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Title: Taxidermy and Zoological Collecting - A Complete Handbook for the Amateur Taxidermist, Collector, - Osteologist, Museum-Builder, Sportsman, and Traveller
Author: Holland, W. J., Hornaday, William T. (William Temple), 1854-1937
Language: English
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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 "Taxidermy and Zoological Collecting - A Complete Handbook for the Amateur Taxidermist, Collector, - Osteologist, Museum-Builder, Sportsman, and Traveller" ***

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    _For eight years Chief Taxidermist of the U.S. National Museum; for
     seven years Zoological Collector and Taxidermist for Ward's Natural
     Science Establishment; late Superintendent of the National Zoological
     Park; author of "Two Years in the Jungle," etc._


    BY W.J. HOLLAND, PH.D., D.D.

    _Chancellor Western University of Pennsylvania; President of the
     Academy of Science and Art of Pittsburg, and the Iron City
    Microscopical Society; Life Member of the Ent. Soc. of France; Fellow
    of the Ent. Soc. of London, etc._


    24 plates and 85 Text Illustrations



    COPYRIGHT, 1891 BY





In these heydays of popular zoology, when eager young naturalists are
coming to the front in crowds, and fine new scientific museums are starting
up on every hand, there is small need to apologize for the appearance of a
work designed expressly for the naturalist and museum-builder. Had justice
been done, some one would have written this book ten years ago.

The rapid and alarming destruction of all forms of wild animal life which
is now going on furiously throughout the entire world, renders it
imperatively necessary for those who would build up great zoological
collections to be up and doing before any more of the leading species are
exterminated. It is already too late to collect wild specimens of the
American bison, Californian elephant seal, West Indian seal, great auk, and
Labrador duck. Very soon it will also be too late to collect walrus,
manatee, fur seal, prong-horn antelope, elk, moose, mountain sheep, and
mountain goat. All along the Atlantic coast and in Florida the ducks are
being exterminated for the metropolitan markets, and the gulls, terns,
herons, egrets, ibises, and spoonbills are being slaughtered wholesale for
the equally bloodthirsty goddess of Fashion. If the naturalist would gather
representatives of all these forms for perpetual preservation, and future
study, he must set about it at once.

This work is offered as my contribution to the science of zoology and the
work of the museum-builder. It is entirely "an affair of the heart," and my
only desire in regard to it is that it may be the means of materially
increasing the world's store of well-selected and well-preserved examples
of the beautiful and interesting animal forms that now inhabit the earth
and its waters. The sight of a particularly fine animal, either alive or
dead, excites within me feelings of admiration that often amount to genuine
affection; and the study and preservation of such forms has for sixteen
years been my chief delight.

In these pages I have sought to give, in clear language, the detailed
information which I have found deplorably lacking in all "manuals" on this
subject that I have ever seen, save one, in French, published many years
ago, and which, while very tiresome to write out, are precisely what the
practical worker wants. I hold a permanent grudge against those who have
written before me on the subjects here treated of, because of what they did
_not_ write. The average book on taxidermy contains four times too much
"padding," and not one quarter enough practical information. "If this be
treason, make the most of it."

The students of entomology are indebted to Dr. Holland for his admirable
chapters on Insects, and I leave them to make their own acknowledgments. My
own very sincere thanks are hereby tendered him for his valuable
contribution to this work, thereby making it complete. I am also under
obligations to Mr. Charles Bradford Hudson, the accomplished artist, whose
skill has done so much to explain and embellish the text. The spirit and
interest with which he entered into his share of the work very materially
lightened and encouraged my own tardy labors.

My thanks are also due to my valued friend, Mr. Frederic A. Lucas, of the
Department of Comparative Anatomy, National Museum, and one of the founders
of the Society of American Taxidermists, for advice and assistance in the
preparation of the illustrations relating to work on skeletons. Mr. W.
Harvey Brown, Naturalist of the U.S. Eclipse Expedition to Africa, kindly
wrote for me nearly all of the chapter on "Mounting Disarticulated
Skeletons;" Messrs. William Palmer and John W. Hendley, of the National
Museum, also rendered me valuable services; for all of which I gladly
record here an expression of my thanks and appreciation.

Having already retired from taxidermy forever, this is positively my "last
appearance" in this field.




                               Part 1.

                      COLLECTING AND PRESERVING.

                             CHAPTER I.                             PAGE
  THE WORKER, AND THE WORK TO BE DONE,                              1-7

                             CHAPTER II.
  OUTFITS, AND HINTS ON HUNTING,                                    8-19

                             CHAPTER III.
  HOW TO SELECT AND STUDY FRESH SPECIMENS,                         20-23

                             CHAPTER IV.
  TREATMENT OF THE SKINS OF SMALL MAMMALS,                         24-36

                             CHAPTER V.

                             CHAPTER VI.
  COLLECTING SKINS OF SMALL BIRDS,                                 46-57

                             CHAPTER VII.
  COLLECTING SKINS OF LARGE BIRDS,                                 58-63

                             CHAPTER VIII.
  COLLECTING REPTILES,                                             66-70

                             CHAPTER IX.
  COLLECTING FISHES,                                               71-79

                             CHAPTER X.
  COLLECTING MARINE INVERTEBRATES,                                 80-89

                             CHAPTER XI.
  COLLECTING BIRDS' EGGS AND NESTS,                                90-97

                               Part 2.


                             CHAPTER XII.
  THE LABORATORY AND ITS APPOINTMENTS,                             99-101

                             CHAPTER XIII.
  PRELIMINARY WORK IN MOUNTING MAMMALS,                           102-107

                             CHAPTER XIV.
  VERTEBRATES,                                                    108-114

                             CHAPTER XV.
  MOUNTING SMALL MAMMALS,                                         115-128

                             CHAPTER XVI.
  MOUNTING LARGE MAMMALS: ORDINARY METHODS,                       129-139

                             CHAPTER XVII.

                             CHAPTER XVIII.
  FINISHING MOUNTED MAMMALS,                                      150-157

                             CHAPTER XIX.


                             CHAPTER XX.

  FACIAL EXPRESSION AND MOUTH MODELING,                           171-178

                             CHAPTER XXI.

  RELAXING DRY SKINS OF BIRDS,                                    179-182

                             CHAPTER XXII.

  MOUNTING SMALL BIRDS,                                           183-190

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

  MOUNTING LARGE BIRDS,                                           191-197

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

  CLEANING THE PLUMAGE OF BIRDS,                                  198-201

                             CHAPTER XXV.

  MOUNTING REPTILES,                                              202-207

                             CHAPTER XXVI.

  MOUNTING FISHES,                                                208-216

                             CHAPTER XXVII.

  MOUNTING LOBSTERS AND CRABS,                                    217-219

                             CHAPTER XXVIII.

  ORNAMENTAL TAXIDERMY,                                           219-228

                             CHAPTER XXIX.

  GROUPS AND GROUPING,                                            229-235

                             CHAPTER XXX.

  GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF GROUP-MAKING,                             236-239

                             CHAPTER XXXI.

  GROUPS OF MAMMALS,                                              240-247

                             CHAPTER XXXII.

  GROUPS OF BIRDS AND REPTILES,                                   248-250

                             CHAPTER XXXIII.

  HINTS ON PAINTING MUSEUM SPECIMENS,                             251-257

                               Part 3.

                             MAKING CASTS.

                             CHAPTER XXXIV.

  CASTS,                                                          259-267

                             CHAPTER XXXV.

  CASTS OF MAMMALS, FISHES, AND REPTILES,                         268-270

                               Part 4.


                             CHAPTER XXXVI.

  COLLECTING SKELETONS,                                           271-281

                             CHAPTER XXXVII.

  CLEANING LARGE SKELETONS BY MACERATING,                         282-284

                             CHAPTER XXXVIII.

  CLEANING AND MOUNTING SMALL SKELETONS,                          285-295

                             CHAPTER XXXIX.

  MOUNTING A LARGE DISARTICULATED SKELETON,                       296-304

                               Part 5.


                             CHAPTER XL.

  THE CLASSIFICATION OF INSECTS,                                  305-308

                             CHAPTER XLI.

  EGGS AND LARVÆ: BREEDING AND REARING,                           309-319

                             CHAPTER XLII.

  COLLECTING IMAGOES,                                             320-327

                             CHAPTER XLIII.

  PREPARATION, CARE, AND DISPLAY OF INSECTS,                      328-338

                               Part 6.

                      GENERAL INFORMATION.

                             CHAPTER XLIV.

  INSECT PESTS, AND POISONING,                                    339-345

                             CHAPTER XLV.

  USEFUL INFORMATION,                                             346-350

                             CHAPTER XLVI.

  THE BEST BOOKS OF REFERENCE,                                    351-355

                       LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

                         FULL-PAGE PLATES.

  I. HEAD OF ROYAL BENGAL TIGER. (_Frontispiece._)                    PAGE

  II. TWO PAGES FROM AN OLD FIELD NOTE-BOOK (Double Plate),            22

  III. MEASUREMENTS OF A LARGE MAMMAL,                                 38

  IV. HOW TO CUT OPEN AND MOUNT A FISH,                                76

  V. PARING DOWN A LARGE MAMMAL SKIN,                                 104


  VII. MANIKIN FOR BENGAL TIGER: FIRST STAGE,                         142

  VIII. MANIKIN FOR BENGAL TIGER: COMPLETED,                          148


  X. MANIKIN FOR AMERICAN BISON: COMPLETED,                           156

  XI. HEAD OF PRONG-HORN ANTELOPE,                                    168

  XII. WORKSHOP OF A BIRD TAXIDERMIST,                                182


  XIV. MOUNTING AN ALLIGATOR: LAST STAGE,                             206

  XV. AMERICAN LOBSTER,                                               217

  XVI. SPECIMENS OF ORNAMENTAL TAXIDERMY (Double Plate),              222

  XVII. A FIGHT IN THE TREE-TOPS,                                     231

  XVIII. GROUP OF COYOTES,                                            235

  XIX. GROUP OF AMERICAN BISON (Double Plate),                        246


  XXI. SKELETON OF AN AMERICAN BISON,                                 298

         { FIG. 1.--BEATING THE BUSH,                                 320
  XXII.  { FIG. 2.--A SUCCESSFUL STROKE,                              320

         { FIG. 1.--BOTTLING A SKIPPER,                               326

                        TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS.

                              PART I.

                     COLLECTING AND PRESERVING.

  FIG.                                                                PAGE


  2. SQUIRREL PARTLY SKINNED                                           27

  3. SKINNING A SQUIRREL'S HEAD,                                       28

  4. A MODEL MAMMAL SKIN,                                              34

  5. ANOTHER FORM OF MAMMAL SKIN,                                      35

  6. OPENING CUTS ON A LARGE MAMMAL,                                   40


  8. A WELL-MADE DRY DEER-SKIN,                                        43

  9. FOOT OF AN ORANG-UTAN,                                            44

  10. NAMES OF THE EXTERNAL PARTS OF A BIRD,                           47

  11. FIRST STEPS IN SKINNING A BIRD,                                  50

  12. BIRD SKIN, WRONG SIDE OUT,                                       51

  13. THE BIRD SKIN IN POSITION,                                       53

  14. THE SKIN HALF WRAPPED,                                           54

  15. SPREADING THE TAIL,                                              55

  16. THE SKIN FULLY WRAPPED,                                          55

  17. A PERFECT BIRD SKIN,                                             56

  18. HOW TO SHAPE A HERON SKIN,                                       60

  19. HOW TO OPEN A TURTLE,                                            69

  20. AGASSIZ TANK, FOR ALCOHOLICS,                                    73

  21. BIRD NEST, _in situ_,                                            92

  22. WIRE STANDARD FOR NESTS,                                         93

  23. NEST ON WIRE STANDARD, WITH LABELS,                              94

                             PART II.


  24. SKIN SCRAPERS, ABOUT ONE-FOURTH ACTUAL SIZE,                    103

  25. LEG MAKING AND WIRING,                                          117

  26 WIRING TOGETHER,                                                 119

  26a. THE LEGS WIRED TOGETHER,                                       121

  27. THE FINISHED SPECIMEN,                                          124

  28. AUTHOR'S METHOD OF MOUNTING BATS ON GLASS,                      128


  30. FILLERS OF VARIOUS KINDS,                                       133

  31. AN IRON SQUARE,                                                 136

  32. LEG IRONS OF AN AMERICAN BISON,                                 144

  33. SKINNING A DEER'S EAR,                                          161

  34. THE EAR HALF-SKINNED,                                           161

  35. SKINNING DOWN THE INSIDE,                                       162

  36. THE CARTILAGE OUT,                                              162

  37. INTERNAL MECHANISM OF A DEER'S HEAD,                            164

  38. COMPLETE MANIKIN FOR A DEER'S HEAD,                             165

  39. MODELING TOOLS OF WOOD,                                         173

  40. MODELING TOOLS OF WOOD,                                         173

  41. MODELING TOOLS OF WOOD,                                         173

  42. STEEL MODELING TOOL,                                            174

  43. STEEL MODELING TOOL,                                            174

  44. STEEL MODELING TOOL,                                            174

  45. SIDE VIEW OF TIGER'S TONGUE,                                    175

  46. END VIEW OF TIGER'S TONGUE,                                     175

  47. TOP VIEW OF TIGER'S TONGUE,                                     175

  48. WIRING A BIRD'S LEG,                                            184

  49. CROSS-SECTION OF ARTIFICIAL BODY,                               185

  50. THE FINISHED BODY AND NECK,                                     185

  51. HOW THE LEG WIRES ARE INSERTED AND CLINCHED,                    186

  52. THE WINDING OF THE BIRD,                                        189

  53. CAST OF THE NECK AND WINDPIPE OF A HERON,                       195

  54. METHOD OF MOUNTING ALCOHOLIC REPTILES,                          203

  55. MEDALLION OF YELLOW PIKE,                                       213

  56. CROSS SECTION,                                                  213

  57. WALL CASE OF BIRDS,                                             223

  58. WOOD DUCK,                                                      232

                            PART III.

                          MAKING CASTS.

  59. BEGINNING TO MAKE A PIECE MOULD,                                260

  60. SECOND STEP IN MAKING A PIECE MOULD,                            261

  61. LAST STEP IN MAKING A PIECE MOULD,                              262

  62. THE FINISHED MOULD,                                             262

  63. THE BEGINNING OF A WASTE MOULD,                                 263

  64. SECOND STEP IN MAKING A WASTE MOULD,                            264

  65. CHISELING OFF THE WASTE MOULD,                                  265

                             PART IV.


  66. ROUGH SKELETON OF A SMALL ANIMAL,                               274

  67. ROUGH SKELETON OF A BIRD,                                       277

  68. STEEL BONE-SCRAPERS,                                            286

  69. SKELETON OF A BAT, AS EXHIBITED,                                291

  70. SKELETON OF A BIRD, MOUNTED AND DRYING,                         292

  71. WIRING A SKELETON WING,                                         293

  72. SKELETON OF A TURTLE,                                           294

  73. THE SACRUM AND SPINAL ROD,                                      298

  74. ATTACHMENT OF RIBS TO A VERTEBRA,                               298

  75. MIDDLE JOINT OF THE HIND LEG: SIDE VIEW,                        300

  76. MIDDLE JOINT OF HIND LEG: REAR VIEW,                            301

  77. BONES OF THE FOOT: SIDE VIEW,                                   301

  78. BONES OF THE FOOT: REAR VIEW,                                   301

  79. THE KNEE-JOINT,                                                 302

  80. FRONT VIEW OF KNEE-JOINT,                                       302

  81. FRONT VIEW OF ELBOW-JOINT,                                      302

                              PART V.


  82. APPARATUS FOR INFLATING LARVÆ,                                  314

  83. DRYING OVEN,                                                    315

  84. DRYING OVEN FOR LARVA SKIN (After Riley),                       315

  85. WIRE BENT INTO SHAPE FOR MOUNTING LARVA (After Riley),          316

  86. BREEDING CAGE (After Riley),                                    317

  87. BREEDING CAGE,                                                  318

  88. NET-FRAME (After Riley),                                        320

  89. NET-HEAD, FOR REMOVABLE FRAME (After Riley),                    321

  90. FOLDING NET (After Riley),                                      321

  91. COLLECTING JAR,                                                 322

  92. PERFORATED PAPER DISC FOR JAR,                                  322

  93. METHOD OF PINCHING A BUTTERFLY,                                 325

  94. MANNER OF FOLDING PAPER ENVELOPE,                               328

  95. BUTTERFLY IN ENVELOPE,                                          328

  96. DOUBLE MOUNT,                                                   330

  97. FRAME FOR MOUNTING BEETLES,                                     330

  98. SETTING-BOARD,                                                  331

  99. SETTING-BOARD (After Riley),                                    331

  100. SETTING-BLOCK,                                                 331

  101. SETTING-BLOCK, WITH BUTTERFLY,                                 331

  102. SETTING-NEEDLE,                                                332

  103. BOX FOR RECEIVING SETTING-BOARDS,                              333

  104. SHINGLING SPECIMENS,                                           334



_Eternal vigilance is the price of a collection._



The need of thoroughly skilled collectors is increasing every hour; and
right here let me say to the young naturalist athirst for travel and
adventure, There is no other way in which you can so easily find a way to
gratify your heart's desire as by becoming a skilful collector.

The most important vertebrate forms are being rapidly swept off the face of
the earth by firearms, traps, and other engines of destruction. In five
years' time--perhaps in three--there will not be a wild buffalo left in
this country outside of protected limits. There are less than one hundred
even now--and yet how very few of our museums have good specimens of this
most interesting and conspicuous native species.

The rhytina, the Californian elephant seal, the great auk, and the Labrador
duck have already been exterminated. For many years the West Indian seal
was regarded as wholly extinct, but a small colony has lately been
discovered by Mr. Henry L. Ward on a remote islet in the Gulf of Mexico.
The walrus, the manatee, the moose, mountain goat, antelope, mountain
sheep, the sea otter, the beaver, elk, and mule deer are all going fast,
and by the time the museum-builders of the world awake to the necessity of
securing good specimens of all these it may be too late to find them.

Even in South Africa, where big game once existed in countless thousands,
nothing remains of the larger species save a few insignificant springboks,
and no game worth mentioning can be found nearer than the Limpopo Valley,
eight hundred miles north of the Cape!

_Now_ is the time to collect. A little later it will cost a great deal
more, and the collector will get a great deal less. Sportsmen, pot-hunters,
and breech-loading firearms are increasing in all parts of the world much
faster than the game to be shot, and it is my firm belief that the time
will come when the majority of the vertebrate species now inhabiting the
earth in a wild state will be either totally exterminated, or exist only
under protection.

But do not launch out as a collector until you know how to collect. The
observance of this principle would have saved the useless slaughter of tens
of thousands of living creatures, and prevented the accumulation of tons
upon tons of useless rubbish in the zoological museums of the world. It
costs just as much to collect and care for scientific rubbish as it would
to do the same by an equal number of scientific treasures. Between fool
collectors on one hand, and inartistic taxidermists on the other, the great
majority of the world's zoological museums have been filled with objects
that are anything but attractive; and for this state of affairs the
collectors are more to blame than the taxidermists.

Bad work in collecting is, in nine cases out of ten, due to one of two
causes--ignorance or laziness. By some curious process of reasoning, many
really intelligent men conclude that they can go into the field and collect
successfully without having learned a single thing about methods, or asked
a word of advice from a competent instructor. Many seem to think that the
only thing required is main strength, and that even that may be exerted by
proxy. Even now, men who have travelled and written books go to South
America and dry all their skins in the sun--after having carefully removed
all the leg bones--and their small skeletons they _boil_!

Some of the worst mammal skins I ever saw were made by a professor of
natural history, who actually managed to do nearly everything as it should
_not_ have been done. And yet, collecting all kinds of animal specimens,
in all climates, is perfectly simple to any one who has enough enterprise
to inform himself of the most reliable methods, and put them in practice.

I will confess I feel very deeply on this point, for I have toiled,
needlessly, unnumbered hours, and days too, in overcoming, as far as
possible, the inexcusable blunders of collectors. I have seen thousands of
dollars wasted in this way that could have been saved by good work in the
field. It is easier to mount two good skins within five per cent of
perfection than to mount one poor one not nearly so well. Let me advise the
directors of all scientific museums, institutions of learning, and patrons
of natural history generally, when appealed to by an enthusiastic collector
for funds with which to go abroad and collect an untold amount of priceless
specimens, in every case withhold your aid until the would-be collector
demonstrates conclusively that he has _learned how to collect_. If he has
not wit enough and grit enough to acquire ability, and then prove property,
he is not fit to send anywhere, save back to the bosom of his family.

These are the qualities which are required to make a first-class collector:
He must have a fair general knowledge of zoology, especially the
vertebrates. He must be a good shot, a successful hunter, and capable of
great physical endurance. Then he must be a neat and skilful operator with
the knife, and conscientious in the _details_ of his work, down to the
smallest particulars, for without this quality his specimens will always be
faulty and disappointing. In addition to all these requirements he must be
a man of tireless energy, incapable of going to bed so long as there are
birds to be skinned, and who, whenever a doubt arises in his mind in regard
to the necessity of more work on a specimen will _always give the specimen
the benefit of the doubt_.

I strongly advise every one who becomes a collector to learn to sketch from
nature. No matter whether you have any artistic ability or not, if you are
determined about it, you can learn to make pencil sketches of rare
specimens in the field, and of native houses, costumes, weapons, etc., and
remarkable natural objects of all kinds, which, even though crude and
inartistic in finish, may be of permanent value to the scientific world.
The camera and dry plate are of great value, but commend me to the pencil
and sketch-book that "sticketh closer than a brother," and that never fail
you on account of weather, weight, or accidents. Therefore I say, sketch;
sketch poorly if you cannot sketch well, but above all, _sketch_.

The moment you make up your mind to go on a collecting trip, even if be
only into the next county, read everything you can get hold of which will
tell you aught about the natural history of the country you are to visit.
Ask what has been written, search library catalogues for titles of books,
then get all you can, and read all you get. Only the churl will refuse to
lend you a book you cannot afford to buy. Read all about the physical
geography, geology, climate, inhabitants, fauna and flora, for all these
will have a direct bearing on your work. If you are going to unexplored
territory, about which nothing has been written, then "read up" on the
adjacent countries, for even that will be very useful information.

GUIDES AND COMPANIONS.--No matter where you go, you will be obliged to have
one or more companions, who know the country, to act as guides and general
assistants. It may be that you can find a single person combining the
necessary qualities of a guide and interpreter with those of a boatman, a
teamster, or porter. The expense of such assistants must be counted upon
from the very first. It may be stated as a general rule that in the tropics
the services of natives can be had cheaply; while those of Europeans are
generally dear in comparison with what they do.

CLOTHING AND FOOD.--These subjects I propose to leave entirely alone. They
make excellent "padding" for a work of this kind when there is a lack of
really useful information with which to fill up; but every man feeds and
clothes himself according to the dictates of his temperament, his purse, or
his own sweet will. Whether his way is the best or the worst, he will still
have food and clothes more or less suitable to his needs, and time spent in
advising him what to wear and to eat is time wasted. These questions are
generally controlled by the locality and circumstances.

PRESERVATION OF HEALTH.--There are certain hygienic principles which apply
all the world over, and since their observance becomes in the tropics a
question of life and death, I will record them. Their observance has
preserved my health intact in unwholesome jungles in a way that I consider
nothing short of wonderful.

Never sleep on the ground in the wet portions of the tropics when possible
to avoid it, but keep above the poisonous miasmatic vapors that lie close
to the earth.

Boil water before drinking it, if it is thought to be bad, and avoid
stagnant water at all times.

Drink no spirits whatever except when really sick or debilitated, nor wine,
nor other alcoholic beverages. Avoid brandy, whiskey, and rum as you would
the plague.

Eat no unripe fruit, and with moderation of even ripe fruits, excepting
bananas, which are harmless and most excellent food.

Avoid eating large quantities of meat, but give the preference to rice, and
farinaceous foods generally.

Wear light flannel shirts, and at all hazards keep the head and nape of the
neck well shielded from the sun. Pith helmets are best.

After getting wet, do not sit down in the hot sun with your wet clothes on,
but if you must remain in the sun, keep moving.

By means of rubber clothing, or "ponchos," keep from getting wet whenever
you can.

On coming into camp with wet garments, do not sit down in them to rest, but
_change immediately_ to dry clothing and footgear. The strict observance of
this rule will save many an attack of fever.

MEDICINES.--Every traveller or collector who goes beyond the ready reach of
doctors (and for that matter also every family living in the country)
should have a small box filled with certain medicines and simple appliances
as a resort in all cases of emergency. Very often a deal of mischief can be
prevented by having the proper remedy at hand and ready for immediate
application. Who has not seen great suffering endured for the lack of a
simple remedy costing only a few cents? No matter where I go in the field,
or how much luggage I am impeded with, I always carry with me a small,
square, japanned tin box (10 inches long, 7 inches wide, and 4 inches
deep) which contains the following:

    1 roll silk court-plaster (about 1 yard).       |1 bottle Collis
                                                    |Browne's chlorodyne.
    6 curved surgeon's needles and silk thread.     |1/2 ounce quinine.
    4 ounces spirits of turpentine.                 |1 package Epsom salts.
    4 ounces tincture of arnica.                    |1 package senna
    2 ounces syrup of ipecac.                       |1 package carbonate
                                                    |of soda.
    1 ounce paregoric.                              |2-ounce bottle of
                                                    |Squibb's diarrhoea
    1 ounce ammonia.                                |1 box Beecham's pills.
    2 ounces castor oil.                            |1 small measuring
    1 pint lime-water and linseed oil.              |1 piece of small
                                                    |rubber tube, a
                                                    |foot long.
    1 pint best brandy.                             |12 doses of tartar

The above makes a formidable showing, but the whole stock costs only about
three dollars and fifty cents, and the box, with lock and key, about one
dollar more. I have lately added to this outfit a most valuable and helpful
little book, entitled "Till the Doctor Comes," by George H. Hope (G.P.
Putnam's Sons, New York), which to any traveller or country dweller is
worth twice its weight in gold. Fortunately, however, it costs only fifty
cents, and no one need be without it.

While a traveller or hunter should never drink brandy or whiskey _as a
beverage_, it is a most excellent thing to have in many cases of sickness
or accident, when a powerful stimulant is necessary. Above all things,
however, which go farthest toward preserving the life of the traveller
against diseases and death by accident, and which every naturalist
especially should take with him wherever he goes, are _habits of strict
temperance_. In the tropics nothing is so deadly as the drinking habit, for
it speedily paves the way to various kinds of disease which are always
charged to the account of "the accursed climate." If a temperate man falls
ill or meets with an accident, his system responds so readily to remedies
and moderate stimulants that his chances for recovery are a hundred per
cent better than those of the man whose constitution has been undermined by
strong drink.

There are plenty of men who will say that in the tropics a little liquor is
necessary, "a good thing," etc.; but let me tell you it is no such thing,
and if necessary I could pile up a mountain of evidence to prove it. The
records show most conclusively that it is the men who totally abstain from
the use of spirits as a beverage who last longest, have the least sickness,
and do the most and best work. As a general rule, an energetic
brandy-drinker in the jungle is not worth his salt, and as a companion in a
serious undertaking, is not even to be regarded as a possible candidate.



In making up an outfit with which to work on specimens in the field, away
from civilization perhaps, you must first decide definitely upon the line
of work you intend to do, for upon this the extent and character of your
outfit must depend. The requirements to be met are economy of space,
weight, and labor, with no necessary article lacking. The mere item of
keeping one's tools in order, and always accessible, is much more important
than it would at first seem to be. There must be no confusion, and not a
single article must get lost. _Good tools_, and _plenty of them_, in _good
working order_, go a great way toward the production of faultless
specimens, having the highest possible value.

I think I may say without boasting that on my third collecting trip abroad
(to the East Indies) my outfit came as near perfection in size and
arrangement as can ever be reached without far greater expense than that
entailed. I was obliged to pack and unpack the whole of it at least fifty
times, but its arrangement was so systematic and compact that the complete
packing up never required more than fifteen minutes, and I could go to it
in the dark and find any article desired, even to a needle and thread.

The whole arrangement was very simple. To start with, the entire outfit of
firearms, ammunition, tools, hunting-gear, and a good stock of
preservatives was contained in an iron-bound black walnut chest about the
size of a carpenter's tool-chest.

To keep my loading implements and ammunition in order, I had an
ammunition-box of walnut, 14-1/2 inches long, 12-1/2 wide, and 4-1/2 deep,
outside measurements, divided inside into five compartments, which held and
kept in order all the appendages belonging to my three guns, and enough
ammunition to last a month for ordinary shooting.

Another small box, made of ash, one-quarter of an inch thick, and divided
into four compartments, contained an assortment of knives, labels, and
small tools (see list below), and was in every way _multum in parvo_. Both
these boxes had their places in the chest, and my guns, each in its own
box-case, were provided for in the same receptacle. I have had made for
collectors going out from the National Museum nearly a dozen tool-boxes in
exact duplication of the original mentioned above, and I can confidently
recommend both it and the ammunition-box as serving their purposes most

Since my outfit for the East Indies proved very satisfactory, and with one
or two additions is precisely what I should take were I to go again on a
similar expedition, I give below a full list of its contents. The additions
I should make would be a Winchester 7-shot repeating rifle, calibre 45-75,
with the necessary ammunition, a double-barrelled breech-loading gun, No.
12, and possibly a wooden tank 2 feet × 2 feet × 2 feet, with a screw top,
for the preservation of mammal skins in a salt and alum bath. This last
addition is rendered necessary by the fact that I have adopted a different
method of preserving skins from that I had followed up to that time.
Instead of drying all skins as I did then, I now preserve the majority of
them in a wet state, and keep them so, except such as are desired as skins
for study, and not for mounting. The apparatus necessary for collecting
insects will be described in the section devoted to work of that class.


_Vertebrates and Invertebrates, both Large and Small, Dry and in Spirits,
and on a Large Scale._

    1 Agassiz tank (copper), in wooden box, for alcoholics.
    1 chest of black walnut, iron-bound, to contain all the articles
       enumerated below:
    1 Maynard rifle, two barrels, calibre 40,     |40 pounds shot, assorted
    and 45-85.                                    |10 pounds Maynard
    1 double-barrelled breech-loading smooth-bore |1,000 Berdan primers.
    gun, No. 10, in case ($30).                   |12 pounds Orange ducking
    1 Maynard shot-gun, No. 16.                   |30 pounds arsenical
    1 Smith & Wesson revolver, cal. 32.           |15 pounds dry arsenic.
    1 cartridge-belt and cartridge-bag.           |1 dozen large skinning

    1 dozen small skinning-knives.                |2 pairs scissors.
    6 scalpels.                                   |1 brain hook.
    2 claw hatchets.                              |1 pair long forceps.
    1 saw.                                        |1 pair short forceps.
    1 large skin scraper.                         |1 pair cutting-pliers.
    1 geological hammer.                          |1 pair flat pliers.
    1 bull's-eye lantern.                         |2 sets skeleton
    1 A No. 1 field-glass.                        |1 small skin scraper.
    1 compass.                                    |1 flat file.
    2 brushes for arsenical soap.                 |2 three cornered files.
    1 blow-pipe and set of egg-drills.            |1 cold chisel.
    1 hydrometer and test-glass.                  |2 awls.
    1 thermometer.                                |1 4-inch saw (for
    2 pairs hunting-shoes.                        |1 tape measure.
    2 rubber blankets.                            |1 2-foot rule.
    1 double woollen blanket.                     |1 ivory thimble.
    1 Ashanti hammock.                            |1 oil stone.
    3,000 labels, three sizes.                    |1 spool thread.
    1 tool-box, size 7 × 13 × 3 inches, to
        contain the following:                    |2 dozen labels.
    4 skinning-knives.                            |3 papers glover's

With this outfit I collected, in two years, more than $15,000 worth of
salable skins, rough skeletons and skulls of mammals, many of which were
very large; birds, reptiles, and fishes, especially the large and important
species; also fishes and fish skins in alcohol and brine; crustaceans,
shells, star-fishes, corals, and a few insects. In not a single case did I
ever fail to collect a desired specimen through lack of implements and
preservatives with which to care for it, and only three or four specimens
spoiled on my hands in course of preservation. One of these was an orang
skin, the last one I took, which spoiled because I had to pack it up and
travel with it without giving it even one day's drying; and the others were
skins which spoiled while I was on my back with jungle fever.

The outfit listed above is of such a nature that for a trip across Africa,
South America, or even a much shorter distance on foot or horseback, away
from rivers and wagon-roads, it would be difficult to take the whole of it.
But then, on some expeditions, for example, such as are made through
Darkest Africa, the travellers are generally glad to get through with their
lives, to say nothing of more cumbersome luggage, and very little
collecting is done. In nine cases out of ten, however, it is advisable to
take along a good outfit, even though there are three or four boxes of it,
for, except in such journeys as those mentioned above, there will always be
a way to get it along. It will cost a few dollars for freight, and some
trouble in management; but if you are a good collector, and mean business,
you will not mind that in the least. Where there's a will there's
locomotion; and to collect well, or even at all, one must have something to
collect with. It is an expensive and exceedingly laborious business at
best, so don't go expecting to have your "baggage checked through to
destination, free of charge."

But there are a great many of my readers who, while they may never want to
go off into a howling wilderness, might greatly enjoy collecting on such
trips as they do take. Then, again, there are sportsmen and travellers who
will willingly carry into good game districts a book of instructions, and
enough tools to enable them successfully to remove and preserve the skins
of valuable trophies of the chase, and other specimens which should be kept
on account of their scientific value or their beauty. To meet the
requirements of both the amateur and the sportsman I recommend:


_For a Collector of Mammals, Heads, Trophies, etc., and also Birds._

    Firearms, as you please.
    A tool-box of 1/4 inch ash, size 7 × 13 × 3 inches, containing the

    2 large skinning-knives (see Fig. 1).                |1 tape measure.
    2 cartilage knives (see Fig. 1).                     |1 brain hook.
    1 pair scissors.                                     |1 pair 9-inch
    1 small oil-stone.                                   |1 pair short
    1 spool thread.                                      |And if eggs are
                                                          to be collected,
                                                          then must
    1 package needles.                                   |be added:
    1 package labels.                                    |1 blow-pipe.
    1 2-foot rule.                                       |1 set of egg

With the addition of 10 large skinning knives, this was the identical
outfit I took with me on two collecting trips to Montana, during which we
skinned and skeletonized 24 buffaloes, about 20 antelope, 10 deer, 9
coyotes, and a goodly number of birds and small mammals.

The points in favor of this outfit are its cheapness, compactness,
portability, and great general utility. It can be carried in a knapsack
behind a saddle on an overland journey, and to an explorer it is useful in
a hundred ways besides those for which it is specially intended.

FIREARMS.--The gun question is a good deal like the wife question--every
man prefers to choose for himself, and advice is chiefly superfluous.
Nevertheless, to those who have as yet no preferences, I will briefly state
mine, and the reasons for them.

If I could have but one weapon, I should choose the Maynard rifle, calibre
40, with extra long cartridge, and a No. 12 shot-barrel fitting to the same
stock, and interchangeable in less than fifteen seconds of time. The rifle
is light and handy; it hits hard, and is as true as steel ever gets to be.
It will hit every time precisely where you hold it. Its construction is so
simple it seldom breaks or gets out of order, the brass shells never wear
out, and when loaded are about as impervious to water as marine torpedoes.
Should you go under water--rifle, cartridges, and all--you have only to
"bob up serenely," and go on firing as if nothing had happened.

By the addition of a shot-barrel, at a very slight expense, you have, in
reality, two good breech-loading weapons that will serve you well for
general purposes.

For ordinary large game I also prefer the Maynard rifle, but of a heavier
calibre than the above. Calibre 45 is the best size, taking the U.M.C.
Co.'s Bullard cartridges loaded with 85 grains of powder and 295 grains of
lead. These with the Maynard make a beautiful combination. It carries
point-blank up to 170 yards, if not even 200; the ball has great accuracy
and penetration, with a very low trajectory, and very little recoil. A
heavier bullet means a hearty kick and loss of accuracy, and one of 500
grains of lead means occasional blood at your end of the gun, and a black
and blue shoulder.

For such great beasts as the elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus, the
choice must lie between a double 8-bore rifle, and the No. 8 smooth-bore.
For my part, I would rather hunt my elephants with such a gun as I used on
them in India, a No. 8 smooth-bore, double-barrelled, which, though
weighing less than 10 pounds, never kicked seriously, even with enough
powder (6 drachms) to send a zinc bullet through an elephant's skull and
brain, and out on the other side. With such a weapon there will be no need
to run after an animal, nor run away from it either, after you get one fair
shot at it.[1]

For hunting large birds and small mammals a No. 10 shot-gun is the best;
but if you are specially interested in birds and care little for mammals, a
No. 12 breech-loader with top-snap action will be preferable. For my
purposes, however, my No. 10 double Werner and No. 16 Maynard always worked
beautifully together, and I think these two sizes afford the best
combination a collector can find. Being very strongly built, I often loaded
my No. 10 with a single ball, and bagged many a fine Indian bison in that

I always used heavy brass shells with all my shot-guns, for the following
reason: I could not spare room to carry paper shells, the rains I
encountered would have spoiled too many of them, and away from home they
were too expensive a luxury for me to afford. The brass shells are
expensive to start with, but they last forever, or until they are lost.

HINTS ON HUNTING.--The duty of a naturalist to his specimen begins when he
levels his gun at it in the field.

Do not shoot a specimen to pieces, or mutilate it beyond recognition by its
own mother.

Study the moral principles of your guns, find out exactly what they will do
with what you put into them, and then don't shoot your specimens too much.
What is a tiger worth with the top of his head blown off, or a deer with a
great hole torn in his side by an explosive bullet?

Three vital principles to be observed in hunting specimens are the
following: See everything ahead, and allow nothing to see you. Shoot to
kill, but shoot so as to get your specimen with the least possible
mutilation. A squirrel shot with a rifle is usually unfit for a specimen,
and a bird with its legs shot to pieces, mandibles shot off, and half its
tail feathers torn to pieces is about the same as no bird at all, unless it
happens to be a rare one. In using a rifle, get as close to your game as
you can (unless it be a tiger or bear!), so as to be sure of getting it.
With the shot-gun, get as far away as you dare, so as to get no more shot
into your bird than is necessary to kill it.

It is a disgrace for a collector to shoot a bird to pieces and be obliged
to throw it away.

I append a showing of what I use in collecting, according to circumstances.
It is hardly likely that any two collectors in the world agree on these
points, therefore I do not expect that these tables will suit the old
hands. I put them forth as mere suggestions to beginners.


 Animals to kill.               |Weapon to use.|Charge of| Weight of| Best
                                |              | powder. | bullet.  |dist.
 Elephant                       |Smooth-bore,  | 6 drs.  |Spherical,|30 yds.
                                |No. 8.        |         |pure zinc.|
 Tiger, bear, elk, deer, sheep, |              |         |          |
 seals, large crocodiles        | Maynard, 45. | 85 grs. | 295 grs. | 75 "
 Apes, monkeys, small ruminants,|              |         |          |
 and small carnivora            | Maynard, 40. |  60 "   | 200 "    | 50 "


 Animals to kill.      |  Weapon to use. | Charge of  | Charge of shot.
                       |                 | powder.    |
 Deer                  |   No. 10.       |    6 drs.  |  20, No. 8 buckshot.
 Fox                   |   "   10.       |    5 "     |  1-1/2 oz., No. 00.
 Woodchuck             |   "   10.       |    3 "     |  1-1/4 "    "    2.
 Squirrel              |   "   12.       |    3 "     |  1-1/2 "    "    6.
 Chipmunk              |   "   16.       |    2 "     |  1     "    "   10.
                       |                 |_Eagle Duck|
                       |                 |Powder._ |
 Eagle, crane, vulture | " 10 or 12.     |   5 drs.   |  1-1/2 " Double 00.
 Turkey buzzard        | " 10 or 12.     |   4 "      |  1-1/4 "     No. 4.
 Crow                  | " 12.           |   3 "      |  1-1/4 "     "   6.
 Quail                 | " 12.           |   3 "      |  1-1/2 "     "   8.
 Robin                 | " 12.           | 2-1/2 drs. |  1     "     "  10.
 Warbler               | " 16.           |   2-1/2 "  |  1     "     "  12.
 Humming-bird          | " 16, or        |   2 "      |  1 oz. dust shot.
                       |Auxiliary, 22.[2]|            |

Of course it would be easy to recommend a large assortment of different
weapons for different purposes, but when it comes to providing an outfit of
firearms, I must say I never cared to take care of more than three or four
weapons, and I doubt if the average amateur will feel disposed to maintain
a small arsenal. In preparing the above tables I have limited the weapons
to those I have actually used. For my use, the following constitutes a
model collector's outfit of firearms for all purposes in all countries. It
is cheap, but first class, not cumbersome, easily cared for in all
climates, and equal to every occasion that can arise:

     1 No. 8 double breech-loading smooth-bore, and

     1 Auxiliary barrel, No. 22, for very small birds (price, $12).

     1 Calibre 45-85 Maynard rifle, 1 calibre 40-60 rifle-barrel,
     and 1 No. 16 shot-barrel, all to fit interchangeably on the
     _same stock_. A smaller rifle-barrel might also be added, but
     it is not really necessary.

     1 Calibre 45-75 7-shot Winchester.

     1 No. 12 breech-loading shot-gun.

The Winchester is useful for rapid firing at short range, but the Maynard
is the weapon to depend upon for perfect accuracy at all ranges.

KNIVES.--For general use the best knife for the collector or taxidermist is
a steel-handled cartilage-knife, as shown in Fig. 1, _B_. It costs
seventy-five cents. There are two kinds of cartilage-knives, but the one
shown has the best-shaped blade.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.--The Best Knives for a Collector or Taxidermist
(about two-thirds actual size). _A_, Russell's "killing-knife;" _B_,

For heavier work the best knife I have ever used or seen is the so-called
"killing-knife," No. 01512, as shown in Fig. 1, _A_, made by John Russell,
Green River Works, Turner's Falls, Mass., the retail price of which is only
seventy-five cents. Had I designed it myself, especially for collectors'
use, I could not have done better. The shape of the blade, the thickness of
it, and the shape of the handle are all perfect. If you cannot procure one
of these knives, then buy a good butcher-knife, and grind the blade down to
this shape. A knife with a straight edge is not fit to use, for many

Always keep a good coarse (water) whetstone for large knives, and a Wichita
oil-stone and oil for your finer knives, and the final touches to your
large ones.

SEASONS FOR COLLECTING.--_Mammals._--In the temperate zone never take
fur-bearing or game animals before September 1st, or later than February
1st, if possible to avoid it. On most of these mammals the pelage is the
finest during November and December. It is then at its maximum length, very
clean and well dressed, and also at its brightest color. The ruminants
begin to shed in May (the American bison as early as March), and by July
the new hair upon them is only about half an inch long, but very fine and
sleek. At that time it does not have its natural color. In our country,
September, October, and November are the months _par excellence_ for the
taking of mammals, especially the large species, for after December 1st the
storms and snows of winter render their haunts untenable for the hunter,
unless he builds a cabin in the woods and makes a winter of it. The haunts
of the mountain sheep and goat must be abandoned by December 1st, at the
latest, on account of the snow. The best time to take families of young
mammals is from May to August. If taken earlier they are too young, and
later they have passed their most interesting age. The smaller the species
are, the quicker the young mature, and in collecting all such, the
naturalist must be on the keen lookout to take them at the precise time
they reach the most interesting size and age.

_Birds._--In the temperate zone the best months for bird collecting are
March, April, May, June, September, October, and November; but since the
study of migration depends upon collections and observations made all the
year round, there is really no time to begin collecting, and no time to
cease. At the same time the amateur will soon discover that, aside from the
birds that are found only in their particular season, the greatest number
of species to be obtained in the Northern United States come in the months
mentioned; and, of course, in the cold half of the year they are most
plentiful in the South, whither they go to escape the cold weather. In the
northern regions bird-collecting naturally begins with the spring migration
from the South, and is most active from that time up to the end of June.
During July and August the old birds are moulting, and the young ones have
immature plumage and stub tails.

A rule which can be safely applied, to all tropical climates is that the
dry season is best for either collecting, sport, or travel. Never collect
in the rainy season if you can help it. Animal life is doubly hard to find,
specimens are desperately difficult to preserve, and field work is very
trying on the patience and the constitution.

In the Arctic regions, hunting and collecting must be done in midsummer, or
not at all. While it is true that in the torrid and temperate zones there
is a certain amount of work to be done all the year round, there is always
a particular season which may be regarded as the harvest-time.

COLLECTING BY AMATEURS.--There is one kind of collecting which should be
discouraged in every possible way, and that is the postage-stamp style of
collecting by boys who have no real love for natural history. Boys in their
teens often make collections of bird-skins, eggs, and nests in precisely
the same spirit that prompts them to gather coins, postage stamps, and
autographs--"to see who can get the most kinds." This vicious propensity is
apt to involve a very good boy in a useless and inexcusable warfare against
the feathered tribes. Many a time I have been saddened by the sight of
drawer upon drawer, full to overflowing, of poorly made skins of our most
beautiful songbirds,--hundreds of them in a single collection, perhaps not
worth ten cents apiece in any market,--each skin merely recording the
important fact that it was shot on a certain day in a certain place. There
is a way to prove whether a juvenile collector has really a love for the
study of birds. Let the one who furnishes the sinews of war--parent,
guardian, or elder brother--demand that he shall _mount every good specimen
he kills_, and be able to tell all about its habits, food, economic value,
etc. This will in any event result in great good. If the collector is not
really absorbed in the study of bird-life, the labor such a course involves
will soon deter him from indiscriminate slaughter; and even if he is
destined to become a distinguished member of the A.O.U., it will be all the
better for him to be taught to place a high value on every bird, living or

SHOOTING BIRDS AS A PASTIME.--I cannot, without being profane, find
language strong enough to adequately express my abhorrence of the damnable
practice some parents have of providing thoughtless boys with shot-guns
and ammunition for the slaughter of birds and small mammals, just for the
fun (!) of the thing, or to become proficient in the use of the gun. For
the killing of birds for food, or to mount for the cabinet, or to study
intelligently, there is some excuse; but for the slaughter of birds as a
boyish pastime there is no excuse whatever, and either boys or parents who
have such a disregard for life as to make it possible should be fined as
heavily as can be done under the law. Firearms and their users are
multiplying at such a frightful rate that it seems highly probable the time
will come when there will be no more wild birds or quadrupeds left upon the
face of the earth.

It is a good thing for a boy to be taught to shoot, and skill in the use of
a rifle may fairly be regarded as an accomplishment; but the taking of life
is not in the least necessary to its acquirement. If a boy wants to shoot
for the sake of becoming an expert with the gun, give him a rifle and a
target, or a shot-gun and clay pigeons, that he may start in the right
direction. Do this, and the chances are ten to one that he gets ten times
the sport and twenty times the benefit out of rivalry at the target that he
would out of roaming over the country and killing every bird he can
discover. Even in the immediate vicinity of Washington a song-bird can
hardly raise a note without attracting a boy with a gun.

POISONING AND TRAPPING MAMMALS.--Inasmuch as there are in print a number of
good books that treat this subject exclusively, I may be spared the labor
of taking it up here. The reader must be assured, however, that traps and
strychnine are very valuable allies in collecting, and he who ignores them
will lose much. Above all things, carry with you plenty of strychnine, use
it industriously, and it will bring you many a fine carnivore you would not
get otherwise. Poison a skinned carcass by cutting gashes an inch deep in
the rump and other fleshy portions, and putting strychnine in them. Also
cut up chunks of meat in little cubes, put poison in the centre of each,
and scatter them around for the benefit of the wily wolf and fox, the fat
and festive badger, the wary golden eagle and raven, and other meat-eaters
in general. On our hunt for buffaloes in Montana, Mr. W. Harvey Brown was
our Borgia, and his industry and strychnine laid low some of the finest
small specimens we obtained, including specimens of all the species
mentioned above. After putting out poison, search the vicinity thoroughly
for two or three days, and the chances are your efforts will not be in

Dr. C. Hart Merriam and his collectors have reduced the trapping of the
very small mammalia to an exact science, the like of which I venture to say
has never been seen before. They use three kinds of traps--the Lamb
steel-trap, No. 0; the Cyclone, and the Climax. These are all small, all
may be used with bait, or quickly modified to serve as runway traps, for
arvicolas and the like. Boiled oatmeal mixed with corn meal is the standard
bait used for small rodents. For shrews, small carnivora, and omnivorous
rodents, meat baits are used, such as birds' heads, intestines, pieces of
skin, and meat--in fact anything fleshy.


[1] For further particulars, see Two Years in the Jungle. New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons.

[2] For No. 22 use wood powder and a gun-cane. It makes no noise, does not
frighten the little birds and mammals, and, if you are wicked enough, you
can use it on Sunday.



SELECTION OF SPECIMENS.--This is the golden rule in collecting: _Preserve
the first specimen you collect of every species you encounter, lest you
never get another._ When you have obtained too many of a kind, it is an
easy matter to throw some away. At all hazards, try to obtain one really
fine adult male and female of each species, to serve as standards of
comparison in your subsequent studies. Remember that immature, undersized
specimens are not typical representatives of a species, nor do they add
glory to a collection. At the same time, quite young specimens, say
one-fifth to one-tenth adult size, are always very interesting, and should
be collected and preserved whenever possible. Collect your mammals and
birds during the season when their pelage and plumage are at their finest.
Especially should every specimen that you propose to mount be strictly
first-class. Life is short and species many, and when you do go through
with the task of mounting a specimen, it should be so fine in every way
that you will never need to replace it for the reason that it is too poor
to keep. Of rare species, the rule is to preserve every specimen taken,
and, I may add, make as many different kinds of preparations of a rare
species as you know how to prepare. For example, of the guacharo bird, or
cave-bird of Trinidad (_Steatornis caripensis_), my friend Jackson and I
prepared skins, skeletons, and alcoholic specimens, and took a full
assortment of nests and eggs.

MEASUREMENTS.--It is of great importance to acquire a fixed habit of
carefully measuring every specimen you prepare, unless you are already in
possession of an abundance of measured specimens of the same kind. After
getting into the habit of measuring, it takes only a very few minutes to do
the work, and the value of the information thus obtained is sure to be
equal to ten times its cost.

Record the measurements on the label bearing the name of the object, and by
all means adopt for each class of objects a certain system of measurements,
which should always be followed. Under their respective headings, in the
following chapters on collecting, I will give directions for measuring
small mammals, large mammals, and birds, according to the system I think
most useful.

CASTS.--The great value of casts as working models and records cannot be
overestimated nor ignored without loss of accuracy. They are especially
valuable in preserving records of the forms of mammals; and the methods of
making them--all very simple and easy--will be found fully described and
illustrated in the chapters devoted to "Making Casts" (Part III.).

PHOTOGRAPHS.--To the taxidermist and collector, photographs of dead animals
are of very little value unless it be a large picture of the head of a
large specimen, such as a moose. Photographs of live animals taken
"broadside on," as the sailors say, are extremely valuable aids in
mounting; but these you get only in the zoological gardens. I never took a
camera into the field with me, and have always been glad of it, for it
would not have repaid the trouble it would have involved. No man who has
his hands full of shooting, preserving, and packing specimens can afford to
waste time on a camera with which to take dead animals, because it is apt
to fail to emphasize the very points you most wish to have recorded. I have
had enough dead animals photographed to feel sure on this point.

On the other hand, the taxidermist who permits himself to be wholly unable
to make simple sketches, with a fair degree of accuracy, from animals in
the flesh, is seriously handicapped. It is only the heaven-born genius--as
yet unborn, I believe--who can study animals and remember everything he
sees. Written descriptions help out a great deal, especially when
particular emphasis is called for, and in the absence of sketches,
photographs are the next best thing. It is an excellent thing to be able to
photograph animals, both living and dead; but the trouble is, one cannot
always get the game and the camera together. A note-book and a pencil one
can always carry, and even when you have the camera, the former often
proves the better ally of the two.

OUTLINES.--For years it has been my constant practice to make outlines of
dead animals, on large sheets of paper, before skinning them. My plan is to
lay the specimen on its side on a sheet of heavy manila paper, place the
legs and feet in an easy walking attitude, pin or nail them fast in place,
then mark entirely around the animal with a long lead pencil. To get an
exact diagram of a rather large mammal, I invented a wooden square,
carrying a pencil point at its outer angle, with which it was easy to get
the exact outline of a large animal, or large skull. In mounting a
specimen, such an outline is of great value as a check on errors in
proportion that might easily be made in putting it together.

FIELD NOTES.--There are hundreds of specimens on which you will not need to
take notes, unless you have the time to study their habits, find out what
they eat, how they live, etc. But of rare and interesting objects you will
want to record all the information you can gather regarding their life
history. To determine what they feed upon, examine the contents of their
stomachs. If there is no time to do that in the field, then preserve the
stomachs in alcohol, carefully labelled, and examine the contents at your
leisure. Learn how to observe, and then put down in black and white,
between substantial leather covers, all that you do observe, and all that
is told to you by the natives about species with which they are familiar.
Do not forget to ascertain and record the native names of your specimens,
for after you get home you will be certain to wish to know them. One thing
is certain; when you come to write about your collection, you will wish you
had taken more notes in the field.

While a specimen is fresh, take careful notes as to the color of all the
soft parts that will lose their color when the skin is dry. Learn to
describe colors accurately, and, if possible (though this seems like
asking a great deal!), try to describe colors so that afterward, when your
notes get cold, you yourself will know what they mean!


[Illustration: PLATE II.]

In describing the colors of soft parts, I would advise you to purchase the
following Windsor & Newton tube colors (oil) and use them as standards for
reference: Ivory black, Vandyke brown, burnt umber, burnt sienna, raw
sienna, Naples yellow, Indian yellow, chrome yellow, Indian red, vermilion,
purple lake, cobalt blue, and indigo.

LABELLING.--For scientific purposes, a specimen without a label is not
quite so good as no specimen. It takes up room, and is useless. The most
important record to make on a label is the name of the locality in which it
was taken. Next in importance is the date of its capture. You may leave off
everything else if you really must, for as to its name the specimen can
speak for itself. But it is by all means desirable that the label should
give the name, locality, date, sex, and some measurements. I need not
mention "name of the collector," for the collector can always be trusted to
look out for that without advice from anybody, even under the most
discouraging circumstances.



Many hundred beautiful and curious quadrupeds are shot every year and
allowed to perish utterly for lack of the little knowledge and skill which
would enable the hunter to remove and preserve their skins. The operation
is simple and easy, the requirement in tools and materials quite
insignificant, and the operator has only to exercise a little patient
industry to achieve good results. There are few circumstances under which a
determined individual finds himself thwarted in his desire to remove and
preserve the skin of a dead animal. In nineteen cases out of twenty the
result hinges on his own disposition. If he is lazy, a thousand things can
hinder his purpose; if he is determined, nothing can. A sharp pocket-knife,
a little powdered alum and arsenic in equal parts, or failing that, common
salt alone, will do the business in lieu of a better outfit, for any small
mammal that ever lived.

I begin with small mammals, because it is squirrels, rabbits, cats,
woodchucks, weasels, opossums, raccoons, and foxes that the beginner will
fall in with long before he is called upon to wrestle with such subjects as
deer, bear, elk, or buffalo. These general directions apply to the skinning
of all terrestrial quadrupeds up to the size of a setter dog, and the
preservation of their skins in a mountable condition.

MEASUREMENTS.--The following are the most valuable measurements to take of
a small mammal.

1. _Length, from end of nose to root of tail._ This is to be taken with the
head stretched out straight as far as it will go. Measure from the tip end
of the nose to the point where the tail joins the body. In my judgment it
is always best in determining this latter point to take the angle made by
the tail (underneath) and the rump when the tail hangs or is bent down at
an angle of forty-five degrees to the spinal column. This point is always
fixed and constant, and can be quickly and accurately determined by bending
the tail down and sticking a pin or awl at the angle. To measure an animal
like a monkey on the top of the tail is to attempt the location of a point
which can rarely be determined twice alike. For this reason I have always
taken this measurement in both large and small mammals underneath the tail.

2. _Length of tail, from root to end of vertebræ._

3. _Length of hind foot._ Bend the heel at a right angle, and measure from
the outer extremity of the angle to the tip end of the longest toe,
including the nail.

4. _Height at shoulders_, if the animal be not too small. To take this, lay
the animal on its right side, then, as nearly as you can, place the right
leg and foot in the position they would assume if the animal were standing
erect (the sole of the foot must be parallel to the axis of the body), and
measure in a straight line from the bottom of the heel to the top of the
shoulders. Record, also,

5. _The color of the eyes, and the other soft parts._

6. _Weight, in certain cases._

Do not forget what has been said in Chapter III. about outlines and
sketches. On one corner of the outline-sheet we record the name of the
specimen, locality, date, sex, measurements, color of eyes, lips, feet,
etc. It takes but a few moments' time, and the result is a complete and
accurate record of what the animal was in the flesh. These sheets are
numbered and filed away, the skin is numbered and put in the bath, and even
though it be not until five years later that we are ready to mount it, we
can tell as accurately what the animal was like as if it had been received
only the previous day. If the specimen is a baboon, for example, with
several colors on its face, it was for years my practice to make a rough
sketch of the face and put upon it the various colors that belong there, in
oil-colors, usually, though sometimes with water-colors. It was also my
custom to spend half an hour or so in taking a mould, and making a quick
cast in plaster Paris of the face of every monkey or baboon which came to
me, unless I already had one which would answer as a model to copy in
finishing the face.

SKINNING SMALL QUADRUPEDS.--Lay the animal flat upon its back, head to your
right. Hold your knife with the edge up, and push the point through the
skin of the throat, precisely in the middle of the neck. Now push the point
of the knife forward under the skin, between it and the flesh, and divide
the skin in a straight, clean cut along the middle of the neck, breast, and
body, quite to the base of the tail. If the animal has a large, fleshy
tail, like a dog or raccoon, it must be slit open along the under side
(without cutting the hair) for its entire length, except an inch or two at
the base. If the tail is small, slender, or bony, like that of a squirrel
or a rat, it can usually be slipped out of the skin by pulling the bony
part between two sticks held close together against the skin of the tail.

The sole of each foot must be slit open, lengthwise, from the base of the
middle toe straight back to the heel, and in case the foot is large and
fleshy, like that of a dog, the cut must be continued on up the leg,
perhaps one-third of the way to the knee, to enable the skin of the leg to
be turned wrong side out over the foot.

Having made all the opening cuts, begin at the abdomen, catch one edge of
the skin between thumb and finger, and with the knife cut it neatly and
cleanly from the body, leaving as little flesh as possible adhering to the
skin. In using the knife do not go at it in a daintily finical way, as if
you were picking birdshot out of the leg of a dear friend; for, if you do,
it will take you forever to skin your first specimen, and there will be no
time left for another. Learn to work briskly but carefully, and by and by
you will be able to take off a skin with a degree of neatness and rapidity
that will astonish the natives. It is not a dissecting touch that is called
for in taking off a skin, but a firm, sweeping, _shaving_ stroke instead,
applied to the inside of the skin, and not to the carcass. This applies to
all skinning operations on all vertebrates except birds.

After starting at the abdomen, we come very soon to where the foreleg joins
the body at the shoulder, and the hind leg at the hip. Disjoint each
there, and cut through the muscles until each leg is severed from the body.
Skin each leg by turning the skin wrong side out over the foot quite down
to the toes. That done, cut the flesh away from the bones of the leg and
foot, neatly and thoroughly.

_Never leave the foot of an animal unskinned_, unless it happens to be a
very small one, like a chipmunk, or smaller, and the proper way is to skin
the flesh out, even then.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--A Squirrel partly Skinned, showing Process.]

Be careful to leave all the bones of each leg attached to each other by
their ligaments at the joints (see left hind leg in Fig. 2), and to the
skin itself at the toes. _Never throw away the leg bones_, unless the skin
you are preserving is to be kept as a pelt or a rug.

Detach the skin from the back, shoulders, and neck, and when you come to
the ears, cut them off close down to the head. Turn the skin wrong side out
over the head, until you come to the eyes. Now be careful or you will do
mischief. Work slowly with the knife, keeping close to the edge of the bony
orbit, until you see, through a thin membrane under your knife edge, the
dark portion of the eyeball--iris and pupil. You may now cut fearlessly
through this membrane and expose the eye. If your work has been properly
done, you have not cut the eyelids anywhere. If you are ever in doubt when
operating on the eye, thrust the tip of one finger fairly into the eye and
against the ball, from without, and cut against it. This is always an
excellent plan in skinning large mammals.

Skin down to the end of the nose, cut through the cartilage close to the
bone, and cut on down to where the upper lip joins the gum. Cut both lips
away from the skull, close to the bone, all the way around the mouth. The
lips are thick and fleshy, and must be split open from the inside and
flattened out so that the flesh in them can be pared off. Do not mutilate
the lips by cutting them away at the edge of the hair, but leave the inside
skin, so that in mounting you can fold it in (with a little clay replacing
the flesh) and thus make a mouth anatomically correct. Do not shave off the
roots of the whiskers, or they will fall out. Gash the flesh between them
(they are set in rows), but leave the follicles themselves untouched. Pare
away the membrane which adheres to the inside of the eyelids, and turn the
ear wrong side out at the base, in order to cut away the flesh around it.
If the ears have hair upon them, they must be skinned up from the inside
and turned wrong side out quite to the tip, in order to separate the
outside skin, which holds the hair, from the cartilage which supports the

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--Skinning a squirrel's head.]

For a full description of ear skinning, see another chapter.

The great principle which is the foundation of all valuable field work on
mammal skins is this: _A skin must be so taken off, cleaned of flesh, and
preserved that the preservative powder or fluid can act directly upon the
roots of the hair from the inner side of the skin, and over every portion
of its surface._ Neither alum, nor salt, nor alcohol (unless it be of great
strength) can strike through a thick layer of flesh and penetrate through
the skin to the epidermis quickly enough to save it from decomposition. The
epidermis of most animals is of such a close and oily nature that
preservatives cannot strike through it from without, and therefore when a
skin is removed it must be cleaned of flesh and fat, so that the
preservative liquid or dry powder can come immediately in contact with the

The skin is now off. If the lips have been opened out, the ears skinned to
the tip (if they be haired), and the feet well skinned down, we are ready
to go on. But first we must clean the skull. Cut the flesh all off, or the
most of it at least, for it is not possible to get it all away at the base;
cut out the eyes and tongue, and with your brain-hook, or a piece of wire
hammered flat at the end and bent up at a right angle, patiently draw out
the brain through the occipital opening at the base of the skull. By this
time, perhaps, the skin will be bloody in places, or possibly it was dirty
to start with. Now is the time to wash it thoroughly in clear water.
Remember that a skin which has been dried with blood upon it is damaged
forever. It stains the hair, and very often forms a hard, gummy mass which
nothing will dissolve.

PRESERVATION OF THE SKIN.--The next step depends upon what you propose to
do with the skin, or it may depend upon the conditions under which you are
collecting. 1. If you are in your laboratory preparing skins to mount,
preserve them all (except quite young specimens and certain others) in a
soft, or wet state, in a salt-and-alum bath. 2. If you are in the field
(especially the tropics), making a large collection of mammal skins for
mounting, by all means do the same if possible. 3. If the skins are for
purposes of study _as skins_, during which frequent handling and
examination is absolutely necessary, make them up as dry skins. 4. If you
lack facilities for preserving them wet, then make dry skins of them. 5. If
the necessities of travel and transportation make it necessary to reduce
the weight to the lowest possible limit, and to divide it up for carriage
overland, make up all skins dry, both little and big. 6. If you have only
one or two skins to preserve, it will be less trouble to you to make them
up dry at once.

Here are the two methods:

_A._ THE SALT-AND-ALUM BATH.--This is the finest solution ever discovered
for the preservation of the skins of quadrupeds that are destined to be
mounted. It is inexpensive, simple, and easy to make; its action is
perfect; its strength can be regulated to suit any kind of a skin; it never
gets stale; and if properly handled will preserve a skin for a hundred
years in the same pliable and elastic condition as when it leaves the
animal's back. In only two or three instances have I ever known it to
change the color of the hair in the least. Every taxidermist knows that it
is far easier to mount a fresh specimen in fine style than an old, dry skin
which has lost all its elasticity. The work on a soft skin (_i.e._, one
which has never been dried) can be done more easily, more quickly, and
vastly better. With a dry skin you can make only what it will let you; but
with a wet skin you can make just as fine a mount as your skill is capable
of producing. And with the latter it makes no difference whether the skin
came off the animal last week or ten years ago, except in the case of very
young animals. Of these the bath softens the leg bones. For years it has
been my custom to preserve all skins that I expect to mount (except the
young of the smaller species) in this salt-and-alum bath, and it is almost
superfluous to add that I strongly advise all others to do the same. In
many ways it is a _great economy_ to do so.

_Directions for Making It._--For every gallon of water put in
three-quarters of a pound of alum (one pint) and a pound and three-quarters
of salt (about one quart), and heat the liquid to the boiling-point,
stirring occasionally, so that the salt and alum will dissolve. Then pour
it into a wooden, earthen, or glass vessel, or a tank lined with _lead_
(for zinc or galvanized iron will not answer), and when it is cool, or even
milk warm, it is ready for use. Test it with your salometer (which you can
procure for fifty cents of Bahmann & Hoehn, 21 Park Place, New York), and
see that it stands at 15°. This is the normal strength. If stronger than
that, _e.g._, 16° or 17°, the skin will be hardened too much. It can go as
low as 13° with safety, but that is the limit. At 12° skins are liable to
lose their hair.

