34 shows the point where we have arrived, B
being the loosened skin and C the flesh denuded of that skin.

Fig. 34--Diagram of pike, showing skin removed on one side from lower
half of body.

Skin out the remaining part up to the back, holding the knife in the
same manner; the fish is now half way skinned, and holding only by the
fins. Slip the scissors carefully underneath the bones of each fin and
cut them away from the inside. Do not be afraid of leaving a little
flesh attached, as this can be easily cut away from the inter-spinous
bones afterwards, it being better to have too much flesh attached to
them than to find you have cut the skin through on the other side. It
is a matter of little importance as to which fin you cut away first;
but let me assume that you begin at the under anal fin, and, having
cut this away carefully, you now find that it is still held at a
little distance above it by. the orifice of the vent. A great deal of
care is required here to cut the attachment away so as not to pierce
through to the outside; a piece of wool comes in very handily to push
in, to stop the flow of blood, etc.

Now turn your attention to the only fin on a pike's back, the second
or lower dorsal one, which cut away in the same careful manner as
before. Working down toward the tail, get the broad knife as much
underneath as you can, and then push the fingers underneath until they
meet, and thus gradually free the flesh from the skin almost up to the
extreme end of the caudal fin (or tail). Insert the point of the large
shears underneath, and cut the bone and flesh completely through at a
distance of about 1 in. from the last joint of the vertebrae at the
tail; this leaves a little flesh attached to be subsequently cleared

Leaving this, go now to the head of the fish, and, holding down the
skin of the back, which is now flat on the table, run the fingers of
the right hand, especially the thumb, right down the whole length of
the fish to the tail, in order to loosen all from the underneath to
the front of the fish, when the whole will be free up to the two
ventral fins, which you may cut away, as it were, with your finger
nails, leaving the attached flesh to be trimmed away afterwards. The
only part which now holds to the skin is that near the head, as also
the under one of the pectoral fins; this latter must be carefully cut
away, as the skin is very thin about here, and is rather awkward to
get at.

Now let the fingers of both hands come into requisition, and let them
meet under the head. Regaining the large knife, with it sever the bone
of the head cutting toward you. If this is properly performed, the
cutting edge of the knife will touch the gills; be careful in this,
that your knife does not slip and go too far into the underneath skin.
Various internal organs will now appear, holding fast to the skin;
these must be cut through with the knife, and the effect should be
that the whole of the body comes out in a piece. [Footnote: The
beginner may, however, for greater facility of handling, cut the body
of a large fish into sections, and remove them piece by piece as he
progresses.] For larger fish, say one of 20 lb. or more, I recommend
splitting the flesh longitudinally or vertically, and getting out each
section separately.

The skin now being free from the body, scrape away all the small
pieces of flesh that are still adhering inside the skin, down the
centre, and around the fins and tail. Those fin-bones (inter-spinous
bones) which protrude inside may be cut fairly short with the
scissors, and the flesh nicely scraped off from each side. What flesh
is left on the tail must be carefully cut away with the aid of the
knife, scissors, and shears, care being taken also to free the bone to
the very end, and yet not to disturb the scales underneath. A
considerable amount of scraping, coaxing, and undercutting will have
to be done here.

Having well freed the fins of flesh, turn your attention to the head:
make a cut along the side of the under jaw, then cut away the gills at
their top and bottom attachments and pull them out, if you do not wish
them ultimately to show. When this is done you will become aware that
there is still remaining a piece of the vertebra leading up into the
head; take the large knife and chop it to the underneath; it will then
lift up, exposing what little brain the fish has. Cut this piece off
before it enters the palate; and then, by clearing away a little
flesh, you come to the eye, which take hold of with your finger and
pull out. You will now see several small cavities filled with flesh
running up to the sides of the face, cheeks, etc.

The scraper or undercutting knife will now come into use, and small
pieces of flesh must be laboriously cleared out. After this tool has
well loosened and partly cut away the intervening flesh, the fingers
may be advantageously used to work with, by being pushed in at the
orbits of the eyes, to pull out the loose pieces of flesh. (Note that,
in doing this, it is as well to be careful not to cut your fingers
with the edges of the small bones of the head, nor with the palatal or
lingual teeth.)

The operator must not forget during work to keep the fins well damped,
otherwise they rapidly dry and split, as I have before observed.

Running between and from the pectoral fins a thick, fleshy process
continues right up underneath the jaw. As the included flesh is
contained in a remarkably thin silvery skin, extraordinary care is
necessary in freeing this from the flesh, so the knife, the scraper,
and the fingers will all have to come into play. It is held at the
extreme end under the jaw by a thin bone, which, though skinned to its
under part, must not be cut away, but left slightly attached.

A little sand at this stage is useful to rub the fingers in, to
prevent them slipping, when pulling out small pieces of flesh. The
pectoral fins are, of all, the most awkwardly situated to skin out,
coming, as they do, at the bottom of the pectoral process, and they
must be left with their bones attached, and the flesh be scraped away
from between the two fins, and underneath each one, until nothing
remains. Carefully attend to the latter part of these instructions, or
the final result will be anything but creditable.

Some flesh now lies between two skins along the sides of the fish's
gums, between the tongue and the teeth; a hole must be cut inside at
the back part of the head below the eye, the crooked scraper inserted,
and all the flesh dragged out bit by bit. Remember, this is merely a
thin membrane, and the slightest awkwardness ruptures it; in large
fish, however, the finger may be introduced with advantage, to pull
out pieces of flesh. Many taxidermists cut the whole of this away, and
replace it with plaster; but if the fish's mouth is to be left open it
never looks so well as if done by this method.

Cut under the tongue from the outside, and scrape out the flesh, fill
up with putty, and sew up neatly.

To stuff the fish, procure a thick piece of wire somewhat longer than
the body, bending one end, to form a large oval-shaped loop, to be
afterwards pushed up as a bearer into the head. At some little
distance from this (which will be determined by the size of the fish),
form a smaller loop, to which, by twisting, attach a short piece of
wire a size smaller than the main bearer. At some distance from
this--near the tail--form another small loop, to which attach in the
same manner another piece of wire. Cut off the end of the main wire,
so that when pointed and pushed through it will fall just outside the
bone of the tail. It will no doubt be obvious to the reader that this
forms an artificial backbone.

The large oval or pear-shaped loop at the one end is intended to be
pushed in to support the head, and, in the present method, also to
help the formation of the model. The loops and attached wires are to
support the body, and also to bolt it to the back of the case when
finished. The pointed end is to push into and support the tail.

I should have previously mentioned that this wire backbone should be
made before the fish is skinned, as you then have a correct guide to
position of bearing wire, and, more important still, a guide to the
extreme length of the fish.

Round this wire, wrap paper, glued, or tied with string, until it is a
little less than the body of the fish previously taken out; when this
is done, cover over with tow well tied on with hemp, until it has
arrived at almost the shape and size of the body--being, in fact, the
shape of the fish without head or tail--lay this down and thoroughly
anoint all parts of the fish. Stuff out the now hollow sides of the
face, gums, and the underneath of the throat with putty, of which push
some thick pads underneath the root of the tail and all about the
fins; next lay a thin skin of putty over the whole of the skin on the

Wet plaster is commonly used for this, but I prefer putty, as not
being quite so heavy, and as affording also a more agreeable agent to
work with. Another objection to plaster, used in quantities, is that
the heat it evolves in drying has a tendency to make the scales rise.

The next thing to be done is to insert the body. Pushing the sharpened
end of the tail wire through the bone of the tail, bring it up on the
inside. Now drill a little hole with a straight awl through the bone
of the scapular arch, and with a strong needle and thread join that
part together. The next hole should be drilled through the uppermost
gill-cover, through which pass the needle; then commence, travelling
downward, to sew the skin together, taking care to go inward a
sufficient distance from the cut edges with the needle and thread, and
yet not allowing the edges of the skin to overlap.

This requires patience, and a little coaxing together of the edges of
the skin. As you go on, see where your fish appears out of shape on
the upper side, which is a pretty good guide but not always so--for
the under, or show side. If the defect is serious, insert a little
more putty, followed by a judicious application of tow, which will
push the putty to the under side where you most require it.

It is sometimes expedient, after having sewn half-way down, to begin
to sew up from the tail end, so as to meet the other stitches. A fine
"skin" needle must be used.

After it is entirely stitched up there will still be little places
which will require deepening and filling up. A little tow, pushed in
any interstices which maybe left between the stitches, will soon
rectify this, and also help to shorten the fish, which, in a first
attempt, is almost sure to be made too long. This is important, as a
well-fed pike should be of some considerable depth, and not a lanky
monster like a snake. A little gentle tapping with the handle of the
stuffer on the upper surface is sometimes advisable. Get the back
almost straight, and, having brought it nearly to your measurements,
you may lift the fish by the two wires, but in a very careful manner,
to examine the show side, and there note any little defect. Of course,
you must constantly alter your position.

Carefully lift the fish off the board, still keeping the sewn side
uppermost, and measure the distance between the two upright wires, and
make corresponding holes in the board, which push down on the top of
the fish, bringing the wires through, and bending their ends down upon
the board, so that the specimen may be temporarily rivetted thereto.
Place your hand carefully underneath the head of the fish, and turn
the board over. You have now the fish right side uppermost. About the
head some little extra stuffing will doubtless be required, and, as
the putty will have got a little out of place in the process, it must
be replaced, and the head and neck made up nice and square; also look
to the tail, and put that in proper shape.

Gently press the skin all over with the hands, deftly patting it with
a small piece of smooth flat board to reduce any lumps, and to get the
putty to work evenly over the surface. Get some short wires and set
the head, with the mouth open as much as you require. One wire may be
pushed through the nostril, another may go under the tongue, and a
third parallel to it beneath the under-jaw. Arrange the teeth, some of
which you will find loose, and, with "needle points," fix into
position the gill-covers, which tie over with a little wrapping cotton
to keep them from springing up out of place. Next look to the fins,
under which put some pieces of peat, covered by stiff card-board, and
nicely display them, pinning them down and binding the wrapping cotton
over them.

As a last operation, go over the whole of the outside skin with the
carbolic formula, No. 15. When this dries, which it will do in the
course of an hour or so, varnish the whole upper surface with best
clear "paper" varnish, which will have the effect of keeping the skin
and scales in position. Let the fish be now put by in a moderately
warm situation to thoroughly dry, which will, in the case of a large
specimen, take about a month. The skin is then like leather, with no
colour in it at all, and must, of course, be subsequently coloured up
according to nature, the eyes put in, and mounted in a case with
appropriate water-weed; notes on all of which will be found in
Chapters XII, XIII, and XIV.

Sawdust or bran may be used for stuffing the fish, which, with the
addition of putty and tow to certain parts, will shape it up very
fairly. Some taxidermists use tow alone, but this I do not think

Small fish, up to 2 lb, may, after skinning, have a bent wire inserted
as before, and be filled entirely with plaster of Paris, which must be
mixed in readiness, and poured in the skin to fill out every part. The
cut edges of the skin are now brought together, and the whole fish
turned over to show its proper side and rapidly patted into shape,
before the plaster has time to set.

Beautiful models of the thicker-skinned fishes maybe made by this
method, but rapidity of execution is a sine quâ non.

As the student progresses he will find that it will not be necessary
in all cases to cut through the scapular arch of the under side to
clear out the head. As a proof, I may mention that I have just
finished an 18 lb. fish, the head of which was skinned out by this

Small pieces of cabinet cork (about one-eighth inch thick) will be
found very useful for spreading the fins of small fishes. [Footnote:
Notes on repairing fins will be found in Chapter XII.]

In the event of the scales rising from the use of wet plaster or any
other cause, "wrapping" cotton, i.e, "darning" cotton, or shoemakers'
hemp, must be bound over them to keep them in place.

Since the foregoing was written I have considerably modified and
improved on my former method. Having tried wet "pipe" or modelling
clay, with which to stuff the skin, I found that although at first the
working and general shape were excellent, yet that, after a few days,
the skin shrank and puckered in so abominable a fashion as to render
all the labour bestowed upon it of no avail. This was most
unfortunately tried upon a twenty pound pike, and so utterly misshapen
did it become as to necessitate the relaxing of the specimen--the
removal of the clay--and the ultimate shaping up again, by the dry
plaster process. [Footnote: Several correspondents have written as to
the relaxing of fish skins. This is a very easy process, nothing more
being done to the skin than plunging it in water until sufficiently

This substitution of dry plaster of Paris (price about 4s. per cwt.)
for sand is one of the very best things ever tried. Having skinned
your fish in the manner before directed, crowd the head with peat and
the face, and parts of the skin inside, and around the fins and tail,
with putty. Lay the fish-skin, cut uppermost as before, and ladle in
dry plaster, beginning at the tail end; as this fills in, sew up,
being careful to shorten the skin, making it deep, and not long and
narrow at that part; being particular also to well ram in with a short
stick the plaster to fill all out, and to remove ugly creases or
depressions. When about a third of the fish is done, fasten your
stitches and go on filling in at the head; as you work toward the
middle, lift head or tail very gently to peep underneath at the
progress you are making.

As the stuffing progresses, deepen the body toward the middle, being
careful at the same time to well ram in the plaster. Finally sew up.

Now take another board, a little more than the length and breadth of
the specimen, lay it upon the top of the skin and tie it to the board
on which the fish is resting; by this means you will be enabled to
reverse the fish without cracking the skin or destroying the "set" of
it. Untie your boards and the object is before you right side
uppermost. It will now be seen if your modelling is true or not; in
the latter case, note where all imperfections occur, reverse the fish
once more, and ram more dry plaster in between the stitches, or if the
latter be sewn up too tightly, cut them where needed, sewing up again
when all is satisfactorily accomplished.

The specimen being once again right side uppermost, will appear
somewhat flat along the centre, this arises from the plaster
accommodating itself to the flat surface of the board. You must now,
therefore, pass a wet cloth several times over the surface of the
skin, and proceed to pat it in a light and dexterous manner into a
more rounded shape with your hand, or by the aid of a piece of board
shaped in the manner of a small flat bat.

The head will require a great deal of attention; it is now flat and,
perhaps, drops down upon the board, causing the upper gill cover to
open more widely than it should; to obviate this, prop the nose from
the underneath by a piece of peat, or by a wedge-shaped piece of wood;
the tail may be twisted or thrown up by the same means if required.
The mouth may be kept open as much as desired by pointed wires, one
driven through the "nostrils" of the upper jaw, the other wire resting
against the teeth inside the lower jaw. The fins being kept damp
during the preceding operations, must now be "braced out" by the
process heretofore described, and the fish washed, varnished, and
dried in the usual manner.

Nothing, you will observe, has been said as to the oval-shaped piece
of board previously used inside the pike mounted by the first process.
This is wanted when the fish is thoroughly set and dried; when this
takes place, cut the stitches and carefully shake out the plaster. If
a large fish, replace this by tow, moderately packed; on this lay an
irregularly oval-shaped piece of three-quarter inch board, edges
rounded and cut to the shape, and almost the length of the fish.

No wires are needed at the head and the tail (one end of the board
running into the head), but only those required to support the
specimen in its case. When this board is properly in position inside
the fish, nail the edges of the skin on it with tacks of a suitable
length. Nothing is now needed to complete the fish but the fixing of
the eyes and the colouring of the skin. The eyes are hollow, and fixed
by wax (see Chapter XII).

In cases where it is undesirable or inconvenient to mount a fish as a
whole, the head only may be treated as a taxidermic object. In this
case cut off the head behind the scapular arch, leaving sufficient of
the skin of the "neck" for nailing on the block. The head being
skinned and preserved, as above directed, is then nailed by the skin
of the neck on to a similar block to that shown in Fig. 27. The mouth
is set open when required, and the gullet and underneath the tongue
filled up and modelled with either clay, cement, or wax, the tongue
remodelled or substituted by a copy in wax or cement, the composition
and application of which is fully explained in Chapter XII.

Notes of the colour of the various parts of your specimen should have
been taken previously; in some cases, it is a good plan to make a
water-colour drawing of the whole or certain parts of your subject
when fresh.

FISH CASTING .--Casting fishes by the plaster of Paris method deserves
description, as by this means you are enabled to get correct copies of
the shapes and peculiarities of any specimen, from the smallest to the
largest. Procure some plaster of Paris of a finer quality--known as
"S.F."--than that you have been using previously in modelling mammals,
or to fill out the skins of fishes; also some tempered clay--described
in Chapter VII.--and some strips of board calculated to the depth,
width, and length of the fish you wish to "cast." The specimen having
had all the mucus washed from its most perfect side, is laid upon one
or two sheets of brown paper or common card-board ("straw-board")
covering the work-table. [Footnote: I see that Rowland Ward advises
the fish being washed with dilute vitriol (sulphuric acid and water)
to remove this mucus.]  Decide now as to the attitude you wish it to
finally assume, and taking some of the tempered clay, cut it into thin
slices, build it on, as it were, until only the upper half of the fish
is exposed, build under the fins--including the caudal one--and spread
them out as you wish; the clay will usually stick to their under
surfaces, and hold them in position. Should they "run back," stick
fine pins in them here and there, being sure, however, to cut of the
heads of the latter close to the upper surface of the fins.

It is often advisable to lay thin card-board or strong paper under the
fins, if the clay is so soft as to come up over the edges. Having now
nicely built in the fish--the upper surface of the clay being
carefully smoothed over with a knife-blade and a stiff brush
("Artist's hog-hair, No. 8") dipped in water, surround the clay with
pieces of board, set up on edge, so as to form a wooden wall around
all; the height of this wall should exceed the greatest depth or
thickness of the fish by some inches. Tie these four walls--planed on
their inside surface--around with strong string, finally nailing
outside all with long "French" nails, driven into the table as a
support against pressure from within. Look all over carefully, and if
any open spaces appear between the clay tablet and the boards, fill in
with more clay.

The fish being now ready for casting, take a bowl, which half fill
with clean water, into this "dust in" the fine plaster of Paris, in
small quantities at a time, stirring each portion until all is
ultimately mixed smoothly and without lumps; when enough is mixed--and
the knowledge of quantity only comes with experience--pour it quickly,
yet gently, over the whole surface of the fish; jarring the table with
your fist causes the plaster to settle down more evenly, without
leaving "blowholes." The plaster should now be an inch or more in
thickness over the highest portion of the fish, in order to give
sufficient strength for the "return" cast. Should this not be so, mix
some more plaster and strengthen the cast, endeavouring to get a flat
surface on the top.

After ten minutes, take away the nails and boards, thus allowing more
air to get to the mass of plaster. In half an hour--should the plaster
be of good quality--the mould may be raised, turned over, and the fish
will tumble out, or may be pulled carefully out without the least
trouble. Remove the clay, and on looking into the mould it will, if
properly made, show every scale and every line, be free from
"blow-holes" or blemishes of casting, besides having a fairly even and
square surface surrounding the cavity from whence the fish has been

This first mould can be cast into again by plaster of Paris, and will,
in the case of most fishes, turn out a satisfactory reproduction of
the original. Some fishes there are, however, so curiously shaped as
to make the first or "female" mould so "undercut" as to render it
impossible to get a return cast. In this case, nothing avails but the
destruction of the first to release the copy. There are several ways
of doing this; one of the most simple is sawing with many cuts the
edges of the first, or, as it now becomes, the "waste" mould as near
to the cavity as you dare, before casting into it; having done which,
and allowed several hours, or a day even, to elapse, you proceed to
break it away, piece by piece, by gentle blows with a hammer, leaving
the enclosed fish to make its appearance little by little. When this
plan is adopted, the last cast or copy must be run double the
thickness to that you wish to destroy, otherwise you may break the
copy instead of the "waste" mould. Another way is to make the first
mould very thin, or to put thin successive coats of plaster over the
fish, with brown paper between each coat, and subsequently breaking
them away, layer by layer, after the fish is extracted and the mould
is filled in by plaster.

In casting into the first mould for the "copy" or perfect cast, it
will, of course, be necessary to lay it concavity uppermost, and to
surround it with a wall of board like the last, brushing over the
concavity, and indeed the whole of the tablet surrounding it, with
soft soap and water, or oil, or thin pipe-clay and water; or, if the
mould has been baked dry, soaking it in water alone will be sufficient
to prevent the copy sticking. Recollect that the flatter the
tablet--surrounding the cavity left by the fish--is made, the better
will be that of the model.

Supposing that your cast, or model fish, has been turned out in good
condition, you will see that there are still certain inequalities of
the tablet, and certain roughnesses around the fins, mouth, etc.; these
latter must be "relieved" and undercut by the aid of the
"undercutting" and "relieving" tools (see Figs. 29 and 30), the tablet
must be pared flat by a long broad flat chisel called a "firmer," and
the edges also nicely squared.

Your fish is now in high relief on a flat background, but, though
having correct form, it still lacks colour. How to colour plaster
satisfactorily is a puzzle which has perplexed more persons than
taxidermists. Speaking for myself, I say that, having coloured the
cast, when wet and when dry, with water-colours, used paper varnish
when dry, with water-colours and varnished and painted, and painted
and varnished the cast in oils, having used "mediums," tempera
painting, "secco"--yet I am not satisfied; there appears a want of
softness and brilliancy; probably the electro-type or wax process I am
now trying may give the desired effect.

So disgusted was I at the seeming impossibility of getting "tone" on
plaster, that I determined to try paper for the last cast or model; to
this end I took lessons at a theatre in the art of "making (paper)
faces," with the result that I now employ paper whenever practicable,
and find it answer, from a 2 lb. perch to a 2 cwt. skate. Two or three
most valuable results accrue from the substitution of paper for
plaster. First, extreme lightness combined with strength; and
secondly, of course, excellence of detail and facility of colouring in
either water or oil. For remarks upon the artistic mounting of fishes,
see Chapters XII, XIII, and XIV.

There are, I find, two excellent articles on fish-casting in "Science
Gossip for 1878," to which I must refer my readers for further
details. They agree to differ, however, in one important particular.
One writer says that plaster-work is as "cleanly as any cooking
operation, and there is no reason why ladies should not engage in it"!
The other writer speaks of it as "filthy," and, really, I feel
inclined to back his opinion; for having now used some tons of
plaster, ranging in quantities from a few pounds to 3 cwt. at a time,
I must say that, of all the diabolical messes for getting into the
hair or on the boots, and about a house or workshop, plaster is the
worst. "Matter in the wrong place," ma foi! you can't keep it in the

I see that Mr. Taylor, amongst other suggestions, advises the use of
half glue and treacle (see Chapter XII.) to cast the first mould for
groups of small fishes. If these glue-moulds were backed with plaster
"piece-moulds," they might be useful for larger "undercut" specimens.

Plaster moulds and casts, it must be remembered, are, when dried,
about a quarter of their weight when wet, and the same bulk of dried
(not dry) plaster is not half the weight of dried clay.

A very scientific way of getting the correct shape of a fish for
mounting by taxidermy is to take a cast of the specimen and to then
adjust the skin, stuffed by the dry-plaster process, into the cavity
of the mould, suffering all to dry therein.

Fishes are now and then mounted in halves, should one side be very
badly mangled; the effect is not very good, however, and should not be
resorted to but in extreme cases.

Large fishes, such as sharks, rays, and sturgeons of great size and
weight, must be cast by the "piece-mould" process--described in
Chapter XII. The mounting of such as these, by processes of taxidermy,
differs from all previously described in this chapter. When of
excessive size and weight, they may be "set up" with wood and iron
(see Chapter VII.), or if smaller--say, up to 5 cwt.--may be managed
by being cut underneath along the stomach, from head to tail, and
mounted by two short iron rods being screwed into a beam of wood, or
bar of iron fitted into the body, now filled out with hay, straw, or,
better still, clean shavings, supplemented by tow here and there.

When all is sewn up, and the mouth--if open--modelled by any of the
methods described in Chapter XII, the short iron rods protruding from
each end of the fish must be let into metal sockets (iron gas pipes
will often do) screwed into iron feet, supporting all clear from the
floor of the museum or room they are to be exhibited in.




THE chief requirement in preserving reptiles is a fine and delicate
hand, in order to deal successfully with these mostly thin-skinned
objects. I will now take one of the easiest reptiles as our first
study, viz, the common snake.

Formerly, by the old method of skinning, the bodies of all snakes were
removed through an incision made along the skin of the stomach. This
was a mistake, for the smaller snakes may be skinned through the
mouth, in this wise: Open the jaws of the snake to their fullest
extent, taking care, if a venomous one, not to scratch the fingers
with the fangs, which, in the adder or viper, lie folded backward
along the roof of the mouth. If the fangs are not required to be
shown, the safest plan will be to cut them away with a pointed pair of

Holding the snake by the back of the neck with the left hand, push the
pointed knife or scissors into the mouth towards the back of the head,
feeling at the same time with the point of the knife for the first
joint of the cervical vertebrae, having found which proceed to
dislocate it with the point of the knife, gently feeling your way, and
cutting downward toward the right hand, the thumb of which presses
against the snake's head at the under jaw. Feel round with the point
of the knife or scissors up toward the outer skin, gradually working
the flesh away. Cut away the under jaw, inside the skin, from its
attachment to the flesh, pushing the point of your scissors or knife
at the same time as far as you can get it down inside the skin.

This all requires time and patience, lest you push the point of the
knife or scissors through the skin, and also as you will not at the
first trial succeed in detaching the head from the body.

The knife or scissors must then be run a little way down the back, to
detach the skin. The neck being now entirely free, lay the knife down,
and endeavour to push the broken or cut part of the neck up through
the mouth; seize the end with your right-hand fingers and gradually
slide the skin down with your left hand, turning it inside out until
the vent is reached, which carefully cut away; beyond this the skin,
instead of coming off easily, holds most tenaciously to the flesh, and
the knife again comes into play to free it all around.

Near the extreme tip of the tail it will be almost impossible to get
the flesh out, you must therefore skin as far as you can, and then
make a small incision underneath, lay back the skin on each side, and
cut the flesh away. This operation will bring the outside of that part
inside. Return, it, and neatly sew up the cut from the inside, trim
away all flesh from the skull bone, take out the eyes, put a stitch in
the vent, and anoint the whole of the skin with the preservative.

To return the skin, push a small round stick down and pull the skin
back on it; when nearing the tail, the stick may be removed and the
fingers used to gradually work this end through, or tie a small piece
of wool to form a knot on the end of a piece of doubled thread, and
push it through by a long fine needle from the inside to the out, at
the same time allowing the needle to come through, by doubling up the
skin. You may reach the needle with your fingers, or by long pliers,
or even shake it down by its own weight, then by pulling gently you
return the skin effectually.

To stuff the snake insert a funnel in the mouth, and fill the skin
through this with fine dry sand, or dry plaster of Paris, taking great
care to shake the sand well down, and fill in every part in a regular
and natural manner. On nearing the head, push a piece of wool in the
mouth to prevent the sand from running back, and then adjust the
snake to the position you require, leaving the head to be modelled
last with clay, putty, or plaster, then remove the wool and make up
the throat and inside of the mouth. The natural tongue should be left
in, and displayed with fine entomological pins pushed in the hollow
underneath, and, if shown open-mouthed, the fangs must be dropped,
and the head raised, as in the attitude of striking.

Large snakes, such as rock snakes or boas, must be cut on the old
system, viz, under the belly and skinned out, working up and down, as
the muscles have so firm an attachment that the slipping-out process
cannot be resorted to, but each inch will have to be laboriously cut
away from the skin.

Sawdust, mixed with a little sand, will be found very useful for
stuffing the larger snakes, as the weight of so large a quantity of
sand, or plaster, is too great to successfully manipulate.

A few hints as to snakes and snake bites may not be out of place here.
To distinguish the only venomous snake found in the British Isles is
an easy matter, if you have the opportunity of examination. In the
first place, the viper appears to have a more spade-like and flatter
head than the common snake, and has a black cross from near the neck
running up to the centre of the head, where it terminates in a black,
oval-shaped spot. But the greatest distinction, perhaps, is that a
decided pattern runs down the centre of the back, appearing as a chain
of obtusely-shaped diamond markings, joined together, and somewhat
confused in places.

Again, it has in the upper jaw two fangs or poison teeth, which in
rest lie folded back; on pulling them down with a needle, or by the
crooked awl, they appear as fleshy lobes, out of the apex of which is
thrust a little glittering point like a small fish bone. This small
bone or fang is hollow, and through it the poison is ejected by a
process too complex to describe in the pages of this work.

The slow-worm, common snake, and the one other rarer species found in
Britain, have merely the ordinary holding teeth, and are all perfectly
harmless. Should anyone be so unfortunate as to be bitten or scratched
by a viper's fang, a speedy application of liquor ammoniae fort
(strong ammonia) to the wound, with the further application of a
ligature above the bitten part will be found of benefit, and perhaps
avert serious consequences until surgical aid is obtained. Ipecacuanha
has been recommended, powdered and applied as a poultice, with an
internal administration at the time also, of the same drug, but that
requires medical knowledge as to the extent and frequency of the

To skin frogs, they must be plunged for an hour or so into the
hardening solution, No. 15, and then skinned out from the mouth. This
requires a finer hand and greater patience even than skinning a snake,
as they must be carefully cut all around the mouth, and the body drawn
out to the tips of the toes. They may then be filled with sand or
plaster. Various comic scenes may be made by skilfully grouping frogs,
but if required to stand on their hind legs, etc, they will have to be
wired, by pushing fine wires or stout "needle points" through a small
piece of board into the sole of the foot, to run a little distance up
the legs. A drop or two of strong glue, or shellac, may then be placed
under each foot, which should be tied down until the glue sets hard.

Tortoises and turtles may be skinned out, by having the skin of the
legs, tail, and head, cut away all round from their attachments to the
under shell or plastron. The joints of the limbs should then be cut
away from the inside, and the tortoise or turtle laid on its back, in
which position the separated limbs hang down, remaining only attached
by their top skin (now underneath), to the upper part of the shell or
carapace. This exposes the whole of the remaining skin and flesh,
which must be cut and scraped out with knives, or with the
under-cutting tool. The limbs are then skinned out, preserved and
stuffed, and their proper bottom edges, when in position, pushed back
and attached by needle points to the plastron.

Lizards, "horned toads," and chameleons may be cut underneath and
filled out with sand or plaster.

In all cases where sand is used it may, after the animal is thoroughly
dry, be shaken out if desired; but if the reptile is not very large,
it is better to leave it in.

Dry plaster will, in nearly all cases, be found the best medium for
filling out the skins of reptiles; with this I have succeeded in
giving characteristic and life-like attitudes to moderately-sized
alligators, etc.

Very large saurians may be mounted by either of the methods referred
to in the closing sentences of the last two chapters.



THE art of tanning is, as I before observed (vide Chapter I.), of the
highest antiquity, as systems which are now in vogue must have been
known--if even in a modified form--to the ancients. We may roughly
divide the operation of tanning into two distinct classes: One which
deals with skins without the preservation of the fur, and which turns
the skin so operated upon into the material known as leather; and the
other in which we seek to preserve the fur or hair in its normal
position, at the same time dressing or rendering soft the actual skin
itself. [Footnote: Some time during 1874, Mr. Joseph Tussaud read a
paper before the Society of Arts, in which he described an ingenious
method of removing the fur of any animal to an artificial "backing" of
india-rubber or flannel, whilst the original skin was utilised as

The first process--the making of leather--does not lie within the
scope of this work; suffice it to say, that the hair or fur is first
removed by lime, etc, and that after the skin is scraped it is treated
variously with oak bark, valonia, sumach, divi-divi, etc.; it is a long
and tedious process, and certainly does not lie within the province of
a taxidermist to attempt; and though it is possible for a tanner to
preserve the fur with the skin, yet the attempt is undesirable, by
reason of the false or unnatural colour it permanently gives the
fur--totally destroying the character of a light one, and heightening
or lowering, as the case may be, the tint of a dark fur. [Footnote:
Technical works on Tanning are "Tanning, Currying, and Leather-dressing,"
by F. Dussance: "The Arts of Tanning, Currying, and Leather-dressing,"
from the French of J. de Fontenelle and F. Malepeyre.]

To obviate all these difficulties and disagreeable effects, a totally
distinct method of dressing skins has been devised, which is called
"white leather dressing." Before I describe this, however, it may be
as well to say that no liquid, powder, or combination of liquids or
powders, is known into which a skin can be plunged, and--without the
aid of manual labour--come out as leather. I mention this to correct a
popular error, many people supposing that labour has no part in the
preparation of "white leather." To those who are not prepared to work
hard, and very hard indeed, I say, Do not waste your time in reading
this chapter.

The usual and time-honoured method of dressing skins, say a rabbit's
skin, is--directly it is removed from the animal--to nail it on a
board, and rub it in with alum four parts, and common salt one part,
or plunge it in a warm solution of the same for a day or so, taking it
out, nailing it on a board, letting it dry, rubbing it down with
pumice stone, and plunging it again and again, and repeating the
drying and pumice-stoning process until the skin becomes pliable. This
is rather an uncertain process, for if well steeped the hair or fur is
constantly damp, or dripping even, in humid weather, and if alum alone
is used, though killing much of the dampness, it renders a fine thin
skin of a parchment-like texture.

However, as anything is better than a damp skin, I have used a mixture
of four parts of burnt alum to one part of saltpetre (see Formula No.
9) for small skins, finally rubbing down and dressing the skin with
lard, into which a little essence of musk has been stirred, and
kneading the skin with the hands in bran to remove the superflous

This, and all other such processes where alum is used, must, however,
give way to the following, which I have used for certain skins for
years, and for which I was originally indebted to a correspondent in
the English Mechanic; his formula was: "Mix bran and soft water
sufficient to cover the skins, let this stand four hours covered,
before being used, then immerse the skins, keeping them well covered
for twenty-four hours (less in India), then take out, wash clean, and
carefully scrape off all the flesh. To one gallon of water (hot) add
one pound of alum and a quarter of a pound of salt. When dissolved and
the mixture is cool enough to bear the hand, immerse the skins for
twenty-four hours, take out and dry in the shade, and well rub with
the hand.

Stir the liquor, and again immerse for twenty-four hours; dry, and
hand-rub as before, and then put the skins for twenty-four hours into
warm oatmeal and water, stirring occasionally. Dry in the shade, and
when the skin is nearly dry, hand-rub till quite dry."

The only thing I have found necessary to guard against in this is,
that the skins must be perfectly fresh before being put in the bran
and water, otherwise it will be necessary to rub them in with the salt
and alum first. Another improvement is, to tear up the fibre with a
little instrument I have invented, or rather adapted (see Fig. 35),
which is simply a "hog scraper," ground up sharp all round, and then
filed up into short rounded teeth where shown; this will be found of
incalculable service in tearing off the hard upper skin or dried flesh
and blood, which locks up as it were the true skin, and which must be
got at before the pelt will become at all flexible.

Fig. 35--Scraper with which to dress skins.

Often a thorough wetting of the skin will considerably facilitate this
operation. Constant scraping and hard hand-rubbing, similar to a
washerwoman's "rubbing" of clothes, is necessary. In the cases of some
skins which are obstinate, thick, or have been simply sun-dried, as
are many tigers' and leopards' skins sent from India, it will be found
necessary to fix them over a sloping board or on the edge of a table,
and to use a spokeshave, or currier's thinning knife, to thin them
down--perhaps an eighth of an inch all over--then tear the fibre up
with the scraper, grease them with lard, to which has been added
essence of musk, and punch them for several hours or several days with
a "dolly" in a tub half full of bran or hard-wood sawdust; finally
covering them with plaster of Paris, or powdered whiting, to absorb
the grease; scraping off the old plaster or whiting, and adding fresh
from time to time, until the skin is freed of fat and perfectly
pliant. [Footnote: Professional workmen often knead the lard into
skins by the medium of their feet and hands--not too clean an

To afterwards clean the fur, dress it down with a "scratch-card" (to
be procured of any ironmonger)--steel wire woven on cloth in such a
manner that short ends protrude like a wire brush.

Very fat skins, such as dogs' skins, may, if perfectly fresh, be
nailed out and gone over with a saturated solution of borax, or a
solution of one part borax to one-eighth part saltpetre, and left to
dry in the shade for three months, after which they may be scraped,
and their natural fat will, after all superfluity has been removed
with plaster, etc, be found to have sufficiently imbued the under or
proper skin to render the final greasing unnecessary.

The two foregoing processes seem to have been modified with some
success by Mr. R. Backhouse, of Stockton-on-Tees, whose process is
spoken of in the Field of June 3rd, 1882, as follows:

"The skin, which should be removed from the animal as soon as possible
after it has been killed, is stretched and tacked on to a board, the
flesh side being outwards. This is at once covered with lard carefully
spread over the entire surface, no portion being allowed to escape. As
the moisture dries out of the skin, the lard enters the pores and
supplies its place, and in about a week's time (the lard being
carefully renewed when requisite) the skin will have altered its
character, in consequence of being penetrated by the grease. It is
then removed and washed thoroughly in warm water and soap until the
external grease is removed.  During the drying it is necessary to pull
and stretch the skin in all directions, so that its texture opens, and
it becomes white, owing to the admission of air into the pores; this
stretching is accompanied, or rather preceded, by careful scraping or
currying with a sharp knife or razor, to remove the fleshy matters and
render the skin thinner. With the larger number of skins the process
is successful; but some few go bad, apparently from not absorbing the
lard with sufficient rapidity."..

Possibly the species of mammals treated may have something to do with
this, the skins of carnivorous animals bearing exposure better than
those of the rodentia--hares, rabbits, squirrels, etc, and
insectivora--bats, shrew-mice, and moles--indeed, the latter animals
must be skinned almost as soon as they are dead, or the skin turns
"green" and goes bad in a very short time. No doubt the vegetable and
insect food consumed by these cause fermentation after death, with the
resultant putrefaction of the bowels and the thin coverings of the

I would here point out, however, that small skins--cats', rabbits',
etc.--will be perfectly preserved if stretched out whilst fresh, cured
with the chloride of lime preservative (No. 4), and then finally
treated with lard and essence of musk, and finished off by either of
the preceding methods to render them clean and supple. A correspondent
who had treated some cats' skins by this method writes to say he has
"succeeded in curing some cats' skins in an admirable manner" by
following these instructions.

A very convenient mixture of borax and another natural salt has been
brought out by Mr. Robottom, of Birmingham (see Chapter I). I have
given his preparation a long and patient investigation, and can
recommend it for small skins, while its convenient form, cleanliness,
and low price, place it within the reach of all amateurs.

Equal parts of salt, alum, and Glauber's salts, mixed with half a part
of saltpetre, the whole rubbed in several times a day, has been
recommended, but I have not tried it.

A mixture of sulphur and arsenic with soft soap is sometimes used to
dress skins with, and if left on for about a year certainly renders
them very pliant, after the removal of the grease.

The North American Indians, I believe, smoke their deer skins, etc. and
after working them, use brains to dress them with.

The skins of mammals in the flesh may, if bloody, be washed, should
the blood be new, or combed with the scratch card (see ante) if it has
dried on the hair or fur. In old skins washing is effective when the
animal is relaxed. Freshly skinned deer and bulls' heads should always
be washed and combed, and wrung out before having the preservative

Mammals' fur is also considerably improved in tone by being well
brushed with stiff horse or carriage brushes, and afterwards wiped
down with turpentine, followed by benzoline.

When a skin is properly cleaned and finished, it may be lined with
red or black cloth, or baize, and a "pounced" border of cloth
attached. The tools for "pouncing" are to be bought at most saddlers'
or ironmongers'.

I have been asked many times what to do, if camping out abroad,
supposing you shot a tiger or a bear, and wished to preserve the skin
as a "flat." Simply lay it on the ground and slit the skin underneath,
in a straight line through the under lip to the tip of the tail, then
make four cross cuts from the median line along the inside of the
limbs down to the toes, and skin out the body by stripping it in a
careful manner, not allowing any pieces to be cut away, in case you
might change your mind and wish it mounted as a specimen.

Take out the skull, clean and preserve it, and though skinning out
the toes completely, be careful to retain the claws in their seats.
When the body is removed, "flesh" the skin, which means scraping and
cutting away all superfluous flesh and fat, then lay it out flat and
rub it well in with the burnt alum and saltpetre (Formula No. 9). In
dressing thick skins, it will be advisable to make a paste of the alum
and saltpetre by mixing it with a little water, and repeatedly rub
this mixture into those parts where the skin is thickest, such as
around the lips, eyes, ears, etc, taking care that not a wrinkle in any
part escapes a thorough dressing, otherwise it will assuredly "sweat,"
and the hair come off in such places.

The skin may now be rolled or folded together for travelling, but the
next day, when settled in camp, it must be dressed again--twice will
be quite sufficient for any but the thickest or most greasy skins;
after that it must be exposed day by day to the sun and air, taking
care meanwhile to guard it against all possible enemies. Treated in
this manner, it has no "nature" in it, but is "as stiff as a board;"
before this happens, however, it will be advisable to roll it, unless
you have plenty of space at disposal on the floor of a travelling
waggon, etc, in which case it may be folded to fit. A folded skin is,
however, worse to treat, subsequently, than a rolled one.

Valuable skins should be, when practicable, sprinkled with insect
powder, turpentine, or pepper, and sewn up in sacking until they can
be tanned, or made into soft leather, by any one of the processes
previously described. If time is no object the skin may, after the
first rubbing-in of the preservative, be stretched by the
old-fashioned method of "pegging out," or by the more efficient
professional "frame," made of four bars of wood, to which the specimen
is "laced," or sometimes made of bars of wood and stout sacking,
adjustable by means of wood screws, which open the bars and stretch
the attached skin in a proper manner to the required size.

When alum, etc, cannot be obtained, recourse must be had to common
salt, which is generally procurable in any part of the world; a strong
--almost a saturated--solution with water must be made of this in a
tub, and the skin placed in it. If possible, change the liquor after a
few days and add fresh; head the tub up tightly and the skin will keep
many years. I received the skin of a polar bear, sent from the Arctic
Regions to Leicester for the Town Museum, simply flayed and pickled in
this manner, and after a lapse of two years it was examined, and found
to be perfectly sweet and firm--quite fit for mounting when
opportunity served.

Of course, these salted subjects are terrible nuisances either to
mount or to treat as flat skins, having to go through many processes
to rid them of the salt which pervades them. The first process is
thorough washing and steeping in water, constantly changed; after that
experience alone determines the treatment to be pursued. If alum were
mixed with rough salt in the proportion of two parts of the former to
one of the latter, the solution would become more astringent in its
operation. A pickle made of oatmeal, saltpetre, and boiling vinegar
has been recommended, but I have not yet tried it.

I think I have now put the would-be tanner and currier in a fair way
to do some of the dirtiest work imaginable, and if after a fair trial
he does not cry, "Hold, enough!" and hand all future leather-dressing
over to the professionals, I shall indeed think him "hard to kill."

In conclusion, I can only reiterate to those who wish to do skins well
by any of the foregoing methods, that nothing can be done without hard



RELAXING SKINS.--In many instances, especially when collecting abroad,
it may be found incompatible with the time and storage space at the
disposal of the collector to set up birds and animals in their natural
positions. To obviate these difficulties we make a skin as previously
described, and by this means pack many in the space which would
otherwise be occupied by one. The time comes, however, when we wish to
"set up" the skins procured by ourselves, or by others, and for this
purpose we "relax" them.

"Relaxing" is performed in various ways, but probably the oldest plan
is that of simply unstuffing the skin, laying it down on a board,
wrapping the feet and legs round with wet cloths or tow, and applying
the same to the insides of the butts of the wings, allowing the skin
to remain from one to four or five days in this position, according to
its size; then, when the legs, feet, and wings are sufficiently
damped, warm water is poured into the orifices of the skin, and
suffered to run out at the eyes and beak. It is then ready for
stuffing in the ordinary way.

Another "rough and ready" method is simply pouring hot water through
the bird's skin; this relaxes just sufficiently to bend the head,
which many workmen of slovenly habits consider quite sufficient!

The next most ancient method is relaxing by the plaster box, which is
a rough box, with a lid made to fit over all tightly, and having the
whole of its inside lined with a coating of plaster of Paris mixed
with water, and laid on two or three inches thick. 'When a bird is to
be "relaxed," the inside of the box is saturated with water, which the
plaster readily absorbs up to a certain point. Then the surplus water
is poured off, the skin or skins are placed within the box, the lid is
fastened down, and the whole placed in the cellar for so long a time
as is required to thoroughly soften the included skins.

This plan, though fairly efficient for the smaller skins, must give
place to that which I have ever adopted, and which is almost as
effective for a large as for a small skin. It is this: Procure a box
of suitable size, which, for greater efficiency, may be lined with
zinc. Into this put several quarts of clean silver sand well damped
with water, but not up to the point of actual wetness. Wrap each skin
separately in a clean rag or in a piece of unprinted paper ("cap
paper" will do for the smaller birds), pull back the sand to one end
of the box, leaving a thin layer, however, all over the remaining part
of the bottom, on which place the skins, covering them up as you go on
with the sand from the other end. When covered with the proper depth
of sand, lay a damp cloth over the top, and put the box away in the
cellar or in the shade.

In from three days to a week, according to the size of the skins, they
will be found more thoroughly relaxed by this than by any other
method, and will be kept--by their covering paper or linen rag--from
having their feathers soiled or disturbed by the sand.

In the first edition, I decried the practice of plunging birds' skins
into water in the manner pursued by Waterton and his followers, but I
had not at that time found anyone to please me in the subsequent
manipulation of skins after being taken out of water. I have now,
however, changed my views on the subject, and will proceed to describe
a plan, which, though entailing some little trouble, is yet so simple,
and so complete in its effects, as almost to supersede the previous
methods, when the operator has attained any degree of proficiency in

The skin to be operated upon is, if small, simply placed in a pan or
bucket partly filled with water, and weighted own in such a manner
that it shall always be beneath the surface. If the taxidermist is in
a fair way of business, he will find a wooden tank, about 36 in. by 24
in. by 12 in. deep (inside measurement), sufficiently large for his
needs. This tank should be "tongued" and dressed with red lead, or
lined with zinc, to render it waterproof. Of course, the professional
will not find it large enough for anything but medium-sized skins; for
the larger ones, and for mammals, he will require other and larger
tanks. A petroleum cask (procurable from any oilman for a few
shillings), cut unequally in two parts, will be found of service when
one large skin only is soaked at a time.

When the skin is in the water, a board may be placed upon it, weighted
so as not to flatten against the bottom of the vessel, or it may be
kept in position under the water by pressing thin slips of wood over
from side to side. The skin being well saturated--which, according to
the size of the bird, will take place in from twelve to twenty-four
hours--must have the stuffing removed from it, and then be allowed to
soak for so long a time as experience will dictate. [Footnote: This
should not be attempted before the skin is properly soaked, otherwise
the cotton wool, or whatever it maybe stuffed with, will "stick" and
frequently pull the head, etc. off with it.] As a rule, however, when
the wings and tail will spread out with gentle handling, the bird is
fit to mount.

Sometimes the legs, if thick, and even the wings and tail, if large,
will require a longer time to soak than is conducive to the well-being
of the remainder of the skin; in this case, nothing remains but to
skilfully pull off the wings, legs, and tail, and let them soak a few
hours longer. [Footnote: This would seem to an amateur very rough
treatment, but often it is the only method to pursue especially if the
skin be "tender," although in them latter case vinegar is recommended
to be added to the water in which it is steeped.]

Supposing, however, that the skin is properly relaxed without recourse
to this, it must then be hung up by a wire secured through the
nostrils, in order to drain the water out of it. After hanging a few
hours (or many, if large) it is, when all the water has drained away
from it, but while yet damp, carefully wiped down in every part with
benzoline, applied liberally, but from head to tail, the way of the
feathers; this is important. The skin may now be placed in a long
shallow box, called the dry plaster box, and all the feathers well
covered above and below with common dry plaster of Paris, and the skin
allowed to be buried in it for three or four hours, then the damp
caked plaster may be shaken off and fresh dry plaster added, allowing
it to remain for several more hours.

This should be repeated until the feathers are fairly dry--which, if
the bird be large, will take from twelve to twenty-four hours. The
feathers of the skin must now be beaten with a bundle of stiff
feathers, or the wing of a goose, or other large bird, until nearly
dry, then dry plaster added from time to time, and the skin twirled
about in the open air if possible. Very soon the feathers will cease
to remain clogged with plaster, and will come out ready for mounting,
nicely dried, fresh, and so beautifully clean as to surprise any
person ignorant of the process.

Carefully managed, this is one of the most valuable aids to artistic
taxidermy, as by its means birds' skins are rendered as limp and
supple, and much tougher, than if just removed from the body. In proof
of my assertion, I may mention that I have caused skins from ten to
fifteen years old, and ranging in size from a cassowary to a humming
bird, to be prepared by this method, all of which subsequently mounted
up in a first-rate manner. [Footnote: A humming bird, after relaxing
by water, is, when drained sufficiently, best treated by plunging in
benzoline and then carefully dried in plaster. A night in water, and
half-an-hour's treatment with benzoline and plaster, is sufficient for
these small creatures.]

The points to observe are--first, perfect relaxing; secondly, wiping
down thoroughly with benzoline; thirdly, drying the feathers of the
skin well, by dusting in plaster and beating and agitating them in a
current of air. Should the skin be greasy, covered with fat, or
imperfectly freed of flesh (as many of the foreign birds' skins are),
it will be necessary to scrape and trim when the specimen comes out of
the plaster, before it is finally cleaned. In any case, it is always
advisable to turn the skin of the head inside out, stretch the face,
scrape the neck, and stuff the head in the ordinary manner before
returning the skin.

The great advantage in the water process is, that a "Past master" in
the method can mount a skin in as artistic and natural a manner as if
done from the flesh. Usually, specimens done from the "skin" are at
once recognisable by their uneasy and "wooden" appearance, but I defy
anyone to pick out the skins in the Leicester Museum--unless by their
neater appearance--from those anciently mounted from the flesh.

Skins of mammals, if cured by the formula (No. 9) given in Chapter IV,
need only to be plunged in water for a night or so to relax them,
wrung out, thinned down where required, and mounted straight away; a
wet skin being an advantage when modelling mammals, wet cloths even
being necessary to cover over certain parts, should the mounting
occupy more than a day or so. This, if the skin is properly cured,
does not injure the fur or any part in the slightest degree, while, at
the same time, it thoroughly relaxes.

As newly relaxed skins (especially those of birds) dry rapidly it will
be advisable to have everything ready, and shape them up as quickly as

The colours of the bills and feet of most birds recover their pristine
hues whilst being relaxed--a matter of great importance as assisting
the naturalist to the subsequent natural rendering of those parts.

CLEANING BIRDS' SKINS, etc.--Formerly, it appears, the orthodox method
of cleaning birds' skins was by the application of water and plaster
of Paris. When it was wished to remove blood, or other stains, from a
white or a light-coloured bird, this was effected by means of a soft
piece of wadding saturated with warm water, and then rapidly and
lightly applied to the stained part, followed by plaster of Paris
dusted on the way of the "grain," and allowed to remain on the
specimen until perfectly dry, when it easily came off in cake-like
pieces, leaving the feathers thoroughly cleansed of all impurities. If
the wadding became overcharged with blood, it was, of course, changed
from time to time before the plaster was thrown on.

Though this method does very well for blood stains of a recent date,
it will not remove grease or the stains from old skins. This was
always a weak point with the taxidermists of yore, who used, with very
meagre results, turpentine and plaster of Paris to clean their skins.
This went on for many years, and, though an unsatisfactory state of
things, had to be endured, as nothing better was known.

Some few years ago "benzine collas" was introduced, and the
taxidermists were not long in finding out its valuable properties for
feather cleaning. "Benzoline" (Benzol, or Benzine C6H6), then came
into more general use, and was, of course, found to have all the
properties of the so-called "benzine collas." This discovery, we may
say, completely revolutionised the art of feather cleaning. It served
equally as well as the other preparation, and its superior cheapness
placed it within the reach of everybody. The cleansing property of
benzoline is still somewhat a secret out of the profession, and is
really worth, as a matter of business, all the money which is
sometimes asked for divulging it to an amateur.

When, therefore, you have a bird which is greased, or stained with
greasy dirt, etc, wipe it down the way of the feathers with a piece of
wool saturated with common (or French) benzoline, using from time to
time fresh wool as the other becomes soiled. When the feathers are
well damped, cover the newly-cleaned part with dry plaster of Paris,
allowing the bird to remain from one to two or three hours, at the
expiration of which time take it out, dusting the waste plaster off
with a soft bundle of feathers, Do not be alarmed if the bird looks
somewhat miserable at the outset, but be sure that, if the plaster is
dusted on the way of the feathers, all will come out right.

Blood, whether fresh or old, is best removed by warm water as just
described, and the feathers then carefully wiped down with benzoline,
before putting, on the plaster; this obviates the roughness often
observable in water-cleaned birds. [Footnote: The American
publication, "Science," points out that the addition of salt to the
water cleanses blood from feathers, by preventing the solution of the
blood-globules, and diffusion to the colouring matter, or red
haemoglobin. I have found this "wrinkle" of great benefit in cleansing
white-plumaged birds.] Sometimes, in very old skins, successive
applications of water, turpentine, benzoline, and plaster, carefully
managed, will work wonders.

I have mentioned the fact that birds may be plunged into turpentine to
rid them of insects. After this process they do not readily dry in,
proper form, remaining greasy and streaked with, dirt--in fact, in a
generally deplorable condition (as I know to my cost, teste, the
Leicester Museum collection, ignorantly treated in this manner before
my advent). Birds treated with turpentine must be well washed down
afterwards with benzoline and then dried in plaster of Paris, as
before described. In cleansing old specimens, do not forget to dust
them, or to beat them thoroughly with feathers, before applying the
benzoline, etc.

In a fresh specimen it would be a person's own fault if he should fail
to clean a bird, even were it dipped in blood and grease. Patience and
several cleanings are all that are necessary.

Dark plumaged birds--which may have light or white parts--will require
care in cleaning, in order that their darker feathers may not be
dulled by contact with the white plaster. Should this happen, however,
in spite of all pains, it will be found that beating with feathers,
and a light touching over with wadding, on which a very little
benzoline has been poured, will brighten them up wonderfully. Ostrich
and other feathers may be effectually cleaned by any of the foregoing
methods, and, by management, re-curled with a blunt knife and the

"MAKING UP" From Pieces.--I have before mentioned that birds are
sometimes made up feather by feather, and also when pulled to pieces
for "relaxing." The first is simply pretty pastime, which any person
possessed of patience, some little ability, and a stock of feathers,
paste, and paper, may indulge in as a recreation.

The latter, however, is a different matter, and is practised in cases
where a bird's skin is accidentally torn in several parts, or drops to
pieces when "relaxed" through imperfect curing, or by old age. When
this happens, the amateur need not feel as if the world would be the
next thing to tumble to pieces, but simply get to work thus: Make a
body of tow, with neck attached, as described; next, pull the legs off
(if they have not previously fallen off), wire them, and attach them
firmly to the body by clenching their free ends; bend these legs into
the position you wish the specimen ultimately to assume and attach the
wires at the feet to a block or perch. A T, formed of two pieces of
wood, the bottom end attached to a block, is, perhaps, the best
support, as you can get all round to adjust everything, even to the

Your progress up to this point is simply a headless neck attached to a
tow body, supported by natural legs fixed to a perch. I assume that
your fragments are sufficiently relaxed, and the feathers cleaned and
nearly dried. All the fat must, of course, have been scraped off the
inside of each piece of skin. Arrange these pieces in the order they
should come upon the model, to get the "fit," as a dressmaker would
arrange the patterns of a dress upon a lady. Notice where your model
is too small or misshapen, and bind on pieces of tow; or paste and
bind on wadding, excepting near the wings, where wires would fail to
pierce wool or wadding.

When properly-shaped, give the whole of the model a good dressing with
flour paste (see No. 31), into which a little carbolic acid has been
stirred. Paste the inside of each piece of skin with this, and
commence to finally rearrange them. As a rule, the under and breast
pieces are fixed first, then the wings are wired and firmly clenched
on the body; adjust the wings into proper position, bringing the
breast feathers over at the shoulders; next, put on the wing coverts,
the back, the tail (firmly wired), and the upper and under tail
coverts; lastly, the head and neck pieces, shaping the made neck into
position, etc, as you proceed. [Footnote: Note that even in
close-winged birds, which a pieced specimen such as this one described
must be of necessity, it is always advisable to wire the wings as for
flight, running them on these wires close to the body, and giving them
by this means the necessary curvature; entirely different, and much
more natural, than if simply bolted on by straight wires running
through the shoulders into the body.]

Sometimes it is necessary to slip a piece of wadding underneath to
swell out a certain set of feathers; in this case, lift up the
surrounding parts with a crooked awl or with the feather-pliers, and
carefully insert the wadding in such a manner that the paste shall not
clog the other feathers in juxtaposition.

When finished to your satisfaction, lightly sponge off any excess of
paste with warm water; wipe down with benzoline, and dust plaster
thickly over all the specimen; this assists the drying and cleans it.
In an hour or so dust off the plaster with a bunch of feathers, and
bind the skin with "wrapping cotton" in the usual manner. Set it in a
warm place, or in a current of air, for a week or so, to dry, and,
lastly, put in the eyes and finish off. The foregoing, though
apparently a Caesarian operation, is not difficult to a practised
hand. I may, perhaps, here mention, in order to encourage my readers,
that I myself once successfully mounted a large snowy owl from
thirteen pieces of skin, and that had there been twenty-three it would
have come out just as well.

In "relaxing" it is often better, especially in such specimens as
Birds of Paradise, to pull off the legs and wings; by this means the
skin is more easily stretched, and always, in the hands of a master,
makes up more satisfactorily than by any other means.

CHAPTER XII  Colouring Bills And Feet Of Birds, Bare Skin Of Mammals,
Fishes, Etc.--Restoring Shrunken Parts By A Wax Process--Drying And
Colouring Ferns Grasses, Seaweeds, Etc.--"Piece Moulds," And Modelling
Fruit In Plaster--Preserving Spiders--Making Skeletons Of Animals,
Skeleton Leaves Etc.--Polishing Horns, Shells, Etc.--Egg Collecting
And Preserving--Additional Formulae, Etc.

COLOURING BILLS AND FEET OF BIRDS.--Birds which, when alive, have either
legs, bills, or faces of various bright colours, lose these tints when
dead, and after lapse of time, the colouring matter in some cases totally
disappears, and nothing can restore the loss of pigment but artificial
treatment of the faded parts. To do this satisfactorily is not one of
the easiest matters in the world, inasmuch as two things are to be
strictly guarded against. One--thick painting, which hides all the
characteristics of the scutellae, or plates of the legs and toes, or
fills up the minute papillae of the face; the other--imparting a too
shining or varnished appearance to the parts coloured. So little colour
is required for this purpose that I have found the oil-colour tubes used
by artists to be the handiest and cheapest. The colour, when squeezed
out, is to be thinned with turpentine only, until it readily flows off
the brush on to the beak or legs of the specimen; if properly done it is
very transparent, and of just sufficient quality to give the necessary
brightness without undesirable shininess.

The colours that are most useful are chrome yellow, yellow ochre,
Prussian blue, permanent blue, light red, burnt umber, flake white,
and vermilion. With these every shade of grey, blue, green, red, or
pink can be obtained; they are all cheap, but if a quantity of
vermilion is desired, it is cheapest bought as a powder at the
oilman's, and mixed as required. When colour tubes are not procurable,
the same colours are to be obtained at the oilman's in powder, or
ready mixed, which latter must be thinned with one part transparent
paper varnish to two parts turpentine (turps), the varnish being added
or decreased as dry or mixed colours are used.

"Brunswick black," a cheap and durable brown, if laid on thinly, i.e.
thinned with turps, is sometimes used for colouring the noses of
mammals. It must be recollected, however, that greys predominate in
some noses over browns, and that the surface is seldom of one tint,
hence "Brunswick black" is seldom used by artists, who prefer to make
tints from some of the colours mentioned.

Faces of parrots must be whitened with dry "flake white" applied with
a piece of cotton wool.

The bills of toucans, and similar birds, require some nice colouring
to blend the various tints one within the other. If the reader
requires a more scientific method of doing this, I must refer him to
"Waterton's Wanderings in South America," in which work he will find
an account of the manner in which that eccentric naturalist cut out
the insides of his toucans' bills, paring them down to the outer
layer, through which the subsequent artificially-introduced colour was

It would, no doubt, be possible to introduce colour into combs and
wattles, and also into the bills of some species of birds by
subcutaneous injections of various dyes when the specimen was fresh,
but as all taxidermists are not skilled anatomists, and have not too
much time to spare in doing what is--at best--but an unsatisfactory
and unpractical method, I may relieve their anxiety by saying at once
that the difficulty attendant on shrinkage of the integument may be
avoided by using wax, with which to thinly paint the large bills of
some birds, and the legs of all, restoring also the fleshy appearance
of wattles, etc.

Let us take one or two representative birds--first, an eagle, to work
upon, Premising that your bird is finished and dry, and that you have
previously accurately copied into your note-book the colours of the
soft parts, you will begin by brushing over the parts to be coloured
with a very little turpentine. Next, heat in a pipkin, or "patty-pan,"
some beeswax, into which a little common resin has been powdered, just
sufficient to harden the wax under the point of brittleness; apply
this with camel-hair brushes of different sizes to the eyelids (the
eye being in and fixed), the superciliary ridge, the cere, the gape,
and all over the bill, and legs, and feet, regulating the thickness of
the wax thus--very thin over the bill and eyelids, a little thicker
upon the cere, ridge, and gape, and quite thick upon the legs and
feet; so much so, indeed, in places on the latter, as to necessitate
carving up with tools to reproduce the underlying shrunken scutes, etc.
This, of course, is a delicate operation, involving practice and
artistic perception of form.

Remove all superfluous wax by paring with curved awls of various
sizes, and rubbing down with rag wetted in turpentine. Some parts of
the legs may be treated with hot irons (large wires, old awls, knives,
etc.). When the wax is sufficiently cold, which it will be in a quarter
of an hour after finishing, commence colouring, by using the colours
direct from the tubes, with as little admixture of "turps" as
possible. [Footnote: Winsor and Newton, Rowney, or Roberson, are some
of the best makers of these.] Note the different tints--quite three
shades of yellow upon the cere, four or five upon the bill itself, and
perhaps half-a-dozen upon the legs and feet, and carefully put them
on. Properly finished, your eagle will--if correctly shaped--be quite
life-like; all the soft parts now look full and fleshy, having lost
that hard appearance inseparable from direct painting on the
shrivelled integument without the intervention of wax.

The wattles and combs of gallinaceous birds, after being washed with
preservative (Formula No. 15), or, when practicable, skinned out and
filled, together with analogous processes on the vultures, and also
the pouches of pelicans, etc, may be treated in like manner, the wax
being thinly or thickly painted as required.

The inside of the mouths of mammals, their tongues, eyelids, and
noses, should be treated in a similar manner.

The skin of fishes also, which, when dry, shrinks away above the eye
and around the mouth and lips, should have these parts replaced by wax
before colouring, in the manner practised on the new specimens in the
Leicester Museum. So little, however, is the want of this understood,
that, of the thousands of stuffed fishes exhibited in the Fisheries
Exhibition, I looked in vain for one with unshrivelled lips or orbital
ridges. For the credit of artistic taxidermy, let us hope I overlooked
some, finished as they should be.

The fins of fishes may be repaired with thin tissue paper, or, if
finless by accident--"ware cat!"--may be replaced by wax. White wax
may be coloured in some instances before using. Paraffin wax does in
some situations, but is not a very tractable medium. Dry colours may
sometimes be rubbed into the wax with advantage. The colouring of a
fish's skin, which, when set up and dried, is colourless, as noted, is
a nice operation involving some artistic ability; the same remarks
apply as those upon the colouring of the bills and feet of birds (see
ante), but with this difference, that although the colour should be
thinly applied as directed, yet in this instance the appearance of
wetness has to be represented. In ordinary taxidermic work this is
managed by adding clear "paper" varnish, or "Roberson's medium," to
the colours, thinned by turpentine, floating the tints on the skin of
the specimen, and nicely blending them, in order to obviate unnatural
streaks or bands of colour.

Speaking of the duck-billed platypus, the Rev. J. G. Wood, in "Homes
without Hands," has some pertinent remarks upon the manner in which
nearly all taxidermists allow the cuticle to dry and shrivel, to the
ultimate distortion of the surrounding parts:

"The wonderful duck-like mandibles into which the head is prolonged
are sadly misrepresented in the stuffed specimens which we generally
see, and are black, flat, stiff, and shrivelled, as if cut from shoe
leather. The dark colour is unavoidable, at all events in the present
state of taxidermy. Bare skin invariably becomes blackish-brown by
lapse of time, no matter what the previous colour may have been, so
that the delicate tints of an English maiden's cheek and the sable hue
of the blackest negro would in a few years assume the same dingy
colour, and become quite undistinguishable from each other.

But there is no excuse now-a-days for allowing the bare skin to become
shrivelled. The colours we cannot preserve, the form we can and ought
to reproduce. No one would conceive, after inspecting a dried
specimen, how round, full, and pouting were once those black and
wrinkled mandibles, and how delicately they had been coloured while
the animal retained life. Their natural hue is rather curious, the
outer surface of the upper mandible being very dark grey, spotted
profusely with black, and its lower surface pale flesh-colour. In the
lower mandible the inner surface is flesh-coloured, and the outer
surface pinky white, sometimes nearly pure white."

All this could easily be avoided by the taxidermist first skinning the
beak and lips to their farthest extent, and then filling them with
clay or composition, and afterwards waxing and colouring the parts in

Small birds having black feet or bills, which permanently retain their
colour, need only to have them slightly brushed with oil, before
casing up, to give them proper freshness.

HOLLOW EYES.--I have for a great number of years discarded the
conventional glass eyes--glass buttons I have heard them irreverently
termed!--for all fishes, reptiles, birds, and mammals, excepting the
smallest, using, in their stead, hollow half-globes rather more oval
than round; these are hand-painted on the inside with either water or
oil-colours, and when dry are varnished, filled in with wadding and
putty, or modelling-wax, not clay, and fixed in the orbits with wax,
see ante. These, properly coloured, and, in the instance of fishes,
gilded inside, are wonderful representations of the natural eye, and
when properly inserted, the cornea in mammals reproduced by wax, and
the eyelids properly managed, give a most life-like and natural
appearance to any specimen. [Footnote: Glass eyes have of late been
much improved in shape and colour by the Germans, and also by some
English eyemakers, who have had the sense to listen to the suggestions
of artistic taxidermists. I have by me now a really beautiful pair of
glass lynx eyes, veined and streaked, and "cornered" in porcelain, in
almost as perfect a manner as could be managed by hand-painting.]

I stated at the end of Chapter VII, "composition" has for its base one
of three things--clay, plaster, or wax. The uses of the first I have
fully explained--glue-water and plaster will stiffen or toughen it.
There is also "terra-cotta" clay, which, if moulded into shape, can be
"fired," and is lighter, and retains its shape without cracking. Its
service to the taxidermist is limited to the reproduction of certain
bones and some few natural objects, such as fungi, etc.

Plaster casts of almost anything may be made by "piece-casting," which
is casting arranged to take moulds from anything "undercut" or
complicated; such, let us say, as a lion's head with open jaws, or the
human face, surrounded by a wreath of leaves and flowers, as in the
antique sculptures. Assuming you had such a model as this to cast
from, you would commence by oiling or soaping the whole in the
ordinary manner. The plaster being prepared, is poured on the neck or
chin, being prevented from spreading to other parts by clay placed
across as a barrier. The first section, being cast, is trimmed, and
its edges cut diagonally toward the chin, in such a manner that the
next piece ultimately unlocks from it, without being wedged by

So you may proceed, trimming each piece, cutting its edges to prevent
locking, and casting bit by bit until you reach the hair and forehead,
with wreath. Here the pieces will be numerous, and your ingenuity will
be exercised to keep out of trouble from getting some piece or another
to lock the others. The face will often mould into three or four
pieces; but it is on the forehead, chin, and throat--and, if a lion's
head, in the open mouth--where the multiplicity of parts may perplex.

These small pieces are, when taken from off the model, very difficult
to put together again without a core; hence, when the mould is
complete, each little piece must have a shallow hole cut on its top,
be replaced on the model, and a "jacket-mould" cut into two or more
pieces by string (as described at chapter VII) made over the whole.
This jacket keeps all together for the ultimate casting by the pegs in
its surface made by the holes of the pieces underneath.

The ultimate cast is made by plaster being poured into a hole left at
one end of the mould for that purpose. Should this ultimate casting be
wanted hollow, it will be necessary to shake the plaster, when poured
in, around the mould in the manner described for making wax fruit.

Small undercut articles may be cast from, by making a mould of best
glue--"gelatine glue"--which readily stretches enough to "clear"
undercuts and come off the model. To get a model from this glue mould,
cover the original model you wish to cast from with as thick a
covering of clay as you wish your gelatine mould to be when run; upon
this pour plaster to form a "jacket," letting its top and bottom rest
on the top and bottom of the original model. When the clay is removed,
and the "jacket" fitted on again, it will, of course, only touch at
top and bottom, leaving an interspace all over the remainder of the
model. A hole being now cut in the "jacket," the glue [Footnote: Made
by steeping for a night, and allowing it to absorb all the water it
will, throwing away the surplus, and boiling the remainder in the
usual manner in a glue-kettle. Pour on when hot, not boiling.] is
poured in over the original oiled model, and fills up the interspace
left by the removal of the clay. When cold, it, of course, forms a
mould into which plaster can be run, in the usual manner, to form the
ultimate model.

Piece-casting of large subjects, where the various parts are cast and
then fitted together afterwards, is best understood by learning a
little from some Italian modeller, or looking over the seams
(representing the "piece-casting" joints) in some one or other of
Brucciani's reproductions, which may be seen in almost any art gallery
or museum.

One great advantage of this system is, that by its means large models,
if built up in ordinary field clay, or by any other means, may be cast
from in plaster or in metal by the intervention of piece moulds,
failing which it would be impossible to do so. The resultant model, if
in plaster, is not cast solid, but is hollowed out in the casting--to
prevent weight--by "cores" being inserted in the moulds. "Casting
sand" is, however, necessary when casting in metal, together with all
sorts of technical appliances and knowledge beyond the scope of the
taxidermist, and although I have found it necessary to cast in metal
for some purposes, it is so seldom needed that I do not purpose
describing what any friendly brass founder will tell the amateur in a
few minutes. The casting by amateurs at an ordinary fire is limited to
three metals--lead, tin, and zinc--or a mixture of two.

How large models in clay, etc, can be made is described by Mr.
Waterhouse Hawkins, F.G.S, etc, in his paper on the reproductions he
made of the extinct animals exhibited at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham:

"By careful study of their works I qualified myself to make
preliminary drawings, with careful measurements of the fossil bones in
our Museum of the College of Surgeons, British Museum and Geological
Society. Thus prepared, I made my sketch-models to scale, either a
sixth or twelfth of the natural size, designing such attitudes as my
long acquaintance with the recent and living forms of the animal
kingdom enabled me to adapt to the extinct species I was endeavouring
to restore.

"I caused the clay model to be built of the natural size by
measurements from the sketch model, and when it approximated to the
form, I, with my own hand in all instances, secured the anatomical
details and the characteristics of its nature.

"Some of these models contained thirty tons of clay, which had to be
supported on four legs, as their natural history characteristics would
not allow of my having recourse to any of the expedients for support
allowed to sculptors in an ordinary case. I could have no trees, nor
rocks, nor foliage to support these great bodies, which, to be
natural, must be built fairly on their four legs. In the instance of
the iguanodon, it is not less than building a house upon four columns,
as the quantities of material of which the standing iguanodon is
composed, consist of 4 iron columns, 9 ft. long by 7 in. diameter, 600
bricks, 650 5 in. half-round drain-tiles, 900 plain tiles, 38 casks of
cement, 90 casks of broken stone; making a total of 640 bushels of
artificial stone. These, with 100 ft. of iron hooping and 20 ft. of
cube inch bar constitute the bones, sinews, and muscles of this large
model, the largest of which there is any record of a casting being

Other uses of plaster are also described in Chapters VI. and VII. One
of the uses of plaster in modelling is, however, to reproduce flesh,
etc. For this purpose mix plaster of Paris (best S.F.) with boiled oil
until it forms a smooth, thick putty, which, though at first capable
of much finger-and-thumb manipulation, dries as hard as stone, and is
fairly light and impervious to damp. Plaster will also make a putty if
mixed with glue-water.

The composition used by the picture-frame makers is also a first-rate
medium, being susceptible to the softening influences of hot water
when newly made, but ultimately dries as hard as the preceding. It is
made variously, but perhaps the best is made thus:

Cement for Modelling.

Three parts best glue.

One part linseed oil.

One part powdered resin.


Tallow candle.

Melt the glue with water until it is moderately thin. Boil up the
resin and oil together (be careful of fire). Mix up this with the glue
by thorough stirring and boiling together, turn it all out into a
bucket (unless you are boiling it in one), and add half a tallow
candle. Stir in enough powdered whiting to make a thick putty. Pour
some out on a plate, and let it get cold; you will then be able to
determine whether the mixture requires more or less glue, whiting or
oil. It should dry tough, but not too brittle, and should, when cut
into strips and warmed by hot water or steam, be tough and yet
pliable. Properly made, this cement is invaluable to the taxidermist,
as it works well by the hand or by tools, drying slowly until it sets.
It can be worked over real or modelled bones to show sinews or muscles
as previously mentioned. The tongues of mammals or fishes may be cast
either in plaster, glue, or wax, and subsequently modelled in this
cement, plaster, or wax, as required.

Wax is the last, and, as I have before pointed out, is, whether used
melted or softened by warm water, of the highest service to the
artist. Beeswax, when melted, will mix well with either plaster or
whiting, or with both, and will make a useful modelling composition,
its brittleness being determined by its containing more or less
plaster. Wax will also mix with red ochre, and makes a modelling
composition. Modelling wax is sold, however, ready prepared, and is
useful to pack under the skin for delicate muscles or "flabby" folds
of skin.

Paraffin wax melted, and modelled when half cold, is also sometimes of
service; it has, however, so little affinity for "sticking" as to come
away from almost anything smooth, on the slightest provocation.

White lead stiffened with whiting is sometimes useful in taking the
place of putty, and is a trifle more durable.

Perhaps, at the end of this section, it may not be amiss to point out
to the modeller that it is of the highest importance that all his
tools should be freed from dirt and plaster at the conclusion of his
day's work; scarcely anything rusts and spoils tools more quickly than
damp plaster left on them.

TO IMITATE BLOOD.--Frequently blood is required to be shown, as in
instances where some animal may be represented tearing its prey.
Usually this is done by thickly painting on vermilion and red lead
mixed with varnish, or brushing on red lead mixed with thick glue, as
a base on which to subsequently lay the vermilion. I may point out,
however, that blood differs in tint, and that the appearance of torn
flesh, fresh blood, and coagulated blood is best got by painting the
parts with wax, and tinting, with a little vermilion, some madder
brown, or madder lake (a rather expensive colour), and light red,
arranged and blended one with the other as in nature.

Should you be setting up a large group, such as a tiger tearing open a
deer, or a vulture at a sheep, you may represent the liver and other
organs in modelling clay or plaster, dried, waxed, and coloured, or by
coloured wax alone if the part to be modelled is not large.

SNOW, FROST, AND ICE.--The appearances of snow and frost are imitated
in a variety of ways. Pounded white sugar; alum powdered, or put on
boiling, and suffered to crystallize; borax, two parts, alum, four
parts, burnt in a shovel over the fire; and various other crystalline
preparations. Nothing, however, is half so good as using best S.F.
plaster of Paris mixed with powdered "glass frosting"--bought from the
glass-blower's or artificial eyemaker's--to imitate snow, the powdered
glass frosting being thrown upon the foliage and rocks--the latter
being gummed or varnished with paper varnish--to imitate ice. Blocks
of ice require special treatment with glass and thin paper strained
over a framework and varnished to get a good and natural effect.
Icicles are best modelled in glass.

WATER AND WAVES.--Water is best represented by "hammered glass"
coloured, and streaked and varnished, to the tint required. Birds may
be represented swimming by being cut in halves, their upper and under
surfaces fixed to the corresponding sides of the glass, or the glass
may be cut to receive the body, which is the most satisfactory,
although the most difficult to manage without smashing the glass.
[Footnote: There is a black-necked swan (Cygnus nigricollis), from
Chili, treated in this manner, in the Leicester Museum.] Holes may be
drilled in the glass to allow water plants to come through, or to
allow long-legged birds, such as herons, to stand mid-leg in water.

Waves are moderately well imitated by thin paper creased, varnished
and coloured, on which white wool "foam" is arranged.

MODELLING FRUIT, etc, IN PLASTER.--You may, perhaps, wish to model an
apple, peach, or plum, to place in the hands of some mounted object,
such as a monkey. To do this, you take a natural fruit, which oil, and
push it half way (on its longest axis) into a bed of damped and
hard-pressed sand banked up all round. At some little distance from
the edges of the fruit stick two or three small pegs of wood (points
downwards) about half-an-inch long, leaving a quarter-of-an-inch out
of the sand. Over all this pour some plaster of Paris mixed with water
to the thickness of a paste; when set, lift it up carefully--the
plaster now appears with the fruit half set in it, and the two or
three little pegs of wood sticking up, their other half firmly fixed
in the plaster--oil their points, the face of the plaster, and also
the fruit, and laying the half-cast fruit uppermost, pour over it some
more plaster.

When set, trim the edges, the complete mould will then part in halves,
and the fruit will shake out. Oil the mould inside, and when dry procure
some wax--beeswax from the oilman's will do for this purpose--and after
heating it carefully, for fear of fire, pour it while hot into the mould
through a hole cut for that purpose. When about a quarter full, put
your thumb or finger over the hole, and rotate the mould rapidly.
Allow it to cool, and on opening the mould the artificial fruit will
drop out, and may then be coloured by powder or varnish colours to
the tints required.

My friend, Wright Wilson, F.L.S, etc, surgeon to the Birmingham Ear and
Throat Hospital, has very kindly written me a short description of the
plan he adopts, which, it will be seen, is a complete reversal of the

"With regard to plaster casts of fruit, etc, a much neater and readier
method of making the mould is to mix a sufficient quantity of beeswax
with resin in a pipkin over a slow fire. It must be used whilst just
lukewarm by either dipping the fruit--say, an apple--until sufficient
adheres to form a good strong coating. When cold (dipping in cold
water will readily make it so), the whole can be cut through with a
sharp knife, the halves of the fruit come out easily, and a perfect
mould in two halves is thus obtained. Fasten the halves of the mould
together with string, and smear a little of the warm material over the
joint to hold it together, and cast your model (into this, through a
small hole made for the purpose) in the usual way with plaster of
Paris made rather thin with water. When set, place in a little warm
water, when the mould easily strips off, leaving a model of the most
perfect kind and at a small expense, for the mould can be melted up
and used over and over again."