_Directions for Use._--If the hair is tight on the skin everywhere, simply
immerse it in the bath, leg bones and all, giving it plenty of room at
first. Move it up and down, and leave it as much spread out and free from
folds as possible. Remember that the fluid must act upon _the inside_ of
the skin, for the epidermis is often almost impervious to it. If you allow
the skin to lie upon itself in thick folds, stuck together on the inside,
those spots are liable to lose their hair in a most unaccountable and
aggravating way. If the skin is small and thin, the bath soon does its
work; but if it is a large skin, move it up and down, and all about, every
day for the first two or three days. By the end of that time its
preservation will be complete.

_Half-spoiled Specimens._--Very often a subject will be brought to you in
the flesh, several days old, green on the abdomen, and the hair starting to
slip off between the hind legs. If the hair pulls out readily on various
parts of the body and limbs, it is a gone case; but if it starts only a
little on the lower part of the abdomen, and is firm everywhere else, put
some bath, with a little extra alum in it, on the fire to get warm, snatch
that skin off in a hurry, and without stopping for any fancy touches whisk
it into the warm bath. The bath should not be so hot that you cannot bear
your hand in it. It will act like magic. Then you can gradually finish your
work on the skin, so as to keep it safe from harm. Very often quick work,
and a warm bath with plenty of alum in it, will save a skin in fine,
mountable shape, when nothing else will. The alum acts as a powerful
astringent, drawing together the fibres of the epidermis around the root of
each individual hair, and likewise binding together the cutis and

_Cleanliness._--You will observe that as fresh skins are put into a bath it
gradually loses its strength, and it is also liable to become, in time, so
dirty with blood and grease that it must be thrown away. Keep skins that
are greasy (bear, seal, etc.) carefully by themselves, and never put the
skin of a deer, cat, or any animal with a fine coat in a greasy or dirty
bath. If a bath is clean, but of too low strength, make some extra strong
bath, say 20°, and add to it and bring it up to 15°. Keep all your bath
receptacles tightly closed, or the liquid will evaporate very rapidly.

_Testing the Bath._--If you have no salometer, and are not overparticular,
you can test your bath by tasting it; but unless the bath is new and
untouched, I prefer the little salometer. By tasting the bath when first
made in the proportions given above, and remembering the degree of its
astringency upon the tongue, you can make that a standard for
comparison--if it suits your taste!

_Skulls and Leg Bones._--The leg bones of all small and medium sized
mammals, even up to the deer, can just as well go into the bath, after they
have been _thoroughly cleaned of all flesh and tendons_. The skulls,
however, had better not go into the solution. Clean them carefully, anoint
them all over with thin arsenical soap, put a tag on each to show to what
skin it belongs, and let it dry. Don't lay it aside without poisoning, or
it will be swarming with dermestes before you know it.

As before stated, a skin must have room while it is curing, but when that
has been thoroughly accomplished, which with the largest skins never takes
more than four or five days, they can be packed together like sardines so
long as the bath is strong enough.

_B._ MAKING DRY SKINS.--_Poisoning and Preserving._--When the skin has been
removed and cleaned, the next step is to sew up from the inside any holes
that may have been made in the skin by bullets or knives. Then make up a
mixture of two-thirds powdered alum and one-third arsenic, and rub as much
of it upon the inside of the skin as will stick there. The alum is to
preserve the skin, the arsenic to poison it against the attacks of insects.
Apply this mixture thoroughly, especially in the feet, ears, head, and
tail, for these are the points the dermestes attack first.

_Another Method_, and one which I almost invariably follow when I am
compelled to make dry skins, is to anoint the skin with strong arsenical
soap,[3]--the finest poison for skins yet discovered,--then rub on the
skin, as soon as the soap has been fully absorbed, a mixture of fine salt
and powdered alum, in equal proportions. Though the arsenical soap may be
thought "mussy" at first, it should not be used thin and watery, but as a
thin paste, like thick cream. The advantages of this method are--(1), that
the skin is more thoroughly poisoned, especially externally, on the
hairless portions; (2), the skin dries without becoming so hard and brittle
and inelastic; and (3), it can be softened and mounted much more easily and
successfully than skins prepared by the first method. For skins which are
to be mounted, the advantages of this method are very obvious.

_The Simplest Method_.--If you have neither arsenic nor arsenical soap, and
yet wish to save a skin so it can be sent to a taxidermist in good
condition, prepare it with fine salt alone. Use the salt liberally, and if
the weather is warm, leave the skin turned wrong side out and roll it up in
a quantity of it. If you use it sparingly, the skin will absorb it all in a
day or two, literally "cry for more," and failing to get it will sweat and
spoil. It is simply a question of enough salt.

Even when collecting in the field, I nearly always cure small skins with
salt only, so that they will stay quite soft and fresh until they get to
the laboratory, and then go into the bath without ever having been dried.

_Rats._--Skins preserved with salt only must be carefully guarded from the
attacks of mice, rats, cats, dogs, and other vermin that go about seeking
what they may devour.

MAKING UP A DRY SKIN.--_The Legs._--Having applied the preservatives, if
you propose to make up your specimen as a dry skin, wrap a little tow,
oakum, cotton, or cotton cloth around the bones of each leg, to partly
replace the flesh, and keep the skin away from the bone, so that both can
dry quickly. If you have no other material, paper will do. In the East
Indies, where transportation was difficult, I used to carry with me bundles
of coarse brown paper such as the grocers use, and used it for wrapping the
leg bones of monkeys, foxes, and the like. But for the small rodents, one
must have either tow, oakum, cotton, or cloth, the preference being in the
order named. On no account should the skin be left to dry down upon the
bone. The proper filling out of the legs is desirable in order that they
may have a neat, shapely, and natural appearance, so that the hair will lie
naturally, and can be studied to advantage. If this part of the process is
neglected, the skin of the leg shrivels up, dries down upon the bone, and
looks like a mummy. In the tropics the moisture in a leg bone is sufficient
to cause the decay of the skin which surrounds it unless they are separated
by some kind of wrapping. To avoid this, some tropical, collectors allow
their skins to dry _wrong side out_, a most lazy and vicious habit, the
results of which are in most cases totally worthless.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--A Model Mammal Skin.]

Having wrapped the leg bones enough fairly to replace the flesh, turn back
the skin of the leg until it comes right side out again, adjust the skin
neatly, and make the member as shapely and natural as you please.

_The Skull._--There are two ways of disposing of the skull. The universal
custom has been to replace it in the head, with a little filling in the
cheeks and orbits, the lips neatly adjusted on the teeth, and the eyelids
also in their place, half open. This makes the best looking skin, and
unless you wish to study the skull, is the best method to follow. For skins
that are specially designed for study, the plan lately adopted by the
curator of mammals of the National Museum is an excellent one. It is to
remove the skull entirely from the head, and in case of all mammals smaller
than a coyote, put it in the centre of the body, with the filling, in the
line of the seam along the belly, so that by cutting a few stitches in the
dry specimen it may be readily taken out at any time. The advantages of
this arrangement are obvious.

_The Tail._--The tail must be disposed of according to its character. If it
is long and slender, take a small wire, wrap it with tow or cotton cloth,
so that the skin cannot touch the iron at any point, insert it in the tail
and sew it up with a few long stitches. If you have not the means wherewith
to do this, whittle a slender stick to a point, and insert it in the tail
from within two inches of the body out to the tip. If the tail is large,
and has been split open for its entire length, it can be left flat.

_Filling._--Begin at the head and fill out the head, neck, and body to
about the natural size of the animal when alive, _but no larger. Better
leave it too small than fill it too full_, and stretch the skin out of
proportion. With needle and thread sew up the skin to give it a neat
appearance, beginning at the throat. Comb and brush the hair so that it
will lie naturally, and show its texture and colors to the best advantage.
Take a stitch also in the centre of the lips to hold them together.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--Another Form of Mammal Skin.]

_Shaping._--The ends to be sought in laying out a skin to dry are, to have
it take up a limited amount of space in a drawer, to have all breakable
points protected, and at the same time to have all parts of the specimen
accessible for examination. The shape of a dry skin, therefore, must depend
upon its character. The handsomest collection of small mammal skins that I
have ever seen is that of Dr. C. Hart Merriam, Chief of the Bureau of
Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy, Department of Agriculture. Although it
is purely a private collection, it contains at this date 5,750 skins. Dr.
Merriam's method of shaping a skin is certainly, so far as looks are
concerned, the best yet devised. Fig. 4, on the opposite page, shows it
perfectly. The tail is wired, and extends straight out behind, lying
between the hind legs, which also extend directly backward. The forelegs
are drawn forward just far enough apart to allow the head to lie between
them. The skin is well shaped, and lies flat upon the belly, with all the
members resting down upon the bottom of the drawer.

With specimens having long tails this arrangement is open to one objection.
In the rough-and-tumble experiences that collections made in the field
almost inevitably go through before they reach safe anchorage in the
museum, a long tail sticking straight out for its full length is very
liable to suffer damage in various ways, especially at the tip. For this
reason I always bend the tail down and lay it along on the belly, with a
stitch or two to hold it there, safe from harm (Fig. 5). And with such
animals as monkeys, sloths, cats, etc., having long and slender forelegs, I
always place those members close alongside the body, instead of extending
them their full length toward the front.

STEEL COMBS.--For dressing the hair of an animal it pays to have a
furrier's fine steel comb, and a coarser comb of German silver, such as can
be obtained at seventy-five and fifty cents each, respectively, of J.
Ruszits, No. 73 Mercer Street, New York. The same furrier also furnishes a
very large steel robe-comb (like an infant garden rake), which is very
useful on large mammals having long, matted hair, such as buffaloes,
camels, llamas, and the like.


[3] See recipe in Chapter XLV.



The fundamental principles to be observed in skinning a large mammal are,
in general, precisely the same as those which govern the same process in
small mammals, and which have been recorded in detail in the preceding
chapter. Having done my best to afford the student a clear and full
understanding of those principles, it is almost unnecessary to say anything
about large mammals. A keen-witted worker could skin any mammal and
preserve the skin by the light of the directions already given, with such
variations as common-sense would dictate.

But, in order to aid the student to the fullest extent, we will endeavor to
state the exceptions and variations of method which are necessary in
disposing of large subjects.

MEASUREMENTS.--Up to this hour there has been a total lack of system and
uniformity among naturalists and hunters in taking measurements of large
quadrupeds. I have in several important cases found it utterly impossible
to interpret the meaning of measurements taken by other collectors--and it
is very likely they have experienced the same difficulty in understanding
mine. In the hope of securing uniformity hereafter in observations of this
kind, I venture to propose the following system, which will apply to all
terrestrial mammals larger than the fox, except the large quadrumana. If
the method here proposed is rigidly adhered to, it will produce a
uniformity in results that will certainly increase the value of specimens
collected hereafter. The measurements are listed in the order of their
importance, and are fully indicated in the accompanying illustration (Plate
III.). Straight lines indicate straight measurements between two points,
not following curves; and curved lines indicate circumference measurements.

Record all measurements _in feet and inches, and fractions of an inch_. If
you would have your records understood by the few rather than by the many,
then bow to the dictates of the French and German naturalists, who, as a
rule, care not a brass farthing for American science or zoological
nomenclature, and employ the metric system. The chances are as twenty to
one that no one outside of the English language will ever care a
continental about your measurements, and for this reason United States
measurements ought to be good enough for us. There is no more reason why
120,000,000 English-speaking people should adopt the metric system for a
few Europeans who might care for their measurements, than that we should
write all our zoological books and papers in French or German. If you wish
to make your records available _to the people who will care for them_, make
them in the United States language.

1. _Length of head and body to root of tail_ (Plate III., A-A).--In taking
this measurement, lay the animal upon its side, stretch the head straight
forward as far as it will go, and hold a stick perpendicular against the
tip of the nose. Erect another perpendicular rod under the tail, close to
where it joins the body, at the angle formed by the lines _A_ and _H_, then
measure between these two perpendiculars.

2. _Height at the shoulders_ (B-B).--This is a difficult measurement to
take, because it is subject to the management of the operator. Plant a
perpendicular rod close against the shoulders at the highest point. Then
hold the foreleg perfectly straight, at a right angle to the axis of the
body, and bend up the foot into the position it would assume if the animal
were standing upon it. In short, place the foreleg and foot exactly as they
would be were the animal alive and standing, _with its weight resting upon
it_, and measure from the bottom of the heel in a straight line to the
perpendicular at the shoulders.

3. _Girth behind foreleg._--In taking this, always measure at the point
where the girth of a saddle touches the horse, and draw the tape-line taut
upon the skin. If the hair is thick and long, part it.

4. _Circumference of the neck._


5. _Depth of flank_ (E-E).--To a taxidermist, this is often a very
important guide in the construction of a manikin. There is always a thin
fold of skin at the point where the skin of the hind leg passes to the side
of a large animal, as indicated by the dotted line in the figure, at the
lower end of the line _E-E_. Erect a perpendicular at the upper end of the
line _E_, and measure between the two points.

6. _Circumference of forearm_ (F-F).--To be taken at the point where the
forearm has the greatest circumference.

7. _From head of humerus to head of femur._--This is always of extreme
value in building a manikin. As the animal lies upon its side, hold the
foreleg the same as when you measured the height at the shoulders. Then
feel for the two high points _G-G_, where the skin rests on the outer
extremity of the arm and thigh bones (_not_ the pelvis), at shoulder and
hip, and measure between the two points.

8. _Length of tail_ (H-H).--Hold the tail down at an angle of forty-five
degrees with the axis of the body, or the line _A-A_, and measure from the
angle A-H _to the end of the vertebræ of the tail_. If you measure to the
end of the hair, let this be a supplementary measurement.

These are the measurements which should always be taken on a large animal.
Of course, of certain subjects, there are many other measurements that you
will want, but your own needs will tell you what they are.

WEIGHT.--It is very desirable to ascertain the weight of an animal whenever
possible. A thousand times, at least, have I been asked the weight of my
big tiger (495 pounds), and that number of times have I been glad that in
spite of jungle fever, I persevered with my 50-pound scales, and weighed
the animal piecemeal, after he had been skinned and cut up. With a
particularly fine animal it is well worth the trouble it costs.

SKINNING A LARGE MAMMAL.--Rip the skin open by a clean, straight cut from
the throat along the neck, breast, middle of the belly, and on to the root
of the tail. We are now obliged to slit the legs open along their entire
length, so that the cuts will be as much out of sight as possible when the
animal is mounted. In making these opening cuts, always insert the point of
the knife under the skin, _edge uppermost_, to avoid cutting the hair. To
rip open a leg, seize the foot in your left hand, bring the leg against
your own knee to hold it tense and firm, then insert the point of your
knife into the middle of the foot at the back, and cut straight up the back
of the leg until you come to the "knee" on the foreleg, and hock-joint on
the other. At these points gradually change the direction of the cut and
run it on up the inside so that it will finally come to the body-cut at a
point exactly between the legs, and as much as possible out of sight. The
lines in the accompanying figure (6) show how the cuts in the legs should
be made. In skinning the head of an animal having antlers or horns, it is
necessary to make an opening at the back of the neck shaped like a Y. Make
the cuts as shown in Fig. 7, on opposite page; cut completely around each
horn at its base, and skin the head by working downward over the forehead
and cheeks. The skull is then taken out through this Y.[4]

[Illustration: FIG. 6.--Opening Cuts on a Large Mammal.]

_Thoroughness._--The principles to be observed in skinning the body are
precisely the same as those given for small mammals. Remember that it is
easier to take the skin off clean and free from flesh as you cut it from
the animal, and can stretch it tight with your left hand in order to shave
the flesh off clean, than it will be to clean the skin after it is off. An
excess of flesh left on the skin means unnecessary weight, a waste of
preservatives, and longer time in curing the skin. A clean, thin skin is
more easily and quickly cured and carried than one badly taken off. My
habit is to clean a skin so thoroughly in taking it off that no paring down
is necessary before curing it--unless, indeed, it be the skin of an
elephant or other pachyderm. When I once preserved the skin of a large, old
elephant in an Indian jungle, I kept ten native chucklers at work upon it
for three days, thinning it down to a portable degree.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--Opening Cuts at Back of Prong-horn Antelope's

_The Legs._--If the specimen is of medium size, _e.g._, not larger than a
deer, disjoint the legs at shoulder and hip, and leave all the leg bones
attached to the skin, just as with small mammals; but, of course, cutting
off the flesh and tendons carefully. If the animal is larger than a deer,
the skin would be too heavy and cumbersome to handle if all the leg bones
were left attached to it. Therefore, with your elk, moose, buffalo, etc.,
cut off the foreleg at the "knee" (so called), and the hind leg at the
hock-joint, leaving the calcaneum, or heel-bone, attached to the canon
bone, and thus remaining with the skin. The bones from the two upper joints
of the legs are to be cleaned of flesh, tied in a bundle, and sent with the
skin--unless the collector happens to be travelling by pack train in
mountainous country, far afield. In such a case we can forgive him for
throwing away the large bones of the legs if he will only bring in the
skin, skull, and lower leg bones all right. The point is, in mounting a
skin we _must_ have leg bones--if not the real ones, then they must be
counterfeits carved out of wood, to give shape to the legs, particularly at
the joints. And he who tries it once will find it is a two or three days'
job to carve a large set of leg bones, even with patterns by which to work,
to say nothing of having to evolve models from one's inner consciousness.
Therefore, I say, _save the leg bones_.

_Beware of Blood._--By all means keep the hair from getting bloody, but if
you cannot possibly keep it clean, keep it as clean as you can. Remember
that blood must be washed out on the spot, no matter how scarce water is,
nor whether the mercury stand at 110° above zero, or 10° below. If a wound
bleeds profusely, throw plenty of dry dirt or sand on the hair that has
become bloody, to absorb the blood. The dirt can be knocked out with a
stick, and it will take the blood with it. If the white hair of the
prong-horn antelope once gets soaked with blood, it is impossible to remove
all traces of it. The soft, tubular hairs get filled with blood wherever
there is a break, and enough of it will always remain to mark the
catastrophe. In the Bad Lands of Montana I once washed three long and
bitterly cold hours on a fine antelope skin that had lain twenty-four hours
with blood upon it, but had to give up beaten, at last, and throw the skin

_Shaping._--Since these directions will be used chiefly in preparing the
skins of deer, antelope, and kindred ruminants, the accompanying
illustration (Fig. 8) is given to show how such skins should be made up
when they are to be preserved dry, either for study or for mounting. It is
best to defer folding up a skin until it is partially dry and has begun to
stiffen a little.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--A Well-made Dry Deer Skin.]

SPECIAL AND EXCEPTIONAL DIRECTIONS.--_Apes and Monkeys._--If you are in the
jungle, the chances are that you will have no plaster Paris with which to
make casts, in which case you must make the sketching-pencil and
tape-measure do double duty. With such a wonderful and characteristic form
as a gorilla, chimpanzee, or orang-utan, you cannot study it too much,
unless you study it until the skin spoils. Above all things, study every
feature of the face, and also its expression, so that you can make a copy
of it two years afterward which shall be both mathematically and
artistically correct. If you have plaster Paris, fail not to take a mould
of the face, and also of one hand and foot, so that later you can make
casts. The same advice applies to the great baboons with their fearful and
wonderful faces and ischial callosities, some of them gotten up with all
the colors of the rainbow, and far more brilliancy. Remember that when the
skin dries all those colors _totally disappear_, and the skin turns to the
color of parchment. Therefore, out with your box of colors at once, and
make a color-sketch of the face. If you have skill but no colors, or colors
with no skill, then out with your "Ridgway's Nomenclature of Colors," make
a large diagram or sketch of the head, and mark the names of the respective
colors upon it. Whenever the skin of any animal has any noticeable color,
record the fact in as definite terms as possible.

All the great anthropoid apes should have the opening-cut for the body made
along the middle of the back, up to the back of the head, instead of along
the abdomen and breast, which are generally but thinly haired, and on the
throat are quite naked. By doing this, the sewed-up seam comes at the back
of the mounted specimen, in the hair, and out of sight. With adult
specimens of the gorilla, chimpanzee, and orang the skeleton is quite as
valuable as the skin, therefore every bone must come forth and be carefully
preserved. Skinning the fingers is a tedious task, and one which requires
some skill, especially when it comes to working the end off so that the
nail is left in its place in the skin, and without mutilation. But when the
value of a skin and skeleton runs up into hundreds of dollars, you can well
afford to spend a whole hour in skinning a hand, if you cannot do it in
less time. The opening cuts for the hand and foot of any ape or monkey are
to be made as shown by the dotted lines in the accompanying sketch of the
foot of an orang-utan (Fig. 9). This is necessary even in skinning small
quadrumanes which are to retain their leg bones, because the skin of each
finger must be separated from the bone so that the preservative powder or
liquid can get at the inside of it.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--Foot of Orang-Utan, showing Opening Cuts.]

_The Eyes and Nose._--Be exceedingly careful in skinning the face. The eyes
are deeply sunken in their sockets, and if you are not very careful your
knife will make an ugly gash at the corner of the eye before you know it. A
finger held in between the lids against the eyeball will be a safe guide.
Of course, you will cut the lips away at the gum, and split them open
afterward from the inside to remove the flesh. And, of course, the
proboscis of the baboon and the long-nosed monkey of Borneo must be skinned
out quite to the tip while the specimen is fresh, or it will dry up

_The Ear._--The ear of a quadrumane, especially that of a chimpanzee,
because of its great size, is a very miserable part to preserve, unless you
have a salt-and-alum bath at hand. If the cartilage is entirely skinned
out--itself a difficult thing to do--it will afterward be almost a
practical impossibility to give the ear its proper shape. Therefore the
cartilage must remain. The skin can be loosened from the cartilage at the
back of the ear, however, which is a great gain. Do this, and insert a good
quantity of powdered alum. Then paint the whole ear over on both sides
with arsenical soap, and put on all the powdered alum that will
stick--unless the skin is to go in the bath. In that case treat each ear to
a little strong alum water for an hour or so.


[4] For detailed instructions in skinning large heads, see Chapter XIX.



The lives of hundreds of thousands of wild birds have been sacrificed to no
purpose by persons claiming to be ornithological collectors, and yet who
had not the knowledge, skill, or industry to make up good bird skins. There
are now in this country numerous large collections of bird skins that are a
sight to behold. The ability to make up fine, clean, shapely,
well-preserved skins, and make them rapidly also, is a prime requisite in
anyone who aspires to be sent off to interesting "foreign parts" to shoot,
collect, and see the world--at the expense of someone else. An aspiring
young friend of the writer, whose soul yearned to travel and "collect,"
missed a fine opportunity to make a very interesting voyage on the
_Albatross_, for the sole reason that with all his yearning he could not
make good bird skins,--and it served him right for his lack of enterprise.

Let me tell you that, while twenty years ago any sort of a bird skin was
acceptable to a museum, now such specimens must be first class in order to
be well received. Fine skins are _the rule_ now with curators and
professional ornithologists, and poor ones the exception. Although the work
itself is simple enough, it is no child's play to perform it successfully.

It is best for the beginner to learn first how to skin small birds, and
make up their skins, and when he has mastered these details he is prepared
to undertake the preparation of large specimens, and learn how to overcome
the exceptional difficulties they present. To this end the present chapter
will be devoted to setting forth the leading principles involved, which are
most easily learned from small specimens.

We will first undertake the work of skinning a small bird--a robin, thrush,
or blackbird, whichever you happen to have. If in skinning, skin-making,
and mounting you master the robin, for example, which is the highest type
of a bird, you will be well prepared for the great majority of the other
members of the feathered tribe.

Shoot your specimen with as fine shot as possible, and not too much even of
that, in order to avoid shooting its mandibles, feet, legs, and feathers to
pieces. As soon as it is dead, plug the throat, nostrils, and _all wounds
that bleed_, with bits of cotton, to keep the blood and other liquids from
oozing out upon the feathers, and putting you to more serious trouble.
Carry the specimen home in any careful way you choose, so as to avoid
rumpling or soiling the plumage. By all means let your first practice be
upon clean birds.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--Names of the External Parts of a Bird.[5] 1,
Crown; 2, forehead; 3, nostrils (or cere); 4, upper mandible; 5, lower
mandible; 6, throat; 7, neck; 8, spurious quills; 9, occiput; 10, ear; 11,
nape; 12, breast; 13, middle coverts; 14, large coverts; 15, belly; 16,
tibia; 17, tarsus; 18, inner toe; 19, middle toe; 20, outer toe; 21, thumb;
22, under-tail coverts; 23, tail; 24, primaries; 25, secondaries; 26,

A bird should lie an hour or two after being shot, in order that the blood
may coagulate. Warm specimens bleed very badly in skinning.

We are now in our workroom, with the gun standing quietly in its corner,
and a robin lying on the table before us. Look at it. Study its form and
structure, and remember what you see. Notice how smoothly the feathers
lie--how nicely they fall over the angle of the wing at the shoulder--how
completely the thigh is buried in the feathers of the breast and side, and
also where the legs emerge from the body feathers. Notice how
short the neck is, how the eye does _not_ bulge out of the head, and note
the fact that the breast and belly look full, round, and comfortable,
instead of presenting that ghastly, drawn-up, eviscerated appearance so
often seen in the amateur's mounted specimens. Note the color of the eye,
the bill, the cere, tarsi, claws, and all other parts that will require
painting when the specimen is mounted, if it ever should be. Now take the

MEASUREMENTS.--It would be high treason for me to recommend any
other system of bird measurement than that directed by Dr. Coues in his
incomparable "Key to North American Birds," and it is hereby set forth:

1. _Length._--Distance between the tip of the bill and the end of the
longest feather of the tail.

2. _Extent of wings._--This means the distance between the tips of the
outstretched wings as the bird lies flat upon its back.

3. _Length of wing._--Distance from the angle formed at the (carpus) bend
of the wing to the end of the largest primary. In birds with a convex wing,
do not lay the tape-line over the curve, but under the wing, in a straight

4. _Length of the tail._--Distance from the roots of the tail feathers to
the end of the longest one. Feel for the "pope's nose;" in either a fresh
or dried specimen there is more or less of a palpable lump into which the
tail feathers stick. Guess as near as you can to the middle of this lump;
place the end of the ruler opposite the point, and see where the tip of the
longest tail feather comes.

5. _Length of bill._--Dr. Coues takes "the chord of the culmen," which is
determined thus: "Place one foot of the dividers on the culmen just where
the feathers end; no matter whether the culmen runs up on the forehead, or
the frontal feathers run out on the culmen, and no matter whether the
culmen is straight or curved. With me the length of the bill is the
shortest distance from the point indicated to the tip of the upper

6. _Length of tarsus._--Distance between the joint of the tarsus with the
leg above, and that with the first phalanx of the middle toe below. Measure
it always with the dividers, and _in front_ of the leg.

7. _Length of toes._--Distance in a straight line along the upper surface
of a toe is from the point last indicated to the root of the claw on top.
Length of toe is to be taken _without_ the claw, unless otherwise

8. _Length of the claws._--Distance in a straight line from the point last
indicated to the tip of the claw.

9. _Length of head._--Set one foot of the dividers over the base of the
culmen, and allow the other to slip just snugly down over the arch of the

For skinning a small bird, the only instrument imperatively necessary is a
good-sized scalpel or a sharp penknife. You can use a pair of small
scissors now and then, if you have them, to very good advantage, in
severing legs and wings and clipping off tendons. Have ready a dish of corn
meal to absorb any blood that is likely to soil the feathers. Now push a
wad of cotton up the vent, and we are ready to remove the skin.

No, there is one thing more. The wings lie close to the body, and will be
continually in our way unless we break them so that they will fall back and
leave us a clear field. It is the humerus that must be snapped in two, as
close to the body as possible. Those of small birds are easily broken with
the thumb and finger, but in a large bird they must be treated to a sharp
blow with a heavy stick, or a hammer.

Lay the bird upon its back, with its head toward your left hand; part the
feathers in a straight line, and divide the skin from the _centre of the
breast_ straight down to the end of the breastbone, and on until the vent
is reached. Cut through the skin only, for if you go too deep and cut
through the wall of the abdomen you will have the intestines and various
other troubles upon your hands.

Skin down each side of the bird until you come to the knee-joint, which
lies close to the body, and well within the skin. Sever each leg completely
at the knee, leaving the thigh attached to the body, turn the skin of the
leg wrong side out over the fleshy part, quite down to the joint, and then
cut away every particle of flesh from the bone of the leg.

Sever the tail from the body close to the ends of the tail feathers,
without cutting through the skin. Now take the body between the thumb and
forefinger of the left hand, holding it at the hips, and with the other
hand separate the skin from the back. From this point we proceed to turn
the skin wrong side out over the shoulders and head. When the wings are
reached, cut them off where they are broken, and turn the skin down over
the neck. Avoid cutting through the crop. If blood flows at any time,
absorb it all with the corn meal or plaster Paris.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--First Steps in Skinning a Bird.]

Almost before you know it you have skinned your bird down to the head, for
it hangs head downward during the latter part of the operation, suspended
on a small wire hook thrust through the pelvis, so that you can work with
both hands.

It is a trifle more difficult to turn the skin over the head. Push it up
from the back of the head with the thumb-nail, working it patiently, at all
points, and stretching the skin gradually until it will pass over the
widest part of the skull. Presently the crisis is past, the skin slips down
without trouble, and we see by the way it is held at a certain point on
each side of the head that we have come to the ears. Cut through the skin
close up to the head, and a little farther on we reach the eyes.

Now be careful. Cut very slowly at the eye, and close to the head, until
you can see through the thin membrane and define the exact position of the
eyeball. Now cut through the membrane, but do not cut the eyelid on any
account. A little farther and we come to the base of the bill, where the
skin and our skinning stops.

Cut through the back of the skull so as to sever the head completely from
the neck, and lay bare the base of the brain. Remove the brain from the
skull; cut the eyes out of their sockets; cut out the tongue and remove all
flesh from the skull.

Skin each wing down to the first joint, or the elbow, and stop the
"wrong-side-out" process there. The ends of the secondaries must not be
separated from the bone of the forearm, or the ulna. It is possible to
clean out the flesh from the forearm and also from the arm bone (humerus)
without detaching the ends of the secondaries, as you will readily see. Cut
away any flesh which has been left at the root of the tail, but do not cut
the ends of the tail feathers.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--The Skin Wrong Side Out, and Ready to be

The next thing is to poison the skin. Do this with a mixture of powdered
arsenic and alum, in equal parts. Some of our most extensive collectors use
no alum, simply pure arsenic in liberal quantity; but I consider that the
use of alum also is always desirable, and under certain conditions it is
extremely so. Some collectors use arsenical soap exclusively, even on small
birds, and on large birds I, too, have used it quite extensively,
supplemented by an immediate sprinkling of powdered alum, to do the curing
of the skin. For genuine thoroughness in poisoning and preserving, I will
back arsenical soap and alum against all other substances the world can
produce; but in treating _small birds that are to be made up as dry skins_,
I prefer and recommend powdered arsenic and alum, as stated above.

Whatever poison you decide to use, apply it thoroughly to every part of the
skin, the skull, wings, legs, and tail. Now put a ball of cotton in each
eye-socket to fill up the cavity, and you are ready to reverse the skin and
bring it right side out once more. It is usually some trouble to get the
skin back over the skull, and that I accomplish in this wise:

Let the skin rest on the edge of the table, place both of your thumbs on
the back of the skull, and with all your fingers and finger-nails, reach
forward and begin to crowd the skin of the head back where it belongs. At
the same time, you must push on the skull with your thumbs, as if trying to
push it into the neck, and in a very short time, by a combination of
coaxing and crowding, the skin made passes the critical point on the skull,
and, presto! the whole skin is right side out once more. Now take it by the
bill and give it a gentle shaking to stir up the feathers so that they will
fall back naturally. Pluck outward the cotton in the orbit into the opening
of the eye, to imitate the round fulness of the eyeball.

The wing bones of very small birds need not be wrapped with cotton, but the
leg bones should be, always. Now take a bunch of cotton batting of the
right size, and roll it between the palms until it attains the proper size
to fill the neck, and is a trifle longer than the entire body and neck.
Fold over one end of this, take it between the points of your forceps,
insert it through the neck, and into the cavity of the skull. Tuck up the
other end at the tail, and give the cotton body its right length. Then in
the middle of the skin, pull the cotton roll apart sidewise, spread it out
and lay on it a ball of cotton to form the body.

Next, take hold of the broken humerus with the forceps, and pull it inward
until the joint of the wing appears, and the two humeri lie parallel and
close to each other. This draws the wings into place.

Be sure to put enough cotton in the body of a skin; for a little plumpness
and rotundity is desirable in a small skin. Avoid making cylindrical bird
skins; avoid the East Indian native habit of crowding the breast of a bird
clear up into its neck, and also avoid stretching a skin.

We have now to finish the head by inserting a little bunch of cotton in the
throat, until that part is properly filled, and plucking out or cutting off
the surplus. The mandibles must be held together by a thread or a pin until
they have dried in position. Next adjust the wings, legs, and tail. The
tail should be slightly spread, and there are two ways of doing this. One
is to reverse the natural overlapping of the tail feathers, which is the
quickest way, and quite satisfactory. The other is to lay the skin on a
board, put a pin through each corner of the "pope's nose," spread the tail,
and thrust the pins into the board until the skin is dry. Finally, tie on
your label, which should be as small as possible to contain the necessary
data--locality, date, sex, number, collector's name, measurements, and
remarks. Some collectors label only with numbers, corresponding with
recorded data in a note-book; but it is a bad plan. Note-books often get
lost, and then such specimens lose half their value.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--The Bird Skin in Position.]

WRAPPING UP A SKIN.--There are various ways of "laying out" bird skins. The
best is to wrap each skin in a very thin sheet of cotton batting or
wadding, which draws with the softness of down, and yet, when pinched or
twisted at the ends, it holds every feather in place. The bird skins
prepared by Mr. William Palmer, one of the National Museum taxidermists,
are fine examples of how skins should be made. Mr. Palmer's method of
shaping and wrapping up a small skin is as follows, and the accompanying
figures are from specimens prepared by him: Take the skin up between the
left thumb and forefinger, at the shoulders, and pinch it together, while
with the small forceps you adjust the scapulars over the point of the
wings. Cross the feet, lay the skin breast downward on a thin sheet of
cotton batting of the proper dimensions, and arrange the feathers of the
back, the wings, etc. (Fig. 13). Then lift the outer edge of the sheet of
cotton, bring it forward over the skin toward the operator, so that it will
cover the back (Fig. 14). Next, lift the inner edge of the cotton sheet,
draw it with gentle pressure to make the skin of the right size, and lap it
well over the other. The two edges of the cotton sheet will stick together
very well by simply overlapping them.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--The Skin Half Wrapped.]

The head can be adjusted by pulling on the cotton at that end, and pinching
the end together beyond the head. The bill must be set at the proper angle,
and held by catching the point in the cotton. Do not let the bill point
straight out, for it will stretch the skin of the throat too much; neither
should it point up at a right angle to the body, for the tip will be
catching in everything that comes near it. The best way with most
short-billed birds is to let the bill point at an angle of about forty-five
degrees to the axis of the body. Beaks that are very long require special
arrangement, as shown in Figs. 17 and 18.

Now lift the wrapped-up skin, lay it with the tail toward you, breast
uppermost, and with both hands tear the cotton open in a straight line up
to the base of the tail (Fig. 15). You can now spread the tail by
overlapping the feathers, or leave it closed if you prefer. See that your
label is on, adjust the toes and legs carefully, then fold over the edges
of the cotton and overlap them, and the skin is done (Fig. 16). Always
spread the toes of all swimming-birds.

Another plan is to dispose of each skin in a little cylinder of paper, made
to fit, of course. This is the best plan when you are far from the
conveniences of home, and in a hurry. The effect of this, however, is to
produce a cylindrical skin, which is not a prize shape. Still another way
is to make a small cornucopia of stiff paper, and slip the skin into it,
head first, after which the large end is closed by bending in the edges.
The old-fashioned, corrugated drying-board is an excellent resource when
you are in a great hurry with a number of specimens.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--Spreading the Tail.]

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--The Skin fully Wrapped.]

The illustration on p. 56 (Fig. 17), from one of Mr. Palmer's specimens,
shows the shape a small skin should have to be considered perfect.

Freshly made bird skins should never be subjected to crowding or pressure,
nor should old skins either, for that matter. If you go far afield, and
expect to collect hundreds of skins, you should go provided with a light
and strong chest, either made to open at one side and contain a series of
shallow drawers to receive skins, or else, which is the next best thing,
and very easily made, a box containing a series of shallow tills of varying
depth, standing one upon another from bottom to top. Each drawer or till
should be made just deep enough to hold skins of a certain size, but no
more, or else in travelling the skins will tumble about. Remember it is
useless to try to make large collections of good skins in the field unless
you can take care of your finished specimens. This is for specimens freshly
prepared and _not yet dry_. After skins become thoroughly dry, they can be
packed "in bulk," in a chest or trunk, by putting the largest at the
bottom, and filling the cavities with the small skins which cannot stand so
much pressure. Bird skins should always be packed in cotton when they are
to be shipped, giving to each a soft, comfortable resting-place, and the
box must be filled full, so that there will be no tossing about.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.--A Perfect Bird Skin.]

DETERMINATION OF SEX IN BIRDS.--To a collector who is working under
difficulties this often seems like the very "last straw upon a camel's
back;" but it must be attended to in every case wherein the sex of the bird
is not clearly and unmistakably indicated by the plumage. If you can, get
an experienced ornithologist to show you how to determine the sex in
difficult subjects (_e.g._, young birds, or birds midway between two
breeding seasons). But there are ways in which we can help ourselves. If
you begin with birds during or near the breeding season, you will have
plain sailing long enough to become familiar with the subject.

In birds the organs of generation lie close up to the lumbar vertebræ, near
the kidneys, in the region called "the small of the back." The best way to
reach this region for examination is to make a cut clear across the wall of
the abdomen, break the back over at the last pair of ribs, and the
intestines will at once fall down, exposing the lumbar region. You will
then see the kidneys--two large, dark-brown masses situated in the
concavity of the sacrum--and on their surface, at the upper end, lie the
reproductive organs. The testicles of the male are two dull, whitish,
ellipsoidal, or nearly round bodies, of the same size, lying close
together. The sign for this sex is the astronomical sign for the planet
Mars [Male].

The ovary of the female is, except during the breeding season, the most
difficult to distinguish. Look first for a little bunch of minute round
globules, of varying sizes and grayish white color. In the breeding season
the eggs are easily found. Failing in that, you must look for the ovary
itself, which, when found, will be recognized as a little, irregular,
flattish bunch of a light gray color. If you search with a
magnifying-glass, you may be able to detect it by its peculiar granulated
appearance. The sign for the female is the sign for the planet Venus


[5] From Steele's Popular Zoology, by permission of the American Book



bird you must have room according to your strength and the size of your
subject. You will need the usual materials in quantity, plenty of table
space, and a stout hook depending from the ceiling at the end of a stout
cord, to hang your half-skinned victim upon at a certain stage of the

With but few exceptions, the process in skinning a large bird is, from
start to finish, precisely similar in principle to that for a small one,
which has already been described. When you get the body about half skinned,
and are well started up the back, thrust your hanging hook into the top of
the pelvis, and suspend the bird in mid-air, so that you can work with both
hands. Be careful, however, throughout the whole operation that you do not
allow the weight of the body of the skin to stretch the skin of the neck.

If the head is small enough that the skin of the neck will pass over it,
skin right over it to the base of the beak itself, and proceed in every
respect as with small birds. If, however, the skin of the neck will not go
over the head, then skin the neck as far toward the head as you possibly
can (usually in such cases you can go no farther than the lower end of the
axis or second cervical vertebra), and then cut it off.

The next step is to skin the head. Turn the skin right side out, make a
clean, straight cut from the top of the head straight down the back of the
neck for a sufficient distance to allow the remaining cervical vertebræ to
be drawn up through the opening. It is now a very simple matter to skin the
head and clean the skull.

The wing of a large bird contains, between the elbow and the so-called
"shoulder-joint" (carpus), quite a quantity of flesh lying underneath and
between the radius and ulna. Whatever you do with the wing, _never cut the
ends of the secondaries loose from the ulna_. In spacing and adjusting
those secondaries nature has done something which, to save your life, you
cannot do as well, and if you meddle with her work some one will be sorry.
Slit open the skin all along the under side of this long joint of the wing,
cut out all the flesh from around the radius and ulna, and poison the
interior thoroughly. Put in a little filling of tow or cotton, and sew up
the opening. Even in small birds, except the smallest ones, it is an
excellent plan to slit open the wing on the under side and put some dry
poison on the flesh, without stopping to sew up the cut. Clean out the
flesh and the oil sac from the root of the tail, and poison that part so
thoroughly that any insect who ever dares to think once of harboring there
will instantly drop dead.

A bird like a large heron, with long legs, or an eagle with very thick
legs, should always have the tendons removed from the legs in order to
facilitate curing, and for the mutual benefit of both specimen and
taxidermist when, a little later, the two meet in the laboratory and engage
in a hand-to-hand struggle for supremacy. To accomplish this, cut a slit
lengthwise in the ball of the foot where its rests upon the ground. Cut off
the tendons where they branch and attach to the toes, seize the end of each
large tendon with your pliers and pull it forcibly out of the leg. You can
do this with a fresh bird in about five minutes, whereas in a dry skin that
has been relaxed it will take you much longer. This removes a fine subject
for decomposition, and also leaves the space necessary for the leg wire
when the specimen is mounted. After having removed the tendon I always
give the legs a coat of rather thin arsenical soap, both to cure them and
protect them from insects. Another excellent plan is to lay all such long
legs in a pan of salt-and-alum bath solution for a few hours to thoroughly
cure them.

If there is a layer of fat adhering to the skin, it must be scraped off and
absorbed with corn meal, and scraped again until it is all off. A layer of
fat spoils a skin more quickly and more effectually than any novice can be
expected to believe until he sees for himself, in some of his finest ducks
and brants, just how it is done. If a skin is worth saving at all, it is
worth preserving properly. Grease left on a skin "burns" it.

In making up a skin having a long, slender neck like that of swan, goose,
heron, or crane, it is an excellent plan (when possible) to take a stout
wire, as long as the entire neck and body, wrap a little tow or cotton rags
around it to partly form a false neck, and insert it in the skin. This will
often save a neck from being completely broken in two. Fill the body of the
skin with excelsior, tow, cotton, or _crumpled paper_, which, in distant
jungles, far from civilization, is an excellent thing. In case of need, you
may fill with dry leaves, dead grass, in fact almost anything except wool,
hair, or other animal products. Do not fill the body out to more than
two-thirds its natural size, unless you have abundant storage-room, and
transportation facilities. If filled out full size, large bird skins fill
up boxes and drawers wonderfully fast, and generally it is best to flatten
such skins a little.

[Illustration: FIG. 18.--How to Shape a Heron Skin.]

Large bird skins should always be sewn up. The head must be properly filled
out, and if cut open at the back, that also should have a few stitches, but
not too many, for obvious reasons. In laying out a large skin, if the neck
be long, bend it around to one side as the specimen lies before you on its
back, and lay it on the side of the body along the edge of the wing. If
the legs are long, they, too, must be bent up so that the feet lie upon the
body. The accompanying figure, from a specimen prepared by Mr. William
Palmer, shows just how a great blue heron should be done. The wings must be
carefully placed, the plumage dressed and nicely adjusted, and the finished
skin pinned up in a wide strip of thin cotton-cloth, or anything else you
please, to keep it in perfect shape until it dries.

Of course, a large skin requires plenty of air while it is drying, and
several days' time besides. If such specimens are packed and shipped before
they are dry, mould and destruction will be their portion, and the
collector will do well to flee from the wrath to come. In shipping bird
skins in the East Indies and similar climates, it is customary to solder
them up, air tight, in tin-lined boxes. Dr. W.J. Holland advises me,
however, that dry wooden boxes are good enough if they are tight, and are
first painted over on the inside with melted crystals of carbolic acid.

SPECIAL AND EXCEPTIONAL CASES.--Having fully considered the various
principles involved in making ordinary bird skins, it is now necessary to
note the exceptional cases, and state how each is to be disposed of. It is
my desire to equip the beginner, as far as possible, against every
emergency that is likely to arise in ornithological collecting. For
convenience we will take a few of the avian orders, in their natural
sequence, beginning with the lowest.

THE STRUTHIONES: _Ostriches, Emus, and Cassowaries_.--These great birds are
prime favorites with the showmen, and many a fine specimen often falls most
unexpectedly into the hands of an astonished "local taxidermist," to the
ultimate enrichment of some museum. Happy is he to whom falls a beautiful,
glossy, brown-black cassowary, with head and neck of rich purple, and red
and yellow, and what-not--truly a wonderful bird, and not too large. A full
grown African ostrich is an avian colossus, and his enormous size makes him
quite a serious matter.

With these great birds it is best to open the skin of each leg from the
lower end of the tibia all the way down to the foot, in order to entirely
remove the tendons. Detach the skin from the bone all the way round, and
cure it with arsenical soap and a _little_ alum. The leg should be cut open
on the inside, well back, where the seam will be most out of sight. After
having removed a skin, you will need to keep it soft, sometimes for several
days, perhaps until you can make a suitable manikin, if it is a large
ostrich. Cure the skin with arsenical soap and salt (protecting the
feathers carefully meanwhile), and keep it wrapped up and away from the air
until you are ready to put it on the manikin for the last time; then treat
it with dry alum to make it dry and harden properly.

ORDER SPHENISCI: _The Penguins_.--The penguin of the Antarctic seas is the
king of fat birds, but such magnificent monsters as those brought home by
the Challenger, and now in the British Museum, are worth a long trip to
secure. Mr. Frederick Pearcy, who collected and preserved the specimens,
assured me that it required two men to carry one, and that the removal of
the grease from the skins was a dreadful task. Of the largest specimens,
the huge legs and feet were cut off at the lower end of the tibiæ, and
preserved in alcohol until they could be skinned and cleaned. Since it is
probable that only a very few of my readers will ever visit the rainy,
foggy, storm-beaten and God-forsaken land of the penguin, I will leave the
question of grease removal to the paragraph relating to the Lamellirostres.

LONGIPENNES: _The Gulls, Albatrosses, etc._--The gulls, terns, and petrels
are so beautiful in flight that they are often mounted with the wings fully
spread, in flying attitudes. When a bird is to be mounted thus, the large
wing-bones must not be broken, but simply disjointed and cut loose from the
body at the shoulders. When it is possible to do so, an albatross should be
mounted with wings, outspread, to reveal to the student their enormous
length, and the disproportionate shortness of the primaries and
secondaries. If all the albatrosses in a museum collection are mounted with
closed wings, as they nearly always are, the average observer gains not the
faintest conception of the form and size of the bird in motion--_its normal

STEGANOPODES: _The Pelicans_.--The great white pelican is one of the most
satisfactory and even agreeable birds to mount that could possibly fall
into the hands of an able-bodied taxidermist. If I ever adopt a shield and
an assortment of devices with which to cover it, one of the latter shall be
a figure of a huge white pelican rampant; for it was a bird of that
species that gave me a start in taxidermy. It happened in this wise:

The year before I penetrated the walls of my Alma Mater, its venerable
president sought to find among the students an (alleged) taxidermist, or at
least the promise of one. He publicly offered the princely sum of $10 to
anyone who could come forward and mount a bird decently. The gauntlet thus
recklessly thrown down no one could pick up that year, and by the year
following, when I appeared upon the scene, it had grown cold. Like another
Lochinvar, I "came late" for that offer. I had seen one bird skinned and
mounted, and I knew I could do one like it. That was an old, rusty,
second-hand crow. I petitioned to have a chance to "stuff birds," but it
fell on deaf ears. I even went so far as to mount a squirrel, to show what
I could do, and although it was a very fair specimen for that benighted
period, it failed to win.

But one day some good genius sent a dead bird to the president, for the
museum, and with it heaven sent my opportunity. Professor Bessey sent for
me and said, "Now, young man, we are going to see how much you know about
stuffing birds. We've got a specimen for you to try your hand on, and if
you succeed in mounting it decently, you may possibly get an opportunity to
work in the museum." I replied, "Show me the victim."

He took me to his room, and there, spread out upon the carpet, lay an
enormous white pelican. His body was like a great downy pillow, his bill
was as long as a fence-rail, with a great horny knot atop of it, and his
huge yellow pouch would have held a whole school of mackerel, teachers and
all. And what wings! They were full-grown angel's size, and as white and
spotless as Gabriel's own. It seemed like sacrilege to touch them. And such
feet! Enough of them would have covered the college campus. I had never
before seen such a bird, even in my dreams. He really was larger than the
maximum measurements given by Audubon for that species. Professor Bessey
informed me that his name was _Pelicanus erythrorhynchos_. It was not quite
so long as his bill, nor so rough, but it was pretty nearly.

With a pocket-knife, an old misfit pair of pliers, and a smooth, flat piece
of steel that had once been a file, I skinned and mounted that bird, "in
the highest style of the art," as the taxidermic business card always hath
it. I have also faint recollections of a great wad of oakum made into a
body, a thimbleful of arsenic, and a pair of eyes--merely this and nothing
more. As I hope to live, I believe I could feed a live pelican as much
arsenic as I put upon that great skin without even giving him the
stomach-ache; but the bugs seemed to know that was my first effort, and
they have never touched him. I mounted him as the Irishman played the
fiddle at Donnybrook fair, neither by note nor by ear, but, "be jabers, by
main strength," and posed and shaped him by Audubon's superb plate. He was
pronounced an unqualified success. I shaped his future, and he shaped mine
at the same time. When I saw him again, seven years later, he was every bit
as good as new, and I was astonished to find how really good he was. He was
the first bird I ever skinned or mounted, and a lucky bird he was for me.
Had he been a dirty, greasy, old swan, think what a scrape I should have
been in!

LAMELLIROSTRES: _The Ducks, Geese, Swans (and Flamingoes)_.--There are but
two points to be spoken of under this head. The first is that all the birds
of this order must have their heads skinned through a slit at the back of
the head. The other is in regard to cleaning.

All ducks, geese, and swans are very fat, even when they are poorest. Were
they otherwise, they could not live on the water as they do. Nearly the
whole body is enveloped in a firm, tenacious layer of fat, into which the
ends of the body feathers run and take root, and bind the skin itself down
so firmly that it really becomes a part of the fatty layer. To remove the
skin, you must have a keen knife, and by hard labor slice through the fat
as you go. As a general thing, it is slow and tedious work. When you begin,
and all the way as you proceed, use plenty of plaster Paris or cornmeal to
absorb the free oil, and keep it off the feathers.

After the skin is off the body, and before you turn it right side out,
scrape the inside to get the oil off, absorb it with your absorbent
material, and scrape it again and again until the grease is practically
all off, and you have only the skin remaining. This takes work. There is no
royal road to making good duck skins. If you think you can get along all
right by overwhelming the grease on the skin with arsenic and alum, and
venture to leave it half cleaned, you will pay the penalty later, and it
will serve you right. You cannot cure grease with preservatives. You may
fill a fat duck skin half full of arsenic, and yet the oil will ooze out
through the skin on the other side, turning the feathers a dirty yellow
color. The dermestes can eat _every feather_, and also the skin itself,
from the outside, without getting a morsel of the arsenic. The fat simply
acts as an impervious wall between the poison and the skin. Clean a duck
skin thoroughly or else throw it away. It used to be a common thing to see
duck skins with the breast feathers a solid mass of nasty yellow grease
from the oil that had run out from the opening cut, but such specimens are
becoming rare now.

If the feathers get soiled with grease, blood and dirt, wash the plumage
with clean turpentine and a soft tooth-brush, apply an abundance of plaster
Paris, rub it into the feathers, and immediately beat it out with a supple
switch, or piece of stiff wire of proper size. If you have not these
materials, wash the feathers with warm water and a little soap, and dry as
best you can, according to what you have. Manipulate the feathers while
they are drying and they will come out soft and fluffy as in life; but if
left to dry without this, they will remain in a bedraggled, soaked, and
stringy condition. This subject will be fully considered in a separate
chapter (XXV.).

In making up the skin of a duck or goose, a piece of wire must be put into
the neck, with the tow or other filling wrapped around it, or failing that,
the neck filling must be wrapped around a small stick, the upper end of
which is to be thrust forcibly into the skull. The head is large and heavy,
and the neck is very small, so small that the skin will break in two if
there is not a wire or stick run through the body and neck into the head to
support the latter when the skin is being handled. The feet of all
web-footed birds should be spread while drying.

ALECTORIDES: _The Cranes and Herodiones_.--There is but little to add in
regard to birds of either of these orders. The cranes require a slit in the
skin at the back of the head, but the herons do not. The necks of the
latter are very often filled too full in making up a skin, and the neck
filling is often made round, whereas it should always be _flat_, like the
actual neck of the heron or bittern. It is not necessary to remove the
tendons from the legs of the small herons, ibises, etc., but the legs
should always be bent up and the feet disposed of on the body. The feet and
legs of all the above must be treated to a coat of thin arsenical soap, for
the benefit of insect pests.



OPHIDIÆ: _Serpents_.--All the small and medium-sized serpents should be
preserved entire in good, clean, ninety-five per cent alcohol, diluted with
one-half its own bulk of water. If the spirits is not as strong as
ninety-five per cent., then dilute with one-third water instead of
one-half. There should be from two to four incisions made along the median
line of the belly, each one a few inches in length, to make openings
through which the spirits can reach the abdominal region. Give the specimen
plenty of room until it is thoroughly penetrated with the alcohol.

Large serpents must be measured carefully, slit open underneath in a
straight line from the vent up to within six or eight inches of the head,
and completely skinned. A dry snake skin is about as good as none at all
for mounting. I have seen many, but never yet knew of one being mounted
well. By all means preserve all snake skins in spirits, as described above,
or in the salt-and-alum bath. By making a head of cork it is quite easy to
take both the complete skin and skeleton of a large serpent. If the head is
to be mounted with the mouth open, an extra skull must be procured.

LACERTILIA: _The Lizards_.--As with serpents, the small ones should be
opened underneath and preserved entire in spirits, while the large ones, if
alcohol is scarce, may be skinned in the field, and the skins only put into
the spirit-tank for preservation. In putting up specimens entire, the
abdominal opening must be large enough fully to insure the entrance of the
liquid into the abdominal cavity, or otherwise the decay of the intestines
may cause the epidermis to slip from the outside.

CROCODILIA: _The Crocodiles and Alligators_.--A word in regard to shooting
saurians. Go prepared to hunt and kill whatever specimens you require, for
the chances are you will not get any save what are brought to bag with your
own trusty (or rusty) rifle. To kill a crocodile, proceed as follows: Find
where he is in the habit of coming out on the bank for his daily sun-bath;
then, at precisely the right time,

    "Come where my love lies dreaming."

Sneak up as close to him as you can, get a position so that you can attack
him broadside on, and post a couple of natives close by, primed beforehand
with instructions to rush forward and grab the scaly monster by the tail as
soon as you fire. Estimate the distance carefully, wipe the perspiration
out of your eyes, aim at the neck-bone, or the vertebral column anywhere in
front of the shoulders, and let drive. If the reptile's body lies still and
his jaws fly wide open, run for him like a quarter horse, for you have hit
his spine, and he is your meat if you only get to him in time to lay hold
of his tail. Take your rifle along, for you _might_ need it again,
particularly if the crocodile is more than ten feet long. If he requires a
_coup de grâce_, give him another bullet in one of his cervical vertebrae,
and the subsequent proceedings will interest him no more.

It is quite a task to skin a ten-foot saurian properly, and to preserve the
skin so successfully that none of the scales will slip off when the time
comes for the skin to be softened and stuffed. My method, which I have
practised successfully with the skins of eleven species of crocodiles and
alligators, is as follows: For the sake of science in general, and the
taxidermist in particular, measure the crocodile carefully and record the
dimensions. Divide the skin along the under side, following the median line
from the throat to the tip of the tail, in one long, straight cut.
Beginning at the end of each middle toe, divide the skin along the bottom
of the foot and the under side of the leg, up to the point where the leg
joins the body, but no farther. Then begin at the edges of the first cut,
and skin as far down the sides of the body as possible. When the legs are
reached, detach them from the body at hip and shoulder without cutting the
skin, and continue on round the body until the backbone is reached and the
skin entirely detached. Sever the head from the neck at the first cervical
vertebra without cutting the skin. Skin out the tongue and remove the flesh
from the palatal apertures and various cavities of the head. Skin each leg
by turning the skin wrong side out until the toes are reached. Leave all
the bones of each leg attached to each other and to the skin itself at the
toes, but cut away the flesh carefully, the same as in skeletonizing.
Remove from the skin as much as possible of the flesh which will be found
adhering to it. When the skin is thoroughly clean, immerse it in a strong
bath of salt and water, and allow it to remain twenty-four to thirty hours.
Then take it out, rub the inside and the leg bones thoroughly with strong
arsenical soap, after which apply powdered alum liberally over the inner
surface, so that not a single spot is missed. Then hang the skin up by the
head (no danger of stretching in this case), and allow it to dry in the
wind and _shade_. When almost hard and stiff, take it down and fold it up
as carefully as if it were a Sunday coat, so that it can be packed in a box
of ordinary dimensions.

Of course small crocodiles, and the skins of larger ones not exceeding six
feet in length, can best be preserved in alcohol, as already described for
lizards. Full instructions for "roughing out" skeletons will be found in
Chapter XXXVII. I will only add to this paragraph the suggestion that of
all the objects that a collector can gather, nothing so well repays in
every way the time and labor spent upon them as a few large, well-made, and
sufficiently hideous skins of crocodilians. They are at once big, ugly,
awe-inspiring, and marketable. The general public is very fond of horrible
animals from far-distant countries, and I always gave it crocodiles galore.

CHELONIA: _Turtles_.--Go where you will in the warm regions of the earth,
you are almost certain to find representatives of this order. In the
tropics the species are very numerous, highly interesting, and often of
commercial value. Many a time your own hunger will be appeased by a tender
steak of green turtle or loggerhead, or a terrapin stew, or a "soft-shell"
fried in batter, or a peck of terrapin eggs dug out of the sand, fresh and
otherwise. The rare and hideous mata-mata of South America will make you a
good meal, and afterward bring you in $25 in hard cash. The hawksbill, with
the valuable "tortoise shell" upon his back, is "a thing of beauty" and "a
joy forever," price, $15. Wherever you go collecting in the tropics or
sub-tropics, turtles are your lawful prey.

_How to Kill a Turtle._--Mr. Lucas says the best way is to do it with
chloroform, by tying a saturated cloth over the victim's head, and keeping
it there until death ensues. This is undoubtedly the most merciful way, but
somehow I never had the chloroform to spare. My plan was to do the killing
in a short, sharp, and decisive onslaught with the knife. With a small,
sharp saw (a dissecting saw with an adjustable back, for the small
specimens), saw through the bridge which unites the shell of the back
(carapax) with that of the under surface (plastron) at B, B (Fig. 19);
then, with the quickest of work, divide the skin around the plastron, as
shown by the dotted line A, A, A, A; with half a dozen quick strokes of the
knife detach the plastron from the flesh of the body, and lift it up until
the interior of the body is exposed. Except for the sawing through the
shell, the rest is but the work of a moment. Now pierce the heart
instantly, and cut the neck in two, which ends all pain at once. The only
merit of this method of killing is that the victim is disposed of and put
beyond the power of pain in about three or four minutes. Very often it is
better to make an incision on the dotted line shown immediately behind the
foreleg, and through this pierce the heart and lungs.

[Illustration: FIG. 19.--How to Open a Turtle.]

The dotted lines in the figure show all the opening cuts that are
necessary. The skin is left attached to the front of the plastron for
apparent reasons, but the plastron is turned up and over the head to
completely expose the interior. In the case of a sea-turtle, which has the
front limbs developed as broad, flat flippers instead of feet, the opening
cut must extend on up the leg, quite out to the extremity of the flipper.

The animal's legs, tail, and neck are now skinned precisely as those of a
mammal would be, with the exception that each of these members is detached
from the body and pulled inward in order to turn the skin wrong side out.
Of course all flesh is to be removed from the animal, precisely as with a
mammal, and unless the skeleton is to be preserved, the shoulder girdles
and pelvis may be cut out with the flesh and thrown away.

Having removed all flesh from the entire subject, wash it clean, and if it
is not to be preserved in alcohol apply arsenical soap and alum to the
skin, putting some of the latter on the outside as well as inside, and make
up the skin otherwise as directed for dry skins of ordinary mammals. The
neck, legs, and tail should have the right quantity of filling to prevent
their shrinking and shrivelling up to the point of unsightliness. Remember
that the specimen may remain as you preserve it, and be studied for years
as a dry skin.

The box turtles are so constructed that when they desire to retire from the
world nothing whatever save the hard shell remains exposed. They cannot be
opened up as described above. It is necessary to meet their wants by simply
sawing a big rectangular section out of the plastron, leaving only a rim
remaining, and through the hole thus made the animal can be skinned, and
also stuffed when the time comes.



As to the methods of procuring your fish, I have very little to say. In all
my collecting I have never yet seen the time when it did not pay far better
to buy fish specimens of professional fishermen than to turn fisherman
myself. With an enterprising set of fishermen, much may be done by offering
to purchase the strange and curious species that are often unfit for food,
and are usually thrown away. Be first in the fish-market when the day's
catch is being landed; be on hand persistently, in season and out of
season, and by so doing you will have the first chance to buy the handsome
sharks, rays, rhinobati, etc., before they are ruthlessly cut up and sold
piecemeal. Mask your enthusiasm; learn to dissemble, and then you will not
need to pay more than the ruling market prices, even for the specimens
which are of the highest scientific value. In Ceylon I once bought a
remarkable shark-ray for three shillings, which I sold again, almost
immediately, for $75; but it almost cost me a fit of apoplexy to control my
feelings while the bargain was being made. I wanted to give three cheers
for _Rhamphobatis ancylostomus_!

FIELD NOTES ON FISHES.--_Colors._--In collecting and preserving fishes,
happy is he who can sketch with a pencil, and thrice happy is he to whom
the gods have given the ability to paint in water-colors. If you are
blessed with this ability, the correct and _imperative_ thing to do in
collecting is to make a good outline sketch of each species, and color it
carefully from a perfectly fresh specimen. Then, when the glorious colors
of the living fish vanish like magic in the alcohol, or in the air, as the
case may be, there is your permanent and indisputable record, a thing of
great value to science until a better one is produced. At the National
Museum it has for years been the policy of Dr. Goode to have an accurate
water-color drawing made by Mr. Schindler of every species of fish,
cetacean, and reptile received. The result is a series of exhibition casts
in which every detail of color is reproduced with admirable accuracy and
life likeness. In preserving your fresh specimens remember that, no matter
what you may do, _the colors will fade_, and the more delicate tints will
disappear entirely.

_Labels._--For alcoholics the best thing to use is a small bit of pure
sheet tin, or else sheet lead, with a number stamped upon it. The next best
thing is a parchment tag having the necessary data written upon it with a
lead pencil, which is much more permanent in alcohol than any ink.

_Scientific Facts._--Of the many facts the novice should try to ascertain
regarding each species, the following are the most important: All the local
names; degree of abundance; time when most abundant; whether it is a
permanent resident or is migratory; if migratory, the facts relating
thereto; its habits; the depth and character of bottom preferred; food;
what fishes prey upon them; value as food or for other purposes.

_Methods of Preservation._--In the field, fishes may be collected and
preserved in four different ways, according to circumstances, as follows:
1. Preserved entire in spirits. 2. As skins, preserved in spirits. 3. As
skins preserved in brine. 4. As rough skeletons, either preserved dry or in

For the purposes of scientific study and close investigation, the most
valuable fish specimens are those which have been preserved entire in
alcohol, or some equally efficient preservative solution. Good alcoholic
specimens rank next in scientific value to fishes fresh from their native
element. Ordinarily, however, the collector's resources are limited, and it
is necessary for him to preserve only the skins of the large and bulky

_Tanks for Alcoholics._--For years past the National Museum and United
States Fish Commission have used square, box-like tanks, made of copper and
lined with tin, each tank having a large round hole in its top, as large as
the width of the top will allow, and which is closed tightly by means of a
screw cover. These are known as "Agassiz tanks," for the reason that the
design originated with Professor Louis Agassiz. They are light, not very
costly, easily managed, and are about as nearly perfect for their purpose
as anything can be in this world. They are made of three sizes, to hold
four, eight, or sixteen gallons. To protect them during shipment a strong
pine chest is used, which is provided with wrought-iron handles, hinged
cover, hasp, and padlock. The chests are made to contain one sixteen-gallon
tank, two of eight gallons, and either three or four four-gallon tanks. The
tanks used by the National Museum are made by W.S. Barker, Seventh and D
Streets, S.W., Washington, at the following prices, exclusive of the
chests; sixteen-gallon tank, $16.50; eight-gallon, $10; four-gallon, $4.25;
pine chests, complete, $3 each.

[Illustration: FIG. 20.--Agassiz Tank, for Alcoholics.]

If Agassiz tanks are not obtainable, the next best and the cheapest course
is to have some large round cans made of galvanized iron, with tops that
can be soldered on when the time comes to ship specimens. Wooden kegs are
not of much use in collecting, but both kegs and barrels are good enough to
use in transporting collections. Many a time I have helped myself out of a
difficulty afield by falling back upon the immortal American kerosene can,
holding five square gallons, and which goes to the uttermost parts of the

_Glass Jars._--In the field I have never found any other sort of a glass
jar half as useful and safe as a common Mason fruit jar, varying in size
from pint to half-gallon. They are infinitely superior to glass-stoppered
jars, and far less liable to be broken.

PRESERVING FISHES ENTIRE IN SPIRITS.--Having taken all the notes on a fresh
specimen that you desire, the next thing is to wash it thoroughly. But
"before washing the fish," says Dr. T. H. Bean, "look it over for external
parasites; examine the gills and the inside of the mouth carefully, as
these are favorite situations. These parasites often furnish a clue to the
migration of the fish; remove them if they can be taken off entire; if not,
let them remain, and call attention to their presence in your shipping
notes. Preserve the parasites in vials or bottles, and provide them with
labels, stating from what fish they came, and in what situation they were

Many fishes when taken from the water have the entire body and gills
covered with a coat of persistent mucus that can be removed only by
determined effort. If you have any alum at hand, you can in a moment make
up a pint or quart of alum water, which will cut the mucus instantly, and
clear it off. Use a stiff brush--a large tooth-brush is the best thing--in
cleaning off this mucus, and do not forget to cleanse the gills thoroughly.