Glue may sometimes be substituted for the wax.

The advantage of being able to fall back on this system is obvious,
especially if the modelled fruit is to be placed in a position exposed
to considerable heat. Of course, the plaster model must be coloured to
nature, and, as I have before pointed out, this is not one of the
easiest things to do. I would suggest dipping the model (when dry) in
melted wax to give a surface for colouring, or modelling it in paper.

PRESERVING SPIDERS, etc.--Spiders, which from their rarity or the
beauty of their markings it may be desirable to preserve, require the
contents of the abdomen to be pressed out, or their bodies to be cut
underneath. A first-rate article on preserving these crustaceans
appeared in Science Gossip for January, 1868, in which the author
points out what is just as well to bear in mind, which is "that the
colouring matter or pigment is placed between the outer or abdominal
covering and the pulpy contents within, upon a very delicate membrane,
which adheres very loosely to both, but more firmly to the contents
within; so that when the viscera or contents are rudely removed, and
without much tearing, the whole mass will be found more or less
coloured, while the outer skin will be left entirely transparent. To
preserve, therefore, the beauty of spiders, this must be untouched."

He further says: "Make an incision along the ventral aspect of the
abdomen, nearly its whole length, or as long as will enable the pulpy
contents to be easily removed; then pinch up the pulpy mass with a
small forceps, carefully avoiding any dragging; then, with
sharp-pointed scissors, cut away the contents bit by bit until the
whole is nearly removed, or until you can see the brilliant colour
shining through what remains in the cavity--better leave a little too
much than be too nice in clearing all away; then, with a blowpipe,
distend the empty abdomen; it will very soon become firm, and retain
its original form, but until it is so the blowing must be frequently

A correspondent to Science Gossip, page 21, 1868, says: "I found the
best way to preserve spiders was to suspend them by a loop round their
waist in a solution of glycerine 2/3, water 1/3. The solution may want
changing once or twice at first, after that it will keep unchanged for

Fig. 36--Blow-pipe for inflating larvae

PRESERVING CATERPILLARS.--The larvae of moths and butterflies may be
preserved by pressing out the contents of their bodies, and by working
from the head to the tail in a gentle manner, and assisting the
removal of the mass by a careful dragging with a crochet needle. When
empty, a little corrosive sublimate solution may be injected with a
metal or glass blow-pipe, and the empty skin then distended by blowing
into it through a very fine blowpipe, made by drawing out in a clear
flame a small glass tube until it is attenuated to a fine point. This
being inserted in the orifice at the last segment of the caterpillar,
is kept in place by being tied round with a piece of darning cotton,
or, better still, by a contrivance shown in Fig. 36 (the invention of
Mr. Auld, in Science Gossip for 1872). A A are pieces of watch spring
tied on the thick part of the blowpipe, and holding the caterpillar by
pressure on the last segments when the point B is inserted.

Mr. Auld, I see by his article, used a spirit lamp under a glass jar
to form a drying chamber while blowing; but I have myself found a "box
iron" a most convenient arrangement. The inner iron, being heated in
the fire, is placed in the chamber or "box," which it thoroughly
heats; then removed, and the larvae introduced and blown out in the
hot air, but not so full as to unnaturally distend the segments.

A certain loss of colour inevitably takes place in preserved larvae,
which in the larger ones may be restored by colouring inside them with
powder colours mixed in turps. Coloured wax is sometimes injected, and
makes the skin very firm, but it is a delicate operation, requiring
great skill in application. When finished, they may be "mounted" on
green silk-covered wire, or, more naturally, on nicely modelled leaves
of their various food-plants, by gum attached to their claspers.

It is often necessary to plunge the more delicate larvae into a weak
solution of carbolic acid, or alum and water, to harden them before

SKELETONS OF ANIMALS.--Many people being under the impression that it
is only necessary to remove the flesh of any mammal or bird in order
to get a perfect skeleton, it may be as well to point out that as the
flesh rots, so do the ligaments which hold the bones, and consequently
the skeleton falls to pieces. When, therefore, you have made your
skeleton by the means recommended by various authors, such as exposing
it in an ant-hill, a wasp's nest, or to the attacks of the
"blow-flies" or "mealworm" (the larvae of a beetle), to "tadpoles," or
--as is the usual way with the bone preservers--by maceration in water
for a lengthened period (after removal of a great deal of the flesh,
the skin, and entrails), you will, after the careful removal of the
flesh still remaining, and subsequent drying of the bones in the sun
and air, find that nearly every bone will have to be attached to its
fellow by fine brass wire, and in the case of the bones of large
animals, each bone will have to be neatly drilled and coupled with
brass wire of greater strength.

Skeleton-making by maceration in cold water is, perhaps, one of the
most sickening operations. I have been somewhat successful by trimming
off all the flesh possible, wiring some parts together, tying others
in cloths and boiling them gently for several hours in water changed
from time to time, afterwards taking them out and picking off, with
fingers and blunt tools, all the flesh remaining--whilst hot--then
drilling and wiring all together with galvanised or copper fastenings
in a proper manner, boiling again in plenty of water, and then
allowing the bones to remain in cold water--constantly changed--for a
week or so; finally laying out in the sun and air to bleach.

By this system I have lately "skeletonized" part of a horse, and the
bones are free from grease and fairly white. Experience, however, in
this as in everything else, will tell you what to do and how to piece
one system into another to best advantage. Washing the bones with
Hudson's "dry" soap, or soda and water, will often remove a great deal
of the grease. Chloride of lime and water will assist the bleaching,
but must be managed cautiously, or in careless hands it is likely to
do more harm than good. The making of good and nicely bleached
osteological preparations really depends on carefulness and neatness,
supplemented by water, air, and sun; by the three latter aids, I have
repeatedly improved in a wonderful manner "old bones" which were
greasy and discoloured.

Should the sea be close at hand, the skeleton, shut in a box with
holes, may be sunk, and exposed to the attacks of various "small
deer," especially "bees" (Aega tridens), which swarm in some shallow
waters to such an extent as to clear the flesh from a large animal in
a few hours.

SKELETON LEAVES.--Very beautiful objects may be made by placing the
leaves of trees and shrubs, or such as are of a strong or woody
texture, in a pan, pouring boiling soft or rain water over them, then
exposing them to the atmosphere for a time varying from one to three
or four months. They are then gently lifted out and held on a board,
or on a plate, under running water, and the pulpy part, or epidermis,
removed by gentle brushing with a camel-hair pencil or fine needle, to
split the skin away from the mid-rib.

When nothing but the ligneous skeleton or woody fibre remains, it may
be placed in a weak solution of chloride of lime, and exposed to the
sun under glass to dry and bleach. To prevent them sticking to the
paper on which you may wish to dry them, use either blotting-paper or
oiled paper, after well washing the leaves. If skeletonizing in summer
time, trust to sun alone, as chloride of lime has a tendency to make
the leaves go brittle. The seed vessels of various plants, such as the
poppies, thorn apples (Daturae), and campions, as also the leaves of
laurel, holly, ivy, lime, sycamore, poplar, and a host of others, may
be treated in this manner. When finished, they may be mounted on wires
whipped with white silk, and placed on black velvet under a shade.

Some writers have advised the boiling of the leaves in a solution of
caustic soda, or steeping them in a strong mixture of chloride of lime
and water, but I have hitherto considered these plans not so practical
as the foregoing, though, perhaps, quicker; as, however, I find two
writers, in Science Gossip for 1867, very positive on the subject, I
will give the following extracts:

"A solution of caustic soda is made by dissolving 3 oz. of washing
soda in two pints of boiling water, and adding 1.5 oz. of quicklime,
previously slacked; boil for ten minutes, decant the clear solution,
and bring it to the boil. During ebullition add the leaves; boil
briskly for some time--say, an hour--occasionally adding hot water to
supply the place of that lost by evaporation. Take out a leaf and put
into a vessel of water, rub it between the fingers under the water. If
the epidermis and parenchyma separate easily, the rest of the leaves
may be removed from the solution, and treated in the same way; but if
not, then the boiling must be continued for some time longer.

To bleach the skeletons, mix about a drachm of chloride of lime with a
pint of water, adding sufficient acetic acid to liberate the chlorine.
Steep the leaves in this till they are whitened (about ten minutes),
taking care not to let them stay in too long, otherwise they are apt
to become brittle. Put them into clean water, and float them out on
pieces of paper. Lastly, remove them from the paper before they are
quite dry, and place them in a book or botanical press."--Dr. G.
Dickson, Science Gossip, January, 1867.

"I once saw another way of managing skeleton leaves that interested me
greatly. The leaves were boiled for two minutes, and then transferred
to a strong solution of permanganate of potash and gently heated. In
an hour or two the laxer tissues were easily removed by means of a
brush. Sulphurous acid was used for bleaching them, and this liquid
was also employed with much facility for the removing of the stains on
the fingers caused by the permanganate of potash."--George Newlyn,
Science Gossip, November, 1867.

The last-named gentleman appears to bleach his leaves by fastening
them across a hat-box by means of strings, inserting a pan or tin cup
containing sulphur, setting it on fire, and shutting down the lid (of
course, out of doors). The whole article is very interesting, but too
long for insertion here.

CRUSTACEANS.--Lobsters, crawfish, and crabs must have the
cephalo-thorax (the upper part) disjointed from the body or "tail"
part, the limbs taken off at their attachment to the body, and the
whole of the flesh removed by means of the "undercutting tool" (see
Fig. 29), and crooked wires; afterwards wash the inside with carbolic
wash (No. 15), and fill the limbs and body with dry plaster and
wadding, neatly fixing on the legs where disjointed, and putting the
remainder of the body together with any of the cements mentioned in
Chapter IV.

POLISHING HORNS.--As a commencement it will be requisite to remove all
the rough shell-like layers of horn which stand up as knots and
gnarls, and mar the symmetry of the horns. In some horns, old ones
especially, you will find their inner sides covered with several
thicknesses of this waste or dead stuff. Do not be afraid, but boldly
pare this down level with the surrounding horn, for which purpose
nothing is so good as a spokeshave. Blood stains usually lie in the
soft upper layers; shave these down carefully until they end, which
will be underneath where the horn becomes white and of a more
ivory-like texture. When nearing this it will be as well to give up
the use of the spokeshave, and use some instrument in a scraping
manner; the side of a chisel (not the cutting edge) or a knife is best
for this purpose. The handle being held in the right hand and the
point in the left, scrape the horn until you get to the white part,
which will be somewhat harder than the remainder.

In colourless horns you must get down to this white part, or your
polish will not be high; besides this, blood stains will show up, and
the surface will look of a soapy, greasy nature, instead of the
ivory-like texture it should assume. Be careful when working to the
largest part, or base of the horn, not to run your tool through, as it
is much thinner there than at the tips.

Whilst thinning rough places in certain horns you will find a half
round and flat fine rasp of great assistance. When you have obtained a
nice even surface all over, use glass paper of different degrees of
fineness, and pumice-stone. Collect the dust which falls off, with a
rag dipped in linseed oil and well rub the horn with this. Next get
some "putty powder" (oxide of tin), which rub violently on all parts
of the horn with a rag and linseed oil, finally finishing off with
brown paper, a soft rag, and the palm of the hand, using plenty of
"elbow grease."

Remember, horn polishing is all hard work, unless managed by "bobbing"
on a lathe, so let no one attempt it who is not prepared to work very
hard, as plenty of quick and violent friction is indispensable in the
latter stages to give the high polish requisite. Horn may be softened,
and ultimately dissolved in caustic soda.

POLISHING TORTOISE-SHELL, etc.--To polish tortoise-shell (which is in
many cases turtle-shell) it is necessary to scrape the shell very
carefully with a broad knife, taking care not to cut through to the
under shell or "bone." When properly smoothed rub it over with
pumice-stone and water, then with bath-brick and water, finally
polishing off, when you have a nice fine surface, with putty-powder
and oil, or rotten-stone and oil, with plenty of hard work and
hand-polishing towards the last. A little tallow rubbed in with the
hand, as the very last finishing touch, will be found of benefit. A
paste made of sal volatile and rouge has been recommended to be
applied to the shell after scraping, then suffered to remain until
dry, and finally polished off.

Bad places in the shell, where it has peeled or been broken off,
should be made up with coloured shellac, or hardened wax, put in with
a warmed knife after polishing, and finished off separately.
Tortoise-shell may be welded by heat.

Sea shells may be polished by being plunged for a little time in
dilute nitric acid, then rubbed down with sand paper or fine emery and
oil, finished with "Water-Ayr" or "Snake-stone," and finally polished
with putty-powder and oil. A mussel-shell treated in this manner makes
a most beautiful object, coming out purple, with streaks of lighter
blue and pearl.

Stones, such as agates, which are found on the sea beach, or any stone
which is required to be polished, is to be first ground down to a
rough surface, then polished by successive rubbings of first, second,
and third grit-stones of different degrees of fineness, lastly
"Water-Ayr" or "Snake-stone," and finished with "putty powder" applied
with oil. All of the stones or grits mentioned are to be procured at
the marble mason's at a low rate. Serpentine treated in this manner
makes a very beautiful object.

EGGS, COLLECTING AND PRESERVING.--Eggs of various birds may be sought
for in their seasons in the localities best suited to the several
species. But so much depends upon special training or aptitude in the
collecting of birds' eggs, that a detailed description of localities
where to seek and how to find, eggs, is hardly necessary, in the pages
of this work, further than to remark that a pair of "climbing irons"
are requisite for those individuals who do not possess the agility of
a cat or of a schoolboy.

Climbing Irons (see Fig. 37), to fit the foot and leg, are best made
of wrought iron with a welding of finely-tempered steel from C to DE,
to form the claw used when climbing. To affix them to the leg, the
foot is placed as in a stirrup from C to B, the claw ED pointing
inward. A strap should now be passed through a slot or square hole
punched in the metal between C and D (not shown in the figure), and
laced under and across the foot to and through the loop shown between
B and A at a, thus keeping the foot itself tightly fixed. Another
strap passes through the loop at the top where marked A, and is
strapped round the calf of the leg, keeping all below the knee rigid
and secure. When climbing, the hands clasp the tree in the usual
manner, and the side of the foot is struck smartly against the trunk,
to cause the claw to penetrate. The climber now rests on this, and
strikes the claw of the other iron in, on the other side, higher up,
and so on alternately.

Fig. 37--Climbing iron

Eggs, when procured, must have their contents removed. To do this they
must first be drilled with little steel instruments called egg-drills,
which are made of various degrees of fineness according to the size of
the egg to be operated upon. Drills are to be procured from the
various dealers, but can be made from steel wire softened in the fire
and filed to a sharp three-cornered point--afterwards tempered to
hardness--for the smaller eggs, or filed up for the larger eggs to the
pattern of a "countersink" used for wood; indeed, the smallest-sized
"countersink" made--to be procured at any ironmonger's--will do very
well for eggs the size of a hen's. Capital egg-drills are to be made
from "pinion wire" used by watchmakers. Simply file to a point, and
"relieve" with a small "three-square" file the channels of the wire,
giving them a cutting edge up to their point. With such a drill as
this--cost, about 2d.--I have blown, without any breakage, eggs
varying in size, from swallows' to hens'. A drill costing 2s. 6d,
which was the price I paid for my first--purchased from a
surgical-instrument maker in London, since deceased--could not do the
work better.

To use these drills, rotate the point by "twiddling" the drill between
the finger and thumb, making only one hole, and that in the centre of
the egg. When a nicely-rounded hole is cut, the egg must be emptied by
means of an "egg-blower," or blowpipe; the point being introduced into
the hole, the contents are blown out or sucked up into the bulb,
which, when full, is emptied out at the other end. It sometimes
happens that the egg is "hard set." The embryo must, in that case, be
cut out with small curved scissors specially made. If hard set,
putrid, or stale, an egg often bursts when touched. To obviate this,
drill and blow it under water.

Young birds can often be extracted, with a little care, uninjured from
their egg-shells, and yet--as happened to me lately in the instance of
a hawk--the shell may make a presentable museum object, after such

In all cases eggs should be thoroughly rinsed out with a solution of
six grains of corrosive sublimate to an ounce of rectified spirits of
wine. This may be sucked up into the bulb of the "egg-blower," and
thence ejected into the egg, which is to be rotated, and what solution
is left may then be sucked back and thrown away, or returned to the
bottle. Great care must be taken, however, that the mixture shall not
pass the bulb and be drawn up into the mouth, as it is, of course, a
deadly poison; the egg, being placed (hole downwards) on blotting
paper, is to be left until dry.

Those who object to poison may rinse their eggs out with water to
which has been added a few drops of strong essence of cloves. This is
agreeable to use, and appears to cleanse away all impurities.

A little label may finally be gummed over the orifice, and the
specimen is then ready for the cabinet; or, as labels will in time
fall off, however well they may have been previously gummed, it is
better to write a distinguishing number, and as much of the history of
its collection as is possible on the egg itself, the full history, of
course, being posted up in the note book. Labels may, however, be used
with great advantage on the divisions of the cabinet drawer which
separate one species of egg from the other.

Loose labels are not to be used on any account, as they often get
reversed and create confusion, and a collection thus treated is
brought into grave discredit. Eggs, when being sent any distance,
should be separately wrapped in cotton wool, and packed in a strong
box, any interstices being lightly filled with wool also. Sawdust or
bran should never be used as a packing medium, as the eggs shake
together and break each other in travelling.

For those who require coloured figures of eggs I must refer them to
Hewitson's "Eggs of British Birds," or Atkinson's "British Birds' Eggs
and Nests," a much cheaper, but very good little work; also to a new
work by Mr. H. Seebohm (the celebrated traveller in Siberia, etc.),
entitled, "A History of British Birds," with coloured illustrations of
their eggs.

PREPARATION OF MICROSCOPIC OBJECTS.--The same remark applies to this
as to aquaria (see Chapter XIII.). The treatment is so varied, the
objects so numerous, that books upon books have been written on it.
Every naturalist and curator, however, has to work sometimes with the
microscope; but taking into consideration the vastness of the subject,
I must refer them to text-books, such as Beale's "How to Work with the
Microscope;" Lankester's "Half-hours with the Microscope;" Hon. Mrs.
Ward's "The Microscope;" Davies "On the Preparation and Mounting of
Microscopic Objects;" G. E. Davis' "Practical Microscopy;" Gosse's
"Half-hours with the Microscope;" Wood's "Common Objects of the
Microscope;" any of Quekett's works, and to late numbers of the
Monthly Microscopical Journal, Nature, Science Gossip (the latter
teeming with practical hints on all matters connected with natural
history), and hosts of other works.

This chapter, dealing as it does with details and hints upon many
subjects, may fittingly be closed with scraps forgotten in the body of
this work, but which now occur to me as being useful knowledge.

STARCH AS PASTE: (see chapter IV).--Procure some common starch (that
which is white looking is perhaps the best), mix it up with a little
cold water, just sufficient to dissolve it, stirring it thoroughly to
prevent lumps. Pour upon this sufficient boiling water to make it into
a stiff paste. This will be found most useful for clean paper or
photographic work, as it enables paper to be pasted on cardboard, etc.
without creasing. The paper should be first wetted on the face side,
the back pasted with the starch-paste, fixed on the cardboard, and the
whole dried off by blotting paper. For common taxidermic work, paste
containing resin (sold at leather merchants') is strong and cheap.

BEST GLUE, made in the ordinary manner, but rather thicker than usual,
then poured into a bottle containing enough methylated spirit to thin
it, is recommended as being a strong medium to stick paper on wood or
cardboard, with the advantage claimed for it that it does not cause
the thin wood or cardboard to "cast" or "buckle."

MARINE GLUE dissolved in diluted acetic acid makes a strong cement for
certain things, such as mending shells. This, as also the preparation
of Formula No. 33, should be kept in bottles, or small stoppered jars,
and melted for use by surrounding with hot water.

LEATHER is (so says a bookbinder) to be pasted, after it is damped on
the outside. Cloth is to be glued. This is useful to know if making up
cloth-covered boxes with leather backs, to imitate books (see Chapter
XV, on Entomology).

ANTI-INSECT NOSTRUMS (see chapter IV).--Russian tallow in saucers, oil
of birch, flowers of sulphur, hellebore, pepper, tobacco, are said to
be "bogies," the last especially, to the Dermestes beetles and their
cousin, Anthrenus museorum. Try them, but don't rely too much upon
them, is my advice; nor, indeed, upon anything--not excepting even
corrosive sublimate. Trust only to exposure to light and constant
supervision, zinc or wire drying cases, and to "casing up" as soon as

If sending specimens long distances, it is well to pepper the shot
parts, enclosing also in the parcel some pieces of charcoal wrapped in
paper. Of course, if the specimens are not for the table, dilute
glacial carbolic acid, poured on the wounds and down the throat, is
the best thing to do, but it should always be noted in an accompanying
letter, for fear of accidents. Smearing the hands and face with
paraffin is said to keep forest flies and midges from biting.


Chloride of zinc,     1 part.

Water,         20 parts.

This formula appears to be one of the non-alcoholic preservatives most
suited for fishes in preparation jars. I have so lately tried it that
I cannot at present state if it is the very best.

PICRIC ACID, formed by a certain chemical fusion of carbolic acid with
nitric acid, is recommended (when diluted) for the preservation of
soft-bodied animals, such as zoophytes, etc.

BICHROMATE OF POTASH (see chapter IV), though so useful for pickling
fishes, mollusca, worms, and even "jelly fish" and sea-anemones, is, I
have found, liable to be attacked by mildew; to prevent this add a few
drops of phenic (carbolic acid). [Footnote: Phenol, Phenic Acid,
Phenic Alcohol, Hydrate of Phenyl (C6H5HO)=Carbolic add.] This salt is
also used in microscopy to assist in fixing glass covers on glass
slides. The cement in question appears so admirably adapted to many
purposes, that I think it worth quoting (see Science Gossip, 1879, p.

Cox's gelatine,         2 oz.

Acetic acid, fluid,         1 drachm.

Gum ammoniac,         10 grains.

"Dissolve in a water bath, and filter through cotton while warm. This
cement remains fluid when cold, and dries quickly. After the ring has
become set, or stiff, the whole slide is immersed for a minute or so
in a 10-grain solution of bichromate of potash, and is then allowed to
dry, exposed to the light, which makes the bichromated gelatine
perfectly insoluble, even in boiling water, and thoroughly prevents
the escape of any glycerine."

PERMANGANATE OF POTASH (see chapter IV) is recommended at p. 49,
Science Gossip, 1879, by a French scientist, for "preserving delicate
organisms." "It is especially good in histological researches, as it
acts like osmic acid, burning up the protoplasm, bringing out the
minutiae, and showing the nuclei, outlines of cells, etc. It is used as
a saturated solution in distilled or very pure spring water; sea-water
also dissolves it. The concentrated solution, of a lovely violet
colour, kills small organisms at once, and then burns them. They are
left in it from thirty minutes to an hour, then withdrawn, and placed
in alcohol, after which they can be made transparent with essence of
terebinth and mounted in Canada balsam. Beautiful results are thus
obtained with echinoderms, zoophytes, worms and marine arthropoda. For
delicate researches, especially in the ciliated infusoria, it is
better than osmic acid, without its great cost, and is everywhere
easily obtained."--G. du Plessis.

GLYCERINE (see Chapter IV).--Glycerine will be found useful for
rubbing on the eyes or noses of animals to keep them moist and prevent
their drying up when modelling, as well as for many other purposes,
which will readily occur to the practical worker.

CORALS, etc, may be cleaned by first soaking in warm water, to remove
surface dust, etc, then allowing the tap to run on them for some hours,
and afterwards soaking them in a weak solution of chloride of lime for
a short time, until fairly bleached.

BIRDS may be roughly preserved from immediate decay by pouring down
their throats, or into their bodies by an incision under the wing,
crude creosote or carbolic acid. I remember once having a collection
of birds from India prepared in this way, which after a lapse of years
were successfully skinned and made up--"as well as could be expected."

Sometimes I have been written to by correspondents to say that they
had cured some mammals' skins by Formula No. 9, and that there was an
efflorescence about the mouth, or that mildew had appeared. My answer
has ever been:

Firstly, that possibly the specimen had been cased up too soon. At
least two months should elapse after stuffing before mammals should be
mounted in a case.

Secondly, that common alum had been used instead of burnt alum.

Thirdly, that an undue proportion of saltpetre had been mixed with the

Should mildew make its appearance, it would point to improper mounting
--i.e, not trimming off enough flesh or fat, or to the specimen being
mounted in a case before it was sufficiently dry. If it be mildew, the
specimen must come out of the case and be properly dried. If it be
merely crystallisation of impure alum, the crystals must be washed off
with warm water from time to time as they form, until no more appear.
It must be remembered, however, that a damp house, or juxtaposition to
a wet wall, will ruin the most carefully mounted specimens.

Correspondents may be quite sure that neither the method nor the
formula are to blame in the matter. The great point is to wipe off the
mildew or crystals as fast as they appear until no more form, which
will determine when the specimen is thoroughly dry.

How to solder, either by the blowpipe or by the "bit," is now and then
useful knowledge. Any mechanic will impart this for a consideration.



CASES can be made in all styles. The oldest is the "box," which needs
no description. Next in age is the "canted-corner case," a most odious
abomination beloved of the amateur; the shape of the ground plan being
as Fig. 38. A to A the front, B to B the back, C C C is glass, the
points A A are wooden or metal uprights, pinning together top and
bottom; B B B B is wood; hence it follows that all the space outside
the dotted lines is useless, or if used at all, the uprights (A A)
cross perhaps the most important part of the work, so that this shaped
case resolves itself into the following difficulty: either the case is
too large for the object, or two lines cross it.

Fig. 38--Plan of "canted-corner" case.

The usual glass-ended square case is easily made by any amateur joiner
in this wise: Take two pieces of wood for top and bottom to size
required, plane and square them up together to ensure their being
exactly alike; then, with a "plough" plane, set to 0.375 in, "plough
out" all around the front and sides of each to half its thickness.
Take the back and nail it to the top and bottom with brads; having
done which, next take two pieces of wood for the uprights of
sufficient thickness to suit the case--too great thickness being
guarded against.

Fig. 39--Section of "uprights" or pillars of square case.

Let us, however, assume that each of these pieces is 0.75 in. square,
the height immaterial, "plough" these out on two sides, the "plough"
still set at 0.375 in. for depth. For the front, "plough" out 0.375
in. from the edge, and 0.375 in. deep, this still leaves 0.375 in. out
of the 0.75 in. untouched; turn the upright now on its side and repeat
the "ploughing," allowing for just missing the point of intersection.
Fig. 39 shows a section; the dark part is the wood left, the dotted
squares show where the wood has been removed; the corner A, outside
the dotted line, is afterwards rounded off. Each upright is "ploughed"
alike; they are then glued and nailed to the top and bottom by brads
running through; the rounded edges falling outside.

The case is now finished, as will be seen, for the reception of glass
at its front and sides. First, however, it will have to be blacked or
ebonised. Mix, therefore, some "lamp" or "drop" black in powder with
thin glue-water, boil, and lay the mixture on with a stiff brush over
the case whilst warm. When quite dry, rub it down with fine sand

The subjects being mounted in the case, paper the glass in with brown
paper and strong paste, and then go over the previously blackened case
with a very thin coat of Brunswick black. When this is dry put a slip
of 0.5 in. or 0.75 in. gilt moulding (procured at the picture frame
maker's) all around the front of the case on top of the prepared
glass, and just within the edges of the wood "ploughed" out to receive
it, nicely mitring the comers with a mitre and shooting block.

The foundation of this latter is a sound 1 in. board, 2 ft. 6 in. long
by 18 in. wide, or of any other convenient dimensions. Upon this is
screwed another piece an inch or more thick (Fig. 40), so as to make a
step (C C). Both pieces must be dry, so as not to be liable to warp;
upon the higher part are screwed two strips of hard wood (B B) about
1.5 in. or 2 in. wide, forming a right angle where they meet. The
whole must be very accurately made, and although deal will answer the
purpose, hard wood of some kind will be more satisfactory. Beech or
oak will do very well.

Fig. 40--Mitre block.

Suppose a piece of moulding to require mitring; it has only to be laid
as shown against the guide bar (B), and sawn off on the line (CC), or
laid on the other side against the second guide bar, and similarly cut
off. It will be necessary to use both sides in this way, because,
although the piece cut off has also an angle of 45 deg, it would need
to be turned over and applied to the other, which could not be done
without reversing the moulding. In a plain unmoulded strip this, of
course, would not signify.

Gilt moulding may be put at each end or not, according to the fancy
and pocket of the workman. The case is now finished, and shows the
front and two sides of glass framed in by gilt, outside of which is
the narrow black line of the wood. If it be desired to get up the wood
of the case in a superior manner, it must first be blacked with the
glue and lamp-black, sand-papered down, blacked and sand-papered
again, and finally French polished.

The most substantial and effective case is the "stop-chamfered" one,
made either in deal ebonized, or fancy woods polished. In this the
glass is put in from the back with putty, or papered in, and finally
held in place by "beads" of wood, the top is lined with linen and
coloured in oil, and after the work is put in (from the back) the
back-board (previously lined and coloured) is screwed up, and thus you
have a case perfectly impervious to dust or to the changes of the
atmosphere. Unless the amateur is a good workman, it will be better
for him to get such a case turned out by a professional joiner, to
ensure clean-cut work.

These are very handsome and neat cases, especially if the back be
"ploughed" out deeply to receive a canvas on a stretcher, on which a
characteristic scene is painted. In this event the included work must
be good, and the fitting-up as plain as possible.

Cases for fishes are best glazed by "sprung" or semi-convex glass for
the fronts, which often does away with the necessity for glass ends,
and gives also a more artistic and finished appearance.

Glass shades, especially those of an oval shape, suit many birds well,
but for large work are more expensive than cases. Stands in black or
gilt are usually supplied with them; but those in mahogany, oak, and
other fancy woods must be ordered, unless the amateur possesses a
lathe, and the requisite knowledge to use it. In fitting up these with
rockwork, etc, it is best to arrange the work on a "false bottom," or
at least to cover up with paper the polished stand, lest it be

MOUNTS.--"Mounts," which are simply tops of round or oval shades
fitted into corresponding stands or frames of wood, or are open
cylinders of glass with a flat piece cemented on one end, were, I
believe, first invented by Mr. George Ashmead, of Bishopsgate-street,
London. They are very effective, and also occupy but little space, as
they hang up on the wall in positions where shades or cases will not

The method of making up a "mount" is as follows: Procure from a glass
merchant the top of a shade, let us say 12 in. in diameter by 7 in.
high. To this have a stand or rim turned out of thoroughly dry wood of
sufficient size to overlap the shade 1 in. all round--14 in. in
diameter, therefore, for a 12 in. shade. A groove should be turned in
them stand of sufficient width to allow the glass to play freely.

The groove, however, should be so arranged that the excess in width
should fall outside the glass. The centre of the stand inside the
groove being tinted for a sky, as desired, the objects, whether small
birds or butterflies, are introduced in the usual manner, and the
glass is then cemented, in the groove, over them.

Waste cylinders of glass may be economised for making mounts. It will
then, however, be necessary to have a circular plate for the top cut
by a glazier's turn-table. These are really better for showing up
anything than the round-topped mounts, as they cast no reflection; but
the top plates are harder to put on and to keep on when finished.
Strongly pasted black tape will do to fix the very small ones, but for
larger the tops should be cemented with thick white-lead, left to dry,
and then further cemented with narrow tape smeared with white-lead, or
any of the cements given in chapter IV. If it be desired to give a
rounded edge to this taping, plaster or whiting mixed with glue and
lamp-black may be laid on thickly, rubbed down with fine sand-paper,
and polished, or if the black is left out, the cement may be gilded,
after the manner of picture frames.

The stand itself may be "dished" out in the centre, in concave form,
and thus more room allowed for the enclosed specimens; but in this
case the stand must be of some thickness.

At one time the glasses were put in the stands with glue and cork, or
glue and paper, until it was found, in nine cases out of ten, that
glue, under atmospheric changes, sooner or later broke the glass, or
else entirely released it. Putty was then used, but that failed to
hold with the tenacity required, as there was a constant tendency of
the shade to fall out by its natural weight when hanging up. I have
accordingly mixed white-lead with putty with better results, in the
proportion of two parts putty; one ditto white-lead (thick, such as
gasfitters use); one-eighth ditto gold size--or I have used red-lead,
mixed with common putty and boiled oil; and, again, simply plaster of
Paris mixed with water. These last two are the best holdfasts of glass
within my experience.

Supposing the stand to be ebonized, or of mahogany or any other fancy
wood, the putty or plaster can be coloured to any required tint, or if
the stand is gilt the cement can be gilded over. Failing to make a
very neat job, it will be necessary to wind a piece of chenille around
the shade in order to hide the junction.

As it is very difficult to prevent a small percentage of the cement
from working inside, and thus spoiling the neatness of the sky effect,
I have devised the following plan, which I do not think is generally
known: Instead of using a solid stand with groove for the back of the
mount, I turn a rim of wood to form a ring, in such a manner that it
shall just pass over the shade without allowing the latter to fall
through at its bottom edge. Underneath this rim, or ring, I turn it
out to within a quarter of an inch of its edge to receive the back,
turned out of a piece of thinner wood.

The rim of wood is best turned by being nearly cut through on its
upper or pattern side, the wood then reversed on the lathe, turned out
to receive the back, then altered again, and the rim cut entirely
through. To fix this, the rim is fitted on over the glass, and kept in
place with cement. The work is made up on the back, which is then
screwed, or pasted, or glued, in the hollow turned out at the back of
the rim. By this method there is no cement showing inside on the
sky-line of the work when finished, nor can the glass possibly tumble
out, being, of course, held by the rim, which is of necessity smaller
than the bottom of the glass. Such rims may, of course, be ebonized,
of fancy woods, or gilded, according to the taste of the workman. A
small screw-plate with ring should be attached to hang it up by.

A modification of the "mount" is made by securing five pieces of glass
together in the usual manner, by tape pasted on each edge to make a
square glass cover, making up the work on a piece of board of the
required size, rebated or grooved all around, or by nailing on strips
of wood to receive the glass cover, which is then pasted or cemented
to the edges of the board, and finally finished off by dropping over
all picture-frame moulding, cut and joined to size, to which the back
is screwed. This style does either for fishes or dead game to stand
upon a hall table, or easily becomes a "mount" by the simple process
of screwing on "plate-rings," and hanging it up on a wall.

The colouring of the backs of cases and mounts is of two
kinds--distemper and oil; that is to say, supposing paper, calico or
sheeting is used for the back of the cases or mounts. Colour the paper
or other material--if you wish to show a toned sky--with whiting in
which a little glue-water or paste is dissolved, or with common
flake-white and size (note that there must be a good body of white to
give a luminous appearance), tinting at the same time with blue,
shading off into pink, etc. The colours most useful are ultramarine,
vermilion, and chrome yellow in powder. This colouring will not do if
putty is used to put the glass in with, as the oil flies over the
tinted sky. For oil painting place a thin calico or canvas on the
backs, and colour with the tints you desire, mixed in oil and turps.
Putty can be used in any part with this colouring. One coat of colour
is sufficient, as if another is added an unpleasant glaze is the

SHIELDS.--Heads of mammals, etc, when set up and finished, should be
mounted on "shields" of fancy wood; oak or mahogany being the best,
unless ebonized and gilded pine is preferred. The shapes are usually a
modification of the conventional "heart," such as will be found in a
pack of cards. This being purely a matter of individual taste, the
taxidermist may easily make as many patterns as he chooses by doubling
a piece of brown or stiff paper and cutting his shapes out therefrom.
One of these paper patterns may be traced around upon a piece of
planed wood of the suitable size, and cut out by a "bow "-saw, the
edges trimmed and bevelled, and the surface finally polished. A
key-hole (protected by metal screwed across in the instances of large
or weighty heads), is bored or cut, by which to hang it up, and the
neck-block of the specimen is screwed thereto by three screws of
sufficient length placed in the form of a triangle. Horns alone are
attached to shields by screws running through the frontal bone, or, if
without this, are attached--to a model of the frontal bone in wood, by
nuts and screws.

CABINETS FOR EGGS AND SKINS.--I have lately seen many cabinets for
eggs, skins, etc, constructed on a capital system, the invention, I
believe, of Mr. Salvin, the eminent ornithologist. The drawers are
made of varying depths, from 1 in. to 6 in, and the bottoms are fitted
with tongues overlapping each side, which fit into grooves cut in the
carcase of the cabinet, and so arranged by a little calculation that a
shallow drawer can immediately be inserted in the place previously
occupied by a deep one, or vice versa--i.e, a deep 6 in. drawer, which
may be No. 30, at the bottom, can be pushed upwards at any
intermediate point between that and No. 1.

The modus operandi is as follows: Whatever the depth decided on of the
drawers, the carcase is grooved all the way down to half the depth of
the shallowest drawer, if in even inches, or to a multiple of each
drawer if otherwise. Example: Take a foot rule and mark off 10 in on a
piece of paper, dividing it into alternate half inches making, of
course, twenty half inches; this represents the carcase. Then take
some strips of paper or cardboard, which cut to 1 in, 1.5 in, 2 in.
2.5 in. and 3 in. respectively, total 10 in. These represent the
drawers; putting them in their order, they will, of course, fit in the
10 in. Now change them about, top to bottom, or bottom in the middle,
or in any way that you like, and you will find that they will always
fall in a groove, leaving room for the others, when pushed down,
without any open space between.

The same method is adopted in the cabinets under the invertebrate show
cases in the Liverpool Museum, which I recently visited under the able
guidance of the clever and genial curator, Mr. Moore, so well known,
together with his family, in connection with many unique and beautiful
osteological preparations.

CASING UP WITH ROCKWORK, ETC.--Brown paper was formerly the pièce de
rèsistance of those who aspired to imitate rocks on which to place or
to surround their animals. It was used by being first soaked in water
and drawn over pieces of wood, boxes, or large cinders even, to give
shape. It was then glued, and small stones and sand thrown on. Usually
uncoloured, it revealed itself in its naked ugliness, and looked what
it was--paper. Later, it was more artistically arranged, and when
divested of folds by the application of more paper, plenty of glue,
and well coloured, it certainly looked decent. Then came peat, a
glorious innovation for quick, if not artistic, work. This dried
earth, dug from bogs, admits of being carved and shaped to almost any
form. Sandstone and some other rocks may be represented by it, as also
trunks of trees. Well glued and sanded, it takes colour readily, or it
may be gone over with a mixture of whiting and plaster of Paris with
glue-water, and finally coloured; or dry plaster may be mixed with
thick oil paint as a "priming" medium.

"Virgin" cork is the latest rockwork model. Its shape being irregular,
it is well suited to imitate craggy rocks, added to which it takes
thick colour or whiting well, glued or unglued.

Nothing, however, beats a mixture of all methods--paper, peat, and
cork, their lines broken up or blended with wadding. The whole of
this, well glued, sanded, and properly coloured, will defy the most
critical unprofessional judgment to declare it anything but what it
seems--hard rock.