Open the abdominal region of every fish by making a generous cut from the
vent straight forward toward the ventral fins. Usually the length of the
opening should be equal to about one-fifth of the entire length of the
fish. If the fish be a large one, it has always been my practice to open
the fleshy interior still farther by working through this cut, and
detaching the skin from the flesh as far up each side as possible. This
gives the spirits immediate access to the entire mass of flesh, and the
result is very speedy and perfect preservation without any change whatever
in the form or weight of the specimen.

Dr. Bean always directs that the viscera be preserved, to assist in
identification, even though it becomes necessary to remove them from large
fishes and preserve them in separate jars. When there is no particular
reason for their preservation, it is a great advantage to remove them and
throw them away. They are--unless of scientific value--an abominable
nuisance, and do more to spoil good alcohol than all the rest of the fish.

Fishes that have begun to decompose, and have become offensive, yet are too
valuable to throw away, may be disinfected by washing them inside and out
with a moderately weak solution of pure carbolic acid and water, or with a
solution made by dissolving a tablespoonful of chloride of soda in a pint
of water.

For years a very common formula for preservative alcohol has been
ninety-five per cent alcohol diluted with one-third of its bulk of water,
or, in other words, three parts of alcohol and one of water. If there is
any fault to be found with this solution, it is that it is stronger than is
really necessary. I have preserved barrels of alcoholic specimens in a
solution composed of two parts of proof spirits and one part water, and
have never lost a specimen except through leakage. This solution is strong
enough to stand considerable deterioration without the loss of its

I have never attempted to collect quantities of alcoholics without an
alcoholometer in constant use. This little instrument costs but a trifle,
and affords the only reliable means for testing the strength of alcohol.
Its use enables the collector to exercise economy in the use of his
spirits, and get the maximum benefit from it. Therefore I say, buy an
alcoholometer at all hazards, and carry it and a suitable test-glass with
your outfit. Test the spirits on your specimens frequently, and you will
then run no risks of loss.

Keep a receptacle to use as a receiving and curing tank, into which all
fresh specimens are placed, with abundant room for each to undergo the
curing process. Every animal contains in its body a heavy percentage of
water, which must be, in great measure, replaced by the spirits before the
flesh can be preserved from decay. Into the first bath a great quantity of
blood and abdominal fluids will be soaked out from the specimen, and it is
bound to lose strength rapidly, and also become foul. As long as it remains
clean enough to use, keep up its strength by the addition of pure spirits,
and in it immerse all specimens until they are thoroughly cured. Give them
plenty of room at first, and keep them from settling down to the bottom by
putting there a bunch of excelsior, tow, or cloth. While the spirits in a
can may be strong enough on top to preserve a specimen, at the bottom,
where the animal impurities settle, it may be so weak that anything lying
in it would soon spoil. Often the tail of a fish which hangs upright in a
jar will spoil while the remainder will be preserved.

After specimens have remained in the receiving-tank for from two to four
days, according to size, put them in another receptacle in clean, fresh
spirits, still allowing them plenty of room. Finally, when ready to pack up
and make a shipment home, wrap each fish separately in a piece of thin,
white cotton cloth, just large enough to cover it well, dip it in clean
spirits, and without any tying or pinning of the cloths, lay the fishes in
your barrel like sardines in a box, as closely as they will lie without
being squeezed. Fill the receptacle full of fishes, head it up, and then
pour into it all the clean spirits it will hold.

In order to proceed with the second and third methods of preserving fish
specimens, it now becomes necessary to describe a process.

HOW TO SKIN A FISH.--Of course, no one aspiring to become a collector of
fishes will remain in ignorance of the names of the different fins. And,
more than that, before he can prepare even the rough skeleton of a fish he
must know what its bony structure is like. On the whole, there is a good
deal to be learned about methods in collecting fishes, and as a beginning
we must learn how to skin a scale fish. The methods with cartilaginous
fishes will be considered later.

The principles with all scale fishes are precisely the same, the only
difference being in the greater amount of cold steel and energy required
for such great, hulking brutes as the jewfish, and the magnificent tarpon.
For convenience we will take a specimen about a foot in length; for
example, a striped bass, a pike, or a red snapper.

As is the case with quadrupeds, the left side of a mounted fish is always
expected to be "the show side." Lay the specimen upon its left side, start
at the vent with a stout pair of sharp-pointed scissors, and divide the
skin in a perfectly straight line along the median line of the belly toward
the head, stopping the cut when you approach close to the narrow,
tongue-like point which terminates between the lower angles of the gill
openings. Now reverse the fish, begin again at the vent, and divide the
skin with a clean cut through the scales, in a line parallel with the base
of the anal fin, and about half an inch from where the scales meet the fin
rays. This is really a cut along the side of the fish, as low down as
possible, made necessary by reason of the anal fin. Continue this cut
straight back to the tail, as shown in the dotted line _g-h_ in Plate IV.


You will find that the ventral fins are joined together in the flesh by a
strong bony arch, called the pubis, and this must be divided through the
middle so as to entirely separate the fins. The anal fin-rays must now be
cut loose from the interior rays (called interhæmal spines), which are
really their bony foundation. The ventral fins must also be cut loose from
the pubic bones at the point where they are articulated. Now take the cut
edge of the fish skin between the left thumb and forefinger, and with the
cartilage-knife carefully cut the skin free from the flesh. Be careful not
to disturb the white layer of color pigment which is spread like a silver
lining of feeble tin-foil over the inside of the skin. This is what gives
the fish its silvery color, and if skinned off or scraped away the skin
will look like colorless parchment. _Whatever you do, do not disturb that
color lining._ Proceed with the skinning until the skin has been detached
from the entire upper side of the fish. This brings you to where the dorsal
and caudal fins are inserted.[6]

Now turn the fish over, and proceed as before, as far as you can go. You
presently reach the caudal fin, which must be cut loose from the end of the
vertebral column as far back in the skin as possible. When this has been
done, the skin and the fleshy body still hang together by the attachment of
the rays of the dorsal fin to the interhæmal spines. Cut these apart with
the scissors, from back to front, close up to the skin, which brings you to
where the vertebral column joins the skull. You will make very short work
of that, which frees the fleshy body from the skull. Now scrape away the
surplus flesh from the inside of the skin, wash it thoroughly, remove the
gills (if they are not to be studied), and lay the skin flat upon its side
in your tank of alcohol.

By thus preserving the skins of fishes, instead of whole specimens, a great
number of really large specimens can be preserved in a small quantity of
alcohol, for at the last they can be packed together, heads and tails,
precisely like sardines.

SKINNING CARTILAGINOUS FISHES.--_Sharks, Rays, etc._--The skinning of a
shark or saw-fish calls for no special instructions in addition to the
foregoing, except that the long, narrow, pointed tail requires to be slit
open along the right side of its upper lobe for a considerable distance.
Remember the principle that wherever there is flesh, a way must be made so
that it can be removed, or at least reached from the inside by the
preservative. Of the skull, nothing is to be left attached to the skin
except the jaws. The skeleton is wholly of cartilage instead of bone, and
is easily cut through.

The extremely flat, circular-bodied ray, also with a cartilaginous
skeleton, must be opened on the underside by two cross cuts at right angles
to each other, one extending from mouth to tail, and the other from side to
side. The fin rays are very long stems of cartilage, set so closely
together as to form a solid sheet of cartilage extending from the thoracic
skeleton out to the extremities of the fins, which taper out to nothing.
The thoracic skeleton gives shape to the body of the ray, particularly the
back, and it must be left in place, with the skin of the back attached to
it. Cut through the fin rays where they join the body, and this will enable
you to skin down each side of the fish until you get so near the outer edge
there is no longer any flesh. Stop at that point, cut the flesh away from
the fin rays, and cut away as much of the fin rays themselves as you

Clear out all the flesh and preserve the skin in a very strong solution of
salt and water (what is known to chemists as a "saturated solution"), or in
alcohol if you have it to spare.

PREPARING ROUGH SKELETONS.--In about seven cases out of ten, it is a far
easier and more simple matter to rough out, clean, and mount the complete
skeleton of a fish than the uninitiated would naturally suppose. A few
fishes, such as the shad, have more bones than the law allows, and the
preparation of a complete skeleton thus becomes a practical impossibility.
Fortunately, however, most fishes are more reasonable in the matter of
bones, and to these we direct our efforts.

First and foremost, study the bony structure of a typical scale fish, learn
what its principal parts are, and how they are articulated. Learn how the
ribs lie, and how a row of slender, riblike bones called appendices, or
epipleural spines, are attached to the true ribs, and at their outer
extremities _touch the inside of the skin_ along the lateral line of the
fish. If you will take a good-sized perch as your first subject, you will
not be troubled with any osteological extras, and the process will be as

Lay the perch upon its side, and with a sharp scalpel cut away the skin
from the whole of the exposed side. Remove all the viscera. By careful
examination, ascertain the exact location of the ribs, and particularly the
row of epipleural spines attached at the upper ends of the former. With a
broad, flat bone-scraper, or your knife-blade if you have nothing better,
begin at the lateral line of the fish, and work toward the top of the back,
taking the flesh away in chunks as you go. In a very short time the
vertebræ and the interhæmal spines are exposed, and with a narrower
bone-scraper the flesh is easily removed from them.

Now turn the fish around, and with great care cut and scrape the flesh away
from the ribs and the epipleural spines. Do not on any account detach the
latter from the former, but at this stage leave them attached to each other
by a thin strip of flesh for their better protection.

Do not separate the ventral fins by cutting through the pubic arch, but
with your small, curve-ended bone-scraper remove the flesh from the angular
recesses of these bones, and leave the anterior end of the pubic arch
attached to the coracoid. Next, pick out the flesh from around the base of
the pectoral fin, remove the eye from its socket, and whatever flesh the
skull contains. Thus does the bony structure of one entire side stand
revealed. The gills are of course to remain in place, as the skeleton would
not be complete without them.

There is but one thing more to add. In treating the other side of the fish
in a precisely similar manner, care must be taken to not disturb the
attachment of the interneural and interhæmal spines which join the dorsal
and anal fin rays to the processes of the vertebral column.

Having thus denuded the fish of its flesh, lay the skeleton in a pan of
water, and with a moderately soft tooth-brush, or nailbrush, brush it
carefully to wash away all blood and mucus. If the bones are full of blood
(which is very rarely the case), the skeleton must be soaked in clear water
for an hour or two, or longer if necessary, to soak out the blood, so that
it will not dry in the bones and permanently disfigure them.

Rough skeletons of fishes may be preserved in alcohol, but for many reasons
it is much the best to dry them. Poison them with dry arsenic; _do not put
upon them either salt, arsenical soap, or alum_, hang each one up by the
head, and see that it dries in good shape. The pectoral fins should lie
well down upon the ribs for mutual protection.


[6] Some operators open a fish in a straight line along the _middle_ of one
side, but I have never been able to see any reason for this preference.



SPONGES.--A live sponge is simply a vast colony of protozoan animals, each
member of which lives an independent existence, but all are at the same
time mutually dependent upon each other. The sponge of commerce, and the
"cleaned" sponge of the museum collection is, like a branch of coral,
merely the skeleton of the living aggregation. A live sponge is a dark
colored, heavy, tough gelatinous mass, cold and clammy to handle, quickly
offensive if left in the open air, and utterly useless until "cleaned," or
rid of its mass of animal matter. The skeleton of a sponge may be _horny_,
like that of the useful sponges of commerce; _silicious_, like the
marvellously beautiful framework of the famous glass sponge of the
Philippine Islands (_Euplectella_); or _calcareous_, like the curious
little _Grantia_, which looks like a miniature bouquet-holder, with a frill
of spines around its open end.

Owing to the extreme scarcity of sponge collections, very few persons know
how great a variety of forms, and what really remarkable forms, exist no
farther from home than the waters that wash the coast of our own beloved
Florida. I once had the pleasure of collecting no fewer than sixteen
distinct species on the beach between Biscayne Bay and New River Inlet,
some of them of remarkable form, and all of them nicely cleaned for me by
old Ocean.

Of course, I _searched_ for sponges, and found many a fine specimen buried
almost out of sight in the sand,--but what glorious fun it was, to be sure!
There I obtained the large, coarse "basket sponge" (_Hirvina campana_), a
hollow, inverted cone, often capable of holding a pailful of water; the
remarkable finger sponge (_Tuba vaginalis_), which forms clusters of
upright, hollow cylinders; a large cylindrical sponge of a rich brown
color, and beautiful wiry texture, called _Verongia fistularis_; and
sponges that were like trees, like interlocked deer antlers, and what not.

Professor H.A. Ward's last catalogue of invertebrates enumerated
forty-three species of sponges that were on hand when the list went to
press. Of these, the largest specimen was a huge Neptune's cup (_Paterion
neptuni_), four feet in height, and shaped like a gigantic goblet, which
came from the neighborhood of Singapore.

Therefore, I say, when on the seashore, be on the lookout for sponges. If
you can find them on the beach ready cleaned and dried for you, so much the
better; but if you get them alive, the soft animal matter must be macerated
and washed away, just as you would macerate the flesh from a large
skeleton. Soak them in fresh water for a short time to macerate the soft
matter, then wash it out in salt water, and keep this up until the sponge
is at last clean.

CORALS.--The bleached white coral cluster of the cabinet is, like the
sponge, only the skeleton of its former self. When it was forcibly torn
from its foothold at the bottom of the sea it was covered with living coral
polyps, which gave it the color which is peculiarly its own. Some species,
notably _Madrepores_, when first taken from the water look like colored
glass. The main branches are of a yellowish-brown tint, shading toward the
tips to the most delicate and beautiful bluish purple. There is no way to
preserve these colors, because they are due entirely to the presence of the
living polyps. When those delicate organisms die, as die they must, the
color vanishes, and if not cleaned and bleached, the coral assumes a dead,
smoky brown appearance, suggestive of dust and dirt.

Therefore it is best to clean and bleach your corals at once. This requires
a little time, but the process is "so simple a child can use it." Small
specimens can be cleaned quickly by washing them in dilute muriatic acid,
and afterward in clear water to keep the acid from going too far, and then
placing them out in the sun to bleach. Large specimens cannot always be
treated in this way, and the best plan for wholesale operations is to place
the coral on the ground, in a sunny situation, and dash water upon it daily
until the soft animal matter has been washed away, and the wind and sun
combined have bleached the specimens to snowy whiteness.

As a general thing, the natives who live within reach of coral groves are
in the habit of gathering it in quantity, cleaning it very successfully,
and offering it for sale at prices that defy competition on the part of any
scientific collector whose time is worth more than fifty cents a day. The
best thing the collector can do is to get acquainted with the native
fishermen and boatmen, treat them well and pay fairly, and then, if there
is anything in the sea that his collectorship wants, it will soon be
forthcoming. Thus, instead of the growth of the collection depending upon
one or two men, there will be from ten to twenty local experts directly
interested in it. I once came to a complete deadlock with my interpreter
and three boatmen on the translation of the word "coral." They were
Singhalese and Tamils, and coral was worse than Sanskrit to them. Finally,
as a last despairing effort, I took a pencil and began to make a sketch of
a madrepore. The crowd watched its progress in breathless silence until
very soon one appreciative auditor shouted triumphantly, _"Koki kalli!"_
The crowd joyfully echoed it, the mystery was solved, and in five minutes
more we were afloat and on our way to seek

    "The treasures of the sea,
    In the mystic groves of coral
    Where her spirit wanders free."

The packing and shipping of branching corals is a serious matter. I have
tried every way I could think of, and have seen others do the same, and am
firmly convinced that no matter how the large _branching_ clusters are
packed, they are _bound to get somewhat broken anyway_! Of course, if you
care to travel with them and see to their handling at every transfer, that
is another thing, but who can do that? The trouble is that the individual
branches are so very heavy for the diameter of the stems next the base, a
sudden jar causes them to snap in two by their own weight. But then corals
are very beautiful, very interesting, and no matter though they are
troublesome, we must have them.

In packing brain coral, and other compact forms without branches, the
principal thing is to wrap them in sufficient soft materials that their
surfaces cannot get rubbed, for that would ruin them. Do not pack a large
chunk of brain coral without putting a partition across the box to hold it
firmly in its own place, no matter how the box is turned. In Ceylon I once
took the trouble to divide a large box into twelve separate compartments
for the reception of that number of coral specimens.

In packing branching coral, a good quantity of soft, elastic, fibrous
material like coir, cotton, tow, oakum, or something similar, is necessary.
From first to last, take whatever precautions are necessary to keep your
corals from getting filled with dirt and litter. Each cluster must lie on a
thick pad of your fibrous material. In order to get downward pressure upon
it, to hold it in place without breaking the branches, take some soft paper
or cotton cloth, roll up a long, cylindrical pad of cotton or something
else, and thrust it far down into the largest opening between the branches,
with one end projecting above the top of the cluster to receive and
transmit pressure from above. This principle, if properly carried out, will
enable the collector to so firmly fix even the most fragile cluster that it
is fitted to withstand pretty rough treatment in transit without serious

STAR-FISHES.--When star-fishes are first taken from the water their arms
are pliant, but after a bath in alcohol they become perfectly rigid. If
left to themselves when first put into spirits, the smaller and more
spider-like species will almost tie their arms into double bow-knots, and
insist on keeping them so forever after. Since the way to cure a star-fish
is to soak it in alcohol for from six to twenty-four hours, according to
size, and then dry it flat and in good shape, it becomes necessary to pin
the small ones firmly in shape upon thin boards before immersing them, and
then they will "stay put." See to it that while in the spirits all your
star-fishes, large and small, cure in proper shape, flat, and with each arm
flat and extended in the right direction. After removal from the spirits,
pin out all those not already fastened upon boards, and then let them dry.
I have never found it necessary to poison the spirits, for the reason that
dermestes and other insects seem to respect a dried star-fish for his own

ECHINI.--In all tropic seas the collector is liable to find echinoderms,
"sea-urchins," "sea-eggs," or "sea-porcupines." These creatures are
usually spherical in shape, with the mouth underneath, and the internal
structure of the animal is covered with a stout, calcareous shell of
uniform thickness, which is set all over on the outside with a mass of
protecting spines, usually fine and very sharp-pointed, but sometimes thick
and blunt. In life the spines are movable, and by means of them the
creature walks, or clings to its native rocks most tenaciously.

The best time to seek echini is at low tide, and the best places are those
where the shore line is composed of rough rocks, scooped out here and there
into shallow pools. Take with you a large basket, a large screw-driver, if
you have one, or failing that, a knife with a long, stout blade. Wear old
clothes, unless you can afford to spoil new ones. When the tide is low you
can wade around in the now peaceful pools, and find the echini in the
sheltered crevices, clinging to the bottom, or the perpendicular sides of
the rocks, but always under water.

To dislodge them, the knife-point or the edge of the screw-driver must be
neatly and skilfully worked under the victim far enough to enable you, with
the exertion of some force and a steady pull, to pry him loose from the
rock, whereupon he becomes your lawful prey. Next comes the cleaning
process. With a small knife, detach the skin of the mouth parts from the
edge of the round hole underneath, in the middle of which the mouth is
situated, and remove all fluid and fleshy matter from the interior of the
shell. That done, wash it out thoroughly. The bony jaws, or "Aristotle's
lantern," may also be drawn out through the hole and thrown away--_unless_
you happen to be collecting for someone who is studying the anatomy of
echini, in which case he must speak for himself.

Having cleaned your sea-urchin, put it in clean alcohol (same strength as
for fishes) and let it soak for about twenty-four hours. This will prevent
the spines from gently dropping off, like leaves in autumn, when you
proceed to dry the specimen. After soaking in spirits, put the specimens
out in a shady place to dry. It is a curious fact that all the echini of
Ceylon and Malayana lose their spines unless soaked in spirits before
drying, whereas those of the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the West
Indies can be dried without soaking, and the spines will not fall off.

SHELLS. _"Living" and "Dead" Specimens._--The first thing that the amateur
needs to learn about a shell is that it may be living or dead. As a general
thing, what is technically called a "dead" shell is worthless in a cabinet.
A live shell is one which has been collected with a living mollusc in it,
and then duly cleaned, preserving all its beautiful colors. A dead shell is
one in which the occupant died a natural death, has lain and bleached in
the sunshine until its colors are entirely gone, and its form also ruined
by the weather. Therefore I say, leave dead shells alone, unless it be that
you are making an exhaustive collection of the species in a given locality,
when a dead shell which is identifiable is as good a record as a living
one. Where a shell is actually devoid of color, a dead shell is as good as
a living one, provided it is collected before its edges or its angles have
been rounded by exposure to the sun and rain. Many a living shell has an
epidermis, the same as an animal, while a dead shell has none.

When shells are obtainable, who can resist the impulse to gather them? The
man, woman, or child who is proof against the seductive powers of the
beautiful and many-colored shells of the seashore "is fit for treason,
stratagems, and spoils." Next to the pleasure of collecting shells one's
self is that of witnessing the keen delight of children and ladies in
gathering these beautiful treasures of the sea. If you have never yet had
an opportunity to stroll along the smooth sands of an ocean beach at low
tide, and gather your basketful of beautiful shells, curious sponges, bits
of coral and coralline, while your soul is soothed by the rhythmic music of
the surf, then I pity you. You have indeed yet something left to live for.

Hooker has divided the shell-bearing mollusca into three great
groups--land, fresh-water, and marine--and the shell collector will do well
to study each one separately.

_Land Shells._--These are most abundant in the tropics, less so in the
subtropical regions, and are rare elsewhere. They are seldom found where
moisture is not abundant. In the tropics they are to be collected all the
year round, but in the temperate zone it is best to collect them in the
autumn, when they are fully grown. It is impossible, without devoting too
much space to this subject, to give more than a general idea of the
situations in which land shells are found. Some species are to be looked
for on trees and bushes; others on rocks and stone walls; others again on
the ground, and others again on the blades or in the roots of grass. In the
tropics it is particularly desirable to watch for the beautiful land
snails, which are almost strictly arboreal in their habits. They are to be
found on the trunks and leaves of palms, the banana, myrtle, orange, and
scores of other trees and shrubs.

_Fresh-Water Shells_ which inhabit clear and shallow water are easily
gathered with a stout hand-net. Where the water is murky, or so deep that
the bottom cannot be seen, it is necessary to have an instrument like an
iron-toothed rake, with the teeth set closely together, to be used as a
sort of clam-dredge, raking the bottom and gathering up the mussels. In our
own country the amateur collector will doubtless be surprised at the number
of species of _Unio_ which will repay the labors of a diligent collector.

_Marine Shells._--If you would have one of the jolliest picnics in the
world, don a suit of old clothes, equip yourself with a stout basket, a
screw-driver with a long handle, and a case-knife with a thin blade,

    "Hang up thy lute and hie thee to the sea."

Go before the tide is at its lowest ebb, and search in the vicinity of the
largest bowlders, under ledges of rock, under loose stones, in
shallow pools, in bunches of sea-weed, in fact everywhere along the shore.
In these various places you will find cowries, ormers (_Haliotis_),
chitons, limpets, and more others than I could name in an hour.

When wading in shallow water it is well to look out for the pestiferous
sting-ray, and not step on one unawares, lest you find its caudal spine
driven through your foot like a poisoned arrow. But, fortunately, they
seldom trouble the collector. With the limpets, chitons, and other small
shell-fish, you must work the point of your case-knife under them, and with
it gradually detach them from the rock. Where such prey is plentiful, the
collecting of it is grand fun, I assure you.

There are many bivalves which burrow or bury in the mud or sand, which must
be dug out with a stick or trowel, while other species, still more
enterprising, bore into wooden piles, and even into rocks! These, of
course, can be collected only with the aid of a hatchet, or chisel, or
stone-hammer, as the case may be. If you are on the Florida coast you will
do well to search over the coral reefs and the mud flats at low tide. On
the latter you will find conch-shells, pinnas, and numerous other species.
I once made a very successful search for pinnas by wading around barefooted
on a sandy flat on which the receding tide had left the water but little
over a foot in depth. These shells were always found standing up in the
sand, at bay, with their sharp edge up. By going barefooted as I did, you
find the shells by stepping on them and cutting your feet, which is to be
accomplished, however, without hurting the thin edge of the shell. A cut
foot will heal up, but a broken shell never will.

CLEANING SHELLS.[7]--In gathering shells, particularly the marine species,
many of them will be found covered with a thick, leathery, and persistent
epidermis, and many others will be so buried under rough, limy accretions
that their own fathers would scarcely recognize them. However beautiful
such shells may be when cleaned, it is no child's play to clean them and
get them ready for the cabinet. To anyone willing to learn, the processes
are really very simple; and what manual labor under the sun could be more
interesting to a lover of natural history?

_Removing the Animal._--With a large shell, such as a conch, the first step
is to remove the living animal. In some cases I have accomplished this by
hooking a fish-hook into the head of the animal and hanging it up so that
the weight of the shell constantly pulling down on the animal would cause
it to gradually relax and draw out. An excellent plan is to place the shell
for a few days in fresh water and macerate the animal sufficiently that it
may be drawn out. Fortunately the great majority of molluscs are very
small, and it is possible to prepare them for the cabinet without the
necessity of removing the animal. Mr. Greegor's plan is to soak the shell
in alcohol for a few days, to completely preserve the animal, and then dry
it thoroughly to expel all the water from it. When that is done, the final
step is to pour into the shell, through a rubber tube, a little thick
varnish, or hot beeswax mixed with a little vaseline to make it flow
readily, and thus cover the dried-up remains of the animal with an
impervious coating which does away with all odors which might otherwise
arise from it. This part of the process, be it understood, is to be
attended to _after_ the cleaning and polishing has been done.

_Removing the Epidermis._--The epidermis is so tough and horny, and sticks
so tightly to the shell that tools cannot remove it successfully and it
must be done chemically. Make a strong solution of chloride of lime and
water, by putting into a jar one-fourth its bulk of chloride of lime,
two-fourths water, and leaving the remaining fourth part of the space for
the froth that will rise. Soak shells in this pasty solution for a short
time, and it will eat the epidermis off.

_Removing Limy Accretions._--The bulk of all these thick, irregular
coatings must be removed with steel tools--file, scraper, knife,
sand-paper, or hammer--to suit each individual case. The tool that Mr.
Greegor most relies upon is a small and very light hammer, made especially
for him, which is shaped somewhat like a square-headed tack-hammer, with
the pointed end drawn out to a blunt cutting edge, like the edge of a cold
chisel. With this cutting edge a skilful hand can peck the lime or coral
incrustations off a shell very neatly, and without injury to the surface of
the specimen. Acid will not remove the thick, limy deposits, and they must
be cleaned off by mechanical means.

After the bulk of the limy deposits have been removed by means of tools,
the shell usually has a dull, lustreless appearance, and appears to require
something that will remove the remaining particles of lime, impart to it a
permanent gloss, and bring out its beautiful colors. Fortunately there is a
way to do this to perfection, which consists in dipping the shell in a weak
solution of muriatic acid and water, boiling hot. The strength of this
solution must vary according to the nature of the specimen. For thick and
strong shells, which by their solid character you are assured cannot be
damaged by a maximum of acid, put 3 parts of muriatic acid in 10 parts
water. For thin and delicate specimens, use 1 part acid to 10 of water,
varying the amount of acid from 1 part to 3, as your experience will soon
teach you is most desirable. Put this solution in a porcelain kettle, bring
it to a boil, and then with a pair of wooden tongs or forceps dip each
shell into it and hold it there for a second or more, as may be necessary.
On removing it, wash it in clear water and dry it, and if its appearance is
not satisfactory dip it again.

For very delicate shells, having a thin surface color, such as the
_Cypreas_ and _Olivias_, or such shells as have very delicate sculpture,
the weaker solution is best. When it is desired to cut more on one part of
a shell than another, the acid may be applied with a brush, finishing with
a quick dip. Never allow any of the acid solution to remain on the shell,
or it will eat into it and dull the lustre. For fine work, dry each
specimen with a towel.

Shells which have on their exterior a great deal of horny or organic
matter, such as _Haliotis_, _Ostrea_, _Lingula_, and a few others, work
badly in acid, and require to be brushed constantly while cutting, to
remove the organic matter, for the reason that the acid acts only on the
lime of the shell.

Chloride of lime and muriatic acid are both very volatile, and when not in
use should be kept in tightly closed vessels.


[7] For the best part of the information given under this heading I am
indebted to Mr. I. Greegor, the well-known dealer in sea-shells and Florida
"curios," at 61 Laura Street, Jacksonville, Fla., who is an acknowledged
expert in the treatment of shells, not only in cleaning, but in cutting
sections, polishing, etc. I obtained the facts from him while he occupied a
very high position in the Smithsonian Institution--in the north tower, at
least fifty feet from the ground.



IDENTIFICATION.--Positive and unmistakable identification of the builder
and occupant of a nest is quite as imperative on the collector as the
gathering of the nest and eggs themselves. There must be no guess-work on
this point, for eggs without a pedigree are often valueless. If an
oological expert is within reach--one who can tell to a
certainty the species of doubtful eggs, or if the eggs themselves are so
characteristic and unique in their shape, size, and markings as to render
their certain identification an easy matter, then is it safe to take home a
"find" without finding the owner.

It is only the fledgling oologist who needs to be told that in all cases of
doubt regarding the identity (_i.e._, the exact species) of a nest-builder,
the only proper course is to collect the bird as well as the nest and eggs.
This may often involve long watching, but it relieves the result from all
uncertainty. No collector should think of going afield in quest of nests
and eggs without taking his gun along. In South America, the only way in
which I could get possession of the wonderful pensile nest of the crested
cacique was by cutting off the limb to which it hung, with a rifle bullet.

In all timbered regions the collector must have a pair of good
climbing-irons, such as telegraph linemen use, to enable him to climb with
ease the nest-bearing trees that would otherwise defy him. It was before
the days of climbing-irons that aspiring Sir Walter Raleigh wrote for the
fair eyes of Queen Elizabeth,

    "Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall,"

to which his august mistress promptly responded with a piece of wisdom
which every young oologist will do well to paste in his hat:

    "If thy mind fail thee, do not climb at all!"

Very good and serviceable climbing-irons can be obtained of Mr. Frank B.
Webster, 409 Washington Street, Boston, for $3.50 per pair. Mr. Webster
also keeps, at his very complete naturalist's supply depot, nearly every
requisite that an oologist or taxidermist requires, except one thing that
is indispensable in hunting and lofty tree-climbing,--nerve. Every
collector or taxidermist should send Mr. Webster ten cents for a copy of
his illustrated catalogue, which of itself is probably the finest of its
kind ever issued, and in which all naturalist's and oologist's supplies are
pictured, described, and priced. The following are the principal articles
needed to make up a proper outfit for an egg collector, and Mr. Webster's
prices thereon:

 Collecting-box, 75 cents.                      |Pasteboard trays, for eggs,
 Egg drills, six sizes, 15 cents to $1.50.      |       per dozen, 12 cents.
 Calipers, for use in measuring, 60 cents.      |Pocket-case (leather),
                                               | complete, with drills,
 Embryo hooks, 25 cents.                        |   blower, hooks, scissors,
                                               | and forceps,
 Embryo scissors, 25 cents to $1.50.            |       $5.00.
 Egg measures, 75 cents to $1.00.               |Climbing-irons, per pair,
                                               | $3.50.

COLLECTING NESTS.--Our boys pay too much attention to collecting eggs, and
not half enough to nests. To the average observer who takes an interest in
perusing the pages of Nature's story-book, a fine collection of bird's
nests is a joy forever. It is ever ready to unfold chapter after chapter of
bird lore, tales of wonderful intelligence and divine ingenuity in adapting
means to ends, and stories galore of difficulties surmounted by the
cunningest little architects in the world. Notice, if you please, the
bewildering variety of materials employed in the construction of these
bird-dwellings, great and small. Why, even the human architects of our own
time are completely surpassed by the Baltimore oriole, the marsh wren, and
the humming-bird.

There is food for thought and cause for admiration in a really good
collection of bird's nests. To me there is much more of interest in any
nest than in the eggs it contains. The latter is a plain and simple product
of nature, to which the bird is merely an interested party to circumstances
beyond its own control. The former is an exhibit of the instinct,
intelligence, reasoning powers, industry, and mechanical and artistic skill
of a living creature of a high order. The nest is what the bird makes it,
and it often tells quite a story. Boys, let us give eggs and skins a rest,
and make a fine collection of nests, _in situ_, as the rockologists say. We
can do this after the nestlings have flown, if you like, without stealing
any eggs or shedding any innocent blood. After the young have tumbled out,
the nest is a back number, and becomes your lawful prey. Take it, and
enjoy it, without remorse over blood that you haven't shed.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.--Bird Nest, _in situ_.]

The most interesting and valuable nests are those that are collected _in
situ_, or, in other words, in the particular crotch, or bunch of grass, or
bush in which the bird placed it. Anything that will show just where a nest
was placed by its builder adds immensely to its interest, and increases its
scientific value. The accompanying illustration of such a nest in Captain
Bendire's collection (Fig. 21), may be taken as an example of how nests of
a certain class can be collected and displayed. The section of the sapling
was sawn squarely off a few inches below the nest, and screwed (from below)
upon a highly polished ebonized pedestal. In drawing this specimen the
label was removed in order that no portion of the principal object should
be concealed, but Captain Bendire's system of labelling is fully shown in
another figure.

The possibilities in collecting and displaying nests _in situ_ are almost
endless. Indeed, so far as I have observed, this is a new and very
attractive field for the collector, for although I have visited a great
many large museums, and in both the New and the Old World have seen many
ornithological collections, I have never yet seen a collection of birds'
nests which represented a tithe of the possibilities in that direction.
Every oologist should have in his library a copy of Rev. J.G. Wood's
charming book, "Homes without Hands," which portrays many of the wonders of
bird architecture.

In collecting nests one must go prepared to saw off branches, to cut
sections of grassy earth, to gather up big tufts of grass, and transport
all these to some safe destination. Very often it will be necessary to
protect a nest by filling its cavity with some soft material, and then with
fine thread or wire to wrap it securely to the limb on which it is placed.
Or again, it may be necessary to remove a nest temporarily from its resting
place, wrap it thoroughly, and transport it separately to the museum, to be
put in its place later on.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.--Wire Standard for Nests.]

Most naked nests, _i.e._, those that have been plucked from their
resting-place, require to be wrapped to keep them from gradually falling
to pieces. This may be done with fine thread of the same color as the
outside materials of the nest, or, what Captain Bendire uses and recommends
as being better, the finest kind of wire which, in large cities, can be
bought, neatly made up on spools, at five to ten cents a spool. The wire or
thread is wound on quite as one would wind thread on a ball, except that
the wire must never be allowed to cross the cavity of the nest, which would
at once make it conspicuous. Put on only enough winding to hold the nest
well together, and distribute it so that the wire will not be noticed when
the nest is placed on exhibition.

For the display of naked nests, Captain Bendire uses a very simple but
ingenious little standard made of four wires twisted together so as to form
an upright stem, a horizontal platform of the right size, with four
perpendicular standards to receive and hold the nest. These standards are
easily bent to conform to the shape of the nest, and if the upper ends
project above the nest they are snipped off with a pair of cutting pliers.
The illustration on page 93 (Fig. 22) shows the exact character of the wire
standard, and Fig. 23 shows it in use, supporting a naked nest. Captain
Bendire's method of labelling his nests is also shown in full. It is to be
noted that the locality of the specimen exhibited, and the name of the
collector, appears in full upon the label--two features which should never
be omitted on a specimen that is of sufficient value to occupy a place in a
museum. Nevertheless, by less careful curators both these statements are
frequently omitted from labels.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.--Nest on Wire Standard, with Labels.]

COLLECTING EGGS.--In connection with a collection of nests, each nest
holding its own lawful and original contents, a good collection of birds'
eggs possesses much interest and beauty.

In collecting and preserving eggs, the most difficult feature of all is to
remove the embryos successfully. In the days when I diligently collected
eggs in many lands, it seemed to me that out of every dozen eggs I
gathered, about thirteen contained from one to two embryos each! But there
are ways in which this difficulty can be successfully overcome.

The full set of eggs laid by a bird for one brood is called a "clutch," and
in collecting it is of scientific importance that whole sets should be
collected and always kept separate, and the number of eggs in each set
taken should be recorded.

Eggs are always blown through a small, round hole in the middle of one
side, preferably in each instance on the poorest side of the egg, if it has
one. Of course, the smaller the egg, the smaller the drill must be, and the
greater the care in handling. It is often a good plan to pierce the shell
with a needle in order to furnish the drill a point of attack. If an egg is
cracked, or happens to be of such value that it must be saved at all
hazards, reinforce it by pasting narrow strips of goldbeater's skin or
court-plaster across the line of fracture.

Having drilled the hole, insert the end of a small wire, having a small
portion of the end bent at a right angle, and if the embryo has not begun
to develop, or happens to be quite small and soft, twirl the wire rapidly
between your thumb and finger, to thoroughly break up the contents of the
egg. Having accomplished this, insert the tip of your blow-pipe (the best
in the world consists of a tube of glass bent at a right angle and
terminating in a fine point, with the large end set in the end of a rubber
bulb, which saves the mouth and lungs all trouble) and with gentle and
gradual pressure blow in air. Hold the egg with the hole downward, of
course, so that the contents will run out freely. Go slowly and carefully,
even coaxingly, for too great pressure will burst any ordinary egg in two
parts very neatly. If the embryo is small and disposed to be accommodating,
help it out by inserting the point of your smallest scissors, snipping it
to pieces, and then drawing out the parts, one by one, with your smallest

Having emptied the egg of its contents, introduce some clear water by way
of the blow-pipe, wash out the inside thoroughly, and in case the egg is in
a clean, healthy condition, it can now be laid away on cotton or cornmeal,
with the hole downward, to drain and get dry. Observe this point, however.
The thin, membranous lining of an egg, which the point of the drill pierces
but cannot cut away, often closes together inside the hole so closely as to
retain, for some time, whatever water might chance to remain. For this
reason it was my custom to cut away this membrane around the edges of the
hole. Captain Bendire remarks that "eggs that have been thoroughly cleaned
will retain their original color much better, and insects or mice are not
so apt to trouble them."

REMOVING LARGE EMBRYOS.--It often happens that eggs are taken quite near
the hatching point, containing embryos so lusty in size, and so "very
fillin'" that their successful ejectment seems impossible. _Nil
desperandum._ The way out of the difficulty is through a very small hole.
On this point I appealed to the highest authority, Captain Bendire, and he
kindly gave me, in general substance, the following directions:

In the first place, make up your mind to go slow, and take plenty of time.
If the egg is valuable and the embryo is large, reinforce the egg all over
with strips of goldbeater's skin or court-plaster. Having drilled a fairly
large hole, then insert the head of a needle in a small stick for a handle,
and with the point pierce the embryo in twenty or thirty places. The egg
sac, which is always present, should be taken out, if possible with the
forceps, to give room for water.

Having cleared out the egg as far as possible, fill it up with water to
assist in the decomposition of the embryo. Cover the bottom of a box with a
layer of cornmeal or sawdust; lay the egg on this, with the hole upward
(still full of water), cover the box, and place it under a stove or in any
other place warm enough to hasten the process of decomposition. Work at the
egg a little about every alternate day, but without hurrying matters, and
keep this process in operation until the embryo softens, falls to pieces,
and is ready to be drawn out piecemeal. In removing a large embryo, try to
get hold of the tip of the mandible with the small forceps, so that it can
be drawn out, point foremost, without splitting the shell.

Eggs that emit an offensive odor after they have been blown need to be
rinsed out with carbolic acid and water, or some equally good disinfectant.

It is, of course, to be understood that eggs must be clean on the outside
before they are fit for the cabinet. Usually soap and warm water is
sufficient to remove dirt and stains, but occasionally a particularly hard
case calls for the addition of a little washing soda in the water. The last
washing, however, should always be in clear water.

Inasmuch as a label cannot be attached to an egg, the data necessary to
give the egg a respectable position in the oological world must be written
on the under side of the egg itself, either in lead pencil or India ink,
which is capable of being erased, at will.

The following are the data that should be recorded on every egg collected
and kept:

1. Name of species, or number in A.O.U. check list, if North American.

2. Collector's number, which belongs to _every egg_ of a given set, and
refers to his catalogue and field notes.

3. Number of eggs in the set, or "clutch."

4. Date in full.

In packing eggs for shipment, a great many small boxes of wood or tin are
absolutely essential, and in these the eggs must be carefully packed in
cotton, each one separated from the rest of the world by a layer of cotton.
It is an excellent plan to wrap every large egg separately in cotton, as
oranges are wrapped in papers. Captain Bendire recommends the making of
divisions, one for each egg, with strips of pasteboard, like the crates in
which egg producers pack eggs for shipment to market. This gives each egg a
compartment by itself, with a bit of soft cotton cloth at top and bottom.
If produce dealers can afford to take such care of eggs worth only thirty
cents per dozen, surely oologists can do the same when they are within the
pale of civilization, and can get the materials.

At the National Museum the duplicate eggs are stored in small, rectangular,
shallow pasteboard trays, or half boxes, each of which has its bottom
covered very neatly and exactly with a section of cotton wadding, which
gives a soft, springy cushion for the eggs to lie on without the
undesirable fluffy looseness of ordinary cotton batting.


_Keeping everlastingly at it brings success._



It would be impossible for me to dwell too strongly upon the importance,
nay, even the vital necessity to the taxidermist, of a commodious and
suitable workroom, and a good supply of proper tools and materials. Anyone
setting up a store of any kind meets the expenditures for fixtures and
furniture as a matter of course; but the average taxidermist would consider
it a killing thing to invest from $100 to $200 in good tools and
materials. First-class tools, and a good assortment of them, are
indispensable allies in the production of the finest kind of work in the
shortest possible time.

In taxidermy let us have no making of bricks without straw. As well might
an artist attempt to paint a grand picture with a sash tool as a
taxidermist attempt to mount fine specimens with a dull knife, an old file,
and a pair of rusty pliers.

Let us suppose we are fitting up a taxidermic laboratory in which to mount
all kinds of vertebrate animals, great and small. To begin with, we must
have a good room, if possible 15 X 25 feet, or even larger, with _good
light_, a high ceiling, and an abundant supply of water. There must be
somewhere a storeroom for bulky materials, and a drying-room for freshly
mounted specimens. There must be provided somewhere, for the wet mammal
skins, a big, box-like tank lined with sheet lead, for very large objects,
and some alcohol barrels for smaller ones. These must be provided with
tight covers, or the salt-and-alum bath will evaporate with great rapidity.

After the above, our laboratory will require the following

FURNITURE AND FIXTURES.--A heavy work-table, 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and
2 feet 6 inches high; top 1-1/2 inch thick.

A tool case and chest of drawers.

A stove, a chopping-block, a heavy bench vise.

A grindstone, a blacksmith's anvil, and portable forge.

A water-tight platform on castors, on which to stand large mammals that are
wet and dripping.


 2 killing-knives.                        |1 machinist's hammer.
 2 cartilage-knives.                      |1 hatchet, to lend.
 1 pair shears, and 1 pair fine scissors. |1 sharp hatchet, to use.
 1 draw-shave, adjustable handles.        |1 cold chisel.
 2 skin-scrapers, of sizes.               |1 set stone-cutter's chisels.
 3 gouges, of sizes.                      |1  punch.
 3 chisels, of sizes.                     |1 tap wrench.
 1 screw-driver.                          |1 pair calipers.
 1 2-foot rule.                           |1 set of hack saws, for iron and
                                         |     brass.
 1 tape-measure, 12 feet.                 |1 set iron fillers, of sizes.
 1 thread-cutter, for iron.               |1 set wooden fillers, of sizes.
 1 thread-cutter, for brass.              |1 set modelling tools.
 3 pair pliers, of sizes.                 |1 set of files.
 3 pair cutting nippers.                  |1 set of paint brushes.
 4 pair forceps, of sizes.                |1 set of brushes for hair and
                                         |     teeth.
 1 hand vise.                             |1 gluepot.
 1 hand drill.                            |1 set of awls.
 2 monkey wrenches, of sizes.             |1 set of glover's needles, 3
                                         |     sizes.
 1 ratchet brace, with bits and drills.   |Best linen sewing twine, or
 4 gimlet bits, of sizes.                 |"gilling thread," of two or three
                                         |     sizes.
 1 hand-saw.                              |1 iron thimble.
 1 key-hole saw.                          |1 spirit-lamp, or gas-stove.
 1 claw hammer.                           |Pails, kettles, cups, bowls, etc.
 1 tack hammer.                           |12 spools of Barbour's linen
                                         |     thread.

MATERIALS.--Excelsior; hemp tow of two qualities, coarse and fine, both of
long fibre; flax tow, such as upholsterers use; cotton batting; oat straw;
potter's clay; good glue; plaster Paris; arsenical soap; spirits of
turpentine; benzine; salt by the barrel; ground alum by the hundredweight;
pine and hemlock lumber, one to two inches thick; 2×4 pine scantling; an
assortment of annealed wire; rods of Norway iron, from 3/16 inch to 1 inch;
nails, tacks, wrought-iron staples, screws, nuts, bolts, wrapping twine;
rosettes for iron standards; washers, all sizes; alcohol, shellac, white
hard oil finish (varnish); muriatic acid, sheet wax, sperm oil; glass eyes,
all sizes, kinds and colors; unlimited pluck, patience, and perseverance.

If the worker intends to mount only birds and small mammals, he will need
but a very small portion of the tools and materials enumerated above. But
fie! Where is the taxidermist worthy of the name who will admit that his
resources are limited, or that he is not able and ready to "set up" any
animal that may be brought to him, no matter how big or how bad it is.
Perish the thought that he is not able to cope with dog, deer, or even

We now start on the supposition that you have acquired all the tools and
materials you are likely to need, and that our subsequent work is not going
to halt or hang fire on account of the lack of this or that article.



RELAXING DRY SKINS.--Nearly all mammal skins that go from one country to
another are sent in a dry state, and it is a rare exception to obtain a
foreign skin in any other condition. It therefore behooves the mammal
taxidermist to become a thorough expert in softening dry skins of all kinds
and sizes, and bringing them into mountable condition.

To relax a dry skin, rip it open, remove the filling material, and immerse
it in a weak but _clean_ salt-and-alum bath (see Chapter IV.) until it
becomes soft, be the time required three days or three weeks. If you are in
a great hurry, soak the skin at first for a brief period in clear water,
and if it is milk-warm, so much the better. Sometimes a skin is so old and
hard and refractory that the bath of salt and alum seems to make no
impression upon it, in which case try clear water. In a few hours it will
yield and collapse, and then it must be put into the bath, or the water
will soon macerate it, and cause the hair to slip off. You can leave the
skin in the salt-and-alum bath as long as you choose without endangering it
in any way.

The inside of every dry skin usually has over it a hard, inelastic coating
which, when once gotten rid of by shaving or scraping, leaves the skin
underneath measurably soft and elastic, according to its kind. If the skin
is a small one, or no larger than that of a wolf, the best way to get it in
working order is to lay it flat upon the table, and go at it vigorously
with the skin-scraper (see Fig. 24). In this there must be no half-way
measures, no modesty, no shirking. Bear on hard, dig away at the same spot
with all your energy, first in one direction, then crosswise, then
diagonally. Scrape as if you were scraping on a wager, and presently the
skin will become so thinned down it will become quite soft, and even
elastic. This is hard work, it starts the perspiration and keeps it going,
but it will conquer the hardest skin that ever was made.

To make a skin sufficiently elastic to mount, it must be turned wrong-side
out and scraped all over thoroughly with a skin-scraper, from nose to tip
of tail, and phalanges. Small skins yield far more readily and kindly than
the larger ones. The skins that are hardest, horniest, and most refractory
are those of the capybara, all of the _Suidæ_ (hogs), and tropical deer. I
have mounted skins of these that when first softened were precisely like
horn,--and at best with such subjects the resulting specimens are only

Sometimes when the scraper can make no impression, it becomes necessary to
laboriously pare down the inside of an entire skin with the knife before
scraping it. This is tedious, but effective, for a sharp knife leaves no
room for argument.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.--Skin-Scrapers, about one-fourth actual size.]

All skins larger than a gray wolf, whether they be fresh or dry, need to be
stretched on a beam, and pared down with a sharp draw-shave that has
adjustable handles. This useful instrument can be bought at any large
hardware store for $1.25. Keep it thoroughly sharp. The beam should be
about seven feet in length, and six by three inches in size, and laid flat.
One end of it is to be bolted firmly down to your bench by two movable iron
bolts, and the half which projects beyond the edge of the table must have
both of its upper edges rounded off so that it will represent half a
cylinder with the convexity uppermost. The table itself must be fastened
securely in place. Throw the skin over the rounded end of this beam, drive
a stout "scratch-awl" through it, just beyond the reach of your arms,
stretch and flatten the skin upon the beam, and with the draw-shave
carefully shave down the entire skin until it is thin enough.

Be very careful at first, until your hands acquire skill, or you will cut
through the skin, which, in the case of an animal like a hair seal means an
unsightly, permanent defect. Do not be afraid of paring a skin too thin so
long as you stop at the roots of the hair.

Of course you can not pare down the skin of the head and feet with the
draw-shave, and these must be treated with the knife and scraper. The skin
of the head of every mammal must be pared down and scraped particularly
thin all over, especially the eyelids, lips, and nostrils, so that when
these parts are backed up with clay you can model them into exquisitely
fine form and expression. If you slight the skin of the head, good-by to
all expression; you will merely be able to "stuff" it, and that is all. If
its features look coarse, uncouth, and wooden, it will probably be because
the thickness and inelasticity of the skin defies your art.

Of course the joints of the feet must be got into working order. The leg
bones and skull require to be thoroughly scraped and cleaned, and the skin
itself worked up as nearly as possible to the condition of a fresh

CARVING WOODEN SKULLS AND LEG BONES.--It is absolutely essential that
every mammal to be mounted should have a skull, and all save the smallest
should have leg bones also. If the skull and leg bones that belong in a
skin are missing, I invariably carve others of the same size out of soft
pine to replace the lost members. These bones are imperatively necessary to
give shape and length to the various joints and angles of the limbs, to
shape the head, to give a foundation for the attachment of wires, and to
build upon generally. Very often the skull of an animal is of such value to
science that it must be kept out of the skin at all hazards, and exhibited
separately. Then it must be duplicated in wood.

Every mammal taxidermist _must_ learn how to carve wooden bones, and the
quicker he becomes expert at it, the better. Very few tools are required,
and these are as follows: A small hatchet, a pair of 8-inch calipers, a
pair of 8-inch dividers, gouges of three sizes, 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 inch;
chisels of about four sizes between 3/8 and 1 inch, a draw-shave, a
spoke-shave, a good sharp pocket-knife, and the usual supply of boring


To carve a wooden skull, proceed as follows: If you have not the genuine
skull to use as a pattern, you must procure one from an animal of the same
species, and ascertain its size in comparison with what the wooden skull
must be, _e.g._, whether it be larger or smaller. Then procure a piece of
soft pine timber, free from knots, and thick enough to turn out a skull of
the proper size. If this can not be found in one piece, glue together
several pieces of pine until they form a block of the proper size. On the
top of this block place your genuine skull, and trace its outline on the
wood, making your outline larger or smaller, as it may need to be, and
bilaterally symmetrical. Now take your hatchet and hew the two sides of the
block down exactly to this outline. This represents the "ground plan" of
the skull.

To get the side elevation, sketch out on the side of this block a side-view
outline of the skull, and then hew down to that. With your dividers, locate
exactly the inner edge of the orbits, and then mark out with a pencil the
entire circle of each orbit. With a gouge carve out the hollows neatly, and
then with your flat chisels attack the cranium, round off its angles, and
so work over the entire skull.

Measure frequently with the calipers to see that the dimensions are
correct. There is no need to go into any of the details of the back part,
or basi-occipital portion of the skull, nor with any other details except
those that lie on the surface. It is important to shape the orbits,
zygomatic arch, the frontal bones, the muzzle and lower jaw, quite
accurately, for these bones bear scarcely any flesh. In making skulls for
apes and monkeys the greatest care is necessary to produce the facial
angle, orbits, and muzzle, so sharply characteristic of the various

When a wooden skull is used, the mouth should always be closed, unless it
is very necessary to have it open. While it is possible to take moulds from
a real skull, and cast a full set of teeth in plaster or lead, or to set
real teeth, or painted wooden imitations, into a wooden skull, the result
is generally unsatisfactory to a critical eye. When teeth are cast and
painted, the paint always changes color with age, causing the teeth to look
"made up." If you can not have a real skull with genuine teeth in it, for
whatever mammal you are mounting, no one has any right to require that it
be mounted with open mouth, unless the head is to go on a rug instead of a
scientific specimen.

Observe the following precautions in making a skull:

1. Be sure that it has the proper facial angle.

2. Be sure that it is in no way too large. Better have it too small than
too large.

3. Be sure that there are no sharp corners upon it anywhere, lest they come
out next to the skin in mounting, and cause trouble.

When a skull is finished, bore a hole (or two in some cases) through it
from the occiput to the centre of the nose or mouth, for the passage of the
neck irons or wires that are to support the head.

The principles involved in carving skulls apply equally to carving leg
bones, except in this work there is much to be done with the draw-shave and
spoke-shave. Of course they require to be wired together at the joints,
with two wires at each joint, so that the space between them may be
channelled out with a gouge to receive the leg iron.

SEWING UP HOLES IN SKINS.--After thoroughly cleaning a skin, take a
glover's three-cornered needle of the proper size, and a waxed thread from
a ball of strong linen thread, or "gilling twine," and sew up all the
holes that are to be found in the skin. It requires some little ingenuity
sometimes to know just how to trim the edges of a hole so that it can be
sewed up without puckering the skin, but a little experimenting will soon
reveal the way.

If you have to sew up a cut which has no hair to cover it, sew tightly with
a curve-pointed needle, starting the stitches on the inside well back from
the edge, and sewing only three-quarters of the way through the skin. Draw
the edges tightly together. When the sewing is finished, place a flat bar
of iron or wood underneath the seam, and hammer it with a hammer all the
way along. This will flatten the ridge formed by the sewing, and will
render the seam almost invisible.

In order to do fine work, a taxidermist must be quite expert in the use of
the needle and thread. In sewing up skins there are two points to be aimed
at, viz.:

1. To sew strongly.

2. To sew so neatly that the seam will be as nearly invisible as possible.

For general work one must also have common round needles, and No. 30 thread
for very fine sewing, as, for instance, torn eye corners or lips, and holes
in the face where the skin is very thin and there is little hair, or none
at all; three-cornered glover's needles, Nos. 00, 1, 2, 3; and three sizes
of strong linen sewing twine. In the beginning of your work acquire the
habit of being particular about the size of the needle and thread you use
upon a skin, and never let them be larger than necessary. When special
strength is needed, double the thread and wax it with beeswax to prevent
its rotting. Always sew with the ball stitch, _e.g._, from the inside of
the skin to the outside, every stitch. It is often convenient to use a
curved needle, and this can be made by heating a glover's needle to a red
heat in the flame of a spirit lamp and curving it while hot.

HOW TO MAKE LONG NEEDLES.--In making manikins, and also for other purposes,
it is necessary to have a set of needles varying in length from six to
eighteen inches, or even longer. You can buy needles up to ten inches in
length from anyone who keeps upholsterers' supplies, but the longer ones
you must make for yourself. To do this, take a piece of No. 12 or 13 steel
wire and grind one end to a point. For the eye, heat the other end red hot,
flatten it with the hammer, then heat it again, lay it on a bar of lead,
and with a brad-awl and hammer punch an eye in it while hot.

NECK IRONS IN MOUNTING MAMMALS.--Never allow a neck iron to come through
the top of the skull, through the forehead, or through the face anywhere.
The neck iron, which must support the entire weight of the head and neck,
should pass through the back of the skull and into the nasal cavity. Let
the iron extend some inches beyond the end of the nose until the neck is
made, and the head placed in position, for not until then can you tell what
length the neck iron should be. When the head is well-nigh finished, take a
small hack-saw and saw off the neck iron close up to the nasal cavity, so
far from the end of the nose that by no possible chance can the animal
shrink so much in drying that the end of the iron will protrude through one
of the nostrils and into view.



GENERAL REMARKS.--We may assume that anyone who is ambitious to excel in
taxidermic work desires to do so by the high character of his productions,
and the recommendation they silently give him. I am well convinced that any
one who takes the trouble to read this book will welcome the following
principles that apply very generally in mounting the higher vertebrates,
and are, at all events, intended to increase the average of general
excellence and permanency in mounted specimens.

A place in the front rank of taxidermists is not to be easily won. It can
only be accomplished by the studious methods of the sculptor, the
experience and observation of the field naturalist, and a combination of
these with technical and mechanical skill in the laboratory. The painter
paints but one side of his animal, and he is not hampered by bulk or
measurements. The sculptor blithely builds up his clay model, with neither
skin, bones, nor hair to vex his soul. The taxidermist must not only equal
the form of the sculptor's clay model, but he must also make it to fit a
certain skin with exactitude.

The ideal taxidermist must be a combination of modeller and anatomist,
naturalist, carpenter, blacksmith, and painter. He must have the eye of an
artist, the back of a hod-carrier, the touch of a wood-chopper one day, and
of an engraver the next.

With increased skill on the part of the workers has come increased
appreciation on the part of museum officials, and higher salaries. Let me
say to aspiring beginners, there is plenty of room at the top, and money
and glory to spare for those who get there. But there is no royal road to
fortune in this business. Success means years of earnest work and study.

With the understanding, therefore, that we are aiming at perfection, and
that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing," we will endeavor to call
attention to a few principles which underlie all good work in taxidermy. At
the same time I will try to point out a few of the most common faults
generally observable in mounted specimens.

PERMANENCY.--This is the foundation on which every specimen must be built
in order to be first class. A preserved and mounted animal that has not
enough solidity and stability to stand the test of time is unworthy of a
place in any museum or private residence, for its existence is sure to
terminate speedily in disappointment, disgust, and loss. During the last
eight years the National Museum and American Museum of Natural History have
thrown away and otherwise gotten rid of enough stuffed specimens to stock a
small museum, and all because of poor and unstable taxidermic work only
twenty years ago.

A taxidermist who knows his business can mount a specimen to last ten years
or ten hundred, just as he chooses. If you, like a certain taxidermist I
once knew, believe in "quantity not quality," then you, like him, can use
small and weak supporting irons ("they work so much easier than heavy
ones!"), half clean your skins and skulls, ram a skin full of excelsior,
straw, paper, and rubbish from your dirt-box, sew it up with long stitches
and cheap twine, cram its eyes and nostrils with nasty putty, and insert
the cheapest eyes obtainable. Then, while the specimen may look passably
well during its first six months, by the end of two years its sides will be
a succession of hills and hollows, its seams will be ripped and gaping wide
open, its nose will be shrivelled up and shapeless, its ears will look like
dry autumn leaves; it will lean over helplessly to one side, and will also
have settled down upon its feet until they are shapeless deformities.

This is no fancy picture, for it fairly represents the condition of many a
buffalo, deer, and moose that I have been called upon to either dismount,
remount, or destroy. A dishonest taxidermist may slight the interior work
of a specimen and have it escape detection for six months, or even a year,
but time soon tells the story. Dishonest or careless work, like murder,
will out. In a bird, it expresses itself in a look of roughness, and a
general falling away from grace at all points.

To secure perfect stability and permanence in a mounted specimen, observe
conscientiously the following principles in its construction:

1. Pare every skin down thin, so that its shrinking power will be reduced
to a minimum. This will prevent its seams from opening.

2. Poison with the utmost thoroughness, so that even though the specimen
should chance to stand unprotected for years where insect pests are
thickest, they can find nothing to feed upon in its hair or feathers.

3. Use heavy supporting irons or wires, as heavy as the specimen will
accommodate without sacrificing the form and position of legs and feet. The
fault of using the lightest possible supports is entirely too common, and
is so thoroughly reprehensible in a taxidermist that it becomes a vice.

4. Make the mechanical structure of every specimen (_e.g._, the fastening
together of the body, limbs, head, neck, and tail), so firm that the
rigidity of all is complete. It is then, and only then, in your power to
place any member of the body in a desirable attitude and have it remain

5. Every portion of the skin should rest upon a _firm, smooth_ surface of
clay, excelsior, straw, or tow, according to circumstances. If there are
lumps under the skin, they will appear soon after it is dry, and destroy
its smoothness. If there are hollows, the result will be the same.

6. The larger the specimen the thicker is the skin, and consequently the
harder and more unyielding should be the material it rests upon. Do not
make a manikin with hoop iron and burlap, and a little loose filling
between that and the skin, for specimens so mounted nearly always come to
grief. If you stuff a skin with straw, excelsior, or tow, pack the filling
in a solid mass, for with the lapse of time all such materials are bound to
shrink, no matter how hard you make them at first. The shrinkage of straw
is often remarkable and highly disastrous.

ATTITUDE.--On this subject no fixed rules can be offered. To one fact,
however, which should always be borne in mind by the preparator, I must
call special attention, and that is as follows: Animals of all kinds, even
in a state of nature, and entirely of their own volition, often assume
attitudes that are highly ungraceful, unpleasing to the eye, and anything
but fairly representative of the creature's form and habits. This being the
case, do not make the mistake of concluding that because you have seen a
particular animal assume a particular attitude, it is "natural," and
therefore you can do no better than to reproduce that attitude in the
specimen you are mounting. No, a thousand times no. This mistake will lead
to the reproduction of many an ugly attitude, even though like life itself.

Every animal is capable of assuming scores of different attitudes, and from
all these you should _choose the one which is most strikingly
characteristic of the subject_, most truly representative, and which does
the animal the same sort of justice that you seek at the hands of the
artist when you go to have your own picture taken. On such occasions you do
not lounge ungracefully, nor "stand stoop-shouldered," nor look listless;
you stand erect, at your full height, and look your very best. Make your
animal do the same.

For your own picture you do not assume a violent and tragic attitude, nor
anything strained. You stand or sit at ease, quietly but intently
regarding something in particular; or your attitude may with equal
propriety represent a moment of rest in the course of some quiet action.
Pose your mounted specimens according to the same principles, and the
results will be most satisfactory to all. The choice of an attitude depends
wholly upon your artistic instincts, "upon your eye," so to speak. Choose
that one which is most graceful or grand, and is at the same time truly
characteristic of the subject. To my mind, the attitude taken by an animal
when startled by visible or suspected danger, is the one _par excellence_
in which it appears at its best when mounted. Under such conditions the
animal always stands fully erect, head aloft, and with every sense keenly
on the alert. The next best attitude is that which represents an animal
quietly walking or climbing, according to its habits and modes of

The subject of groups and grouping will be considered in full later on in
this work.

PROPORTIONS.--On this point a single observation will be sufficient. The
taxidermist often receives, from the zoological gardens and menageries,
specimens that are very thin in flesh. In mounting an animal, do not let
your knowledge of anatomy run away with your judgment, art, and even nature
itself, by producing a tiger, panther, zebra, or buffalo with all its ribs
showing, and its scapula, pelvis, and vertebral column all standing out in
bold relief. Unless the individuals of a given species are always scrawny,
I pray you, for the sake of truth and justice, do not make your solitary
representative of that species look like a candidate for special honors at
a bone-yard.

Let me assure you, on the honor of a hunter, that animals in a state of
nature are nearly always well fed and plump-looking, and show very few
bones. It is easy to make ribs on a clay-covered manikin, but do not do it
on a wild animal, unless you deliberately intend to produce a starveling.
According to its nature, make every animal look well-fed and in good
condition, _but not fat_. It seldom happens that a wild animal in a state
of nature grows really fat, but it is still more seldom that one looks
under-fed and poor. If fatness is a special characteristic of a species,
then fat let it be, but scrawny never.

Above all things, avoid in your birds and quadrupeds the half-filled body
which makes the subject look as if it had been eviscerated. The abdomen is
always convex, not concave.

THE USES OF CLAY AS A FILLING MATERIAL.--The value of clay in the mounting
of mammals, reptiles, and fishes can hardly be overestimated. Previous to
1880 its use among the taxidermists of my acquaintance was unknown, and
when its value was discovered and put to general use by the writer, in the
year mentioned, many of my rivals predicted all manner of evil from it.
They declared it would destroy skins, go to dust within them, become soft
mud in damp weather, crack, etc. I persisted in its use, disproving all
evil prognostications, and now its general use really marks a new era in
American taxidermy. By means of this common and cheap material it is not
only possible but easy to mount a horse, a seal, a hairless dog, a turtle,
snake, fish, or any other animal, with absolute accuracy in every detail of
form and size. Not only is this true, but, so far as I can discover, there
is no other material than clay with which these results can be
accomplished. For covering manikins, coating the skulls of large animals,
and for filling in the nose, mouth, eyes, and ears, it is everything that
could be desired. With it a stretched skin,

    "A world too wide for his shrunk shank,"

can be worked together on the clay-covered manikin, and reduced in size
until it fits without the slightest visible wrinkle, or any cutting out
such as used to be necessary by the old methods.

To prepare clay for use, take the clean, worked chunks of soft potter's
clay (which costs about two cents per pound, and should be quite free from
sand and grit), put the right quantity in a pail, and pour a little water
upon it. With the hands knead it until the water is taken up, and it
becomes as soft as dough. It will, of course, be quite sticky, and in this
state is altogether too soft to use except to cover a large manikin, in
which case it must be soft enough to spread easily with the hand. For
ordinary use, however, chop up finely, with the hatchet, some clean hemp
tow of long fibre, and mix it thoroughly with the clay, which can be done
only with the hand. This makes the clay more stiff, about like soft putty,
and of the proper consistency for filling into feet, cheeks, eyes, mouth,
nose, etc. If the clay is too soft, you will have difficulty in making it
retain the proper form under the skin. If it is too stiff, it balls up, and
you can not work it along under the skin from one part to another. When you
learn to make it of just the right consistency it works to perfection, no
matter where you put it, and will forever retain the form your fingers give
it by pressure from without. Elsewhere will be given more detailed advice
in regard to the various uses of clay.