I am speaking, of course, of small cases; large work requires
consideration. Peat will not do for anything but the illustration of
small subjects. It is too heavy, and does not readily adapt itself to
imitate large masses of overhanging rock; added to which, its expense
in large quantities is very great. It is also dirty to work with, and
is often a harbour for larvae of various moths--inimical to the
taxidermist. I so recognised all these facts in the treatment of the
rockwork in the Leicester Museum, that I determined to use paper only,
treating it by an old method, artistically elaborated.

This method was, after making a rough drawing and calculation as to
the positions the specimens would occupy in the case, to nail strips
of "quartering" across the backs of the cases, to which again were
nailed strips of 0.75 in. wood, crossing in all directions, but
especially where the drawings indicated a mass of rock. On these, and
to these, small shelves of wood were nailed in the positions to be
subsequently occupied by the specimens. To these shelves cardboard was
tacked, and bent upward and downward to the pointed or square shapes
assumed by the rocks modelled from. [Footnote: It is quite necessary
in artistic modelling not only to have coloured drawings of the rocks
you are imitating, but to have an actual piece by you as a little
guide to form and colour.] Where the edges were too sharp they were
beaten in by a mallet, or altered by glueing on wadding.

The mass of rock being joined here and there to break up the
appearance of shelves, and to give a certain homogeneity, was then
treated by having brown paper well glued on both sides, stuck all over
the edges, joins, or accidental fissures; this, suffered to dry, was
then well painted with a mixture of whiting and glue-water, again
allowed to dry, and again painted. When this last was dry it was gone
over with a thin wash of glue-water, and sharp "silver" sand thrown
on; when dry, coloured by staining it with various oil colours (not
tube), and some few powder colours--blue-black, yellow ochre, Vandyke
brown, celestial blue (cheap), burnt sienna, etc, thinned with turps,
afterwards touched up, when dry, with touches of tube colours, smartly
and cleanly put on. This would be the treatment and colouring for
greyish-brown or yellowish-grey smooth, dry-looking rocks, sandstones,
etc.; and by a little alteration of tint and treatment in places, would
imitate the various slates.

For chalk and limestone, mix plaster and sand with the whiting and lay
it on thickly, not throwing on sand, as a final operation. Colours, of
course, are different here, more bright and light green predominating;
but the colouring of the rockwork, etc, to imitate the various kinds of
rocks required, is only to be learned by experience; in point of fact,
to colour rocks in an effective manner is really the work of an
artist, for it is requisite to know the properties of colours, and to
"scumble" and "stipple" or "glaze" one colour over another to get
"depth." A few hints may, however, help out the tyro.

For rough sea rocks, after sanding and glueing, go over the rockwork
with a mixture of chrome yellow and Prussian blue, mixed with oil and
turps, the blue predominating; touch up the points with white, and
allow it to dry. The next day deepen the shadows with Brunswick black,
"stippling" lightly the remainder of the rock with the same. Arrange
sea-shells and sea-weed, here and there, where the mounted subject
allows of this treatment. This is a shining dark bluish-green and
brown rock, suitable for sea-gulls, divers, etc.

For rough grey land rock, paint over all with lamp-black in powder,
mixed with plaster of Paris, and touch up the points with oil white.
When the work is quite dry, go over all with a glaze of Prussian blue
mixed with Brunswick black. Fit up with ferns, grass, and golden
lichens on the points, or in the hollows. This makes a greyish rock
with no gloss, and is suitable for owls and similar birds.

For rough sandstone rock, paint over with chrome yellow and a very
little blue mixed with oil white, the latter predominating; dust over
on the points with red sand, touch up the hollows with Brunswick
black, suffer to dry, and then go over all with a very little rose
pink or vermilion, worked up in turps with a little varnish. Fit up
with ferns, grasses, and mosses. This is a reddish-yellow rock,
suitable for anything not having red or yellow fur or feathers.

The predominating colour may be mixed with the whiting, etc, to paint
over the artificial rock; but there is a certain loss of brilliancy in
the colours which follow, unless a white ground has been previously
laid on.

For certain objects a great advantage is obtained by making up the
rockwork on a false bottom and slipping it, ready finished, into the

There are hundreds of other varieties, but they must be worked out by
each person according to his proclivities. It might as well be
expected that a picture could be painted from printed directions as to
imagine that one person could make a rockwork precisely similar to
another without seeing it done, or without working it out by his own

Trees for large groups may be carved out of successive layers of peat,
or modelled up with brown paper and virgin cork; better still by
arranging brown paper over rods or a wire framework, covered
previously by tow, and afterwards coloured to nature. The leaves of
some trees dry and colour up well, and can be introduced on the
natural or artificial twigs.

TWIGS.--Artificial twigs can be made by twisting tow round wire,
glueing, and throwing on sawdust, peat-dust, etc, and afterwards
colouring. The most natural way, however, is to rub up the gold and
grey lichens, and throw them on the glued tow, filling up afterwards
with larger pieces to break the lines. Natural and artificial twigs
mix well together; the latter, from their flexibility, allowing of any

FERNS, GRASSES, ETC, FOR "FITTING up."--Time was when our ancestors
were content to stick their preserved specimens in boxes with nothing
to break the blank of white paper which backed them up. Nowadays we
have arrived at such a pitch of decorative art in taxidermy, as in all
things, that this stiffness of outline does not suffice; accordingly,
we break our background by flowing lines of beauty, produced by the
graceful aids of dried ferns and grasses, twigs of trees, etc.

Many ferns are not suitable for decoration; for instance, the male
fern (Filix-mas) is of too tender a texture to stand upright when
weighted with colour. The very best fern is the common brake (Pteris
aquilina), as also the common polypody (Polypodium vulgare). The
fronds of the brake should be gathered in August or September, when
they are fully matured and hard, and also when the weather, is hot and
dry. If gathered in continuous wet weather, hardly any amount of
drying will prevent the fronds from ultimately becoming mouldy, when
no amount of after-drying prevents them going brittle and dropping to
pieces. Ferns which have lost their green colouring matter, and are
going red and yellow, dry well, and retain their colours nicely if
quickly dried.

Foreign ferns, such as the various adiantums, the "gold" and "silver"
ferns, and many others, dry well, and retain their colour if care be
used; nothing suits foreign birds better as a background than the
ferns and grasses of the various countries they inhabit.

Paper used in the drying of botanical specimens is sold, but being too
expensive for this particular purpose, a supply of large sheets of
common grey paper used by ironmongers or grocers, or even brown paper,
will suffice--the ferns should, directly they are gathered, be laid
out straight on a board, or on a floor, and covered with paper, then
more ferns, again a layer of paper, and so on--a board weighted with
bricks should be placed over all, and suffered to remain for a few
days; the ferns are then to be turned, the paper dried, and the
process repeated.

When thoroughly dry, the ferns may be coloured with oil paint thinned
with turps and varnish, sufficient to give lustre without shininess.
Here and there break the green colour with white, red, blue, and
yellow, in a manner which will occur to anyone having artistic
ability. Ferns treated in this manner soon dry, and retain their
colour for an indefinite period, the only thing to be said against
them being their rather unnatural flatness--due to pressure; this,
however, may be counteracted by a little judgment during the drying,
one plan being the regulation of pressure at certain points, aided
also by clean dry sand.

Several hard-leaved plants (mostly foreign) found in our
conservatories are also excellent driers, many taking colour readily.

Many grasses (not the flowers, but the leaves or blades) dry well.
Amongst the best of these is the "wiregrass," found in woods, growing
especially over runnels in those localities. The flower also of this
plant is most eligible as a decorative agent. The wood melick is
another elegant and suitable plant.

The sedges (Carex) dry and colour well, as also several of the
water-rushes, reeds, and flags. The "toad-rush" (Juncus bufonius), and
its allies, found in damp places, by roads, by canals, and in pasture
or corn-fields, dry and colour excellently.

Sphagnum, or bog moss, especially when having pink tips, is a most
beautiful object; the only thing to be said against it is the
difficulty of getting it free from water, and the length of time it
takes afterwards to dry.

Mosses of various sorts growing in woods on trees--lichens, gold and
grey, mosses or lichen-covered twigs, sprigs of heather, furze,
sea-lavender--all dry well, and come in usefully.

Many persons like their moss and grasses dyed: this is perhaps
allowable in some cases for common work; but if a bird or a mammal is
nicely mounted, the plainer the fitting, and nearer nature, the
better. To those, however, who desire to dye their grasses, I
recommend Judson's powder dyes as the readiest medium, the directions
for manipulating which are given with them. Any rough grass in flower
does for dyeing, and a visit to the fields just before haymaking will
supply the amateur with all he wants for this.

Teazles, thistles, and the umbels (seed-heads) of various plants,
chiefly compositae, will be found of service; but everything must be
thoroughly dried before being coloured, or before being introduced
into shades or cases. Nothing must be coloured with water colours or
gums, as some writers contend, or mould will inevitably follow. A few
drops of creosote, or the black carbolic acid of commerce, poured into
the case or shade just before closing up, is a very good thing to
prevent mildew, though if everything is thoroughly dried, and only oil
colours are used, no danger from this cause need be apprehended.

SEA-WEEDS, SHELLS, ETC.--Sea-weeds, which are constantly used in
fitting up cases of sea birds, need no description as to their
collection, further than to say that all sea-weeds, whether sea-weeds
proper, corallines, and zoophytes, must be well washed in spring
water, many times changed, to thoroughly remove the salt, and must be
well dried before being introduced into cases or shades. Those who
require full descriptions of British sea-weeds, their collection and
preservation, I must refer to "British Marine Algae," by W. H.
Grattan, published at the office of The Bazaar, 170, Strand, London.

Few sea-weeds proper are applicable to the purpose of the taxidermist,
though some of the oar-weeds can be used, and many of the red
sea-weeds (Rhodosperms) can be floated out in water and carelessly
arranged on paper, if wanted for fitting-up purposes, or more
carefully arranged if for a collection. After washing, these small
plants adhere by their natural mucilage to the paper on which they may
be floated out.

Of all the sea-weeds proper the Carrageen mosses (Chondrus crispus and
mamillosus) are the most eligible, and if dried and arranged in cases
are very elegant. The common coralline (Corallina officinalis)--a
sea-weed which so rapidly attracts carbonate of lime as to be almost
of a stony or coral-like texture--is another invaluable plant for
fitting up. When wet it is usually purple or pink, but on exposure to
the sun becomes white.

Amongst the zoophytes which, though looking like the sea-weeds, are
not of vegetable origin, there are many which are most useful, not to
say indispensable to the taxidermist. Leaving out the foreign corals,
sea-fans, sponges, etc, we shall certainly find the most useful English
species to be first: the broad leaved horn-wrack (Flustra foliacia),
that mass of thin hand-like leaves, of the colour of brown paper,
which is cast up on some shores, often in great quantities. Other
useful sorts are those like little trees, such as the common sea fir
(Sertularia, abietina and operculata); these last are found especially
attached to stones, shells and sea-weeds. The lobster's horn coralline
(Antennularia antennina) and the various sponges are also most useful
things, the branched sponge (Halichondria oculata) and others being
amongst the best for use. Several of the bladder-wracks or
"sea-grapes" will dry nicely, as also will the egg cases of the whelk
and the "sea purses" and "skate barrows," really the egg bags of the
dogfish and skate.

The starfish, or "five fingers," will, after washing, dry well, or can
be plunged in any one of the hardening solutions mentioned in Chapter
IV. The various sea urchins (Echinii), if emptied of their contents,
make pretty objects, either with or without their spines. The
beautiful sea anemones are, however, impossible to preserve as dried
objects, but must be modelled in glass or wax, as imitations. Various
shells come in handily also; amongst those may be mentioned the common
razor shells (Solen ensis and siliqua), several of the Venus shells,
the common limpets, the chitons, several of the trochi, and last, but
not least, the shells of the speckled scallop (Pecten varius).

Many freshwater, as also land shells, come in for decorating cases of
littoral birds. Amongst those of the first we may instance Limnoea
stagnalis, palustris, peregra, etc, Dreissena polymorpha, Planorbis
corneus, etc.; the various Unios, anodons, and many others.

Amongst the land shells very many of the Helices, such as the
gaily-coloured nemoralis, or its variety hortensis, caperata,
arbustorum, cantiana, etc, as well as many other specimens.

The preservation of most freshwater and land shells is exceedingly
easy, the greater number of specimens requiring only to be plunged
into boiling water, and the contents removed--an easy operation in the
case of the bivalves, and the contents of univalves or snail-like
shells being also easily wormed out with a pin or crooked awl.
[Footnote: Mr. R. B. Woodward, F.G.S, etc. in one of the very best and
most practical of those wonderful little penny "Handbooks" for young
collectors, advises a large spoonful of salt being added to the
boiling water, for two reasons, one, because it puts them out of pain
at once, and also makes their subsequent extraction more easy. "It is
a good plan (says he) to soak the smaller shells in cold water
(without salt), before killing them, as they swell out with the water,
and do not when dead retreat so far into their shells."]

For works on shells see "Manual of the Mollusca," by Dr. S. P.
Woodward, J. Gywn-Jeffreys' "British Conchology," Lovell Reeve's
"British Land and Freshwater Mollusks," and several clever articles in
Science Gossip and the Conchological Journal, by Mr. G. Sherriff Tye
and others.

Glue is sufficient to fix all these objects in their places on
rockwork, in cases; resins, such as mastic or shellac, or any of the
cements mentioned in Chapter IV, are, however, the best mediums to fix
such objects upon tablets for scientific purposes. For fixing shells
on labelled cards, Mr. Woodward recommends gum arabic, with one-sixth
of its bulk of pure glycerine added to it, which makes a semi-elastic
cement, with the advantage also of allowing the shells to be taken
from their tablets, at any time, by the intervention of hot water.

DRYING AND STORAGE OF SPECIMENS.--It is always a vexed question how to
keep newly-mounted specimens free from moths, and flies, and dust,
whilst drying. The difficulty is, that you cannot put them away at
once in boxes, cases, or shades, for if you do they do not dry at all,
but "sweat" and slowly rot, or else become mildewed. If you expose
them fully without any covering, they are soon covered with dust, and
liable at any moment to--first, the attacks of meat flies, and next of
moths and beetles.

Good insect powder is, as I have before pointed out, a deterrent;
still, to make assurance doubly sure, I would always, in the case of
valuable specimens, enclose them in square cages, made one side of
glass, and the three other sides and top of fine meshed muslin,
wirework, or perforated zinc, the latter sufficiently fine not to
allow small moths and flies to creep in. These can be made of various
sizes, can be varied by having a top and back of wood, can have the
front to open like a meat safe with shelves, or be simply cases to
lift over the specimens like shades; in any case, however, the front
glass allows you to see how all is going on, and the wire sides permit
a free current of air to pass through to dry the specimens.

In this manner I have been enabled to laugh at the little wretches of
insects buzzing around, and flattening their noses against the zinc,
in vain endeavours to interview some charming specimens of young
birds, whose "fluffy" plumage they delight in. Like the cats, they are
"so fond of noticing those dear little birds!"

Skins not in constant use for reference should, when dried, be wrapped
in soft paper amidst insect powder, and put away in closely fitting
drawers. "Paper fasteners" are very useful to clip the ends of the
paper--folded over--which encloses them.

AQUARIA.--This being a subject a little outside my province, I do not
purpose dwelling on it, further than to say that all information will
be found in "The Aquarium, its History, Structure, and Management," by
Dr. J. E. Taylor, F.L.S, etc.; Gosse's "Handbook of the Marine
Aquarium," and many others. Two recipes, culled from the Scientific
American, 1879, may be of service, however: "Cheap tanks can be made
of wood and glass, the frame and bottom being of wood, and sides of
glass. In order to make the joints watertight, care must be taken to
get a proper aquarium putty or cement. The following is a good recipe:
Put an egg-cupful of oil and 4 oz. tar to 1 lb. resin, melt over a
gentle fire, test it to see if it has the proper consistency when
cooled; if it has not, heat longer, or add more resin or tar. Pour the
cement into the angles in a heated state, but not boiling hot, as it
would crack the glass. The cement will be firm in a few minutes. Then
tip the aquarium in a different position, and treat a second angle
likewise, and so on. The cement does not poison the water."

"To mend the broken glass of an aquarium, fasten a strip of glass over
the crack, inside the aquarium, using for a cement white shellac
dissolved in one-eighth its weight of Venice turpentine."



ARTISTIC MOUNTING.--GENERAL REMARKS.--By the time the student has
slowly worked his way to this chapter, he will no doubt--should he be
apt, and have an artistic mind--have achieved things beyond the mere
drudgery of the profession. I take it that, being interested in his
work, he will not have rested content with mounting--even in a perfect
manner--his animals at rest, but will have "had a shy" at animals in
action, or engaged in some characteristic occupation. The days of
birds on "hat-pegs," stiff-legged, long-necked and staring,
round-eyed, at nothing--of mammals, whose length and stiffness are
their greatest merit--has passed away for ever; and only in dreary
museums, far behind the age, where funereal silence obtains, and where
the dust of mummied animals arises to awe and half poison the
adventurous explorer, are these "specimens" to be found.

Public museums are, unfortunately, in nine cases out of ten, not good
schools for delineating the natural attitudes or characteristics of
animals. This arises partly from the fact that all, save the more
modern ones, retain their original specimens mounted in the old style.
The newer work of the museums of London, Paris, Madrid, etc, is,
however generally of quite a different stamp. [Footnote: Since this
was written, the new South Kensington Natural History Museum has been
built and I lately had the pleasure of a private view--through the
courtesy of Mr. R. Bowdler Sharpe F.L.S.--of the new style of mounting
of the future, i.e. pairs of birds their nests and young, surrounded
with carefully-modelled foliage and accessories. I there saw a bunch
of "willow-herb" magnificently modelled. I was pleased, however, from
an artist's point of view, to discover that we in Leicester could give
them a "Roland for an Oliver" in our white-throats, together with
their nest and young, surrounded by a modelled bramble-bush in
blossom; and with our swallows in section of a cow-house--neither of
which groups have yet been attempted for the national collection. I am
trembling with apprehension, however, that ere long Mr. Sharpe and his
"merry men"--one of them, a German, the cleverest bird-mounter I ever
saw--will leave us in the lurch. Nevertheless, healthy emulation of
the best features of our national collection will do us no harm. ]

This struck me most forcibly with regard to that of Madrid, which I
visited some years ago. The vertebrate specimens were old and
wretchedly mounted, the lepidoptera nowhere; but the recently acquired
animals were splendidly rendered. The youthful and painstaking amateur
will, no doubt, however, do as I did when a boy--viz, pitch upon some
professional taxidermist, to whose window he will repair at all
available opportunities to learn his style, now and then venturing on
some small purchase (usually a pair of eyes), to gain admittance to
the glories within, and have speech with the great man himself.
Exploring in this manner, I have had occasion to thank many of the
leading London taxidermists for little "tips" ungrudgingly given.

A few hints may suffice to help the reader. The most important canon
is: Do not mix your orders of birds; that is to say, abstain from
surrounding a hawk tearing its prey, with various birds in all
attitudes, placidly ignoring the existence of their enemy. A scene of
this kind irresistibly reminds me of the stage "aside," when the
villain of the piece audibly proclaims vengeance against the
unconscious hero but two yards away on his right or left.

Birds not of the same kind, and from different parts of the world, are
often cased together, but this is open to criticism, unless you
avowedly wish to illustrate the whole order for purposes of reference,
as in the instance of, say, the Columbae (pigeons). Pairs of birds are
the most effective, if the idea of the surroundings is nicely carried

I have seen one or two very funny effects in the "Black Country." In
one example, a scarlet ibis, mounted in a case on a broken piece of
highly gorgeous china gaselier; in another, two puppies facing each
other on velvet, a piece of rock salt in the middle, on which stood a
lapwing, surrounded by foreign birds in all attitudes. Need I warn the
reader against such flights of fancy and works of art?

It is, I would remark, quite impossible to give directions as to
attitudes, but on one point I might advise, in order to save the many
inquiries addressed to me, from time to time, upon the subject of the
straightness or otherwise of gulls' legs. The fact is--gulls, when
standing, tuck the tibia quite close to the abdomen, apparently under
the wing, and reveal only a very little portion of the tibio-tarsal
joint, keeping the metatarse perfectly straight, or, as someone wrote
to me once, "like two arrows or sticks." (For explanation of these
parts named, see Plate II, (N, q, P.) )

Although most works on taxidermy profess to give descriptions of the
attitudes of animals, I cannot do so for the simple reason that I
consider the acquirement a speciality and purely a matter of
experience. Nature must be closely studied; failing this, reference
must be made to illustrated works on natural history. All of Gould's
works are grand guides to attitudes of specimens and accessories, as
also that beautiful work of my friend H. E. Dresser, F.L.S, etc, on the
"Birds of Europe;" but as the price of these magnificent works places
them beyond the reach of any but rich people, the amateur may fall
back on Morris's "British Birds" and Bree's "Birds of Europe" for
coloured plates, and Routledge's "Wood's Natural History" for
uncoloured plates of many mammals, birds, and fishes; those signed by
Coleman being especially artistic and natural. Add to these Cassell's
new "Natural History," edited by Dr. Duncan, F.R.S.--really the best
book on popular natural history we have.

Other works, perhaps not so easily accessible, are the "Proceedings of
the Zoological Society," and the "Ibis," for coloured illustrations of
animals--often in characteristic attitudes, and which, with the
above-named works, fitly replace the more ancient "pictures" of
animals, arranged on the "fore and aft" system, and from which instead
of nature, our taxidermists took their original ideas; indeed, the
English school, with true British insularity, would, I presume, have
continued the mounting of animals by this "fore and aft" method, had
not the Germans and French broken rudely in on our slumbering
taxidermists at the Great Exhibition of 1851. [Footnote: Is it not
singular that even now anything stiff, inartistic, "solidly" (i.e.
clumsily) made, or behind the age, is cherished with the utmost
veneration, as being a proof of the solidity of our "Old English
Methods" (and skulls)!]

I propose now to give a few hints on groups, etc, not describing their
management, but merely giving a list of subjects. First, let me say
that in order of merit, in all arts connected with the preservation of
natural history objects, I must, after many years study, give the palm
to the Germans, not only in all matters connected with artistic
taxidermy, but in their elegant and truthful setting of beetles, their
sensible setting of lepidoptera, and their really beautiful method of
making skins of birds etc.

Next come the French, then the English, and lastly, the Americans. The
Americans are the worst simply because they adopt the crudest English
methods of taxidermy, with other bad habits of ours. I may say that I
never saw an artistic piece of work, nor a well made skin, coming from
America, unless done by a German or a Frenchman. I believe, however,
the European element is working wonders amongst them, and reading Mr.
Batty's book (if he be a true American), I was very favourably
impressed with the signs of progress contained therein, and I should
not at all wonder if soon our American friends "go ahead" and quickly
leave us behind.

Professor Henry a. Ward, of Rochester, New York, U.S.A, in a
well-written article in one of his "Bulletins" sent to me, has, since
I wrote the above, confessed the great superiority of European over
American taxidermists, but says that within the last few (very few)
years, their native taxidermists have greatly improved, owing to the
importation of clever foreign artists, who are gradually educating the
American workmen.

Just before this there was an entertaining article in the "Century"
magazine, and illustrations were given showing the best work of the
American taxidermic artists. I must say, however, that, unless the
draughtsman failed to copy what an educated eye looks for, none of
this work struck me as being of a high order--one or two "pieces,"
indeed, being decidedly capable of improvement. Possibly this
improvement has taken place by now; anyway, I heartily wish Brother
Jonathan good luck in his taxidermic studies.

At present, however, I say to all rising taxidermists, follow the lead
of the Germans--they are true artists; and with the Italian modelling
and French neatness of workmanship to fall back on, success is

Looking back to '51, let us see what one of these foreigners
(mentioned in chapter I) could teach us. Among over fifty groups of
animals shown in the Great Exhibition were:

A stag caught by five hounds (price 180 pounds).

A wild boar set on by three hounds.

A couple of old and young foxes in front of their "earth" (60 pounds).

Trophy of 25 heads of animals of the chase.

Nest of a horned owl. Two old birds and five young defending
themselves against two polecats (30 pounds).

Goshawk attacking an eagle owl.

These were followed by comic groups, six of which illustrated Goethe's
fable of "Reinecke the Fox," and were skilfully managed as well as
amusing. Some others were:

A duel between two dormice, with moles as gravediggers.

"A Declaration of Love." Two weasels.

"A Nursery Maid." One old and four young weasels.

"Shaving a Luxury." One frog shaving another.

Apropos of the above, frogs lend themselves better to comic scenes
than almost any other animal, from their ridiculous likeness, when
erect on their hind legs, to mighty man. Hence advantage is often
taken of this; and amongst mirth-provoking caricatures I have seen "A
Steeplechase," frogs mounted on puppies as horses, some tumbling at
the water-jump, others riding to win, some unhorsed, scrambling after
their steeds, and so on; "The Battle of the Nile," frogs on rafts of
leaves of water plants, attacking one another with small bulrushes;
duel scenes; "Courtship" and "Matrimony"; "Fortiter in Re," a young
frog soundly smacked (in the most approved fashion) by the irate
paternal frog; the companion picture, "Suaviter in Modo," a young frog
soothed by maternal affection.

Monkeys are the next best for comic scenes, but are more awkward to
handle, and not half so funny, unless very carefully modelled to
caricature the manners and customs of the human subject. Pourtrayed as
shoemakers, acrobats, as "You dirty boy!" or, as in the Fisheries
Exhibition of 1883, as "The Enthusiast" (a gouty monkey fishing in a
tub placed in his sick chamber), they are, perhaps, the most
successful. The addition of miniature furniture to assist the delusion
is permissible; but, after all, these caricatures are not artistic
taxidermy, and they are only allowable now and then as a relaxation.

Perhaps that which most exercises the skill and judgment of the
taxidermic artist is reproducing large groups of some of Landseer's
pictures, such as, "The Combat" (two stags fighting); the "Stag at
Bay," and others in connection with hunting. Lion and tiger fighting
over prey; two tigers fighting for possession of a deer; head and paws
of lion or tiger peeping over a rock; tiger crouching for a spring on
some feeding animal; lion and zebra; panther or jaguar crouching on an
overhanging tree-trunk; leopard killed by a gemsbok antelope; polar
bear killing seal on ice; lynx creeping over snow upon grouse; wolf
leaping with fore-legs in air on receiving his death-shot; fox in
"full cry;" fox just missing a pheasant or duck by only securing the
tail feathers; two foxes fighting; fox and playing cubs; fox and
trapped rabbit (after Ansdell); "Heads and Tails," fox coming over
bank as rabbit disappears; dogs and puppies; cats and kittens (see
Landseer's, Ansdell's, Couldery's, and Frank Paton's pictures for
treatment of these); otters and young; otters with fish (see
Landseer's and Rolfe's pictures for these); otters diving after fish,
both seen in mid-water, are some of the studies which have been, or
can be, executed.

Among birds, eagles and falcons at rest or in action are the most
capable of artistic treatment, such as "The Eagle's Throne" (after
Wolf); laemmergeyer carrying off lamb; hawks fighting over a small
bird, allowing the latter to escape; peregrine falcon striking a
bittern; eagle and wild cat; sea-eagle and gulls; osprey and fish. In
connection with the last, one of the very best things I ever saw done
with these specimens was in the Fisheries Exhibition, 1883, a piece of
work--a study it might be called--executed by a German residing in
London. It represented an osprey tugging a fish from some sea rocks.

Both fish and bird were excellently rendered; the latter, with wings
expanded, had gripped the fish with both feet, and had raised it in
the air some distance off the rocks; the fish was, however, entangled
by a line and hook it had swallowed; and the action of the fish-hawk
in attempting to tear the fish away was wonderfully fine, the feathers
were raised about the head, the eye was fierce, and the sidelong waft
of the wings was most natural. The study was all the more interesting
from the fact that both bird and fish were poised in air without any
visible means of support, the case enclosing them being of glass all
around. How it was managed was easy for the professional eye to
discover, but I do not think I should be doing justice to the inventor
to describe the method.

Amongst the water birds, which are the next best, perhaps, for
artistic treatment, come the swans, in the attitude of swimming (see
Chapter XII.), ducks swimming, diving, and flying. "The Widowed Duck"
--after the celebrated picture--was one of the things very nicely
rendered in the "Fisheries Exhibition;" the painting of an artistic
scene at the back of this case helped the effect wonderfully, as it
usually does in good work. "Hooded Crows Tracking a Widgeon," and
"Wounded Tern," fallen by its eggs, were two other clever groups--said
to be "copyright," though how on earth such things can be copyright I
do not know, especially as not one of the things exhibited could be
called original; indeed, everything I saw at the "Fisheries," with the
exception of the osprey mentioned above, had been done over and over
again by German, French, and English artists.

The work of these "copyright" groups--excepting the foliage, which was
rather "stiff"--was, however, very clean and nice, and favourably
compared with work by other taxidermists, many of whose "pieces"--as
the Americans say--should have been refused on the score of
pretentious incompetence.

There was one detestable exhibit, all the more grievous as being
professional. No wonder that people, seeing this sort of thing, should
laugh at fish and bird "stuffing." As I looked and wondered, I felt
that a first-class assortment of injurious epithets applied to such
"work" would have relieved my perturbed spirit.

This digression puts me in mind of another, and that is to warn the
amateur not to "know too much," and think he has nothing to learn
directly he can set up a bird or mammal, or anything else, in a fairly
respectable manner. The people who know everything, and imagine they
cannot be taught, are just the people who know very little and who
will never learn more. "Duffers" they are, and "duffers" they will be,
to the end of their days. Every sensible man, even should he rival
Methusaleh--which heaven forfend!--must be learning Art (even should
he teach) all his life.

Make haste to learn, therefore, from anyone who can give you a hint,
and don't set yourself up (or down) in some obscure country town and
fancy you are great. Come out into the world, measure yourself against
the best, criticise your own work as if it were a stranger's. Be
honest, and say, "That man's work knocks mine into a cocked hat," and
then go home miserable, but determined to beat that man's work or
perish in the attempt. Never sneak! If you see first-class work by
anyone, go boldly and say, "Sir, I am an amateur," or, "I am a young
professional," as the case may be. "Your work interests and delights
me. May I look around?" Doubtless, the person addressed will be
flattered by your appreciation, and, unless narrow-minded, will
exchange views with you to your benefit.

Let us return to our theme. Amongst the water birds, then, we may
instance herons with young as making a nice group, moorhens leading
out their young on water under a mossy bank and so on; and this brings
us to the question of mounting pairs of birds, with their nests and
eggs, or nests and young.

requires more correct mounting and taste, and nothing is more
charming, if properly done, than illustrating the life-history of,
say, a pair of birds with their nest and young. Take any birds you
like--sparrows or robins--and, if you know anything, you may "invest
with artistic merit" even such common specimens as these. There is a
certain fascination in young things which, I suppose, calls up all the
kindly feelings of our nature, and so it is that young birds tended by
their parents are groups which appeal the most to the finer senses,
besides being really educative if worked out properly.

I remember, quite twenty years ago, when a boy, seeing a collection of
nearly all the "British" birds, their nests and eggs, for sale, so
that the idea is not a new one, nor is that of surrounding such
groups, with proper accessories and modelled leaves and flowers, as
will shortly be exhibited to the public in the new "British" Natural
History Room at South Kensington, and as is now exhibited in the
Leicester Museum. I remember getting foliage done for me many years
ago for such groups, and I believe Mr. Shaw, of Shrewsbury, did it
long before I copied his lead. Who was the original inventor of this
system I know not, but I shrewdly suspect we have to thank French
artists for this. Let it be thoroughly understood that I do not intend
to disparage the beautiful work done for South Kensington by the
various gentlemen and artists interested, but I merely point the
adage, "Nothing new under the sun."

Of course, when I say "modelled foliage" I do not allude to stamped
leaves in various materials, sold at so much (or so little) a gross,
and used to "decorate" "boxes of birds" in the "Black Country" quite
fifty or sixty years ago, but that which has arisen on its ashes in
response to the cry for "more art," and because of the impossibility
of getting any other natural flowers than "everlasting," or any other
leaves than those of grasses and ferns (mentioned in the last
chapter), to dry for decorative, or, as we say, "fitting up" purposes.

To describe the processes involved in copying leaves and flowers of
any plant from nature, so that all will appear perfectly life-like and
yet be durable, and stand exposure to moderate heat and cold, would
take up too much space, added to which, my personal knowledge of all
is required in this is of such recent acquirement, that, although I
have fairly succeeded in teaching myself modelling of this kind, and
have executed a few groups, yet I would like a little more time to
elapse ere I pose as a teacher; but, no doubt, when the time comes,
someone--perhaps the publisher of "Practical Taxidermy"--may be
induced to give the results of my labours to the class most

I may instance some groups: Robin's nest, in bank covered with ivy,
and primroses in flower, the old female bird feeding the young, the
male searching for more food, or singing on branch near nest;
long-tailed titmice, in furze-bush (South Kensington); chiff-chaff, in
long grass, surrounded by willow-herb; chaffinches in blossoming
hawthorn; white-throat's nest, with young, surrounded by leaves and
flowers of the bramble (Leicester Museum); blue-tits, in apple-tree
with modelled foliage and flowers; moorhens swimming, with young just
leaving nest, surrounded with water-lilies, flowering rush, and other
plants; grouse and young; swallows, in section of cow-house, with
plants, etc, growing on roof (Leicester Museum); grebes and nest, amid
marsh plants and marsh marigold in flower, etc. (South Kensington).

To give a tenth of the phases of the studies which can be worked out
would fill pages of this book; suffice it to say that nature, being
the guide in this, must be rigidly adhered to. There is, of course, no
need to copy any accidental awkwardness; but don't invent too much, as
the greatest charm of all is taking Nature as your guide. At the back
of these groups may be placed the eggs, and birds of the same species
in change of plumage or winter dress, thus making the life history
complete. For museums, and similar educational institutions, the food
and the skeleton should be exhibited, with explanatory label attached.

Reptiles and fishes are most unsatisfactory things to treat
artistically. When set up and dried they shrivel, and are seldom
modelled nicely. (To counteract such shrivelling, see Chapter XII.) I
have almost made up my mind that, taking into consideration the
stiffness of outline usually present in mounting by the ordinary
methods, all fish should be cast in plaster or paper, although even
then stiffness may be present unless the fish is posed properly. Fish
lying in a mass on a bank, or in a dish, as were some at the
"Fisheries," look the most natural and easy.

One plan, new to me, however, was adopted in such subjects as large
pike, etc, which were cast, coloured, and placed in a long basket upon
straw, the whole covered with glass. This method is especially nice
for the hall table as a souvenir of piscatorial success. I was rather
disappointed in the colouring of these casts. Many of the artists had
entirely missed the subtle colours of the pike, trout, and other fish
--one salmon only, and one dishful of grayling, magnificently managed,
excepted. [Footnote: One of the very best books I know to help teach
the colouring of fish is "British Freshwater Fishes," by the Rev. W.
Houghton, M.A. Two vols, quarto, each fish beautifully drawn and

Perhaps, the best treatment of fish, when modelled in plaster, was
exhibited in the Indian section; here the tints of the fish were
beautifully managed, the skins appeared wet, but not varnished, and
all the colours were nicely blended in. As for the stuffed fish, their
name was legion, and they were there in all degrees of merit. One
thing, however, struck me with painful surprise; among the thousands
of freshwater fish I saw mounted by taxidermy, not one was without
those ridiculous little spears (cut from large rushes, or from paper)
growing from the bottom of the case, each one, or each bunch of them,
erect as possible, and almost always arranged at equal distances
apart, with maddening precision.

Some of the sea-fish admitted of more elastic treatment, and I saw one
very good exhibit of these. The artist had, however, rather detracted
from their undeniably good treatment by modelling small stones. These
were so natural as to require a label explaining this; but I would
remind all workers in taxidermy that there is no useful end gained by
modelling small stones; a great amount of labour is wasted, and the
intention of modelling--which is to replace the great weight of large
stones by extraordinary lightness--is completely overlooked.

"SCREENS."--The ordinary screen intended for use is made of two sheets
of thick plate-glass, between which are pressed ferns, butterflies,
etc, the whole set in an oak or other wood frame, with castors.

Those intended for ornament are more lightly made. Thus: A square
frame, about 30 in. by 24 in. by 4.5 in. deep, is made in thin fancy
wood, or in pine veneered; no front nor back is fitted, merely a
groove ploughed all around, with "beads," to receive and to retain the
glass, on each face. This frame is then fixed by screws, with buttons
fitting over the screw holes, between two turned and carved uprights
(like small bedstead posts), supported by carved feet on castors; a
handle of carved wood is fixed on top of the box, which completes the
joiner's work. The inside of the frame is papered and coloured; the
birds--usually brightly-coloured foreign birds, or humming birds and
butterflies--are inserted, properly mounted on light twigs, etc, and
the glass beaded in, to complete all.

One very nice "screen" was exhibited at the "Fisheries," almost a
reproduction of the woodcut illustrating the outside of Science
Gossip, with the addition of a hawk striking the kingfisher. There
were also two large and capital trophies, called "The Rod". and "The
Gun," remarkably cheap, mounted as screens in framed bamboo. The first
represented a string of large fresh-water fish depending from a branch
of a tree, a creel, a rod, a landing-net, and other angling gear. "The
Gun" showed a fine bittern and heron, and, I think, some other birds,
also depending from a branch, with a gun and some old-fashioned tools
(powder-flask, etc.) included.

"Screens" filled with corals and sponges (Euplectellae, etc.) would be
very handsome and useful. I am not sure whether I have seen any
managed in this manner.

Very handsome "screens" for the mantelpiece may be made up from owls,
hawks, seagulls, and a variety of other birds. The birds being skinned
out through an opening in the back, the wings and tail are cut off and
spread out on a board, with fine needle points driven through their
webs until the pair of wings--the butts or shoulders placed
inward--assume the shape of a long oval; the tail is fully spread by
the same means, and wings and tail are "wrapped" with cotton and left
to dry. The head and breast are stuffed independently of these and
sewn up.

When all is ready, a handle of about 8 in. to 10 in. long by 0.5 in.
square must be turned out of ivory, ebony, or any wood desired. One
end of this should be turned the full thickness of the wood for about
1.25 in. from the top, then drilled with two holes through its
diameter, and a slot cut of 0.25 in. in width longitudinally for the
full length of the 1.25 in. to receive a thin piece of oval shaped
deal about 4 in. long by 2.5 in. broad by 0.25 in. thick, which should
have a silken loop attached, and a piece of blue or other coloured
silk stretched over it, and the edges of the silk tucked under the
wood and attached by paste; this latter is then fixed to the handle by
rivets running through the two holes previously drilled.

The wings and tail are now glued and pinned to the uncovered part of
the thin wood, the shoulders of the wing inward, the tail radiating
from the bottom. On top of these comes the body (also wired and glued)
fitting in the small space left between the wings. The silk during the
fixing of the wings, tail, and head, should be protected by paper
pasted over all, and which can be removed when the screen is finished.

Screens are also made of single large birds, such as the peacock, or
swan and heron; these are stuffed in the same manner as above, but
instead of being attached to handles should be fixed on a shield of
some fancy wood, the back of which must be polished, and made to slide
up and down on an upright standard, springing from carved legs.

Still more handsome screens are those intended to flank the fireplace.
These are, however, ovals of glass, set in carved or gilded frames,
which are made to slide up or down on a standard or upright, supported
by a carved tripod. Humming birds or insects are included between the
glasses of the carved oval. These screens are made of all sizes, the
standard of some standing 5 ft. to 6 ft. high, the ovals being often 3
ft. by 2 ft.; but smaller ones are constantly made.