COLORING.--The time was when American curators held it sacrilege to paint
the soft parts of birds, and the hairless portions of certain mammals. For
my part, I have always fought that idea unconditionally, in season and out
of season, and I am glad to say that within the last eight years it has
been utterly abandoned. Clearly, it is better to reproduce the colors of
soft parts as accurately as one can, rather than let them remain in a
colorless, dry, and mummified condition, hideous to the eye and meaningless
to the understanding. By all means let us color everything that has color
in life, though the heavens fall. Ascertain in some way what the color
should be (this can often be done by reference to books with colored
plates), then paint accordingly. Paint with turpentine and oil, rather than
with oil alone, which leaves an unnatural gloss. You can tone down any oil
color, however, by stippling it with a stipple brush dipped in a pan of
dry color, or plaster Paris. The taxidermist who can paint the exposed
parts of his specimens accurately and artistically has a very powerful
advantage over all those who can not. This subject will also receive
special attention elsewhere.

GENERAL FINISH.--In all work on specimens, cultivate a delicate and
artistic touch, and then leave its impress upon everything you do. Do not
leave a specimen looking as if a coal heaver had finished it. Work at it,
and keep on working at it until it is perfect; and then go back to it the
next day, and work at it some more! There is no inferno too deep or too hot
for a slovenly, slatternly taxidermist. The fault with such workers usually
lies not so much in their lack of skill as in their lack of patience and
the dogged stick-to-itiveness that conquers all difficulties, no matter
whether they come singly, in platoons, or by divisions. Delicacy is just as
essential in the production of good work as originality and strength.



In attempting to give the beginner a fair start in the general work of
mounting small mammals of all sorts, from mice up to small foxes, I will
describe in detail the entire process of mounting a typical specimen, which
in this instance will be a squirrel. This will embody all the general
principles involved, and after having laid this foundation we will proceed
to consider exceptional cases, and describe the manner in which they must
be met. The exceptional cases are bats, rabbits, young animals of the
smaller species, and a few others.

We will assume that the subject before us is either a "dry skin" which has
been fully relaxed, scraped, and rendered perfectly pliable and elastic, or
else "a fresh skin," _i.e._, one which has been preserved in our
antiseptic solution (the salt-and-alum bath) or possibly in alcohol, and
has therefore never been dried. For the sake of the beginner's courage,
which should never be taken out of him at the very first onset by putting
him on a dry skin of doubtful quality, we will take the skin of a fine,
old, gray squirrel (_Sciurus carolinensis_) which lies in the bath waiting
to be immortalized--or something else.

It may easily happen that for good and sufficient reasons the beginner has
no salt-and-alum bath, and can not prepare one. In that event the skin can
be mounted immediately after it is taken off the animal, only it is
necessary to apply to it _after_ the arsenical soap, as directed hereafter,
a copious quantity of powdered alum. If you have no arsenical soap, then as
you proceed with the mounting moisten the inside of the skin with water,
and rub on powdered alum and arsenic, mixed in equal parts, and be sure
that the skin is everywhere coated with it eventually. This leaves the fur
dry and clean, and will save you the trouble of drying and dressing it.

On taking our squirrel skin from the bath to mount it we find its texture
is firm, and it is somewhat shrunken in size, so that when it is filled out
it will not stretch all out of proportion. If either in haste or
carelessness you have left a layer of flesh upon the skin, pare it off
until the inside of the skin is quite clean. If any holes have been cut by
bullets or knives, sew then up from the inside with a strong linen thread
and a No. 3 glover's needle--three-cornered.

Now for the wires. Measure the leg bones from the sole of the foot to the
end of the thigh-bone, add three inches for what the wire must project
beyond the sole of the foot, five inches more at the other end, and cut a
No. 15 annealed iron wire[8] of the length thus obtained, for each hind
leg. The length of the wires for the forelegs is obtained in the same way.
Thus for our squirrel, the wires for the hind legs must be fourteen inches
long, and for the forelegs twelve.

Cut another No. 15 wire twice the length from the back of the head to the
root of the tail, and this will be the body wire eighteen inches long. The
tail wire must be smaller, No. 17, long enough to reach from the tip of the
tail to the centre of the body--seventeen inches. Straighten all these
wires carefully, lay them together on the table, and remember the purpose
of each. If they are rusty, rub them with sand paper. File one end of the
tail wire to a tapering point, for the tip of our squirrel's tail is very

We are now ready to make one of the legs, and will begin with one of the
hind legs. Take one of the two longest wires, pass one end of it through
the slit in the skin at the bottom of the foot, let it project three inches
beyond the sole of the foot, and up into the skin of the leg. Now bend the
wire until it fits closely along the under side of the leg bones as seen in
the accompanying illustration. Tie it firmly with linen thread to the bones
of the foot, to the _tibia_ and the _femur_, as seen in the accompanying

[Illustration: FIG. 25.--Leg-making and Wiring.]

Now take fine, clean tow, of good long fibre, and, beginning at the foot,
proceed to wrap it around the leg bones, smoothly and evenly, to replace
the muscles which have been cut away. The lower part of the leg is flat on
the inside and round on the outside, almost bare of flesh at the ankle.
Remember always that the flesh on the "calf" of the leg, and the forearm,
lies _behind_ the bones, swelling out toward the back and the inside of the
limb, and in front the skin lies upon the bone itself. Observe this, and
build up the muscles accordingly. The thigh is broad and much flattened,
rounded on the outside only, as you must have noticed when you skinned it
and cut off the flesh, and the knee-pan is prominent. To make the leg this
shape, first wind some tow around the thigh bone, then make up a little
roll of tow a little larger than your forefinger, place it along the under
side of the thigh and wind it fast there with tow. By a judicious
continuation of this process, you can make the thigh of the proper width
and flatness both above and below the bone. At no point is a squirrel's
thigh more than three-fourths of an inch thick, and the calf, the arm, and
the forearm are even less. By reference to the tracing made of the animal
in the flesh, you will be able to tell the width of the legs at all points
and correct your work all the way along.

In all thin-haired animals the tendon of the heel must be made by drilling
a hole through the end of the heel-bone, passing a small wire through for
half its length, then twisting the wire together half-way up to the knee.
Wind a little fine tow around this wire, gradually increasing the quantity
from the heel upward until the false tendon is complete, and the upper end
is wound in with the tow which forms the lower part of the thigh. In small
mammals which have long, thick hair, as our squirrel for example, it is not
necessary to make the tendon, as it does not show. Remember there is no
flesh on the upper part of the foot-bones, but considerable underneath.

It is not best to make the legs extremely hard, or they will be difficult
to bend, but at the same time the tow must not be put on in a loose,
slovenly manner. Avoid making the legs too large; the opposite extreme is
the lesser evil of the two.

When the leg is finished, anoint the skin of that leg with arsenical soap,
rub either a little wet clay or thick soap over the tow leg so that it will
slip into the skin easily, then turn the skin up over it and adjust it from
the foot up. If the leg does not fit, turn the skin back and alter its
shape until it does fit perfectly. This done satisfactorily, insert a
little clay or finely chopped tow in the bottom of the foot, bend the wire
so that it leaves the foot _at a right angle_, sew up the cut, and you are
ready to proceed in like manner with the three remaining legs. Be sure to
make both legs of each pair precisely alike if you wish to have a
healthy-looking animal when finished.

Having made all the legs, the next thing is the tail. Take some of your
finest tow in your right hand, the tail wire in your left, begin at the
pointed end, and by turning the wire constantly from left to right, let it
wind up the tow which runs between your right thumb and finger. Make the
tail of a regular taper, perfectly smooth, and not too large. Try it in the
skin occasionally to insure accuracy. If the first one is a failure,
discard it and make another. When at last you have what is required, anoint
the inside of the tail skin with arsenical soap, slip the false tail into
its place, and if the tail has been slit open, sew it up neatly all the way
along, commencing at the tip.

Now punch a small hole in the back of the skull a little above the
occipital opening, pass the end of the body wire through it, force the end
through into the nasal cavity and on out at the end of the nose. Let the
end of the wire also pass through one of the nostrils of the skin for about
two inches. Now put some soft clay on the sides of the skull and jaw to
replace the muscles which have been cut away, and fill the orbits with the
same material. Anoint the skin of the head and neck with the arsenical
soap, turn it back over the skull, and when the skull is once more in its
proper position in the skin, which can best be determined by noticing
whether the eye opening comes over the centre of the orbit, drive a tack
over each eye through the skin and into the bone.

Another tack at the top of the head will also do good service in holding
the skull in its place while the grand struggle with the body is going on,
for the head is the last thing finished. Life is too short and space too
valuable to allow me to explain fully why all these things must be done,
but if you neglect any of these simple directions you will very soon find
out why they were given.

The legs and tail are wired and made, the skull is in its place, with one
end of the body wire passing through it, and we are now ready to wire all
the parts of the animal together. The skin lies on the clean table before
us, right side out, with the legs in the same position as when we drew the
outline. Bend the inner ends of the foreleg wires back from the head of
the humerus at an obtuse angle, and let them cross each other like the
limbs of an X, as seen in the accompanying figure. At the point where they
cross each other, turn a little ring in the body wire, six inches from the
end, just large enough for the two wires to pass through easily. For this
purpose you will find a pair of round-nosed pliers convenient. Pass the end
of each foreleg wire through the ring, and let them cross again, with the
wire of the left leg underneath the other.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.--Wiring Together.]

Now refer to your outline, measure the distance between the extremities of
the toes, and it will tell you exactly how to adjust the leg wires so as to
get the right distance between the two ends of the humeri, or, in other
words, the shoulders. The wire between the head of the humerus and the ring
represents the scapula, and, if rightly measured, will enable us later on
to pose the forelegs with ease and success.

Now, with the round-nosed pliers in the left hand, grasp the three wires
firmly at the ring, lay hold of the two leg wires with the flat-nosed
pliers and give two complete turns to the right, twisting the wires
together as tightly as possible. Bend up the body wire to one of the leg
wires, and, leaving out the other, give these two a couple of turns. Take
the other leg wire and body wire and give them a twist. If the legs are now
_solidly_ together, it is enough, but if they are not, this twisting
process must be continued until they are perfectly firm. No looseness, if
you please.

This done, straighten out the body wire once more, arrange the skin as
before, according to your outlines, and you will soon see that the ring for
the hind legs must be turned about five inches below the first one. The
ends of the hind-leg wires are bent slightly forward (toward the head) from
the ends of the femora, and also cross each other in the ring. After
getting the hind legs the right distance apart, give the wires two turns as
before, then bend the free end of the body wire straight up and over until
it points toward the head. Proceed with it precisely as with the other leg
wires until the hind legs are immovably fixed on it. Now give the free ends
of the wires each a turn around the middle of the body wire and thus fasten
all together, forming a backbone of twisted iron wire.

The end of the tail wire must pass under the hind-leg wires (as the skin
lies on its back), and after giving a turn or two around the wire backbone,
tie it fast with strong twine. The tail must be as firmly fixed upon the
body wire as though it was soldered there. This done, wrap a goodly
quantity of tow tightly and smoothly around the wire backbone, so that the
numerous ends of wire, and the irregularities in the mass of twisted wire,
will not cause trouble when we come to fill the body. Now that you no
longer need to put your hands inside the skin, anoint it most thoroughly
with the soap, from the back of the head to the base of the tail. While the
skin is absorbing the soap, take a hatchet and chop up finely a quantity of
coarse tow. With your longest forceps, cover the inside of the skin with a
layer of cut tow, placing it between the wires and the skin. It is highly
important to have a good thick cushion of it next to the skin at the
shoulders, hips, and along the back.

[Illustration: FIG. 26_a._--The Legs Wired Together.]

This is the time to give the animal the attitude it is to have when
finished. All the members are now completely under control, and we can give
the animal any pose we wish. Bend up each leg at a right angle to its
present position, making the bend abruptly at the head of each femur, and
thus leave between them the same distance that separated them when they
joined the pelvis in life. Likewise bend up the foreleg, by making nearly a
right angle in the leg wire at the head of each humerus, and leave the
proper space between the shoulders. With the play that is given to the
forelegs, by means of the distance left between the shoulder point and the
ring, we are able to adjust the forelegs with the greatest freedom, to move
each shoulder either up or down, and increase or lessen the distance
between them at will.

The most pert and characteristic attitude of a squirrel is sitting up on
its haunches, either on the alert, eating something held in its paws, or,
perhaps, washing its face with its paws. This attitude is rather difficult
to get, but it is well worth trying for. Bend each hind leg at the knee
until the thigh touches the calf and rests upon it. Bend the ankle-joint
until the foot makes an acute angle with the calf. Make a very decided
curve in the backbone, so as to throw the body well forward between the
knees, which must come nearly opposite the centre of the body. Push the
hind legs up into the body so that the squirrel can sit upon his tail.

The elbows drop down until they almost touch the knees, which is partly
accomplished by curving the back. Just below the shoulders the backbone
must be curved, to throw the head and shoulders up, and hold them well
erect. Give the head the pose you wish it to have, slightly turned to one
side, let us say.

The next step, a very important one, is filling the body. If you do not do
it intelligently, your squirrel will need to find a grave in the ash
barrel. The mechanical part of this filling process is exceedingly simple,
and everything, or nearly everything, depends upon how much you know of the
anatomy of the animal before you. This is a private matter between yourself
and _nature_. Your hand will nearly always be able to keep up with your eye
if you give it a fair chance.

With your long forceps, which work like a dextrous thumb and finger eight
inches long, pick up the chopped tow, and little by little insert it in the
skin where it is needed. First fill out above the backbone until you get
the desired outline, in profile, of the back and shoulders from tail to
head. Then fill out the shoulders and form them properly. Fill in the neck,
first around the base of the skull, and sew up the neck skin from the end
of the cut downward for about two inches, and without cutting off your
thread insert more chopped tow in the neck and shoulders, packing it
firmly, if you have the proportions right. Do not allow the tow to roll up
into wads and make the skin full of hills and hollows on the outside. The
pressure of the tow on all points of the skin should be the same, and the
filling must be packed firmly and evenly, so that the finished animal will
keep its shape tenaciously in the struggle for existence, and not collapse
at a firm touch.

One secret of success in filling the body lies in gradually and equally
filling out the _entire body_ to fair proportions before finishing any one
part. Give the animal its exact attitude, then proceed. If there is an
apparent lack of skin at any particular point, attack that first, and fill
it out. You will soon find how easy it is to draw skin from one part of the
body to another by judicious filling.

Having finished the neck and shoulders, leave that part and go to the
haunches. Fill around the base of the tail, the hips, the upper part of the
thighs, and the abdomen. Be careful to make both sides alike. Commence at
the root of the tail and sew up the opening for about two inches, without
catching the hair in your stitches, after which you may bore two small
holes in a pine board, the proper distance apart, pass the two hind leg
wires through, and set the little animal up. This is only a trial trip, and
if you find the feet are not the proper distance apart (or the squirrel
does not walk properly, if you have put him in a walking attitude), or does
not sit properly, take him off the board and remedy the defects. When you
have corrected his attitude, proceed with the filling, sewing up from both
below and above, until the body is properly shaped, filled full of tow, and
the opening entirely sewn up.

Now comb the tow out of the damp fur, and, if it is dirty, wash it with
washing soda, soap and water until it is thoroughly clean. Place the animal
upon its board pedestal, and correct the attitude with the utmost care
before you bend the wires up underneath the board and clinch them fast. If
the specimen is even a moderate success thus far, we will go on with it.

If the animal you are mounting is a tree-climber, and you wish to mount it
upon a tree limb, select one for the purpose, and, according to your desire
to have it nearly perpendicular, slanting, or horizontal, saw it off at the
lower end, plant it firmly upon a rough board pedestal, and fasten it by
putting two long, stout screws through the board and up into the base of
the branch. Put your specimen upon the branch as nearly in position as
possible, mark the places where the holes should be bored, and bore them
with a bit of the proper size. You can then run the ends of the leg wires
through, draw the feet down closely, and clinch the wires on the opposite

As soon as the little animal is firmly fixed on his temporary pedestal, or
his branch, which must be permanent, we are ready to give the final touches
to the body. We will, with thumb and finger, press in the shoulders if they
are too high or wide, flatten the body by pressure if it is too round on
the sides, and emphasize the undulating outline of the sides also by
pressure. If there is a hollow spot where the surface should be smooth,
thrust a sharp awl through the skin, catch some tow on the point of the
awl, and, with a sharp lifting motion, pull the fibre up until it fills out
the hollow. If there is a lump of tow under the skin, making an unsightly
hump, thrust the point of the awl through into it, and spread it out
underneath until the skin lies flat. It is often necessary to work all over
the body of an animal with the awl in this way.

We have now to finish the head. With the cutting pliers, cut off the end of
the body wire close up to the skull, so that the end will be hidden. Adjust
the skin so that it fits naturally and easily on the skull and around the
mouth, and see that the eyes come over the centre of the orbits. If the
clay which was put upon the skull does not fill out the jaws and sides of
the head quite naturally, push in a little chopped tow until the proper
form is obtained.

[Illustration: FIG. 27.--The Finished Specimen.]

Avoid getting one jaw fuller than the other; it is only boys and men who
chew tobacco who have cheeks that are not bilaterally symmetrical. Avoid
getting one eye too far back, forward, up or down, but match the one that
is correctly placed.

Fill in the end of the nose, the lips, and the chin with clay, fold the
lips naturally and press them into place. If the skin around the mouth is
not unnaturally drawn back, the lips will stay in place, and dry there
without any fastening. If the skin is drawn too far back, the lips must be
pinned in place until they dry. The advantage in using clay for filling out
the head is that it enables you to press the skin down upon it and mould
all the parts into their natural shape and size, without giving to the head
that unnatural, puffed out, _stuffed_ appearance, which is almost
unavoidable when tow only is used.

Introduce clay at the eye opening until the addition of the glass eye
inside will make the organ sufficiently prominent. Insert the glass eye
edgewise through the opening, turn it in position and embed it in the clay.
With a large needle, or your awl, adjust the eyelids upon the glass, and if
the eye is not right, work it into its proper position. Adjust both eyes
alike, and, above all, see to it that they both look at the same point, be
that point real or imaginary.

The same amount of iris must show in each eye, and the position of the
pupils must correspond exactly. Do not make them unusually staring, as
though about to burst from their sockets. It is the eye more than any other
one feature that gives any animal, living or stuffed, its expression, and
this is due entirely to the arrangement of the lid and brow. The eyeball
has, in itself, no more power of varied expression than a glass marble;
therefore the facial expression of a mounted animal is wholly under the
control of the taxidermist, provided he takes the trouble to procure good
glass eyes of the right size and quality.

Unless the ears of your specimen are very small and insignificant, it will
be necessary to cut two pieces of thin card-board the shape of each ear,
but larger, and after getting the ear in position, pin it between them, so
that it will be held in a natural position and good shape until it dries.
Do not thrust the pins through the ear, but through the card-board around
the edge. The last thing is to arrange the toes and feet naturally, and pin
each toe in place until it dries. Since our squirrel is to be holding a
nut, we will cut off the foreleg wires, all but half an inch, and bring the
paws close together at the proper elevation. We must now drill two small
holes in opposite sides of a hickory nut, force the wires into them until
the nut rests nicely in the paws, and there let it remain. If necessary, we
will tie the toes in position around the nut until they are dry. It is a
common fault with beginners in taxidermy to slight the toes of their
specimens, both birds and mammals, and, as a result, all such specimens
have a slovenly, tramp-like appearance.

Nature alone can tell you how to pose the tail to represent the state of
the animal's feelings. Try to look at your work with the eye of an artist,
analyze it, and catalogue its faults, so that you will be sure to avoid
them in the next specimen.

If the hair needs no more washing, comb it out carefully at the last
moment, and set your specimen on a shelf to dry, out of the dust if
possible, and out of the sunshine, and watch it while it is drying to see
that the head and feet dry in good shape. At the end of two weeks, or
perhaps three, the little mammal will be dry and hard, and ready for the
last touches. Pull out all the pins which have been holding the toes, ears,
lips, or eye corners in place, and if they leave any holes, fill them up
with putty. I have not told you how to stuff a head with the mouth open,
and model the soft parts in papier-maché and wax, because you will hardly
want to try anything so difficult at present, and it involves processes
which cannot be described within the limits of this chapter.

When your mammal is quite dry, dress the fur with a fine comb and brush,
and beat it with a small piece of whalebone or a little switch, to make it
stand out from the skin, full and fluffy, as in life. This end must be
accomplished, no matter how long it takes.

Procure some tube colors, oil and turpentine, equal parts, and a small
sable brush, with which to tint the eyelids and the end of the nose their
natural color. Put a little varnish and turpentine, equal parts of each, on
the toe-nails, and, in short, do everything you can that will give the
specimen the look of a living animal. If it _looks stuffed_, put it in the
darkest corner of your cabinet, and try another. The glass eyes must be
cleaned with great care, and polished with a soft cotton rag until they

At the last moment change the rough board pedestal for a permanent one,
either of black walnut, polished, or ash, planed and sand-papered very
smooth, and covered with two coats of shellac. If you have perched your
squirrel on the top of a small stump, sawed off square at the bottom, or
upon a large branch, with a section of the trunk serving as a base, of
course no artificial base is necessary. Artificial branches for mounted
birds are bad enough, but for mammals they are altogether too bad, and
should never be used.

In conclusion, do not expect that your first mammal is going to be an
overpowering success. Do not take a cat for your first subject, for a cat
is the most difficult of all small quadrupeds to mount successfully. A
tough old squirrel is the best thing for you to wrestle with until you have
learned the method thoroughly.

EXCEPTIONAL CASES.--There are certain classes of small mammals whose skins
should not be put through the salt and alum bath, if possible to avoid it,
for several reasons. These are the young of the smaller mammalia,
especially such as rabbits, squirrels, and other familiar forms. It is by
far the best plan to mount all such skins as soon as they are taken off,
without wetting the hair, and using dry arsenic and alum, equal parts, to
preserve and poison them. The bones of young animals become quite soft in
the bath, and the hair is difficult to dress to look like life. The fur of
a rabbit is the meanest fur in the world to comb out and dress to look
fluffy and immaculate after it has once been wet with salt-and-alum water.
Mount them without wetting when you can, only _poison them well_ against
moths. Alcohol is far preferable to the bath for the skins of such species
as the above, and, as our English cousins would say, is "not half bad."

MOUNTING BATS.--Having tried all known methods of mounting and displaying
these pestiferous little subjects, I finally evolved an arrangement which I
now conceitedly believe is the only satisfactory solution of the
difficulties they present. My plan is to mount the bat without any wires,
save in the legs of the larger species, and when finished lay it on its
back on a smooth board, spread the wings, put pieces of pasteboard over the
membrane until all is covered, and pin them down. Of course the wings must
be in perfect position. When the specimen is dry, apply some royal glue of
the best quality to the back of each wing, and stick his batship
permanently on a strip of thick plate glass, which has been prepared
previously by being cut to the proper size, and ground on the edges.

[Illustration: FIG. 28.--Author's Method of Mounting Bats on Glass.]

The accompanying cut (Fig. 28) was drawn from a specimen as exhibited,
omitting the label. The advantages of this arrangement are as follows: It
shows the specimen perfectly on both sides; the wings do not warp and
shrivel up; it is possible to repair breaks in the wing membrane, and the
most delicate specimen is well protected. The strip of glass stands on edge
in a deep groove which has been cut to fit it tightly in the top of a flat,
narrow pedestal having the usual moulded edge.


[8] If you can not procure annealed wire, take hard iron wire, heat it to
redness, and as soon as it reaches that state remove it from the fire and
allow it to cool slowly.



     Wolves, certain dogs, large apes, baboons and monkeys; the
     smaller bears, hair seals, all long-haired quadrupeds from the
     size of the fox to the Newfoundland dog; also, all old dry
     skins of mammals between the two sizes mentioned._

While it will be advised in Section III. of this subject to mount
_short-haired_ skins of the above sizes upon clay-covered manikins, it is
very often an impossibility to pursue this course with a dry skin, no
matter what its pelage may be like. Dry skins more than one year old are
usually so shrunken, hard, and inelastic, that in circumference they are
one or two sizes smaller than life, and it is very often impossible to
stretch them sufficiently to make them fit over a manikin of the right
size. The only way in which enough power can be brought to bear upon them
to force them to stretch to their proper size in neck and body, is to fill
them with straw, and ram it so hard that the skin is forced to stretch.
Even if you fill a shrunken body so full that it will stretch no more, if
you keep it thoroughly moist, or even wet, in wet cloths, and return to the
charge next day with more straw and muscle, you will find that the skin
yields a good deal more, and perhaps reaches the right size without further
protest. Very often this is the only treatment that will save an old, dry
skin from becoming a total loss. In all such cases _fill out the worst
shrunken parts first_, to make sure of conquering them, and leave the less
difficult portions to the last.

The chief differences between the method described in the previous chapter
for mounting small mammals, and that for the subjects included in this
section are simply these: (1.) The larger animals require leg wires or
irons that are too large to be bent at will and twisted together. (2.)
Where rods are used, a thread must be cut on the lower end of each to
receive a nut under the pedestal, because leg rods can not be fastened in
any other way. (3.) A stout wooden bar must be used in the body for the
leg, head, and tail wires, or irons, to run through, and upon which all
these can be stapled down firmly. (4.) For various reasons, it is best that
all these animals should be filled with straw by the old process of

To mount a specimen belonging in this section, proceed precisely as
directed in the previous chapter, with wiring and making each leg, _except_
where the specimen is so large that it requires rods for the legs instead
of wires. It is only the larger and heavier animals of this section, viz.,
the wolves, large dogs, large kangaroos, anthropoid apes, and the like,
that require rods instead of wires. For your foxes, baboons, and small
kangaroos, you can use wires of the large sizes, of about the same
proportionate length as for your squirrel. In getting out the rods for the
legs of your large specimens, use Norway iron, because it is toughest, and
proceed as follows:

Decide upon the attitude of your specimen, then lay the bones of each leg
in its intended position on the table, take a straight wire of large size
(No. 9) and bend it to fit the back of the leg bones, precisely where you
wish your rod to go. Leave an end about two and one-half inches long,
projecting _straight downward_ from the centre of the foot, to go through
the pedestal and receive a nut underneath. Cut a thread on this lower end,
and fit a hexagonal nut. For the hind legs, let the upper end of each rod
project beyond the upper end of the femur for a distance equal to about
two-thirds the length of that bone. The irons to support the head should be
two in number, and should be long enough to reach from the end of the nose
to the centre of the body. The tail iron will be regulated by

THE HAND OF AN ANTHROPOID APE.--It nearly always happens that every skin of
a large gorilla, chimpanzee, or orang utan is totally destitute of bones.
Now the hand of such an animal is a very important feature. Do not attempt
to make it with wires and tow alone, for if you do, the fingers will be
semicircles, resembling the half of an over-brown doughnut. Each joint must
show _an angle_, and each finger be _flat_ on the inside. The accompanying
cut (Fig. 29) shows how to make the hand of an anthropoid ape so that it
shall be as natural as life. The wooden bones give the proper angles at the
joints, and the tow-wrapped wire underneath gives the finger its proper
breadth. When all is ready, cover each finger manikin with clay, _make the
palm hollow and flat_, and let the end of the iron rod come out in the
centre of the palm. This method gives a hand that is beyond criticism. For
hand and foot studies of apes and monkeys, see "The Standard Natural
History," vol. v., page 512.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.--Artificial Skeleton for Hand of an Orang Utan.]

The following animals, when of adult size, require leg supports of the
following sizes: Large foxes, No. 8 wire; olive baboon, No. 5 or 6; small
kangaroo, No. 4 to 6; wolverine, No. 6; coyote, 1/4 inch rod; setter dog,
1/4 inch; peccary, 1/4 inch; great ant-eater, 1/4 inch; gray wolf, 5/16
inch; giant kangaroo, 3/8 inch for hind legs; harp seal, 3/8 inch.

Having made the legs complete, lay the skin upon its back, with the legs
spread out, make the irons or wires cross each other as shown in the
accompanying figure (Plate VI.), and then hew out a piece of tough wood of
the general shape and proportion as that shown in the cut. Let this be as
small as practicable to avoid splitting when the irons are stapled down
upon it. Round off the corners and the ends, so that you can easily work
all around this wooden backbone, when filling the animal. Now lay this
piece of wood in the skin, upon the crossed leg irons, mark the points at
which the irons need to pass through it, and bore holes accordingly,
_slanting_ each hole through the stick, for good reasons. The next step is
to pass the irons through these holes (by bending them a little, and
straightening them afterward) and when all are through, adjust the legs so
that there is plenty of loose skin in the body, both in length and breadth.
Remember that the stick is to be in the centre of the body, not the top.
When the adjustment is complete, bend the end of each iron sharply down
upon the stick, and staple it down with the utmost firmness.

Next pass one of your neck irons through the skull from back to front,
boring a hole at the back for the purpose, so as to make the end of the
iron pass out at the nasal cavity. Replace the missing flesh of the skull
with tow or excelsior, bound down with thread, cover all with clay, poison
the inside of the head and neck skin with arsenical soap, insert the skull
in the head, and fasten the lower end of each neck iron firmly upon the
centre stick.

The tail must now be made, but it is wise to fasten the tail iron so that
it can be made to slip out or in, until it is known precisely how long it
shall be, and then the end may be fastened securely with staples. Now bend
up the legs into position, and give the animal its attitude. Procure your
pedestal, or limb of a tree, and place the animal in attitude upon it; mark
where the iron supports are to pass through, bore the necessary holes, and
see if the animal will stand just as you wish it to. If not, work at its
legs, and bore new holes until it does; then take it off, poison the inside
of the skin liberally with strong arsenical soap, and proceed to stuff it
with straw, or chopped tow, or excelsior if you prefer that, but I never
do. For my own use I prefer soft straw, chopped fine.

Fill the neck first, using your wooden filler, then the body. If the body
threatens to be too small, fill that first. Before going far, fill out the
hind-quarters properly. Work on the body _all over at the same time_, and
do not finish one-half of the animal before you have touched the other
half, for this course would get you into endless trouble.


Having filled the body full, and shaped it the best you can, and sewn it up
at all points save two,--a hole between the forelegs and one under the
tail,--now put it in final position on its pedestal, and fasten it there.
Having done this and surveyed the scene, you will observe that the form of
the animal is very faulty, and the skin not nearly full enough. Something
more must be done.

Unless the specimen is a seal, or something else with short, close hair,
part the hair carefully and make a long, perpendicular slit in the skin
behind each foreleg and in each flank, as shown in Plate III., I-I, and
K-K. Through these openings you can introduce your metal filling tools, and
also filling materials _ad libitum_, and give the interior a complete
overhauling. You can easily push your iron filler through the straw, and
raise the line of the back, shoulders, or hind-quarters, and lower the line
of the breast and abdomen until both are right. Then, fill with more
straw, or tow, if you like now. Through these holes you command the entire
body of the animal at every point, and now you must work out your own
salvation. When all is finished and the body is quite full and solid, sew
up the openings carefully, and unite the hair over them so that they will
be hidden. If you are careless in filling, and pull out a lot of hair
around each of the openings, so much the worse for you.

For full instructions in regard to work on heads, see a special chapter.


[Illustration: FIG. 30.--Fillers of Various Kinds, One-sixth Actual Size.
_a_, Filler of hard wood, 3 ft. long (another should be 2 ft. long); _b_,
filler of steel, 5/16 inch x 3 ft. for long reaches in large mammals; _c_,
filler of iron, 3/8 inch x 2-1/2 ft., for heavy work (another should be 18
in. long); _d_, filler of brass, or galvanized iron wire, No. 5, for light
work (another should be still smaller, for very fine work).]

_Cutting out Pieces of Skin._--It not infrequently happens that in mounting
an old skin it will be found to have been unduly stretched in drying, and
in spite of one's best efforts there will be too much skin in a flank, or
behind a shoulder, or that the body itself will be entirely too large. In
such cases, when the animal is clothed with hair which can be made to hide
the seams, it is necessary and permissible to cut a long slit in the skin
where the looseness occurs, and cut out a strip so that when the edges are
brought together the wrinkle no longer exists. Usually such cuts are made
in the shape of a triangle running out to a very fine point, so that when
the incision is sewn up the entire adjacent surface will be quite smooth.

When a taxidermist has a fresh skin, or one which has been but recently
prepared dry, it is very seldom that any skin-cutting is necessary. With a
good elastic skin there are ways of working away from any part a
superabundance of skin, or forcing the skin on parts adjacent to the
wrinkles to contract sufficiently to cause their disappearance.

On close-haired animals, wrinkles must be worked away, which can in a
majority of cases be accomplished by hard, persevering work with the
filler. With long-haired animals which have no stripes or spots, and on
which the hair can be made to hide all seams, it is best to cut out
triangular strips of skin. In the latter case it saves much time and hard
labor. It certainly gives a better specimen, and if such tricks leave no
visible trace upon the animal, where is the harm? I care not if a skin be
slit in twenty places so long as the cuts are tightly sewn up, _and are
invisible to the eye of the observer_.

Bird skins must never be cut in this way, for to the ornithologist who
diligently studies every specimen, the presence of every feather and every
bare spot naturally belonging to the bird is of importance. Do not forget
this caution, unless you wish to call down upon your head the just wrath of
the ornithologist. Neither is it possible to do any skin-cutting upon
reptiles, for there is no natural covering to hide seams, and to cut out
any scales is to mutilate a specimen.

    ox, bears (except large polars and grizzlies), yak, Bactrian camel in
    winter coat, llamas and their allies; also old, dry shins generally,
    which require forcible stretching._

While the manikin process is the one _par excellence_ for the great
majority of large quadrupeds, it is also, until you get perfectly familiar
with it, the longest. There are various large animals whose long, thick,
and matted hair so completely hides the surface of the wearer that a
shorter method of mounting can be followed with very satisfactory results.
This is simply stuffing with straw in the same manner as described in
detail in the previous section, with but one exception--the manner of
attaching the leg irons to the central beam of the body.

The leg irons are cut and fitted to the leg bones precisely as shown in
Plate VII. But the legs are made with the skin attached at the foot, the
skin is drawn over, fitted and sewn up, and each leg is completely finished
while the skin lies in a heap upon the table. For a large animal this takes
some time, and as fast as the legs are finished each must be carefully
wrapped up in ice blankets that have been wet in salt-and-alum water, and
kept soft until all are done. Oil the threads on the rods, to keep them
from rusting.

The next step is to procure the centre board, which should be about
one-third as wide, from top to bottom as the depth of the animal's body. In
the illustration showing the manikin of a tiger (Plate VII.) the body board
is wider than is desirable for the same animal were the body to be filled
with straw. If the board is too wide, it is impossible to get around it
with the fillers, and work through the specimen from one side to the other.

To put the members of the body together, lay the skin upon the floor on its
back, in the same general shape as shown in Plate VI. Put the body board in
place and mark the points where the ends of the leg irons strike it. Now
for the iron squares.

The old and antiquated way to fasten leg irons to a centre board consisted
in leaving a long end projecting, bending it like the letter U, and
stapling it to the board. That was always a poor way, and in the light of a
perfect arrangement it now seems poorer than ever.

When Mr. John Martens came over from Hamburg to work as a mammal
taxidermist in Professor H.A. Ward's great Natural Science Establishment,
at Rochester, N.Y., the most valuable luggage he brought with him was the
idea of the iron square for attaching leg irons to a centre board. For that
particular purpose it would be hard to devise a more perfect arrangement,
and I shall be at some pains to describe it.

It requires four irons to fasten the legs to the centre board, one for each
leg, and to make a set for an animal the size of a large mountain sheep
ram, proceed as follows:

Procure four pieces of flat bar iron, 1/4 of an inch thick, 1-1/4 or 1-1/2
inch wide, and 9 inches long. At a point 3-1/2 inches from one end, bend
each iron at a perfect right angle, which, of course, can only be done by
heating it. Now heat the short arm red hot, clamp the end of it in a vise,
and make a twist of exactly a quarter of a turn in the short arm, as close
up to the angle as you can. This will make the end of the short arm stand
out in a horizontal plane against the side of the body board.

At the end of the short arm, with its centre exactly 3 inches from the
inner face of the long arm, drill or punch a hole of the right size to
receive the threaded end of the leg iron, but no larger. (For our _Ovis
montana_ ram it should be half an inch in diameter.) File off the sharp
corners of this end.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.--An Iron Square.]

At a point about 1-1/4 inch from the inner angle of the square, and in the
long arm, drill a hole about 7/16 or 1/2 an inch in diameter, for a stout
bolt to pass through. Between that and the end of the long arm, drill (or
punch) two screw-holes, and countersink them. That is all there is to the
making of the square, and the accompanying cut (Fig. 31) accurately
represents it. Each pair of squares is put on with a single square-headed
bolt, the length of which varies according to the thickness of the body
board. For our mountain ram, the bolts should be 3/8 of an inch in
diameter, and about 2-1/2 inches long.

It is useless and unnecessary for me to attempt to describe the different
sizes of squares necessary for animals of various sizes, for circumstances
must be the instructor in that. I will remark, however, that for a large
bison or moose, where the finished specimen will weigh perhaps 600 or 700
pounds, and the strain on the irons is very considerable, I have found it
necessary to make squares of flat iron 3/8 or 7/16 of an inch thick by
1-3/4 inch wide.

_Caution.--Do not make, the short, or outer arm, too long._ If too long,
and the hole once drilled, you will hardly be able to make it shorter; but
if too short, it can easily be made longer by putting a piece of board
between the long arm of the square and the body board. The length of the
outer arm of the squares for the hind legs is gauged by the width of the
pelvis. The measurement to be taken is the distance between the centres of
the two femora when both are in their natural positions in the skeleton,
and with this distance once ascertained it is easy to deduct the thickness
of the centre board, and calculate how long each outer arm shall be. The
distance between the heads of the two humeri is practically the same as the
distance between the femora.

In making the hind leg, the iron should be no longer at the upper end than
the end of the femur, and once this is determined the upper end of the
femur must be cut off with a saw, to give room for the squares and two
nuts. The end of the iron for the front leg may project three inches or so
above the head of the humerus, and be bent slightly backward; to point
upward in the same direction as the scapula.

Remember that at first the squares of the two pairs are set on exactly
opposite each other, by means of the single bolt for each pair. Insert the
upper end of each leg iron, screw the upper nut down firmly, then lift the
half-made animal and stand it on its legs. Being free to move, the legs are
very shaky, and you proceed at once to put them in position. You now adjust
the legs according to your original design, bore holes in the rough
pedestal for the lower ends of the rods to pass through, and shift and
change the different members, now here, now there, until you are satisfied
that the leg's are in precisely the right attitudes. If the leg that is
stepping out in front is too short, run up the two nuts at the square, and
thus make the leg an inch or two longer. Those that are too long are easily
shortened by shifting their nuts lower down. You have such absolute control
over the legs that you can shift and change them just as much as you
please, and that very easily. If the whole animal is coupled too short or
too long, it is but five minutes' work to take out a bolt, bore another
hole, and shift the forelegs farther forward or back. When everything is
perfectly to your liking, tighten up every nut to its very tightest, and
insert screws through the screw-holes that have been provided in the long
arm of each square. Each leg is now a fixture.

The great beauty of this method, which appears to its greatest perfection
in the construction of a manikin, lies in the fact that you have, from
first to last, the most perfect control over the different parts of the
entire animal. When you discover as you proceed that something is wrong, it
is an easy matter to change it, provided the skin has not been put on the

In putting together an animal with the legs in the skin, you are
necessarily troubled somewhat by the skin of the body, which hinders the
turning of your wrench, etc.; but all such difficulties exist only to be

Put the neck irons through the skull, and fasten the inner end of each to
the body board, as shown in the tiger manikin, or in any other solid way
you prefer. As to the tail, ditto, and when the attitude is perfect, and
all parts fastened together, then, and not until then, anoint the inside of
the skin with arsenical soap, all that it will hold, and give it time to be
absorbed. Put the head in position by bending the neck irons, place the
feet in position, and tighten the nuts under the pedestal. Now turn the
animal upside down, put a rope under each end of the pedestal, and hang the
whole affair up to the ceiling, or to a beam, by means of the ropes, so
that it will swing clear of the floor.

Next sew up the skin of the abdomen and breast, and proceed to fill the
neck, shoulders, and hind-quarters with soft straw. Oat straw is the best,
if you can get it. If you can procure no soft straw, then have a boy take
your wheat straw, bunch by bunch, and with a mallet pound it upon a block
to crush it and make it soft. In filling the animal, the first thing to do
is to fill it out at all points, loosely at first, to get the general
proportions. The skin should not touch your iron squares or the body board
at any point, for if it does, something is wrong. At first you will work
with your large wooden fillers, but as the straw gets packed, and the
wooden tool will not go through it, take your iron fillers. No matter how
hard straw may be packed, with a burrowing, twisting motion you can force
that wedge-pointed instrument through the straw so as to reach any point
that needs more filling out.

Be careful about the line of the back, and keep it exactly in place, along
the centre of the body, and always at the highest point. Do not let the
back line of a feline animal, especially a tiger or a leopard, get down
upon one side, as will be sure to happen if you are not watchful. When the
outline of the back is fixed, then fill out the breast and abdomen, and get
the lower line of the body just as it should be. As you proceed with all
this, keep sewing up the skin from time to time until only two holes
remain, one at the breast and one between the hind legs well back. Now take
the animal down, stand it upon the floor, cut slits in the sides, as
directed in the previous section, and through them finish the filling and
shaping of the body.

All this takes work, hard work, intelligent work, and a great deal of it.
Make the body hard and firm, and as smooth on the outside as Nature does.
To secure smoothness, and to lower the unnatural knobs that are sure to
appear, beat the animal from time to time with a flat club. When all is
done, fill in the last bit of straw at the various holes, sew them up
strongly but neatly with stout linen twine, or "gilling thread," well
waxed, and dress the fur. This will be treated elsewhere in a separate
section, as also will the treatment of the head.



     GREAT SIZE.--_Examples: Lion, tiger, zebra, horse, giraffe,
     bison and buffalo, camel, all deer and antelopes; elephant,
     rhinoceros, hippopotamus, tapir, etc._

Of the numerous processes described in this work there are two which I must
mention as being distinctively and particularly my own. One is the general
use of clay as a filling material, and the other is the evolution and
development of the clay-covered manikin, on the principles now to be
described and illustrated. Already this method of mounting quadrupeds has
been quite generally adopted by the new school of American taxidermists,
and I think it is destined to fill our museums with more perfect mounted
mammals than the rest of the world can show. I have always willingly taught
the advantages of the clay-covered manikin, and the various processes
involved in its construction, to every enterprising taxidermist who desired
to learn it, and it was my intention to have published a full description
of it years ago. Now it comes as a sort of "farewell performance," and
"positively the last appearance."

Among taxidermists, the term _manikin_ is applied to the made up figure of
an animal over which a skin is to be adjusted, and made to counterfeit the
actual form and size of a living animal. While it is well adapted to the
successful treatment of mammals, reptiles, and fishes in general, it is
impossible to employ it in mounting bird skins unless they are very badly
torn, and require to be put together a piece at a time, or else are of the
very largest size. The worst torn and mutilated bird skin can be put
together on a manikin with perfect success, provided the skin is all

Speaking from my own experience, I must say that my clay-covered manikin
process seems to possess important and undisputed advantages over all other
methods I have ever seen employed or described for the mounting of not only
the most difficult mammalian subjects, but also reptiles of many kinds, and
fishes. By it the most perfect results attainable by the taxidermic art are
not only possible, but may be achieved without even a risk of failure save
through lack of anatomical knowledge. Nearly all the mechanical
difficulties which beset the other methods are eliminated, and the result
becomes chiefly a question of knowledge and artistic sense. By this method,
I have successfully mounted such mammals as the following: Elephant,[9]
American bison, polar bear, zebra, tiger, puma, elephant seal, hairless
Mexican dog, etc. The last-named specimen was in competition against the
elephant in a competitive exhibition, and I learned afterward from the
judges that it came near wresting the grand prize from its lordly
competitor. This fact is mentioned to show that the process was equally
successful in the treatment of a thick-hided elephant and a small dog with
a skin as thin as writing-paper, and utterly destitute of hair. A plaster
cast of the unskinned body of the dog was exhibited with the mounted
specimen, to enable the observer to judge of the success of the process.

The unchallenged superiority of the clay-covered manikin process is due to
the following reasons:

1. The absolute control the operator is able to exercise over the form of
his subject from first to last, without prejudice to the safety of the skin
to be mounted.

2. The possibility of working out anatomical details which it is useless to
attempt by other methods.

3. The absolute permanency of the form produced.

4. The ability of the operator to place his subjects in attitudes so
difficult that by ordinary methods they would be unattainable.

5. The most perfect preservation of the skin and its covering from damage
by excessive handling, beating, and wetting.

6. The absolute perfection of form and attitude which is attainable by this
method only.

Until you have fully learned the principles of manikin-making, do not
attempt to mount by this process a skin that has come to you with no
measurements nor leg bones. Choose for your first attempt a good-sized dog
or sheep, or some quadruped of similar size which you have _in the flesh_,
and from which you can take a full series of outlines, measurements, casts,
etc. I can probably teach you as well as any living man how to proceed when
you have no measurements whatever, and will give you a few hints presently;
but now I say, you _must_ have your first subject in the flesh. It is then
within your power to secure to yourself all possible advantages in what you
are about to do.

It is desirable to take the usual measurements before the skin is removed,
but by all means make another series of the skinned body and limbs. In
skinning, disjoint the leg bones at the carpal joint,[10] which leaves only
the bones of the foot attached to the skin. When the skin is put on for the
last time, this joint must be re-articulated with two wires. When the skin
is out of the way, you can take the length of the body from the back
part of the thigh to the point of the shoulder; the distance between elbow
and knee, from the elbow to the top of the shoulder; the circumference and
diameter of the body, neck, and limbs, at various points; the depth of the
body, etc. You can also measure from the highest point of the head of the
femur to a similar point on the humerus, and when the hind legs have been
cut off, you can easily determine the proper length for your iron squares
by measuring between the two hip sockets (_os inominata_). Observe, now, if
you never did before, that the front edges of the tibia and the ulna have
no flesh whatever upon them, nor has the angle of the elbow, the knee-cap,
nor the front of the metacarpal bones.

Save the bones of each leg complete, and without any farther disjointing;
but, of course, the flesh must be carefully trimmed and scraped away. Save
the skull, of course, and it will be a great help if you will hastily
"rough out" the bones of the entire body and save them for reference until
the manikin is complete. The pelvis and the thorax will help you greatly by
and by. We will now assume that we are ready to proceed with the manikin,
which we will follow out by successive steps.


1. The first thing to do is to cut a deep groove in the bones of the heel,
close alongside the base of the calcaneum, also in the bones of the foot at
the joints, and in the head of the humerus from the back, so that the iron
can fit in snugly, and not create a great, awkward, rounded hump at each of
those joints. In a hoofed animal, the centre of the hoof must be cut out so
that the iron can pass through it quite out of sight where it enters the
pedestal. The lower joints of the foreleg must be channelled out in the
same way. Study the shape of each joint and you will then see precisely
what is needed. In cutting out these grooves, I use a saw for certain
bones, and gouges and stone-mason's chisels for others, according to
circumstances. Remember that between the tendon of Achilles and the lower
end of the tibia there is always a deep _hollow_, where the skin of the two
sides actually comes together. Keep your leg iron out of that hollow at all
hazards,--and this can be done only by sinking the iron into the tibia.

2. If you have an outline of the animal's body, lay it upon the floor, and
draw a straight line to represent the top of your pedestal. If you have no
sketches, then you must draw an outline in chalk upon the floor, choosing a
certain crack as the line of the pedestal. Now lay down the skeleton of
each leg in its own place, in the position the leg is to have in the
finished animal. Measure the height of the missing bones of the foot, and
leave a space accordingly above the top of your assumed pedestal. It is
highly important these leg bones should each have the right attitude.

3. Take four straight No. 6 wires, and with the first leg laid out
carefully in position, bend the wire to fit the back of the leg bones very
exactly, cut it off the right length, and so make an exact pattern for the
leg rod. Remember to allow for its going through a good thick pedestal, and
having about two inches to spare underneath for a nut and washer. The rod
for the foreleg may project above the upper end of the humerus one-third to
one-half the length of that bone, but the rod for the hind leg must not be
the least bit longer than the upper end of the femur. Remember also to bury
the iron well in the centre of the lowest joint of the leg and the foot, so
that it will not be seen when the animal is finished. In order to show the
bends that are necessary in the leg irons of a ruminant, I have taken the
trouble to photograph and reproduce herewith (Fig. 32) the identical leg
irons which now support the huge bull buffalo in the National Museum group,
the manikin of which is also shown in this chapter. Before bending, the
irons for the forelegs were each 4 feet 1/2 inch in length, and those for
the hind legs were 4 feet 6-1/2 inches; diameter, 5/8 inch.

[Illustration: FIG. 32.--Leg Irons of an American Bison.]

4. Having made your four patterns exact in length and bend, cut four leg
irons to match, from round rods of Norway iron, or best American, if Norway
cannot be procured. I can give you no fixed rule by which to determine the
size that leg irons should be, but I can at least mention the sizes I use
in certain animals:

Adult moose, male or female, and giraffe, 3/4 inch.

Bull bison, cow bison, horse, 5/8 inch.

Male caribou, black-tail deer, and large mountain sheep, 1/2 inch.

Male Virginia deer, antelope, tiger, 7/16 inch.

All these sizes, except the two largest, can be bent cold in a strong vise.

5. Having bent the irons to match the patterns, and to fit the bones also,
cut a long thread on each end of each rod, and fit two large hexagonal nuts
on each end so that they turn readily, but not loosely.

6. With soft but strong twine, or annealed wire, bind each leg iron firmly
to the leg bones from top to bottom. You may now take a saw and cut off the
upper third of the femur.

7. During the course of the foregoing work, you have had a blacksmith at
work making your four iron squares (see previous chapter) according to a
hoop-iron pattern furnished by you, and now they are ready to use in
attaching the leg irons.

8. Now comes the question of a centre board for the body. If the animal is
a dog, a small deer or antelope, a tiger, or _anything so small that you
can reach around its body with your arms_, make the body board as narrow as
you please, or as wide as the entire depth of the animal's body, if you
choose. I think it better to make it similar in proportions to that shown
in the accompanying illustration (Plate VII.) of the first stage of a
tiger manikin, in order that with a long needle one can sew through the
body from side to side. It is well, for the same reason, to cut a hole in
the board, as shown, at a point opposite the iliac region. I mounted this
tiger with a decided curve in the middle of his body, which obliged me to
cut the centre board in two, and unite the two parts again at an angle by
means of two bent pieces of iron screwed on either side. In most animals,
however, this is unnecessary. The centre board need not be over 7/8 of an
inch in thickness in any save very large animals, when it is best to have
it 1-1/2 inch, or nearly that. It is best to use dry white pine, because it
is light and works easily.

9. Lay the body board on your chalk outline, lay the iron legs in position,
put the squares down and mark the place where the bolt for each pair should
pass through. Bore the holes, bolt on the squares quite firmly (but leave
the screws out as yet), then insert the leg rods, and tighten the nuts. Set
the legs on as nearly right as possible while the skeleton form lies on the
floor, then stand it up, put it on a rough pedestal, and see how it looks.
Now comes the crucial test of your knowledge and artistic sense. A number
of things are wrong, and the shaky skeleton of the manikin "don't look

What is the matter? Is one of the front legs bent forward at the carpal
joint? Then straighten it. Is the animal coupled too short? Then move one
pair of legs a trifle on the centre board, to increase the length of the
body. Do not the legs walk naturally? Then make them. Are the forelegs, and
hind legs also, too close together? Then your squares are too short, and
they must be lengthened by placing a bit of board under each one, as seen
under the hind-leg square of the tiger manikin.

You will probably need to shift the feet on the pedestal also, by boring
new holes. You can make any leg longer or shorter, make the stride shorter
or longer, and, in fact, make any change that your eye, or your picture or
cast tells you is necessary. The vital necessity is that your eye must be
so trained and educated that it detects a fault instantly, no matter how
slight, and sees what is required to remedy it. The eye of a successful
taxidermist must be educated just as thoroughly as the hand of a pianist.

For a large animal, it is, for me, several hours' work to attach the legs
to the body board, and make the changes necessary to bring everything into
perfect position. The last thing is to take the cleaned skin out of the
bath, throw it over the skeleton manikin, and see how it fits. If, when it
is adjusted, the feet do not touch the pedestal, you know that the manikin
is too high, and you must either cut down the top of the centre board with
a draw-shave, or else lower it by attaching the squares nearer the top. In
this trial the feet should stand loosely upon the floor.

Having got everything finally adjusted, put the screws in the squares,
tighten up all nuts, and put a washer under each nut that strikes the
pedestal, both above and below, and make all secure. There must be no
looseness, or the manikin will lean over immediately. The centre board
should stand exactly perpendicular. Test it with a plumb-line, and see if
it does so. Is the manikin now so secure that you can sit upon it without
racking it? If not, it should be. To test the manikin for my big buffalo,
shown in this chapter, I climbed upon it, and stood with my full weight,
first on the outer end of one iron square, then on another, and to test the
strength of the neck irons I put a large anvil on the top of the skull
without making the slightest permanent impression on the irons.

10. It is unnecessary to speak further of the irons for the head and tail,
and their attachment. See figures.

11. Next comes the making of the legs. The lower joints, where there is
scarcely any flesh, had best be made of clean, long-fibre tow. Where the
thick muscles lie, bunch up some tow, put it where the muscle was, and bind
on with thread or twine. Continue this process until this muscle has been
built up to its proper size, and wrapped at all points until it is smooth,
firm, and properly shaped. Higher up, where the muscles are thicker and lie
in larger masses, use excelsior in precisely the same way. Little by
little, but with much excelsior and twine, the muscles are gradually built
up. Leave the bones bare at the points where nature does. The hind leg must
have its tendon of Achilles before it can be finished. To make this, drill
a hole through the end of the calcaneum, or heel bone; pass a long wire
through for half its length, twist the two halves tightly together until
they will reach half-way up the thigh, then wrap tow around the twisted
wire from the heel bone up, making the tendon larger as you proceed.
Presently you are ready to merge it into the flesh of the leg so that its
upper end disappears.

To give form to a leg, and bring out the prominent muscles, take a very
long needle and a very long piece of twine, and sew through and through the
leg on certain lines, putting on pressure to produce certain depressions
that exist between the larger muscles. To give detailed directions on this
point would oblige me to go into the subject of musculation at great and
tiresome length, and since this is not a work on anatomy, I will not
attempt a dissertation on the form of each genera of the mammalia. The
illustrations of the tiger and bison manikins show the form of the external
muscles of _Felis tigris_ and _Bison americanus_, and what is possible in a

MAKING THE BODY OF A MANIKIN.--The centre board of a large mammal, like the
bison, moose, and all such animals, should accurately represent a section
through the centre of the body from top to bottom. In the absence of
measurements and living models, the closest approximation to the desired
form is obtained by laying the skin upon the floor, hair inside, and
folding it loosely upon itself so as to get what looks like the general
shape of the animal, and then taking the outline thus obtained.

A very large manikin may be made hollow in the manner represented in the
accompanying plate (Plate IX.), which is self-explanatory. This is often
desirable to avoid making the figure too heavy, as would be the case were
the entire bulk to be made a solid mass of excelsior. For the smaller
buffaloes, I made the bodies of excelsior alone. Each side was built up
separately by driving a row of nails along the top of the centre board, and
another along the bottom to carry the twine over in binding on the layers
of excelsior. At the last, these nails were driven home.

During all this process the skin has been tried on the manikin from time to
time, to make sure that the structure is of the right size in every
respect. Beginners nearly always make a manikin too large, especially in

It is the commonest trick in the world for legs and necks to be made so
large they have to be reduced. If a skin does not fit when it is tried on,
the manikin is generally to blame, though sometimes the skin is badly
shrunken, and requires to be further thinned down to make it more elastic.
It is easy enough to make a manikin larger or higher, especially on the
hind quarters, even while the skin is being put on for the last time; but
woe to him whose manikin is _too large_ at the last moment. That means
serious delay.

When the manikin is finished at every point, shear it all over with a large
pair of shears to clip off the ends of the wisps of excelsior, and then
poison the skin thoroughly on the inside with arsenical soap, and on the
outside with arsenic water, if the hair be long. While the poison is being
absorbed, mix up enough clay to cover the entire animal with a coat an
eighth or a quarter of an inch thick, and smear it on with the hand. Have
it soft and pasty, so that it will rub into the excelsior, and catch hold
of it. If the clay is too stiff, it will neither spread nor stick.


When the manikin has been fully covered with clay from end of nose to tip
of tail, not a single inch of surface having been missed, you then have a
complete clay statue of the animal, except the feet. Now put the skin over
and adjust it carefully. Leave no air-bubbles under it. Catch it together
between the fore legs, hind legs, under the belly, the throat and neck, and
around the legs, and make it fit everywhere. Then begin at the feet and sew
it up with short, strong stitches in the manner already described, shaping
and filling out wherever necessary, as you go. On a large mammal it is very
desirable for two persons to work at the same time, to keep the skin from
drying up prematurely. Of course, the skin must be kept wrapped up in wet
cloths until finished. Finish all the legs first, and then the body. You
can actually model the skin down upon the body, and it will not only take
the exact form of the manikin--every depression and every elevation--but it
will also _keep_ it. If there is too much skin on one side of the animal,
work it together with your hand, and coax it to shrink until the
superfluous skin is distributed over the animal, and finally disappears.
Once, when mounting the skin of a Burchell's zebra in a peculiar attitude
(at bay), I found that, owing to its elasticity, there was a superabundance
of about ten inches of skin in front of the left hind leg, which was placed
very far forward, under the body. But for the saving grace of a
clay-covered manikin I should have been in a fix. As it was, I started in
half-way up the neck, to work together and stow away the surplus skin from
that point backward, and by the time I reached the seat of the difficulty
(at the flank) the surplus skin was all taken up, and the side of the
animal was as smooth and immaculate as if nothing had happened.

There is supreme pleasure in crowning a well-made manikin with a handsome
skin, and seeing a specimen take on perfect form and permanent beauty as if
by magic. It is then that you begin to be proud of your work; and finally
you revel in it. You say to yourself, "_This_ is art!"--and so it is,--but
let your work speak for itself.

The head is the last thing to be finished, and this feature of the work
will be treated in detail in another chapter.


[9] This specimen received the silver specialty medal awarded "for the best
piece in entire Exhibition," at the New York Exhibition of the Society of
American Taxidermists, in 1883.

[10] At the _hoof_ in the case of all hoofed animals.



DRYING AND SHRINKING.--After the actual mounting of a mammal is finished,
the specimen should be put aside in a separate room, away from the dust,
and allowed to stand for from three or four weeks to three or four months,
according to its size. It must have time to dry thoroughly, and shrink as
much as it will. Every specimen is bound to shrink in drying, and it is
better for this to occur before it leaves the workroom, and before the
finishing touches are put on, rather than after it goes on exhibition, and
is practically beyond your reach.

In shrinking, all the seams open, more or less; the eyelids draw away a
trifle from the glass eye; usually the lips open somewhat; and in ruminants
the inner skin of the ear often draws straight across the inside.

CLEANING UP A SPECIMEN.--In finishing a specimen, the first thing is to dig
the clay and tow out of all open seams, cracks, and small holes,
preparatory to filling them with papier-maché. With the sharp point of a
pointed bone-scraper, dig out the clay, or whatever filling material is in
sight, very thoroughly, so as to give the papier-maché a chance to enter
deeply and catch firmly underneath the edges of the skin. With a stiff
brush, brush out the seams and openings, so that no clay-dust remains, for
there is nothing so good as clay-dust to prevent papier-maché from sticking
to a skin. It is often well to use a bellows in getting dirt out of holes
and seams.

Beat the dust out of the hair, or blow it out with the hand bellows, or
brush it out, or wash it out if necessary, any way to get it out. If the
hair has been poisoned with arsenic water, do as little to it as possible
in getting out the accumulated dust, for too vigorous treatment will bring
out the arsenic with the dust, and send it into your lungs.

If, however, the hair has not yet been poisoned, as soon as the cleaning is
finished lay the animal upon its back, or on its side, and pour into the
hair, so that it will run immediately down to the roots, a solution of
alcohol, water, and corrosive sublimate made as follows: If you wish to
make four gallons of the solution, take two gallons of ninety-five per cent
alcohol, dissolve in it all the corrosive sublimate it will take up, making
what chemists call a "saturated solution." In this there will always be a
little of the sublimate left on the bottom of the jar. This is, of course,
too strong to use thus, under any circumstances. Carefully pour off the
clear liquid so as to leave the sediment remaining in the jar, and then
dilute the former with an equal quantity of water, which thus yields the
desired four gallons. It is most effectually applied by pouring it from a
small watering-pot, with the sprinkler off the spout, into the hair, so
that it will fill it and cover the skin without being wasted. The corrosive
sublimate is deposited at the roots of the hair, and also on the hair, in
quantity sufficient to prevent the ravages of insects, but not to be
injurious to the health of the taxidermist. Strong arsenic water may be
used for this purpose, instead of the other solution, if
preferred. In case the solution used should leave a gray deposit on the
hair, it should be sponged off with a little warm water.

PAPIER-MACHÉ.--_How to Make and Use It._--Every taxidermist must know how
to make good papier-maché before his education can be considered complete.
This material is absolutely indispensable in taxidermic work, and its
composition should be thoroughly understood. It is used in filling up
holes, seams, and cracks, in modeling the mouth parts of specimens that
have been mounted with the mouth open, in restoring missing parts of
various specimens, in modeling bones to go in "restored" skeletons, etc. It
is also of great value in modeling groundwork to be made in imitation of
rock or wood. There is really no good substitute for this material. When
properly made it sticks tightly to its place, is easily modeled, can be
crowded into the smallest crack, dries quickly when exposed to the air, is
hard and smooth when dry, takes paint readily, and yet when kept wrapped in
a wet cloth under an inverted bowl can be kept soft for several days.

There are several ways of making papier-maché, according to the use to
which it is to be put. I have taken pains to prepare an exact formula for
making the finest and best quality, and from that the worker will
undoubtedly be able to work out variations in quality, according to his

The most important ingredient is the paper pulp. The finest pulp for
papier-maché is that made by the ton in the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing in Washington, from mutilated paper currency, but not from tobacco
stamps, which is coarse and not fit for fine work. A hundred pounds of this
pulp would cost, in Washington, about $1.50, and could be made into sheets
of small bulk, and dried for use as needed. It is a great advantage to have
it in this form. When needed for use, take a dry sheet or ball of the right
size, dissolve and beat it up into a thin mush in a bowl of water, until
the particles are all well separated, then pour it on a sieve to run the
water out without losing the pulp. The water is then squeezed out of it by
gentle pressure with the hand, but it should not, by any means, be squeezed
as dry as possible, for the water is an important factor. Pulp prepared
thus can be stirred up with glue into a perfectly homogeneous paste, free
from all lumps, and so fine it can be pressed into the smallest crack.

If you have no manufactured pulp, then you must make it yourself. Procure a
lot of old newspapers, of as soft paper as possible, tear them to bits, put
the pieces in a kettle of boiling water and beat the mass in any way you
please, boiling it meanwhile, until it becomes paper pulp. It should be
free from lumps and small pieces of paper, or it will not work well.

The following are the ingredients necessary to make a lump of papier-maché
a little larger than an ordinary base-ball, and weighing 17 ounces.

                         FINE PAPIER-MACHÉ.

                     { dry paper, 1 ounce }
    Wet paper pulp,  {                    } 4 ounces (avoirdupois).
                     { water,  3 ounces   }
    Dry plaster Paris,                      8 ounces      "
    Hot glue,                      1/2 gill, or 4-1/2 tablespoonfuls.


While the paper pulp is being prepared, melt some best Irish glue in the
gluepot, and make it of the same thickness and general consistency as that
used by cabinet-makers. Measure the different ingredients to be used, until
the result teaches you what good papier-maché is like, and after that you
can be guided by your judgment as you proceed. On taking the paper pulp
from the water, give it a gentle squeeze, but by no means squeeze it as dry
as you can. Now put it in a bowl, put over it about three tablespoonfuls of
your hot glue, and stir the mass up into a soft and very sticky paste. Next
add your plaster Paris, and mix it thoroughly. By the time you have used
about three ounces of the plaster, the mass is so dry and thick you can
hardly work it. Now add the remainder of your glue, work it up again until
it becomes sticky once more, then add the remainder of your plaster.
Squeeze it vigorously through your fingers to thoroughly mix the mass, and
work it until it is free from lumps, is finely kneaded, and is sticky
enough to stick fast to the surface of a planed board when you rub a bit on
it by firm pressure of the finger. If it is too dry to stick fast, add a
few drops of either glue or water, it makes little difference which, and
work it up again. When the paper pulp is poor, and the maché is inclined
to be lumpy, lay the mass upon a smooth board, take a hammer and pound it
hard to grind it up fine.

If the papier-maché is not sticky enough to stick fast to whatever a bit of
it is rubbed upon, it is a failure, and requires more glue. In using it the
mass should be kept in a lump, and used as soon as possible after it is
made. Keep the surface of the lump moist by means of a wet cloth laid over
it, for if you do not, the surface will dry rapidly. If you wish to keep it
overnight, or longer, wrap it up in several thicknesses of wet cotton
cloth, and put it under an inverted bowl. If it should by accident or delay
become a trifle too stiff to work well, add a few drops of water to the
mass, pound it with the hammer, and work it over again. If you wish to keep
a lump for a week, to use daily, add a few drops of glycerine when you make
it, so that it will dry more slowly.