JEWELLERY.--Following the example of the ladies who indirectly send
expeditions to "frosty Caucasus or glowing Ind" to take tithe of
animals for the sake of their skins, of birds for their plumes, and of
insects for their silk, to be used in adornment, society demands that
objects of natural history should not be all relegated to the
forgotten shelves of dusty museums, but live as "things of beauty and
joys forever." Hence the new alliance between the goldsmith and the
taxidermist, resulting in a thousand ingenious combinations of nature
and art--a list of a few of which may not be unacceptable as hints.

For earrings, two leopard's claws are mounted as miniature Robin Hood
bugles, the mouth and bell of each being of gold, attached to which is
a chain depending by its centre from the ear-wire. Two tiger's claws
placed base to base, their hooks pointing inwards, are strung and
clasped with gold, thus forming the lyre of the Tragic Muse, as a
brooch or ornament for the breast. Beetles, usually of the genus
chrysochroa, also, are set as earrings. Humming birds' heads, their
throats surrounded with a fillet of gold, form also handsome brooches.
The feet of the various species of grouse and owls are capped with
silver or gold (in which is set a cairngorm), the toes tipped, or the
tarsus banded with silver or gold, to form clasps or brooches.

Pins for the sterner sex are mounted up from the teeth of foxes or
dogs, or more curiously of their noses even. Hares' ears are also
mounted for both sexes, especially for the Scotch markets. To turn
from the adornment of the person to that of the house, we find horses'
hoofs mounted in silver or electro for snuff boxes, inkstands, paper
weights, etc.; rams' or buffaloes' horns as Scotch "mulls" or as flower
stands. Sometimes the whole head of a ram or buffalo is mounted, the
horns polished, sawn in two, hinged and mounted in silver, and set
with Scotch stones. Deers' heads are mounted as gas chandeliers;
foxes' heads as gas brackets or as supports for Duplex lamps; monkeys,
bears, ibises, owls, eagles, etc, as "dumb-waiters" or lamp bearers.

These are a few of the uses to which mammals and birds can be put.

Emu's eggs form also handsome goblets when sawn through and mounted in
silver, or when mounted as vases for the chimney-piece, or formed into
an inkstand group.

Foxes' pads mount up as whip handles, bell pulls, and paper knives, as
also do the feet of the various deer. The only satisfactory way,
however, to prepare these is to slit them carefully up the back, and
pull the skin away from the bone all around, leaving the skin attached
to the lowest point you can skin to. Clean out all the flesh and
sinews, and dress the skin with the No. 9, and the bone with No. 15,
preservatives. Stuff with a little chopped tow where needed, and sew
up neatly, sewing also the skin at top over the end of the bone; if
done neatly, the stitches will never show. Use waxed hemp, and pull
each stitch tight.

Game birds stuffed as "dead game" and hung in oval medallions form
suitable ornaments for the billiard-room or hall if treated in an
aesthetic manner. Not, however, in the manner I lately saw perpetrated
by a leading London taxidermist--a game bird hanging in a prominent
position, as if dead, from a nail, enclosed in an elaborate mount, the
bird so beautifully sleek and smooth that, although it was hanging
head downwards, not a feather was out of place! All was plastered
down, and gravity and nature were utterly set at defiance. A little
consideration, and a visit to the nearest poulterer's shop, would have
prevented such a palpable error.

Kittens or puppies of a few days old, if nicely marked, can be stuffed
and mounted on a piece of marble for paper weights, or on red cloth
for penwipers.

The shells of small tortoises make tobacco pouches if lined with silk,
as do also the skins of the feet of albatrosses (the long bones of the
wings of these birds make pipe-stems) or squirrels mounted as a whole.

The shells of large tortoises make fancy baskets if the lower shell or
plastron is sawn away, with the exception of the centre piece, which
is left to form a handle. The shell may be lined with metal or with
any other material or fabric desired.

Lobster claws make up as Punchinellos, or as old men and women, or--as
exhibited at the Fisheries--handles of fish-knives and forks, tops
of inkstands, paper weights, etc. The uses of ivory, either in the
rough, or sawn and polished, are too manifold to notice here.

FEATHER FLOWERS.--I have seen some splendid specimens of flowers (made
from waste feathers of birds) brought from China, the Island of
Ascension, and Brazil, but can give no directions for making them,
further than to say that I should suppose anyone skilled in the making
of such artificial flowers as are sold by the best milliners, or
makers of wax flowers, would have but little difficulty in making up
these beautiful objects.

This is, of course, but a précis of the various uses to which objects
of natural history can be applied as means of ornament; and, indeed,
so many branches are represented by this department of art that it
would require a book double the size of the present, and written by
experts of the various professions and trades concerned, to give a
full history of the practical working of what is known as "Ornamental




THE taxidermist will, in the course of his avocation, require to know
something of various insects, their methods of capture, and how to
preserve and utilise them in his profession.

Of the various orders of insects, Hemiptera (earwigs, field-bugs,
etc.), Orthoptera (cockroaches, grasshoppers, locusts, etc.), Diptera
(flies, etc.), Neuroptera (dragon flies, May flies, Ac.), Lepidoptera
(butterflies and moths), Coleoptera (beetles), and Hymenoptera (bees,
wasps, and Ichneumon-flies, etc.), the Lepidoptera and Coleoptera will
find most favour in his eyes, owing to their brilliancy of colouring,
variety of shape and size, and easiness of manipulation.

It must be remembered, however, that insects should be collected with
a definite purpose by the taxidermist, and not merely for pastime, or
he will degenerate into that most Odious of all created beings--a
collector for the sake of collecting, or what used to be called an
"exterminator." Indeed, I have known of a case in which over 1600 of
the males of a certain species were caught in one day, "assembled" by
the attractions of seven or eight females. These figures seem
incredible, but for the fact that I myself saw part of the spoil
displayed on a 12 ft. board.

Need I say that such slaughter as this is far beyond the bounds of
fair collecting, and that such courses, persevered in, give the odious
title of "exterminators" to all those who practise it. In this
particular instance the moths were made up into "pictures," which,
though ornamental perhaps for a workman's home, hardly justify the
slaughter of any but the very commonest or harmful species.

The tortoiseshell, peacock, and admiral butterflies are often bred in
hundreds for the purpose of making a "picture" of a snake strangling a
tiger, or a crown, or the wings are cut by punches to form the petals
of flowers, to be afterwards grouped under shades. All these things,
though very curious, and really striking if well done, are steps in
the wrong direction, and on a par with the use of humming and other
birds for ladies' hats--all of which adaptations of natural history
objects to commerce inexpressibly "worry" anyone with the slightest
taste or feeling.

If a really beautiful object is wanted, in order to show a group of
exotic or other insects as specimens, out of a cabinet, you may mount
them in as natural a manner as possible on grasses or fine twigs, made
as directed, setting them off with a few foreign ferns, and inclosing
the whole in a "mount," to hang up, or in a narrow oval shade with
carved oak or other stand; or they may be scientifically and
artistically mounted, to show the life-history of any one species, by
arranging the larvae feeding on a properly modelled representation of
its natural food-plant, the imagines, male and female, with some few
striking varieties, shown at rest or flying, as also the eggs and the
pupa-case, with a description of their economy affixed. A few
specimens of families or genera of insects shown thus is, to my mind,
of far greater importance, especially to museums, than mere
"collectors" are aware of.

Many works have been written on the collecting and preserving of these
orders, and especially of the Lepidoptera, vide Dr. Guard Knagg's work
on "Collecting Lepidoptera," Rev. Joseph Greene's "Insect Hunter's
Companion," and many others, including a little work on "Collecting
Butterflies and Moths" by myself.

Cruelty has been advanced as a crime specially to be laid to the
charge of the student in entomology; but some of the greatest workers
in that science have been ladies and clergymen, as also laymen of the
most humane and advanced scientific principles. A vast amount of
ignorant ideas, carefully nursed, are used as weapons against the
entomologist--the pet one of which is, that impalement of a living
insect through the head constitutes the sole aim and end of the

The fact is curiously inverse of this, for not only are insects
captured for purposes of study, but they are never impaled alive but
by a very ignorant or careless person. The lepidoptera (butterflies
especially) are very easy to kill, the simplest plan being to press
the thorax underneath the wing with the finger and thumb, which
instantly causes death. This is now superseded by the cyanide bottle,
of which anon.

It is singular how many people there are, even in the middle class,
who fail to recognise the fact that the egg (ovum) produces the
caterpillar or "grub" (larva), which, after a due season of
preparation, produces the chrysalis (pupa), which latter, lying
quiescent for a variable period, either in the ground or in other
situations favourable for its development, changes the last time to
the perfect insect (imago). This latter, if a butterfly or moth, does
not, as some people imagine, grow, but after it has unfolded its wings
on emergence to their full extent, it never becomes either larger or

An insect, especially a butterfly, when seen by a youngster, is
usually chased in the most reckless fashion--jacket and cap, and even
sticks and stones, are pressed into the service, and the unfortunate
insect is usually a wreck before its fortunate (?) captor falls on top
of it.

I shall endeavour in the following pages to show the proper way in
which to collect and preserve insects, especially the lepidoptera and

NETS.--The first thing to be considered is, how to catch your game.
This is managed by a "net," not of the construction of those mentioned
in Chapter II, but made of a lighter material. They are of various
shapes, the professional, or old English pattern, being something of
the construction of a "bat-folding" net. It is, in my opinion, a most
unsportsmanlike weapon, rapidly going out of date--if not deceased
already--and is fitly replaced by the Continental, or "ring"-net,
which is now generally used. However, it may, perhaps, be necessary to
describe how to make this machine or clap-net--fit only for dealers or

Procure two pieces of ash (or beech, as being the lighter wood), each
of about 5 ft. in length. With a plane or spokeshave round these up
until they taper from 1 in. diameter at bottom to little less than 0.5
in. at top. Now saw each rod into four pieces of 15 in. long, or, for
greater strength, but less portability, into three 20 in. pieces.
Ferrule these in the manner of fishing-rods, so that each rod joins up
to its normal length of 5 ft. At the top of each rod fix a
specially-made ferrule, bent or brazed to about the angle of 45 deg.

Next get two pieces of cane, each 15 in. in length, and of sufficient
diameter to fit tightly into the bent angle of the top piece; bore the
top ends of these canes and tie them loosely together. If the rods
with canes attached are now laid down, with the ends of the canes
pointing inwards, it will be seen that they assume somewhat the shape
of the gable-end of a house, which would fold in on itself by means of
the cord acting as a hinge.

Now get some stout black holland, which sew all round the rods to
within 6 in. of the ends of the bottom joints, so as to fit loosely to
allow them to be inserted or withdrawn at pleasure. When the cane ends
are tied together, cut a hole on the top of the holland, so that you
may be enabled to untie them when required. This hole, for greater
neatness and strength, should be "button-holed" around. To this
framework of holland attach at the bottom some strong black tape,
which pass through the holes previously bored in the last joints of
the rods within 6 in. of their ends. This prevents the net slipping
either up or off when in use.

The material of the net itself is the next consideration. This is of
"leno," a cheap kind of strong gauze. Procure as many yards of this as
will make a loose bag when sewn on and around the framework of
holland, when the net-rods are folded together; bagging especially at
the bottom part, so as to fall down some inches when the net is held

You have now a portable bag, or "clap-net," of over 5 ft. high by 2
ft. 6 in. or more wide. To use this machine, you simply stretch it to
its full extent and run out in front of any insect you wish to stop,
clapping it smartly together and securing your captive in the bag
formed when the net is shut. Some little practice is needed to do this
neatly, especially with such dashing, fast-flying moths as the
"Emperor," or "Bee Hawks." Laying down the net, and confining the
insect to one part, is the best way to get it out uninjured. To take
this net to pieces, the tapes at the bottom and the cords at the top
require only to be loosened, when the rods can be drawn out,
unjointed, and slipped into a bag or a pocket specially sewn in the
breast of the coat to receive them.

When portability is not a desideratum, the rods may be easily made of
green hazel (or nut tree) wands, bent and secured into shape and dried
in the sun, or up a chimney, or otherwise a strong cane may be steamed
(or boiled) and dried in like manner; few people, I opine, however,
care to carry out from a town two long roughly-shaped rods of 5 ft. or
6 ft. long in this clumsy fashion.

I did not wish to describe this net at all, as it is, in my opinion, a
most unsportsmanlike or un-entomological weapon, as nothing can escape
it. Indeed, a friend of mine not inaptly describes it as the "gobbler;"
and it does really "gobble" up any insect it is used against.

The continental or ring net is now generally used. For one variety a
tin or brass Y is made, into the bottom arm of which a stick fits. The
spreading arms serve to hold a cane, which is bent round, and each end
thrust in. A net of gauze or leno, is attached. My objection to this
net is that the cane often slips out of the arms of the Y, which
latter also breaks at the junction; added to which it takes up a great
deal of room, not being very easily doubled without the risk of
breaking. The points which a net should possess in perfection
are--first, strength; secondly, portability; and, thirdly,
adaptability to more than one use. I shall endeavour to show by the
next two figures my ideas of a perfect net.

Fig. 41--Plan of "ring" net.

Fig. 41 shows a strong and easily made net. To make this, procure some
brass wire, gauge No. 8 or 9. Cut from the ring of wire sufficient to
form a net a foot in diameter, allowing enough in addition for two
short arms. Cut off about 3 ft. 8 in, which will allow for joints;
divide this so that one half is about an inch and a half longer than
the other; make one end of the longest piece into a small loop,
cranking it at the bottom, as shown at C; one end of the other piece
is then thrust through the loop at A, turned round, and beaten down,
forming as it were two links of a chain; this acts as a hinge, and
allows the net to be doubled. The other end is then cranked, as shown
at B, but shorter than the arm C.

Next procure sufficient of the material known as black "holland,"
which sew all round the ring of the net in such a manner that it does
not interfere with the working of the hinge. For this purpose a strip
of about 2 in. wide will be enough, which, doubled over and hemmed at
the bottom, allows sufficient for the net--a bag made of the material
called "leno"--to be subsequently affixed. About a yard of "leno"
suffices for the bag, and the pieces which come off the bottom during
the operation of rounding it, form "gussets" to fill the net in up to
the point where the arms B and C first spring.

To fit this net ready for use, get an ordinary walking-stick, a
portion of which is shown at A (Fig. 42), in which bore two holes, one
on each side, to receive the little returns shown at B and C (Fig.
41), and at such a distance from the top of the stick as is determined
by the length of the arms. With a 0.125 in. gouge or chisel, groove
out the wood from these holes to the end of the stick, until the arms
of the net just, "bed" up level with the surface.

The arms being nicely adjusted, remove the net temporarily from the
stick. Next procure a piece of brass tube from 2 in. to 2.5 in. long,
and of sufficient diameter to slip from the point of the stick until
it passes the last hole (a 0.625 or 0.75 in. diameter will be found a
generally suitable size). On the extreme point of the stick affix an
ordinary walking-stick ferrule of such a size and thickness as not to
allow the tube to slip off. To fix the net, slip the tube up the stick
past the last hole, and placing the little cranks, B and Q in their
proper holes, the remainder of the arms properly "bedded" in the
grooves, slide the tube D (Fig. 41) up to the point of the stick, as
shown in Fig. 42, and the net is thus effectually locked and ready for

Fig. 42--"Ring"-net complete.

I claim for this net the following advantages: That it is the most
easily made, the strongest, and the most easily taken down of any net
known; added to which its joint A, which does not in the least weaken
the frame, allows it to be folded in half the space taken up by the
"ring net" or the ordinary "landing net" arrangement. (Note for
fishermen: Landing nets, formed as Fig. 41, I have found very useful,
as they take up less room in the fishing basket, and are quite as
quickly put together as by the screw and socket arrangement.)

Larger nets than are generally used in this country will of course be
necessary when collecting such insects as form the genus Ornithoptera
or Morpho. For collecting abroad no net will be found more serviceable
than a large and strong one, made as Fig. 41; and really when you have
five large papilios in your net at one time, as I once had, you
require one a little out of the common. A short handle to the net will
be found more useful than a long one for collecting some insects, but
a brass telescopic handle can be easily made by any gasfitter, and
used either long or short as expediency directs.

The next figure shows apparently a more elaborate looking net. The
only other one known to me which folds in four, folds by means of the
rule joint, and is somewhat objectionable, inasmuch as it must either
be made of unnecessarily thick and cumbersome wire, to stand the
strain, or if made, as it should be, of the proper sized wire and of
light construction, it is sure to break out at one or the other of the
joints. Experience having proved this, I devised the net shown in Fig.
43, which, in compliment to a gentleman who gave me a hint with regard
to the slide, I have called the "Hill Sliding Net." This slide allows
the net to be folded to just half the size of the preceding one,
making it, therefore, highly convenient to carry.

Fig. 43--The "Hill sliding net," open.

Fig. 44--The "Hill sliding net," closed.

This net frame is, I fear, beyond the power of the amateur to make for
himself, being really a brazier's job. A A A A are four pieces of wire
of the same thickness as used for the preceding net. The two top
pieces are flattened out at the top and each one drilled with a hole,
b b. At e e e e are little brass tubes, brazed to the arms, which
allow each arm to slide down on the other. When these are brazed and
fitted to slide they are fixed to the tube D by smaller tubes, one on
each side, in this manner. At f the arm is brought across the tube and
permanently fixed in the smaller tube. At g the other arm is brought
across in the same manner, but allowed to revolve in the small tube
brazed to the side of D; the end of this am (on the right of Fig. 43)
coming through the tube is coiled round and brazed to a screw, H,
fixed in such a manner that, though screwing freely through a burr
fixed on D, it cannot come out.

There are then no loose pieces to this net, which, from the nature of
the slides, is remarkably strong, and is easily opened and shut. (Fig.
44 shows the net folded, and with the arms slid down one on the
other.) To finish, tie a piece of whipcord in the holes from b to b,
and sew the holland all around the net as before, leaving plenty of
room for the playing of the slides; the "leno" is then sewn to this in
the usual manner, and thus becomes a fixture, as in the preceding net.

To open and fix the net from the position shown in Fig. 44 (which for
the sake of clearness is shown without the "leno "), pull the whipcord
C (now hidden, of course, by the holland) and ease up the slides; bend
over the revolving arm until the screw H comes over the hole in the
burr on D. Push the walking stick A (Fig. 45) into the tube D, and
screw up H, the point of which enters the stick, and firmly fixes and
locks the net. Fig. 45 shows the net ready for use.

The arrangement of the whipcord at C is to enable the net to be used
as a "sugaring" net in addition to its ordinary use for catching; C
being pressed against a tree, the corner of a wall, a fence, or a gas
lamp, etc, readily accommodates itself to any angle required.

A useful net for sugaring purposes, if Fig. 45 is not used, is one
recommended by Dr. Guard Knaggs. It is of triangular shape, the frame
of it being formed by socketing two pieces of paragon wire into a
metal Y piece, and connecting their diverging extremities by means of
catgut, which, when pressed against a tree or other object, will adapt
itself to the outline of it, as shown below by the dotted line (Fig.

Killing Insects.--Having caught your butterfly, you will wish to kill
it in the most painless and least troublesome manner. For this purpose
you will require a "cyanide bottle." Purchase, therefore, at the
druggist's a wide-mouthed bottle (a 4 oz. bottle is a handy size for
the pocket, but you will require larger sizes for certain uses). Into
this bottle put from an ounce to an ounce and a half of pure cyanide
of potassium, in lumps, not pounded (a deadly poison), which you will
completely cover with a layer of plaster of Paris, mixed to the
consistence of paste. The bottle may be corked, have a screw top, or
glass stopper, according to your fancy. A glass stopper is, of course,
the safest to confine the deadly vapour given off, but in point of
convenience, and especially for outdoor work, nothing can surpass a
well-fitting cork--rising sufficiently high above the mouth of the
bottle to afford a good grip. As the plaster is setting it should be
well shaken down to insure an even surface, and afterwards a piece of
wool or blotting-paper should be put into the bottle to absorb any
superfluous moisture. In the course of a day, the plaster will be dry
and ready for use. [Footnote: A piece or pieces of blotting-paper cut
to fit will be found very handy to introduce into the bottle from time
to time to absorb all moisture, and to keep the specimens themselves
mean and dry.]

Fig. 45--The "Hill sliding net" ready for use.

Fig. 46--"Sugaring" net.

The insect being captured, you twist your net rapidly over to get it
as near to the bottom as possible--a very necessary precaution in the
case of a swift-flying or excitable insect. Holding the net now in the
left hand, take the bottle, previously uncorked, in your right hand
and slip it into the net and over the insect. In case of refractory
insects, blowing from the outside will sometimes make them go to the
bottom of the bottle. When this happens, you can slip your hand from
the outside over the mouth of the bottle, and hold it there until the
insect is corked up. In less than a minute it is stupefied and
motionless. If taken out, however, it will revive; it must be left in,
therefore, from ten to fifteen minutes. In the case of female insects
which have not yet deposited their eggs, and are consequently
exceedingly tenacious of life, a longer time will be found necessary.

Bruised laurel leaves, chloroform, benzol, etc, are recommended by some
authors. The first is, I think, uncertain in its effects, and has,
perhaps, a tendency to make the insects go ultimately mouldy. The
second stiffens the wing rays of some insects to such an extent as to
render them difficult to set. It has been recommended in the case of
large insects, such as the hawk moths, to pierce them underneath the
thorax at the insertion of the first and second pairs of wings with a
steel pen dipped in a saturated solution of oxalic acid. I have
frequently done this myself with good results in the days when cyanide
bottles were unknown, but for the largest hawk moths--"Death's heads"
even--I find nothing to beat a large bottle (a glass jar, such as the
French bottle plums in, does admirably), in which is placed about 0.25
lb. of cyanide. With a killing jar of this kind, which I call the
"home" bottle, I have frequently instantaneously killed mice and even
rats. In fact, the volume of poisonous vapour evolved from one of
these bottles is such, that I advise my readers not to take "sniffs"
therefrom, lest severe headaches, or worse results, should follow.

As it is nearly all but impossible to pin an insect so correctly as
you would wish during the hurry and excitement of butterfly hunting, I
recommend that all insects captured when the collector is from home be
laid on their sides, and the pin passed through the body whilst in
that position. This saves the unnecessary marking of the thorax by
more than one pin hole, as the pin can be removed without detriment to
the formation of the body, and the insect pinned in its proper
position when the collector reaches home.

SETTING.--Having brought the entomologist to this point, I may discuss
what to do to preserve the trophies of the day's chase. First, then,
the insects must be "set." To do this properly is the vexata quaestio
of the day. As a nation we anciently practised the "setting" of
lepidoptera with four or eight braces, two or one underneath and two
or one on top of the wings. The wings were then not so fully extended
as now, but the body was pressed as close to the setting board as it
was possible to get it. The next step was the cork setting board, cut
to show in section nearly a half oval, the bodies were a little raised
from the set, and the rounded points of the fore and hind wings
invariably touched the paper of the cabinet when placed therein,
curling up wherever they touched.

Fig. 47--Section of "Setting Board"

Fig. 47 shows a section of a "setting board" designed to remedy this
evil. The block A is formed of a piece of 0.75 in. deal, 12 in. to 14
in. long, and of varying widths according to the insects required to
be set. Exactly in the centre a groove is "ploughed" to the depth of
0.5 in.; from the outer edges of this groove B the board should be
"pitched" or "bevelled" 0.125 in. on each side to its outer edge. On
top of each half, a piece of 0.125 in. cabinet cork C C is glued, and
also in the groove B, where shown at C.

Presuming that you have a "Red Admiral" to set with 1.125 in. or a No.
13 pin, you will find, if allowing 0.125 in. for the body, that after
setting an insect in a board of this kind the matter will be pretty
evenly adjusted--that is to say, about 0.5 in. of pin above and below
the butterfly. This allows the insect when placed in the cabinet to be
well clear of the paper, and is the mode now generally adopted by
those entomologists who effect a compromise between the ridiculous
English low setting and the Continental "high-set." What the real
objections are to this latter setting it has always puzzled me to
discover, unless it is the true British objection to anything foreign
or "French."

In a foreign Camberwell Beauty (Vanessa Antiopa) which I have just
measured, the relative proportions are as follow: The whole length of
the pin is 1.5 in, it comes through the body on the underside 0.875
in, whilst above the body it shows but a little more than 0.25 in. Its
advantages are manifest. First, it brings the insects much nearer the
eye when placed in the cabinet. Secondly, by its position the body is
prevented from greasing the paper of the cabinet (a not unimportant
item when the reader is told that the white velvet of a newly-lined
cabinet drawer has been utterly ruined by the grease from the bodies
of low-set insects). Thirdly, the almost total immunity from "mites"
which high-set insects enjoy.

This last consideration ought to induce our entomologists to adopt the
Continental set nem. con. For what entomologist dare tell me that he
has no mites in his cabinet? Is it the user of camphor, of creosote,
of phenic acid, or of corrosive sublimate? Why, then, this foolish
prejudice against the high-set? I have tried both plans, low setting
for fifteen, and high setting for ten years. I have, as an experiment,
mixed high-set insects in with low-set "exchanges." The brown dust
underneath the latter tells their tale too well. In a box of foreign
high-set insects which I have had by themselves for four or five years
little or no trace of the destroyer is to be seen.

Reform your "setting boards," then, say I; plough your grooves deeper,
and if you object to the flat appearance of the foreign set insects,
there is no earthly reason why you should not "pitch" your boards to
the angle I show in Fig. 47, or to any other angle you desire. The
objection to this "high-set" lies in a nutshell: it looks "odd" to one
accustomed to the English method, and that is really all to be
advanced against its general use.

Let me, therefore, ask my brother entomologists to give the "high-set"
a fair trial, and not to be deterred by the sneers of any novice. It
may strengthen my pleading and terminate the hesitation of the young
entomologist if I mention here that the officer in charge of the
collection of lepidoptera in the British Museum--the well-known
authority, A. G. Butler, F.L.S, etc.--is not only setting all
newly-received butterflies and moths in precisely the fashion
advocated above, but is actually re-setting all the old "low-set"
insects in the same manner!

Whilst on the subject of foreign insects I should like to impress upon
the young beginner not too greedily to rush after "real British"
specimens of rarities, or he may find that he has purchased, at the
expense of some pounds, perhaps, a reset continental type worth as
many pence. I fancy I see our would-be entomologist shaking his head
and very sagely saying, "Oh no! I intend to collect all my insects
myself." My young friend, let me tell you that you will have to
collect far beyond the prescribed threescore years and ten if you
would yourself collect all the British lepidoptera. Work, therefore,
in collecting as hard as you can, and when you want a rarity to fill
up a void in your cabinet, go at once to some respectable dealer and
ask for a continental type of the insect you want, place it in your
cabinet, label it "Foreign," and when you can replace it with an
undoubted "Britisher" think yourself lucky.

Fig. 48--Butterfly "braced" on board.

To make my meaning plain, we will take the Bath White butterfly
(Pieris Daplidice) as an example. An undoubted British specimen of
this, caught, say, at Dover, is certainly worth a sovereign--the price
of a continental one precisely similar, but captured on the other side
of the "silver streak," 5d. Difference in cost for a mere fancy,
19s. 7d.!

Again, what would be the price of an English captured Oleander Hawk
(Choerocampa Nerii)--shall we say from 12 to 20 pounds, according to
the conscience of the vendor and the pocket of the purchaser? A fine
foreign specimen, beautifully set and precisely similar, can be bought
for about 5s.

To set your butterflies, see Fig. 48, which shows a common white
butterfly braced on the setting board. To do this your insect must be
truly pinned as before directed, and placed in the centre of the
groove A B (which is also shown in section at B, Fig. 47); four pieces
of thin cardboard, each about 1 in. long, are cut to the shape shown
at C C C C. An ordinary pin is pushed a little way through them at
their bases.

With a fine needle now lift up from underneath the left hand upper
wing of the insect to about the angle shown in Fig. 48; picking up a
brace with the left hand, push the pin in the cork in such a manner
that the brace lightly holds down the wing. Do the same with the
underwing. Repeat with the other side. [Footnote: The braces shown in
Fig. 48 should be a little nearer the tips of the fore wings, or
supplemented by stiff papa pinned across, otherwise the tips are
likely to curl up when drying.]

I have been assuming that the wings of the insect previously lay flat.
If they are folded up above the back they had better be pushed down
with the braces instead of with the needle, and pinned to any position
they will readily fall to, and from that gradually worked up by means
of another brace to the angle required. The fore pair of legs should
be braced to the front, and hind pair of legs, especially of moths,
are to be braced out to fall neatly between the body and the wings.
Sometimes very fine cambric needles are thrust through, just
underneath one of the wing rays, to lift up and keep it in position,
-until the braces can be brought to bear. This ought not to be
resorted to except in extreme cases, or for other than cabinet

A correspondent (Mr. G. H. Bryan) writing in Science Gossip for
December, 1883, says:--"The grooved cork, instead of being glued to
one wooden board, is fastened on to the two boards, the groove between
them corresponding exactly with the groove in the cork. These in turn
are held together by three slips of wood, to which they are firmly
nailed. In setting insects, the pin should not be run into the groove
just above the slips. If run into the cork anywhere else, the pin can
be pushed through to any depth required, and, as a rule, the slips are
so high that, when the board is laid down on a table, none of the pins
touch the table."

I some time ago saw, at the house of a well-known naturalist and
traveller, residing near Cirencester, an ingenious arrangement applied
to setting-boards, by which the groove of each board could be altered
so as to take in the body of the smallest or the largest butterfly or
moth at will. It was managed by one half of the board being movable
from its fellow, and capable of being adjusted to any size, by simply
turning a screw working in a slot in a brass plate at top and bottom.

Another method of setting insects is by means of "blocks," sections of
varying widths cut from the uncorked setting-board, the grooves only
being corked. The insect being pinned in the groove is extended with
the setting needle, and the wings lightly wrapped, when in position,
with silk coming over and over, from side to side. To do this nicely
requires practice, to avoid marking the wings with the silk.

The "block" system of setting is more used by collectors in the
Midlands and the North than about London or in the South. Insects
should be left on the setting-boards or blocks from two or three days
to a week, or even more, according to their size; and during this time
should be kept out of the dust, but allowed air to dry them

The German system of setting by means of pieces of glass dropped over
the wings when in position is a clean neat method of "flat" setting,
allowing the insect to be clearly seen if it be truly "set" or not.

When insects are from any cause too stiff to set without first
relaxing them--placing them in the cyanide bottle for a day or night
will often do this effectually, or placing them in a wet corked zinc
box, or in a box with damp sand, or in a small "plaster box" will do
equally as well. This is made by lining the whole of the inside of a
wooden box with plaster of Paris mixed with water, and laid on from
one to two inches thick. The plaster is, of course, thoroughly damped,
and the insects enclosed in the box. The same pins with which they are
pinned whilst relaxing should not be permanently left in, if it be
possible to remove them without injuring the aspect of the thorax.
Pins so left in, being more corroded than usual, frequently break
after being in use a short time.

Old insects, which it may be dangerous to relax, or large foreign
unset lepidoptera, may sometimes be set by a skilful hand by having
their wings carefully pinched off by forceps, and replaced in the
required position by using a strong paste or cement (see Formula No.
33): Repairs may be "executed with promptness and despatch" by
cementing on parts of other wings to replace torn or missing pieces,
or tissue paper may be used, providing the repairer is a skilful
artist. I once saw a very poor specimen of Urania rhipheus--a splendid
moth from Madagascar--so cleverly pieced by tissue paper and coloured,
that it would deceive any but an expert.

Beetles (in science--Coleoptera) may be sought for everywhere--in
woods, fields, ponds, rivers, underneath stones and exuviae of cattle;
in decaying leaves, trees, and fungi; in and underneath dead animals;
in cellars, outhouses, and even in what would be supposed the most
unlikely place to find them--ant hills, bees' and wasps' nests--and in
the rubbish collected at the sides of streams, especially if after a
flood. They may be taken by sweeping, beating, sugaring, or by
carefully prospecting tufts of grass, moss, leaves, and flowers. Bags
of moss or ant-hills may be brought home and looked over at leisure
for minute beetles--throwing rubbish into water, or sifting it over
white paper, being the handiest way to reveal them.

For those which inhabit water, a net made of any strong material,
which allows water, but nothing else, to run through quickly (a net
fashioned as in Fig. 41 or 46 will do for this), should be used as
well as for collecting other water insects. Beetles may be brought
home in small test tubes, corked at the open end, or in quills stopped
at one end with sealing wax, and at the other with wadding, or a quill
may be inserted in the cork of a larger bottle, into and through which
they may be dropped, or they may be killed at once in the cyanide
bottle, or otherwise thrown into a bottle containing alcohol, in which
corrosive sublimate (in the proportion of 6 gr. to the ounce of
spirit) has been previously placed, which effectually kills and
ultimately tends to preserve them.

On reaching home, the contents of this bottle may be turned out into
any shallow dish kept specially for that purpose (a photographer's
"print" pan) and fished for with small pieces of paper or cardboard,
and the spirit afterwards returned to the bottle. The larger beetles
are to be pinned through the right wing case, and never in the centre,
their legs being nicely arranged in the proper positions, and in some
cases the wings may be displayed. The more minute beetles may be
gummed on a small slip of card through which the pin passes, their
legs arranged by the aid of fine patience, a crooked pin, a camel-hair
pencil, and a pair of small forceps, the latter being also very handy
for picking up any other small objects.

In setting the larger beetles, as well as the various thick-bodied
insects, belonging to the orders Orthoptera, Neuroptera, Diptera, and
Hymenoptera, double braces instead of "setting"-boards may be used in
the following manner: The insect being pinned high on a board or piece
of cork, with legs extended, two large pieces of card, one for each
side, are brought up underneath the wings and close to the body by
pins stuck through the corners. This forms a rest for the wings when
extended, which are then braced on top of the cards by smaller braces
in the usual manner, the pins, however, of the braces falling outside
the supporting cards and fixing in the wood or flat cork underneath.

Many exotic insects--butterflies and moths--are set in this manner,
which is really "flat setting." If the braces are at any time too limp
and do not seem to clip the wings properly, a little piece of cork
just sufficient for the pin to slip through may be added on top of the

The larger beetles and other insects, such as the dragon-flies,
cicadas, grasshoppers, and "walking leaf" insects, should always have
the contents of the abdomen removed either by pressure, or by being
cut underneath, and, when empty, injected with a little of the
corrosive sublimate preparation, and afterwards filled out with wool
or blown out with a small blowpipe until the abdomen is again
distended and dry. Some insects which are narrow at the "waist" may be
advantageously snipped through at that part to remove the contents
therefrom, the body being afterwards fixed with gum or cement to its
normal position.

In the setting of beetles--as in other things--the ubiquitous Germans
and the Frenchmen beat us. Compare the beautifully foreign set
coleoptera, with our wretchedly lame and uneven-sided attempts. It is
impossible to mistake the ordinary English for foreign setting, and of
this I was curiously convinced on my arrival at Leicester, in the
Museum of which town I found some exquisitely-set specimens of
coleoptera. I said at once, "These are German-set." "No, indeed," I
was told, "they are set by a local man." I could not believe it; and
after great difficulty, the man himself even persisting in this
assertion, I discovered that they were all procured from Germany or
were set by a German friend.

This gentleman having subsequently shown me his method, I now give it
for the benefit of coleopterists: The beetles, after being killed, are
plunged into benzoline (benzol) for two or three days, to cleanse them
from grease and impurities. Indeed, it considerably simplifies matters
to carry a bottle of benzol, as I do when collecting beetles, to
plunge them into when first taken. It instantly kills, and the
cleansing operation goes on at once. On reaching home the beetles are,
after a day or two, pinned, or gummed unset on to any pieces of card
in any manner most suitable at the time to economise space; the cards
can then be pinned into a store-box.

During the winter months, or at any time when required, the beetles
may be set, thus: first, plunge them into water for a day or so until
quite limp, then take them out and place them one by one on separate
pieces of card, well gummed in the centre to retain them firmly by the
abdomen whilst being set. A very little time will suffice to do this
should the gum be strong.

After twenty or so are fixed, the first one gummed down can be
finished off. The card is smeared with gum where the legs, or rather
"tarsi," will come into place, and arranged with a setting needle. Now
carefully place the limbs into a natural and even position, their feet
resting on the gummed surface; adjust the antennae, etc, and leave the
insect to dry by pinning the card in any suitable receptacle. When
perfectly set and dry, the final operations are once more plunging the
beetle into benzoline, then wetting its abdomen and feet to release it
from the dirty card, and lastly slightly re-gumming the underneath and
tips of the feet with cement (see Formula 33) and finally adjusting it
on a clean card, which may be labelled or numbered, and secured by a
small pin at each end in the cabinet or store-box.

COLLECTING AND OTHER BOXES.--The collecting box is a small box made to
fit the pocket, corked top and bottom, opening in the middle, and made
of sufficient depth to allow the heads of the pins on one side to well
clear the insects, which may be pinned on the other. Collecting boxes
may be made of various woods and of various sizes to suit the pleasure
and pocket of the collector. They should be made light but strong, and
a little fillet of thin wood should be inserted along one side on the
front edge, to ensure the close fitting of the box. Another sort of
collecting box is that corked at the bottom, having a flat lid, on
which a piece of cork is glued, and cut to fit the box tightly when
closed, thus forming the top lid. This style is also used for postal

In very hot weather, or if the collector roves far afield, he will
find that many of his butterflies, if placed in the ordinary wooden
collecting box, will have become stiff before he can reach home to set
them. The remedy for this is a zinc box lined with cork, which latter
is soaked in water before commencing the day's collecting. These boxes
are made in various shapes and sizes. A handy one for the pocket is a
7 in. by 4 in, 2.5 in. deep, made of an oval shape if desired, corked
on top and bottom, the cork held by clips of zinc soldered to top and
bottom. For more extended operations a larger box will be required,
say, 13 in. by 9 in, 2.5 in. deep, with loops soldered to the back,
through which a strap passes to suspend it from the shoulders. These
boxes are lighter if made in tin, and the water does not corrode them
so rapidly if they are japanned inside as well as out.

"Postal boxes," by which entomologists transmit their captures to one
another, should be made of strong white pine, the tops and bottoms
nailed on, on the cross. They may open in the middle or at top, as
before mentioned, and further have a strengthening piece of thick cork
glued all over them outside and rasped down to the shape of a rough

Inside, the cork should be glued down on top and bottom; on this a few
small strips of the same cork running across with interstices left
between them. On top of this another sheet of cork, thus forming three
thicknesses, in which the pin is pushed as far as it will go. In the
case of large-bodied moths, or any valuable insects, it is as well to
support the abdomen with a layer of wool, cross-pinning the body on
either side to prevent it jarring or shifting. The box may then, for
greater security, be wrapped in a sheet of wool and tied up. The
address should not be written on the box, or the stamps affixed
thereto, but on a direction label, otherwise some vigorous post-office
sorter, or stamper, will convince you to your sorrow that he scorns
such paltry protection as is afforded by the triple alliance of wood,
cork, and wool.

The Germans cover the bottoms of a great many of their entomological
boxes with peat, and this certainly holds the long pins firmly in
transit; and it is also much less expensive than cork.

Foreign insects, when space is limited, may be sent home unpinned and
unset, their wings folded over their backs, and each specimen wrapped
in silver or tissue paper. It is astonishing what a number of them
will pack in this manner in the compass of an ordinary cigar box.