The papier-maché made when the above formula was prepared had the following
qualities: When tested by rubbing between the thumb and finger, it was
sticky and covered the thumb with a thin coating. (Had it left the thumb
clean, it would have been because it contained too much water.) When rubbed
upon a pane of glass, it stuck tightly and dried hard in three hours,
without cracking, and could only be removed with a knife. When spread in a
layer, as thin as writing-paper, it dried in half an hour. A mass actually
used dried hard enough to coat with wax in eighteen hours, and, without
cracking, became as hard as wood; yet a similar quantity wrapped in a wet
cloth and placed under an inverted bowl kept soft and fit for use for an
entire week.

Such are the qualities of first-class papier-maché, and the manner of
producing them all. I have dwelt at great length on this material because
it is such an important and indispensable factor in general taxidermic
work. It will pay any taxidermist to become an expert in making it and
using it, and a little later, when we get to modeling intricate mouth
parts, and making all sorts of restorations and repairs, we shall see what
a valuable servant is papier-maché.

"MACHÉING" MOUNTED MAMMALS.--Surely it is unnecessary for me to devote
much space to directing how to fill up with papier-maché the holes, seams,
and cracks in a mounted mammal. Of course all cavities opened by shrinkage
or accident must be filled up. Use a sharp-pointed knife, press the fine
and soft maché deeply into every opening, make it catch _underneath_ the
skin, so that when dry it cannot flake off, or be knocked off; and smooth
it on the outside to the level of the skin. Use the maché liberally, and it
will be more certain always to remain as you leave it. Fill up rough seams
until they are smooth, so that the hair can be glued on if necessary.
Wherever dry clay shows, dig it out and replace with the other more durable
material, which can be painted, whereas dry clay can not.

PUTTY.--In the days of my youth I was taught by my European teachers to use
putty for all such work as that described above; but I very soon became
disgusted with it, and years ago ceased to use it for any purpose whatever.
It is greasy, inert, and yet purely temporary stuff. It never gets really
hard unless used in a great mass, and when used in small quantities for
fine work it is utterly worthless. Do not use it unless you are so situated
that you are positively unable to make papier-maché--and I cannot imagine
any such situation as being possible within the pale of civilization.

PAINTING ON PAPIER-MACHÉ.--Of course this material dries white, and must be
painted. If paint is put directly upon it, the oil and color is absorbed at
once, and it takes many coats to properly fill it up. To save time and give
the best results, first give your papier-maché work two coats of shellac,
which dries in a few minutes and fills up all the pores, so that your paint
will stay as you put it on. Use oil colors, but put them on with turpentine
to avoid the unnatural gloss that oil will give. In another chapter (XXVI.)
will be found detailed hints in regard to painting mounted specimens.

GLUING HAIR UPON MAMMALS.--It is very seldom that a dry skin is mounted
without there being upon it some spot or spots destitute of hair, which
must be repaired. Sometimes it is only a small spot, sometimes it is nearly
the entire head, or an entire leg from which the epidermis has come loose,
carrying the hair with it, and leaving an unsightly bare spot. It requires
a good deal of ingenuity, much skill, and tireless patience to glue hair
upon an animal so that it will so closely resemble the natural growth that
no one will notice the difference. But in every case, except some of the
seals and sea-lions, this can be accomplished, if it be necessary, although
very often it requires good judgment and the hand of an artist to do it.

Each mammal has its own peculiarities in regard to the quality, thickness,
length, and general set of its hair, all of which must be carefully
studied. When the hair grows long and thickly, the task is much easier than
if it be thin or short.

1st. Procure a pair of very small curve-pointed forceps, so fine they will
hold a single hair if necessary. (Price, 75 cents.)

2d. Procure a pair of small and sharp scissors, with sharp points.

3d. Procure a bottle of common fish-glue, or royal glue.

4th. If possible, procure a piece of useless skin, from which to cut the
hair necessary to use in making the repairs.

Very often it is impossible to procure any pieces of skin with hair
suitable for the purpose, and then the only way is to cut hair from the
specimen which is to be repaired, picking out with the forceps a tiny bunch
here and there in such a way that the bunches cut out will not show. This
can nearly always be done in making slight repairs upon thick-haired
animals, such as bears, wolves, monkeys, etc. But with such short-haired
animals as the tiger, zebra, and giraffe, the hair must be procured
elsewhere. Use the hair of any animal to repair the coat of another, so
long as it will answer perfectly, no matter what the genus or species may
be. Use tow, or jute, painted or dyed the proper color, if it is
sufficiently like the hair which will surround it.

In order to treat this subject intelligibly, we will undertake to separate
all terrestrial mammals into three classes, as follows:

1st. _Animals with very close, short hair; as the tiger, zebra, horse, and

Upon such animals as the above, the hair lies almost flat upon the skin,
completely covering it with a very smooth, glossy coat. To repair hair upon
such animals, procure pieces of skin having hair of the requisite quality,
and soak them in clear water until decomposition sets in, and the hair
easily comes out _by the roots_. The hair must not be cut off, or it will
not answer. Be sure that your fish-glue is good and strong, and about as
thick as castor-oil. Clean the bare surface of the skin by scraping it with
a knife to remove all dirt, and give the glue a chance to take hold. With
your small forceps, pull from the pieces of half-macerated skin a small
bunch of hair of the proper tint, and with a small camel's-hair brush apply
a drop of glue to the roots of the hair. Begin at the side of the bare spot
where the hair grows directly away from it, and lay down your little bunch
of hairs so that their tips shall fairly cover the roots of those nearest
the edge. Then press down the bunch of hair thus placed in position, work
the hairs slightly apart, and make them lie quite flat upon the skin.
Follow up this process with untiring patience, and the result will be
entirely satisfactory. I have seen large patches of hair glued upon a tiger
so successfully that when finished the sharpest eye could not detect the
repaired spots. But it was very slow work, requiring an hour's steady work
to cover a spot of not quite two square inches.

2d. _Animals with thick, long hair; as most monkeys, bears, wolves, all the
ruminants of cold climates, etc._


In repairing the coats of such as the above, the necessary hair may be cut
off in bunches, either from the animal itself, or from old pieces of skin,
so long as the hair is of the proper length. Notice carefully the set of
the hair, and imitate it very exactly. The glue may be applied quite
plentifully to the roots of each bunch of hairs while you hold it in your
forceps, and usually quite a large bunch may be set on at a time, and
afterward spread out a little. In repairing the mountain sheep (_Ovis
montana_) and prong-horn antelope (_Antilocapra americana_), the point of
vital importance is to get every hair to set in precisely the right
direction, so that the surface will be smooth. If the hair is put on
carelessly, and without due observance of the above caution, upon the
repaired spot it will stick stiffly out like the bristles of a shoe-brush,
and the imperfection of the coat will be painfully apparent.

3d. _Animals with long hair growing very thinly; as upon certain portions
of orang utans, chimpanzees, and all members of the hog family._

Upon the animals indicated above, it will be found that the hair grows in
little bunches of three or four hairs in a bunch, but so thinly distributed
that the skin shows through quite distinctly.

Furthermore, in such cases the hairs stand out from the skin, and their
_roots_ are plainly visible. Successfully to repair such a skin is very
slow, tedious work, and cannot be done by a man whose time is very
valuable. A boy working for small wages is the best means to employ, but he
must be watched closely.

Procure the hair necessary for making the repairs. Then with a sharp awl,
or coarse needle, prick the skin full of holes to correspond in number and
distribution with the arrangement of the tiny hair bunches upon the skin
surrounding the spot. Prick the little holes rather deeply and slanting in
the right direction. Then take a bunch of three or four hairs in your
smallest forceps, dip the end in the fish-glue, and keeping the hairs well
together, set the bunch into one of the little holes. See that the hairs
stand out in the right direction, and proceed in this way until the bare
spot is covered.



Sportsmen, if you really must kill all the large mammalia from off the face
of the earth, do at least preserve the heads that are brought low by your
skill and prowess. Now that our elk, moose, deer, caribou, antelope,
mountain sheep, and mountain goat are all disappearing so rapidly, and
nearly all these species are doomed to speedy extermination, head
collecting has become quite the fashion. There are in this country probably
two score of taxidermists who live by heads alone; and many hunters who
once lived by buffalo robes and beaver pelts now make a business of hunting
for heads to sell. I know many such, and their scale of prices for heads,
according to size and "points," shows that they have got the business "down

And why should not heads be collected and made much of, as well as pelts
and meat? A naturally handsome mammal head which has been skilfully mounted
is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Wearied with the survey of inane
and meaningless pictures, stiff portraits, cheap statuettes, and tawdry
fancy decorations, the eye rests gladly and gratefully upon a fine head on
a handsome shield, hanging in a good light, and blesses the hand that
placed it there. Such an ornament calls forth endless admiration and query,
even from those who know no other chase than that of the mighty dollar, and
who, alas! have never found out by experience that

    "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods."

And therefore I say, if you must go and kill things, save their heads and
mount them as an atonement for your deeds of blood. They will give pleasure
to you and your friends long after you have hung up your rifle forever. I
have gathered numerous curiosities and works of art in foreign lands, but
they do not excite one-half the admiration that is called forth by the
series of really fine heads of buffalo, deer, mountain sheep, elk,
antelope, and mountain goat of which I am the fortunate possessor.

Inasmuch as this chapter is intended chiefly for the benefit of sportsmen
and amateur taxidermists, we must begin at the beginning, and treat the
subject in somewhat full detail. We will consider that we have a deer as
our subject.

Many a fine deer head is spoiled forever by being cut off too close behind
the ears. With such animals as the lion, tiger, leopard, puma, and bear, a
long neck is not desirable unless the head is to be mounted in a glass
case, looking out of a thicket; and neither is it best for a buffalo head
to have a long neck. It may be set down as a safe rule, however, that the
heads of all deer, antelopes, sheep, goats, and the like, should have
moderately long necks. Having experimented fully with necks of all lengths,
I find that the most satisfactory to competent critics, and therefore the
handsomest, are those which strike a happy medium, such as the antelope
head shown in Plate XI. To secure this length, the head should be cut off
well back toward the shoulders, so as to leave a little surplus to be
trimmed off when the head is mounted.

_To Skin and Preserve a Deer Head_, proceed as follows:

1. Start at the back of the neck (on top) just in front of the shoulders,
or "withers," keep the point of the knife under the skin, with the edge up,
and divide the skin in a circle all the way around the neck, keeping down
to the point where the neck sets on the shoulders. You need not cut through
the flesh and bone of the neck at that point.

2. Never slit the skin open along the under side of the throat. Cut it open
in a straight line along the back of the neck, all the way along, up to a
point midway between the ears. From that point run two cuts like the arms
of a Y, one to the base of each antler or horn, as seen in Fig. 7. Run the
point of the knife close around the base of each antler, and cut through
the skin all the way.

3. Begin at the back of the neck, and skin downward on each side until the
entire neck is free. As you proceed you will presently come to the ear,
which stands up like a tree-trunk covered with bark. Cut the ear off close
to the skull, leave it for the present just as it is, and go right on down
toward the cheeks and throat, as far as you can go.

4. Begin next at the angle of the =Y=, on the top of the head, and skin
down between the antlers and over the forehead until you reach the eye. Now
proceed carefully. In many ruminants there is a deep cavity in the bone
directly in front of the anterior corner of the eye, called an "eye-pit."
The skin lines this eye-pit quite down to the bottom. Do not cut through
the skin, but get down to the very bottom of the eye-pit, and detach the
skin from the bone.

5. Be careful not to cut the corners of the eye, or the edge of the eyelid.
Keep close to the bony orbit, and insert the end of one finger in the eye
from the outside, to cut against when you sever the thin membrane that
surrounds the eyeball.

6. The nostrils must be cut through so far back from the end of the nose
that the cut will not be visible in the open nostril when viewed from in
front. The cartilaginous septum that divides the nostrils like a partition
wall must be split in two, edgewise, from inside, clear down to the very
tip of the nose, so that all the flesh can be cut away. Many a fine head is
spoiled by having the flesh left in the end of the nose. It seems all right
for a short time, but when it dries, it shrinks and shrivels up, and the
nose not only loses all character and beauty, but becomes an eyesore.

7. The lips must be cut from the jaw close to the bone, and afterward slit
open along the inside, laid out flat, and the flesh pared off carefully
with a sharp knife. Leave one-half to three-quarters of an inch of the
inner skin of the lip all the way around, so that the form of the lip can
be presently reproduced by replacing the flesh with clay.

8. A deer's ear consists of a big, leaf-shaped piece of cartilage, thick at
the base and centre, very thin at the edges and the upper end, and rolled
together on itself at the base to form a half cone, like a funnel with one
side partly cut away. Over this sheet of cartilage is stretched the skin,
with no flesh whatever between the two. This cartilage can be completely
skinned out and replaced with a leaden imitation. It must be skinned out;
for if it is not done, the hair will probably all slip off the ear; but,
even supposing that it does not, an equally bad thing happens. When the
head is mounted and dry, the ears will begin to shrink and shrivel up like
a pair of dry autumn leaves, and the beauty of the head is gone forever! In
skinning out the ear cartilage, a sharp scalpel of large size, or a
cartilage-knife, is the best instrument, and it should be held in the
fingers precisely as one holds a pen in writing. A good, keen pocket-knife
is plenty good enough for all emergencies.

[Illustration: FIG. 33.--Skinning a Deer's Ear.]

Begin at the fleshy base of the ear, detach the skin from the cartilage by
cutting, and by pulling and pushing the two apart with the thumb and
fingers (Fig. 33). Of course you must stop at the edge of the cartilage,
and be very careful not to cut through the skin there. Keep right on up the
back of the ear, gradually turning the ear wrong side out, until you reach
the tip (Fig. 34). The ear is now wrong side out, and the skin is detached
from the back of the cartilage, but still adheres on the inside. Now begin
at the tip, where the cartilage is thinnest (Fig. 35), peel it up, and by
the same process as before gradually work the inside skin loose without
cutting _through_ the skin at any point, until it is free quite down to the
base of the ear, so far within that when the skin is cut straight across
and turned right side out again, the point of detachment cannot be seen
(Fig. 36).

[Illustration: FIG. 34.--The Ear Half-skinned.]

It is likely that the beginner will find this a difficult operation, for it
really is so until one has done at least one pair of ears. After that, with
a fresh specimen, the process is simple and easy. Save the ear cartilage in
your salt-and-alum bath, for you will need it presently as a model in
making a leaden imitation to take its place.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.--Skinning down the Inside.]

[Illustration: FIG. 36.--The Cartilage Out.]

9. The skin is now off. To preserve it in the field, first pare away the
flesh that may have been left adhering to it, especially at the lips and
end of the nose, and wash it clean. If you have arsenical soap, anoint it
thoroughly over the inside, then literally smother it in salt. You need not
dry the skin if you have plenty of salt for it. If you have but a limited
quantity, attend to the poisoning to keep off insects, then rub on as much
salt as you have to spare, hang the skin up in a shady place over a pole,
open it out widely so that the air will circulate freely upon all parts of
it, and let it dry. In a dry climate a skin can be dried in this way and
successfully preserved (_temporarily_) even when you have neither poison
nor preservative of any kind to put on it; but it must be watched and
guarded with jealous care until you get it safely home, or in the hands of
a taxidermist, to prevent its being eaten up by insects, rats, or dogs.

In moist climates, ground alum is to be used in lieu of salt, and all skins
must be dried unless you have a salt-and-alum bath for them. In preserving
heads, the sportsman will find that ten pounds of salt, or in the tropics
ten pounds of alum, will go a long ways, if care is taken to keep a skin
open until it is nearly dry. Never, save as a last resort, dry a skin in
the sun, and never hang one up by the nose.

_The Skull._--Of course the skull must always be cleaned and saved, as
directed elsewhere.

_Paring down the skin_, preparatory to mounting. See Chapter XIII.

THE WORK OF MOUNTING.--We will suppose that the head skin has been fully
cured or relaxed in the salt-and-alum bath, pared down quite thin with
draw-shave and knife, the holes have been neatly sewn up, and the ear
cartilages skinned out. We will also suppose that the skull has been
cleaned with the knife in the first place, and afterward boiled and scraped
to remove the last vestiges of animal matter. If the skin and skull have
been thus attended to, the mounted head will be clean enough and free
enough from all animal odors, when dry, to go into my lady's boudoir, or
into the dining-room of the White House.

There are almost as many different methods of mounting mammal heads as
there are taxidermists, but I shall describe only my own. I have tried
various other methods than that to be described, but without satisfactory
results, and I offer this as being at once the simplest and easiest for the
amateur, as well as the professional worker, and above all, the one by
which the finest results are obtainable. The operator retains full control
of the shape of the specimen almost up to the last moment, which I consider
a _sine qua non_ in any method. The method should be your servant, not your
master. Judging from the extent to which this method has been adopted among
the taxidermists of this country since I first described it in a paper read
before the Society of American Taxidermists, in New York, in 1883, it may
be considered to possess some merit.

1. We have before us the clean skull. Procure about two pounds of plaster
Paris, and a piece of board an inch or an inch and a half thick, three or
four inches wide, and about two feet long. This is to be the neck standard.
With the hatchet round off the corners of one end. Then, with a saw and
cold chisel, cut a long, narrow hole in the base of the skull, so that the
end of the neck standard can pass through it into the brain cavity, and
strike against the top of the skull (Fig. 37). The opening should be cut
lengthwise with the skull, and only just large enough to receive the end of
the board comfortably. In case it is desired to have the head turned to one
side, looking to the right or left, the neck standard must be fitted into
the skull accordingly. An iron rod may be used instead of a wooden
standard, if the operator finds it more convenient.

[Illustration: FIG. 37.--Internal Mechanism of a Deer Head.]

2. Now place the skull upside down on the table, with the forehead on a
level with the table-top, and proceed to set one end of the neck standard
in the skull. This is done as follows: Into about a quart of water, placed
in a basin or large bowl, sprinkle the plaster Paris, a handful at a time,
until the water is filled with it and will take up no more. Then stir it
thoroughly with a spoon, and after placing the end of the neck standard in
the skull cavity in a _perpendicular_ position, pour the plaster around the
end of it, filling the brain cavity, and piling it up on the base of the
skull in a copious mass, so that when it hardens the board will be
immovably fixed. The plaster should also fill around the articulations of
the lower jaw, to make that also a fixture in its place. The neck standard
should be set _at a right angle_ with the axis of the skull. This may seem
strange to you at first, but you will presently see that the angle is

While the plaster is hardening, which it will do in about twenty minutes,
you must leave the head undisturbed and busy yourself with giving the final
touches to the skin, or to the preparation of some clay and tow for future

[Illustration: FIG. 38.--Complete Manikin for Deer Head, without Clay

3. When the plaster has fully set, you are ready to decide upon the length
of neck to be shown, and the general pose of the head. Having decided upon
the former, which is a matter of taste, you can have an assistant hold the
side of the neck standard up against the side of a door-post in about the
pose you wish it to have, while you stand off and survey it at a distance,
and change the elevation until it suits you. Then, mark where the neck
standard is to be sawn off, and also the precise angle, and saw it off.
Having done this, have the head held up against the wall as it will be when
mounted, and see that the elevation of the nose is right. If it is too high
or too low, saw off the end of the neck standard at a different angle, and
be sure that the attitude is right before proceeding farther.

4. The next step is to cut a board to fit into the lower end of the neck.
Its approximate circumference can be determined by measuring the width and
depth of the neck the proper distance down. The shape of the board must be
about like that shown in Fig. 37--a broad oval, broadest at the top, or
else an ellipse. Bevel off the upper and lower ends on opposite sides to
match the outline of the neck, and then screw it firmly to the lower end of
the neck standard. It may be necessary to alter the shape of the neck-board
a little later on, which is easily done.

5. Now take some excelsior, or straw, or fine, soft hay, and build up a
false neck of the proper shape and size to fit the skin by placing the
material around the neck standard and winding it down with cotton twine
(Fig. 38). It is a very pleasing task to form a neck by this easy process,
and impart to it the graceful curves, the taper, and flatness near the head
so characteristic of the deer. You can show the windpipe and gullet by
sewing through the neck from side to side, and forming a hollow from the
corner of the jaw down the side of the neck, as shown in the figure. You
now have the form of the neck wholly under your control, and your eye and
hand will be held accountable for the result. Be careful to make the neck
_much smaller_ than it is to be when the skin is on. The thick coat of hair
makes a vast difference in the size, and adds perhaps half an inch, or
more, all around.

If you are mounting an old skin that has for years been in a dry state and
requires much powerful stretching to bring it out to its proper size, you
will be compelled to stuff the neck with straw in the old way, so as to put
great pressure upon it from within, and stretch the skin by sheer force. Of
course you will lose many of the fine points, but very often a skin is so
hard and refractory that it can be mounted in no other way. In working by
this method the neck is stuffed from the lower end, and the neck-board
fitted and screwed into place afterward.

6. Make the neck smooth by winding; make it symmetrical and true to nature,
and try the skin on it occasionally to test the proportions of your
manikin. There is to be no "stuffing" of the neck after the skin is once
on, therefore the manikin must be made correctly.

7. When the neck is at last finished, work up about half a pailful of
potters' clay until it forms a soft, sticky paste, and cover the neck with
a coat of it about an eighth of an inch thick, to insure absolute

8. Put a proper quantity of clay on each side of the skull to form the
animal's cheeks, and enough upon the back of the skull, forehead, and
muzzle to replace the flesh and skin that has been cut away. On no account
attempt to stuff a fresh head with tow, or any fibrous material, for it is
a practical impossibility to keep it from becoming too large. Instead of
clay you might possibly use papier-maché, putty, or plaster Paris, if you
prefer either; but clay has many and great advantages over all other
materials. Plaster Paris acts too quickly to be of much real use, putty is
greasy and inert, and papier-maché dries too slowly when underneath a skin.

9. Before putting the skin in place, sew up whatever rents there may be in
it, and replace the cartilage of the ear with thin sheet lead, or sheet
tin, cut the proper shape and trimmed down thin at the edges. Rub a little
clay on the metal to enable the skin to stick to it. Sheet lead can be
purchased at about 10 cents per pound at almost any large plumbing
establishment. The finest material, however, and which I have used for
years, is pure sheet tin, which the National Museum procures of The John J.
Cooke Co., Mulberry Street, New York, at 26 cents per pound. It is thin,
easily cut and shaped, and just stiff enough to work perfectly in imitating
the shape of an ear cartilage. Good, firm, card-board can be used for the
ears instead of lead, when you can not get either of the sheet metals.

10. Anoint the skin copiously with arsenical soap, give it time to absorb
the poison, then put it in place on the skull and neck, and adjust it
carefully. Fasten the lips together at the end of the muzzle by taking a
stitch in each and tying the thread. See that the eyes come exactly over
the orbits, and then put two or three tacks through the skin of the
forehead, into the skull, to hold it in place. Sew the skin tightly
together around the base of the antlers, and sew up both arms of the =Y=.

11. Sometimes the skin of the neck is so much stretched that to fill it out
would make the neck, when finished, entirely too large. In such cases, with
a clay-covered manikin, it is possible to make a fresh skin contract
mechanically by crowding it together in minute wrinkles in order to make an
undue fulness disappear.

12. Before sewing up the skin along the back of the neck, (which must be
done with very strong _linen_ "gilling thread," well waxed to keep it from
rotting) put enough clay at the base of each ear and on the back of the
skull to properly form those parts. Observe that in a live deer the base of
the ear is quite close up to _the burr of the antler_, and it also has a
peculiar shape, which should be studied and faithfully reproduced, but can
hardly be described.

13. If the manikin is of the right size and shape, you are now ready to sew
up the skin; nail it fast with small brads around the lower edge of the
neck-board, and trim the surplus off neatly and evenly. Screw the head upon
a rough shield or piece of board, so that it will stand alone on your table
while you are working at the face.

14. Unless you have carefully studied a deer's head in the flesh, or have
a cast to work by, you can not reasonably expect to be able to make the
head precisely as it should be. Fifteen minutes of close and studious
examination and note-taking of a head in the flesh will do for you what my
poor pen could not hope to accomplish with ten pages of written matter.

15. There yet remains that part of the work which requires the most
artistic treatment. In finishing the face, the first thing is to shape the
cheeks, which is quickly done provided they are filled with precisely the
proper quantity of clay. By trial you will find whether more clay must be
put in, or some taken out. After the cheeks, form the eyebrow, fill the
orbit with clay, and with a small wire nail fasten the skin down in that
deep pit which is found in front of the anterior corner of the eye. Press
the skin down upon the muzzle, fill in the lips with clay, and fold them as
they were before skinning. Before bringing the lips together, fill out the
nose, the chin, and corners of the mouth--but _not too full_, however. That
done satisfactorily, bring the lips together as they were in life. No
wiring or sewing is necessary, nor even pinning. It is to be supposed that
you have kept the skin of the lower jaw pulled well forward into place, and
if so, the lips will go together easily and stay there for all time to
come. In modeling the end of the nose and the nostrils, _give the latter
good depth_. Make the opening so deep that no one can ever see the bottom
of it. No little fault disgusts me more than to see the nostrils of a deer,
buffalo, or elk all plastered up with putty, as if the animal had never
drawn a breath. Make your animal look as if it were _breathing_, rather
than standing up with rods in its legs, and its hide full of rubbish.


16. The eyes come next. Arrange the lids carefully over the clay, which
nearly fills the orbit, then insert the glass eye, (which in every ruminant
should have an elongated pupil and white corners), and work it into its
exact position. Do not have too much clay behind it, or it will have a
bulging, overfed, or choked-to-death expression. Do not let it protrude
until it could be knocked off the head with a bean-pole, or lassoed with a
grape-vine. Keep the eye well down in the orbit, and the front corner well
sunken. An animal's expression depends upon the eye more than any other one
thing, and the expression of the eye is dependent upon the disposition of
the eyelid and the line of sight. A good glass eye has just as much power
of varied expression as has a living, naked eyeball--which is _no power
whatever_--unless it be the eyeball of an angry cat.

17. See that both eyes look at the same point, in front, about eight feet
distant; that precisely the same amount of iris shows in each, in short,
that both are exactly alike in every respect. A deer should have a mild,
but wide-awake--not staring--expression, and the attitude should not be
unpleasantly strained, either in the curve of the neck or the carriage of
the head. Avoid the common error of making a deer's head too "proud." No
goose-necks or goitre on your deer, if you please.

Having finished the eyes and fashioned the nostrils, cut some pieces of
pasteboard, bend them to the right shape, and either sew or pin them upon
the ears to hold them in precisely the right attitude until they dry. If
the ears have lead in them they will support themselves. Lastly, wash the
head thoroughly to get all the dirt and clay out of the hair, and comb it
until it lays naturally. Now hang the head up in a dry room and leave it
for a month, if possible, two weeks at all hazards.

When quite dry and shrunken, brush it well, and rub around the mouth, nose,
eyes, and ears with a tooth-brush to remove the last remaining suggestions
of clay. (See chapter on "Finishing Mounted Mammals."). Paint the end of
the nose and edges of the eyelids with vandyke brown and black, using oil
colors. The hairless parts of the lips are entirely concealed, consequently
there is no painting to be done around the mouth unless the shrinkage has
slightly parted the lips. If this has occurred put some black paint in the

By all means mount a handsome head upon a rich and handsome shield. Tastes
differ widely, but for my part I dislike a thin, light shield, and one not
nicely finished is also an eyesore. The wood should be of a color that will
harmonize best with the color of the head upon it. The finest shields are
made of cherry ebonized, or red-wood, black walnut, oak, mahogany, or
maple, and highly polished. The best shape for a shield is such as that
seen behind the caribou head in Plate XVI.



We have now reached one of the most interesting features of all taxidermic
work. There is no royal road to success in this direction, nor aught else
that leads thither save hard study, hard work, and an artistic sense of the
eternal fitness of things.

The large _Felidæ_ (tiger, lion, leopard, etc.) are the finest subjects for
the taxidermist that the whole animal kingdom can produce. They offer the
finest opportunities for the development of muscular anatomy, and the
expression of the various higher passions. The best that I can do with the
space at my disposal for this subject is to offer the reader a few hints on
how to produce certain expressions, illustrated by an accurate drawing from
one of my mounted specimens.

In the first place, _strive to catch the spirit of your subject_.

It frequently happens that the attitude desired for a feline or other
carnivorous animal is one expressive of anger, rage, or defiance. For a
single specimen, the most striking attitude possible is that of a beast at
bay. Unless a carnivorous animal is to be represented in the act of seizing
something, the mouth should not be opened very wide. It is a common fault
with taxidermists to open the jaws of such an animal too widely, so that
the effect striven for is lost, and the animal seems to be yawning
prodigiously, instead of snarling. Open the jaws a moderate distance,
indicating a readiness to open wider without an instant's warning. The
thick, fleshy part of the upper lip is lifted up to clear the teeth for
action, and the mustached portion is bunched up until it shows two or three
curving wrinkles, with the middle of the curve upward. This crowds the
nostril opening together, and changes its shape very materially. In most
carnivora, but most strikingly so in bears, the end of the lower lip falls
away slightly from the lower incisors.

In old lions and tigers the face wrinkles pretty much all over, especially
across the nose and under the eyes. In all the _Felidæ_ the opening of the
eye changes most strikingly. When angry, the eye of a ruminant animal opens
its widest, and shows portions of the eyeball that are never seen
otherwise. In the carnivora, the reverse is the case. As if to protect the
eye from being clawed or bitten, the upper eyelid is drawn well down over
the ball, as seen in Plate I. (Frontispiece), and the eyebrows are bunched
up and drawn near together until the scowl becomes frightful. The decks are
further cleared for action in the disposition of the ears. Instead of
leaving them up ready to be bitten off, they are "unshipped," and laid back
as far as possible, close down upon the neck, and out of harm's way. The
tongue also pulls itself together, contracts in the middle, curves up at
the edges, and makes ready to retire farther back between the jaws at the
instant of seizure.

All this time the body is not by any means standing idly and peacefully at
ease. The attitude must match the expression of the face, or the tragedy
becomes a farce. The body must stand firmly on its legs, alert, ready
either to attack or defend, head turned, body slightly bent, or slightly
crouching, and, unless the animal is _walking_, with the tail switching
nervously from side to side. If the animal is walking forward, the tail
should be held still and in the same vertical plane as the body. The finest
attitude for a large carnivore is one which represents it at bay, and
awaiting attack. A cat is an animal of a thousand attitudes. Very many of
them, if reproduced exactly in a mounted specimen, would look very uncouth
and devoid of beauty; therefore, choose those which are at once
characteristic and pleasing to the eye.

MODELING AN OPEN MOUTH.--In mounting a feline animal with mouth open and
teeth showing, beware what you do, or you will make the animal laughing
instead of snarling. This is often done! In fact, in my younger days I did
it once myself--but without any extra charge.

In modeling an open mouth, first fill the inside of the lips with clay, and
also back them up underneath with clay until the lips, when fixed in
position, have the expression desired. The inner edge of the hairless
portion of the lower lip should fit up close against the jaw bone, and
perhaps be tacked down upon it temporarily. Very often it is necessary to
hold the lips in position, while drying, by sewing through the edges and
passing the thread across the jaws from side to side. The skin of the nose
must be fully backed up with clay, so that no hollows are left into which
the skin can shrink away in drying. It is often desirable to hold the end
of the lower lip up to its place, while drying, by driving a small wire
nail through it into the bone.

Do not fill the mouth full of clay, for it must be borne in mind that the
final modeling of the soft parts of the mouth must be done in papier-maché.
It is no small task to dig out of a mouth a quantity of clay and tow after
it has become hard; therefore, leave a place for the tongue.

[Illustration: Modeling Tools of Wood.]

A head must be thoroughly dry and shrunken before the mouth can be finished
and made permanent. In drying, the lips draw away from the gums somewhat,
which is just as it should be. The first step is to clear away the dry clay
from around the teeth and lips, and get everything clean and ready for the
maché. Then make some fine papier-maché, as described elsewhere, that is
sticky enough to adhere firmly to smooth bone, and of such consistency that
it works well in modeling. With this, and your modeling spatulas and other
tools of steel, zinc, or hard wood (see Figs. 39-44), cover the jaw bones
to replace the fleshy gums, and fill up to the edges of the lips so that
they seem to be attached to the gums as in life. Coat the roof of the
mouth, and model its surface into the same peculiar corrugations that you
saw in the mouth immediately after death.

This is slow work. It requires a good eye, a skilful, artistic touch, and
unlimited patience. If you are an artist, prove it now by the fidelity with
which you copy nature in this really difficult work.

In modeling the surface of papier-maché, you must have a clean,
well-polished modeling-tool, like Fig. 42, and by wetting it now and then
so that it will slip over the surface, your work can be made very smooth.

Next comes the tongue. The only perfect tongue for a feline animal is a
_natural_ tongue, skinned, and stuffed with clay. The papillæ on the tongue
of a lion, tiger, leopard, or puma simply defy imitation, and after many
experiments with many different animals I found that with the real tongue,
and with that only, one can reproduce nature itself and defy criticism. Of
course, this is possible only when you have the animal in the flesh, and
can cut out the tongue and preserve it in alcohol until you are ready to
mount it.

[Illustration: Modeling Tools of Steel.]

To prepare a tiger's tongue, for example, first preserve the whole tongue
in alcohol, for safe keeping. When ready to proceed, slit it open
lengthwise underneath, and skin it carefully. Take a piece of sheet lead,
cut it and hammer it into the right size and shape, and fit it in the mouth
as nearly as possible in the shape the finished tongue is to have. By
judicious hammering with the round end of a machinist's hammer you can give
it any shape you desire. When it is just right, cover it with clay to
replace the flesh of the tongue, treat the skin with arsenical soap, put it
over, and sew it up. Now fit the tongue into the mouth, and by pressure
with the fingers change its shape wherever necessary in order to make it
fit exactly as you wish to have it. When finished, lay it aside to dry. The
accompanying figures were drawn from the finished tongue of the tiger
represented in Plate I., where it is seen in place.

[Illustration: FIG. 45.--Side View of Tiger's Tongue.]

When the tongue is dry it must be painted with oil colors, using a little
turpentine so that the surface shall not be too glossy, nor have a
varnished look. Vermilion and white are the best colors to use, and above
all do not make the tongue or lips look like pink candy, or red flannel, or
red sealing-wax. Call up the household cat at an early stage of the
proceedings, and use her mouth as a model, whether she will or no. A
patient old tabby is an invaluable ally in the mounting of feline animals
of all sorts, and Towser will also help you out with your _Canidæ_. When
modeling the mouth or muscles of a gorilla or orang utan, catch the first
amateur taxidermist you can lay your hands on--the wilder and greener the
better--and use him as your model. Study him, for he is fearfully and
wonderfully made. The way some of my good-natured colleagues used to pose
for me as (partly) nude models at Ward's, when I once had a ten-months'
siege with orangs, gorillas, and chimpanzees, was a constant source of
wonder and delight to the ribald crew of osteologists who knew nothing of
high art.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.--End View.]

[Illustration: FIG. 47.--Tiger's Tongue, Top View.]

Fortunately the tongues of most large mammals are smooth, and are easily
reproduced by using the same leaden core as described above, and covering
it first with papier-maché, drying it, and coating with tinted wax, laid on
hot with a small flat paint-brush called a "fitch." With small specimens it
is not necessary to make the tongue as a separate piece, or put a leaden
core in it. Fill into the mouth a sufficient quantity of papier-maché, pack
it down, and then proceed to model the surface of it into a tongue, shaped
to suit the subject. Such a tongue is, of course, a fixture in the mouth.

_Cleaning Teeth._--Before finishing a mouth with wax, the teeth must be
washed clean with a stiff brush. If they will not come out white enough to
suit you, wash them with a solution of two parts muriatic acid and one part
water, applied with a tooth-brush if possible. Let it stay on the teeth
about a quarter of a minute, when it must be washed off with an abundance
of clear water. If the acid stays on too long, it will destroy the entire
outer surface (enamel) of the teeth.

_Waxing a Mouth._--Of course it will answer, and sometimes quite well
enough, perhaps, when a mouth has been handsomely and smoothly modeled in
fine papier-maché, to sand-paper it and paint it over when dry with two or
three coats of oil color. You can hardly do otherwise, in fact, when you
are not prepared to work with wax. But the really fine way, however, is to
coat your dry papier-maché with tinted wax as follows:

Procure from the nearest dealer in artists' materials some cakes of white
wax. You must also have a small oil or gas stove, or a spirit-lamp, and rig
above it a wire frame on which you can set your wax cup. The wax cups
should be small, and made of pressed tin, so that they contain no soldered
joints. The wax is to be applied hot, or at least quite warm, for bear in
mind that if you heat your wax too hot it changes its color quite
perceptibly, and makes it dark and yellow. Wax should _always_ be clear and
transparent, and when the excess of heat turns it yellow, throw it away.

Regulate the heat carefully, so as to make it gentle. Melt a small portion
of a cake of wax in one of your clean tin cups, and if it is the tongue,
roof of the mouth or gums, that you have to cover, color the wax a delicate
flesh tint by putting into it a very little vermilion, or other suitable
color, from your Windsor & Newton oil-color tube. Oil colors mix very well
with hot wax; but in using it, it is necessary to keep the wax well stirred
with the brush, or the color will settle to the bottom.

Take a clean, dry bristle brush, of the right size (the flat brushes are
always best for wax), with a good, compact point, dip it into the hot wax,
stir from the bottom, and then, before the wax on your brush has even two
seconds in which to get cool, apply it to the surface to be covered, with a
quick, dextrous touch, sweeping it on broadly to keep it from piling up and
making the surface rough. This wax business requires genuine skill, and,
after beginning, one must not be discouraged because it does not "go right"
at first, but try, try again. After your hand has acquired the trick, the
beauty of the results will amply repay your labor.

It is very difficult to change the surface of a coat of wax after it is
once on; therefore try to get it right with the brush. Of course, if the
color or surface does not suit you, scrape it all off, and "to 't again."
To treat the roof of the mouth, the specimen must be turned upside down. At
the point where the black lip joins the pink gums, the two colors can be
nicely blended by letting the last layers of pink wax lap over a trifle,
upon the black, so that the latter will show through the former here and
there, and give the line of demarcation a mottled appearance, with the two
colors thus blended together. Much can be done by taking advantage of the
transparency of thin layers of wax when its color is light.

After the wax has cooled, something can be done to smooth the surface, and
give it a very shiny appearance, by carefully scraping the surface over
smoothly with the edge of a knife, or a sharp bone-scraper. The latter tool
will be found of great value in modeling a mouth in papier-maché, and also
in trimming up the wax after it has been applied.

_Cleaning Glass Eyes._--Always have the glass eyes of a finished specimen
faultlessly clean and well-polished, to give the brilliancy of life. If
paint gets on the glass, remove it with a drop of turpentine, and polish
afterward with a bit of cotton cloth. Some of the old-fashioned
taxidermists have the habit of smearing a lot of nasty lamp-black in the
eyes of every mounted mammal, for what purpose no one knows--but possibly
in imitation of actresses, some of whom have the same unaccountable trick,
and a hideous one it is in its results, in both cases. There is only one
point in its favor--it is the easiest way in the world to give an animal a
black eye.



As usual with most processes in taxidermy, there are several ways in which
a dry bird skin may be softened, and made ready to mount or make over. I
will first describe the one I consider the best in all respects.

TREATMENT OF SMALL SKINS.--Open the skin and remove the filling from the
body, neck, and head. Tear some old cotton cloth into strips from one to
two inches wide, wet them in warm water and wrap one around each leg and
foot until it is completely covered with several thicknesses of the wet
cloth. Lift up the wing and put two or three thicknesses of wet cloth, or
else thoroughly wet cotton batting, around the carpal joints, and also
between the wing and the body. Put some more wet cotton, or rags, inside
the skin, in the body and neck, wrap the whole specimen completely in
several thicknesses of wet cloth, so as to exclude the air, and lay it
aside. If the skin is no larger than a robin, in about twelve to fourteen
hours it will be soft enough to mount. The scraping and cleaning will be
considered later.

TREATMENT OF LARGE SKINS.--Under this heading it is necessary to place
nearly all birds above the size of a robin, for the reason that the legs
and feet, being large and thick in comparison with the skin of the body,
require special treatment in advance. The legs and wings of some birds
require several days' soaking, and were the thin skin of the body to be
relaxed for the same length of time, it would macerate, and the feathers
would fall off. The legs and wings of large birds must, therefore, be
started first in the relaxing process.

Let us take, for example, the skin of a ruffed grouse (_Bonasa umbellus_).
If the skin is an old one, cover the toe-nails and beak with hot wax, or
else by much soaking the horny sheaths will flake off. Wrap the feet and
legs with wet cloths, as described above, and let the skin lie without any
other wrapping for one day. By the end of that time the joints can be bent
somewhat, and they should be manipulated until they bend easily. When they
will do this, put wet cloths around the joints of the wings, under the
wings, inside of the body and the neck, and wrap the whole skin in a wet
cloth of the proper size. By the end of the second day the entire skin will
be soft and pliable, and smelling like an African shanty--damp and musty.

Of course the larger the skin the longer it will take to completely relax.
Sometimes the wings of very large birds require soaking half as long as the
legs, but care must be exercised not to soak any feathered parts too long,
or the feathers are liable to fall out and cause trouble. By this process
skins may be softened and made ready to mount, according to their size, as
follows: Wren to robin, in twelve to fourteen hours; ruffed grouse, two
days; great blue heron, three days; bald eagle, four days; condor, five
days; ostrich, six to seven days. Skins which are less than one year old
soften in about half the time they would require if five years old, and if
properly made in the first place, will make as handsome mounted specimens
as would fresh skins.

WET SAND.--Some taxidermists soften dry bird skins by burying them in wet
sand after the legs and wings have been relaxed in the way already
described. I have tried it occasionally with small skins, and found that
the results were quite satisfactory.

A GOOD "SWEAT-BOX."--Professor L.L. Dyche, of the University of Kansas,
described to me a sweat-box which he has used, and which is certainly a
good one for the creation of a damp atmosphere for the softening of skins,
and also to keep half-finished birds in over night, to prevent them from
drying up. What a deal of trouble the bird taxidermists of my acquaintance
might have saved themselves during the last ten years had they known of, or
devised, this simple but perfect contrivance. It is made by selecting a
wooden box, of the right size to suit, providing a hinged cover, and
coating the entire inside with plaster Paris an inch or so in thickness. To
make use of it, it is filled with water and allowed to stand until the
plaster lining has soaked full, when the rest of the water is emptied out.
If a layer of wet sand is spread over the bottom, the saturation of the air
inside the box, when closed, will be still more complete.

A HEROIC METHOD OF RELAXATION.--Mr. William Brewster thus describes "A New
Wrinkle in Taxidermy," in Messrs. Southwick & Jencks' "Random Notes," vol.
ii., No. 1:

"Wishing to turn a mounted bird into a skin, and having but a limited time
to devote to the task, I tried an experiment. Taking a funnel, and
inserting the pointed end in the stuffing between the edges of the skin on
the abdomen, I poured in a quantity of hot water (nearly boiling hot)
taking care to regulate the injection so that it should be rather slowly
absorbed by the stuffing, and holding the bird at various angles, that
every portion of the anterior might become soaked. The effect was magical;
the skin quickly relaxed, and within fifteen minutes I could bend the neck
and make other required changes without any risk of a break.

"My first experiment was with a gull; afterward I tried other birds, both
large and small, with equal success. I found also that the plan worked
equally well with skins which had been overstuffed, or otherwise badly
made. In a very few minutes they would become nearly as tractable as when
freshly taken from the birds, and much more so than I have ever succeeded
in making them by the use of a damping-box. The only difficulty experienced
was that the water, especially if turned in too fast, would escape through
shot-holes and other rents in the skin, thus wetting the plumage in places.
Of course, after the required improvements or changes have been made, the
stuffing is so thoroughly saturated that the skin must be placed in a very
warm place to dry. I dried mine most successfully by placing them on a
furnace register, and leaving them exposed to the full blast of heat for
several days."

SCRAPING AND CLEANING RELAXED SKINS.--After a dry bird skin has been
softened, it then remains to scrape it clean and manipulate it all over to
get it into thoroughly elastic working order, as soft and pliable (if
possible) as when first taken off. Small skins should be scraped with the
round end of a small bone-scraper, which has a sharp chisel edge, but the
large ones must be scraped with a small-toothed skin-scraper such as is
used on small mammals.

Of the many thousand species of recent birds, only the ostriches, penguins,
and a few others have the feathers distributed evenly over the whole body.
In all the _Euornithes_ they are arranged in regular patches or groups,
called _pterylæ_, between which lie the naked or downy spaces, called
_apteria_. In thin-skinned birds it is the _pterylæ_ that need to be
attacked with the scraper, and so scraped and stretched and pulled apart
that the skin widens, and each feather is free, as in life, to move on its
own root independently, and take whatever position it should have on the
mounted bird. Turn the skin completely wrong side out, scrape it all over,
and get every part fully relaxed, and into thorough working order. Large
birds, or birds with thick, fat skins, require plenty of work to get out
all the grease, and get the wings, legs, and head into a thorough state of
collapse. In large, long-legged birds, the tendons must be removed from the
leg, the same as if the specimen were a fresh one, for otherwise the wire
may split the skin of the tarsus wide open, and make a very bad and
unsightly turn at the heel besides. It is a difficult task to remove the
tendon from the leg of an old, dry heron or crane, but it must be done.

_Damaged Skins._--It not infrequently happens that in cleaning and scraping
a rare and valuable old skin it proves to be "burnt" with grease, and goes
to pieces like so much brown paper.

    "Now is the winter of our discontent."

If the skin is not torn too badly it may be lined with thin cotton or linen
cloth, which must be cut and fitted within, and sewed fast to the skin all
over. This plan, though rather tedious to work out, develops admirably when
determinedly and carefully pursued.

If the skin goes all to pieces, a manikin must be made, and the pieces
glued upon it, one by one, beginning at the tail,--a process which is so
simple it is unnecessary to describe it in detail. In Fig. 50 is seen a
manikin all ready to receive its feathers, wings, and head.




We will suppose that the skin of a small bird--a robin, blackbird, or
thrush--now lies on the table before us all ready for mounting. Perhaps it
is a dry skin which has been thoroughly relaxed, scraped, and worked into
pliant shape; but, for the sake of the beginner, we will assume that it is
a fresh skin which has just been taken off, poisoned, and turned right side
out again, in accordance with the directions for skinning small birds which
have been given in Chapter VI. The body of the bird lies before you, and
instead of making up the subject as a dry skin, we will mount it.

In mounting small birds the following tools are absolutely necessary to the
production of good results: A pair of flat-nosed pliers six inches long,
for bending and clinching wires, price sixty cents; a pair of six-inch
cutting pliers, for cutting wire, eighty-five cents; a pair of
bird-stuffer's forceps, four to six inch, price twenty to seventy-five
cents; a nine-inch flat file, twenty-two cents. Make for yourself a
stuffing-rod, by taking a piece of _stiff_ brass or iron wire, a little
larger and longer than a knitting-needle, hammering one end flat, with a
slight upward curve, and inserting the other in an awl-handle.

Of materials you will need some excelsior; some clean, fine tow; a little
putty or potter's clay; a spool of cotton thread, No. 40, and some suitable
glass eyes. With our tools and materials ready at hand, and the skin of our
bird lying before us right side out, we are ready to begin a new

For a bird the size of a robin or cat-bird, cut two pieces of No. 18 soft
or "annealed" iron wire (hard wire heated red hot and allowed to cool
slowly), each three times the length of the bird's legs, from foot to end
of long leg-bone, or tarsus. File one end of each wire to a slender and
very sharp point, and rub a little oil or grease on each so that it will
easily slip when inside the leg.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.--Wiring a Bird's Leg.]

Now take one of the bird's legs between the thumb and finger of the left
hand, holding it at the foot with the back part uppermost, and with the
other hand enter the point of one of the sharpened wires at the centre of
foot, push the wire up the _back_ of the leg and over the heel until the
point reaches to where the leg has been skinned. Be sure that you do not
run the wire up the _side_ of the leg, either at foot or knee, for if you
do it will show badly when the bird is dry. Also be careful not to run the
sharpened wire out through the skin just above the heel. To avoid this,
grasp the leg at the heel between the thumb and middle finger of left hand,
and by strong upward pressure of the first finger under the end of the
leg-bone, and of the fourth finger under the foot, both joints of the leg
can be held exactly in line until the wire passes the heel safely and
enters the open skin above (Fig. 48). Then we turn back the skin of the leg
till we see the point of the wire, after which we push the wire on up until
the point passes the end of the leg bone. We now cut off the thick upper
end of this bone, (the tibia), and wrap a little fine tow smoothly around
the bone and the wire, to replace the flesh cut away. The other leg must,
of course, be similarly treated. We are now ready to make the body.

We have kept the body of our specimen for reference, and now we measure the
length of both body and neck, cut another wire not quite twice their length
and file it sharp at both ends. This will be the neck-wire. Now take a
handful of excelsior (tow or oakum will also serve), compress it into an
egg-shaped ball--smaller and more pointed at one end than the other, and
wrap a very little fine tow loosely around it, to make it smooth on the
outside when finished. Now wind stout linen thread around it, shaping it
all the time by pressing it between your left thumb and forefinger, until
at last you have a firm body, smoothly wound, of the same general shape and
size as the natural one. When the body is half made you may run the
neck-wire through it lengthwise, letting it come out above the centre of
the larger end, because the neck is but a continuation of the backbone,
which lies at the top of the body. When the wire is inserted, the upper
side of the body--the back--must be pinched together and made more narrow
than the breast, which is round and full. Be sure that the body is not too
large. Better have it too small and too short than too large or long, for
the former can be remedied later on by filling out. When the body is
finished, bend up the end of the neck wire for an inch and a half at the
lower end of the body, enter the point in the lower part of the body and
force it down and backward until the end is firmly clinched and will
forever remain so, no matter what is done with the other end. Make the neck
by wrapping fine, soft tow _smoothly and evenly_ around the neck wire from
the body upward for the proper distance. Make the false neck a trifle
larger than the real one, but no longer. The body is now ready for

[Illustration: FIG. 49.--Cross Section of Body.]

The next step is to take a thread and tie the elbows together, fastening to
each humerus just above the elbow-joint. Now take the false body in the
right hand, open the skin, introduce the sharp end of the neck-wire into
the neck skin, force the wire through the top of the skull in the centre,
and push it through until the neck and body come nicely into place. Now see
whether the body is of the right size. It should not be so large as to fill
the skin precisely, for if so it is too large.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--The Finished Body and Neck, with Legs in

We must now fasten the legs to the body, and will take the left one first.
The leg is still perfectly straight. Hold the lower part firmly between the
thumb and finger, grasp the leg-wire, push it on through the leg and enter
the sharp point at about the centre of the left side of the false body, and
slanting a little forward. (See Fig. 51.) Now push the wire through the
body until it projects more than twice the thickness of the body on the
right side. Bend the end of the wire until it forms a hook, with the point
just touching the body. Now pull the wire back until the point is again
forced through and out on the left side for half an inch, which is then
bent down and forced firmly into the excelsior, and securely clinched. Wire
both legs in this way, and the bird will be so firmly put together it would
be almost impossible to pull it asunder.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.--How the Leg Wires are Inserted and Clinched in the
False Body.]

The legs move freely up and down the leg-wires. Push them up toward the
body until the heels are in precisely the same places they were before you
skinned the bird--almost hidden in the feathers at a point about opposite
the middle of the bird's wing. Now bend the legs forward at a proper angle
(see a living bird or a _good_ picture) and push some finely cut tow down
on each side of the body to fill out the place of the thighs. Insert a
little more cut tow, evenly distributed, in the breast, where the crop
would properly be, and some more at the base of the tail.

Be sure there are no lumps or wrongly placed masses of chopped tow anywhere
in the skin, for if there are any you can not expect to get a smooth and
well-shaped bird.

Now take a needle and thread, begin at the upper end of the opening in the
bird--on the breast,--and with careful fingers sew the skin together
without tearing it or catching the feathers fast. Fill in a little tow, if
necessary, as you proceed, but not enough to fill the skin hard and full,
and when you reach the lower end of the cut draw the skin of the tail
sharply forward for half an inch to take up what it has lengthened by
stretching, and sew it fast by several long cross-stitches. At the last
moment fill in a little more tow at the base of the tail, sew up the
opening, and cut off the thread. The most difficult part of the whole
operation is now before us. It now remains to put the specimen on a perch,
pin the wings fast to the body, adjust the feathers and wind them down,
stuff the head, pin the tail, and put in the eyes.

With a piece of pine board four inches square, and two round pine sticks,
each about three inches long, make a rough T perch, similar to the one
standing vacant on the table in Plate XII. The cross-piece should not be
too large for the bird's feet to grasp comfortably. With a small gimlet, or
awl, bore two holes in the cross-bar, on a slant, about an inch apart, run
the leg-wires through them, perch the bird naturally, and twist the wires
together once underneath, to hold it firmly. Study a living bird or a good
picture, and give your specimen a correct and natural attitude.

Cut a piece of wire five inches long, sharpen one end, bend it into a T
shape, as in Fig. 50, and run the sharp end through the base of the tail
underneath, and on up into the body. The tail feathers are to rest on and
be evenly supported by the cross part at the lower end, which may be
either straight or curved, as occasion requires.

With the small forceps, plume and dress the feathers all over the bird,
catching them near the root, a bunch at a time, and pulling them into place
where necessary. Work them against the grain by lifting them up and letting
them fall back into place. It will be a great help if you can at this stage
procure a dead bird of the same kind to examine, and see precisely how the
feathers lie. One such specimen will aid you more than pages of

It often happens that the back, breast, or side of the bird is not quite
full enough at some point, or, in other words, is too hollow. Now is the
time to remedy such defects. Lift the wing and cut a slit lengthwise in the
skin of the body underneath it, and through this opening insert fine
clipped tow wherever needed. The forceps is the best instrument to use in
doing this. The opening under the wing is _of great importance_, for it
gives you command of one entire side of the bird's body. You can by means
of this hole fill out the back, breast, or shoulders, if not full enough,
and make other important changes in the bird's form. There is no need to
sew up the opening when you have finished, for when the wing is pinned in
place it will be entirely hidden.

The wings must be fastened to the body before the feathers can be fully
adjusted. Cut six small wires, each two inches long, and sharpen at one
end. Let us wire the left wing first. Hold it between the left thumb and
forefinger, and with the right hand push the point of one of the small
wires through the angle of the wing, commonly called the shoulder. When the
point is well through, hold the wing in place against the body, adjust it
with great care, and when you see that the feathers of the shoulder fall
properly over the angle of the wing, push the wire through into the
excelsior body until it holds firmly. Push another wire through at the base
of the large quills (primaries), and another through the upper part of the
wing, just below where it leaves the body. These wires are well shown in
Fig. 52. The wing now fits closely against the body, and the feathers fall
over it smoothly, so as to completely cover the upper part of it.

Wire the other wing in the same way, taking great care that one is not
placed farther ahead than the other, nor farther up or down on the body.
The tips of the wings should touch each other exactly at the point. Look at
your bird from all sides before finally securing the second wing.

With the wings firmly wired and the feathers nicely adjusted, we next
proceed to stuff the head. With the scissors cut up some fine tow or
cotton, and by inserting it through the mouth with the forceps, a pinch at
a time, fill out around the back and sides of the head, the upper part of
the neck and the throat. Do not fill the skin too full, and take care that
both sides of the head are precisely the same shape and size. Take plenty
of time and do your work nicely.

When the head has been properly filled out, fill in each eye-socket with a
little soft clay or putty, insert the glass eyes, and embed them in it.
Study the eyes of your dead bird, and imitate their appearance and position
with those of your mounted specimen. It is a good plan to put a drop of
mucilage around the inside of each eyelid and thus gum it down upon the
glass eye. Be sure that the eyes are exactly opposite one another, and that
one is not higher nor farther back than the other.

Fasten the mandibles together by thrusting a pin up through the lower
mandible into the skull, or else by passing a pin through the upper
mandible at the nostrils and tying around the bill behind it with a

It now remains to wind down the feathers with thread to give the bird the
exact outline we desire, and to make the feathers lie smoothly. Attend to
this with the closest attention and care, for on the success of this
process depends the smoothness of your specimen when finished.

[Illustration: FIG. 52.--The Winding of the Bird.]

The best method of winding ever known is that developed and practised by
Mr. F.S. Webster, whose wonderful skill in the treatment of birds is
already widely known. His birds are marvels of smoothness and symmetry, and
I take great pleasure in describing his method of winding as the best
known. First make six hook-wires by filing six pieces of wire, each two
inches long, to a sharp point at one end, and bending the other with the
pliers in the form of a double hook. (See Fig. 52.) Insert three of these
in a line along the middle of the back, and two along the middle of the
breast, as seen in the cut. The wing-wires are not to be cut off, but left
sticking out for half an inch. The bird is now divided into equal halves,
and there are three wing-wires on each side, so that it will not be very
difficult to wind both sides alike.

Now take a spool of white thread, No. 40, fasten the end to the hook-wire
on the top of the back; take the base of the pedestal in the left hand and
proceed to wind down the feathers. By means of the hook-wires you can wind
from point to point at will, so as to bind down the feathers where they lie
too high, and skip them entirely where they lie low enough. Get the general
outline of the bird first, and apply the thread with a light and skilful
touch, so that it will not make creases in the bird. A little practice will
enable one to wind a bird with gratifying success.

The next thing is to spread the feathers of the tail evenly, and pin them
between two strips of thin card-board placed crosswise to hold the feathers
in position until they dry.

Lastly, adjust the toes so that they grasp the perch properly, and set the
specimen away to dry where it will not be touched. In about two or three
weeks, when it is thoroughly dry, cut the threads off with a pair of
scissors, pull out the hook-wires, cut off the projecting ends of the
wing-wires close down to the wing, and cut off the wire at the top of the
head close down into the feathers.

Mix a little varnish and turpentine together in equal parts, and with a
paint-brush paint the feet and bill in case they happen to require it.
Clean the eyes and rub them until they shine. You can perch the specimen
now permanently on the artificial twig, turned T perch, or natural twig, or
whatever else you have had in mind. In doing this, clinch the leg-wires
together underneath the perch, and cut off the ends so that no portion of
the wire will show. Be _neat in everything_, and study to make the bird
look alive.

Do not be discouraged if your first bird is a dead failure, nor even if
your first dozen birds are fit only for immediate destruction. If you get
discouraged because your first attempt at anything is not a complete
success, you are not fit to succeed. Better never begin than stop short of
success. If you have a love for taxidermy, and the patience and
perseverance to back it up, you are bound to succeed.



After all that has been said in regard to mounting small birds, and
relaxing and cleaning dry bird skins, there remains but little to add on
the subject of bird-mounting, and that little relates to large birds. For
all birds, up to the emu and ostrich, the principles remain about the same
as those illustrated in the mounting of a robin. Moreover, the mounting of
birds is now so generally understood it is unnecessary to dwell at great
length on this subject.

Professor L.L. Dyche has called my attention to the great desirability of
taking a series of measurements of every large bird before it is skinned,
and another series of the skinned body, as a check on possible errors in
making the false body and in mounting. The idea is a good one, and the
following are the measurements that should be taken:

BEFORE SKINNING.--Total length; distance from angle of wing at the carpal
joint to the eye; distance from the end of the closed wing to the tip of
the tail; distance from the base of the middle toe to the carpal joint of
the wing.

MEASUREMENTS OF THE SKINNED CARCASS.--Length of the body; length of the
neck; circumference of the body around the breast; circumference around the

The notes should also state whether the body and the neck are respectively
round or flat.

THE FALSE BODY.--In starting out to make a body for a large bird,
particularly one with a long neck, take a piece of wood about the size of a
large ear of corn, and much the same shape, through one end of which pass
one end of the neck-wire and firmly staple it down. The purpose of this is
to give the firmest attachment possible for the neck. The false body is
then made by firmly winding successive layers or bunches of excelsior or
straw upon this wooden core, and binding each successive layer down with
fine twine from start to finish, so that the finished body shall be firm
enough. If the false body is not made hard enough, the leg-wires can not be
firmly fastened, and the bird will "wabble."

If you have the fleshy body before you, or even the measurements of it, it
will be easy enough to reproduce its form and size. It is desirable to copy
the form of the natural body as closely as possible, which in many cases
necessitates the use of a long needle to sew through and through it, in
reproducing certain hollows and corresponding elevations. Professor Dyche
lays great stress upon this point, and always makes the false body of a
bird with such care and attention to every detail of form that when the
skin is put over it it fits perfectly, the feathers fall into position and
lie properly, no extra filling being necessary anywhere save at the tail;
and, what is more, he considers that it is unnecessary to wind down the
plumage with thread. The most life-like snowy owl I have ever seen is one
which Professor Dyche mounted for me as a practical demonstration of his
method, the virtue of which was thus handsomely proven. The skin was the
same as a fresh one, having been made less than a year, and the excelsior
body was made to fit it without the aid of measurements. As the result of
repeated ocular demonstration, I am convinced that Professor Dyche's method
of making every body with extreme care, as to form and details, is well
worthy of universal adoption.

The necessity of removing the tendons from the legs of all large birds has
already been mentioned. When this has been done, the wiring of the leg is
an easy matter, for the wire will take the place of the tendon so perfectly
that there will be no outward sign of its presence. Use as large leg-wires
as you can without disfiguring the leg of the bird.

When any animal is mounted in a walking attitude, the foot which is
represented in the act of leaving the ground must _always_ have its centre
well elevated, and only the toes touching. This being the case, surely no
intelligent taxidermist will ever be guilty of so unpardonable an offence
against the eye as to run the supporting-iron straight down from the ball
of the foot to the pedestal, with a ghastly section of it exposed to view.
No matter how you manage it, the iron must follow the bones of the foot
until it reaches the toes, and then it can be bent down to a perpendicular
line and passed through the pedestal, _always out of sight_.


In all but the largest birds, the leg-wires are fastened in the body in
precisely the same way as described and illustrated in the previous
chapter, except that it requires stouter pliers and more strength to bend
them and clinch them firmly in the body. In inserting the leg-wires in the
artificial body, be sure to enter them about the _middle_ of the body, on
each side, and not near the tail, as nearly all beginners are prone to do.
This is by all odds the commonest and worst fault in mounted birds that
fall short of perfection. It arises from the fact that the beginner makes
the mistake of entering the leg-wires at the same point where the bird's
humerus joins the pelvis, which is too far back by just one-third of the
length of the entire body! The _humerus_ is not represented on your wire
at all, and the wire should enter the body _precisely where the knee-joint
comes in the living bird_. The flesh and bone of the thigh is made up (or
should be, at least) on the artificial body, not on your leg-wire. Lay out
a dead bird in a walking attitude, or study a skeleton (see Fig. 70), and
see where the knee-joint comes; then you will never again be in danger of
spoiling a bird by making its legs come out from under its tail.

In mounting large birds, the sizes of the wires I have used were as
follows: Great horned owl, No. 8 or 9; bald eagle, No. 7 or 8; peacock, No.
7; great blue heron, No. 6; sandhill crane, No. 5.

An ostrich or emu requires a manikin constructed on the same principles as
that built for the tiger, except that each leg-rod should have two iron
squares instead of one. The upper extremity of the leg-rod is clamped
tightly to one square, with two nuts, as usual; but in addition to this
there should be a second square with a hole in its short arm large enough
for the smooth rod to slip through, and this should be screwed to the
body-board as low down as the anatomy of the bird will allow. The object of
this second iron is to prevent the bipedal specimen from swaying and
leaning over, as it would otherwise be very apt to do.

Inasmuch as the legs of an ostrich or emu always require to be cut open and
completely skinned, the manikin method is perfectly adapted to their wants.
If the skin is so shrunken that it requires vigorous stretching, its body
must be stuffed with straw after the neck and legs have been made and
joined to a centre-board, precisely as directed for long-haired mammals
above medium size. I may also remark in this connection that I have seen
both the complete skin and skeleton of a large ostrich preserved and
mounted to stand side by side, but I pitied the operator when he had to
make a full set of bones for the legs and feet, and a wooden skull with the
horny shell of the beak fastened upon it. At one stage of the proceedings
the outlook for the skin seemed anything but promising, and on the whole I
would not advise anyone save an expert to attempt a similar task.

MOUNTING BIRDS WITH WINGS SPREAD.--In the first place, each wing must have
a wire large enough to adequately support it. This should be straight,
bright, well-oiled, and filed sharp at both ends. One end is to be inserted
inside the skin, passed along next to the wing-bones as far as the carpal
joint, from thence it is forced on as far as possible between the skin and
the under surface of the metacarpal bones until it emerges from the
feathers not far from the end of the fleshy portion of the wing. The wing
must be so straight that the wire can be slipped through it freely backward
and forward. It must next be passed through the artificial body at the
point where the upper end of the humerus is attached to the coracoid in the
complete skeleton, and very firmly clinched in the same way as described
for the leg-wires. Then lay the bird upon its back, place the wing exactly
in position, bend the wing-wires so they will fit snugly against the
wing-bones, and tie them firmly down. After that, the middle joint of each
wing is to be poisoned, stuffed with fine tow, and sewn up neatly. Of
course the wings can not be given their correct elevation and pose until
the bird is placed firmly upon its temporary perch, unless it is to be
represented as flying.

Now is the time to properly dispose of the feet. If the talons are to be
grasping any kind of prey, the object must be placed at once, before the
feet begin to dry. If the bird is to be in full flight, they must be drawn
up, clinched, and almost concealed in the feathers. To keep the feathers of
a spread wing in place while the specimen is drying, thrust a long,
sharpened wire into the body under the wing, and another on top, bend both
until they conform to the curve of the wing, twist their outer ends
together, and then slip under each wire a long, narrow strip of pasteboard.
Such a specimen requires constant watching lest something get awry by
accident, and dry so. The winding of a bird with its wings spread, to say
nothing of laying the plumage, is a difficult and delicate matter, and the
chances are that he who takes the greatest pains will produce the best

[Illustration: FIG. 53.--Cast of the Neck and Windpipe of a Heron.]

MAKING THE NECK OF A HERON.--Ordinarily the anatomy of a bird is well
concealed by its feathers, but to this rule the neck of a heron is a marked
exception. In this remarkable member there is room for the most ambitious
operator to show his skill. The neck is very long, very thin and flat, the
joints of the vertebræ often show very plainly, and the windpipe has a way
of shifting over the sides of the neck in a most free-and-easy way. (See
Fig. 53.) If you wish to mount a bird that will show your skill to the best
advantage, by all means choose a heron, and mount him in a stooping
posture, with his head thrown back, in the act of spearing a fish with his
sharp beak.

One of the artistic triumphs of the New York exhibition of the Society of
American Taxidermists was Mr. F.S. Webster's "Wounded Heron," which was
awarded a specialty medal as being one of the best pieces in the entire
exhibition. It was presented by Mr. Webster to the National Museum, for the
Society's exhibit, and is represented in Plate XVI.

Ordinarily you can make a good neck for a heron by taking two wires of
suitable length, winding fine tow very smoothly and evenly around each one
until it has attained very nearly the required thickness of the neck, then
putting the two together and winding a thin, even layer of fine, soft tow
around both. This doubles the width of the neck, without materially
increasing its thickness. The necks of some herons are so excessively wide
and thin that it requires three tow-wrapped wires wound together thus to
give the necessary width. All this winding should be done quite firmly, and
when finished, if the neck is of the right size, it should be wrapped with
spool cotton from end to end to make it keep its shape. One of the
neck-wires should be thrust through the skull, but the end of the other
should be bent down, and (if the beak is to be closed) passed out of the
throat, into the mouth, one-third of the way to the tip of the beak.

If, however, you wish to produce a prize bird and challenge criticism, then
make a neck which will show the joints of the vertebræ, and show them
plainly and strikingly. Now there may be a dozen different ways in which
that could be done, but the best is to make the neck over a hard skeleton
that will show its joints _willy-nilly_. Your best plan is to clean the
neck vertebræ without disjointing them, tie your neck-wire firmly
underneath them, wrap with fine tow to replace the flesh, bind down with
thread, and cover all at the last moment with clay. The windpipe is easily
reproduced by wrapping fine tow around a small annealed wire, and then
sewing it in its place on the neck. If you have not the cervical vertebræ,
the next best thing is to make them roughly and quickly out of wood, wire
them together, and use as you would the real bones. The reason why this is
necessary to success is that it is very difficult to make a wire bend in
angles instead of curves after it has been wrapped with tow and inserted in
the neck of the bird.

SETTING THE EYES.--On this point I have always been at war with most of my
taxidermic friends. They insist that it is not best to insert the eyes in a
bird as soon as it is finished otherwise, but leave the bird to dry without
them. Afterward, they insert wet cotton, soften the eyelids, and then
insert the clay backing and the eyes. They claim that this is necessary to
prevent the skin from being drawn away from the eye by shrinkage in the
general drying.

I hold that it is best to set the eyes at once, before the bird dries, in
order to secure the greatest degree of elasticity in shaping the eyelids,
and thereby have a more perfect mastery of the situation. But having seen
my friends secure as good results by their method as I do by mine, I
naturally conclude that it is only a matter of personal preference, and
either way is good enough.



I shall never forget how vainly I sought, when a lonesome and isolated
amateur, to find somewhere in print some useful information about how to
remove grease, dirt, and blood-stains from the plumage of birds. I remember
well my disgust and anger at the makers of the so-called "complete" manuals
of taxidermy that left me groping in Egyptian darkness on that subject, and
most others also; and I registered a solemn vow that should I ever write on
taxidermy I would do my best to afford some practical information on
cleaning the plumage of birds.

As has been previously stated, the time to clean the plumage of a bird is
while you are making up the fresh skin (Chapter VI.), before the skin has
been laid away to dry, before the blood dries and imparts a _permanent_
stain (to white feathers, at least), and before the oil has had a chance to
ooze out into the feathers to gather dirt, and presently form a nasty,
yellow oil-cake upon the skin. In cleaning the skin of a fat or oily bird,
scrape all the grease from the inside of the skin, and absorb it with corn
meal or plaster Paris. Scrape the skin until it looks as if the feathers
are about to fall out, until no more oil is raised, and then you may call
it clean. When you have done this, you need not fear that any oil will ever
exude upon the feathers.

FRESH SPECIMENS.--If a freshly killed bird has blood upon its plumage,
separate the bloody feathers from the others, lift them on your fingers,
and with warm water and a sponge gently sponge them off. Give the blood a
little time to soften, and when the feathers are as clean as you can get
them with water, wipe them as dry as you can, then sponge them over with
clear spirits of turpentine or benzine, and absorb this with plaster Paris.
The manner of managing plaster Paris will be described in detail in another

Very often the plumage of a freshly killed swan, gull, or duck, becomes so
covered with dirt, blood, and grease by the time it reaches the taxidermist
that it is a sight to behold. Never mind if it is, you can make it as good
as new, in every respect, so far as cleanliness is concerned. The thing to
do is to skin the bird, and clean the skin before either mounting it or
making it up as a skin. The cleaning is often made easier, however, by
hastily filling the loose skin with excelsior or tow, to give a firm
foundation to work upon when cleaning the plumage.

If you have no turpentine, as will probably happen to you many a time when
you least expect it, take some warm water, as warm as you can bear your
hand in, rub some castile soap in it, and with a sponge, or a soft cotton
cloth, wash the soiled feathers. Do not scrub them as you would a greasy
floor, and utterly destroy the perfect set of the feathers, but sponge
them with the grain, as far as possible, treating them as a compact layer.
Now, _if you have turpentine_, wipe the feathers as dry as you can, and
give them a sponging with that, for they will come out better from the
plaster Paris than otherwise. When the plaster is put upon feathers that
are wet with water, it acts too quickly in its drying, and the feathers are
often dried before they have had time to become fluffy as in life. But if
you have no turpentine, you must finish without it. Whichever liquid you
use, at the finish fill the feathers full of plaster Paris, and almost
immediately lift the bird and beat it gently to knock out the saturated
plaster. That done, put on more plaster, filling the feathers full of it
down to their very roots, and presently whip that out also. By the time you
have made the third application, the feathers are almost dry, and the
plaster falls out almost dry also. Now is your time to whip the feathers
with a supple switch, or a light filler of stiff wire, to make each
bedraggled feather fluff up at the base of its shaft, and spread its web
for all it is worth. This treatment is also vitally necessary to knock the
plaster out of the plumage. Work the feathers with your long forceps,
lifting them up a bunch at a time and letting them fall back into place. By
this time the plaster flies out in a cloud of white dust, and the whipping
of the feathers must be kept up without intermission until the plaster is
_all out_. If any plaster remains in the feathers, you may count with
certainty that it will always be sifting out upon the pedestal, and, what
is even worse, if the plumage is black, or dark-colored, it will impart to
it a gray and dusty appearance.

_Caution._--Remember that if you leave the first application of plaster, or
even the second, too long in the feathers it will "set" or harden there,
and make you wish you were dead before you get it out.

DRY SKINS.--The hardest subjects to deal with are old, dry skins. While
fresh, fat is merely so much clean oil smeared on the feathers. An old, dry
duck, goose, swan, penguin, auk, or albatross skin is liable to have the
feathers of the breast and abdomen all caked together in a solid mass of
rancid, yellow grease, to which time has added a quantity of museum dirt.
In mounting one of the charming specimens of this too numerous class, it is
not always safe to clean the feathers before inserting the body. There is
danger that the skin will go to pieces. For this, and other reasons, the
skin should be scraped clean inside, poisoned, furnished with a body, and
sewn up before you attempt to clean the feathers.

When feathers are badly caked with old, dry grease, it is an excellent plan
to apply a jet of steam to the afflicted region, which quickly warms and
moistens the grease, and allows the turpentine to cut it in less than half
the time it would otherwise require. There is nothing that starts dry
grease as quickly as a little well-directed steam; but steam is a powerful
shrinking agency, and it must be used with judgment.

Usually an old skin is so dirty that it requires to be "plastered" all
over. If you have no steam, attack the greasy portions first with warm
water (but no soap), to warm up the grease and soften it. Time and patience
are both necessary. Next, wipe off the water, and with a wad of cotton
cloth, tow, or cotton batting, dip from your dish of turpentine, and apply
it as a wash upon the feathers, always rubbing with the grain, of course.
When, after repeated applications, you see that the turpentine has
dissolved the grease to quite an extent, go rapidly over the remainder of
the bird, then lay it down upon a sheet of heavy paper, upon its back, and
cover it completely with plaster Paris. It takes two or three quarts to do
this usually, and for a swan it requires a pailful.

As soon as the plaster has had time to absorb the greasy turpentine, which
it does in about a minute, lift the bird from its burial-place, and holding
it head upward hit it several sharp blows with a light stick to knock the
plaster out of the feathers. Devote from three to five minutes to this,
then examine the feathers and see whether they are perfectly clean. Most
likely they are not, if it is a case of old grease, and a repetition of the
dose is necessary. Start again with your wash of turpentine and do
precisely as before (_without_ the use of any water). If this does not
bring the feathers out clean and white from roots to tips, then give it a
third going over, with unabated vigor and thoroughness. The third time is
usually "the charm," even with the worst cases. This time the plaster must
be thoroughly beaten out of the feathers, even if takes you an hour to
accomplish it.

All this is rather disagreeable work. Of course you will put on old clothes
and get out doors to windward of your bird while beating it, so that the
plaster will fly off upon some other fellow. Soft feathers may be handled
more carelessly than the stiffer sorts. Of course great care must be taken
to not separate the web of the tail and wing feathers, nor to break the
shafts of even the small ones. Beware getting any of the body feathers
twisted during this operation, or they will not lie down where they belong.

Benzine can be used instead of turpentine in cleaning plumage, but it is
too volatile, and evaporates too quickly to render the best service.

It is practically useless to attempt to remove clotted blood from the
feathers of old dry skins. Even if by persistent effort the blood itself is
removed, it leaves a lasting stain upon the feathers, and they are also
permanently awry. The universal custom with taxidermists in such case is to
obey the (paraphrased) scriptural injunction--if a feather offend thee,
pluck it out. If this course leaves a vacancy in the plumage, steal a
perfect feather from some suitable portion of the bird's body, and glue it
fast in the place of the missing one. Fortunately, however, collectors have
about ceased to make up skins to dry with blood upon them, and there is not
much trouble to apprehend hereafter from that source.



OPHIDIA: _The Serpents._--There are several methods of mounting snakes, but
only one that I can recommend. Such processes as ramming a rubber-like
snake skin full of sawdust, or cotton, or tow, are to be mentioned only to
be condemned. In my opinion, the only proper way to mount a serpent is to
make a manikin of tow, carefully wound on a wire and afterward shaped with
thread, and cover it with clay at the finish. It is necessary to attach
small wires to the body-wire at given intervals, so that they can be passed
down through the pedestal, and afford a means by which a finished specimen
may be drawn down and made to lie naturally.

A manikin for a large snake, like an anaconda or python, is best made of
excelsior, and its exact form secured by sewing through it with a needle.
In the field notes printed in Chapter III. something may be learned of the
form of the python.

If a snake is "stuffed," it stretches the scales apart most unnaturally,
and never looks like life. For this reason, the clay-covered manikin is
necessary, in order that any excess of skin may be modeled down upon it,
and the scales be made to form an unbroken covering.

LACERTILIA: _The Lizards._--With the exception of the iguana, the gila
monster, mastigure, and a few others, the lizards are so small and slender,
and have tails so tapering out into thin air that they are altogether too
small to be mounted by the ordinary methods of taxidermy. The finest method
ever devised for the preservation and display of small reptiles and
batrachians is that adopted by the Museum of Comparative Zoology,
Cambridge, Mass. Each specimen is preserved in clear spirits in a jar by
itself, and instead of being dropped in head first to sink or swim, and tie
itself into a bow-knot if it can, the reptile is placed (in the flesh) on a
thin, rectangular slab of plaster Paris or cement, of the tint best suited
to the display of the specimen. The object is placed in a life-like
attitude and held in place by threads which pass through holes in the slab
and tie the feet down securely. The accompanying illustration (Fig. 54),
drawn from a specimen, and the following description, both of which have
been kindly furnished me by Mr. Samuel Garman, Curator of Reptiles, Museum
of Comparative Zoology, will enable any intelligent preparator to adopt
this admirable method:

"It was in 1875 we began to mount the reptiles and batrachians of the
Museum of Comparative Zoology on tablets, in alcohol. Before that date they
had been stuffed and dried, a method which proved rather unsatisfactory,
especially so in regard to color, and the shrivelling of digits and tails.
However varied at first, the appearance soon became uniform and dusty.
Mounting in the alcohol does away with the most serious objections; we can
give the specimens life-like attitudes, or arrange them in groups as if
playing, courting, or fighting; and the liquid heightens their beauty, as
the water does that of the pebble at the seashore, while ravages of insects
are entirely out of the question.

[Illustration: FIG. 54.--Method of Mounting Alcoholic Reptiles at the
Museum of Comparative Zoology.]

"The tablets are made of plaster Paris, or if a harder one with finer
finish is desired, of cement mixed with water and spread on a glass plate
to set. Holes are bored through them wherever necessary to fasten the
specimen, which is simply tied on. With the tints used in fresco painting
they are colored to suit. Experiments now under way convince me there is
less fading on plates of certain colors than on the white ones. For black
tablets, common slate is good. A mixture of plaster and cement makes a fine

The larger lizards are generally so round and plump-bodied they may very
properly be mounted with tow and clay legs, and a body-filling of clean and
soft chopped tow, the same as small mammals. If one is encountered which
has a high, sharp, spinal crest, which cannot be reproduced with loose
filling, then it is necessary to make the legs and tail, wire all together,
and make an excelsior manikin in two halves, so that each side may be
inserted in the body independently, and then the two may be sewed together
and covered with clay as necessary.

At Professor Ward's celebrated establishment I once saw Mr. Webster remove
the entire skeleton from a _Hatteria punctata_, a rare New Zealand lizard
about sixteen inches in length, replace the leg bones and skull with wooden
counterfeits, and successfully mount the skin. This was quite a feat, and
was the only instance of the kind that ever came to my knowledge. The chief
difficulty lay in removing the skull from the skin, which grew tightly upon
it, and in successfully replacing it with a wooden imitation.

CROCODILIA: _The Crocodiles and Alligators._--These great
saurians--thick-hided, case-hardened, and always fat--require no carefully
made manikins, no clay save in the small ones, nor very gentle treatment of
any kind, unless the specimens happen to be young and tender. Small
crocodilians should be mounted in the same way as the larger lizards, using
clay next to the skin of the body and tail. I once achieved success with a
tiny alligator, and delighted its bereaved owner, by filling it with clay
on a core of excelsior, and modeling the form into perfect shape.

Large saurians should be mounted on the same general plan as wolves and
small bears, viz., by cutting the leg-irons long, passing the inner ends
through a rather small centre board, bending them down to the wood, and
fastening with staples. Of course the leg-irons must fasten underneath the
pedestal by means of nuts. The legs are made of tow, and so is the tail,
which must have in its centre a stout iron rod, cut about four inches
shorter than the end of the tail to allow for shrinkage. At two or three
points equidistant from the end of the tail, and from each other, fasten a
stout wire to the tail rod, so that when the specimen is finished these
wires can be passed down through holes bored in the pedestal, and used to
draw the tail down tightly and hold it there. If this is forgotten the tail
will spring up in spite of you, and show daylight underneath, which never
happens with the tail of a living saurian.

As to attitude, one or two hints will suffice. A live saurian, either
crawling or at rest, nearly always carries his legs well up to his body. Do
not spread his legs far out, but bend them up rather close to the animal's
body, as if he expected to use them to walk with. The body should always
rest down upon the ground. Give the tail two or three curves sidewise to
relieve its stiffness. The head should be held well up, but the elevation
should be given by the neck alone, with the head itself in a horizontal
position, turned a trifle to the right or left to avoid extreme stiffness
in the attitude.

When your large alligator has been put together, suspend it from the
ceiling, bottom upward, and stuff the thick part of the tail, the body, and
the neck with straw. Begin at the end of the tail, and fill and sew up
until the head is reached. It is necessary to use stout and very sharp
glover's needles of large size in sewing through the horny-hide of an old
saurian, and the thread should be the best of linen twine, doubled and
waxed until it is in the best possible condition for holding. Sometimes a
skin is so horny it is necessary to pierce holes for the needle with an
awl. The shrinking power of a big saurian is something fearful to behold,
therefore prepare your seams accordingly.

The centre-board of the body should be placed low enough that two
screw-bolts, six inches long, may be put through the pedestal from
underneath, and screwed into the board to bring the body of the animal down
upon the pedestal as closely as possible, and also to hold it more
securely. Of course, each leg-iron must pass downward through the foot, and
fasten with a nut underneath the pedestal.

The tongue of a saurian is not free, but the skin may be removed from its
upper surface, the flesh replaced with clay, and the skin sewed down again.
The color of the tongue and roof of the mouth of a saurian is pale yellow,
a little lighter than Naples yellow, but never pink. In young specimens the
inside of the mouth is white.

Bear in mind this fact, that the eye of an alligator or crocodile is of a
dark greenish color, and the pupil is vertical.

The thin serrated scales, which form the crest of the tail, must be clamped
firmly between thick pieces of card-board while they are drying, so that
they will retain their proper shape and erectness, for otherwise they will
curl up and become very unsightly.

After a saurian has dried properly, and has been "machéd," it should be
varnished all over with a coat of white varnish and turpentine, to bring
out the colors.

If the teeth of an alligator need to be cleaned and whitened, brush them
with muriatic acid, washing it off again almost immediately with plenty of
clear water.

CHELONIA: _The Turtles._--This group embraces the sea-turtles, having the
fore limbs developed as long, flat, triangular flippers, with large head,
small under shell, and with head and flippers non-retractile,--the
terrapins, soft-shelled turtles, and tortoises. Of the large, sea-going
species, our ocean waters produce the huge leather-back or harp-turtle, the
loggerhead, next in size, the green turtle and the hawksbill, which last
yields the valuable tortoise-shell of commerce. To the taxidermist, a fresh
hawksbill to be mounted is a thing of beauty and a joy forever; the smooth
and succulent green turtle is also a welcome guest; the big loggerhead is a
serious affair, and the huge, lumbering, greasy 800-pound leather-back is a
first class calamity. Shun him, unless there is plenty of money behind him.
I once had the misfortune to be chief mourner over a leather-back which
pulled down 940 pounds dead weight--mostly oil.

    "We conquered, but Bozzaris fell,"

vowing that neither gold nor glory (neither of which is yielded by
_Sphargis coriacea_) should ever again tempt us to "strike oil" in that
manner. The soft and gelatinous shell of that monster dripped clear oil for
three months, and actually yielded several gallons.


Fig. 19 shows the underside of a turtle, and the dotted line indicates
where the cut has been made in the skin near the posterior edge of the
plastron, where the shell bridge that unites the upper with the under shell
has been sawn through with a small saw. The process of skinning such a
subject has been already described, and the process of mounting is to be
carried out on precisely the same general principles as described and
illustrated in the mounting of mammals with long hair, with but slight

After the legs and neck have been made with tow, the tow wrapping should be
covered with a quarter of an inch of soft clay, so the skin can afterward
be modeled down upon it, either smoothly or wrinkled, as in life. The body
should be stuffed with straw to keep the shell from collapsing while
drying. The divided portions of the shell must then be joined and wired
together firmly with soft brass wires passed through small holes, as shown
in the figure. Of course, the cuts in the skin must be sewn up neatly but

When the specimen has been placed on its pedestal, it then remains to shape
the legs, neck, and feet, which the soft clay underneath renders quite
easy. Folds and wrinkles in the skin must be exaggerated, to provide for
what is sure to disappear by shrinkage in drying.



GENERAL OBSERVATIONS.--Judging from specimens generally, it would seem that
taxidermists, the world over, either do not know how to mount fish
specimens with the same degree of excellence as mammals and birds, or else
they are universally slighted by intention. Certain it is, that in nearly
every large zoological museum the stuffed fishes are the least attractive,
and the least like life of all the vertebrates. In many instances the
reptiles are not far behind in unsightliness, although as a rule they are a
little more life-like than the fishes. In only one natural history museum
out of twenty-seven have I found a collection of stuffed fishes which
surpassed in number and quality of specimens the collection of birds and
mammals, and formed the most attractive feature of the entire museum. That
fish collection is to be seen in the Government Museum at Madras, India.

The specimens were all mounted while fresh from the ocean, which, of
course, has been a great advantage to the taxidermist. I was somewhat
surprised to learn that the taxidermist in question was an Indian native,
named P. Anthony Pillay, because East Indian natives are, almost without
exception, very indifferent taxidermists.

None of the specimens are mounted on standards, but either lie flat in
table cases, or, if too large for that, hang against the wall. The common
scaly fishes always lie upon one side, usually the right, with tail curved

Mr. Pillay assured me that the exquisite smoothness of his specimens was
due to the use of silk cotton as a filling material, plucked from the pod
and cleaned by hand. His scale fishes and sharks were very life-like, but
his rays and ray-like _Rhinobati_ were somewhat faulty. Being filled with
fibrous material, they lacked that extreme flatness so characteristic of
fishes of this type.

Numerous methods for the preparation of fishes have been devised. In the
collection in the National Museum made by the Society of American
Taxidermists there is a series of six specimens, representing five
different methods, mostly bad. One is a fish carved in wood and painted;
another is a flimsy paper cast of Dutch extraction; a third is a painted
plaster cast; the fourth is a half fish, or fish medallion, and the fifth
is an entire stuffed fish. It is necessary to add, however, that the
last-mentioned specimen falls far short of properly representing its
class--the most common of all in museums. In disposing of this subject it
is not my purpose to waste time in the discussion of obsolete and valueless
methods, but to describe only those of practical utility.

skinning a fish has been described in a previous chapter, and on this
subject but few other points remain to be noticed. These are the

From some fishes the scales fall off so very easily while they are being
skinned and mounted, it is necessary to wipe the specimen dry, and before
starting to remove the skin, paste a piece of thin but tough writing-paper
over the whole fish excepting the fins, and let it dry before proceeding
further. With a pen, line out the course of the opening cut, and make a
mark across it here and there to guide you in joining the edges again after
mounting. This paper covering will fully protect the scales from
displacement, and it is to remain on until the mounting is completed, when
its removal is easily accomplished with water and a sponge.

On the great majority of scaled fishes, however, the scales are
sufficiently persistent that the above is unnecessary. But keep the fish
wet while you are at work upon it, and handle it with care and delicacy. If
you let the scales get dry, their edges begin at once to curl up, which
must not be permitted.

It is generally of great advantage to allow the skin of a fish to lie over
night in spirits (two parts of ninety-five per cent alcohol to one of
water) for the sake of curing and toughening the integument, and curing
whatever particles of flesh may chance to remain in the skull.

After having removed the skin, it must be cleaned most carefully. With a
keen-bladed knife, pare and scrape off all the adherent flesh from the
skin, cut out the gills, and remove the flesh from the interior of the
skull, and the base of the fins. Of course the eyes must come out also.
With a stout pair of scissors trim off the projecting bases of the rays of
the dorsal and anal fins, so that the fin itself may set squarely upon the
top of the centre-board.

I will now describe, step by step, the entire process of mounting a fish by
what I consider the simplest, easiest, and most practical method known. Be
advised in the beginning, however, that you can not mount fishes on nice
brass standards with nothing at all in the way of special materials and
tools. You must have an assortment of hard brass wire, Nos. 3 to 10, a
hack-saw, some brass rosettes, a small die for cutting threads on brass
wire, and taps of corresponding sizes for cutting threads in the brass
nuts and rosettes. The outfit is by no means expensive, but it is
indispensable if you wish to mount your specimens on standards, and thus
have them show off to the finest advantage.

1. Procure a piece of soft wood, pine preferred, and with the skinned body
of the fish before you, whittle the wood down to the general shape of the
body, but one-fourth smaller in actual size. In Plate IV. the outline _a_,
_b_, _c_ represents the wooden centre-board, which is really the foundation
upon which the mounted specimen is to be constructed.

2. Prepare two small brass standards (_e_, _e_), and screw the upper end of
each firmly into a gimlet-hole bored into the centre-board at _d_, _d_. At
the lower end of each standard the thread should be cut for a little more
than an inch of its length, and a turned brass rosette screwed on, to rest
on top of the pedestal, and hold the rod from slipping down through the
hole. Underneath the pedestal a square nut is screwed on tightly. These
rods should be exactly perpendicular, and the axis of the fish (an
imaginary line running lengthwise through the centre of the bulk), should
be as nearly as possible horizontal. A fish mounted with its tail too high
in the air seems to be taking a header, and when the reverse is the case,
it suggests a ship sinking stern foremost.

3. Having thoroughly cleaned the inside of the skin, anoint it liberally
with arsenical soap, or if you have not that, with a plentiful sprinkling
of powdered arsenic.

4. For the fourth step--filling--I shall describe two very different
processes, advising the beginner to make a fair trial of both, and then
adopt the one he succeeds best with.

The filling which I infinitely prefer for a fish is clay and chopped tow,
mixed together, and used as stiff as may be to work well. Clay which is too
soft when used shrinks as the excess of water dries out of it, and is
liable to leave an uneven surface. With a flat modeling-tool, coat the
centre-board evenly with the clay until you have reproduced the form and
size of the fleshy body of the fish. Then put the skin over this, press it
down firmly to exclude all air-bubbles, working it from the back downward.
When you find that the skin fits perfectly and without any drawing or
straining, begin at the tail and sew the skin together, making, as you
proceed, a perfect finish of the specimen. Draw the edges closely together,
and the more perfectly the scales can be made to hide the opening the

The other filling process is to use fine, soft tow, chopped up finely. With
a goodly quantity of tow before you, open the fish skin, and with your
forceps insert a layer of tow all along the back, and also on the side
which lies next to the table. Then put the centre-board in its place, while
the skin still lies before you, and with the forceps distribute an equal
quantity of tow between the upper side of the board and the skin. Thus a
perfect and even cushion of tow is provided to lie between the skin and the
board at all points save below. Begin at the tail, and with your needle and
thread sew up the skin for an inch or two; then with your small forceps or
filler, stuff to the right size and shape the portion that has been sewn
up. That done, sew up another section, and stuff as before, proceeding thus
until the head is reached and the entire fish has been filled and shaped.
Notches must be cut in the skin at the points where the brass rods enter

All this time the fish has been kept wet so that the fins are soft and
elastic, and the scales are perfectly smooth. The fins must now be spread,
and each one enclosed between two bits of pasteboard cut to the right
shape, and held firmly together by sticking pins through them around the
edge of the fin. Do not on any account stick pins _through_ the fins, or
you will afterward have the trouble of filling up the pin-holes. Force the
pins through the two thicknesses of pasteboard with your small pliers, and
whatever may be the shape, or size, or position of a fin, you must so shape
your pasteboard that the fin will be spread, and have the same position it
would on a live fish.

6. The last thing at this stage is to mix together equal quantities of
white varnish and turpentine, sponge off the fish carefully, removing every
particle of clay, tow, or dirt, and varnish it all over. This prevents the
scales from curling up when they dry, and it also goes far toward fixing
the colors of the fish. The fins are to be varnished afterward when they
get dry.

7. While the fish is drying, the eyes should be prepared. Every one knows
that the eyes of different genera of fishes vary in shape, size, and color,
to as great a degree as do the eyes of quadrupeds. For mounted specimens,
one of two things may be done; insert a conventional silver or golden
glass eye, or else keep on hand a lot of uncolored fish eyes, and paint
each pair from nature, in oil colors of course, to suit the particular
specimen it is to adorn. When the paint has had time to dry and harden,
cover it with two or three coats of shellac to protect the colors from any
changes which might be effected by the material in which the eye is to be
set. If the coating of paint is left unprotected, it is very apt to undergo
chemical changes, and the eye may thereby be ruined.

8. The eye may be set in clay or putty _provided none of the setting
material is to be exposed_. If the glass eye is smaller than the opening,
which is very often the case, set it in fine papier-maché, which must be
nicely modeled around the glass, and afterward coated with shellac, and

10. The subject of painting fishes will be considered in a separate

Simple as it may appear, and really is, the above processes may be applied
with slight modifications to even the largest scale fishes, and to the
sharks and saw-fishes. Such large subjects as the jewfish require strong
iron rods for standards, and the skin may either be mounted over a manikin,
made of excelsior tied down upon a central beam, or it may be stuffed with
soft straw, which, considering the great thickness of the skin and scales,
is quite satisfactory.

MOUNTING FISH MEDALLIONS.--A fish with but one side mounted and exhibited
may be called a fish medallion. It may lie flat in a table-case, or be
screwed to the back of an upright case, or it may even be set up on
standards fastened to it at the back. As a specimen, either to prepare or
exhibit, it has its advantages, and I will briefly describe my process.

FIG. 55.--Medallion of Yellow Pike.

FIG. 56.--Cross-Section.

We will suppose that our fish is a fresh subject, or an entire specimen
from alcohol. The first thing is to procure a pine board of proper
thickness, lay the fish flat upon it, and with a pencil mark out its
outline. Although only one side of the fish is to show, it is desirable to
mount a little more than precisely one-half of it. Therefore, select the
side to be displayed, and remove the skin from the other to within a short
distance of the median line of the back and abdomen. This extra margin of
skin is to give the skin an appearance of entirety and rotundity, rather
than flatness such as would be the case if an exact half were represented.
The head of the fish must be sawn through with a fine saw, and, of course,
the observance of the directions already given will leave the dorsal and
anal fins on the portion to be exhibited.

Having carefully skinned, cleaned, and preserved the portion to be
exhibited, the centre-board is cut out with a short bevel on the inside,
and on the other the full shape of one side of the fish. When this fits the
skin properly, the right quantity of clay is put upon it, the skin is then
put on, and fastened at the back according to circumstances. With a small
fish, the edges of the skin may be sewn together from top to bottom, across
the exposed surface of the centre board, but with large specimens it is
best to nail the edges to the board.

MOUNTING CARTILAGINOUS FISHES: _Sharks, rays, saw-fish, etc._--The only
failures I have ever made during my thirteen years of taxidermic work have
been with subjects of this class. I call them failures because, after
taking infinite pains and mounting my specimens to the complete
satisfaction of all concerned, the best ones, the very ones I had
considered most perfect when finished, for two or three years afterward
continued to shrink and shrink, until the skin burst open, and the tail and
fins warped out of shape by the same process until it was maddening to look
upon them.

I once spent a week of diligent labor in mounting over a clay-covered
excelsior manikin the skin of a ten-and-a-half foot gray shark (_Hexanchus
griseus_), which came to me in the flesh. It was a beautiful specimen, and
I mounted it according to elaborate measurements, and a cast of the head.
The result was all that could be desired. Three years later that shark was
a sight to behold. Around the body, just back of the gill openings, the
skin had burst open in a crack an inch wide. The tail had been ripped open
by the terrible strain of shrinkage, so had the seam underneath the belly,
and at first the damage seemed beyond repair. We did repair it, however,
very fairly, but to me the specimen has ever since been an eyesore.

By the bitterest of experiences I have learned that a shark, ray, or
saw-fish is bound to keep shrinking and shrinking, in both length and
circumference, from the day it is finished to the crack of doom. The fins
and tail _will_ warp and twist out of shape, and I defy any man to prevent
it. Since finding it impossible to mount a fish of this class
substantially, and have it retain its original size, I have adopted a plan
which allows shrinkage. The rod which supports the tail is fastened to the
centre-board by two staples so loosely that when the strain of shrinkage
comes upon it, it will gradually slip through the staples and allow the
specimen to shorten instead of bursting.

It is best not to mount a shark too well. Stuff it with soft straw instead
of making a firm manikin, and do not fill the body any harder than is
necessary to secure smoothness. As the specimen gets old, and its
circumference grows smaller by degrees, and beautifully (?) less, the mass
of straw will also shrink to accommodate the lawless tendencies of the

I have successively tried the effect of curing skins of sharks in brine, in
alcohol, and in the salt-and-alum bath, but the result is always the same.
It is easy enough to mount them to perfection, but to make them remain _as
mounted_ for five years is beyond my powers.

The rays are the meanest of all subjects that vex the soul of the
taxidermist. Shun them as you would the small-pox or the devil. Such
abominable animated pancakes, with razor edges that taper out to infinite
nothingness, were never made to be mounted by any process known to mortal
man. To mount the skin of a vile ray, and make it really perfect and
life-like is to invite infinite shrinkage, rips, tears, warps, defeat, and
humiliation at the hands of your envious rivals. If you must mount a ray,
by all means get square with it at the start. Stuff his miserable old skin
with tow or straw, the more the better. Ram him, cram him "full to the very
jaws," like the famous rattlesnake skin that taxidermist Miles Standish
stuffed "with powder and bullets." If you can burst him wide open from head
to tail, by all means do so, and you may call me your slave for the rest of
my life. Make him nice and round, like a balloon, and then no matter what
he does afterward to mortify and disgrace you, and to drag your fair
standard in the dust, you will always have the satisfaction of knowing you
are square with him.

Once when I was young and innocent, I encountered an enormous ray. He was
not thrust upon me, for I achieved him--and my own ruin also, at one fell
stroke. I mounted him willingly, nay, eagerly, as Phæton mounted his
chariot, to show the rest of the world how all rays should be done. I
mounted his vast, expansive skin over a clay-covered manikin that had
edges like a Damascus razor, and I made him flat. He was flat enough to
navigate the Platte River at low water, which even a thick shingle can not
do. He was life-like, and likewise was a great triumph. But almost the
moment my back was turned upon him forever, he went back on me. I had put
him up to stay put, so far as my part was concerned, so he just got mad and
literally tore himself to tatters. He became almost a total wreck, and to
make my defeat a more genuine and unmitigated crusher, Professor Ward sent
word to me, all the way to Washington, that he would sell me that large ray
for $5. I never forgave him for that.

The best way to mount a ray is to make a nice plaster cast of it, paint it,
and then bury the accursed ray in a compost heap. As a class these fishes
are remarkable, and highly interesting, and there is a far greater variety
of them than anyone who is not an ichthyologist might suppose. To me there
is no other group of fishes more interesting, and, I may add, there is no
other group that is, as a general thing, so poorly represented in museum
collections. They exhibit all possible intermediate forms between the
ordinary shark and the perfectly round, flat ray. The intermediate forms,
_Rhynobatii_ and _Rhamphobatis_, are naturally the most interesting.




The following directions were written from the mounting of a large lobster,
but apply equally to all crustaceans large enough to be stuffed.

1. Remove the shell of the back (carapax) in one piece, by cutting under
its lower edges, and with steel bone-scrapers clean out all the flesh from
the body and tail.

2. Take a long, stiff wire (about No. 10 for a lobster), flatten it out at
one end, and bend up a quarter of an inch of it, to form a scraper with a
sharp chisel edge. Insert this in the legs (or "walking feet"), one by one,
and clean out all the flesh they contain, quite to their tips. With a
strong syringe inject water into each leg to thoroughly wash out the

3. Take off the "movable claw" from the "big pincer," also make a hole in
the joint at A (Plate XV.), and through these two openings remove all the
flesh from the large claws, and syringe them out.

4. Having thoroughly cleaned the specimen, either soak it in some liquid
poison, such as arsenic water (the easiest to prepare--by dissolving
arsenic in boiling water), or a corrosive sublimate solution, or else
poison it by injecting diluted arsenical soap into the legs, claws, and
body with a syringe.

5. Insert in each leg and claw a soft wire of zinc, galvanized iron, or
brass, and bend the end in the body at very nearly a right angle (B-B). In
large specimens the wire should be wrapped smoothly with a little tow, so
that the claws will not be loose upon it.

6. Insert a wire in each feeler as far up as possible, and let the lower
end extend well down into the body. To hold the specimen on its pedestal,
take another wire, as long as the entire specimen from head to tail, pass
one end of it down through the centre of the body, bend the wire down at a
right angle, and in the same manner pass the other end down through the
middle abdominal segment. The ends are to pass through the pedestal and be
clinched below.

7. The claws need not be stuffed.

8. When all the various members have been wired, bend all the inner ends
of the wires down in the body, and pour in a lot of plaster Paris, which,
as soon as it hardens will hold all the wires in place.

9. Stuff the cavity of the abdominal segments with tow, put what filling is
necessary into the thorax, then put the shell back in its place and glue it
fast all around the edges.

10. Replace the movable claws, and with glue and cotton fasten them firmly
where they belong.

11. Put a wire around the end of each claw to hold it down, or, what is
better still, wire it down from the under side in such a way that the wire
will not be visible.

12. When the specimen is dry and its colors have partly faded out, procure
a fresh specimen of the same species, and with your oil colors paint the
shell carefully and artistically from your model. Learn to _blend_ the
colors together as nature does in such objects, softening all the lines.
When the paint is dry, if the specimen has a dead, opaque appearance, give
its surface both lustre and transparency by applying a thin coat of white
varnish and turpentine.



Until within a very few years, the taxidermist produced but little purely
ornamental work, and the most of that little was rather crude and
unattractive. Now, however, decorative pieces are produced in bewildering
variety, and many of them are justly regarded as works of art. The
productions of the Society of American Taxidermists are now to be seen in
thousands of the finest homes in the United States, and in art galleries,
both public and private. In all the exhibitions of the Society, the
display of "Articles for Ornament or Use" has always been the most
attractive feature, and the one which has elicted from visitors the most
surprise, admiration, and hard cash. The beautiful exhibits made by Messrs.
F.S. Webster and F.A. Lucas, of Washington; Thomas W. Fraine and W.J.
Critchley, of Rochester, N.Y.; Mr. and Mrs. George H. Hedley, of Medina,
N.Y.; Mr. John Wallace, of New York; David Bruce, of Brockport, N.Y.; and
Messrs. F.T. Jencks, and Aldrich & Capen, of Boston, will certainly never
be forgotten by those who saw them.

It is impossible to describe here the precise methods by which the various
kinds of decorative objects may be produced, and surely in the light of all
the methods and details that have already been given, it is unnecessary. It
will be sufficient to describe by word and picture the character of the
various classes of objects, and leave their production to be worked out
according to the principles already laid down. The accompanying plate
represents a carefully selected group of decorative objects which were
displayed in the New York exhibition of the Society of American
Taxidermists, and were afterward presented by their respective owners to
the National Museum at Washington, where they are now displayed in the
Society's exhibit.

WALL CASES.--The shallow box case with glass front, sheltering one specimen
or a group, and garnished with certain accessories, is one of the most
popular and pleasing of all pieces of decorative taxidermy. Its evolution
is due directly to the desire to protect from destruction the more
cherished of the single specimens that first began to grace the homes of
the lovers of animated nature. In American homes there are to-day thousands
of pretty wall-cases of choice birds mounted with suitable accessories,
either natural or artificial, many with painted backgrounds, and an equal
number without. There are also hundreds of cases of small mammals mounted
in the same way.

_Artificial Leaves._--The accessories most available are grasses and ferns
carefully pressed, dried, and painted green, and set in the foundation
work. Natural moss is used in the same way, and for bushes with foliage,
artificial leaves are easily procured and wired on to the twigs of the
branch that has been selected for use. These can be procured of any
first-class dealer in taxidermists' supplies, or at large artificial
flower establishments. If leaves of some special kind are desired, or
leaves in great quantity, it will be best to procure them direct of C.
Pelletier, 135 Wooster Street, New York City, who has supplied me for eight
years. The cost of leaves varies from 25 cents to $2.00 per gross; and for
some kinds even more.

_Water and Ice._--To represent water, use a sheet of clear glass, and build
up underneath it a bottom of sand, or gravel, or weeds, as may be
necessary. Ice is easily counterfeited by coating a sheet of glass or wood
with paraffin, which is quite white, and sufficiently transparent to give
the proper effect. Icicles are manufactured by Demuth Brothers, 89 Walker
Street, New York, especially for taxidermists, at very moderate prices, and
are infinitely better than anything the taxidermist can produce. They are
fastened to the sides of snow-covered rocks, or wherever they belong, by
setting them at the base in stiff papier-maché with sinew glue.

_Snow_ is made by flowing plaster Paris over the surface to be covered, and
dressing its surface at once; and then, before it becomes quite hard,
sprinkling its surface with painter's frosting, which is exceedingly thin
flakes of clear glass, and must be ground up in a mortar to get it fine
enough to use. If ground too finely, it becomes a dull white powder, like
marble dust, and is useless. In order to give a glistening appearance to
the surface the particles must be large enough to reflect light. Mica is of
no use for this purpose. In making the snow that covers the ground
underneath the group of musk ox in the National Museum, Mr. Joseph Palmer
invented a compound composed of the pulp of white blotting-paper, starch,
and plaster Paris, which made a white, fluffy-looking mass that could be
sprinkled over the ground by hand, and closely resembles a light fall of

For the preparation of boughs of evergreens for use in groups, so that the
needles will not fall off the twigs, Mr. Jenness Richardson, taxidermist to
the American Museum of Natural History, in New York, has, by long and
patient experimenting, evolved a solution in which he actually effects the
complete preservation of coniferous foliage. When the branches to be used
have been put through this liquid and dried, they are afterward painted,
and are really as perfect as when living on the parent stem. Mr. Richardson
has kindly put me in possession of the knowledge of his entire process, but
I am not at liberty to publish it at present.

_Painted Backgrounds._--The beauty of a wall-case, or indeed of any group
in a flat case, is greatly enhanced by the addition of a painted background
of the proper character to represent the home surroundings of the living
creatures in front of it. Of course the back must seem to be a harmonious
continuation of the bottom, where the real objects are. The tints of the
picture should be very quiet, and by no means gaudy or striking, and should
not attract attention away from the zoological specimens. The objects to be
gained in a painted background are distance, airiness, and, above all, a
knowledge of the country inhabited by the bird or mammal. As an example of
the value of a painted background in the production of a pleasing effect,
the reader is respectfully referred to a group the writer produced nine
years ago, entitled "Coming to the Point," and now in the National Museum
(see Fig. 1, Plate XVI.). It is not boasting to say that that simple group,
composed of a white setter dog, six partridges, a bush full of
autumn-tinted leaves, and a really handsome painted background (by Mary
E.W. Jeffrey) has given more pleasure than anything else the writer ever
produced. The case is only ten inches deep, but the apparent distance is
about a mile, and the autumn scene is very acceptable to the public,
sportsmen especially.

As yet the museums will have no painted backgrounds. Ten years ago they
would have no groups, and no birds with painted legs and beaks. They have
all come to the two latter, and they will all come to painted backgrounds
also, in due time, and it will be a good thing for them when they do. If I
am ever at the head of a museum, it shall have groups with painted
backgrounds galore, and there will be imitators thereof in plenty. There is
in this direction a vast field which has hardly been touched, and when it
is once developed the world will be the gainer. Museum managers the world
over are too conservative by half. Some of them will get out of the ruts
they are in by following others; some will not get out until they are
dragged out, and a few others will never get out at all.

Twenty-five years hence the zoological museums of this country will be as
attractive and pleasing as the picture galleries, and they will teach ten
times as many object-lessons as they do now. To-day the average museum is
as lifeless as a dictionary; but the museum of the future will be life

In Plate XVI. are shown three other examples of wall-cases, of different
kinds. Fig. 10 is a group of humming-birds, with choice accessories,
under a hemispherical glass shade, surrounded by a black velvet mat, and
set in a rich gold frame. This exceedingly artistic arrangement is
designed either to stand on an easel or hang on the wall, and is the
work of Mr. and Mrs. George H. Hedley. No. 11 represents a group of gray
squirrels in a rustic case made of papier-maché, with glass front, top,
and sides, and natural accessories, the work of Mr. Joseph Palmer, of
the National Museum. No. 12 represents a group of south southerly ducks
at the edge of a marsh, in a square case with closed back, and painted
background. This was prepared by Mr. William Palmer. In Fig. 57 appears
a representation of a very pretty wall-case, by Mr. F.A. Lucas. This was
one of a series of four companion cases representing the four
seasons, and it is only the very unscientific who need to be informed
that the blue-birds building their nest are meant to represent "Spring."




    1. "Coming to the Point"                          By W.T. Hornaday.
          Special Medal at Third Exhibition of S.A.
          T.; also medal at Cincinnati Exposition,

    2. "An Interrupted Dinner"                        By Frederic A. Lucas.
          Diploma of Honor at First Exhibition.

    3. Head of Caribou                                By W.J. Critchley.
         (Presented by Professor Henry A. Ward.)

    4. Peacock Screen                                 By Thos. W. Fraine.

    5. "Wounded Heron"                                By F.S. Webster.
         Second Specialty Medal, Third Exhibition,

    6. Dead Gull                                      By Edwin A. Capen.

    7. Frightened Owl                                 By John Wallace.
         Special Medal, Third Exhibition.

    8. Bald Eagle                                     By John Wallace.

    9. Fox Squirrel                                   By P.W. Aldrich.

   10. Humming-Bird Group                             By Mr. and Mrs.
                                                        Geo. H. Hedley.

   11. Group of Gray Squirrels                        By Joseph Palmer.

   12. Group of Ducks                                 By William Palmer.

   13. Grotesque Group of Frogs                       By J.F.D. Bailly.

   14. Frogs Skating                                  By J.F.D. Bailly.

   15. Snowy Heron                                    By Thomas Rowland.

   16. Portrait of Jules Verreaux                     By J.F.D. Bailly.


[Illustration: TAXIDERMY.]

TABLE GROUPS.--Very fine specimens are often furnished with cases having
glass on all sides, including the top, permitting inspection from all
points. Of course every group of this kind requires a small table for its
base. The most striking table group I have ever seen is one that was
prepared by Mr. F.A. Lucas, entitled "An Interrupted Dinner," and
represented by Fig. 2, Plate XVI. A red-tailed hawk has just killed a
ruffed grouse, and has scarcely begun his meal when a goshawk swoops down
upon him with outstretched talons to seize the quarry. The hawk has turned
upon his back, shielding his prey with one wing, and with beak and talons
"at full cock" is ready to receive his assailant, who hovers in mid-air
immediately above him. The goshawk is supported on an invisible brass
standard, which enters his body by way of the tail, and the illusion is

[Illustration: FIG. 57.--Wall-case of Birds, by Frederic A. Lucas.]

Mr. Frederic S. Webster has in his Washington studio a table-case single
specimen which is in every sense a masterpiece. It is very nearly a
replica, but with a heron of a larger species, of his prize piece, "The
Wounded Heron," represented in Plate XVI., Fig. 5. A snowy heron lies on
its back (on a black velvet panel), its breast pierced by a gilt arrow,
which the wounded bird has seized with its right foot, and is endeavoring
to withdraw. The subject is a difficult one, and its treatment in every
detail is masterly.

DEAD-GAME PANELS.--Game birds of all kinds--particularly the handsomest
ducks, geese, grouse, woodcock, and snipe--made to represent bunches of
dead game, are very popular as dining-room ornaments, and during the last
ten years the taxidermists of this country have produced thousands of them,
many of great beauty. In regard to their proper make-up I will offer a few

While the bird is yet warm, or at least relaxed, hang it up by one leg,
pose it carefully, and mark out its outline on paper. See that the bird
hangs like a _dead_ bird, and not like a stuffed bird. In mounting the
skin, make the body flat rather than round, and have the eyes
_three-quarters closed_. The majority of "dead-game" birds are mounted with
their eyes wide open. Birds close their eyes when dying.

The "Dead Gull," shown in Plate XVI., Fig. 5, which is the work of Mr.
E.A. Capen, of Boston, author of "Oology of New England," may be taken as a
perfect model of its kind. In every line it is a _dead_ bird, one that has
been killed with small shot in a sportsman-like manner, and has fallen dead
without a feather awry.

FIRE-SCREENS.--Probably no handsomer fire-screens were ever produced by a
taxidermist than those of Mr. Thomas W. Fraine. The specimen presented by
him to the National Museum is represented in Plate XVI., Fig. 4. It is made
of the mounted head and neck of a peacock, set against a background of the
ocellated tail feathers, of which the magnificent metallic feather shield
from the bird's back forms the centre. The framework is a very thin board
of tough but light wood, the back of which is covered with satin or raw
silk, and the whole is supported on an elegant gilt tripod standard. The
effect of this arrangement as a whole is truly superb, and it is no wonder
that Mr. Fraine's peacock screens have been very popular.

The wings of the roseate spoonbill, the scarlet ibis, pelican, egret, great
blue heron, and many other birds, are often made into fire-screens, either
with or without the mounted head and neck. Of these the two first mentioned
are the most beautiful, especially the roseate spoonbill.

There is one form of screen produced in the west against which I protest.
An entire bird is mounted standing on a perch-standard, its wings are
spread full stretch, and drawn upward, regardless of the laws of anatomy,
until the front edges meet and touch on a perpendicular line above the
bird's back. Such an arrangement of wings for a bird that is otherwise
_naturally_ mounted is painful to look upon, to say the least. The bird
seems to be undergoing torture, and the general effect is not pretty.

BIRD MEDALLIONS.--In 1880 Mr. F.S. Webster's genius evolved one of the most
beautiful designs in ornamental taxidermy ever produced, viz., the bird
medallion. The idea of mounting one-half of a bird was not of itself a new
one, but Mr. Webster's development of that suggestion was entirely new and
novel. Instead of mounting one side of a bird with the rotundity that an
actual half of a fully mounted bird should possess, he studiously flattened
the subject, carefully preserving all the while a perfect uniformity in
proportions, and in each case produced the proportions of an ordinary
medallion. Of course both legs appeared on the specimen, and every specimen
so mounted was the finest of its kind, and faultless in form and finish.
The first specimen of this sort may be described as a type of all the rest.

The subject chosen was a snowy heron (_Ardea caudidissima_) of extra fine
quality. In the centre of a massive and very deep gold and velvet frame,
with a glass across its top, against a background of black velvet of the
heaviest and finest quality stood the snow-white bird, in relief,--a
genuine medallion. The exquisite plumes of the head, breast, and back lay
against the rich black cloth like threads of spun glass. The head was
raised, and the beak slightly elevated in a very life-like attitude; the
body rested on one leg, which stood on a little gilt log, modeled in
papier-maché, and the other foot was held up near the breast in an attitude
characteristic of the herons. The effect as a whole was charming. There was
nothing gaudy, nor cheap, nor hard in the arrangement, and the idea was a
great success. The receiving-frame used by Mr. Webster was also his own
design, called forth by the necessity of fully protecting the work.

Other birds that became popular subjects for treatment in this way were the
wood duck, scarlet ibis, white ibis, roseate spoonbill, English pheasant,
and resplendent trogon. Of course the color and quality of the material
used as a background was varied to suit the colors of each subject, but of
all the materials tried, plush proved to be most acceptable.

HEADS.--This subject has been fully discussed in another chapter. An
additional example, showing a particularly fine head of a barren ground
caribou, on a shield of a very artistic pattern, is to be seen in Plate
XVI., Fig. 3, the original of which was mounted by Mr. William J.
Critchley, and presented to the Society, for its exhibit in the National
Museum, by Professor Henry A. Ward.

SINGLE SPECIMENS.--Eagles, owls, hawks, ravens, crows, herons, ducks,
grouse, and other game birds in general, mounted singly, on either plain
or fancy pedestals, make very interesting and proper ornaments for the tops
of book-cases, wall-brackets, easels, and the like. Good examples of
objects of this class are represented in Plate XVI. as follows: Fig. 8,
Bald Eagle; Fig. 7, "Frightened Owl," by Mr. John Wallace, of New York
City; Fig. 15, Snowy Egret, by Mr. Thomas Rowland; and No. 9, Gray
Squirrel, by Mr. P.W. Aldrich, of Boston.

GROTESQUE GROUPS.--No one who has ever visited one of the exhibitions of
the S.A.T. is likely to forget the exceedingly droll and mirth-provoking
groups of stuffed frogs, caricaturing poor humanity, produced by Mr. J.F.D.
Bailly, now of Montreal, Canada. As a humorist and satirist our old friend
Bailly has few equals, and, in conjunction with his fine mechanical skill,
his love of the ridiculous took permanent form in groups of frogs. The frog
seems to have been created for the especial purpose of enabling Monsieur
Bailly to caricature mankind. The results must be seen to be appreciated.
We have had groups of frogs duelling, playing billiards, making love,
getting drunk, smoking, dancing, fishing, gaming, electioneering, and what
not. For frogs, however, there is only one taxidermist, for I have never
seen anyone else, either French or American, who could even rival our old
friend. He skinned every frog through its mouth, without breaking the skin,
turned it wrong side out, wired it, made its legs of cotton, turned it
back, filled its body with cotton, set it up in position, varnished it all
over, and fitted it out with miniature furniture to suit the subject.

Mr. Bailly used to cut similar taxidermic capers with squirrels, and
Messrs. Critchley, Lucas, and others have produced some very amusing
grotesque pieces with cats and kittens. In Plate XVI., Fig. 15, is shown
(indistinctly) one of Mr. Bailly's frog groups, entitled "Sold Again." A
fisherman is in the act of pulling out a big fish, which the attending
small boy reaches out to take in with a dip-net, when the fish turns out to
be only an old shoe.

FUR RUGS WITH MOUNTED HEADS.--Before a raw pelt or skin can be made up as a
rug, it must be sent to a first-class tanner, and thoroughly tanned and
dressed. This process should make the skin clean, soft, and pliable. If the
head is to be mounted, that part should _not_ be tanned, nor put through
any process. After the skin has been properly tanned, relax the head, and
mount it in such a manner that the head will lie as flat as possible upon
the floor. When the skull is present, it is customary to mount tiger,
leopard, and bear rugs with the mouth open, snarling. Some prefer to have a
head mounted with the lower jaw entirely off, and only the upper half of
the head filled out. This makes of the head what is known as a "mask."
Every rug requires to have an inner lining of buckram to give it body and
stiffness sufficient to keep it spread out flat. Underneath that must come
the lining proper, of quilted felt of suitable color, which is generally
left projecting an inch or two beyond the skin all around. This projecting
edge is pinked with a pinking iron, to make it more ornamental.

The finest work on rugs, particularly the finer kinds, such as lion, tiger,
leopard, and bear, is done by Mr. F.S. Webster, of Washington, who has
developed this line of work most handsomely and systematically, and who
does an immense amount of it. Elsewhere in this book appears full
directions for the preservation of skins for sale as pelts for furriers'

HOW TO MAKE IMITATION ROCKS.--In making a rockwork pedestal, the first
thing is to build your foundation, of wood if it be very large, of wood
covered with very stiff and strong paper, if it be small. In the latter
case there must be a wooden skeleton to which the paper may be tacked.
Having tacked the paper on in large sheets, and duly crumpled it to get the
proper form of the rocky mass, give the paper a coat of thick glue. When
dry it will be quite stiff and strong. Now apply papier-maché of a coarse
quality, and model its surface to show the proper angles or lines of
stratification. Procure some granite or sandstone, or whatever rock you
choose to imitate, pound it up as finely as necessary, and after giving the
surface of the papier-maché a coat of thick glue, apply your rock material
by throwing it against the surface to be covered, so that the particles
indent the surface and stick fast. In this way the whole surface can be
completely covered, and when it is done with the actual material, no
painting is necessary. The possibilities and variations in this line are
infinite, and so much depends upon circumstances it is unprofitable to go
further into details.

Very pretty single pieces, or small masses of rock, may be made by using
peat, or coke, or cork, either in large pieces or smaller pieces glued
together, and covering the surface with fine sand mixed with various dry
colors, and adding colored lichens in spots here and there.

Cloth is poor stuff to use in making rockwork. It draws in straight lines,
and in smooth, plain surfaces. It generally shows up the wooden framework
to perfection. Use manila paper instead, by all means, and take great pains
in shaping your wooden foundation. Always avoid straight lines and plain



The rapidity with which the art of taxidermy has won its way to public
favor in the United States during the last two decades is certainly very
gratifying. Less than twenty years ago a great naturalist declared that a
skin stuffed is a skin spoiled. Even ten years ago the only specimens
permitted in museums were those that were mounted singly, in stereotyped
attitudes, on polished pedestals of hard wood.

Between the years 1860 and 1876 a few of the more ambitious taxidermists of
Europe produced various groups of mammals, large and small. Of these, one
of the most noteworthy was the "Lion and Tiger Struggle," by Edwin Ward, of
London, and another was Jules Verreaux's "Arab Courier attacked by Lions."
The most of these groups represented animals in theatrical attitudes,
usually fighting. While they were of much interest for certain purposes,
they were of but little value to persons desiring to study typical forms of
the species which were represented. It would have been quite as appropriate
to place the "Dying Gladiator" or "The Laocoon" in an ethnological museum,
as it would have been to place such groups as the "Lion and Tiger Struggle"
of Edwin Ward, or Rowland Ward's "Combat of Red Deer," in a collection of
mounted mammals in a scientific museum. Up to the year 1879 no large groups
of mammals had been prepared in this country which were considered
appropriate for scientific display collections. Furthermore, the production
of groups of mammals or birds suitable for scientific museums was generally
considered an impossibility.

In 1879 the writer returned from a collecting trip to the East Indies,
having in mind numerous designs for groups of mammals, both large and
small. It was believed then that many of these would not only be suitable
for scientific museums, but would also be far more attractive and
instructive than ordinary specimens. A design for a group of orang utans
was prepared and submitted to Professor Henry A. Ward, with whom the writer
was then associated, at his Natural History Establishment, with a
proposition to prepare such a group as was there represented. After
considerable hesitation Professor Ward finally decided to let the
experiment be tried, and the group was prepared according to the design.

I do not deny the soft impeachment that in one respect this design was
highly suggestive of the methods adopted by my European rivals to secure
attention to their work, or, in other words, it was a trifle sensational.
The group in question represented a pair of immense and hideously ugly male
orang utans fighting furiously while they hung suspended in the tree-tops.
The father of an interesting family was evidently being assailed by a rival
for the affection of the female orang utan, who, with a small infant
clinging to her breast, had hastily quitted her nest of green branches, and
was seeking taller timber. The nest which she had just quitted was an
accurate representation of the nest constructed by this great ape.

In the middle of the group, and at the highest point, was another nest in
the top of a sapling, on the edge of which another interesting young orang
utan--a production evidently of the previous year, was gazing down with
wide-eyed wonder at the fracas going on below. The accessories to this were
so designed and arranged as to represent an actual section of the top of a
Bornean forest, at a height of about thirty feet from the ground,
representing the natural trees, with leaves, orchids, pepper-vines, moss,
and vegetation galore. For such a subject an unusual amount of care was
bestowed on the accessories. Although the design of this group included the
theatrical feature of a combat between animals, there was method in this
madness. This feature was introduced for the specific purpose of attracting
attention to the group and inviting discussion.

[Illustration: PLATE XVII. Reproduced from "Two Years in the Jungle."

The remainder of the group was of such a character that it seemed no
scientific observer could find fault with its naturalness. All the various
members of the group were represented in natural attitudes (the result of
elaborate life-studies in the Bornean jungles), and each one told its own
story of the orang utan's life and habits (Plate XVII.)

It is not too much to say that the group caught the popular fancy. It was
completed in September, 1879, just in time to be sent to Saratoga, for
exhibition before the meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, ostensibly for the purpose of illustrating a paper
by the author on "The Species of Bornean Orangs." Naturally it attracted
considerable attention, and it seemed to meet the approval of the members
of the Association, particularly the museum directors and superintendents,
who were especially interested in such work.

Although it may be the reverse of modest in me to say so, I cannot help
believing that the production of that group marked the beginning of an era
in the progress of museum taxidermy in the United States. The price placed
upon this group ($2,000) prevented its immediate sale; but in a short time
another group of orang utans, similar in composition but of a very
different design, was ordered by Mr. Robert Colgate, of New York, for the
American Museum of Natural History, and prepared by the writer at Professor
Ward's establishment. This group represented the orang at home--a perfectly
peaceful scene in the top of a Bornean forest. It included five orang
utans, of various sizes and ages, feeding on durions, sleeping in a nest,
climbing, sitting, and swinging. This group was also very well received by
the public. As in the case of the first production, the accessories were
all carefully worked out. The price paid for this group was $1,500.

In the year 1880, when the Society of American Taxidermists was organized
in Rochester, N.Y., for the development of the art of taxidermy, the
museum-group idea was much discussed by its founders at Ward's Natural
Science Establishment. Mr. Frederic S. Webster determined to make a further
test of public sentiment by the production of a large group of birds,
designed especially for a place in some scientific museum. With most
praiseworthy enterprise he accordingly prepared, at his own expense, and
with great care and skill, a group of three flamingoes of the largest size.
Two of the birds were represented as standing at the edge of a shallow
lagoon, and the third was sitting on its nest of mud. The water of the
lagoon was successfully represented, as also were certain aquatic plants by
artificial productions of the finest kinds. At the first exhibition of the
Society, which was held in Rochester, in 1880, this group, and also the
first group of orang utans, "A Battle in the Tree-tops," was exhibited. To
the group of orang utans was awarded the specialty medal, offered "for the
best piece in the entire exhibition;" but to the surprise of everyone, save
the judges themselves, and to the consternation and chagrin of the founders
of the Society, the group of flamingoes was entirely ignored, and the medal
offered for the second best piece in the entire exhibition was awarded to
a solitary wood-duck, mounted by Mr. Webster, and figured herewith (Fig.

[Illustration: FIG. 58.--Mr. Webster's Prize Wood-Duck.]

The failure of the flamingo group to receive any recognition caused deep
disappointment to all those who had watched its production with so much
interest and hopeful anticipation. It had been fondly hoped that it might
prove to be the predecessor of a long series of bird groups of the most
varied and interesting character.

The judges of this exhibition were men of high scientific attainments, and
their honesty of purpose in making their awards could not be questioned for
a moment. On being mildly taken to task for their failure to appreciate the
group of flamingoes, the judges maintained that such groups were not
suitable for scientific museums, as was the evident intention in its
preparation. Arguments to the contrary were of no avail, and the believers
in such groups were obliged for the time being to hang their harps on the
willows. It is a pleasure to record the fact that, although the time had
not then arrived, subsequent events have proved that the idea of the
group-makers was a good one; and, although the production of groups did not
come to pass precisely as was then anticipated, time has wrought its
perfect work, and groups are now the order of the day.

In 1882 the writer was appointed chief taxidermist of the National Museum.
In the year following, the first group of orang utans, "The Fight in the
Tree-tops," was purchased of Professor Ward by that institution, and after
being partly reconstructed was placed on exhibition in the Hall of Mammals,
where it now is. Since it left his establishment, Professor Ward has been
pleased to call it "the king of groups."

The group idea was frequently advanced by the writer to the directors of
the National Museum, but the time for its practical adoption on a liberal
scale did not arrive until 1886. It is true that in 1884 Professor Goode
had six groups of ducks prepared by Mr. Webster, and six bird groups of the
same size prepared by Mr. Marshall at the Museum; but with the completion
of these the mounting of bird groups there came to an end. The condition
of the regular exhibition series of mounted mammals demanded several years'
uninterrupted work before any attention could be devoted to such
exceptional work as the preparation of groups either large or small.
Finally, in the year 1886, the auspicious moment arrived. The collecting by
the writer of a very large series of specimens of the American bison
resulted in his receiving permission to prepare a large mounted group after
his own design. To his intense gratification he was given _carte blanche_
as to time and expense, and no limit was placed on the size of the group,
the character or extent of the accessories, or the cost of the case to
contain all. The experiment was to be regarded as a crucial test of the
group idea as adapted to the purposes of scientific museums.

While the group of buffaloes was still in course of preparation, the writer
prepared, as a "feeler," a very simple group, consisting of three coyotes,
a large male and female and one young specimen. The attitudes and grouping
was simplicity itself, and the ground was nothing but gravelly sod, bearing
a few stunted bunches of bad-lands grass. In order that familiarity might
not breed contempt, this group was kept carefully secluded from the
observation of the Assistant Director until it was finished and in its case
in the mammal hall of the museum. Its character was about as follows: A
young specimen--a puppy about four weeks old--was playfully endeavoring to
pull the jawbone of an antelope out of its mother's mouth. Standing a
trifle behind these two stood the father of the family, a really noble
specimen of the species, if by any stretch of the imagination a coyote--the
king of sneaks--can be considered noble. His head was held high in the air,
and he was undoubtedly looking afar off, as if watching for the coming of
the man with a gun. (See Plate XVIII.)

This little group was heartily approved, and the question of groups in the
National Museum was settled forever before the production of the buffalo
group was fully accomplished. The idea as a whole was pronounced not only
satisfactory, but exceedingly desirable, and orders were given that groups
of all the more important American mammals should be designed and produced
as rapidly as practicable. Work was immediately commenced on several other
groups, and by the time the group of buffaloes was completed and ready
for exhibition, which occurred in March, 1888, three other groups were
ready to be displayed at the same time, viz., of antelopes, prairie-dogs,
and opossums.

The reception accorded the group of buffaloes settled all doubt that might
have previously existed regarding the estimation in which such productions
would be held by the public. At present the only trouble which the
taxidermic department of the National Museum labors under is that it is
unable to produce groups of mammals half fast enough. In March, 1890, a
large group of moose, of the same dimensions as the group of buffaloes, was
completed, and a group of musk oxen was completed a month later. Many other
groups are in course of preparation.

[Illustration: PLATE XVIII.