"Drying houses" are sold by most of the dealers, but are expensive and
cumbersome, and are really only of service when travelling, or
collecting away from home. For this reason I suggest the
following--which is a store box and receptacle for setting boards

Make of 0.5 in. deal a box 20 in. long and 15 in. wide by 0.5 in. deep
(all inside measurements), glue up all but the front piece (4 in. wide
by 20 in. long), which merely tie in its place whilst glueing up the
others. Cut the box when dry through the 4 in. back piece to exactly
halve it. Hinge each half with strong hinges. It now resembles an open
backgammon board box, without its two fronts.

Take now a strip of 1 in. deal, 15 in. long, and form it with a plough
plane to the shape shown in Fig. 49. The part marked A will be 0.375
in. thick, the parts marked B B overhang 0.25 in, and rise from A to B
B to the height which the thickness of your setting boards determine.

Divide this down the whole length with a cutting gauge where shown by
the dotted lines; glue one of these halves to the side of one of the
bottoms of the box, and from here measure off 5 in, which will be the
size of your largest setting board for hawk moths. At this point glue
down a whole strip, as shown in Fig. 49, which (supposing you have
commenced from your left) clips the right-hand side of the first or 5
in. setting board, and the left-hand side of the second. Proceed in
this manner until the bottom of the box is covered with setting
boards, which will now slide in and out between the 0.375 in.
divisions. Turn the box round and do precisely the same with the other

As many more insects under, than above, 4 in. in expanse of wing will
be captured, the most useful sizes for setting boards, as also the
proper proportions of boards and divisions to fill up the bottom of
each half of the box, are as follow:

First half.--0.25 in. strip, 5 in. board; 0.375 in. strip, 4 in.
board; 0.375 in. strip, 3.5 in. board; 0.375 in. strip, 3 in board;
0.375 in. strip, 2.5 in. board; 0.25 in. strip = 20 in. total.

Second half.--0.25 in. strip, 3.5 in. board; 0.375 in. strip, 3 in.
board; 0.375 in. strip, 2.5 in. board; 0.375 in. strip, 2.5 in. board;
0.375 in. strip, 2.25 in. board; 0.375 in. strip, 2 in. board; 0.375
in. strip, 1.5 in. board; 0.25 in. strip = 20 in. total.

Fig. 49--Section of division strips.

There are thus twelve setting boards 15 in. long, of the most useful
sizes, contained in this box. The front is still as it was, open. The
loose piece of wood, 20 in. by 4 in, must now be cut down the length,
and each half must (making 20 in. by 2 in.) be hinged to the top and
bottom of the box; a lock can then be fixed to bolt together the two
halves, hooks also being fixed at each end of the box to further
secure the front flaps. Fig. 50 shows the arrangement of the box at
this stage--shut, but with the front flaps lifted up and down, showing
the "sliding" setting boards snugly fixed within. Insects may by
this method be left on the boards whilst travelling without the
slightest risk, as nothing can come loose, and the pins of one side
miss those of the other when the box is shut and locked.

Fig. 50--Front of setting-board box, with flaps open.

A more simple plan, serving equally as well perhaps, and having the
advantage of dispensing with the intervening slips, therefore giving
more space for setting boards, is simply fixing a slip of wood at each
inner end of the box, and another on each flap, so arranged as to hold
all the setting boards down when shut. This is managed by allowing the
wood of each setting board to protrude beyond its cork to the
thickness of the slip--say half an inch. [Footnote: This box should be
made in oak or mahogany; put together with brass screws, if for
"foreign service."]

Insects, after removal from their "sets," require to be stored in
glazed cases or cabinets for greater security and protection against
evils previously glanced at. Some collectors content themselves with
using for this purpose the ordinary store-box, made in the same manner
as the collecting box, but of greater capacity. One 15 in. by 10 in.
by 4 in. deep will be found a useful size; this--opening in the same
manner as a backgammon board--is corked with cabinet cork, each sheet
of which is usually 11 in. by 3.5 in. or (double size) 12 in. by 7.5

The cork being glued evenly over each half of the box, is rubbed down
with pumice-stone, and afterwards with sand-paper, to get an even
surface and reconcile the joints one with the other. It is then
papered with white blotting-paper, toned, or black paper, pasted down
over the cork with paste, in which has been previously stirred a
little carbolic acid or corrosive sublimate (both poisons).

It has also been recommended to previously steep the cork, especially
if for "foreign service," in a solution of:

Corrosive sublimate,     0.5 oz.

Camphor,             1 oz.

Spirits of wine,         1 pint.

Some little care is, of course, required in the handling of poisoned
cork, etc, but I do not write expecting that infants will be allowed to
handle the various lethal agents with which these chapters necessarily

Another sort of store box is the book box, hinged at the back and
opening along the front, representing two distinct volumes of a book.
This is either covered in cloth, labelled with gilt letters, or is
made in mahogany, the bands let in in ebony, or white wood, and strips
of lettered leather pasted in between them. [Footnote: see remarks on
leather in chapter XII.] All around the box inside runs a little ledge
of wood for the reception of glass, which, as each half is filled with
insects, is pasted in with ornamental paper.

For those who delight in camphor, a piece of perforated cardboard or
cork should be placed in the corners, forming angle pieces, and
enclosing within the triangle thus formed, the (un)necessary morsels
of the drug. When filled, it should be pasted over on the top, and the
glass then fits close on top of it. Book boxes have one or two
advantages: they look well in a library and take up but little room,
and are easily handled when showing them to friends. As exhibition
boxes they are nearly perfect.

CABINETS.--The entomological cabinet is a much more serious matter;
there is no limit to its size, from the modest one of six drawers to
the "working" one of thirty. The size of the drawers varies with
individual taste. A nice size, however, is 18.5 in. long by 16.5 in.
by 2.5 in, or the 20 in. by 18 in. by 2.5 in, or deeper if for large

No amateur, unless he is a past master at joinery, can hope to
construct a thoroughly well-made cabinet; indeed, few cabinet makers
know how to turn out one to suit a veteran entomologist. Briefly: the
drawers of a first class cabinet should be made of the best Spanish
mahogany, or oak, in every part; no "baywood," "cedar," or any such
spurious stuff should enter into its composition (good white pine
being preferable to such). Cedar is totally unfit for store boxes or
cabinets, owing to its tendency to throw out in time a gummy
exudation, which settles on the wings of the insects and utterly ruins
them. This remark applies also to cabinets for eggs.

The frames which hold the covering glass should preferably fit by a
tongue resting in a groove, ploughed with a "filister" in the
substance of the drawer itself. A fillet should rest inside, fitting
against the inner edge of the frame, which should also be lined with
velvet, to further exclude the dust. Drawer and frame should be made
so true that the latter should fit back to front, if required, equally
with its normal position. The carcase, or part into which the drawers
fit, either by runners or in grooves by tongues attached to the
drawers, should be made so truly that No. 1 drawer should fit in the
place of Nos. 15 or 30, and vice versa, and all should "suck" back
when pulled out half way. The drawers should be looked by "pilasters,"
or have glazed and framed doors.

There are but few makers of such cabinets as I have just described,
and prices are proportionately high, a sovereign a drawer being about
the figure. Fair cabinets in mahogany or walnut, quite good enough.
ordinary purposes, can be made, however, for half this sum, and deal
ones a little less. The corking of these best cabinets is generally
done before the bottoms are fixed, as thus an open surface is obtained
for rubbing down, by leaving out the bottom until corked. White or
black velvet, instead of paper, is often used to cover the cork.

Some little skill is requisite to do this without soiling the delicate
material; the best way is, perhaps, to glue the cork on cardboard, cut
to the size of the drawer, less the thickness of the velvet all round;
on this glue the cork, rub it down as before directed, and strain the
velvet over it, bringing its edges underneath the cardboard; glue the
bottom of the cabinet drawer, and drop the prepared velvet-covered
cork and cardboard into it, place clean paper over the velvet, and
weight it down for a day or two. This plan ensures the cleanliness of
your covering medium--a highly necessary precaution if using white

There are many other ways of fitting glass to drawers than that
recommended. For instance, a hinged frame may be used, dropping in a
"rabbet," ploughed around the front, back, and sides of the drawers;
or the top frame may have a tongue fitting inside the whole substance
of the drawer, or the glass may be a fixture, beaded or puttied in on
top, the whole of the bottom unscrewing from the drawer frame. This
latter is very well for a collection when fully made up and complete,
but if required for an incomplete collection, the risk and annoyance
of unscrewing and screwing up, to constantly remove or insert a
specimen, are great.

In view of the almost impossibility of keeping dust out of even the
best-made cabinet drawers, if made on the top-lifting system, and also
to do away with the screws, I have devised what I call the "dust-proof
cabinet drawer." The glass is "beaded" and puttied in as a fixture on
the top of the drawer, either from the inside or out. At the usual
distance from the glass, to clear the pins, a strip is fixed all
around the frame of the drawer. Below this, at a depth settled by the
thickness of the bottom, a groove runs all around, except at the back,
which is cut out up to the bottom edge of the groove. The bottom, when
corked and papered, fits inside the frame, "butting" up to the strip
which clips it all around to about the width of 0.25 in. A false
bottom now slides in the groove below, and fastens with a catch,
making all perfectly secure and altogether dust proof.

If well made, this drawer is easy to open, as, directly the false
bottom is removed the inner one slips down and is found on the table
when the upper part is lifted off. The only thing to be said against
this drawer is that the fronts show a little deeper than usual to
allow for the extra bottom.

A modification of this is a closely glazed cabinet drawer, with a
false corked bottom, loosely held down by a slip affixed to each side
of the drawer, and sliding out from the back; managed by hinging the
back piece or fixing it by brass eyes and hooks. Note, that all loose
flaps to drawers or door-frames, in best cabinet-work, should be
worked and fitted by "Dust-joint" planes. This reduces risk and dust
to a minimum.

PINS.--The pins used are those called entomological, and are made in
various sizes to suit various insects. An insect should be pinned with
one of these exactly in the centre of the back, running through truly
to the underneath, slanting, however, a little downward toward the
body, thus throwing the pin's head a little forward, but exactly in a
line with the longest axis of the body. These are specially made by
one or two firms only. Messrs. D. F. Tayler and Co, of Birmingham,
issue a sample card, the most useful sizes of which are No. 11 (at 6d.
per oz.) for the hawk moths, No. 13 (at 6d. per oz.) for smaller moths
and butterflies, and No. 7 (at 2s. 6d. per oz.) for small moths, and
such butterflies as the "Blues." I have, of late, almost confined
myself to No. 2 (at 2s. per oz.), a long fine pin, useful for many
purposes (see chapter V).

There are many other sizes, but these will be found quite sufficient
for the beginner. These pins are also gilt, under the impression that
gilding tends to prevent the corrosion of verdigris which the juices
from the bodies of some moths, the Hepialidae especially, induce. This
is not so; the Continental black varnished pins are better safeguards,
but prejudice forbids their use. Messrs. Tayler now make all their
sizes in "enamelled black" to order, at the same prices as their
gilded ones.

Varnishing the common entomological pins with a hard and nearly
colourless varnish has been tried with good effect, though it is a
trial of patience to do this to pins one by one. Really the only thing
to stop grease appearing in the bodies of moths, to the subsequent
breaking of your pins and soiling of your cabinet paper or velvet, is
to open all the insects underneath, take out all their internal
organs, carefully paint the inside with a little of the corrosive
sublimate preparation (see Chapter IV), and fill up the void with
cotton wool. Unfortunately the evil of greasy exudations from the
bodies of unstuffed or low-set insects does not stop at the corrosion
of the pins or greasing of the paper, but in many cases extends to the
underlying cork, which is sometimes so badly greased as to necessitate
the cutting out of the damaged patch to prevent the grease reappearing
when the drawer is newly papered.

GREASE AND MITES.--"Grease" and "mites" are in fact the bêtes noires
of the entomological collector. When you have an insect, therefore,
old and greasy, but yet "too fondly dear" to throw in the fire, place
the offender on a piece of cork weighted at the bottom with lead and
sink it bodily in a wide-mouthed bottle, partly full of benzoline;
leave it there from a day to a week, according to its state. When it
comes out it will look even worse than before, but after being covered
up with a layer of powdered chalk, magnesia, or plaster of Paris, it
will often come out as good as new.

I say often, for cases occur now and then in which no amount of pains
restores the insect to its pristine freshness; but these exceptions
are few and far between. "Mitey" insects are cured in a similar
manner; in fact, I would advise that all exchanges be submitted to the
benzoline test. I have also used Waterton's solution (see chapter IV)
to plunge them in, though 6 gr. of corrosive sublimate to the ounce of
alcohol are about the proportions of the bath for most insects; but
the spirit may be increased, if, on trial with a common insect or
black feather, it should be found that the mercury is deposited as a
white stain on the evaporation of the spirit.

Rectified aether (pure) is a better medium than alcohol for rapidity
of drying (especially in a draught), but is more expensive. Nothing, I
believe, prevents mites (psocidae) appearing now and then even in
poisoned insects. Constant care, stuffed bodies, and soaking in
benzoline, are the deterrent agents; camphor is a pleasant fiction, so
is wool soaked in creosote, phenic acid, cajeput oil, crystals of
napthelin, etc.--in fact, it may be laid down as an indisputable
doctrine that no atmospheric poison is of the slightest avail against
mites. [Footnote: See remarks on this in chapter IV.] Get them to eat
poison, or drown them and shrivel them up in spirit and you may settle
them, but not otherwise.

I have heard of cabinet drawers suffered to remain upside down to
prevent mites getting to the insects; but I very much fear that such a
plan as this, is on all fours with that of a man whom I knew, who,
being abroad in a "Norfolk-Howard" infested country, turned the head
of his bed every other night to puzzle the enemy!

The late Mr. Doubleday, the father of English entomology, never
admitted camphor in his cabinet (thinking, as I do, that it conduces
to grease), but used the corrosive sublimate preparation instead, to
touch the underneath of the bodies of doubtful strangers. Loose
quicksilver or insect powder is by some strewn amongst their insects;
but the danger of the first to the pins, and the untidy appearance of
the second, militate against their general use. [Footnote: It is quite
true that, although camphor evaporates rapidly, and settles on
anything, so as to be perceptible even to the naked eye, yet that it
re-evaporates and ultimately disappears. This, to my mind, is the most
fatal objection to its use: its ready evaporation leaving the insects
etc, ultimately without any protection.]

HAUNTS.--Having given a brief outline of the capture, setting and
storing of an ordinary insect, I will, in as few words as possible,
give a short history of any peculiarities attending the capture of
extraordinary insects.

Some butterflies and moths (the autumnal appearing species) live
through all the winter hid up in hollow trees, outhouses, etc.
appearing at the first rays of the spring sun to lay their eggs and
die. Others pass through the frost and snow as pupae, bursting their
cerements in the sunshine, to live their brief life and perpetuate
their race; others eke out a half dormant existence as minute larvae,
others pass the winter in the egg state. In fact, each species has its
idiosyncrasy. [Footnote: Here, perhaps, I may explode that myth and
"enormous gooseberry" of the mild winter or early spring, headed in
the newspaper every year as "Extraordinary Mildness of the Season":
"We are credibly informed that, owing to the mildness of the past
week, Mr. William Smith, of Dulltown, Blankshire, captured a splendid
specimen of a butterfly, which a scientific gentleman to whom it was
sent pronounced to be the small tortoiseshell Vanessa, etc." Now the
fact is, that Urticae merely came out for an airing, awakened from its
winter sleep by the extraordinary warmth of the day, and it might just
as likely have been "shook up" on the preceding Guy Faux or
Christmas-day; all the Vanessidae, and many others, being hybernators.
Far different, however, is it when any of the "Whites"--Pieridae--are
seen or caught. They indeed do herald the coming spring, as, lying in
the chrysalis state throughout the autumn and following winter, some
degree of continuous warmth must take place 'ere they can emerge.]

The swallow-tail butterfly, first on some British lists, must be
sought for in the fens of Norfolk, and Cambridgeshire, and
Northamptonshire. It is a strong flyer, and requires running down,
unless when settled on the head of one of the various umbelliferous
plants it delights in. The clouded yellow is usually a lover of the
sea-coast during the months of August and September--though in that
year of strange climatic changes (1877) it appeared in considerable
numbers from the beginning of June, whether hybernated, or an early
brood evolved from pupae lying dormant throughout the last summer, is
an open question.

The Purple Emperor, now one of our rarest insects (I have not seen it
alive since the time when I was a boy, and saw it around the oaks of
Darenth Wood), was formerly captured by the aid of a net fixed to a
pole 30 ft. or 40 ft. long. But accident or science discovered,
however, that this wearer of Imperial purple possessed a very degraded
taste, descending, in fact, from the tops of the highest oaks to sip
the juices from any decaying or excremental matter. Now, therefore,
the recognised bait is a dead dog or cat in a severe state of
"highness." The "gamekeeper's museum" in the few places where Iris now
resorts may be searched with advantage, yielding also a plentiful
supply of beetles of various sorts. The "Holly Blue" I have noticed to
have a similar degraded taste.

Mud holes also in hot weather attract many butterflies, as do the
sweet exudations from various trees, or from fallen or over-ripe

Occasionally a high-flying insect may be induced to follow to the
ground a stone or piece of turf thrown up in front of it. The
persistent manner in which some species will return again and again to
the very same spot is something wonderful. The same flower head, the
same muddy puddle or patch of road, is selected. The collector, if
foiled in his first attempt, will do well, therefore, to wait for the
probable return of his prize. Certain species frequent the chalk
district only, others woods and sandy lanes; some are found only high
up in the mountains of the north, others but in the low-lying valleys
of the south.

The sea coast has its specialities, some insects even flying well out
to seaward, in crossing from land to land. I remember a
"crimson-speckled footman" moth, Deiopeia pulchella, flying on board a
steamship whilst we were fully a hundred miles from the nearest land.
No place, in fact, should be disregarded in which to search for
insects, for some are so exceedingly local that a district of perhaps
twenty miles in extent may be searched in vain for a desired species,
until the collector suddenly comes upon one or two fields swarming
with them.

Nor is this all, for in the case of two or three extremely local
species, but one or two spots in the British Isles are their favoured
haunts. Bean fields in flower, clover and lucerne fields in sunshine,
are first-class hunting grounds, whilst on cloudy or very windy days
many butterflies, such as the Blues, may be found resting on grasses
or on tree trunks in woods; or, as in the case of the Hairstreaks,
higher up under the leaves. Beating the boughs with a long stick will
often force insects to fly, when their presence is unknown to us.

I have hitherto spoken of the collecting of insects by day only, but
as there are many insects--moths--which appear but at night, we must
follow them to their haunts, prepared with lantern and net. In the
dusk of the evening, just as the sun sets and twilight comes on, we
must take our stand near the flowers frequented by certain moths. In
spring the blue bell, cherry, and apple blossom may be watched.

Later on, the blossoms of lime trees, flowers of the honeysuckle,
bramble, petunias, scabious, and a host of others. Nettle beds also
are great hunting localities at this time of the evening for many
moths. Dark and sheltered hedgerows of lanes, fields of mowing grass,
willows near water, heather, the seashore, all add their quota to the
persevering entomologist. The sallow blooms (commonly called "palm"),
both male and female, must be searched early in spring time for the
whole of the genus Taeniocampa and many other newly-emerged or
hybernated species. As they usually drop at the first contact of the
light from the lantern, the net must be held under them, or a sheet
may be spread under the bush, and those which do not fall at first may
be shaken off the blooms with a smart stroke or two of a stick. If the
bushes are not high, "hand-picking" with the net held in readiness is
really the best.

Ivy blooms in the autumn are also sure finds, several species--many of
great rarity--being taken off this plant at night. Owing to the usual
localities in which ivy is found, the spread sheet and subsequent
"beating" come in more often than the safer method of "netting" and

Light is also a great attraction to many moths, some of our greatest
rarities being captured frequently, inside or outside street lamps,
and the spectacle is by no means rare to see a "grave and reverend
signor" climbing up the lamp-posts at a most unseemly hour of the
night in search of specimens. Lighthouses have also yielded important
captures, and there are worse things than being on friendly terms with
the cleaner of street lamps, or the keeper of a lighthouse. True, you
will get some awful rubbish, but the day will come when Alniaria or
Celerio (which latter I once received alive), or some other rarity,
will reward your faith. Light surfaces, such as white cloths or sheets
left out all night, sometimes attract moths.

SUGARING.--The great nostrum for capturing moths is--"Sugar!" A legend
tells that many years ago someone discovered (or imagined) that moths
came to an empty sugar cask, situate somewhere in a now-unknown land;
and acting as the Chinaman is said to have done, in re the roast
pork--thought perhaps that the virtue resided in the barrel, and
accordingly carted it off into the woods, and was rewarded by rarities
previously unknown. A sage subsequently conceived the grand idea that
the virtue resided in the sugar and not in the cask, and afterwards
came the idea of an improved "sugar," made as follows:

Coarse brown sugar (foots),     1 lb.

Porter (or ale),             1 gill.

Treacle (common),         0.25 lb.

Rum,         a wineglassful or     0.5 quartern.

Mix together the sugar, treacle, and beer in a saucepan, and bring the
mixture to the boiling point, stirring it meanwhile. Put it in corked
bottles, and just before you wish to use it add the rum. Aniseed is
sometimes used as the flavouring medium. Honey is also substituted for
sugar, and sometimes the whole is mixed unboiled; but if the collector
will try the foregoing recipe, the result of many years' experience,
he will, I am sure, be thoroughly satisfied.

The entomologist having provided himself with a bottle of the
foregoing mixture, a tin pot to pour it into, and a brush to lay it on
with, the net figured at Fig. 46, the cyanide bottle, a collecting
box, and a lantern, is equipped for sugaring.

A special sugaring can may be made from a tin canister, to the rim of
which a sort of funnel has been soldered in such a manner as to
prevent any spilling of the contents, and to the lid of which a brush
has been affixed. The wood-cut (Fig. 51), will explain.

This is, however, but a "fad," intended to do what it never does--viz,
keep your fingers from sticking, and "your tongue from evil speaking"
about the "messiness" of the sugar.

Fig. 51--Sugaring can.

All seasons of the year (except when too great an abundance of a
favourite flower abounds) yield a certain percentage of moths
attracted by sugar. Mild nights in the depth of winter, or in very
early spring, sometimes afford rarities, and certainly many hybernated
common species. Warm, cloudy nights, with a little wind stirring, are
generally the most favourable; but one of the best nights I ever had
amongst the "Peach Blossoms" and "Buff Arches" (Thyatira batis and
derasa) was in a wood in Warwickshire, when the rain fell in torrents,
accompanied with fierce lightning and thunder, from about 11 p.m.
until 6 the next morning. On this night everything swarmed, a hundred
or more common things on one patch of sugar being of frequent

Moonlight nights are, as a rule, blank ones for the "sugarer"--(Do the
moths fly high to the light?)--but I once had a grand capture of many
specimens of the "sword-grass" (C. exoleta) on a bright moonlight and
very windy night in February; and Dr. Knaggs says that on one occasion
he met with night-flying moths literally swarming on a sugared fence
in a field once in his possession, whither, in the small hours, he had
taken a stroll with a friend on the brightest moonlight morning it was
ever his lot to behold.

Many nights which appear the most favourable will, on the contrary, be
unaccountably disappointing; not a single moth will make its
appearance. The presence of ground-fog, "honeydew," more attractive
flowers, or a coming change of wind or temperature (nothing caring to
stir in an east, north, or northeast wind) will sometimes account for

"Showers, rain, thunderstorms, provided they are accompanied by
warmth, are," says Dr. Knaggs, "very favourable, and the catch during
these conditions of the atmosphere will generally repay the
inconvenience of a wet jacket. On one terrible night, when the
lightning was perfectly terrific, almost blinding even, though my
companion's eyes and mine were kept upon our work, an incredible
profusion of moths of various kinds were hustling one another for a
seat at the festive board, and continued thus to employ themselves
until a deluge of rain swept both sweets and moths away from their
positions. On another stormy night, I well remember having counted no
less than a hundred and fifty moths of several sorts and sizes
struggling for the possession of two small patches of sugar. Perhaps
the best condition of the air may be described as cloudy overhead, but
clear and free from ground-fog near the earth; and when this state of
things has been preceded by sultry weather, and a steady west, south,
or south-west wind is blowing at the time, the collector need not fear
the result, for he can hardly fail to be successful."

July is usually one of the very best months for sugaring, and, if
warm, what can be more charming than to select a fine night at this
season of the year and to spend it in the woods?

Just before dusk get your sugar painted on the trees, at about the
height of your chest, in long narrow strips, taking care not to let
any fall at the foot of the tree or amongst the adjacent bushes
(though I have sometimes done very well by sugaring low down near the
foot of the tree). Just as the nightjars and bats begin to fly you
will have finished the last tree of your round, and rapidly retracing
your steps to the first you will perhaps see a small moth, with wings
raised, rapidly flitting up and down your patch of sugar. This is most
probably the "Buff Arches," usually first to come; in fact, during the
summer months, it is perhaps as well to get the sugar on at eight
o'clock, as I have known this species, the "Peach Blossom" and the
"Crimson Underwings" (Catocala promissa and sponsa), to come on the
sugar in bright light while yet the last rays of the sun were lighting
the westward side of the tree-trunk, when all the rest lay in shadow.

Fig. 52--Impaler.

If you are not facile princeps at "bottling," do not attempt it with
the three or four species named above, but strike them with the net
o at nce, for they are the most skittish of noctuae, especially in
the early part of the evening. Striking down such insects with a
parchment-covered battledore, which Dr. Guard Knaggs considers inflicts
the least injury, or impaling them with a triangle of needles stuck in
cork, in the manner shown in Fig. 52, or even with a single darning
needle, has been recommended, but after a trial I have come to the
conclusion that such plans are clumsy in the extreme.

A little practice will enable the beginner to dispense even with the
net, which tends to "rub" such dashing or unquiet insects, and to
rapidly cover them with a large cyanide bottle, or, failing this, with
the instrument shown in Fig. 53, which is a combination of the "drum"
and cyanide bottle, and will be found very useful for skittish
insects. A, represents a cyanide bottle with no neck--a wine or
ginger-beer bottle cut down, by filing it around, and then tapping it
smartly, does very well on an emergency.

Fig. 53--Diaphragm bottle.

On this is fixed a tin cylinder, B, having a slot cut in at D, in
which a diaphragm, C, works, and is prevented from falling out by a
stud fixed to its inside, and from falling inside by the stud above C.
To use this, the bottom must be stopped with a cork, through which a
piece of stout wire is bolted, the wire to come up to, but just
underneath, the slot D, allowing the diaphragm to close. In action
this machine is worked thus: Supposing an insect is seen resting on a
flat surface, such as palings, a wall, or the trunk of a tree, you
having previously removed the cork and pulled the diaphragm out of the
slot to its full extent, take aim, as it were, at the insect with the
open mouth of B, and rapidly cover him with it. The moth, or what not,
as a matter of course, flies toward the light which is at the bottom
of the bottle, A; directly it has done so you push in the diaphragm,
which of course effectually bottles him up. Now enter the cork in the
mouth, B, and pull out the diaphragm again to allow the cork to pass
to its place in the mouth of the cyanide bottle, which stopping is of
course fatal to the insect.

Fig. 54--Sugaring drum.

The "sugaring drum" referred to is thus described and figured by Dr.
-Knaggs; and it will be seen that in its main principle it is similar
to my diaphragm bottle, sans cyanide:

"This is a hollow metal tube of two or three inches diameter, over one
end of which a piece of gauze has been strained, while at the other
end a valve, to open and shut the mouth, works in a transverse slit
(shown in Fig. 54). To use it we open the valve and deftly place the
mouth of the drum over the insect which, in nineteen cases out of
twenty, flies towards the gauze. We then seize the opportunity to
close the valve, and pushing the corked piston represented at the
right side of the figure against it, once more open the valve, and
force the capture up to the gauze, through which it may be pinned, and
the piston should then be withdrawn with the insect stuck upon it."

After all, I like nothing so well as working two or three large
cyanide bottles in this manner: Get some 6 oz. or 8 oz. bottles, with
as large mouths as possible--a confectioner's small and strong glass
jar is about as good a thing as you can get. To this have a cork, cut
as tightly as possible, sloping outwards above the bottle some little
distance, to afford a good grip. Fill with cyanide as before directed,
putting in enough to make the bottles work quickly. When you see one
of the restless hovering kind of insects at your sugar, aim at him
stealthily, as it were, with the mouth of your bottle, and when near
enough rapidly close the mouth over him--ten to one he flies to the
light, and with a little management you can contrive to get the bottle
recorked. Let him remain in the bottle until stupefied, meanwhile
using another bottle. When this is tenanted and the insect drops,
gently shake him into the first bottle, using the last to capture the
next insect, and so on. By using three bottles you can always have one
disengaged, and the bottled insects can thus be allowed to remain a
sufficient time to go dead before pinning.

Many insects sit very quietly at the sugar, but some few have a nasty
trick of "dropping" at the least alarm; to prevent this, the whipcord
of the net (Fig. 43 or Fig. 46), should be always pressed close to the
tree to receive them. The cyanide bottle should be held with the left
hand, and the insect gently "flicked" in with a disengaged finger, the
cork held in the right hand to close the bottle as quickly as

My readers will say, How is the necessary lantern held all this time?
Between the teeth by a piece of wood, or leather, fixed round the top
or swinging handle; or by being strapped on the chest at the height of
the sugar patch. This is, of course, on the assumption that you work
solus--not too pleasant if in a lonely wood for three or four days and
nights. Unless you are greedy, therefore, and wish to make a regular
trade of your loneliness, you will find that a friend, holding the
lantern or net while you "bottle," is not by any means prohibitory to
enjoyable collecting. Two working together can get over more ground
than one, and what one friend misses, the other stops.

From dusk to eleven on a favourable night in the summer months the fun
is fast and furious; thousands of moths of the common sorts come and
go; now and then a "good thing" to sweeten the toil. The "Peach
Blossoms" and "Buff Arches" slacken at about half-past nine, and do
not reappear until exactly the same light reappears in the morning,
going on well into the daylight. In fact, I have taken them still
coming to the sugar as late as a quarter past three, when the first
rays of the sun were just appearing.

This is one of the most curious things about sugaring. The swarming of
one species at a certain hour of the night, their almost total
disappearance, and their replacement by moths of quite a different
genus, giving way again to others; then comes a lull--remarked by
everyone--between half-past eleven and one or half-past, then a rush
again up to daylight, when they all disappear, save one or two, who
remain until they tumble dead drunk off the tree--a shocking example
to the wood fairies, who are popularly supposed to draw the line at

Another curious thing is that you may sugar in a wood for years and
will always find certain trees unprofitable. I remember one tree in a
favourite wood, which tree I sugared for years without taking a single
moth from it. You can assign no reason for this, as the unproductive
tree may be precisely similar to others on which insects swarm. As a
rule, however, rough-barked trees are the best; and smooth, or dead or
rotten ones, the worst. Still there is no hard-and-fast line in this.

Failing trees on which to put your sugar, paint palings, walls,
bushes, leaves of plants, and even flower heads: or, if working on the
seashore, on which several rare and local species are found, "sugar"
flat stones, rocks, or even make bundles of the mat weed, as you will
have to do on the "denes" of Norfolk or similar places, and sugar
them. If you are entirely at a loss for bushes or grasses, soak some
pieces of cloth or calico, before leaving home, in the sugar, and peg
them down on the ground, or stick them in the crevices of the rocks,
if the latter are, from any cause, too wet to hold the sugar.

It often happens that moths will come to sugar, even when not freshly
painted on the trees. I remember once taking several Crimson
Underwings (C. promissa), and several other things, on sugar which was
painted on the trees by a collector four nights before I arrived at
the spot. Butterflies and several other things are often attracted by
sugared trees, whether old or fresh; and Dr. Knaggs says that by day
several butterflies, chiefly Vanessidae, a group comprising the
"Peacock," the "Tortoiseshell," the "Red Admiral," the "Painted Lady,"
and the "Camberwell Beauty," have a penchant for the sugar, and may,
by this means, be enticed within our reach; and the "Purple Emperor"
has thus been frequently entrapped.

Sugaring constantly in the same tract of woodland is certain
ultimately to yield something out of the common, for moths have been
proved to fly many miles in search of natural or artificial sweets,
and even a barren locality may be made exceedingly productive by
perseveringly sugaring it.

Some very curious things come to sugar now and then. Such insects as
beetles, woodlice, slugs, etc, are expected as a matter of course, but
toads, dormice, and bats--all attracted, however, I suspect, as much
by the insects as the sugar--you do not expect, nor the sundry
caterpillars which you occasionally can catch sipping at the sweet
juice. The Hawk moths and Bombyces are popularly supposed not to come,
but I have a distinct recollection of catching, near Woolwich, many
years ago, a "goat moth" certainly "inspecting" the sugar, and
analogous but isolated instances now and then occur.

In the grey of the morning, when sugaring is finished, it will be as
well to keep your eye on the hedgerows or heaths you may pass, as
occasionally certain insects swarm at an early hour, and now and then
important captures may be made.

Before dismissing the subject of sugaring, it may be as well to say a
few words on lanterns and chip boxes. With regard to the first, bull's
eyes are generally recommended. Possibly, I may be prejudiced against
them when I say that I think they concentrate the glare of light too
suddenly and in too narrow a focus, causing thereby many insects to
drop, which the broader stream of light from an ordinary lantern does
not appear to do to such an extent.

I recommend, therefore, a medium-sized ordinary lantern, about 7 in.
high by 4.5 in. by 3.5 in back to front, fitted with a double-wicked
reservoir, holding sufficient oil to burn seven or eight hours. A
screw cap should be fitted over the burners to prevent the oil running
out and spoiling everything with which the lantern may be packed when
travelling. The usual plate glass door should be made to open from the
front, the glass sides, however, being replaced with bright metal,
converging the rays from a strong reflector at the back; a swing
handle should be fixed at the top and two at the back, all folding
close to the lantern when not in use.

Plenty of ventilation, without allowing actual wind to penetrate,
should be provided, and only the best colza oil be used. If made to
order, a great advantage will be found in having the right-hand side
to open outwards (from the back) instead of opening on the front, as
the lantern can then be more easily trimmed when strapped on the body
without the necessity of its removal for that purpose.

The chip boxes, which some entomologists use instead of the cyanide
bottle to take the moths off the trees, are simply the various sized
ointment boxes of the druggist, strengthened by papering, or by pieces
of glued linen crossing them. Many use them, chiefly those of the old
school, in preference to anything else--De gustibus, etc.

The objections to a general use of these boxes are many. First, you
must provide yourself with a large bagful or pocketful of these boxes
on starting out, as one moth only goes in each box, leaving one pocket
empty on the reverse side of your coat to receive the boxes when
filled, in order not to mix the empty with the full ones. Second, you
are not quite sure at night as to "rubbed" or "chipped" specimens, and
may find in the morning your boxes filled with worthless things, which
a brief introduction to the cyanide bottle would long before have

Third, the most important fact, that though there are many insects
which rest quietly when boxed, there is a large percentage which pass
the time of their captivity in madly dashing themselves against the
walls of their prison, and a boxed insect of this turn of mind
presents a sorry sight in the morning, many stages, in fact, on the
wrong side of "shabby-genteel." Then when, after a night's severe
work, you are limping home in the morning, thinking how cold it
is--until roused to action by the appearance of some unexpected
insect--then, indeed, how much more cold and hollow seems the world,
when, suddenly catching your tired foot in a stump or tangle of grass,
you roll over on the full pocket side and hear (and feel) the boxes
burst up on the unhappy moths within. I have gone through it all, and
I don't like it!

ASSEMBLING--I had almost forgotten to mention another extraordinary
way of catching moths (chiefly Bombyces), by what is called
"assembling," which is exposing in a gauze-covered box a virgin
female, who, by some mysterious power "calls" the males of the same
species around her in so infatuated a manner that they will even creep
into the collector's pocket in their quest of the hidden charmer.

In a highly interesting paper in the "Country," of 2nd Oct, 1873, Dr.
Guard Knaggs gave a very full account of the theory and practice of
"assembling," so interesting, indeed, that I venture to reproduce it
in extenso. He says:

"The generally accepted theory is that each female should, at one or
other period of her existence, captivate at least one of the opposite
sex, though it will be found by experience that some species possess a
far more potent influence for this purpose than others.

"It may be set down as a rule that females which are captured at rest
during the time of day or night at which they should naturally be upon
the wing are unimpregnated, and may be used for attracting with fair
chances of success. There may be exceptions to this rule; my opinion
inclines to the belief that the butterflies take wing before
impregnation; but of this I am certain, namely, that the females of
butterflies--at any rate of certain species--have considerable
influence over the males.

Doubtless, too, there are many skittish Geometrae or slender-bodied
moths, and Pyrales, or Pearls, which are easily frightened, the
females of which will rush from their places of concealment even
before they are prepared to start on the mission of ovipositing. The
converse of this rule, that female insects captured on the wing are
almost invariably impregnated, may be taken as an axiom, at least so
far as the moth tribe is concerned.

Of course females which have made their appearance in our breeding
cages are the most eligible for the purpose of attraction; but
whenever we breed these with the intention of using them for
attracting, we must bear well in mind that the rearing process,
whether from the chrysalis, the caterpillar, or the egg, must be
conducted under surrounding conditions of temperature, etc, as nearly
as possible resembling those to which they would be subjected in their
natural state. Otherwise, if we retard their appearance by keeping our
breeding-cages in too cool a situation, we shall be too late for our
sport, or at best capture only worn specimens; while, if we force them
by an unnatural state of warmth, the males will not have made their
appearance at large by the time we are ready to arrive upon the

Having furnished ourselves with a bred female, the next procedure will
be to construct a cage for her reception in such a manner that the
males will be compelled to keep within a respectful distance, and
formed of such material as will permit the air to readily permeate the
sides of the prison.

Fig. 55--Assembling cage.

The cage (Fig. 55) adapted to our requirements is a very simple
affair; it is formed by bending our three strips of cane of about
equal lengths each into the form of a circle, and fixing them in that
form by means of twine; these three circular pieces are then placed in
such a manner that they cross one another at right angles (Fig. 55),
thereby forming the rudimentary outline of a hollow sphere, over which
it is an easy matter to stretch and tie a piece of leno. When required
for use the female may be put in, either loose or clinging to a twig
of the length of the diameter of the globe, and the leno tied

"The theory of the peculiar action of the female upon the senses of
the males is usually considered to be due to a subtle scent which
emanates from her, and is wafted on the breeze to distant parts; and
it is believed that by means of this scented track the males are
enabled to discover the whereabouts of the object of their search. And
that this would appear to be the true solution, no one who has
witnessed the grand spectacle of the 'Kentish Glories' or the
'Emperor' moths coming up against the wind can, I should say, for a
moment doubt.

"To be attractive the female must be in that condition which is known
by the fraternity as 'calling,' that is, she should be slightly
convulsed with tremor, and the last segment of the body should be
denuded of fur. Then, if the weather be propitious--bright for such
males as fly in the sunshine, warm at dusk for those whose hour of
flight commences with the shades of evening--and if also the wind be
blowing steadily from a favourable quarter, such as west, south, or a
gentle south-west, we may reasonably hope for success.

"But the young collector must remember that it does not by any means
follow that because he captures a female, say an 'Oak eggar,' on the
wing in the evening, he has detected the time of flight of the males.
In fact, it very frequently happens that the males fly in the daytime
and the females in the evening.