By a curious coincidence, within three years from the time the Society of
American Taxidermists found its first group of birds so frowned upon by
museum officers, the British Museum undertook the preparation of a large
series of mounted groups of birds, with accessories both natural and
manufactured. Precisely in line with our idea, these groups were intended
to show the birds in their haunts, and, as far as possible, to show their
nesting habits. Naturally enough they were produced with the care which
such subjects merit, and the results are truly admirable. When some of
these groups were seen by the enterprising and far-sighted President of the
Board of Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Morris K.
Jesup, he immediately determined to have a series of bird groups prepared
for the great institution he has for many years so ably directed. He
engaged Mr. Jenness Richardson, then in the taxidermic department of the
National Museum, and the work was begun in 1886. Mr. Richardson never saw
any of the bird groups of the British Museum, and the work he has produced
is as much his own as though the British Museum collection had never
existed. Going as he did from the National Museum, the group idea was by no
means new to him, and the seventy beautiful groups he has since produced
stand as a lasting monument to his skill as a taxidermist, his artistic
conception in designing, and his energy as a collector. No other feature in
the entire Museum of Natural History at New York is so attractive and
pleasing to the general public as are the groups of mounted birds.



There are several vital principles which apply to all kinds of groups, both
large and small, and we must consider these before proceeding to discuss
the different kinds of groups.

SPECIMENS.--The specimens selected to compose a group should by all means
be the finest procurable. It is a mistake to go to the trouble and expense
of mounting a number of specimens in a group unless each object is entirely
satisfactory in quality. If the group is to represent a family, let the
old male and female specimens be of the largest size, and with the finest
possible pelage or plumage, as the case may be. Do not begin the mounting
of a group until you have in hand a series of specimens that is entirely
satisfactory. Let them be so fine that their quality will be remarked by
all observers. It will then be a pleasure to lavish work upon them. Even if
you should mount a specimen and afterward discover that it is inferior,
discard it by all means in favor of a better one. A large group of either
mammals or birds represents a very considerable outlay in money and time,
and unless the quality of the specimens is above criticism, the group is by
no means a success. I have found that it is a work of from one to two
years' time to procure the specimens necessary for a complete group of
large mammals of any kind.

The best of all ways to procure specimens for groups is to go into the
field, find them in their haunts, study them alive, study their habitat and
their habits; shoot, measure, and preserve them with your own hands. If you
are unable to do this yourself, then it must be done for you by some
competent person, under your direction. In procuring young animals, which
are very necessary in nearly all groups for scientific purposes, the
greatest vigilance is required to enable the collector to secure the
specimens just when they reach the right age and size.

DESIGN.--When you have determined to prepare a group of a certain species,
study the character and size of the subjects to compose it, and then begin
by sketching, to the best of your ability, a design in which each specimen
shall have its place and attitude. In the preparation of large groups, I
have always found the satisfactory arrangement of the specimens the most
puzzling and perplexing feature of the work. But however difficult it may
be to satisfy myself with a design, I never proceed with a group until the
composition of my sketch group is satisfactory. The two largest and finest
specimens in a group should constitute its central and commanding figures.
Put as little life as possible in the corners of a group, and by all means
make the specimens show an interest in, and a relation to, each other. The
design must be dominated by one central idea or purpose, which should never
be lost sight of in the arrangement of the group. It is unnecessary to say
that each group should form a perfect picture, compact, well rounded, and
the relationship of the different specimens to each other should be so
clearly defined as to leave no room for the suggestion that the specimens
have been mounted independently, and simply placed together.

SPACE.--No matter how small or large a group may be, to be perfect in
effect it must have abundant case-room. Let there be some room to spare in
the corners and above the group. The top of the case should by all means be
of glass. An airy, light, out-door effect can not be secured in a small,
cramped cage, in which the specimens appear like caged circus animals. If
you wish to have your specimens look alive, and as if they are really on
their native heath, they must not be "cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd."

ACCESSORIES.--Although poor accessories are better than none, you will, of
course, have them all as nearly perfect as possible. Spare neither time,
trouble, nor expense in procuring the finest collection of accessories that
you can possibly gather. Do not think you must be satisfied with the first
that comes to hand, but search far and wide until you have obtained
precisely what you want. Do not be too lavish in the use of accessory
material. Remember that enough is as good as a feast, and too much is good
for nothing. There are two principles, either one of which can govern you
in your selection of accessory material. One is to select a given spot of
ground of precisely the same area as the section you propose to use as the
groundwork of your group, and reproduce only such materials as are found on
that particular square of mother earth. This is the idea which has been
strictly followed in the preparation of the groups of birds in the American
Museum of Natural History by Mr. Richardson. I hold to a different
principle. I believe that it is best to select from a given locality such
material as will best represent _an ideal section of the country to be
represented as the habitat of the group_. Of course, it is necessary to
exercise care not to bring together too great an assortment of materials.
By acting on this principle we secure a limited selection of the most
common and familiar species of plants in a given locality, and at the same
time have the advantage of arranging them for the best artistic effect on
the ground which has been prepared to accommodate the group according to
the design. With small groups, in which a nest or burrow is to be
represented, it is an easy and simple matter to reproduce the exact
situation in which the home of the animal was situated. In the preparation
of large groups this is a practicable impossibility.

SPECIAL EXHIBITION GROUPS.--To this class properly belongs such subjects
as Verreaux's "Arab Courier attacked by Lions;" Edwin Ward's "Lion and
Tiger Struggle;" and the two groups, "Lions Fighting" and "Horseman
attacked by Tigers," prepared by John Wallace, of New York. Such groups are
bold in design, theatrical in effect, and each one is supposed to represent
a _tour de force_ on the part of the originator. They are valuable for
great expositions, for show-windows, fairs, crystal palaces, and the like.
For such purposes the more startling they are, the better. Animals are
usually chosen which will admit of a representation of vigorous action. The
most favorite theme is large animals in combat. He who has the boldness to
introduce the human form divine in such a composition will oftener than
otherwise have occasion to wish he hadn't. The human figure is, at best, a
difficult subject to handle, and in its introduction with mounted
quadrupeds the designer often finds, to his sorrow, how very short is the
step from the sublime to the ridiculous. In general I should say that the
human figure is an excellent thing to leave out of a group of mounted
quadrupeds, unless it happens to be an Esquimau completely enveloped in
thick furs. In the preparation of groups of this class, the ambitious
taxidermist has before him almost as great a variety of subjects as has the
sculptor, since his work is subject to precisely the same general rules.



GROUPING SMALL MAMMALS.--Since our small mammals can not migrate south in
winter, as do the birds, each species must provide itself with a winter
home, or perish. The nesting and burrowing habits of these builders of
"homes without hands" afford a most interesting field for investigation and
study, and one which is of great interest to everyone. Almost without
exception, every mammalian species found in the United States below the
size of the coyote, establishes for itself during a part, if not the whole,
of the year, a fixed habitation. Some of the more enterprising species,
notably the squirrels and rabbits, enjoy the luxury of a summer residence
as well as a winter home. The groups of small mammals which the National
Museum is now producing and placing upon exhibition have for one of their
principal features the illustration of the homemaking habits of the species
represented. A mention of one or two examples will serve to convey an idea
of the type of each class.

A group of American opossums may be taken as a good example. The case which
encloses the entire group is 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 3 feet high. The
frame of the case is as light as possible, and all four sides and the top
are of glass. On the side of a sloping bank stands the base of a small
gum-tree, with the roots on the lower side exposed by the crumbling away of
the bank. Of course the trunk rises to the top of the case, where it is cut
squarely off. At the bottom of the sloping bank, between two of the roots,
is an opening, which is recognized at once as the doorway to the opossum's
home. The burrow winds upward between the roots of the tree, and finally
turns off to the left into the bank, where, after running through a
passage-way of two or three feet in length, the nest itself is found. It is
in a pocket-like excavation, and a circular section is cut out of the front
of the bank so as to make an opening through which the nest can be seen.
The nest is lined with dead leaves, in which lies an opossum curled up and
sound asleep. At the back of the case a sectional view of the bank is
represented, and by means of an opening cut here and there, the course of
the burrow is plainly seen. In the foreground is an old mother opossum with
several young ones riding on her back, clinging to her gray coat, while the
head of another protrudes from her pouch. This represents the manner in
which the opossum carries her young after they have reached a certain age.
From a small branch hangs another opossum, suspended by its prehensile
tail, sprawling in mid-air. This specimen is a female, and shows the size
and location of the wonderful marsupial pouch. Another individual is
climbing up the trunk of the tree. A fourth specimen, which has been
disturbed by another, is pausing to protest with widely opened mouth,
while in the act of creeping into the mouth of the burrow.

Please notice the number of facts that are taught by this simple little
group. It shows that the opossum is a marsupial, and the female carries her
young in a pouch in her own body; that when the young reach a certain age,
they ride upon the mother's back, clinging to her fur; that the animal is
arboreal in habit, and has a prehensile tail, by which it is capable of
suspending itself; that it burrows in banks in dry situations, and sleeps
curled up like a ball in a bed of dry leaves. It also shows the full size
of the adult, the young of the previous year, and the recent brood. But for
an unfortunate accident, which has yet to be repaired, it would also show
the number born at one birth. Of course in this group the grass and moss is
properly represented, and there are artificial leaves on the tree branches
which enter the group.

Groups of this class can easily be made to show the ordinary nesting and
breeding habits of the animals represented. Now it happens that animals of
some species make a variety of nests, according to circumstances or
caprice. In 1889 we prepared a group in three sections, each of which shows
one of the habits of the gray squirrel in nesting. Each is composed of an
actual nest, and in the identical tree in which it was built by Bunny
himself. One represents a nest in a hollow beech tree, in which a pair of
gray squirrels bred for years. Another is what might be called a summer
nest, made of cedar bark, in the top of a cedar tree. It is a round ball,
and in size and shape much resembles a hornet's nest. The third section
represents an outside nest of green oak-leaves, placed on a branch of an
oak tree. These three groups are exhibited in one case, but while each is
separated from the others by a plate of heavy tinted glass, it is made
apparent that they all illustrate the habits of the same animal. The
specimens composing the three groups were all collected within a radius of
ten miles of the city of Washington. Besides teaching what the nesting
habits of the gray squirrel are, it also impresses upon the observer the
very important fact that the habits of different individuals of a given
species are capable of wide variation. They show how dangerous it is for a
student or scientific investigator to generalize too freely from one or
two facts, and that it is dangerous for anyone to say what an animal will
_not_ do!

In beginning the preparation of small mammal groups (for a museum) the
following hints may be of service: It is not necessary that a small group
should be designed and sketched out in advance. The first step, therefore,
is the finding of a typical family of specimens, and a suitable burrow or
nest. The character of the creature's home will largely determine the
design of your group. By all means endeavor to secure a nest or burrow
which can be fitly shown as a typical home of the creature represented.

When the nest of an animal is situated in a tree, it is nearly always
possible to cut out a section of the tree, and introduce it bodily into
your case, with appropriate leaf settings. When an animal burrows in the
ground, as do the fox and the woodchuck, the best that can be done is to
dig out the spot carefully, taking measurements and diagrams as you
proceed, to show the direction and size of the entrance and the exact shape
and size of the nest. You can then manufacture a bank and reproduce a
perfect fac-simile. Of course all the nest materials--refuse bones, hair,
and feathers--must be taken along bodily, and used in the manufactured

In displaying a portion of a tree-trunk which contains a nest, it has been
our custom to saw out a rectangular section at one side of the hollow, and
hang the piece on hinges at one side of the opening, like an open door, so
that the entire interior and the situation of the nest can be seen. Of
course it is in order to place a number of the young specimens in the nest
in characteristic attitudes.

When you have collected a number of young specimens, mount them at once
while the forms and attitudes are fresh in your mind and the skins are in
good condition. If you are lucky enough to get the young alive, you can
mount some of the skins while the others serve as living models.

Now comes an important point. It usually happens that at the time when the
young are of the best age to display in a group, the fur of the adult
specimen is at its poorest. Worse than that, shedding is often in progress.
No matter what hypercritics may say, do not hesitate to perpetrate an
anachronism by taking _adult_ specimens later in the season, when their fur
is at its best. It would be an injustice to the group, to the species, and
to yourself, to include adult specimens in their poorest pelage. Along with
your groups of young animals, which necessarily represent conditions during
spring or summer, do not forget to represent some of your species in their
winter homes, with their stores of nuts, acorns, etc., for winter use.

The field open to the conscientious and really artistic taxidermist in the
preparation of groups is a wide and deeply interesting one. I know of no
branch of taxidermy which ought to be more interesting than this. Its
possibilities are open to all. While it is impossible for everyone to
prepare groups of large mammals, in the matter of small groups you can say,
"The world's mine oyster."

GROUPS OF LARGE MAMMALS.--In creating a high-class group of large mammals,
it is, as has been stated before, extremely desirable to prepare the design
first, and collect the specimens to suit it. There is no burrow or nest to
reproduce, and this course is not only possible, but usually very

There is one important fact which should never be lost sight of in the
preparation of a design for a group of large quadrupeds. If the animals are
purely terrestrial, as will be the case in nearly all large groups, the
largest and finest adult male and female should each stand on a flat and
horizontal surface, in easy and conventional attitudes. This is necessary
in order that the form, height, and back outline of each of the typical
adult specimens can be studied by the technical zoologist with as much
certainty and accuracy as any ordinary case specimen standing on a flat
pedestal of hard wood. To illustrate the point: If the huge bull bison in
our large group had been put walking up hill, or walking down hill, it
would now be practically impossible for anyone wishing to draw a picture of
him to accurately determine the precise angle of his hump. Furthermore, his
height at the shoulders would be either exaggerated or diminished, almost
unavoidably. As it is, he was with deliberate intention mounted on a flat
and horizontal surface, as was the cow also, so that even though they are
in a group they lose nothing whatever of their value to the technical
zoologist, who demands that all specimens shall be mounted on flat
surfaces, and in conventional attitudes for the sake of comparison. Having
done this much for pure science, we are at liberty to vary the attitudes of
the remaining specimens of the group.

In a museum group suppress all tendency to the development of violent
action on the part of your specimens. In a well-regulated museum no
fighting is allowed. Represent every-day, peaceful, home scenes in the
lives of your animals. Seek not to startle and appal the beholder, but
rather to interest and instruct him. Surely there are enough quiet and
peaceful attitudes to supply all your specimens without exhausting the
stock. Let them be feeding, walking, climbing up, lying down, standing on
the alert, playing with each other, or sleepily ruminating--in fact,
anything but fighting, leaping, and running. If you do not happen to know
the habits of the animals which form the subject of your group, and it is
impossible for you to learn them by observation, then must you throw aside
all reserve, and appeal to some one who has seen and studied them in their

It is no child's play to prepare a group of large mammals. It invariably
costs several hundreds of dollars, perhaps even thousands, and the work is
supposed to last a century or longer. Judge, therefore, how important it is
that every detail of the work should be absolutely above criticism. If you
mount such a group in haste, you are certain to repent at leisure.

Having prepared your design, collected your specimens, and made all your
studies for the entire group, the next step, of course, is mounting each
individual specimen. It is an excellent plan, and one which we have found
particularly satisfactory in grouping ruminants, to prepare all the
manikins before putting any skin on permanently. We begin with the most
important specimen. By mounting the manikins one by one, and grouping them,
we are able to secure the precise artistic effect that was intended in our
design. The grouping of the naked manikins from time to time enables you to
eliminate errors, and make such changes in the attitudes as the eye may

A few facts in relation to the work done in setting up the buffalo group
will serve as a fair index to work of this kind. Of course it is to be
understood that every case is to have a wooden floor, and that one end can
be opened bodily. Each of our buffaloes stood on a strong, thick base by
itself, a rough pedestal, in fact, of a very substantial character. With
pine boards we built a miniature hill, on which stands the spike bull,
placed him upon it, and fastened him there permanently. The final work of
arrangement was not undertaken until a trial grouping in the case had been
satisfactorily made, and the exact position of each specimen definitely
settled. A hole was cut in the bottom of the case, to give depth to the
pool of water. The bottom of this pool was carefully modeled in
papier-maché, and painted. The specimens standing farthest from the end
containing the doors were first put in place, and the groundwork built up
around them. The face of the cut bank was made by nailing wire cloth to a
skeleton framework of boards, and covering this with a coarse sort of
papier-maché, made of sawdust, plaster Paris, glue, and hair, and used in
large quantities. As fast as a specimen was put in place and fastened, the
rough groundwork of boards was covered with the papier-maché composition to
make a perfectly smooth foundation to receive the prairie sod. From first
to last, between three and four barrels of this coarse papier-maché was
used. It was made to set quickly, and the modeling which was done on the
surface of the cut bank, and in the bed of the stream, was done as soon as
the soft material was put on. The surface of the pool was represented by a
sheet of plate glass, a quarter of an inch thick. The entire groundwork of
the case was covered with genuine prairie sod, each piece about one inch
thick and a foot square, cut on the buffalo range in Montana, and shipped
in barrels to Washington.

When this sod became perfectly dry, it lost all color and had the
appearance of cured hay. In order to give it the right tone, it was
necessary to spray it with a thin mixture of green paint in turpentine, to
impart to it a pale green tint. As soon as the papier-maché was dry, the
sod was cut neatly, matched carefully, and laid upon it--the joints being
skilfully closed. A number of clumps of sage brush and bunches of broom
sedge, grubbed up in Montana and carefully dried, were set here and there
through the group. A bed of cactus was also introduced in the foreground.
The sage brush required no preparation except to pack it carefully, and
dry it after it reached Washington, with the branches in position. The
leaves were of the right color when dry, and remained attached to the
stems. Montana dirt was used in the bottom of the buffalo trail, and on the
side of the cut bank. A few buffalo bones were stuck in the side of the
bank to represent fossil bones as they are often seen protruding from the
faces of cut banks in Montana. While the papier-maché around the edge of
the pool was yet soft, tracks were made in it with genuine buffalo hoofs of
various sizes, and many more tracks were made in the dust in the bottom
of the buffalo trail. Of all the accessories in the buffalo case,
everything in sight came from the Montana buffalo range, except the sheet
of glass forming the surface of the pool.

The last six months of my connection with the National Museum witnessed the
completion of the great group of moose, which we began in 1889. In size and
general make-up it is a companion piece to the group of buffaloes, and is a
memorial worthy of the colossal species it represents. The setting
represents a section of the moose woods of Upper Canada, in which the
larger animals are browsing on the tender twigs of the white birch. The
animals have come together at the edge of a bog, which is growing full of a
gigantic species of grayish moss, peculiar to that locality. The time
represented is the middle of autumn. The few leaves that remain on the
maple saplings have been painted with October's most gorgeous tints of
crimson and yellow, mixed with green, and the leaves of the white birch
have turned pale yellow. The ground is plentifully strewn with leaves of
bright tints, through which the green moss of moist banks shows in patches
here and there.

[Illustration: PLATE XIX. Drawn by C.B. Hudson. GROUP OF AMERICAN BISON IN


Of the animals, the three largest--and huge beasts they are, truly--are
feeding upon the birch twigs. A yearling calf is licking the head of a tiny
brown-coated younger brother, while a two-year-old bull is in the act of
"riding down" a stout birch sapling in order to get at the branches of its
top, which would otherwise be beyond his reach.

Three of these fine specimens were collected by Colonel Cecil Clay, of
Washington, and by him presented to the Museum for this group, together
with the trees, moss, and other accessories, which he collected with
infinite labor and care in the moose woods. He also furnished us with field
notes and critical advice throughout, which had much to do in making the
group what it is--a monument to Colonel Clay's skill and prowess as a
sportsman, and to his deep interest in _Alces malchis_. It is to be
sincerely hoped that other sportsmen will follow the Colonel's admirable
example, and aid the museums in which they are most interested to secure
some attractive groups.

The moose group was followed immediately by the group of musk-oxen, and
there are others of Rocky Mountain goat, mountain sheep, and sea-lions in
course of preparation.



The principles which underlie the production of successful groups of birds
are precisely the same as those which have already been set forth under the
head of "Groups of Small Mammals." In addition, however, there is another
which should be kept constantly in mind, viz., to guard against the
temptation to permit the accessories of a group to completely overshadow,
and, I might say, overwhelm, the specimens themselves. Be careful to make
the birds conspicuous, and to avoid the appearance of an exhibit of
artificial plants and flowers, instead of mounted birds.

Of course each species must be represented by itself in a case which shall
contain its nest, displayed in the identical bough, or bunch of grass, or
hole in the bank which it occupied when found by the collector. Except when
a nest is situated in a bank of earth, the collector should cut a square
section out of nature, of the proper dimensions for casing, and convey
bodily the nest and its situation to the museum. Occasionally circumstances
will prevent this, when it becomes necessary to collect the nest and the
material surrounding it, so that with their aid the situation of the nest
can be built up in the laboratory.

The finest groups of birds to be found in this country are those in the
American Museum of Natural History in New York, which are the work of Mr.
Jenness Richardson. At present (1891) the series consists of groups
composed almost wholly of species found in the State of New York. Each
group, except in a few instances, occupies a light, iron-framed case by
itself, and stands on an ebonized table-base, raised on legs about eighteen
inches from the floor. The framework of the case, and the wood-work of the
base is painted black. When the home of a ground-nesting bird is shown, a
section has been cut from mother earth, placed on the base as the
foundation, and all the perishable plants growing thereon have been
carefully reproduced in wax by casting, and put back in place.

Where a nest was situated in a low bush, the bush and its foliage, and the
ground beneath have all been included in its transfer. When a nest was
placed on the end of a bough, the difficulty has been surmounted very
satisfactorily by cutting off as much of the bough as could be put in the
case, then reproducing, on the bottom of the case, the ground exactly as it
was under the tree, and simply laying carelessly upon it the cut branch
containing the nest and the birds. Of course watery situations call for the
introduction of the plate-glass imitation.

The feature of these groups that is so pleasing is that each one appears to
have been cut out of its place in field or forest, and brought to the
museum within an hour. The life-like birds, the earth and water, the
natural wood, and the beautiful foliage of spring combine to impart to each
group the breezy freshness of the forest, the very soul of Nature all

To see these charming productions, fresh from the hand of a true
artist-naturalist, and lay aside the spirit of carping criticism which
would find fault with even a heavenly harp, is the next thing to finding
one's self in the actual haunts of our native birds, with their songs
trilling in our ears. Mr. Richardson's groups lack but one thing--the song
of the birds. They are so many pretty pages from Nature's choicest book,
and actually bring the life of the forest into the otherwise dead and
silent museum hall.

The time will yet come when our wealthy lovers of art and animated nature
will find places in their houses for such groups as these, and the money to
pay for them will be forthcoming. At present they are tired of the
old-fashioned glass "shade," covering a stiff and utterly unnatural pyramid
of small stuffed birds on an impossible "tree." The old-fashioned wall-case
of birds also fails to satisfy the æsthete, for the simple reason that
something better is wanted. We are all ready to step up to a higher plane.

GROUPS OF REPTILES.--I know of but one good group of reptiles, and that is
a group of turtles which was prepared by Mr. F.A. Lucas, and displayed at
the exhibition of the S.A.T., in New York, in 1883, where it received a
medal, and afterward was presented by him to the National Museum. This
altogether unique and pretty group teaches one very important lesson, viz.,
that even the most commonplace animals are interesting when they are well
mounted, and grouped with a setting which represents their natural haunts.
Some of the specimens in this group are represented above water, and some
beneath it, while one enterprising individual is caught in the act of
diving, with part of his body under water and the other half out. The
situation represents the successful accomplishment of a very neat
mechanical feat, and is of itself an illustration of the possibilities in
such matters.

After the quadrupeds of North America have been gathered and grouped until
there remain in that direction no more worlds to conquer, it will be quite
in order for our enterprising taxidermists then to proceed to the mounting
of groups of reptiles.

There are possibilities with such subjects as the crocodiles, iguanas,
lizards of various kinds, serpents, and turtles that few dream of. Already
Professor Goode has under consideration the production of a series of
reptilian groups for the National Museum, and within a short time the work
will be undertaken.



In the preparation of museum specimens in general there is, from first to
last, a great deal of painting to be done, and a knowledge of how to paint
specimens properly is quite as necessary as a knowledge of how to mount

Materials Necessary for General Work.

    _Brushes for Fine Work._

    Artists' round Sable, No. 2, each     8 cts.

       "          "        "  4,   "     12 cts.

       "          "        "  6,   "     15 cts.

       "          "        "  7,   "     18 cts.

       "          "        "  9,   "     20 cts.

       "          "        " 11,   "     27 cts.

    _Brushes for Ordinary Work._

    Flat Fitch (bristles), No. 1, each    7 cts.

        "          "        "  2,  "      7 cts.

        "          "        "  3,  "      8 cts.

        "          "        "  4,  "     10 cts.

        "          "        "  5,  "     10 cts.

        "          "        "  6,  "     12 cts.

    _Brushes for Coarse Work._

    Sash tool, No. 5, each               20 cts.

        "       "  6,  "                 25 cts.

    Sash tool, No. 7, each               30 cts.

        "       "  8,  "                 35 cts.

    Palette                              25 cts.

    Palette knife                        25 cts.

    Palette cups, each                   10 cts.

    Spirits of turpentine, per qt.       15 cts.

    Boiled linseed oil, per qt.          20 cts.

    Hard oil finish (white, for varnishing) per pt.     25 cts.

    _Windsor & Newton's Tube Colors, as follows_:

    Ivory black, 8 cts.;
    Vandyke brown, 8 cts.;
    Burnt sienna, 8 cts.;
    Raw sienna, 8 cts.;
    Burnt umber, 8 cts.;
    Raw umber, 8 cts.;
    Naples yellow, 8 cts.;
    Chrome yellow, 8 cts.;
    Yellow ochre, 8 cts.;
    Indigo, 8 cts.;
    Indian red, 8 cts.;
    Vermilion, 15 cts.;
    Flake white, 8 cts.;
    Sugar of lead, 8 cts.

For coarse work, all these colors, except the finer ones, should be bought
in one-pound cans, ground in oil. In addition to colors ground in oil, it
is extremely desirable to have from one to two pounds of each of the


    Zinc white        10 cts.

    Vandyke brown     15 cts.

    Chrome yellow     25 cts.

    Lamp-black        35 cts.

    Plumbago          10 cts.

    Raw sienna        15 cts.

    Burnt umber       15 cts.

    Raw umber         15 cts.

    Burnt sienna      15 cts.

To the enterprising taxidermist a few dollars judiciously expended in such
materials as the above are bread cast upon the waters, that will be sure to
return to him before many days, buttered on both sides.

No matter what it costs, have the right kind of brushes, and a good
assortment of coloring materials. Do not try to "get along" with whatever
you happen to have, if it happens to be not the right thing. Don't try to
paint fish scales with a sash tool, or delicate fin-rays with a fitch. Use
for such purposes delicate, little sable pencils (flat), Nos. 1 to 4. Take
good care of them after use, wash them out with soap and water, or benzine,
and keep them in good working order by keeping them clean and soft. Do not
let the colors on your palette get in a nasty mess, fit to turn an artist's
stomach inside out, but keep your palette clean and in good order. Take
from the tubes only as much color as you are likely to use. Keep the centre
of your palette free from masses of color, so that you can have that space
for mixing.

Only those who have first been taught the slipshod ways of the slouch, and
afterward learned the methods of the artist, can realize the advantages in
favor of the latter as revealed in results.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES.--The skins and fleshy parts of all mammals and birds
become shrunken, mummified and colorless when dry, and if not covered with
hair or feathers require to be painted with the colors which have
disappeared. As to what the colors should be, the taxidermist must learn by
observation from living specimens, or those freshly killed, or from good
colored illustrations.

SURFACE.--Whatever the subject to be painted, the first care is to see that
the surface is properly prepared to receive the color. If it be skin, it
must be perfectly clean, and free from dirt, dust, or loose scales. If a
skin has any sort of powdery deposit upon it, it must be scraped clean with
a knife. Holes and seams must be filled up with papier-maché, long enough
in advance that it will have time to dry. Papier-maché which is to be
painted should always be given two coats of white shellac, mixed rather
thin, before putting on any paint. If this is not done, the maché will
absorb two or three coats of paint, like a sponge, and the surface will dry
perfectly dead.

GLOSS.--The colors on terrestrial mammals and birds (except the mouth parts
and noses of the former) are very seldom, if ever, what may be called
glossy. The mouth parts of mammals, or at least such as are wet by the
animal's saliva, are always glossy, as also are the edges of the eyelids,
and the bare end of the nose in ruminants.

_To give paint a perpetual gloss_, like varnish, use colors ground in oil,
and mixed with boiled linseed oil only when applied.

_To give paint a faint gloss_, use colors ground in oil, and mix with a
mixture of boiled linseed oil and turpentine, equal parts.

_To have paint dry without gloss_, mix with turpentine only when it is

_To have paint dry flat and dead_, use dry colors, and mix with turpentine.

_To make paint dry quickly and be very hard_, mix with it a little sugar of
lead (ground in oil) fresh from the tube.

To paint the skin of an animal, and yet make it look as if the skin
contained the color instead of bearing it upon its surface, use oil colors,
mix with boiled linseed oil and turpentine, equal parts, and apply. When
the paint is _beginning_ to dry, so that it is sticky, take some dry color
of a corresponding tint, dip into it a clean, dry, square-ended bristle
brush of good size, and twirl it about until it becomes filled with the dry
powder, then, with light and delicate strokes, apply it directly upon the
painted surface so that the dry color will fall upon the wet paint like a
shower of colored dust. This is to be done with the motion that painters
use in "stippling," and may very well be done with a stippling brush, if
you have one. Do not get on too much of the dry color, or the effect will
be spoiled. Your eye must teach you when to stop. In this process of
stippling dry color into wet paint, plaster Paris may very frequently be
used to good advantage to deaden gloss, and soften effects. In coloring the
hairless portions of the faces, hands, etc., of apes, baboons, and monkeys,
and on many other subjects, this process is of very great value.

BLENDING COLORS.--If two colors are laid down, one against the other, each
in a solid mass, up to the imaginary line that lies between them, the
effect is hard and unpleasing, because unnatural. Nature never joins two
contrasting-colors without a blending together and softening of the two
tones where they touch each other. If it be red and brown, the red merges a
little way into the brown, imperceptibly, perhaps, and the line of
demarcation between the two is thus softened, and naturalized, if you
please. Therefore, in your painting have no hard lines where your colors
meet, but always blend adjoining colors together by passing a small brush
over the line where they meet.

STRENGTH OF TONES.--The colors that Nature puts on an animal are not hard,
crude, and staring, like bright red in the mouth of a mounted quadruped,
but they are _always in harmony with the other parts of the object_. A bird
may have yellow legs, but if it does, you may be sure they will not be a
bright, glossy, chrome yellow, so gaudy as to instantly catch the eye. The
chances are, they will be Naples yellow, with only a tinge of chrome. Learn
to soften tints so they will not be staring, gaudy, and offensive to the
eye. Examine the tongue of a live tiger or lion, and you will notice its
color is a pale pink.

_In all painting, study the harmony of colors, the strength of tones, and
the blending of tints. Do not get your colors too gaudy, too sharply
contrasted, nor laid on roughly; but paint evenly, and keep all your colors
in perfect harmony._

PAINTING THE SKIN OF THINLY HAIRED MAMMALS.--It very often happens that the
skin of a thin-haired mammal has a decided color of its own, which must be
imparted to it by painting. This is particularly the case with our next of
kin--the apes and monkeys. The orang utan has a chocolate-colored skin,
except the old males, in which it is black; the mona monkey has a bluish
skin, and the faces of nearly all primates require painting. To paint a
skin through thin hair, use oil colors mixed with turpentine, and made so
thin that the mixture runs over the skin as soon as it touches it, like
water. By separating the hair, it is often possible to get the paint on the
skin without saturating the hair save at its roots; but if the turpentine
color does get on the hair it must be sponged off with benzine. Do not mix
your colors with oil, or you will get into serious trouble; but the oil in
which the tube color has been ground will be just sufficient to give a
natural tone to the skin. If the color when put on appears too strong and
conspicuous, stipple the surface with a little plaster Paris, to tone it

PAINTING LEGS AND BEAKS OF BIRDS.--Paint the legs and beaks of such birds
as require it, with a mixture of boiled linseed oil and turpentine, equal
parts of each, and have your paint thin enough on the legs that it will not
obscure the scales. On the beak, a thicker coat is necessary, and, in fact,
it is nearly always necessary to put on two coats. In coloring the beaks of
toucans and hornbills, blend adjoining colors very deeply but evenly, and
let there be no hard boundary lines anywhere. A little white wax softened
and cut with turpentine and mixed with the paint on a bird's beak gives the
color a depth and transparency quite similar to the appearance of the beak
of a living bird.

PAINTING MOUNTED FISHES.--A fish must be perfectly dry before it is touched
with a brush. Time spent in painting a half-dry specimen is so much thrown
away. The repairs with papier-maché must be complete and dry, and the
specimen perfectly clean. Nearly every fish possesses in its coloring
pigment a quality which imparts to it a silvery, metallic lustre;
therefore, to secure the finest result attainable in painting a fish,
either an actual specimen or a plaster cast, all those that are silvery
must first be coated over the entire scaly surface with nickel leaf, laid
on sizing, similar to the treatment of gold leaf in gilding.

With dark-colored fishes satisfactory work may be done without the use of
nickel leaf, except on the under parts, which are nearly always silvery
white. It is absolutely impossible to reproduce the brilliant lustre so
characteristic of white scales by the use of white paint alone, or even
silver bronze, or silver paint. Without the nickel underneath the paint
looks dead and artificial. If you are called upon to make a large
collection with as little outlay as possible, it will be sufficient to omit
the nickel leaf, for your paint will still faithfully record the colors.
But if you wish to have your fish look as brilliantly beautiful as when
taken struggling from the water, put on the leaf first, and paint on it,
_thinly_, so that the silver will show through your colors and impart to
them the desired lustre. If you paint too thickly, the leaf will be covered
up, and its lustre obscured.

Do not attempt to use silver bronze, silver paint, or even silver leaf, for
nickel leaf is the only substance which has sufficient lustre _and will not
oxidize_, and turn yellow.

If the whole body of a fish is dark, and without silvery tints, it is, of
course, unnecessary to use leaf, for the lustre can be obtained by
varnishing over the paint.

In many fishes, such as the scaled carp, for example, Marsching's gold
paint or Japanese gold can be used directly on the scales (_after_ the
entire fish has had a thin coat of Hendley's enamel varnish), and the
silver paint can be used to good effect in edging the scales. On the belly,
however, which is silvery white, nickel leaf must be used. The heads of
most fishes are so dark as to render the use of leaf unnecessary upon them,
and of course it need not be used on the fins.

taken from the mould, it will nearly always be found that its surface is
pitted here and there with little round holes caused by air-bubbles. The
process of wetting the inside of these holes, and carefully filling each
one with mixed plaster Paris is called "pointing up" a cast. After this has
been carefully done, and the form and surface of the white cast is perfect,
if the cast is thoroughly dry we are ready to begin to paint it, and
proceed as described in the preceding section.

In case you find it impossible to use nickel leaf on your fishes, you can
do very good work without it, except that the silvery parts will not be
really silvery, and the white paint put on will gradually turn yellow with
age. After you have given the specimen a good coat of colors (using zinc
white for the silvery parts, because it is more permanent than other
whites), varnish the specimen all over with a kind of heavy white varnish
called Siccatif de Harlem, or, lacking that, enamel varnish. This will dry
in about twenty minutes, after which paint the object over again, this time
with extreme care in the final touches. In painting fishes and reptiles,
there is a vast amount of detail to be wrought out, and constant blending
of colors. On many fishes each scale must be marked off and painted
separately. In blending the edges of two adjoining colors, it must be done
with a clean brush--a small one, of course--with either a quick, nervous
motion along the line of contact, or else a steady sweep, according to
circumstances. When the brush gets full of paint, wash it out in benzine
(_not_ turpentine), because it quickly becomes clean, and dries perfectly
in a moment.

The eyes of fishes and reptiles are so peculiar, and vary so exceedingly,
that it is a practical impossibility to provide glass eyes that will be
exactly right for each species. For fishes, as good a way as any is to let
the eye be cast _in situ_, and when you paint the fish, paint the eye also
as it should be, and when dry, varnish it over with a thick coat of soluble
glass or enamel varnish.




The processes employed in making plaster Paris moulds and casts are very
simple, and easily learned, even by one who has had no previous knowledge
of the subject. To be sure, a certain degree of intelligence and skill is
necessary in the operator; but we are not writing for the edification of
duffers who do not know how to use their hands, or follow plain directions.

The first thing to understand is the difference between a mould that will
"draw," and one that will not. A mould may be made on one side of a
base-ball, and it will draw off the object at once, because there is no
point on the ball behind which, or under which, the plaster can catch, and
hang fast until something breaks. A mould of one full side of an apple will
not draw, because the apple has a hollow at each end, and when these are
set full of plaster the mould and the apple are held firmly together.

A hollow or a protuberance on an object which would prevent a mould from
drawing away makes what is called an "undercut," and necessitates the
making of a separate piece in the mould. To cast several copies of a human
head and neck necessitates the making of a mould in several pieces, all
fitting very nicely together, with countersink joints, to accommodate the
undercuts behind the ears, under the chin, the hollows of the eyes, etc.

A mould made in more than two pieces is called a "piece mould." It may have
any number of pieces, of course, according to the nature of the object.
Perhaps the most remarkable piece mould in existence is that used by
Professor H.A. Ward in making casts of the tail of the great fossil
armadillo called the glyptodon. The tail is a mass of big conical
tubercles, and the mould contains, as nearly as I can remember, about one
hundred and twenty-five pieces, all fitting into a big "jacket" of plaster
which holds them all in place while a cast is being made. In the case of a
piece mould the cast is not taken out of the mould, but the latter is
dissected and taken off the cast, piece by piece.

The principles involved in making moulds and casts are best explained by
brief descriptions of the processes, and if they are learned by carefully
following the directions here given, the operator will be able to apply
them, indefinitely, to all classes of objects, large or small.

HOW TO MAKE A PIECE MOULD.--Let us take a good-sized apple as our subject,
and follow out the process, step by step.

1. In making a mould of any kind of fruit, first soak the fruit in water an
hour or two, to "plump it up," so that it will not swell in the mould and
cause trouble.

2. Wipe it dry, and with a small paint-brush give it a thin coat of lard
oil, so that the plaster will not stick to it. Some objects should be
coated with clay water, or very thin clay, instead of oil.

[Illustration: FIG. 59.--Beginning to Make a Piece Mould.]

3. Bed one end of the apple in damp sand, precisely as shown in the
illustration (Fig. 59). If you have no sand, use fine sawdust, or wet corn
meal. Some objects require clay. Do not have the sand wet and water soaked,
for it will not yield so readily to the palette knife.

4. Dot a line on the sand all round, to show how far out to run the
plaster, and avoid making the mould too thick.

5. Take two-thirds of a teacup of water, and put in plaster Paris until it
becomes about as thick as New Orleans molasses. Stir thoroughly with a
spoon, and let it stand two or three minutes.

6. Dip the plaster out with a teaspoon, and cover the exposed part of the
apple. It will run down all over the horizontal surface of the sand, but
never mind that. Make it cover the apple everywhere to a depth of a quarter
of an inch. In some places it will be thicker. After about three or four
minutes the plaster will be as stiff as modeling clay. While it is in this
state take your palette knife and neatly smooth and shape the outer
surface. Finish smoothing with the finger, and let the plaster harden. This
will take about seven minutes longer, or until the plaster has warmed and
cooled again. The time varies according to the humidity of the atmosphere.

7. Take the apple from the sand, with the half mould on it, wash off the
sand, and neatly trim the edge of the mould with a knife.

8. With a blunt-pointed knife make three countersunk holes in the edge of
the mould.

9. With a brush, anoint the edge of the mould with thin clay, clay-water,
or soft soap, or lard oil, or even lard.

[Illustration: FIG. 60.--Second Step in Making a Piece Mould.]

10. Turn the mould up on edge, and bed half of the exposed portion of the
apple in the sand, as seen in Fig. 60. Fill in this space with plaster,
precisely the same as when the first piece was made, which produces the
second piece of the mould.

11. Make the countersunk holes in the edge of the second piece as before;
fill in with plaster all the remaining space between pieces 1 and 2, and we
have the third piece, which completes the mould. As soon as this hardens,
tap the mould lightly all over with a small mallet, to loosen it from the
object, then take out piece No. 3, and the mould is easily separated and
the apple taken out. Take one part of gum sandarac (dissolved in
ninety-five per cent alcohol) and three parts of white shellac, also
dissolved, and mix them. They will form a solution a little thicker than
water. Have the mould perfectly dry, and apply this solution to the entire
inner surface of it with a small paint-brush. The solution will be
absorbed at first, and you must continue to apply it until the inner
surface has an egg-shell gloss, which is sufficient. Then oil the inside
with lard oil.

[Illustration: FIG. 61.--Last Step in Making a Piece Mould.]

[Illustration: FIG. 62.--The Finished Mould.]

12. Put together pieces 1 and 2 of the mould, cut a groove around them to
hold a stout string, and tie it tightly to hold them together. Then mix
some plaster, and fill each piece (1 and 2) about half full, walling it up
the sides with the finger, a quarter of an inch thick, or as the plaster
will make it. Then wipe off the exposed edges of the mould so they will fit
snugly together with No. 3. Now mix up a little more plaster, about
one-fourth the quantity first used, pour into the hollow, then put on the
third piece; tie all tightly together, and turn the mould round and round
slowly. This fills the third piece, and holds it in its place. Keep turning
the mould slowly, and tapping it with the left hand. Leave a little of the
plaster on the outside, on a piece of glass or paper, so that you can tell
when it gets hard and flinty in the mould. Do not take off the mould until
the cast is perfectly hard.

HOW TO MAKE A WASTE MOULD.--When a soft or fleshy object is to be cast, one
which will yield, and draw out of the mould regardless of undercuts, a very
quick and satisfactory process (provided a second copy of the cast will
never be wanted) is to make what is called a waste mould. This, with a
fleshy subject, is a short cut to a perfect cast, and often saves hours of
valuable time. In obtaining casts of mammal heads, legs, or other parts, or
casts of fishes and reptiles, it is the method _par excellence_. Let us
learn the principles of it by making a waste mould and cast of a human

1. Bed the hand in damp sand (_i.e._, one-half of it), as shown in the
accompanying figure, No. 63.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.--The Beginning of a Waste Mould.]

2. Give the exposed portion of the hand a good coat of lard oil.

3. Take two-thirds of a gill of water in a teacup, put into it half a
teaspoonful of dry Indian red (to be bought for five cents at any paint
store), and mix it up. This is to color some plaster with which to make a
thin, colored lining for our mould, the purpose of which will be
appreciated later on.

4. Mix with this red water one and one-half gills of plaster Paris, stir it
up thoroughly to get it well mixed and free from air-bubbles, then with a
teaspoon distribute it all over the hand until it is completely covered
with a coat of the pink plaster about one-eighth of an inch thick.

5. After this thin coat has hardened, anoint the surface of it with lard
oil or clay water, so that the plaster which is to be put upon it will not
stick to it, but separate readily when the outer case of the mould is
chiseled off.

6. Take one and one-half gills of water, and three-quarters of a pint of
plaster, mix for outer case of mould, and apply on top of the pink lining
to a thickness of about half an inch. Let this get perfectly hard. (Fig.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.--Second Step in Making a Waste Mould.]

7. Take the subject out of the sand. Turn it over, anoint the edge of the
mould with clay water or lard oil, and treat the other side in precisely
the same manner. This is the course when the whole object is to be cast. If
half the object is sufficient, as is the case in taking a record cast of
one side of an animal's head and body, then take the subject from the
mould, and

8. Wash the inside of the mould thoroughly to get out the clay and sand.

9. Anoint the inside of the mould with clay water, thin clay, or lard oil,
and lay it in position to receive the plaster.

10. Mix a proper quantity of plaster, pour it into the mould and let it

Lay the mould (with the cast inside) on a cushion, or on your lap; take a
half-inch chisel and a light mallet, and, beginning at the end nearest your
left hand, chisel away the case of the mould, bit by bit, until you come
down to the pink lining coat, which shows that you are close to the cast.
Great care is necessary to avoid breaking the cast, which of course is very
easily cut or broken. In cutting off the pink lining be exceedingly careful
not to go too deep (Fig. 65). The purpose of this lining is to show you
when you are close to the cast. If the case of the mould is quite thick,
hold the chisel on a slant of about fifty degrees from a perpendicular, and
pare off the upper surface gradually.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.--Chiseling off the Waste Mould.]

MAKING GELATINE MOULDS.--There are many objects which can not be copied in
plaster by either of the above methods without great difficulty. These are
hard substances, the surfaces of which are extremely irregular and full of
little hollows, such as meteorites, statuettes, sculptured rocks, or models
such as those of the Aztec calendar stone and sacrificial stone. When a
number of copies are required, the making of a waste mould for each copy is
out of the question, and the manufacture of a piece mould that will draw
off is also a long task, to say nothing of making the casts themselves and
cleaning them up. The solution of all such difficulties is the gelatine or
"glue" mould, which is elastic, pliant, and yet keeps its shape perfectly.
This is how to make it:

Let us suppose we are to make a gelatine mould of a flattened meteorite,
eight inches in diameter and about three inches thick. Take some potter's
clay, or modeling clay, which has been nicely worked up in a square lump,
and is not wet enough to be too sticky. With a small wire, cut it into
slabs about three-quarters of an inch thick, and with these cover the
entire object to the depth mentioned. Put the clay on everywhere the same
thickness, making it conform to the irregularities of the surface. This
clay will presently be exactly replaced with gelatine.

Having coated the object as described, make a plaster Paris mould of the
whole of it, in two parts, which separate horizontally around the outermost
edge. When you make a plaster mould of the upper half, erect a high cone of
clay over the centre of the meteorite as it lies flat upon the table, so
that it will make a funnel-shaped hole in the upper half of the mould,
through which you can pour in the gelatine. Of course the two pieces of
this plaster mould must fit nicely together, with countersunk holes. This
plaster mould of the clay-covered object is called the "jacket," and its
use will soon be apparent. Now for the gelatine.

_Recipe for Gelatine Moulds._--The gelatine compound is made by taking glue
and glycerine in the following proportions, varying the quantity to suit
the size of the object: Of best Irish glue, 3 pounds; glycerine, 1-1/4
pounds; and about 1-1/2 ounces of white-wax. Dip the glue in water, and
then roll it up overnight in several thicknesses of wet cloth, so as to
soften it without soaking it in water, which is an element to be kept out.
In the morning the glue will be soft. Procure a large-sized gluepot, or
improvise one by putting a small tin pail in a larger one, with water
between, and in this put the glue and glycerine and cook it up. Melt the
wax separately, and pour it in after the other is well mixed and hot. A
gelatine mould can be made of any degree of hardness by adding dry white
zinc which has been carefully ground in a mortar, but ordinarily none is

To make the gelatine mould the clay must all be taken off the object, and
the latter washed clean. Lay the lower half of the "jacket" upon the table,
inside uppermost, and drive four small wire nails into it at different
points, allowing each one to project just three-fourths of an inch, for the
meteorite to rest upon, and give space for the gelatine to flow underneath
and form that part of the mould. Now put the meteorite carefully in place,
resting on these nail-heads, and then put on the upper half of the
"jacket." Cord the jacket tightly together without disturbing the position
of the object inside. If there are any cracks at the edges, fill them up
with clay. Now pour in the hot gelatine at the funnel-shaped hole in the
upper half of the jacket, until the mould is quite full. Let the mould
stand two hours to cool and harden; then remove the upper half of the
"jacket." To get the object out, take a sharp knife and slit the coating of
gelatine fully half-way round, so that the two halves can be opened like an
oyster, and the object lifted out. The inside of the gelatine mould must
now have a coating to make it impervious to the water in the plaster Paris.

Mix up the following:

    1 teacupful of spirits of turpentine.
    About 4 level teaspoonfuls of white lead.
    About 1 teaspoonful of lightning dryer.

Mix this well, paint the inside of the mould with it, two coats, which
makes the gelatine waterproof.

To make a cast, oil the inside of the mould with lard oil, put the plaster
jacket around it, so that it fits perfectly, and tie the two pieces of the
jacket firmly together to prevent a disaster when the plaster begins to
heat in the mould.

Mix your plaster with ice-water for the same reason, and you will have no
trouble. For irregular objects, the working of a gelatine mould is
perfection itself. It yields gracefully in coming out of the undercuts and
around corners, takes every detail perfectly, and in the jacket its shape
is always the same. A careful operator can make from twenty to fifty copies
of a cast in a single mould before its loss of sharpness necessitates its



CASTING PARTS OF MAMMALS IN THE FLESH.--Although it is usually impossible
to carry more than ten or fifteen pounds of plaster into the field when you
go off on a collecting trip, a quantity sufficient for a special purpose is
often worth its weight in silver dollars. But many a fine subject comes
entire to the laboratory, where the taxidermist can work his will upon it.
If I have never done any other good thing in my life, I believe I have at
least taught some of our best American taxidermists the usefulness and
value of plaster casts taken from the flesh. It is only a few hours' work
to make a mould and cast of the entire side of an animal as large as a
large dog, or even a lion, and still less to take half the head, or the
nose, a fore leg, or hind leg. Once we had an opportunity to cast the
entire head of an immense bull moose, and right greedily did we seize it.
The resultant cast has been of priceless value to us as an exact record of
the form of a wonderful head. If you wish to do a fine piece of work, and
have the animal in the flesh, by all means make a cast of one whole side of
it. It will repay its cost ten times over. No record of form is equal to a
cast, even though it be a poor one. I once made a mould of one entire side
of the head of a large leopard in twenty minutes. It is about an hour's
work to make a good mould of the entire head of a monkey, or two legs of a

The principles of this work have already been stated, and there is little
more to be said. If the specimen is a large one, lay it upon the floor,
build up around it with sand, or even wet sawdust, and arrange to take one
side of the animal's head, or entire form, as the case may be. To take the
two legs it will be necessary to first fill plaster under each one to make
a separate piece. In order to keep the plaster from sticking to the hair,
fill the hair full of thick clay-water, or thin clay, and plaster it down
with the pasty mass so that the plaster Paris will not run into it. Coat
the whiskers and eyelids with warm wax, or fill them full of clay. Do this
thoroughly, to save the hair and save trouble. A little hair will stick in
the mould anyway, but when you take the mould off, work the animal slowly
and carefully from the mould, perhaps pouring in a little water to
facilitate matters.

Always make a waste mould in these cases, to save time. If your cast breaks
in two while you are chiseling the mould off, go ahead more carefully, and
when you are done, chip the broken edges at the back, wet them with water,
and stick them together with plaster. Small casts can be stuck together
with shellac. If your mould breaks in pieces while you are taking it off,
don't be discouraged, but simply put the pieces together, back them up with
more plaster, and come up smiling for the next round.

It is often necessary to cast skulls or teeth, to put in skins that are
being mounted, though it is better to carve a skull out of soft wood.

CASTING FISHES.--Fishes are easy and interesting subjects to cast.

Usually only one side is taken, and the cast is then mounted on a flat
slab, or perhaps on two brass standards. The full method of procedure is as

Wash off the mucus with alum-water. Put some dry alum on the side to be
cast, to harden the soft edges of the fins, and make every scale stand out
distinctly. Clean the fish carefully, close the mouth, adjust the eye and
the gills. Lay the fish on its side, with the side to be cast uppermost.
Take some modeling clay, beat it out, and roll it into a smooth, square
cake with parallel sides. With a small wire cut a section of this cake, and
place it under each fin, so that the fin will be held in position as in

To make a piece mould, make it in three pieces, thus: Put up a wall of clay
around the head from the base of the dorsal fin to the base of the anal
fin, keeping the clay wall a little distance away from the head and body.
With plaster Paris fill in the space thus left, up to the median line of
the fish, but no higher.

With a knife work the plaster under the edge of the fish, and let it
harden; then put two countersinks in each side. For the main piece, mix
some dry color in enough plaster to coat the fish one-eighth of an inch
thick, make it thin, and pour over with a spoon. When covered thinly, blow
hard upon it, all over, to make it take the scales sharply; then put on
enough more to make the colored coat an eighth of an inch thick. Let this
harden, then put on the thick coat of white plaster, which is to be
chiseled off, as this is supposed to be a waste mould. In making the cast,
if it be possible make it before the mould gets dry, so that the latter
will chisel off easily. Pour the mould nearly full of plaster, then set a
piece of wood in at the back to afford a means of screwing the cast to a
panel, or inserting standards. After the cast is made it must, of course,
be carefully painted, which is another matter, and is treated elsewhere.

CASTING REPTILES.--After all the detailed directions that have been already
given on this subject it is not necessary to speak further of methods. Mr.
Joseph Palmer, of the National Museum, has produced such pleasing and
artistic representations of reptiles of all sorts, especially serpents and
tortoises, it would seem that perfection in this line has been reached. His
serpents are all on imitation rocks, trees, or earth, and in about all the
attitudes they would assume in life. They are represented as crawling,
sleeping, fighting, striking, and threatening. By the introduction of wires
in the moulds while making the casts, they are made to act quite naturally.
Of course they have been carefully and artistically painted, and half the
credit for their beauty is therefore due to the colorist. Lizards of many
species, large and small, and also tortoises and turtles of every American
species, are thus represented with great success. This interesting
collection is well worthy of study; but to the taxidermist who is not also
a first-rate artist in oil colors, this method is beyond his powers.




It is really strange that so few American collectors are taught the
scientific value of skeletons, and the need to collect them, especially
when in the haunts of rare animals. While hundreds of collectors gather
bird skins by the cord, perhaps not one out of the whole lot saves a rough
skeleton. Any one who is wholly unaccustomed to the preparation of
skeletons is apt to stand appalled at the thought of preparing one from the
beginning; and, indeed, the _final_ work of cleaning and mounting is no
child's play. But let me assure you that, so far as the field work is
concerned, you can easily become a successful collector of skeletons of all
kinds, even though you may never learn to clean and mount one. All you have
to do in the field is to "rough out" skeletons from the flesh, and dry them
in compact bundles for shipment.

A ROUGH SKELETON of a mammal, bird, reptile, or fish, is simply the
complete bony framework of the body, from which the most of the flesh has
been cut away with a common knife, after which the skeleton and remaining
flesh has been dried preparatory to its being, at some indefinite time in
the future, taken in hand by a professional osteologist. The work of
preparation on such specimens is very simple, and when once learned is
easily performed.

SELECTION OF SPECIMENS.--When a choice is possible, select large and
perfect adult male specimens as subjects to be skeletonized. The skeletons
of young animals are always imperfect in development, do not properly
represent a species, and are seldom valuable except for comparison with
other specimens of the same species. Very often a fine adult specimen has
its skin so badly torn by shot or bullets, or the skin covering is in such
a bad state of shedding, moulting, and the like, that the skin is totally
unfit for preservation. In such a case the preservation of a fine perfect
skeleton becomes a clear gain of one specimen to the collector and to

A perfect skeleton is one in which not a bone is missing, and in which no
substitutions have been made. But it is by no means always possible to
secure a wild animal without breaking some portion of its osteological
anatomy. When a bone is broken, the best thing to do is to supply it with a
corresponding bone from an animal of similar size and age. Sometimes the
closet naturalist, who generally thinks that rare wild animals are gathered
like berries, will grumble because a broken bone has thus been replaced,
and find fault with the size of the substitute, but that need not trouble
the collector's conscience in the least. I once shot a fine prong-horn
antelope buck, skeletonized it carefully, cut up the skeleton, and carried
the whole of it for three days attached to my saddle, while I rode a very
restive and dangerous horse, and also carried two blankets and a Maynard
rifle. That skeleton, thus earned, had some broken bones supplied from
another specimen. It finally went to Europe, and fell into the hands of a
closet naturalist, who blithely found fault with the collector because of
the supplied bones. Again, when I once risked drowning in order to enter a
cave on a dangerous sea-coast to collect guacharo birds, and got a goodly
number, a German closet naturalist complained bitterly because a skin that
was sent to him had two missing tail-feathers supplied by two other
feathers that were a trifle smaller than the missing ones.

But I did once perform a feat in South America which filled the souls of my
friends at Ward's with wonder, and even admiration. In collecting about
half a dozen skeletons of capybara, each of which I took care should be
absolutely perfect, by some brilliant manoeuvre I contrived to send home
to the establishment one skeleton which was the happy possessor of two left
forelegs and two left hind legs, but never a right one; and in the language
of the Old Testament, "his bones are there to this day!"

SKELETONS OF MAMMALS: SMALL OBJECTS.--The smallest quadrupeds--such as
bats, small rodents, shrews, and the like--should be eviscerated, and
preserved in alcohol, without being skinned; but each specimen should be
fully labeled. As a general thing it is best, for various reasons, not to
dry such small carcasses.

For all mammals below the size of the Virginia deer, proceed as follows:

1. Remove the skin as expeditiously as possible, in order to have a fair
show at the skeleton.

2. If the skeleton is _smaller_ than a fox, leave the legs attached to the
body, for convenience, until you have cut the flesh away from them with
your scalpel or pocket-knife, without any disjointing. When all the legs
have been thus roughly denuded of flesh, cut them loose from the body and
lay aside for the moment.

3. If the specimen is larger than a fox, cut off the legs from the body,
lay each one flat upon the ground, inside uppermost, divide the flesh all
the way along it directly over the bones, and literally dissect the bones
out of the mass of flesh, instead of cutting the flesh away piece by piece.
This is the quickest and neatest way. The scapula must come off with the
fore leg, and be left attached to the humerus. Be sure you cut off all the
masses of flesh, _but don't cut off the knee-pan_, as you may easily do if
you are not watchful.

4. Now for the carcass. Hold it on its back, begin at the breastbone, flake
off the flesh from the sides of the body close down to the ribs, until the
backbone is reached. Cut off as much flesh as you can (hurriedly) from
along the backbone.

5. Next attack the abdomen. Beginning at the lower point of the breastbone,
detach the walls of the abdomen from the ends of the short ribs, down to
the lumbar vertebræ, and so on around the iliac margin of the pelvis. Cut
through the diaphragm close up to where it is attached to the ribs, and
remove at one effort the entrails and vital organs.

6. Cut away the flesh from the pelvis, both inside and out, and the flesh
of the tenderloin from underneath the lumbar vertebræ.

7. Cut the flesh from the thick portion of the tail.

8. Cut off the head at the first cervical vertebra, and clean the skull as
previously described elsewhere, but leave _the hyoid bone in its place_.

9. Cut the flesh away from the neck vertebræ as well as you can. Be careful
not to cut the sternum (or breastbone), which is soft cartilage, and easily
cut; nor the ends of any vertebral processes, nor any soft bones.

10. If the skeleton is a small one, it is apt to get quite bloody during
the operation. Wash it clean, and if necessary soak it in clear water for
an hour or two. It will come all the whiter for it in the end. Skeletons
of ruminant animals are generally clean enough without that.

11. Do not poison a rough skeleton with arsenical soap, nor put salt upon
it; so says Mr. Lucas, the osteologist of the National Museum. The former
has a tendency to prevent skeletons from properly macerating and coming
white. Sprinkle dry arsenic upon a skeleton, if anything is necessary to
protect it from _Dermestes_ and other insects. Never put alum on a

[Illustration: FIG. 66.--Rough Skeleton of a Small Animal. (After F.A.

12. The last thing is to make up the skeleton into a small, compact bundle,
that will pack nicely and economically when dry, and withstand some
pressure without breakage. Put the skull in the chest cavity. Fold up the
upper joints of the legs, put the foot of each in the pelvis, and the other
end in the cavity of the chest. Now tie all the legs tightly to the spinal
column. (See Fig. 66.) Bend the tail under the pelvis and tie it fast also.
Finally, hang the specimen up in the shade and wind, so that it will dry

It will be observed that the above process leaves the body of the skeleton
entire, and all the bones of each leg and foot united by their natural
ligaments. A skeleton prepared thus may ultimately be mounted as a
"ligamentary skeleton," or it may be disjointed throughout, macerated, and
mounted as a "disarticulate skeleton." Except for skeletons of bison, elk,
and other animals which are entirely too large to admit of transporting
their bodies whole, it is much the best to prepare all others in the field
as described above, and disarticulate some of them afterward; for this
reduces to a minimum the chance of losing some of the parts.

SKELETONS OF LARGE MAMMALS.--The process of roughing out the skeletons of
large mammals, no matter how large they may be, is precisely the same as
described above for small ones; but to make it possible to transport and
box them, they must be cut to pieces, or, I had better say, _disjointed_,
for fear some zealous partisan might interpret my words too literally, and
go at a valuable skeleton with an axe. And right here let me publish a law
which is as fixed and unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians,
and admits of no exception:

_In disarticulating a large skeleton, no matter how large, an axe or
hatchet must never be used for any purpose whatever._ Use nothing but the
knife, and in a few cases a small saw to separate the sternum from the ends
of the ribs.

To come down to the details of cutting up a large skeleton in, the field,
and making it up into a number of separate bundles, let us suppose that the
skeleton lies before us, completely roughed out, in accordance with
previous advice. The bones of each leg must be dislocated (at the "knees"
in ruminant animals) either once or twice, so that the parts can be easily
handled. In a full-grown elephant the leg bones are so large it is
necessary to cut the ligaments at each joint, so that the scapula, humerus,
radius and ulna, and foot may each be handled separately.

Of course, the head is to be cut off at the first cervical vertebra. Then,
by careful work, and much coaxing with the sharp point of the knife,
dislocate the spinal column just where the neck joins the body. At first
this will bother you, but have patience and you will soon learn how to do
it easily and quickly. In dislocating the spinal column, take hold of the
neck, move it backward and forward, and strain it a bit to see just where
the articulating surfaces of the vertebral process are, so that you can cut
them. When your intelligence has made some headway on the joint, then you
may put forth a little main strength and tear the vertebræ apart, but do
not attempt this too soon.

The next thing is to cut off the ribs, and the first step toward this is to
cut out the sternum, or breastbone. (See Plate XX.) This so-called bone is
really cartilage, soft enough in a fresh skeleton to cut on the outside,
and in thin places, like cheese rind. It must be cut out in one piece, the
same as may be seen in the figure of the mounted skeleton, and the dotted
line _A B_ shows where the cartilaginous ribs of the sternum join the bony
ribs that form the main arch of the thorax. At the points marked by the
dotted line, cut the two apart. I have never found it necessary to use a
saw for this work in a perfectly fresh skeleton, but in dry ones a saw is
necessary. When you come to the short, or "floating ribs," as they are
called, it will be found that their cartilages are only attached weakly to
the cartilages of the previous ribs, or else are altogether free. These
must be cut from the ribs and preserved with great care.

After the ribs have been cut free from the sternum, separate them from the
backbone, one by one, make them up into bundles, and tie them up. The
pelvis is to be separated from the spinal column at the last lumbar
vertebra; and if necessary the spinal column may be again dislocated about
the middle.

Formerly it was my practice to poison all rough skeletons with a thin wash
of arsenical soap, to make them dry without smelling badly, and to keep off
the myriads of insects that the shreds of flesh would naturally attract.
Now, however, in obedience to the mandates of Mr. Lucas, I have eschewed
the use of arsenical soap for this purpose, and recommend the use of dry
arsenic instead, which does not retard the cleaning of the bones.

ROUGH SKELETONS OF BIRDS.--As in the case of a small mammal, first remove
the skin from the body; but if the identity of the bird is in doubt, leave
the large tail feathers and the primaries in place, for future reference.
In fact, it is a good plan to always leave the primaries and spurious
quills on the wing, for then there will be no danger that some of the small
bones of the last joint will get lost or cut away by mistake. Moreover,
when you come to tie up the skeleton, the primaries will afford valuable
protection to the ribs.

[Illustration: FIG. 67.--Rough Skeleton of a Bird. (After F.A. Lucas.)]

With a bird, the entire skeleton should be roughed out before any
disjointing is done, and even then none is necessary, save to cut off the
legs of large birds, especially those with long legs. Study carefully the
accompanying figure of a bird skeleton (Fig. 67), and then it will be
hardly necessary to say more than to roughly, but carefully, cut off the
flesh with a cartilage knife or scalpel, and remove all the viscera. Look
out for those delicate little points on the neck vertebræ, and also be very
careful not to cut off those curious little appendages (called uncinate
processes) that project backward from the middle of each rib. Leave the
hyoid bone in its place, and also the bony ring surrounding the eyeball of
the great blue heron, the owl, and other birds of prey. If any portion of
the windpipe reveals any bony structure, the entire windpipe should be
saved. Whenever any tendons are found to be partly ossified, as they will
certainly prove to be in the "drumstick" of your Thanksgiving turkey, leave
them in place for the osteologist to do with as he pleases.

_When in doubt about any special part, give the osteologist the benefit of
the doubt by saving the special part for him._

If the bird is a large one, cut off the head, and after cleaning it pack it
away in the chest cavity. If the bird is small, you can leave it attached
to the neck, and remove the brain by bending the head down and cutting it
half off from above, thus exposing the occipital opening at the back of the
skull, through which the brain may be drawn out.

After the skeleton has been roughed out, it should always be cleaned by
washing it in a basin of water and brushing it meanwhile with a soft
tooth-brush. If blood is left on the skeleton, the bones will absorb it,
and become permanently discolored thereby. The cleansing done, make the
skeleton up into a compact bundle by folding the wings naturally against
the body, bending the neck down in some way so that it can be tied upon the
body, and either cutting off the legs and putting them into the thorax and
pelvis, or leaving them on and folding them up as compactly as possible.
Then tie the bundle up thoroughly by passing a light string many times
around it, so that it can never lose its compactness. Sprinkle it with dry
arsenic, or wash over with _thin_ arsenical soap, and hang it up in the
shade to dry.

SKELETONS OF REPTILES.--After all the foregoing directions, it surely is
unnecessary to describe, in detail, the skeletonizing of reptiles. The
principles are precisely the same as already set forth for birds and
mammals. Wherever special bones or cartilages are found, as in the
abdominal-cartilaginous ribs of crocodilians and certain lizards, they must
be carefully saved whole and _in situ_. With large skeletons, take whatever
means are necessary to get them, while fresh, into compact shape for drying
and packing. With large crocodiles and alligators, the neck, legs, head,
and tail all go nicely inside the body, as I have proved scores of times.
The skeleton of a large serpent is easily done up in a close coil, by which
it not only takes compact shape, but the ribs are well protected. With
serpents, do not attempt to cut the flesh from between the ribs, for it is
desirable that it should remain.