"In the case of species which inhabit open parts of the country, such
as moors, mosses, commons, chases, fens, and fields, we should take
care that no obstacle is in the way to prevent the current of air from
carrying the scent freely over the locality. On the other hand, if it
be the inmates of a wood or copse which we are desirous of attracting,
we must either select a ride down which the wind finds its way, or
else we shall have to allow the breeze to convey the scent from some
part of the surrounding country to the outskirts of the wood.

"As a rule, it is quite sufficient for our ends to lay the baited cage
upon the ground, and then to lie down at a little distance off and
keep watch. But in some cases it is advisable to tie the cage to the
trunk or branch of a tree, or to fix it in a bush. I have found the
latter very effective with the red-belted apple clearwing (Sesia
myopiformis), and no doubt it would also prove so with other species
of the class.

"Any Londoner who would like to judge for himself can easily manage
it. He has only, in the first place, to hunt about in his own or some
one else's garden for a handsome little caterpillar, of a blackish
colour, spotted with pink, with four rows of thick tufts of yellowish
hairs resembling brushes upon its back, with two long tufts of
blackish hairs pointing forwards in front, almost like horns, and a
similar one behind pointing backwards, something like a tail. It eats
almost anything, and is easily reared.

When full fed it spins a web, in which it changes to a chrysalis; and,
in time, from some of the cocoons thus formed, spider-like creatures
will emerge and attach themselves to the outer part of the web. These
should at once be removed (web and all), and placed securely in the
cage already mentioned, when, if there be any males about, I will
warrant it will not be long before the proprietor has a very tolerable
idea of what is meant by attracting by the bred female."

COLLECTING AND REARING LARVAE.--Very many insects are more easily
collected in the larval or caterpillar stage than in the perfect one.
Every tree, bush, or plant, the grass, and even the lichens growing on
trees or walls, produce some larvae feeding on it. It would, I feel,
be a work of supererogation to attempt to give detailed descriptions
of food-plants and the insects feeding on them, when we have a book so
good and cheap to fall back on as "Merrin's Lepidopterist's Calendar,"
which gives the times of appearance of butterflies and moths in all
their stages, with localities and the food-plants of the larvae, and
this for every month of the year.

For bringing caterpillars home, a larvae box is necessary; this
should, if possible, be made of a cylinder of wire gauze or perforated
zinc (see Fig. 56), capped top and bottom with zinc, the bottom a
fixture, the top to lift off, dished inward towards an orifice with a
tube soldered in it, which is kept corked until it is wanted to drop
larvae down it. The tube coming well through into the cylinder, and
narrowing inside to half its diameter at the top, prevents anything
escaping, even if the cork should be left out, and also prevents the
swarming out of the enclosed larvae, which would take place if the top
were lifted off bodily.

Wooden canisters, such as tobacco is often stored in, make very good
substitutes if small holes are bored in the side. Tin canisters, or,
indeed, anything made entirely of metal, unless plenty of ventilation
is afforded, as in Fig. 56, have a tendency to cause the enclosed
larvae to sweat.

Some few hints as to collecting larvae may not be unacceptable. In the
spring, just as the buds of various low plants and bushes break forth,
they should be searched by night, by the aid of a lantern, for the
larvae of various noctuae and geometrae then feeding. The best plants
to search will be the mountain ash, bilberry, honeysuckle, and
bramble, given in their order of merit. Many other plants may be
advantageously searched, in fact, all low plants and bushes ought to
be well looked over by the persevering collector.

Later on, sweeping, i.e, pushing a strong ring net through the grass,
may be resorted to. The net for this should be made of strong wire in
the shape of the net at Fig. 46, or 43, if without the joints, a bag
of strong dowlas and a stick are attached, and the front square-ended
part is pushed by the collector through the grass, in order to trap
any low feeding or invisible insects. When the leaves are fully out on
the trees, beating will shake many larvae, pupae, certain moths,
beetles, etc, into the net or sheet spread to receive them, Both
sweeping and beating may be practised by night as by day.

The situations in which larvae are found are many, some rolling
themselves in nettle, oak, or other leaves; others boring into the
substance of the wood itself, and some feeding in the stems of various
bushes, plants, reeds, etc. For life histories of such consult the
pages of the Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, or Entomologist, both
published every month at 6d. each; or Newman's "British Butterflies"
and "British Moths," published as complete volumes at. 7s. 6d. and
20s. respectively. These latter are the finest works at the price in
any language whatever, giving figures--perfect specimens of the wood
engraver's art--of the whole of the Macro-Lepidoptera, backed up by
exhaustive descriptions.

Fig. 56--Cage for collecting larvae.

"Digging" in the dead months of the year, when the weather is mild,
for pupae, is another method of getting insects. Corners where roots
meet or spring from the trunks of trees, are good "harbours of refuge"
for pupae; so are inner angles of walls, underneath sheltered
hedgerows, or under isolated trees in parks or meadows, and a host of
other spots.

The best places for "digging" are not always, as you would suppose, in
the thickest parts of woods or shrubberies, but under skirting trees
or in avenues. The best times for pupae are from October to January.
Many people attain great proficiency in finding--the Rev. Joseph
Greene, to wit. For my own part I must confess that I have never
"earned my salt" at it, but that is possibly due to want of skill or

The tools required are simply a trowel, a curved piece of steel fitted
in a handle, or a three-cornered instrument similar to, but smaller
than, the scraper used by shipwrights; anything, in fact, handy to
carry, and efficacious in scratching up the sod at the roots of trees,
or tearing off the pseudo-knots of bark which veil the pupae of
various moths.

When larvae or pupae are brought home, it will be necessary to place
them in something which, though retaining them in captivity, yet
allows them as natural conditions of living as is possible in a
circumscribed space. Pupae, may be kept in a flower pot covered with
earth, or in moss damped from time to time with water of not too cold
a temperature. Over the flower pot may be strained two pieces of wire
or cane, crossing each other in the form of arches, the whole covered
with muslin; or a handier plan to get to the insects quickly when
emerged, or to damp the pupae, is to procure from the glass merchant
the waste cylinders of glass cut from shades, pasting over one end
with "leno" or muslin, and placing the other in the flower pot on top
of the earth or moss.

This also makes a cheap substitute for the breeding cage for larvae,
if a little earth only is put in the flower pot in which a bottle of
water is placed containing the food plant. Wire gauze cylinders are
handy as affording plenty of air to delicate larvae. Bandboxes with a
square piece cut out from the top lid, the hole thus made covered with
muslin, will do very well for breeding a quantity of a hardy common

Fig. 57--Insect breeding cage

The usual wooden breeding cage is shown at Fig. 57. This requires
hardly any explanation: A is a glass door, B B B are sides and top of
perforated zinc, C is a tray fitting inside, where dotted lines are
shown, to hold the earth in which the bottle of water holding food is
placed, or where the larvae bury themselves to change to pupae.
Properly, the inner tray of box C should be constructed of zinc
perforated with a few holes at the bottom, in order that it may be
lifted out to allow the pupae to be well damped when "forcing."
[Footnote: For those larvae of butterflies and moths which do not
require earth, it will be sufficient to have a zinc pan, with covered
top perforated with holes, in which the stalks of the food plants be
inserted in the water which fills the pan, whose covering prevents the
insects from drowning themselves therein.]

"Forcing" is a method adopted to cause any moth to emerge at the
collector's will, and several months before its proper time, it having
been proved that certain moths more than others die in the chrysalis
or pupa state if left to go their full time, notably the "Death's
Head," the "Spurge," and other hawks. The best time for forcing is
about Christmas, and the conditions are simply heat and moisture, the
pupae being placed over a spirit lamp, in a hothouse, on the kitchen
mantelpiece, or by the fire grate even, kept for a week or so at a
temperature of 85 deg. or thereabout, and constantly damped with moss
wrung out in warm water. Bear in mind that heat without moisture will
not do by any means.

The breeding cage itself need not be used, but only the tray, provided
that gauze is stretched over in such a manner as to allow room for the
moth to dry its wings on emergence. But if the whole of the breeding
cage were made of framed zinc (such as aquaria are made of), and the
glass and perforated zinc fixed in, the cost, though greater at first,
would be more than counterbalanced by its greater strength, with
lightness and capability of resisting wear and tear, added to which is
the advantage of being used as a whole during the operation of
"forcing," wood not standing, of course, the heat and moisture
necessary. Breeding cages should not be painted.

Fresh food, and plenty of it, should, if possible, be supplied to the
larvae. Dry food is, as a rule, the best, though the larvae of one or
two of the foreign Saturnidae require their food to be sprinkled with
water, and sometimes even with the addition of salt, to make them
thrive. Moths on emergence should not be killed at once, as they are
then too flaccid, and have not sufficiently purged themselves. Yet
they should not be left too long or over night, as they often fly at
that time, and knock themselves about in the cage, to the detriment of
their beauty; destroying, in fact, the whole aim and end of breeding,
which is of course, instituted to procure specimens for the cabinet as
fine as it is possible to get them.

In collecting insects it is always as well to bear in mind that a
"worn" female, though not of the slightest use to the entomologist,
unless she can be induced to lay in confinement, may become the
progenitor of many, and may thus afford you during the next season
great pleasure in collecting. This being so, I should like to impress
upon my readers (the young especially) the propriety of giving all
insects, not actually noxious, heir liberty, if on examination they
prove to be useless as specimens. These remarks apply also to the case
of hybernated females. Many female insects, though unwilling to lay in
confinement, may be watched at large, and the flowers and plants on
which they have from time to time rested, searched for their eggs.

In concluding this chapter, I feel that I might have said much more
upon nearly every section--have explained many new "dodges," and so
forth, were it not that the limit of space has been reached. One
thing, however, may be noted as an omission, and that is the
recommendation as to what books should be procured by the young
entomologist. This is so difficult a matter--depending entirely upon
the aim of the individual--that I prefer to leave it an open question,
merely making the general statement that nearly all our advanced
systems are founded upon the labours of German and French
entomologists. [Footnote: Mr. Wm. Wesley. Essex Street Strand, London,
publishes monthly a "Natural History Book Circular," which he will
send to naturalists if asked.]



I MUST confess that, at one time, the consideration of the best method
of dealing to advantage with the limited space usually existing in the
older provincial museums would have dismayed me. Even at that time,
however, I had glimmerings of the brighter light which has since
illumined the way, and I was, perhaps, aided by the persistent manner
in which I haunted museums both abroad and at home, until at last I
never went on a journey without managing to break it, or to make it
end at the then summum bonum of my happiness--a museum.  Like
Diogenes, I went about with my lamp to find, not an honest man, but an
honest museum--a museum with some originality, and with some definite
idea as to its sphere of work. Leaving out, of course, such complete
and technical institutions as the Museum of Geology, the Museum of the
College of Surgeons, and such institutions which really have a motive
in view--steadfastly adhered to--I saw, then as now, that every
provincial museum was nothing if left to its own devices, and, if
"inspired," was, at the best, but a sorry and servile imitator of the
worst points of our national museum.

Everyone must have observed, no doubt, in any provincial museum which
dates back thirty or forty years, that the great curse of the
collection, so to speak, is sketchy versatility. In walking through
the usually "dry-as-dust" collections you find numbers of very
atrociously-rendered mammals, a greater sprinkling of funereal and
highly-disreputable birds, some extremely-protracted fishes, some
chipped insects, and a lot of shells, chiefly marine, which suggest
association with the word "stores." I allude to those odds and ends
which people do not want themselves, and which are, therefore, so
kindly brought as an offering--would I might say a "burnt" one--to
any institution so reckless of consequences as to admit them.

Nearly all museums of early days were imitators of the British Museum,
whilst those of later days affect the newer treatment of South
Kensington. Hence, in walking through any museum, a technical observer
can easily detect the sources of inspiration and the lines of
demarcation between the old and the new. Really it amounts to this,
that hardly any institution in England thinks for itself. Museum
authorities, like sheep, follow the lead of the most ancient
bell-wether; and the reason of this is not far to seek. Curators, as a
rule, are men with one hobby--"one-horse" men, as the Americans so
aptly put it--"sometimes wise, sometimes otherwise," but in many cases
totally devoid of that technical education so much needed in
reconciling the divergent atoms of the institutions they represent; in
fact, head and hand seldom work together.

Often, owing to the want of technical advice, money is wasted in more
than one department, cases are too highly paid for, and have not been
thought out sufficiently as to their fitness for their future
contents, or the position in which they are to be placed, or the more
fatal error has been perpetrated of considering them as merely units
of a certain department instead of parts of a whole. I contend that if
it be necessary for a civil engineer or other professional man to have
mastered the various technicalities of his profession, it is also
incumbent on curators to have done or to do likewise, in order that
they may grasp the treatment of their museum as a whole, and not fall
into the grave fault of working up one department whilst ignoring the

Nothing is more distasteful to my mind than that a man in the position
of a curator should impertinently ride one single hobby to death, to
the utter exclusion and detriment of all other branches of knowledge
entrusted to his care. What is the sum total of this? In looking
around any museum of old standing we see twenty different styles and
colours of cases, which may be briefly summarized as representing the
eocene, miocene, and pliocene formation of cases; space has been
wasted, or not utilized as it might be, and the result is a confused
jumble of odds and ends, consequent on some persons considering that
the end and aim of a museum should be the preservation of "bullets"
collected by "Handy-Andy" from the field of "Arrah-na-Pogue," "My
Grandfather's Clock," and so on.

This is certainly not the mission of any museum, nor should it lay
itself out with avidity to collect disjointed scraps of savage life,
such as portraits of the "ladies" who ate cold savage and
who--horresco referens!--"drank his blood." [Footnote: A fact!]

Such a museum object as this, awfully, yet ludicrously, reminds me of
that showman who enticed his audience in with--"Here you'll see the
Duke of Vellington at the battle of Vauterloo, with the blood all
a-runnen down his fut,"' or of poor little "Totty" (in "Helen's
Babies"), who loved to hear about "B'liaff" and his headlessness, and
the sword that was all "bluggy." This is, I think, one of the mistakes
which most museums fall into. They collect a vast quantity of rubbish
utterly useless to anyone but a schoolboy or a showman, and in
consequence they find valuable space wasted to make way for tops of
teapots, bits of leather, Kaffirs' or Zulus' knives made in Sheffield,
native ornaments, in beads and brass, made in Birmingham, and
such-like members of the great family of "curios." All such as these
should be firmly and respectfully declined without thanks. [Footnote:
When I first came to the Leicester Museum I was requested to present
to the Museum and enclose in a suitable receptacle--No. 1, a piece of
thick leather, which the donor thought "just the right thickness for
the heel of a boot;" and No. 2 a teapot lid with no particular
history, only that--as the dame who brought it phrased it--"maybe it's
summat old."]

I have spoken, in somewhat sacrilegious terms, of imitation of the
worst points of the old British Museum and of South Kensington (I
don't mean the new Natural History Galleries, but artistic South
Kensington); but perhaps I may be forgiven when I state that I
consider, and always considered, the weakest part of our old natural
history galleries at Bloomsbury was the arrangement of all the
mammals, birds, etc, in that provokingly "fore-and-aft" manner (spoken
of before), on uninteresting stands or perches (hat-pegs) such as the
skeletons in Plates II. and III. are represented on.

This, which was, perhaps, inevitable in a national collection
professedly showing to the public every species of bird and mammal in
the least possible space, is unpardonable in a provincial museum,
which has not the task imposed upon it of attempting to vie with the
national collection in point of numbers. Provincial museums, then, if
electing to show only animals collected in their immediate vicinity or
county (which some authorities--of whom anon--say is the only raison
d'être of a provincial museum), or, if electing to supplement these by
showing a few foreign forms of striking appearance, fall into grievous
error by mounting the necessarily few specimens they can get together
on "hat-pegs," simply because the national collection, with which they
are not on "all fours," sets them the bad example in this.

Now for South Kensington: the imitation I decry is that of black, or
black-and-gold cases, suitable the exhibition of art treasures, but
objectionable for natural history objects, which, usually dreary
enough in their abject condition on pegs, are rendered more funereal
by their black, or black-and-gold surroundings; yet, with these
obvious disadvantages, what do we see in some provincial museums?--a
servile adoption of South Kensington "ebonized" cases, without any
reference to fitness. It is positively painful to see elaborately
carved and gilded cases, costing, perhaps, a hundred guineas a-piece,
entombing a few wretchedly-mounted specimens worth, perhaps, less than
£5 the lot.

I have technical objections to "ebonized" cases, which I am sure have
been lost sight of by all but the makers of such articles. These
are--first, that if deal, or pine, or common cedar is used to make the
cases with, they will shrink, lose colour, or be easily chipped or
dinted, becoming in a short time useless and shabby; and, on the other
hand, if made by first-class makers out of good mahogany, afterwards
blacked or "ebonized," their price is enormous, and out of all
proportion to their appearance, added to which they get worn on their
edges in a short time and show the mahogany underneath in reddish,
rust-coloured streaks on their most prominent parts.

How ridiculous, then, does it seem to cover up serviceable and
handsome (and expensive) mahogany with a coat of black simply for the
sake of getting an effect which is, to say the least, depressing!

Well, you will say, you have fallen foul of the fundamental principles
of nearly all museums--black cases, and animals on "hat-pegs." What do
you propose?

I propose, in the first place, mahogany, walnut, or oak cases; and, in
the second place, the pictorial mounting of all specimens, and not
only do I propose it, but I claim in the Leicester Museum to have done
on a large scale what has hitherto been applied to small matters only.
First, as to the wood; I delight in oak, and, although I know how much
more liable it is to "twist" than first-class mahogany, yet if of good
picked quality, dry and sound, and properly tongued and framed, there
is not much to fear, and its light and elegant appearance is a great
gain in a large room, added to this it improves by age and is
practically indestructible.

Now for the pictorial mounting of specimens; and here let me say that,
for any person to lay down a hard-and-fast line as to what natural
history specimens should be, or should not be, collected by provincial
natural history museums as a whole, is about as sensible a plan as
saying that a nation as a whole must drink nothing but beer or nothing
but water. It is apparently forgotten that general principles cannot
apply to museums ranging in size from 20 ft. by 12 ft. to that of
Liverpool with its several large rooms, each one larger than the
entire "museum" of small towns.

I think it may be laid down as a common-sense proceeding that, if a
provincial museum consists of only one or two rooms of the size above
given, the managers should strictly confine themselves to collecting
only the fossils, animals, and plants of their own district. If,
however, like Leicester, they possess a zoological room 80 ft. in
length by 40 ft. in width, and of great height, together with smaller
rooms, then the proposition to strictly confine themselves to local
forms is unwise in the extreme. How would it be possible to fill so
much cubic space with the few specimens--even if extended
unwarrantably, and elaborately mounted--which many years of arduous
collecting might obtain? Taking the list of vertebrates of any midland
county, how many of them do we find could be collected if we left out
of count the "accidentals?" Here is a list: Fishes, 26; reptiles, 10;
birds, 110; mammals, 26 (the fox being the largest of these).
[Footnote: About 80 only, of the 110, breed in any given midland

It would be impossible to fill the wall-cases, if properly
proportioned, with these few, even given all the favourable conditions
of procuring the "accidentals" and varieties, under ten years. It is
quite true, also, that the contemplation of purely local fauna, though
giving interest to, and holding undue importance in the eyes of a few
men, who narrow their views to their own county (which, perhaps, they
believe in to such an extent as to seldom pass its boundaries), is
misleading and even possibly damaging to the student of biology, who
must be shown, in the clearest possible manner, the affinities--say,
of such a well-known bird as the heron, which a local collection will
tell him, by means of a huge and unblushing label, is a "Blankshire
bird," shot somewhere in the vicinity; not a word is said as to its
being also a "British" bird and also a "Foreign" bird, the heron
ranging throughout every county in Britain, throughout Europe, the
greater part of Africa and Asia, and even penetrating into Australia.

The remedy for this is a typical "general" collection--running around
the room, let us say--and a "local" collection entirely distinct and

First, in the structural necessities of a museum, I place well-lighted
rooms--preferably from the top. Of course, side windows, though giving
an increase of light, yet by that very increase become objectionable
by making cross lights, which the sheets of glass enclosing the
various objects tend to multiply; next, the colour of the walls--this
is very important. Some museums have blue or Pompeian-red walls, under
the impression that it suits certain objects; in the instances of
pictures or statuary, etc, it may be right, but, for natural history
objects, nothing suits them and shows them up better than a light
neutral tint--one of the tertiaries--lightened considerably, until it
arrives at a light stone, very light sage, or pale slate colour.
[Footnote: The Leicester Museum, when I first came to it, had the
walls of its chief room, the then "Curiosity shop," painted dull dark
red, cut up by twenty-four pilasters of ad deep green in imitation of
marble; the ceiling bad not been whitened for twenty years, and the
birds and animals on "hat-pegs," in cases with small panes of glass,
etc, were frightfully contrasted by a backing of crude, deep
ultramarine-blue! Three primary colours. Could human perversity and
bad taste go much further?]

The pilasters, if any, must be ignored, and blended into the walls by
being painted of the same colour as the remainder; otherwise, the
first things which strike the observer on entering are the walls and
pilasters, and not the objects; whereas the impression to be secured
on the mind should be exactly the reverse of this, for be sure that,
if the colour of the walls be noticed at all by the casual visitor,
something is radically wrong. This is one of the reasons why I prefer
light oak wall-cases to anything else, by their being so unobtrusive,
and not dividing the room so sharply into squares as the black and
gold. I venture to say that the first thing noticeable on entering the
zoological-room at Leicester is the form and colour of the objects,
and this is as it should be.

Having now got light in the rooms from the top and, possibly, from the
north, supplemented by, and radiating from, the light walls and
ceiling, we, having our oak cases in position, must glaze them with as
large sheets of plate glass as are manageable or as we can afford; a
very handy size is-say, 8 ft. in height by 5 ft. 4 in. in breadth,
this prevents cutting up the enclosed specimens by many bars,
enclosing small panes, so prevalent in the older museums, also, of
course, adding greatly to the general effect. The backs of the wall
cases should be, if the specimens are mounted on pegs, of some light
tint slightly contrasting with that of the walls, or, if the specimens
are to be pictorially treated, with softly graduated skies applicable
to each group.

Perhaps a sketch of the treatment of the zoological-room of Leicester
Museum would help the reader to grasp the facts of the case better. In
the first place, the walls were cut for more windows, at a height of
12 ft. above the floor, the top light not being sufficient nor
properly available, nor end lights obtainable, owing to the structural
defects of the existing building; the ceiling was then whitewashed,
and walls painted of a nice warm stone colour, quite unobtrusive in
itself; the artificial light was provided for by twelve gas pendants
of twenty-four lights each, i.e, eight arms, each holding three
burners. The heating--a most important matter, not only for the
comfort of visitors, but for the proper preservation of the
specimens--was managed by hot-water coils running around the walls
under the cases. [Footnote: I am not at all sure if the artificial
lighting of wall cases is not best managed by gas arms shaded from the
eye of the spectator, and throwing their light into the cases by a hi
similar arrangement to that adopted for lighting jewellers' and other
shops from the outside.]

The cases themselves were framed in oak, rising 10 ft. from the floor,
thus--1 ft. 3.5 in. of plinth and frames, enclosing panelled gratings
to allow the hot air to escape; on this the wooden bottoms of the
range was built; then 3.5 in. and 3 in. frame at bottom and top,
enclosing 7 ft. 6 in. space for glass, and 8 in. frieze moulding; the
divisions of each were arranged to suit the space at disposal to
represent all orders of vertebrates.

The doors or sashes were round-headed and glazed with plate glass,
three plates of which were 7 ft. 6 in. by 4 ft. 4.5 in.; eight, 7 ft.
6 in. by 4 ft. 6 in.; eleven, 7 ft. 6 in. by 5 ft. 1 in.; eleven, 7
ft. 6 in. by 5 ft. 2.5 in.; one, 7 ft. 6 in. by 4 ft. 7.5 in.; and
three, 7 ft. 6 in. by 4 ft. 1 in.; thirty-seven plates in all. All but
twelve of the cases were 2 ft. 6 in. from back to front, these twelve
being 3 ft. from back to front, all glazed at the top, to admit light,
by glass fixed in iron T-pieces at intervals of 2 ft. 6 in, making two

To these, two cases were subsequently added; one, 7 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft.
6 in.; the other, 7 ft. 6 in. by 6 ft. The division frames, being
rebated and lined with "moleskin," had the sashes, previously glazed
from the inside, lifted in and screwed to them, the screw heads being
hidden by turned "buttons" of oak. I objected to these doors or sashes
being hung in the ordinary manner, it being so difficult to hinge
large and weighty frames without danger of "twisting" or of straining
the surrounding parts, to say nothing of the almost impossibility of
keeping dust from getting in through hinged doors; accordingly it was
felt that, although there might be a little inconvenience in
unscrewing the eight or ten screws which held them in their places,
yet that the trouble of their removal, not being an every-day
occurrence, in any instance, would be more than compensated by the
increased strength, and air and dust-proof advantages.

(That these predictions were justified is proved by the fact that the
cases, being filled, were opened at the end of 1883 to allow of their
contents being photographed-without the intervention of glass-and the
air which then issued from them was strongly charged with turpentine
and other agents used about the birds, and the rockwork, nearly two
years before, whilst not a particle of dust was observable anywhere.)

These cases were, as regards workmanship, strongly and well made by a
local man, working under my direction, and although, of course,
lacking the minute finish of such champions of case-making as Sage,
yet, taking into consideration that quite 300 pounds was saved in the
construction, we may be fairly proud of our success.

Regarding the classification of the vertebrates, it was admitted on
all hands that we might take Huxley as our standpoint; but I felt
that, in this age of specialists, we ought to be guided by those who,
taking the labours of the leading physiologists and men of science for
their groundwork, compiled, so to speak, from these results, and being
anatomists and men of great learning themselves, were generally
accepted throughout the world as the leading exponents of the branch
of biology they represented.

Accordingly the plan was sketched out, and, selecting Professor W. H.
Flower, F.R.S, the president of the College of Surgeons, for the
mammals; Dr. P. 1. Sclater, F.R.S, secretary of the Zoological
Society, for the birds; and Dr. a. C. Guenther, F.R.S, chief of the
British Museum, for the reptiles and fishes, I submitted my plans to
each gentleman, who did me the honour to return them corrected where
necessary. Since then I have slightly modified where the latest views
of these great men have undergone some slight change; and now the
scheme of our zoological room is as in the accompanying plan (see

Of course, for purposes of convenience and reference, a linear
arrangement has been adopted, but it will not be necessary to point
out that no actual linear arrangement can exist in nature, the chain
being broken, not only in links, but by large portions being twisted
off. Rather may we liken biology to a tree whose branches ramify in
many directions from the main trunk of life.

The classification--superseding the old, unscientific Vigorsian and
other systems, founded on external characteristics--being decided on,
the style of mounting of the specimens had to be settled. The "peg"
system was to be discarded; but here occurred the most serious hitch
of all. In accordance with the plan now being pursued in many
provincial museums, it was wished by one party to elevate the local
exhibits into undue importance, at the expense of general zoology, by
taking up much more of the room at disposal than was practicable or

Plate V. Arrangements of vertebrates in Zoological Room.

The suggestion was to furnish cases of a certain size, one or more of
which was to be devoted to each order of animals. Taking birds (for
convenience) as the standpoint, we were to place on the ground line
"local" birds, male and female, with nest and young, and eggs, mounted
with appropriate accessories, in the most complete and artistic
manner. This division taking up 3 ft. 6 in. in height out of a
possible 8 ft, leaving 4 ft. 6 in. to be disposed of thus--another
division for "British" birds which have never been found in the

These "British" were to be in pairs, but not very well mounted, and
without nests and young. Above these, again, another line, exhibiting
a few of the most striking typical foreign birds. These "Foreign"
birds were not to be well mounted, but plain "stuffed." It was claimed
for this that "each order would be distinct, and that there would be
the best opportunity of comparing the local birds with those of
Britain generally and of the whole world, while a real notion of the
life of birds would be conveyed by the full portraiture of those forms
with which the local visitors would be most familiar, making them
distinct items of knowledge in a manner scarcely ever attempted, and,
in fact, almost impossible with the usual methods of arrangement.

It is an elastic system, admitting of many variations, while retaining
the fundamental principle; and of all really effective systems it is
the least expensive, because it depends mainly upon objects
procurable in the locality. The Leicestershire species should occupy
the ground line, and come up to the front. The British species should
be set back 8 in. to 12 in, and the Foreign 15 in. to 18 in.; but
these limits might be occasionally infringed where it seems

To give the reader an idea of how disproportionate these divisions
would be when comparing "local" with "foreign," see the diagram (Fig.
58), representing one division or "bay" marked on Plan.

Fig. 58--Projected arrangement of a biological collection by "Scheme

Again, it was urged that "The three sections should be divided
horizontally, but the lines of division need not be straight. They may
be broken so as to preserve the pictorial effect, but not to destroy
the division."

Regarding this part of the contention, it is only necessary to point
out that no "pictorial effects" were possible under such a system,
which is really a lucus a non lucendo.

By this scheme, we have "local" birds at bottom (very well arranged),
"British" next (not so well arranged), and "foreign" at top (not well
arranged at all), and these arbitrary and totally unnatural divisions
were supposed to "drive home the truths of natural history into the
minds of casual visitors," to be "applicable to all the departments of
a museum, so that, if it were adopted, a uniform plan might be carried
through the collections from end to end, giving a systematic
completeness which is rarely found in museums at the present time. It
utilises the breaks and blank spaces in every series."

Never was there a more impracticable theory broached. The whole
arrangement was based on an utter disregard of the requirements of
science, leaving out art altogether, and, worse still, upon an utter
ignorance of first principles of zoology. May I ask if anyone can
define a "local" bird from a "British" bird, or a "British" bird from
a "foreign" bird? Lastly, every one should know that every bird found
in Leicestershire is a "British" bird, and that every "British" bird is
a "foreign" one; and that each of these imaginary divisions is being
constantly recruited from the division immediately above it.
[Footnote: There are but two birds belonging to the Paridae (Titmice),
which are claimed as being peculiar to Britain; and these merely on
the ground of being climatic varieties--hardly sufficient to warrant
the founding of new "species."]

For instance, the golden eagle is not a "local" bird, but it may be
so to-morrow, should one stray from North Britain, as they sometimes
do, and be shot by some person within the boundary of the county. It
then becomes "local"! This bird, which is as distinctly
"foreign"--being found in Europe, North Africa, America, etc.--as it is
"British"! Put this in, or leave it out of the "local" division, and
what does it teach?

Arguing per contra, the osprey has been killed in our own county more
than once; it is thus "local;" it is also "British," nesting in North
Britain; it is also distinctly "foreign," being found positively in
every quarter of the globe--in Australia even--sharing with the common
barn owl the distinction of being actually cosmopolitan.

In which division are we to place this? It is "local," and yet cannot
be mounted in that division, with its nest and young, because it has
never bred in the Midlands; but it has bred in North Britain, and
might be shown in the "British" division fully displayed; but, says
this contention, which I have called "Scheme A," no "British"
specimens shall be mounted with nest and young!

Being "foreign," it should also come in the "Foreign" division. What,
then, can this teach? Either the bird must be repeated in all three
divisions, or it must, according to the foregoing, appear only in the
"local" division, thus acting an ornithological lie, and leading the
unlearned to believe that it is a very rare bird, peculiar only to
Leicestershire. These examples might be repeated ad nauseam. The
sparrow, the swallow, the kingfisher, the heron, the wild duck, the
wood-pigeon, the pheasant, the coot, the woodcock, the terns, the
gulls, etc, are some common forms which occur to me.

Again, there are five orders of birds not represented in
Leicestershire, nor in England even. These contain nearly five hundred
species. Are these to be entirely eliminated from the collection? or
does it teach anything to put cards in the "Local" or "British"
divisions of the parrot cases to say that no parrots occur (out of
cages) in either Leicestershire or Britain? Again, what can this

Well, we will take a representative group--say, the order Gallinae, or
game-birds, and, taking our own county of Leicestershire as an
example, we shall find that, although there are nearly four hundred
species of this order known, but eleven at the very outside are
claimed as having occurred in Britain, whilst but three of these are
commonly found in the county. I give their names and values under each








Red Grouse

Has occurred.


Yes.[Footnote: Formerly indigenous to Britain, but now found in
Sweden, etc.]





Black Grouse

Has occurred.







Red-legged Partridge




Barbary Partridge

Said to have once occurred







Virginian Colin





Has occurred.



Andalusian Hemipode




Or, putting it into a tabular form, as if supposing that the whole
four hundred known species could be shown, we should have it presented

(400 SPECIES.)


. . . . . . . .400


8 . . . .

. . . . 11

. . . . . . . . . . . .


3 . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . .


That is to say, that, although it was wished to claim the 3 ft. 6 in.
division in height, of indefinite length (really ten feet when worked
out) for the three "local" birds, yet it will be seen by the foregoing
tables that those three "locals" would do equally as well if placed in
the "British" division, and the sum total of the "local" and "British"
might be placed correctly with all the rest in the "foreign." Why,
then, should valuable space be wasted for three birds, simply to
perpetuate an error in working out a crotchet?

The question again arose, What could such a "model" system as this
teach? This was effectually answered by a specimen case, representing
the above, being fitted up, when the glaring errors of the proposed
system were at once evident, there being fully a space of 10 ft. x 3
ft. 6 in. x 2 ft. 6 in. = 87.5 ft. cube, devoted to five birds
only--three of which were not now found in the county. These
represented the "locals." In the "British" division, of 10 ft. in
length x 2 ft. 6 in. in height x 1 ft. 6 in. back to front, viz, a
cube of 37.5 ft. there appeared but six others--three of which were
doubtful. Furthermore, as if to point to the crowning absurdity of the
whole scheme, but 10 ft. x 2 ft. x 1 ft. = 20 ft. cube, was provided
for the great remainder of the "foreign" specimens, nearly
thirty-seven times as numerous as both "local" and "British" combined.

Now for the cheapness of the system advocated. In the first place,
local specimens of rare birds are not cheap. For instance, anyone can
get a foreign specimen of--say, the honey buzzard--for about 8s. but a
locally-killed specimen would be very likely to cost several pounds.
As for the "elasticity" of such a system, if it is meant that it will
stretch any way but the right, I agree, but if meant to be applied to
any department of natural history it is distinctly wrong.

Let us take the case of the invertebrates, nearly all of which, as the
birds, have a wide range. Many instances occur to me, but one will be
sufficient, Vanessa Antiopa, the "Camberwell Beauty" butterfly. Now
this insect has been taken three times (perhaps more?) in the county,
and I suppose it has occurred in nearly every county in England, but
as it is found also commonly throughout the greater part of Europe,
parts of Africa, Asia, and America, we are confronted by the
unpleasant reminder, "what shall we do with it" under the system

It is, according to that theory, "local," "British," and "foreign;" it
is rarest as "local," being, of course, of accidental occurrence; yet
it is proposed to show it only in that division, to the extent of
ignoring the two other divisions which have manifestly a greater claim
on it. If this, then, were adhered to, the student would at once have
presented to him an incorrect view of the distribution of species.

One other way only is there out of the difficulty, which is to show a
specimen of the same insect in all three divisions; but this would,
though more correct, be as embarrassing to understand, to say nothing
of the loss of space involved, because the same thing would have to be
repeated with nearly every invertebrate possessed by a museum arranged
on these lines.

The proper way, I contend, to give real information is to shake off
all insular prejudice and not call things by their wrong names, i.e.
claim as "British," things which are not essentially so. To this end I
have labelled the butterfly in question:


(Camberwell Beauty.)

Range: Asia, Africa, America,

Europe generally, including Britain (rarely),

and has occurred in Leicestershire three times.

This, I am quite sure, is the proper method to educate the public, who
cannot understand, or are misled by, such crudities as placing
specimens in arbitrary divisions such as "Local," "British," and

The same rule applies to the plants; and I remember a case occurring,
but a short time since when a young botanist, wishing to name a few
plants collected abroad (in Europe), came to our herbarium, modelled
on these misleading lines, and at once turned to the "Foreign"
division to find specimens by which to compare his own. An hour was
wasted in trying to puzzle some of them out, and he then came to me
saying, "You hav'n't got them."

At once I saw he had things of world-wide distribution, and turning,
much to his amazement, to the "Local" division, found them for him.
All this comparison, and waste of time and temper, might have been
saved had the plants been arranged in their proper orders and
families, irrespective of imaginary divisions, with a label attached
stating their range and if occurring locally.

Leaving biology now, we shall see how this "elastic system" can "be
carried through the collections from end to end." Take the rocks as an
example. Is it real science--or what is it--which would label syenite
a "Leicestershire" rock? Such queries and replies could be multiplied
ad infinitum, for it will be observed that I have said nothing about
the mammals, where the loss of space and want of cohesion in such a
group as the carnivora--best represented of all in "local"--are
patent. The fishes--fancy a "local" salmon! yet they occasionally run
up the rivers.

But I need not enlarge on this, further than to say that under this
"elastic" system it was gravely proposed to pictorially mount the
"local" freshwater fishes under the sea fishes, not because it was a
direct violation of the physics of salt and fresh water, but because
the "local" division must come in its place at the bottom of the range
of cases! I had almost forgotten to say that these precious divisions
were to be made self-evident to the bucolic intellect even, by means
of colour--thus, "Local" was to be brownish-red rock; "British,"
green; and "Foreign," blue; and these colours were, without reference
to any artistic considerations such as the laws of contrast in colour,
or light and shade, to be rigidly adhered to, and to be carried in
distinct, if "wavy" bands, all around the room.

Fortunately, it was pointed out that shelves of wood would carry out
that idea more effectually than playing with science and art in such a
manner, therefore these absurd propositions were promptly discarded.
And now, having described what I take to be the evils to be guarded
against in plain or "pictorial" mounting, if founded on such lines as
those in the scheme I have called "A," I will briefly sketch out what
I take to be the lines of the museum of the future.

I must confess I had thought a great deal of arranging the vertebrata
in zoo-geographical order, in a manner founded on a. R. Wallace's
great and concise work on the "Geographical Distribution of Animals."
It seemed to me a fairly comprehensive and scientific, certainly a
novel, method of treatment, and I had gone so far as to sketch out
several of my groups, when I was confronted by difficulties, and saw
that it was not a system which was thoroughly coherent throughout the
whole of the collections, and I finally abandoned it, on the advice of
Dr. Sclater, the originator, I believe, of the "zoo-geographical

I wanted a system which might be carried out throughout the whole
biological collections, and this end was best gained by arranging them
in zoological order, so far as is possible in these days, when the
microscope tells us that a plant may be an animal, or vice versa, or
that an organism may be a plant now and something very like an animal
a short time after (see Saville Kent on the "myxomycetes").

With the plants and invertebrates this was comparatively easy, for
though, as I have before pointed out, no linear arrangement is
correct, yet in a small museum the "table cases" for invertebrates
must run on in lines, and the mounting, owing to their enormous
numbers and usually small size, must be tabular, and not pictorial
(except, of course, in rare instances).

I was aware that several naturalists had "laid down the law" as to the
position to be taken by local museums, and that notably Mr. John
Hopkinson, of the Watford Natural History Society, had written his
views upon the subject; but these views are, I think, probably
somewhat narrowed by the small size of the museum he had in mind
whilst writing. Though agreeing with him in the main, I considered
that very few provincial museums, excepting Liverpool, could boast of
having anything like so large a space for the exhibition of specimens
as we possessed in our zoological room.

It may be taken, therefore, for granted, that what was written
specially to suit the requirements of Watford is not of the slightest
use when sought to be applied to larger museums. When, however, Mr.
Hopkinson quotes the opinions of such well-known scientists as
Professors Flower, Rudler, Dr. Sclater, and other practical workers,
his compilation becomes of some value.

Professor Rudler, it will be seen, points out that, however full and
perfect a local collection may be, it would teach nothing if narrowed
down to purely local limits, and that, therefore, it must be broadened
for the sake of comparison; and he very properly says: "Whilst we
should patriotically aspire to render the local collection as perfect
as possible, I would not by any means have the usefulness of museums
stop here. Comparing any local collection with a general collection,
it will, of course, be found that many important groups of 'animals,
vegetables, and minerals, are but imperfectly represented, whilst
others are altogether blank. There is, consequently, great danger of
very limited and inadequate notions of the great system of Nature
being formed by the student who confines his attention to local
natural history. To counteract such a tendency, it is eminently
desirable to form, under proper conditions, a general collection,
which will give the visitor some notion of, at any rate, the larger
groups in which natural bodies are classified. There should,
consequently, be two departments to our central museum---one local and
the other general--each with distinct aims, and each appealing to a
distinct class of visitors."

These being exactly my views, but with the radical change of wishing
to mount both collections pictorially, I considered that, although the
newly-erected wall-cases in oak, with single sheets of plate-glass, 7
ft. 6 in. by 5 ft, were, when filled as I projected, admirably suited
to interest the general public, who comprise, perhaps, nine-tenths of
museum visitors, yet that the claims of the respectable minority of
students, artists, and quasi-scientific people should not be
neglected, and for these the local fauna, etc, should be perseveringly
collected and mounted with all the appliances which science and art
can suggest. To do this properly, and to preserve groups for an
indefinite time, it is necessary, and indeed indispensable, that each
group of male, female, nest and eggs, or young, should be mounted in a
separate case, or in separate divisions of a row of cases quite
distinct from the general collection.

Although I had assumed, and, indeed, had the courage of my opinions,
that the pictorial method of displaying natural history specimens was
a great improvement upon the old peg system, I recognised the
difficulties attendant upon this and also that many excellent
authorities were adverse to any pictorial arrangement whatever. And,
indeed, if we come to the consideration of "true science," I
unhesitatingly assert that end is best served by a collection of
properly authenticated birds' skins scientifically arranged in
cabinets, and not mounted in any way whatever; but although this
method might satisfy a few workers, I very much fear that the general
bulk of the ratepayers would be hardly satisfied with a museum
arranged on so severely scientific principles.

It must be considered that a public museum differs from a private one
in a very material point. In the former there is a diversity of tastes
to please, and it is often difficult to know the exact point where the
line should be drawn; in a private museum, on the contrary, there is
but one person to please, and that the owner, consequently he may
indulge his crotchets without fear of doing damage to anyone but
himself. I considered that public museums must always be affected by
matters of expediency and local feeling, and that the will of the
majority must always be studied, when it has common sense for its

To this end I worked, and not wishing to be so much in love with my
own system as to be blind to advice, I wrote to ten of the most
eminent men of science--men of European reputation, and whose dictum
on museum matters cannot be questioned--setting forth, under the
heading "Scheme A" and "Scheme B," the pros and cons of both, not
favouring one or the other in the slightest, giving no clue whatever
to my leaning to either, and resolving to be guided entirely by the
opinion of the majority, or, should it be a close tie, to refer it to
an umpire.

Of these ten, eight returned unqualified approval of having a general
collection for Leicester, and also of that plan which kept the
"general" and "local" collections entirely distinct; one gave no
opinion, and one eminent man suggested an alternative scheme of a
typical collection somewhat like Professor Owen's "Index Museum" at
South Kensington, and which could be carried out afterwards without
reference to the question at issue.

As regards the pictorial mounting of the specimens in zoological order
--the thing I was most doubtful about--both for the "general" and the
"local" collections, five out of the ten unhesitatingly favoured
pictorial mounting--if well done--of both collections, and four more
said nothing for or against it.

Nearly every one of these gentlemen wrote me a lengthy letter, giving
most valuable advice--advice which has in all cases been acted on
where practicable.  Dr. a. C. Guenther, F.R.S, etc, at one time the
Keeper of Zoology, British Museum, has kindly allowed me to quote his
views embodied in a letter to me. He says:

"I should recommend you to adopt the following plan: Arranging the
general and British collections together, strictly systematically,
receiving, of the foreign animals, typical forms only, but making the
British series as complete as possible, and choosing in preference
Leicestershire animals when practicable.

Excluding from the general series specially mounted objects, such as
groups of birds showing nidification, change of plumage, or
illustrating the habits of animals--such groups to be mounted on
separate stands in the middle of the room.

I believe this plan would best meet the requirements in your museum."

Having now something to work upon, the Museum Committee rejected
"Scheme A." whose weak points have been detailed at length, and
sanctioned "Scheme B" being carried out, which not only separated
"local" from "general," but provided for the pictorial mounting of

Taking, therefore, any of the orders marked on the plan (see Plate) as
an example, the best known, and therefore "local" or "British" species
of the first family (or genera) of that order is selected, then the
least known or most striking "foreign" species of the same family (or
genera) to compare with it, and so on throughout. Space being limited,
however, species closely allied are not always represented, but are
collected as skins to fill up the unavoidable blanks. In all cases,
however, typical specimens of the families and genera of animals are
attempted to be shown, and as many species as possible are collected
as skins.

The highest form of each order is placed at the top, the next
underneath, until the bottom of the case is arrived at, then ascends
again, forming a serpentine line, which, taking the first order,
Passeres, as an example, begins at the top of the first case, and
takes the song thrush--one of the "locals"--as being of the first
genera of the first family; this is contrasted by a "foreign" form of
the same family (and genus), the "American Robin," and thus runs on
throughout the whole of the wall-cases on that side of the room
devoted to birds (see Plan), until it ends at the ostrich, as being
the last.

It win be seen by this that, although the so-called "local" birds are
often, nay nearly always, represented, they have no fictitious value
given to them, but simply take their place in the great scheme of
Nature in a proper manner, being often close to so-called "foreign"
forms, with which they are easily compared. The whole arrangement of
accessories is "pictorial," birds being represented on trees or on
"rockwork," many of them swimming, or flying, or eating, surrounded by
mosses and the few dried plants available for such purposes--in fact,
represented in as natural a manner as is possible under the

Exception may be taken to the close contiguity of an American or
Indian form with an European, sometimes "British" form, which, though
scientifically correct, is artistically and topographically wrong; and
this certainly was a crux of mine until I reflected that, under the
old peg system, the same state of affairs existed. I have endeavoured
to isolate as much as possible such incongruities one from the other,
often by partially surrounding them with ferns, etc, of their native
habitat, and by leaving little blanks here and there. Apart from this,
the general opinion of both scientific [Footnote: In this category I
may place Sir Philip Cunliffe Owen, C.B, etc.; Mr. R. Bowdler Sharpe,
F.L.S, etc.; Mr. Smith Woodward, all of South Kensington; Sir J. A.
Picton, F.S.A, etc of Liverpool; Professor St. George Mivart, F.R.S.
etc.; Professor 1. O. Miall; Professor Wm. Knight; Professor A.
Schuster, etc.; Mr. Jas. Orrock, Member of the Royal Institute of
Water-colour Painters; and several other gentlemen who have done me
the honour to speak in most flattering terms of the new arrangement.]
and unscientific people is that the scheme is a success, and that such
trifling and inevitable irreconcilements are amply condoned and
compensated for by the increased beauty of the groups, and by the
pleasure it affords, not only to artistic people, but to the general
public; indeed, if vox populi be vox Dei, there is no doubt upon the
subject whatever.

Other defects there are; for instance, repetitions of grasses in
"fitting-up," which proves how little can be done with dried things,
and how much better it would be to replace them by modelled foliage
(mentioned in Chapter XIV). [Footnote: One would-be critic wrote to
the papers condemning the whole arrangement, because, in one of the
cases, one plant was about a foot nearer the water or a yard nearer to
another plant than it should be! The same wiseacre, or his friend,
wrote quite an article upon some supposed "fir twigs" which, much to
his confusion, were nothing of the sort, but a plant quite proper to
its place in the case.]

I would now wish to point out why I object so much to carefully-managed
groups of so-called "local" birds, their nests and eggs, being
introduced in a general collection, especially if the latter be
arranged in a pictorial manner.

First, because small groups, such as of necessity the greater number
of pairs of local birds would cut up into, would be lost amidst their
larger surroundings, and be really as if an artist were to paint a
small, highly finished picture in the corner of some large, "broad"
subject; secondly, the great difficulty there is in protecting such
choice groups from moth if exposed in, say, a cubic space of 100 ft.
filled with other specimens, some of them old and doubtful as regards
freedom from insects. A general collection, even should great care be
taken, requires constant watching to seize upon any specimen showing
signs of damage; but why a choice group of young birds in their nest,
with parents--birds in change of plumage, surrounded by accessories
which perhaps have cost hundreds of hours to execute--should be
exposed to all the evils imaginable when isolation is so much more
practicable and practical, passes comprehension.

No; I am convinced that the only way to manage, in a museum of
sufficient size to have a general collection, is to arrange it as I
have sketched out, and to make a separate collection close at hand, if
need be, for comparison of the animals collected in the district.

Now for labelling. It was proposed originally in Scheme A in this

"It will be essential to have labels in the cases. These maybe made
simple, however, with references to a descriptive catalogue. The
labels should bear the English name, with 'Resident,' Summer
Visitant,' or 'Winter Visitant' on all British species. Nothing more.

"The three sections should have labels of distinct colours--say,
yellow for local, pink for British, white for foreign. The labels will
probably be best glued on to some part of the stand or setting. They
should be as small as possible, so as to be legible,

"Local species maybe distinguished as 'Native' and 'Casual, or

"The latter might have a dark line above, and below the name
on the label--thus, Stork, or be marked 'Casual--Spring,' or

To this I objected that if the arrangement was to be "pictorial," the
"spotty" appearance of labels, especially if of light tints, was
destructive to the effect sought to be gained; that yellow is not
distinct from white by gaslight; and that pink often fades to yellow;
also that to colour-blind people these labels would have no
significance whatever.

In addition, I submitted that there are educated people as well as
people of the other class, and that the system of labels written with
common names inside the cases is not only unscientific but ugly in the
extreme, for these reasons--that there are many birds whose "English"
names are just as puzzling as their scientific to the uneducated;
whereas, for those who care to learn, the scientific name is a factor
of knowledge.

Regarding their inexpedience and ugliness, such a word as the
"Lesser-spotted-Woodpecker" with the marking underneath it of
"Resident," would fill up a large label if it were to be read at any
height or distance. Taking it as a whole, the proposition was behind
the age, and was commonplace also.

To dispense altogether with the necessity for labels, I proposed that
a chart might be made for every group--a picture, in fact, of the
contents of each case, every bird numbered, and a list prepared, whose
corresponding number would give the whole history of each specimen;
but, in any case, the adoption of a mass of printed matter clumsily
introduced amidst pictorial effects must be condemned.

That all this was practicable is now proved by the present state of
the Leicester Museum, provisionally finished in its general zoological
collections so far as the birds and fishes are concerned. [Footnote:
That is to say, that many of the ill-mounted and old specimens will
ultimately be replaced by better ones of the same species, and that
some modelled foliage will take the place of many of the dried
grasses, rushes, etc, which are not quite truthfully arranged.]

The reference to species in the general collection is now managed as I
proposed. (See list, on p. 337, of part of the Order Anseres, printed
on sage-green cards.) This is, I contend, a great advance on the old
system of labelling, which has this defect, that the labels, even if
small, are "spotty" and obtrusive near the eye, and if placed 10 ft.
from the floor, as they must be in many instances, it is impossible to
read them unless both label and type be very large, which is an
absurdity in a pictorially-mounted collection. [Footnote: When I first
came to Leicester the birds, mounted on stands and perches 9 ft. from
the floor, were labelled by slips of yellow paper pasted on the
stands, the type being that known as Pica and Bourgeois!]

Fancy Ramiphomicron microrhynchum, Boiss. (one of the humming-birds),
peeping over a label long enough to take his name--say, 3 in. x 1 in.!

Multiply this by fifty, and fancy a typical collection of
pictorially-mounted humming-birds labelled in this manner! A
well-known naturalist and scientific zoologist, personally unknown to
me, to whom I wrote, advised, as usual, the labels to be of different
colours as distinguishing marks. I sent him one of my lists and
charts, and he wrote: "I return the printed description which seems to
me admirably calculated to convey instruction in a becoming and
sightly way. It is undoubtedly an advance upon labelling."

Again, a scientific gentleman of local celebrity wrote an article on
the museum, and did me the honour to especially note the substitute
for labels. He says: "Affixed to the front of each group case, and on
a level with the eye, is a neatly-printed explanatory tablet, suitably
framed, comprising a list of the specimens (numbered), class,
sub-class, order, family, etc, with their scientific terms. The literal
interpretation of these several terms is then given. Then follow the
scientific names, with sex (where determined); and, lastly, the known
range of each species--a matter of acknowledged importance. This is
supplemented by an artistically-coloured chart, representing each
example (also numbered), in the corresponding position which it
occupies in any given group case. Thus is conveyed, in a concise and
intelligible form, all the information which can fairly be embodied in
the limited space at command.

Another redeeming feature, consequent upon this instructive and unique
method, is the dispensing with the formidable array of labels mounted
on unsightly coils of wire dotted about, reminding one of the labels
displayed in the shop window of a hatter or haberdasher--'The Latest
Novelty,' 'New this Season,' etc. They are not only obtrusive to the
eye, but have a decided tendency to mar the neat effect and
appropriate mounting of the general collection, and materially
interfere with the surroundings, outline, and beauty of the objects to
which they are appended, and their multiplied form only enhances this
confusion. Beside which, these labels are of necessity frequently
placed at such a height that, in order to decipher them, the head of
the observer needs to be perched on a neck somewhat like the giraffe.
So forcibly impressed am I with the soundness and value of this
newly-devised plan, that I am led to predict that its adoption will
sooner or later find favour among other kindred institutions even of a
larger growth."


(Arranged from the most highly specialized to lowest form.)

For Reference see coloured CHART below.

ORDER--ANSERES. From the Latin Anser--a Goose,


Total number of Species of this Order known to inhabit the World 185

Of this number there are as visitants to, and residents in Britain,
but 44, 19 only of which remain to breed.

Of these 44 for Britain, there are as visitants to, and residents in
Leicestershire                         13

3 only of which breed in the County.


From the Latin Anas--a Duck.

(Ducks, Geese, etc.)


Chenalopex aegyptiaca (1). RANGE--Africa.

Domesticated in many parts of Europe, including Britain and

Shot at Withcote Hall, near Oakham (probably escaped from
confinement), and presented by F. PALMER, Esq.


Cygnus nigricollis (Gm.). RANGE--Antarctic America.

From River Plate, S. America.

Presented (in the skin) by C. J. MUSSON, Esq, 1876.


Cygnus atratus (Lath.) (Immature) RANGE--Australia

From Sydney, New South Wales.

Presented by W. M. SQUIRES, Esq, 1875.

No--SHELDRAKE. Tadorna cornuta (Gm.). RANGE--N. Africa, Asia, as far
east as Japan, Europe including Britain, and has occurred as a rare
straggler in Leicestershire.

From Scotland, by purchase, 1881.


Anas boscas (1.). Range--North Africa, Asia from the far North to
China and Japan, N. America to Mexico, Europe generally, including
Britain, and commonly occurring in Leicestershire.

From Barston, Warwickshire. Presented by the Curator (M.B.), 1882.

The animals collected in the district are now being placed in the
middle of the room in oak cases, with plate-glass all around, on the
tops of table-cases holding at present the invertebrates, and will
show the male and female, young in nest, the eggs, birds in change of
plumage, all surrounded as in nature by carefully-modelled plants and
other accessories, the food, and the skeleton. The labelling of these
latter groups requiring a mass of information, as being of local
interest, is in this wise (on light sage-green coloured cards):


Studies illustrating the Habits, etc, of Animals collected in the

CLASS--Aves ORDER--Passeres FAMILY--Turdidae

GROUP No. .--Illustrative of the Life-History of the Whitethroat
(SYLVIA CINEREA, Bechst), a Bird of Passage, or Spring Migrant to
Britain (winters in Africa).

No. C1A--Male Whitethroat

No C1B--Female Whitethroat

No C1--Nest Of Whitethroat

Nos. C1.50 to C1.53--Four Young Of Whitethroat

The whole collected by the Curator at Aylestone, August, 1883.

The Male and Female are the actual builders of the nest, and parents
of the young birds here shown.

No. A Male, and No. Female, in Spring plumage. To be procured

RANGE.--N. Africa, Western Asia, Europe generally, common in Britain
(except in the North), and also in Leicestershire.

FOOD.--Caterpillars, various small insects, and occasionally small

EGGS.--Four or five. Builds its nest amongst nettles or brambles, in
low bushes near to the ground. (N.B.--Eggs shown at back of group.)
Duplicate Skin and Skeleton.


BRAMBLE (Rubus fruticosus, 1.). VAR.: discolor

RANGE.--Whole of Europe except extreme North, Russian and Central Asia
and Northern Africa (Not high Alpine). Common in Leicestershire.

Flowers and leaves modelled from Nature by the curator

Now for the invertebrates. Not having a special room at present for
these, they are best displayed in the centre of the vertebrate-room,
if possible, in table-cases, which are--for convenience, though,
incorrectly in science--arranged in linear order, beginning at the
Protozoa and running on to the Cephalopoda. As I before pointed out, a
tabular arrangement is inevitable except in some rare cases, where a
group might be taken to be pictorially displayed to give an idea of
the creature's mode of life.

By far the best arrangement of invertebrates I have ever seen is that
adopted at the Liverpool Museum under the auspices of the Rev. H. H.
Higgins, M.A, whose views on the invertebrates are very clearly
defined in his Introduction to a "Synopsis of an Arrangement of
Invertebrate Animals" contained in the Liverpool Museum. He says

"The series had to be conformed to a linear arrangement. In some
respects this was a serious disadvantage. The classes of invertebrate
animals cannot well be represented in a single ascending or descending
series. Probably it would not be possible on any symmetrical plan to
assign to them their proper positions relatively to each other; but
some palpable incongruities might be avoided by the use of table-cases
on a ground plan resembling a genealogical tree, one proposed form of
which is represented by a diagram in a work published by Professor

"The importance of a suitable ground plan for cases in museums seems
to be much underrated. When a class of students visit a museum
frequently, the localities of cases containing special groups become
indelibly impressed upon the memory. This might be turned to good

"In preparing the first scheme of the collection, it seemed essential
that plain and moderately-simple printed descriptions of the
life-history of the animals should accompany the specimens; therefore,
as it was clearly impossible to describe every genus, it became
necessary to fix on some mode of associating in groups a number of
examples to which the descriptions might apply. Such divisions as
'classes' and 'orders' were manifestly too large, whilst 'families'
varied from a single genus, including a solitary species, to an army
of more than a thousand genera--e.g, the Linnaean families
Cerambycidae and Curculionidae in the Coleoptera. It was with some
regret that the idea of attaching a readable sketch to each division
of a given rank in recent systems of classification was relinquished;
but it was found to be impracticable, and the life-history sketch thus
became the foundation of the arrangement eventually adopted.

"Whether it might be a few species, or a genus, or a family, or an
order, that seemed to afford suitable scope for a page of readable and
instructive matter, it was decided that, throughout the entire
collection, such a group should be segregated, so as to form the unit
of the series. Eventually, in order that the sketches, which it was
proposed to print for that purpose on tablets, might all be in
positions where they could conveniently be read, it was found to be
expedient that each group or unit should occupy an equal space; and as
the blocks on which the table-cases rested were to be fitted up with
trays or drawers, twelve of which would occupy the table-case without
loss of room, these trays or drawers were adopted as the receptacles
and boundaries of the groups.

"The entire plan of the table-cases, and the limits of many of the
groups, were committed to writing before any considerable advance had
been made in procuring specimens. In one respect this circumstance was
found to be very advantageous--our desiderata were at once well
defined. It was an object that each of the groups should be
illustrated by carefully-selected specimens, and, until this could be
attained, other acquisitions need not be sought for. In making
purchases, such an object, steadily kept in view, exercises a powerful
influence against the seductive attractions of 'great bargains,' which
often turn out to be great misfortunes to a museum. Moreover, in
accepting donations, it is sometimes convenient to be able to refer to
a fixed plan. Where room is scanty, as in most museums, nothing is
more subversive of order, or more fatal to an instructive arrangement,
than the gift of a collection, coupled with a stipulation that it must
be displayed in some special way. [Footnote: We possess in the
Leicester Museum a very fine collection of the whole of the "British"
Birds (totally devoid, however of a history of the specimens) called
the "Bickley Collection"--bequeathed to the town under these
conditions--which, could we have used it to embellish our present
arrangement, would have saved money, and, what is still more
important, the entire wall space of a small room now devoted to them.]
It is far better to forego the possession even of a valuable series of
specimens than to sacrifice order for their sake . . . .

The following is the plan of arrangement adopted in connection with
each group: Wherever circumstances permit, the plan for each group
includes (1) A printed schedule, (2) Exotic species, (3) British
representatives, (4) The printed tablet, (5) Earliest fossils, (6)
Diagrams and other illustrations, (7) Species and varieties on a more
extended scale."

The schedule, of which an example follows, is printed in large type,
and is attached conspicuously to the drawer:

GROUP 222.















Skeleton external, ringed.

Limbs jointed.

Legs, six.

Transformations complete.

Wings with scales.

Horns clubbed at the apex.

Middle nerve of fore-wing 4-branched.

The whole "Synopsis," published at a shilling, by the authorities of
the Liverpool Museum, is well worth reading. It contains a store of
information, not the least interesting being the Greek and Latin
derivations of the scientific names. I am especially glad to see that
the Greek characters are not barbarously replaced by English
"equivalents," which nearly always fail to give the key to the roots.
[Footnote: I noticed "Ocnai gunaike" written in a scientific work
lately, and I thought I never saw a sentence so ugly and so unlike
what it would be if written in Greek characters or properly

The cases themselves are excellently adapted to show the specimens,
and the plan--if we except the division labelled "British," which
might be advantageously altered, I think, to "Animals belonging to the
above group (etc.), found also in Britain"--is admirable. Not only are
objects dried, mounted, or shown in spirits, but first-class coloured
drawings of such creatures as Medusae, etc, are provided. This is, I am
sure, a step in the right direction, and I so recognise the importance
of this, that I am preparing charts of parts, etc, of animals as keys
to their structure, and also enlarging minute forms under the
microscope, to be placed in position in the invertebrate cases for the
Leicester Museum.

Another very fine feature of the Liverpool Museum, and worthy of
imitation, is the manner in which the osteological preparations are
managed. Not only are complete skeletons of mammals shown, but parts
for comparison--that is to say, there is a large series of skulls of
various mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes, and, again, leg and arm
bones, and their parts, arranged side by side; hence you may compare
the fore-limb of the human subject with that of a monkey, a lion, a
whale, a marsupial, a bird, a reptile, or a fish. [Footnote: Of
course, all this may be seen in the Museum of the College of Surgeons,
or at Oxford or Cambridge, etc, but these are special institutions, and
I am merely taking provincial general museums as my standpoint.]

It is needless to say--taking into consideration the fact that these
are prepared under the direction of the curator, Mr. Moore, and his
accomplished family--that all are beautifully arranged and classified.
In short, Liverpool is to be congratulated on its collections of bones
and invertebrates. Turning, however, to the vertebrates, we see that,
although the management begins to recognise the importance of
"pictorial" mounting, it is done in a half-hearted manner--isolated
groups here and there, on square boards, placed in the general
collection amongst the birds, on pegs, serving only to render the
latter more conspicuous in their shortcomings. This system of
Liverpool is being copied at Nottingham, Derby, and other places, and
was being copied also at Leicester, but not being, to my mind, half
thorough enough, has been discarded for the more ambitious--certainly
more effective--and quite as scientific method of arranging the
vertebrates pictorially, and in their proper sequence in orders and
families, endeavour being made to represent specimens of each genus
also, where practicable, in this manner.

As will be seen, in making a brief résumé of what has gone before, I
am in favour of large, top-lighted rooms, painted in a light neutral
tint, well warmed; cases built in oak, with single sheets of
plate-glass not less than 7 ft. 6 in. by 5 ft. or 8 ft. by 5 ft. 4 in,
artificially lighted by pendants shaded from the eye; the vertebrates
to be pictorially mounted both in the "general" and "local"
collections, but, of course, zoological sequence and science not to
suffer in consequence; I think that the "local" and "general" typical
collections should be entirely distinct though close to each other in
the same room for comparison; that extreme care should be taken in the
collection and mounting of the animals inhabiting the district, and
that no opportunity be lost of making this latter as complete as
possible; that anything for which the locality is famed, be it fossils
or antiquities, be the chief motif of any provincial museum; that,
failing this, some groups or forms be collected to establish a
monograph, such as Norwich is doing with its Accipitres; that, where
practicable, bones and complete skeletons of animals should be
collected, as being, of the greatest service to all students, be they
medical or biological.

Also that explanatory charts and lists take the place of labels for
the vertebrates, and that all information as to range and distribution
of species be given. Further, that anatomical diagrams and figures
explanatory of the structure and form of animals be provided, together
with all facilities for the study of biology from a scientific
stand-point. I have also laid down the axiom that a very small museum
must and should confine itself to objects collected in its immediate
vicinity, but that a fairly large museum would ever be in a disjointed
and unfurnished state if it relied solely on such specimens. It must,
therefore, have a general collection; and care should be taken in the
selection of specimens so that they may fill up the blanks occurring
in the "local."

Another thing I am quite assured of; it is that the management should
exercise a wise discretion in refusing unsuitable objects (chiefly of
ethnology) or duplicates of common forms, and never receive a
collection if fettered with the condition that "it must be kept
separate." Order, method, neatness, and careful cataloguing I say
nothing about, for I assume that all principals must practise these
virtues to do any good whatever with the collections entrusted to
their care.


Scanner's remarks.

This book seems to have been printed about 1885. I got my copy when I
was still a teenager (nth-hand; I am not really as old as all that!)
and have greatly enjoyed the enlightened, yet practical and
down-to-earth attitude of the writer. It seems to me a fine example of
late Victorian instructional material of the unpretentious persuasion.
Some of Browne's views were ahead of his time in terms of compassion
and conservation, so I urge modern readers not to sneer at what they
see as his out-of-date interest in "stuffed animals". Nor should they
take too patronising an attitude to Browne's long paragraphs and
occasionally strained concordances; he was not a professional writer
and he produced a fine, readable, and useful work. Both to the
biologist and historian of science, the book remains useful to this
day, and, as books of that period disappear for good, I hope, in
scanning it, to prevent a sorry loss to our generation and to those
who follow us. Though I nowhere edited his wording or punctuation in
any other way, no matter how much self-control this occasionally
demanded, I did split a lot of paragraphs, especially when they
spanned pages and thereby confused lines of thought.

In transcribing this book I have generally kept as truly to the
original as I could, including when Browne's (or possibly his editors')
conventions for the use of quotes and parentheses set my teeth on
edge. However, for lack of convenient font characters and sophistication
of scanning software, I have converted most of the vulgar fractions to
decimals. The others I have represented with slashes, so that say,
a value of one third might appear as 1/3. Similarly, I have split
ligatured characters such as the ligatured "ae" and "oe" frequent
in late Latin in particular. Also, following a practical and common
convention, I have replaced the umlaut with a following letter "e".
Thus "Möller" becomes "Moeller".

Browne frequently cross-referred readers to pages in the book. As
pages got changed in scanning and editing, I have changed such page
references mainly to chapters or similar references.

There were several places where changes (generally advances, I hope!)
in technical biology, or possibly slips that Browne made in matters
outside his speciality, led to errors. I have not corrected these in
the text of course, nor do I discuss many of them. After all, most
readers who can recognise the errors in modern terms do not need my
assistance in correcting them, and to the other readers they would
hardly matter. Here however are comments on a few arbitrarily chosen
points, in no particular sequence:

* Browne seems to have worked before hydrogen peroxide became
generally available, or possibly before its bleachng powers were
recognised.  For bleaching most biological specimens, especially
bones and the like, hydrogen peroxide is in every way better, less
offensive, less corrosive, and less damaging to tissues, than
hypochlorite. Soaking even badly yellowed teeth in say, a "five
volumes" concentration (about 1% to 2%) of peroxide for a few days or
weeks, whitens them beautifully without damage or rotting of tissues.
You might find that other peroxide compounds, such as perborates,
work better still, but I have not yet had occasion to use them.
Other methods of bleaching only are worth trying when the specimens
happen to contain a particular pigment that does not respond well
to peroxide bleaching.  Some such pigments are better bleached with
other chemicals, such as sulphites or hypochlorites.

* It takes some trawling through the book to discover that by "mites"
in insect collections, Browne probably means "booklice", i.e.

* Earwigs (Dermaptera) are not Hemiptera, as Browne classed them.
Dermaptera and Hemiptera are not even closely related. The error is an
interesting one however. It presumably arose from a nineteenth-century
confusion of the hemelytra of the Hemiptera, with the short tegmina,
the covering fore-wings of the Dermaptera, that protect their hind
wings when they are not in flight. Hemelytra of Hemiptera are not
really half-wings anyway, but protective fore-wings armoured for only
about half their length. The two orders do not even resemble each other
in appearance, anatomy, habits or ecological significance.

* Browne uses a few terms not easily to be found in every dictionary
nowadays. Dowlas is (was) a coarse kind of linen, but probably Browne
referred to a strong calico in imitation of such linen. For "filister"
read "fillister"; according to more or less contemporary dictionaries,
it is a misspelling. It turns out to be a type of rabbet plane used in
making window frames and similar structures.

* For setting insects on a setting board, I was slightly surprised at
Browne's use of "braces" and the like. Nowadays everyone I know uses
strips of smooth, non-sticky, translucent paper or similar material for
the purpose, and I had not realised that any other methods had been
used in the past. The use of such strips is easy, fast and effective.
It permits one to set large numbers of insects almost in an assembly
line fashion, working from the far end of the board towards oneself,
laying the tape over the wings, blowing or gently dragging the wings
into position, pinning down the tape, and proceeding to the next insect.

* If you get a small fish alive, then there is absolutely no way to
set it more perfectly than by dropping it alive into rather strong
acetic acid. This is not generally practical for say, a large salmon,
but for anything of manageable size, it leaves the gills, jaws, and
fins fully and stiffly extended. Strong formaldehyde has a similar
effect, but not as good. Immediately the specimen is stiff and dead (a
few seconds at most) remove it from the acid and rinse it gently with
clean, cold water, then transfer it to a solution of ammonium
carbonate, lime water, or similarly gentle alkaline material, to
neutralise the acid before proceeding with whatever means of
preparation you intended. See also the means I describe for preventing
acid damage.

* If you happen to use hypochlorite or any other compound that
releases chlorine, and you then wish to remove the residues, first
rinse your specimens clean as well as is convenient, then soak them in
very weak peroxide for a while. Hypochlorite and peroxide react with
each other to produce free oxygen (harmless) and chloride (also
harmless in any plausible concentrations).  The effect is to neutralise
any harmful or irritating residues or smell of chlorine.

* In at least one place I was surprised to see that Browne speaks of
pinning insects exactly through the middle. Nowadays this is not
widely done because one risks damaging structures on the median line
of the specimen. Instead the common convention is to pin specimens
somewhat to the right of the median, so that anything damaged on the
right can generally be seen undamaged on the left. When setting
beetles or the like, this usually means pinning them through the right
elytron. Commonly one then may set the specimen with the left elytron
and wing spread. Not all beetles will permit this of course, as many
flightless species have their elytra fastened down, and some, such as
many Scarabaeidae, flip their flying wings out pen-knife-like without
noticeably raising the elytra.

* No doubt the non-toxic soaps and so on that Browne describes do work
as advertised, but for keeping pests of dried material at bay, for
protecting hides, preserved insects and so on, do not copy the recipes
from this book. Though many of Browne's observations are in every way
practical and intelligent, our current knowledge of safe, persistent,
effective insecticides would not emerge for some fifty or sixty years
after his death. And, please, please! Though Browne was realistic in
his assessment of the dangers of the chemicals he describes, bear in
mind that even his precautions were insufficient for modern purposes.
Above all, be very wary of the mercurial recipes he mentions!!! It is
true that mercuric chloride is very effective, but I cannot think of a
single modern reason to use it. Today we have much safer, more
appropriate, materials at our disposal, including some very effective
fumigants that Browne would have coveted.

* Note that among the substances that Browne fails to warn us against,
are those that certainly are of low acute toxicity, but present
serious risks of chronic medical conditions or cancer, unrecognised in
his day. His much beloved "benzoline" seems to have been largely
benzene, which nowadays is regarded as a carcinogen, and for many
purposes too dangerous to handle. Before this became generally known I
personally handled benzene in totally unacceptable ways, but so far I
seem to have been lucky, and I seem to have given up tempting fate
before I incurred dangerous symptoms.

* Browne seems to me a bit too cheerful about high-pinned insects
being protected from some museum pests. High pinning might help a
little, but it most certainly is nowhere near adequate. I have
seen entire cases reduced to labelled pins standing among Dermestid
beetle frass. Use modern insecticides and carefully sealed drawers
or cases. I like the new pyrethroids, but keep in touch with museums
to be sure you know the best current means of protection. Grease
from pinned insects has caused me less of a problem than Browne
describes, but possibly that is because I always have used the
high-pinning techniques, never having known any other.

* When it comes to setting insects Browne was no doubt very artistic
and very competent at producing a presentable specimen no matter what,
but some of his procedures for cheerfully snipping insects and
re-assembling them should be avoided. Such expedients could ruin
specimens intended for the use of professional entomologists. For the
requirements of biological studies, it is far more important to have
a fully genuine specimen, no matter how badly disfigured, than a
hopefully reconstructed mosaic, no matter how artistic. For some
purposes one could use more radical "relaxing" procedures instead.
Browne seems to have used only cool water vapour or sometimes liquid
water. Careful application of hot steam can relax most specimens that
otherwise could not be re-set. One good trick (Beware of the risks of
cuts and scalding if your apparatus should burst!) is to boil water
in a closed vessel, leading the steam out into a tube, preferably of
silicone rubber, tipped with a drawn glass tube or the blunted needle
of a syringe. Direct steam at the parts that need relaxing. With
practice you often can relax legs or wings one at a time, stopping
as soon as they reach the desired position.

* Note too, that Browne is cheerful about mounting some insects by
gumming their feet (tarsi) to card. For entomological purposes this
has severe disadvantages. Nowadays professionals hardly ever use any
means of setting that prevent one from examining a specimen from all
sides. Even mounting them on a transparent material tends to interfere
with proper examination. For most purposes pin the insects using what
Browne called "flat" setting, high on the pin, with the label beneath.
Where this is not practical, such as for tiny specimens, there are
other methods, which you may see described in manuals or used in

* Note: Browne wrote in pre-decimal days, using largely the so-called
Imperial units. This might raise difficulties in understanding his
quantities. E.g. his dram or drachm (drm) probably was 0.125 ounce
(roughly 3.5 grams). His pound would be sixteen ounces (oz.) of 28.35
grams, but his pint would be twenty fluid ounces (not 16 as in
American pints!) Correspondingly his gallon would be ten pounds, not
eight. A grain would be about 65 mg. Of other units and utensils
apparently common in Browne's day, such as "six-pound Australian meat
tins", or "goffering-irons", make what sense you may. A
"wine-bottleful" was probably about 700 cc.

* Note: I have had little use for hexavalent chrome compounds but
one thing I did notice in experimenting with a few of Browne's
recommendations ("bichromates", "chromic acid" etc), is that the
merest few drops of such compounds (typically as a solution of potassium
dichromate or chromate) added to water containing soft creatures such
as molluscs, generally will kill them gently by paralysis and
leave them relaxed. Usually almost anything else one uses, short of
illegal or expensive drugs, causes such specimens to distort or
contract into useless lumps. Once the chromate has thoroughly killed
and relaxed them, say after an hour or two, the specimens can be fixed,
preserved, or manipulated as required. You may wish to compare this
method with the method that I describe for killing molluscs with
boiled water.

* One effective way of killing molluscs, particularly gastropods,
snails and the like, whether terrestrial, freshwater or marine, in
fully extended form, is to put them into cool or barely lukewarm,
freshly-boiled water that has been kept closely covered in airtight
containers for cooling without permitting a lot of oxygen to
re-dissolve in the water. First rinse the live specimens in fresh
water to clean away superficial dirt and slime, then submerge them in
the de-oxygenated water. Place some sort of grid or other barrier to
ensure that they cannot get near the surface, and re-seal the
container to keep air out. Leave them for at least twenty-four hours
before transferring them to a preservative fluid or otherwise
proceeding to deal with them. This method leaves them fully extended
and firm, ready for dissection or for preservation for display. If you
remove them too soon, they at first seem dead, but contract say, when
a scalpel stimulates a still-living nerve.

* The cyanide bottle for killing insects certainly could be very
useful, though I am not certain how widely such a dangerous substance
would be available nowadays. Many forms of killing bottle have been
used in the last century or so, and several are described in many
handbooks. An old favourite handbook of mine is the British Museum
Instructions to Collectors (Insects). Most killing bottles depend on
some volatile liquid soaked into plaster, rubber or cotton wool. My
own favourite was ethyl acetate, which is safe, inoffensive, and has
several advantages, as long as the bottle and fluid are kept free from
moisture. For some reason the presence of water seems to reduce its
effectiveness at quickly immobilising specimens.  Dry ethyl acetate
paralyses most insects very quickly, even if it takes longer to kill
them. For example, unlike many popular components of killing bottles,
ethyl acetate leaves dead specimens relaxed.

* When you have treated wet specimens with anything acid, do remember
to neutralise the acid residues as soon as possible. The same applies
if you have preserved them with anything that gradually produces acid;
For example, formaldehyde gradually reacts with oxygen to produce
formic acid. In due course it destroys shells, and even fine bones and
teeth. As a buffer, ammonia is cheap, effective and safe in reasonable
circumstances. However, it is too volatile to be a reliable buffer
against long term acidity. Specimens preserved in formaldehyde can be
protected in the long term by adding hexamethylenetetramine (otherwise
known as hexamine, the product of ammonia and formaldehyde) to the
liquid. A practical proportion is to add 100 grams of hexamine to a
litre of concentrated formaldehyde solution (formalin). Dilute this
solution before use, according the requirements of your particular
application. If you cannot get hexamine, you can use strong ammonia
(about 36%) solution, about 150 ml to 1 litre of formalin. In preparing
to use such formalin, allow for the fact that in adding the ammonia you
diluted the formalin by about one sixth. Alternatively, though usually
less effectively, you could add some ammonium carbonate or sodium
bicarbonate to the container. Sometimes a little oyster-shell grit
or chalk will do for long-term buffering; it can be used together
with the hexamine and can go on working after the hexamine is exhausted
if the collection is poorly maintained. Use your good sense in adapting
your measures to your needs.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Practical Taxidermy - A manual of instruction to the amateur in collecting, preserving, and setting up natural history specimens of all kinds. To which is added a chapter upon the pictorial arrangement of museums. With additional instructions in modelling and artistic taxidermy." ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.