On each rib of a crocodilian there is a strange, flat piece of cartilage
attached to the posterior edge at the middle of the rib, and projecting
backward, quite overlapping the next rib, as sure as the world the
reptilian development of what in the full-fledged bird becomes a bony
uncinate process. You will soon discover this in skeletonizing your first
crocodilian, and be sure to respect its anatomy.

It surely is superfluous to say that every skeleton must be carefully and
fully labeled, and in a substantial way.

FISHES.--This subject has been treated in Chapter IX. (Collecting Fishes).

_Skeletonizing Cetaceans._--The rough skeleton of a cetacean--porpoise,
blackfish, whale, and the like--is the bloodiest, greasiest, nastiest
specimen the collector ever has to prepare. Nevertheless, they are
necessary evils, and fortunately their structure is so simple that their
roughing out is not a difficult matter. The vertebral column terminates in
a point, there being no bones in the flukes of the tail, or the dorsal fin.
The best way to operate is to split the body open along the middle of the
back all the way from head to tail, and carve the flesh away until you
reach the vertebral column, and after that the ribs.

The vertebral column must be cut in two in two or more places, according to
its size. Midway between the last pair of ribs and the tail, and underneath
the vertebral column, lie two very useless and absurd little ossifications
known as the pelvic bones. They are called pelvic bones because that
happens to be a handy name. They bear about as much resemblance to a
genuine pelvis as a cigarette does to a locomotive. They are so small that
it takes an expert with a search-warrant to find them, and, for my part, I
always consider their loss a real gain to the cause of science. Of course
the scapula and flipper, the ribs and the sternum, must each in turn be cut
away, cleaned as well as possible, and bundled up to go with the head and
the three sections of the vertebral column.

PACKING SKELETONS.--All rough skeletons, skulls, etc. (as well as all
skins) must be thoroughly dry when packed, or they will sweat, soften up,
smell offensively, and spoil any dry skins, or other perishable objects
that may be packed with them. Skeletons should always be packed in tight
boxes, so that rats and mice cannot get into them and gnaw the small bones.
Tie some soft material over the teeth of separate skulls to save them from
getting broken. Put the largest skeletons and skulls at the bottom, and use
hay, straw, or excelsior for filling. Of course the small and fragile
specimens will be put in the protected corners and crevices between the
larger objects, and, as before remarked, dry skeletons that have been made
up into compact bundles will stand a very considerable amount of pressure
without breaking.

COLLECTING FOSSIL SKELETONS.--The vertebrate zoologist glories in the
skeleton of almost any living species of vertebrate, but a fossil skeleton
he fairly worships. The more of previous theories it upsets, the dearer it
is. If it is a reptile with feathers on its tail, a bird with teeth, or a
scientific what-is-it, as was the gigantic megatherium, it is simply
canonized. Beware, then, red-handed hunter of living species, how you
recklessly pass by a bit of bone protruding from a "cut bank" beside some
stream, for you know not the day and the hour when you may touch elbows
with His Mysterious Highness, the Missing Link.

The tertiary deposits of the United States contain the fossil remains of
many magnificent vertebrates, impossible even to mention here. Very often
huge bones and tusks of the mastodon are unearthed in well or ditch
digging, and before they receive proper attention are exposed to the air
and allowed to crumble into dust in a few hours. If a fossil bone is very
soft when dug up, it will crumble in a short time unless properly cared
for. If this is likely to be its fate, cover it up again without delay, to
keep the air from it until you are ready to preserve it. To accomplish
this, prepare a kettle of glue water (simply hot water with a little glue
dissolved in it) and wrap the bone tightly from end to end with an
abundance of twine. Then with a ladle or large spoon pour the glue water
over the bone or tusk, gradually, but continuously, so that it will soak
in, and when dry, it will bind together the weak material and form a hard
shell of some thickness and protect the form of the bone intact. This will
often save a fossil which would otherwise fall into countless tiny
fragments in a few hours.

If a skeleton or portion thereof is embedded in a matrix of hard rock, do
not attempt to work it out fully in the field. That is work for the
laboratory--and a very good one at that, sometimes requiring costly tools,
much skill, and plenty of time to chip away the surrounding rock.

Oftentimes the fossil remains of a fish, small reptile, or mammal are
uncovered bodily by the removal of the slab of rock which has covered it
for ages, like a blanket. In such cases do not attempt to pick the bones,
one by one, out of their resting-place, but procure the necessary tools,
cut out the entire slab of rock which contains the skeleton, and keep it in
one piece forever. Such specimens have a good market value in cash, which
will well repay the care and labor bestowed upon them; but at the same time
a novice should not make the very common mistake of supposing that a fossil
which is new _to him_ must necessarily be worth its weight in gold. If you
wish to sell any good fossils, you will get a fair valuation by offering
them to Professor Henry A. Ward, Rochester, N.Y.



There are two ways to clean the skeletons of large mammals: (1) by boiling
the bones, and (2) by maceration. The first is short, cleanly, and
agreeable; but the skeleton produced by it is sure to be full of grease,
and is anything but white and pleasing to look upon when mounted. The
boiling process is also detrimental to the texture of the bone. The
professional osteologist, to whom a greasy bone in a mounted skeleton is an
unpardonable offence, never thinks of boiling a skeleton to get the flesh
off, for the reason that the grease is boiled _into_ the bone instead of
out of it. Cleaning by boiling is permissible only under exceptional
circumstances. If you wish a particular skeleton for a special purpose
within a very short time, or if you are so situated that macerating a
skeleton is impossible then boiling is excusable, but _steaming_ is far

PREPARING A SKELETON FOR MACERATION.--It is, of course, to be understood
that it is only the skeletons that are too large to be scraped and mounted
as "ligamentous skeletons" that are to be macerated, bleached, and
afterward articulated with wire. The first thing to do is to cut out the
sternum in one piece, as already shown in Plate XXI., poison it in arsenic
water, and hang it away to dry and be scraped afterward. A sternum must
never be macerated, for it is so soft the cartilaginous framework would be
entirely destroyed. The skeleton must now be cut completely to pieces,
excepting that it is not necessary to separate all the vertebræ of the
spinal column. The ribs must be cut off, and the joints of the legs cut
asunder. The large bones of the legs contain marrow, and of these bones
each one must have a large hole drilled in each end on the face of the
articulating surface, so that when mounted the holes will not show. These
holes are to afford the water access to the interior of the bone.

MACERATING AND CLEANING.--The maceration of a skeleton is a question of
time as compared with eternity. Procure a wooden barrel or keg large enough
to contain the entire skeleton, knock the head out and see that there are
no nails, nor any other metal anywhere on the inside to stain and discolor
the bones. Pack the skeleton closely in the empty barrel, fill it up with
water and let it stand. In a few days its offence, like Othello's, "is
rank, and smells to heaven." But that is no matter, provided your barrel
has no neighbors. Let it stand for four months, six months, a year, or two
years if need be, until every particle of fleshy matter on the bones has
disintegrated and become a pulp. Keep the barrel covered, and when the
water evaporates and the bones on top are about to be exposed, fill up with
water and keep the bones always covered. If a skeleton is very bloody, it
is well to soak it for a week in salt water to dissolve the
blood-corpuscles. Then it may be macerated as directed above. The odor will
be horrible, but if you are going to study bones you must not mind that.

When you find upon examining the bones that the flesh has totally
disappeared from them, leaving them dark-colored or even black, but without
any fleshy matter upon them, they are then to be taken out. Pour off the
water, place the entire contents of the barrel in a large sieve-bottomed
tray, and wash the bones thoroughly. When that has been done, put them in a
large tub of boiling water, and keep them in warm water while you scrape
all the bones, one by one, with your bone-scraper, and scrub them with a
stiff brush, going over the entire surface, and washing them meanwhile in
the warm water. The interior of each of the large leg bones must be washed
out with a strong syringe, and every cavity in the vertebræ must be
carefully scraped out.

BLEACHING.--Having carefully scraped and washed the bones, the entire
skeleton is now to be soaked for a short time, the length of time varying
according to the size and age of the skeleton, in a solution of chloride of
lime and water. To make this of the proper strength, dissolve about two or
three ounces of chloride of lime in a barrel of water. Bones of young or
immature animals must not be left in this solution as long as those of old
specimens. Young bones are soft and porous, and the chloride of lime will
soon destroy them if they remain in it too long.

The following skeletons, adult in every case, require to be left in this
solution a length of time as stated herewith: Dog, 6 hours; sheep, 6 hours;
deer, 8; buffalo, 12; elephant, 12.

After removing the bones from this bath, wash them with clear water, lay
them in slat-bottomed trays, with cheese-cloth above the slats, without
piling one bone upon another, and expose them a number of days in the hot
sun. After they have bleached on the upper side, turn them over. If it does
not rain upon them occasionally, they should be sprinkled with water, late
in the evening or early in the morning, to hasten the process.

Great care is necessary to keep the tiny carpal, tarsal, and phalangeal
bones from getting lost. When the bones are white as chalk, or nearly so,
tie the parts of each skeleton in a stout paper bag by itself, label it,
and put it away until you are ready to mount it.

The sternum is to be soaked in clear water, with a little washing soda to
cut the grease, until it is soft, and then scraped the same as the bones of
a ligamentary skeleton, which process will be described in the next



The skeletons of small vertebrates should never be macerated previous to
mounting, for the reason that their complete rearticulation would be a
practical impossibility. The bones must be left united at the joints by
their natural ligaments, which when dry become quite hard, and with the aid
of either one or two small brass standards will hold the entire skeleton
erect and in proper shape. Skeletons mounted thus, with the parts attached
to each other by their own dried ligaments instead of wires, are called
ligamentous, or ligamentary, skeletons. All mammals smaller than a large
fox, all birds smaller than a small ostrich, all turtles, lizards, iguanas,
serpents, crocodilians, and all fishes are mounted in this way. Fortunately
it is possible to clean to perfect whiteness the skeletons of almost all
these subjects without putting them through the maceration process, which
resolves everything into its component parts.

DRYING BEFORE MOUNTING.--In order to have a skeleton so that it will scrape
to the best advantage and become as white as possible, every ligamentary
skeleton must be dried before it is finally cleaned and mounted. In a
perfectly fresh skeleton the epiphyses and ligaments are so soft the
operator would find it hard to keep from destroying them with his
keen-edged steel scrapers, and the smaller bones and cartilaginous members
would also be in great danger of mutilation in the same way. When a
skeleton dries, all these soft portions harden, and when afterward the
skeleton is soaked in clear water for two or three days, or longer as may
be necessary, the flesh quickly softens so that you can scrape it all away
without encroaching on the framework, and the ligaments at the joints are
just soft enough that a portion of it may be scraped or trimmed away, and
yet leave sufficient to hold each joint together.

RELAXING A DRY SKELETON.--As intimated above, this is accomplished simply
by soaking the specimen in clear water until its joints are pliable, and
the flesh upon the bones is soft enough to scrape off. In order that the
specimen should not become offensive and disagreeable to work upon, it must
not soak long enough for decomposition to set in, for that is the first
stage of maceration. Therefore, scraping should begin just as soon as the
flesh is soft enough to be readily removed.

[Illustration: FIG. 68.--Steel Bone-scrapers.]

SCRAPING A LIGAMENTARY SKELETON.--The removal of the flesh and other animal
matter from a small skeleton is accomplished by scraping the bones with
various chisel-edged scrapers specially designed for this work, and by
clipping and trimming on the joints with either curve-pointed or straight
scissors. The principles to be learned in skeleton-scraping are
comparatively few and simple. In the first place, a sufficient quantity of
the connecting ligament at each joint must be left to hold the two bones
together in proper shape when the specimen dries. This must not be left in
a thick, unsightly mass, but requires to be scraped and trimmed down so
that it is reduced to as small a quantity as will serve the purpose. In
scraping the flesh off the main stem of a bone, such as the humerus, for
example, always begin at the end and scrape toward the middle. The
skeletons of turtles, lizards, and the like are an exception to this rule
by reason of their structure, and should be scraped from the middle toward
each end. If you scrape from the middle of a mammalian or avian bone toward
either end, before you are aware of it, you have loosened the attachment of
the ligament, and have nothing left to hold the joint together. By
beginning on the ligament itself, and working away from it, you can scrape
it down so thin at the point of attachment that its identity is quite lost,
and the point where it ends is hardly visible. This principle applies to
the scraping of all ligamentary skeletons, except a few reptiles.

In cleaning bird skeletons beware of injuring the little tack like points
which project downward from each of the cervical vertebræ. Have a care also
for the soft bones of the coccyx, and the uncinate process which projects
backward from the posterior edge of each rib. In fishes the greatest
difficulty lies in leaving the ribs attached to the remainder of the
skeleton, for if the operator is at all as the writer used to be in the
days of his youth, he will be prone to scrape some of the ribs loose, and
be obliged to glue them in place in the dry skeleton, with glue and cotton
batting that has been clipped up finely with a sharp pair of scissors.

While a small skeleton is undergoing the scraping process it must not be
allowed to get dry until it is finally set up in position. When the
skeleton is not being worked upon, it must be kept soaking in clean water;
but remember that this cannot go on very long, or maceration will set in,
the ligaments will give way, and the bones will all come apart. A little
borax in the water serves to arrest decomposition, and will allow a
skeleton to remain soaking for several days longer than could otherwise be
allowed. After a skeleton has been well scraped, in order to get it as
white as possible and free from grease, it must be treated with


    1/2 pound chloride of lime.
    1 pound common washing soda.
    1 gallon of boiling water.

Keep this on hand in a glass-stoppered jar, in the dark. In using it, draw
off a small quantity in a broad, shallow, earthen dish. Lay every small
skeleton in it, and with a soft tooth-brush of the right size, brush all
the bones thoroughly for about five minutes. At the end of that process
wash the skeleton thoroughly with clear water, and perhaps it is then ready
to mount.

Often the bones of a small skeleton contain an inordinate amount of grease.
The easiest and simplest way to remove it is to soak the greasy bones for
several days or weeks, as may be necessary, in a jar of pure naphtha.

MOUNTING A SMALL SKELETON.--The skeleton of every bird, mammal, and reptile
requires to have the spinal cord replaced by a stout zinc wire, to give
both strength and rigidity to the structure. Zinc wire is necessary because
iron wire will rust, and brass wire is too expensive to use when something
cheaper and better is obtainable. If you cannot procure zinc wire, use good
galvanized iron wire. For very large specimens you may use iron wire, but
it must be covered with two coats of asphaltum, applied with a brush, like
black paint. After inserting the wire the full length of the cavity of the
spinal cord, leave enough of the end protruding beyond the first vertebra
of the neck to afford a means for the attachment of the skull. The extra
length to be allowed should always be nearly equal to the lateral depth of
the brain cavity.

ATTITUDE.--It is often somewhat difficult to decide upon the attitude the
skeleton is to have when finished. The possibilities in this line are
extensive, and the result depends entirely upon the character of the
subject, and the knowledge and good taste of the operator. In the first
place, the position of the skeleton must be a correct representation of
some characteristic attitude of the species. For example, a sloth skeleton
should hang underneath a branch; a monkey should be climbing, or walking on
a stout bough; a hyena should sneak and crouch; a passerine bird should
always perch, while the penguins and the auks must stand erect on flat
pedestals. If the young osteologist can do so, it will pay him well to
travel several hundred miles, if need be, to see the beautiful, and even
elegant, collection of skeletons and other preparations in Mr. F.A. Lucas's
Department of Comparative Anatomy in the National Museum, all of the
specimens in which have been prepared, mounted and displayed by Mr. Lucas
and his assistant, Mr. Joseph W. Schollick. I know of no other osteological
collection which in the beauty and scientific accuracy of mounting, and
exhibition arrangement of its specimens, can be considered equal to this.
The museum-builder may well consider it a model of its kind. Every
skeleton, from that of a tiny humming-bird to a whale forty-eight feet
long, is as nearly perfect as human skill can make it, and the variety of
the characteristic attitudes represented in the smaller species makes this
collection a particularly attractive one.


PROCESS WITH MAMMALS.--We will assume that the skeleton has been carefully
scraped, and is now ready for mounting. The successive steps in this work
from start to finish are about as follows:

1. In case the skeleton has been dried after scraping, as is often done, it
must be soaked in clear water until the ligaments are relaxed.

2. Cut a zinc or galvanized iron wire of the right length and size to
replace the spinal marrow, and long enough that the upper end of it will
project beyond the axis into the brain cavity of the skull. Sharpen one end
of this wire so that you can force it well down into the sacrum, and insert
it in its place in the spinal column.

3. Bend the vertebral column to its permanent shape. In doing this, draw
the sternum well forward so that the ribs will spread out, and show a chest
cavity of the right size for inflated lungs. If you are not careful in this
regard, the chest cavity will be too narrow.

4. Hang the body in a frame made of light strips of wood, as shown in the
accompanying plate. Let the body hang at just the right height from the
pedestal to receive the legs (Plate XX.).

5. Space the ribs carefully by starting a thread from the neck, and taking
a turn around each rib from the first to the last, finally making fast the
remaining end of the thread to one of the lumbar vertebræ.

6. Put on each hind leg by drilling a small hole straight through the head
of the femur and the socket of the pelvis (innominate bone), through which
a small brass wire is to be passed and clinched down closely at each end,
to hold the head of the femur firmly in place.

7. Place each leg in the attitude chosen for it, plant the foot according
to its osteological character, and pin each toe in its proper place, as
shown in the accompanying plate. The leg must be held in place by attaching
threads to it, and making them fast to the various parts of the gallows.

8. In putting on the foreleg, the position of the scapula must be defined
with accuracy, in order to avoid placing it too low or too high, and thus
making an incorrect representation of the height of the animal. Bear in
mind that the scapula never lies prone upon the ribs, but is separated from
them by a cushion of muscle. It is therefore necessary to leave a certain
space between ribs and scapula.

9. Next cut two stiff brass wires of the proper length for the two
standards that must support the skeleton (see _A A_ and _B B_ in Plate
XX.). To make the U-shaped fork at the upper end of each standard, to clasp
the vertebral column, heat one end of the rod red-hot, and plunge it into
cold water, which softens the metal. Now put it in a vise, and with a
hack-saw split the rod down the middle as far from the end as necessary.
Finish neatly by rounding off the ends with a fine file, and bending them
in shape with the pliers. The lower end must have a thread cut on it an
inch or so in length, a neat brass "rosette" screwed upon it (_R_) to do
duty on the top of the pedestal, and a small brass nut made to screw on
underneath the pedestal, to hold the standard firmly upright. These
standards need not be put in place under the skeleton until it is mounted
finally on its handsomely polished, permanent exhibition pedestal.

10. Mr. Lucas has two methods for attaching a small skull to the skeleton.
One is to cut a piece of cork to fit snugly in the occipital hole of the
skull (foramen magnum), then pierce a hole through its centre, and fit it
tightly on the projecting end of the vertebral wire, close up to the first
cervical vertebra (the axis). The cork thus becomes stationary, and the
skull may be put in place and removed at will.

The other method is to place the skull exactly in position on the skeleton,
fitting it closely to the axis. Then drill a small hole through each side
of the axis in such a manner that in its passage from top to bottom the
drill will also pass through the occipital condyle of the skull. By
fitting a wire through each of these holes the skull will be held fast in
position _so long as the skeleton remains in its place_, right side up.
If the skeleton is to be packed for shipment, the skull (unless it be very
small and light) must be taken off, wrapped, and packed separately for
safety in transit.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.--Skeleton of a Bat, as exhibited by Mr. Lucas].

11. If any bones have been broken, they must now be repaired, either by
gluing them together, or by joining with a short wire fitted into the axis
of each piece, and the missing particles of bone may be restored by a
filling of best sinew glue mixed with plaster Paris into a paste, and
applied hot, so that it will adhere. As it cools it can be shaped properly,
and when thoroughly dry and hard, its surface must be dressed down with a
fine file and sand-paper until the form of the bone is once more perfect.
This is work which very often calls for considerable skill in the operator,
but the process itself is a very simple one.

If ligaments are missing and a small bone is completely detached, it should
be put on as follows: Procure some fine cotton batting, cut it up very
finely with the scissors, then apply some hot glue to the joint, lay a bit
of clipped cotton upon it, and work it into the glue so that when dry it
will form a false ligament and hold the bone firmly in its place without
attracting any attention to the fact that the ligament has been made for
the occasion.

12. Finally, transfer each skeleton to its permanent pedestal, which we
will assume has been prepared while the specimen has been drying. Mr. Lucas
puts all his small skeletons on handsome ebonized pedestals, which are the
thing _par excellence_. The limbs for his climbing animals, and the thin,
black boards for his bat skeletons are also ebonized. The illustration on
page 291 (Fig. 69) shows one of his bat skeletons complete, as it stands in
its case, bearing a label of black letters on an olive-gray card, with no
ornamentation. In the final mounting the standards are put in place, and
the upper end of each fitted fast to the backbone. Each toe is fixed firmly
in its place, and held down by the bent-over end of a headless pin, or by
having a pin put through it, and cut off close down to the bone.

[Illustration: FIG. 70.--Skeleton of a Bird Mounted and Drying.]

CAUTIONS AND EXCEPTIONS.--It is only the tiny skeletons, such as mice,
shrews, small squirrels, and the like, that can safely be mounted without
standards. To be sure, a large cat skeleton _can_ be mounted on its own
legs, without any standards, and so can a man drink a pint of bad whiskey;
but in each case the falling from grace will be in about the same degree,
if not the same in kind also. In long-continued moist weather, ligaments
are apt to soften and let large unsupported skeletons come down, without
neatness, but plenty of despatch.

BIRDS.--The foregoing principles, which have been described in detail for
small mammals, apply so fully and with such complete general similarity to
birds, that it is only necessary to add the two accompanying illustrations.

[Illustration: FIG. 71.--Wiring a Skeleton Wing.]

REPTILES.--_Serpents._--The skeletons of serpents should always be scraped
and mounted as ligamentary specimens, and _not macerated_. The skeleton
should be supported on from three to five low brass standards clasping the
vertebral column at proper intervals, the body curved naturally, and the
ribs spread out and spaced evenly as in life, according to the curves of
the body. The skeleton looks best when placed low down on the pedestal. The
ribs must be spaced with threads where the ligaments are soft, but when dry
require no wires. The skeleton may be mounted in any life-like attitude,
either coiled or in motion.

_Lizards._--Small species are to be treated the same as small mammals.

_Crocodiles and Alligators._--It is best that all saurian skeletons, even
the largest, should be scraped and mounted without maceration, on account
of the elaborate cartilaginous sternum and false ribs. The head requires a
special standard, and the tail requires a pair, while the tip of the latter
is to be pinned down with a wire. Of course the feet must rest down on the
pedestal as in life. One thing which would greatly enhance the scientific
value of every crocodile and alligator skeleton would be the preparation
and display, in its proper place, of one side of the skin of the back with
its wonderful shield of bony plates nicely articulated together. This
remarkable covering of the vital organs seems to have been specially
designed to ward off glancing bullets, and it has saved the lives of
thousands of crocodilians. (Of course this shield is not proof against a
bullet fired squarely against it.) So far, all collectors and osteologists
have ignored this remarkable feature of the saurians, but it should have
the attention it deserves.

[Illustration: FIG. 72.--Skeleton of Turtle, as Exhibited.]

_Turtles and Tortoises._--The skeleton of a tortoise, if mounted on its
feet in a life-like attitude, has the best part of its anatomy concealed by
its shell. This difficulty Mr. Lucas meets occasionally by sawing out and
laying back one-half the carapace, to expose the interior. The commonest
method, however, is that shown in the accompanying illustration (Fig. 72),
which is self-explanatory. The plastron is hinged at one side, furnished
with a latch, and opens like a door. The skeleton is mounted on a single
standard, which is split at the upper end like a Y, the arms bent to fit
the curvature of the shell, and riveted to the carapace. Each leg is held
in place by a small wire attached to the shell at its edge.

FISHES.--There is nothing in the mounting of fish skeletons that has not
been fully described in the foregoing pages. Of course fish skeletons are
never macerated, but must be scraped and mounted with their natural
ligaments in place. Each skeleton requires two brass standards, one
clasping the vertebral column close to the tail, the other near the head. A
very long fish, or one with a large skull, requires three standards, one
for the skull and one for the middle of the body. Where only two are used
for a large fish, the head requires to be supported by a wire running from
the centre of the backbone.



It will be well for anyone who intends to mount a large skeleton, if he has
not already a fair knowledge of osteology, to take some book which contains
a description of the skeleton, for example, of the domestic cow, and
familiarize himself with the names of the various bones and the different
anatomical terms used in describing them. In fact it is next to impossible
to describe the process of mounting a skeleton without making use of quite
an array of technical terms.

In order to make our description of this intricate process as clear as
possible, we will choose as our typical subject the skeleton of an American
bison, and go through with it in detail, aided by an abundant supply of
illustrations. We of course assume that the macerating, cleaning, and
bleaching has been done.

In mounting a disarticulated skeleton, begin with the vertebral column as
the key to the situation. It is, in point of fact, the keel upon which the
whole structure is to be built. The vertebræ should be arranged, each in
its place, and, then they should be numbered with pen and ink on the
anterior articulating surface of the body of each one, beginning with the
first vertebra in front of the sacrum. This vertebra (the last lumbar)
should be marked No. 1, the next in front No. 2, and so on to the axis.

The next step consists in boring two holes through the sacrum from its
under surface (Fig. 73, _a, a_) to its anterior articulating surface (_b,
b_), and these holes should be continued on through the body of each of the
succeeding vertebrae to the axis. They should come out underneath that
vertebra (the axis), where the wires which pass through all these holes are
afterward to be twisted together. The holes should be somewhat larger than
the brass wires which are to pass through them.

It is necessary to mark the place for starting the drill into the posterior
surface of each vertebra by fitting two articulating surfaces together, and
passing the drill through the holes already made. The points at which the
drill should come out on the anterior surface of a vertebra should be
marked with a lead pencil. The beginner will find some difficulty in making
the drill come through at precisely the right spot. The greatest difficulty
will be experienced in getting these holes through the cervical vertebrae.

When the axis is reached, bore the holes so that they will come out
underneath, about half way between each extremity of the vertebra, and
about three-fourths of an inch apart.

It is just as well to now bore the holes through which the wires which
fasten the axis and atlas together are to pass, though these need not be
actually united until the remainder of the spinal column has been,
articulated. The wires uniting the atlas and axis are smaller than those
passing through the spinal column. The holes for these wires are made by
boring two of them through each of the two surfaces by which the axis
articulates with the atlas. These holes should come out underneath the
axis. Then, placing the axis and atlas together, mark on the atlas the
places through which the holes are to pass by running the drill through
each of the holes already made.

The next thing to be done is to cut pieces of artificial cartilage, called
"buffle," to fit the posterior articulating surface of the body of each
vertebra, and each piece should be fastened to the vertebra to which it
belongs by a small wire nail through its centre. The holes in each vertebra
should be continued straight on through the false cartilage. Now cut a
brass wire three times the length of the spinal column, double it, pull it
straight, pass the two ends through the sacrum, and so on forward through
all the vertebræ.

When the vertebræ have all been strung on the two wires and tightened up,
it will be seen that the spinal column assumes a curve approximating very
nearly to the natural one. Mark this curve with chalk on a table or a

Unstring the vertebræ from the wire. Then take a square rod of iron, a foot
or so longer than the spinal column, and over which each of the vertebra
will fit easily. Have the blacksmith flatten out one end into a sort of
spear, so that it will fit snugly in the spinal canal of the sacrum (Fig.
73, _c_).

[Illustration: FIG. 73.--The Sacrum and Spinal Rod.]

Drill a hole through the under surface of the sacrum, and on through the
iron rod: Into this a brass pin is to be fitted at _d_. Bend the iron rod
to correspond exactly with the curve previously marked with chalk on the
board. Paint the rod black, and when it has dried place it again in the
sacrum, drive in the brass pin, leaving enough of the end exposed to be
seized with a pair of pliers and pulled out if desired. Now string the
vertebræ over the rod and wires. If all fit properly they can then be
unstrung preparatory to attaching the ribs to them.

[Illustration: FIG. 74.--The Attachment of the Ribs to a Vertebra.]

Each rib should have a hole bored through its lower end at the middle, to
come out on the inner surface (Fig. 74, _b, b_). Through these holes wires
are to pass, as seen in the accompanying figure, and to these wires the
sternum is presently to be attached.

Having arranged the ribs so that you know the place of each, take the first
pair, and the first dorsal vertebra to which this pair attaches. Bore a
hole with the drilling machine through the rib, beginning at the centre of
the articular surface of the tubercle of the rib, directing the drill so
that it will come out on the under side (Fig. 74, _c, c_); then drill a
hole through the head of the rib (_d, d_). Now fit the rib to the vertebra,
and with a small awl, a sharp-pointed wire, or drill, mark, through the
holes already made, the points on the articular surface of the vertebra
through which the holes should be drilled (_a, a_). Bore similar holes
through the rib of the opposite side, then through the vertebra at the
points marked, and the wire will pass through as in the figure.


Continue this same process for the remaining ribs. It will be found,
however, that the process of carrying a single wire through the heads of
both ribs and the anterior portion of the body of the vertebra cannot be
continued with all. In the last of the dorsal vertebrae the wires will have
to be put through the head of the rib and the pedicles of the vertebrae
into the neural canal.

Make a loop on the end of each wire, as at _a, a_, Fig. 74, and put the
ribs on each vertebra as they belong, having only one end of the wire--the
one on which is made a double loop--pulled up snugly. The other end of the
wire should be left a few inches in length, but bent slightly close to the
rib, to hold the latter in place.

The innominate bones should be attached to the sacrum either by two brass
bolts, one passing through each side at about the middle of the articular
surfaces between the sacrum and each ilium, or by passing a heavy double
wire through each of these places. Before tightening permanently, apply
"plaster-glue" (the mixture of glue and plaster Paris already described) to
the articular surfaces between the sacrum and ilia, thus when dry making
the pelvis firm.

Now that the ribs are attached to the vertebræ, and the innominate bones to
the sacrum, proceed to string the vertebræ again on the wires and rod. The
atlas can now be attached to the axis by passing wires through the holes
previously made, after which the wires are to be twisted firmly together.

When all the vertebræ with their ribs attached have been put in place, hang
the backbone to a framework similar to that used for suspending the
alligator (Plate XIV.), or, what is much better, to the ceiling, by two
small ropes attached at the neck and pelvis.

With the pliers now twist tightly together the wires under the axis, then
take a screw-driver and work between each pair of vertebrae from
underneath, beginning with the last lumbar, and prying back toward the
sacrum. By the time you have reached the axis a considerable space will
have been gained. Shorten the wires by twisting them, and continue this
process until the vertebrae all fit snugly together, and are tight one
against the other.

[Illustration: FIG. 76.--Middle Joint of the Hind Leg.]

The next step is to put on the sternum, which has been soaked in water
containing a little washing soda, and thus made flexible. Of course it has
been previously cleaned by the scraping process. A hole should be bored
through the end of each sternal rib, coming out on the inner surface. The
sternum is suspended temporarily by strings attached to the vertebral
column, and the single wires that have previously been placed through the
end of each rib are now run, one by one, through the end of the sternal rib
it is to support.

Now space the ribs temporarily with a string that will hold each one of
them exactly in its place. Having done this, two brass wires can now be
used to hold the ribs permanently in place, running them on each side from
the inferior process of the last cervical vertebræ to the transverse
process of some one of the lumbar vertebra, or to the pelvis. What is much
better for a large skeleton, because it is both firmer and more elegant, is
a long, narrow strip of polished brass on the inside, bent carefully to fit
the curve of the ribs, and fastened by a brass pin through each rib, the
posterior end of the brass strip being attached to a transverse process of
one of the lumbar vertebræ (see Plate XXI.). After this has been done, each
rib can then be permanently fastened at top and bottom by making the loop
and cutting off the long end of each wire.

The next step is to put on the tail. A hole should have been bored into the
middle of the articular surface of the posterior end of the sacrum, and on
each side a little hole coming out below (see Fig. 73). The large middle
wire (_e, e_) should be of stiff brass, and extend through the entire
length of the tail, the tapering end being filed small so that the small
vertebræ can fit over it. The small side wires of soft brass (_f, f_)
should only extend through a few of the larger tail vertebræ, and are for
making things firm.

[Illustration: FIG. 76.--Middle Joint of Hind Leg: Rear View.]

[Illustration: FIG. 77.--Bones of the Foot: Side View.]

To articulate the bones of the hind leg, first arrange them so as to know
the precise place of each. Take first the tarsal and metatarsal bones. In
articulating these it is necessary for one to use his judgment largely, and
put wires through so as to make the joint firm. Bore holes through the
astragalus and os calcis (Fig. 75, _a, a_) so as to put a double wire
through these and hold them together firmly. Next send two strong double
wires through these and through the other tarsal bones, and bring them out
on the posterior surface of the metatarsal or canon bone (_c_ and _d_).

[Illustration: FIG. 78.--Bones of the Foot: Rear View.]

Next articulate the bones of the feet. This is very simply done by passing
a single heavy wire through the lower end of each half of the canon bone to
each set of phalanges, making a loop at each end of the wire (see Figs. 77
and 78). In large skeletons it will frequently be found necessary to
further strengthen the articulations of the phalanges by means of brass
pins, as shown in the figure at _a_. The sesamoids are fastened on by two
stiff brass pins through each at _b_.

The femur and tibia can be fastened together by a double brass wire passing
through each condyle of the femur, and through each side of the head of the
tibia, or, what is better, a strip of brass set into the middle of the
joint, and fastened firmly by two stout brass pins driven transversely
through from side to side, as indicated in Fig. 79.

[Illustration: FIG. 79.--The Knee-Joint.]

The patella is fastened on by passing a wire through it and twisting it, or
erecting it on a small strip of brass set into the tubercle of the tibia.
The joint is further strengthened by putting a brass pin through the
patella into the end of the femur.

The tibia is articulated to the lower portion of the leg, or, more
properly, the pes, by putting stiff wire pins into it. The femur is
articulated to the pelvis by a brass bolt. The front foot is articulated on
the same principles as the hind foot.

[Illustration: FIG. 80.--Front View of Knee-Joint.]

In articulating the knee-joint, as it is called, send two heavy wires
through, letting them come out on the posterior surface of the radius and
metacarpal bone, and insert two wire pins diagonally through the joint, as
shown in Fig. 81. The scapula is fastened to the humerus by brass pins. The
humerus, radius, and ulna are also fastened by brass pins, three in number.

[Illustration: FIG. 81.--Elbow Joint: Front View.]

The scapula is attached to the body by two brass bolts attached to the
ribs. Sections of spiral spring wire or pieces of brass tube are placed on
the bolts between the scapula and the ribs, to hold the former off the
latter the same distance as when the flesh surrounding the scapula was all
present. As to the position of the legs, the operator must use his own
judgment. It is of course to be understood that the attitude of the legs
has been decided upon before their articulation began, and that the work of
wiring together has been carried out in accordance with this plan. It is
hard to do more with a large skeleton than to place the legs in an easy
walking attitude, of which the buffalo skeleton already figured may fairly
be taken as a model.

The rod extending through the spinal canal is cut off so that the head will
hang on it properly. Two brass pins are passed through the atlas, one into
each occipital condyle. Two iron rods, with lacquered brass shoulders, are
used to support the skeleton, as shown in the figure. These rods should be
painted black.

The lower jaw is fastened to the skull by means of brass spiral spring
wire, which permits it to be moved freely up and down by any one who is
studying the animal's dentition.

The method of mounting any large disarticulated skeleton of a quadruped is
essentially the same as that described for the buffalo, the principle
variation occurring in the feet. In articulating the feet of a wolf, for
example, the method of wiring the tarsal bones, carpal bones, metatarsals,
metacarpals, and the phalanges, is very similar to that described for the
buffalo, but the workman must here also depend largely on his own
ingenuity. A single wire passes through the phalanges of each digit, and
two sesamoids are fastened on by a single wire.

Where the digits are more than two in number, a wire is passed transversely
through the lower ends of the metacarpals and metatarsals, and on this are
placed short pieces of fine coiled brass spring, to hold the digits at
proper distances from one another.

The tools used in mounting large skeletons are by no means so numerous or
costly that any one need be deterred from trying his hand at practical
osteology on the score of facilities or the lack of them. Of course the
complete outfit of a professional osteologist includes an extensive array
of tools, some of which are rather costly. The most important item is a
good drilling machine, chuck and lathe, to work by foot-power. This can be
procured of Goodnow & Wightman, of Boston, and in ordering it will be
necessary to have a 1/4-inch hole drilled through the centre of the axle,
to receive the long, steel drills of various sizes that are to drill the
many holes required in the various bones.

The amateur who can not afford an expensive plant and a first-class
drilling machine, can get along very well with a Millers' Falls hand-drill
and a good assortment of first-class steel drills to fit it. I once saw an
old German anatomist mount a cow skeleton for a Western college with hardly
more tools than I could hold in one hand--but, of course, that skeleton was
not mounted _à la Lucas_, by a considerable difference.





It is estimated that four-fifths of the species comprised within the animal
kingdom belong to the class of the Insecta. Fully one hundred and
seventy-five thousand species of insects have already been named and
described. Nevertheless vast territories teeming with insect life have been
as yet only very imperfectly explored. The life-history and habits of only
a few thousands of species have as yet been accurately investigated. There
remains, therefore, a broad field for discovery and research in this
portion of the animal creation.

Many insects are polygoneutic, that is, the species is represented by two
or more annual broods, or generations, and thousands of individuals may, by
careful treatment, be reared from the eggs of a single female. In the case
of the higher animals the development and multiplication of individuals
takes place but slowly, and it is obvious, therefore, that there is in the
domain of insect life a far more convenient field for the investigation of
the great problems of variation in animal forms, than among the vertebrate
animals. Aberrant forms are not uncommon, especially among butterflies and
moths, and are worthy of careful study. The various broods often present
great and striking differences. The phenomena of seasonal and sexual
dimorphism are nowhere more clearly developed than among the lepidoptera.
Hybridization also often takes place between allied species of insects,
especially in the case of the bombycid moths, and it is possible for the
skilful entomologist to conduct investigations in this interesting
department of inquiry with almost as much freedom and success as have
attended the labors of the botanist in the domain of plant life.

The economic importance of the study of entomology can scarcely be
overestimated. Some of the best friends of the agriculturist, as well as
multitudes of his worst enemies, are found among the insects. The silkworm,
the cochineal insect, and the bee have aided in the accumulation of many
fortunes, and their culture has provided employment for millions of human
beings. On the other hand, property worth millions of dollars is annually
destroyed by insect ravages. It has been asserted by competent authorities
that the depredations of the Codling moth (Carpocapsa Pomonella) have
resulted, in a single year, within the limits of the State of Pennsylvania
alone, in the destruction of fruit worth over a million of dollars, and the
terrible Phylloxera at one time threatened the total overthrow of
viticulture in Southern Europe.

Various schemes have been proposed for the classification of insects, and
there is as yet only partial agreement among students upon this subject.

Insects belong to that great group of animals designated by zoologists as
the ARTHROPODA. As a means of assisting to a better understanding of the
practical hints and suggestions which follow, a sketch of the
classification of the Arthropoda is here given.


    Animals possessing an external skeleton composed of chitinous rings, or
    somites, and provided with articulated limbs.


    Class I. PERIPATIDEA (Genus Peripatus).
    Class II. MYRIAPODA.


    1. Diplopoda (Galley-worms, etc.).
    2. Pauropida (Genus Pauropus, etc.).
    3. Chilopoda (Centipedes, etc.).

 Class III. HEXAPODA (Insects proper).

                             { Orders:
                             {  1. Thysanura.
                             {    Sub-orders:
                             {      Collembola (Podura, Spring-tails).
                             {      Symphyla (Scolopendrella).
                             {      Cinura (Bristle-tails, etc.).
                             {  2. Dermatoptera (Ear-wigs).
                             {  3. Pseudoneuroptera.
                             {    Sub-orders:
                             {      Mallophaga (Bird-lice).
                             {      Platyptera (Stone-flies, Termites, etc.)
                             {      Odonata (Dragon-flies, etc.).
                             {      Ephemerina (May-flies, etc.).
                             {  4. Neuroptera (Corydalis, Ant-lion,
                             {          Caddis-flies, etc.).
 Heterometabola. For         {  5. Orthoptera (Cockroach, Mantis,
 the most part undergoing    {     Mole-cricket, Grasshopper, Katydid, etc.).
 only a partial metamorphosis{  6.        Hemiptera.
 in the development          {    Sub-orders:
 from the egg to the         {      Parasita (Lice).
 imago.                      {     Sternorhyncha (Aphids, Mealy-bugs, etc.).
                             {      Homoptera (Cicada, Tree-hoppers, etc.).
                             {      Heteroptera (Ranatra, Belostoma, Water
                             {        spiders, Squash-bugs, Bed-bugs, etc.).
                             {  7. Coleoptera.
                             {    Sub-orders:
                             {      Cryptotetramera (Lady-birds, etc.).
                             {      Cryptopentamera (Leaf-beetles,
                             {        Long-horns, Weevils, etc.).
                             {      Heteromera (Blister-beetles, Meal-bugs,
                             {         etc.).
                             {      Pentamera (Fire-flies, Skip-jacks,
                             {        June-bugs, Dung-beetles, Stag-beetles,
                             {        Rove-beetles, Water-beetles,
                             {        Tiger-beetles, etc.).
                             {  8. Aphaniptera (Fleas).
                             {  9. Diptera.
                             {    Sub-orders:
                             {      Orthorhapha (Hessian-fly, Buffalo Gnats,
                             {        Mosquitoes, Crane-flies, Horse-flies).
                             {      Cyclorhapha (Syrphis, Bot-flies, Tsetze,
 Metabola. Undergoing        {      Housefly, etc.).
 for the most part a         {  10. Lepidoptera.
 complete metamorphosis      {    Sub-orders:
 from egg through larva      {      Rhopalocera (Butterflies).
 and pupa to imago.          {       Heterocera (Moths).
                             {  11. Hymenoptera.
                             {    Sub-orders:
                             {      Terebrantia (Saw-flies, Gall-wasps,
                             {        Ichneumon-flies, etc.).
                             {      Aculeata (Ants, Cuckoo-flies,
                             {      Digger-wasps, True  Wasps, Bees).


 Class I. CRUSTACEA (Barnacles, Crabs, etc.).
                       1. Acarina (Mites).
                       2. Araneina (Spiders).
                       3. Pedipalpi (Whip-scorpions, etc.).
                       4. Solpugæ (Whip-scorpions).
                       5. Pseudoscorpii (False Scorpions).
                       6. Scorpiodea (True Scorpions).
 Class III. PANTOPODA (Pyenogonida, Sea-spiders).
 Class IV. TARDIGRADA (Macrobiotus, etc.).
 Class V. GIGANTOSTRACA (Horse-shoe Crabs, Trilobites, etc.).
 Class VI. LINGUATULINA (Pentastoma, etc.).



THE EGG.--The Arthropoda are developed from eggs. The eggs of these animals
are often exceedingly curious in form and remarkable in color. The eggs of
insects are generally deposited upon those substances upon which the animal
feeds during its larval or rudimentary stage of existence. They are most
frequently found attached to the leaves and twigs of plants and trees.
Some insects are carnivorous as larvæ, and deposit their eggs upon dead
animal matter, or even, as the ichneumon-flies and other parasitic forms,
upon the tissues of living animals. Some lay their eggs upon decaying wood,
or upon the ordure of animals. Some deposit their eggs in water. The female
of some of the myriapoda deposits her eggs in a mass under the bark of
decaying trees, and, coiling up about them, apparently guards them with
maternal instinct until they are hatched. The spawn of many of the
crustacea is carried about by the female, attached in masses to the lower
surface of the body. The eggs of some insects, as the cockroach and the
mantis, are deposited in masses concealed within cases, and so united as to
appear to form composite or multiple eggs. These are conspicuous objects. A
similar arrangement is found in the case of the ova of Hydrophilus and
allied aquatic Coleoptera. The eggs of the mosquito are deposited upon the
surface of the water in small, boat-shaped masses, composed of from fifty
to one hundred ova. The eggs of the Lepidoptera, which are generally
deposited upon the leaves and blossoms of trees and plants, are not
difficult to find, and have been more carefully observed and described than
those of other orders. By confining impregnated females of many species of
butterflies and moths in nets of gauze drawn over the branches of the
food-plant, it is often possible to obtain their eggs in considerable
numbers. The insects thus confined should be supplied with food and drink.
This may be done by sprinkling upon the leaves water sweetened with sugar,
or preferably honey. The females of many of the bombycid moths and
hawk-moths will lay freely, if enclosed in a dark box, without the presence
of the food-plant. When eggs are found and their parentage is unknown, a
few should be preserved as hereafter described, and the remainder should be
retained and kept until they have been hatched and the perfect insect has
been reared therefrom. Insect eggs may often be obtained by dissecting the
gravid female, but it is always preferable to obtain them, if possible,
after oviposition has taken place, since in many cases the color of the egg
in the oviduct is somewhat different from what it is after having been

The eggs of insects may be deprived of their vitality by immersion in
alcohol or by exposure to heat. The albumen of ova coagulates at 160° F.,
and the temperature of the egg should not be raised above 175°. They are
best killed by being placed in the stove used for drying the skins of
larvæ, which is described on page 315. It is better to kill by means of a
gentle heat than by immersion in alcohol, as by the latter process a change
in color is sometimes produced. After they have been deprived of their
vitality they may be preserved in small phials in dilute glycerine, or, if
this cannot be had, in a solution of common salt. The phials should be kept
tightly corked, and should be numbered by a label, written in lead pencil
and placed within the bottle, to correspond with the note made in the
collector's note-book giving an account of the place of discovery, the
food-plant, the date when found, and the name of the insect which deposited
them, if known. In the latter case it is best to put the name of the insect
in the phial with the number. Unless insect eggs are preserved in a fluid
they are apt in many cases to shrivel with the lapse of time and become
distorted, through the drying up of their contents, which, on account of
their small size, it is impossible to void. The shell of some eggs is often
very neatly voided by the escape of the larva, but there is generally a
large orifice left, the color is frequently materially altered, and great
vigilance in securing the shell must be exercised, as the young larvæ of
many species have the curious habit of whetting their appetites for future
meals by turning about, as soon as they have been hatched, and eating the
shell which they have just left.

The eggs of insects are best mounted in the form of microscopic slides in
glycerine jelly contained in cells of appropriate depth and diameter. It is
well to mount several upon the same slide, exhibiting the lateral as well
as the terminal aspect of the eggs. At the upper end of all insect eggs
there are one or more curious structures, known as micropyles (little
doors), through which the spermatozoa of the male find ingress and they are
fertilized. The peculiar, and often very beautiful, features of this part
of the egg are, in a well-mounted specimen, exposed to view. In some cases
it is advisable to slice off the end of the egg with the micropyle and
mount it microscopically. The best display of this curious structure is
thus often obtained.

The slides should be kept in a cabinet arranged in shallow trays. They
should be accurately named, and have references to a book into which, from
time to time, should be carefully transcribed from the field-book the
observations of the collector, or his assistants and correspondents. Such a
collection of insect ova is not only valuable but intensely interesting.

THE LARVA.--By reference to the table of the classification of the
Arthropoda, given in Chapter XL., it will be observed that the Insecta are
broadly divisible into two groups, the Heterometabola and the Metabola. The
animals classified in the first group do not undergo metamorphosis in the
development from the egg to the perfect insect to the same extent and in
the same manner as the Metabola. In this respect the Peripatidea, the
Myriapoda, and the various classes included under the Acerata agree with
them. The young myriapod and the young spider are found immediately after
they have emerged from the egg to present most of the features of the
mature insect, and so also the immature grasshopper and squash-bug resemble
the perfect insect in nearly everything but size and the absence of fully
developed wings. In preparing a suite of specimens of these insects,
designed to illustrate their life-history, the directions which are given
for the preparation of the imago apply equally well to the larva. It is
simply necessary, for instance, in preparing a series of specimens of the
Rocky Mountain Locust, to make sure that a specimen representing the
creature after each successive moult has been secured, and these are
mounted upon pins, and treated exactly as specimens of the adult insect are
treated. Be careful not to pin, however, too soon after the moult.

In the case of many of the Coleoptera, and of all the Metabola the work of
the collector is rendered far more laborious, for these pass from the egg
into vermiform larvæ, which undergo in some cases many moults, are then
transformed into pupæ, which are either naked or contained in a protecting
envelope known as the cocoon, and then finally, after a longer or shorter
period in the pupal state, are transformed into the perfect insect.

The student and collector, if intending to benefit science by their
efforts, dare not neglect these rudimentary forms.

The larvæ of most insects which undergo a complete metamorphosis are very
small when first emerging from the egg, and before they make the first
moult are, for the most part, best preserved as microscopic objects in
cells filled with glycerine. In the case of the larvæ of the great bombycid
moths, which at the time of hatching are dark in color, it is possible to
make a fairly good specimen by piercing the anal extremity of the
caterpillar, and spitting it upon the extremity of a thick, black bristle,
or a fine copper wire wrapped with black silk. Specimens so mounted will
not shrivel greatly, and may be attached to pins and placed in the cabinet
after the slide containing the egg, as the first in the series of slowly
maturing forms. After each successive moult the larvæ increase rapidly in
size. The method of preparing the larger forms which is now preferred by
good collectors is that of inflation.

In inflating larvæ the first step is to carefully remove the contents of
the larval skin. This is best effected by making an incision with a stout
pin or needle at the anus, and then, between the folds of a soft towel,
gently pressing out the contents of the abdominal cavity. The pressure
should be first applied near the point where the pellicle has been
punctured, and then be carried forward until the region of the head is
reached. Great care must be exercised not to apply such a degree of
pressure as will expel those tissues lying nearest to the epidermis, in
which the pigments are located, and in the case of hairy larvæ not to rob
them of their hair. Practice can alone make perfect in this regard. The
contents of the larva having been removed, the next step is to inflate and
dry the empty skin. Some persons, as preliminary to this step, recommend
that the empty skin be soaked for a period of a few hours in pure alcohol.
By this process undoubtedly a certain portion of the watery matter
contained in the pellicle is removed, and the process of desiccation is
facilitated, but it is objectionable in the case of all larvæ having light
colors, because these are more or less effaced by the action of the

The simplest method of inflating the skins of larvæ after the contents have
been withdrawn is to insert a straw or grass stem of appropriate thickness
into the opening through which the contents have been removed, and then by
the breath to inflate, while holding over the chimney of an Argand lamp,
the flame of which must be regulated so as not to scorch or singe the
specimen. Care must be taken in the act of inflating not to unduly extend
the larval skin, thus producing a distortion, and also to dry it
thoroughly. Unless the latter precaution is observed a subsequent shrinking
and disfigurement will take place. The process of inflating in the manner
just described is somewhat laborious, and while some of the finest
specimens, which the writer has ever seen, were prepared in this primitive
manner, various expedients for lessening the labor involved have been
devised, some of which are to be highly commended.

[Illustration: FIG. 82.--Apparatus for Inflating Larvæ. B, Foot-bellows; K,
rubber tube; C, flask; D, anhydrous sulphuric acid; E, overflow flask; F,
rubber tube from flask; G, standard with cock to regulate flow of air; H,
glass tube with larva upon it; I, copper drying-plate; J, spirit-lamp.]

A comparatively inexpensive arrangement for inflating larvæ is a
modification of that described in the "Entomologische Nachrichten," 1879,
vol. v., p. 7, devised by Mr. Fritz A. Wachtel. It consists of a
foot-bellows such as is used by chemists in the laboratory, or, better
still, of a small cylinder such as is used for holding gas in operating the
oxy-hydrogen lamp of a sciopticon. In the latter case the compressed air
should not have a pressure exceeding fifty pounds to the square inch, and
the cock regulating the flow from the cylinder should be capable of very
fine adjustment. By means of a rubber tube the air is conveyed from the
cylinder to a couple of flasks, one of which contains concentrated
sulphuric acid and the other is intended for the reception of any overflow
of the hydrated sulphuric acid which may occur. The object of passing the
air through sulphuric acid is to rob it, so far as possible, of its
moisture. It is then conveyed into a flask, which is heated upon a
sand-bath, and thence by a piece of flexible tubing to a tip mounted on a
joint allowing vertical and horizontal motion and secured by a standard to
the working-table. The flow of air through the tip is regulated by a cock.
Upon the tip is fastened a small rubber tube, into the free extremity of
which is inserted a fine-pointed glass tube. This is provided with an
armature consisting of two steel springs fastened upon opposite sides, and
their ends bent at right angles in such a way as to hold the larval skin
firmly to the extremity of the tube. The skin having been adjusted upon the
fine point of the tube, the bellows is put into operation and the skin is
inflated. A drying apparatus is provided in several ways. A copper plate
mounted upon four legs, and heated by an alcohol lamp placed below, has
been advocated by some. A better arrangement, used by the writer, consists
of a small oven heated by the flame of an alcohol lamp, or by jets of
natural gas, and provided with circular openings of various sizes, into
which the larval skin is introduced. (See Fig. 83.) A modification of the
oven is given in Fig. 84.

[Illustration: FIG. 83.--Drying Oven. A, Lamp; B, pin to hold door open; C,
door open; D, glass cover.]

[Illustration: FIG. 84.--Oven for Drying Larva-skin, made of tin joined
without solder and with top made of glass. (After Riley.)]

A less commendable method of preserving larvæ is to place them in alcohol.
The larvæ should be tied up in sacks of light gauze netting, and a label of
tough paper with the date and locality of capture, and the name, if known,
written with a lead pencil, should be attached to each such little sack.
Do not use ink on labels to be immersed, but a hard lead pencil. Alcoholic
specimens are liable to become shrivelled and discolored, and are not
nearly as valuable as well-inflated and dried skins.

When the skins have been inflated they may be mounted readily by being
placed upon wires wrapped with green silk, or upon annealed aluminium wire.
The wires are bent and twisted together for a short distance and then made
to diverge as in Fig. 85. The diverging ends are pressed together, a little
shellac is placed upon their tips, and they are then inserted into the
opening at the anal extremity of the larval skin. Upon the release of
pressure they spread apart, and after the shellac has dried the skin is
firmly held by them. They may then be attached to pins by simply twisting
the free end of the wire about the pin, or they may be placed upon
artificial imitations of the leaves and twigs of their appropriate
food-plants. This method of preparation is applicable to the larvæ of
Coleoptera and Diptera as well as to those of the Lepidoptera.

[Illustration: FIG. 85.--Wire Bent into Shape for Mounting Larva. (After

An account of the manner of preserving larvæ would not be complete without
an account of the manner of rearing them. In rearing the larvæ of
Coleoptera, Diptera, and Hymenoptera, the student must be left in a large
degree to his own devices. A few large glass jars capable of being closed
with a gauze top are necessary, though in the case of the Hymenoptera
reliance must be mainly placed upon finding the larvæ in their nests. Bees
and wasps construct various larval edifices, and these must be explored as
found in nature for a knowledge of the immature insect. Breeding them in
captivity is attended by difficulties which are rarely overcome by the most
expert, except in a few isolated cases. This is also true, but to a less
extent of the larvæ of the Coleoptera. The larvæ of many beetles which are
carnivorous may be reared in glass jars, or boxes, covered with fine wire
gauze, at the bottom of which earth or sand has been placed, and in which a
supply of appropriate food can be put, such as the soft larvæ of beetles,
maggots, and bits of meat. It is best to previously scald the earth and
sand placed at the bottom of the breeding cages in order to destroy the
eggs and small larvæ of other species which might be introduced. The cages
should have a sufficient supply of moisture, and, so far as possible, the
circumstances should be made to approximate those under which the larvæ
were found. The larvæ of wood-boring beetles may be bred in portions of the
wood which they frequent. A tight barrel with a cover made of wire gauze
fitting closely over the top is a good device. In the fall of the year it
may be filled with fallen twigs and pieces of branches from the forest, on
which beetles have oviposited, and in the spring there will be generally
found a large number of beautiful specimens of species, some of which are
otherwise very difficult to secure. The barrels should be placed in a
covered spot in the open air, and the twigs and wood occasionally lightly
moistened with water. The larvæ of leaf-eating beetles may be bred as the
larvæ of lepidoptera. The larvæ of neuropterous insects, such as Myrmeleon,
may be easily reared in boxes at the bottom of which sand to the depth of
six inches has been placed. They may be fed with house-flies which have
been deprived of their wings, and soft bodies of coleopterous larvæ, and
the larvæ of ants. The larvæ of the Odonata and aquatic beetles must be
reared in aquaria in which there is a muddy bottom provided, and in which
there are a few pieces of rotting wood, with loose bark upon it, so that
they protrude some inches above the surface of the water, and in which
aquatic plants are kept growing. Many aquatic insects pupate under the bark
of trees growing at the edge of the water.

[Illustration: FIG. 86.--Breeding Cage. (After Riley.) _a_, Bottom board;
_g g_, battens to prevent warping; _f f_, zinc pan four inches deep; _d_,
zinc tube soldered to bottom of pan and intended to hold jar of water for
food-plants; _e_, earth in pan; _b_, box with glass sides and hinged door;
_c_, removable cap of box covered with wire gauze.]

[Illustration: FIG. 87.--Breeding Cage. B, Jar with food-plant; E, box with
soil; G, gauze lid.]

The breeding of the larvæ of lepidopterous insects has received far greater
attention than that of other insects, and many modifications of devices for
this purpose have been suggested. The simplest devices are often the best,
and in the early stages of the smaller forms the best plan is to pot a
specimen of the appropriate food-plant, when it is low and herbaceous and
capable of being thus treated, and then put it under a cover of tarletan or
under a bell glass. When the larva undergoes its transformations in the
ground a bed of earth several inches in depth, upon which some dead leaves
and litter are placed, should be provided. A convenient form of a
breeding-cage is represented in Fig. 86. Mr. W.H. Edwards, who has done
more than any other person to elucidate the life-history of North American
butterflies, often uses a breeding-cage made of a nail keg, the top of
which has been knocked out, and over which gauze netting is tied. The
writer has successfully employed, for breeding moths upon a large scale,
common store boxes, with about eight inches in depth of good soil at the
bottom, covered with a close-fitting frame lid over which mosquito-netting
is tacked. Branches of the food-plant are set into the box in jars of
water, in which they remain fresh for several days (see Fig. 87). If
possible, and if operations are to be prosecuted upon a large scale, it is
well to appropriate to breeding purposes a small room from which all the
furniture and carpets have been removed. The windows should be closed with
gauze netting tacked over them, and the doors should also be made tight so
as to prevent the escape of the insects. When the caterpillars descend from
the food-plants which are placed in the apartment in jars of water, or in
pots, and thus indicate their readiness to undergo transformation, they
should be secured and placed in smaller boxes fitted up as before
described, and, in case the insect pupates in the soil, provided with a
sufficient depth of earth. In case it is desired to go to still greater
expense, a small house, arranged after the manner of a greenhouse, and with
suitable cages and compartments, may be provided. Such an insect-house
exists at Cornell University, and is under the care of that admirable
investigator, Professor Comstock, who no doubt would be glad to furnish
students with a knowledge of the details of its construction. The larvæ of
many lepidopterous insects emerge from the egg in the fall of the year, and
after feeding for a time and undergoing one or two moults, hibernate, and
upon the return of the springtime begin feeding again, and finally pupate.
It is best in the case of such to leave the larvæ in the fall in a cold
place, as an icehouse, and to suffer them to remain there until an abundant
supply of the proper food-plant can be obtained.

In the breeding of larvæ experience must be the great instructor, and
practice can alone make perfect. No department of entomological study is,
however, quite so fascinating as this, even though its prosecution may be
somewhat laborious.



[Illustration: FIG. 88.--Net Frame. (After Riley.) _a_, Wire ring with ends
bent to insert in ferule _b_; _c_, point where plug and net-handle meet.]

The name _imago_ is applied by naturalists to the perfect form of insects,
which is revealed at the conclusion of the round of metamorphoses. In the
collection and the preservation of these the most necessary implement at
the outset is the _net_. A simple way of making a serviceable and strong
net is to take a piece of brass or galvanized iron wire about three feet
and six inches in length, and about three-sixteenths of an inch in
diameter, and having bent it into the form of a hoop, with the two ends
forming shanks, to insert these into the end of a brass ferule such as is
used on fishing-rods, and fix them there by pouring in melted lead or
solder in such a way that the handle can be inserted into the other end of
the ferule. This can be easily accomplished by plugging the handle end of
the ferule with a piece of soft wood or with clay. The handle should be
light, and not more than four or five feet in length for ordinary use. To
the ring of the net a sack made of green tarletan, or less preferably
mosquito-netting, about two and a half times as deep as the diameter of the
ring, should be sewn. A piece of green muslin should be then stitched on as
a binding over the ring. Green is to be always preferred to any other color
as less likely to alarm the insects. Nets with folding rings and jointed
bamboo handles are to be had of most dealers, and are to be highly
recommended for convenience, if well made. In collecting about electric
lights which hang high, and along the woodland walks of tropical forests,
it is well to be able to add to the length of the handle by inserting more
joints of bamboo. Some butterflies are "highfliers." Nets made of stout
muslin are useful for sweeping the tops of grass and low herbage, and in
this way multitudes of small insects of various orders may be taken. Such
nets should be larger than the ordinary net. Nets made of stout lace cloth
are used for capturing aquatic insects in pools and ditches. For this
purpose a scoop made of wire gauze may also be advantageously employed.


In the capture of insects the umbrella plays, in the hands of a skilful
collector, a very important part. It is used as a receptacle for insects
which are beaten from the overhanging branches, under which it is held in
an inverted position while the operation of beating is going on. As the
insects fall they must be caught and placed in the collecting-jars. (See
Plate XXII., Fig. 1.)

[Illustration: FIG. 89.--Net-head for Removable Frame. (After Riley.) The
frame is made of elastic brass ribbon, and may be put inside of the hat
when not in use, and the handle used as a cane.]

[Illustration: FIG. 90.--Folding Net. (After Riley.) _a_, Net-ring open;
_b_, enlarged view of joint and check; _c_, ring folded and detached from
ferule; _d_, nut sunk into end of ferule; _e_, screw to hold ring in place;
_f_, illustrating manner of putting ring and rod together.]

Collecting-jars are of various sizes. For Lepidoptera the one-pound jars
used by Schering for hydrate of chloral, which have nicely ground glass
stoppers, are admirable. In preparing the jars the following directions
should be closely attended to: Place at the bottom of the jar some lumps of
cyanide of potash, over these place a few pieces of paper loosely crumpled
and rammed down so as to hold the lumps of the cyanide in position. Pour in
two or three drops of water. Take a piece of stout and clean writing-paper
and describe upon it a circle of the same size as the inside of the bottle,
and around this another circle three-quarters of an inch greater in
diameter. Cut out a circular disc of paper, following with the scissors the
line of the outer circle. At intervals of a quarter of an inch cut slits
all around the disc of paper extending them inwardly only as far as the
first circle drawn upon the paper. Fold back the outer edge of the disc
upon the side of the paper which is to come uppermost in the bottle. With a
pin, or a small punch, pierce a number of holes through the middle of the
paper. Apply some gum to the edge of the disc which has been folded back,
and fix it securely on the top of the mass of cyanide and paper at the
bottom of the jar, by pressing the gummed edge against the sides of the
bottle. This method is infinitely preferable to the old way of fixing the
cyanide in the bottom of the jar by pouring in a cement of plaster of
Paris. Instead of lumps of cyanide of potash, lumps of carbonate of ammonia
may be used to charge the poisoning-jar, but a jar so charged must never be
used to kill insects which are green in color, as the fumes of the ammonia
often serve to bleach these and make them white or brown.

[Illustration: FIG. 91.--Collecting Jar. Cy., Cyanide of potash wedged into
place with soft paper; P, perforated paper disc.]

[Illustration: FIG. 92.--Perforated Disc of Paper for Holding Cyanide in
Place at Bottom of Jar.]

In the case of large insects, or insects which struggle violently, a few
drops of chloroform may be poured into the collecting-jar, to prevent them
from injuring themselves. Chloroform is not, however, to be commended as a
killing agent, inasmuch as it induces thoracic spasms, which make the
specimen difficult to set after death. In the case of the larger moths and
beetles death may be instantaneously induced by injecting a solution of
cyanide of potash with a hypodermic syringe. The use of oxalic acid in
solution, administered by making an incision into the thorax of the insect
with the point of a crow-quill pen dipped into the solution, is not to be
highly commended, as the acid changes the color of the specimen, and, after
it has been pinned, corrodes the pin. Likewise when specimens have been
kept too long in a jar charged with ammonia, and are pinned immediately
after they have been taken out, the pins are liable to be corroded and
eaten through.

The collector having provided himself with nets and killing-jars, will not
be thoroughly equipped for field work until he have added to his
outfit the necessary conveniences for carrying his captures with him
uninjured. The writer, after long experience as a collector in many lands,
is inclined to think that the best appliance is a tin box lined with cork,
and provided with a compartment in which a cyanide cake[11] may be placed
before going to the field, and in which, after the return, when the cyanide
cake has been withdrawn, a sponge may be put, which should be saturated
with a weak solution of carbolic acid for the double purpose of keeping
the specimens from drying out too rapidly and from moulding. The box should
not be more than 10 × 8 × 3-1/2 inches inside measurement, and should be
divided into two equal parts, hinged at the side which is carried
uppermost, and hung over the shoulder by a strap. A pincushion filled with
pins may be attached to the belt. A belt arranged like a cartridge-belt,
with pockets to carry pillboxes about one and one-half inch square and
three-quarters of an inch deep should also be provided. These boxes should
have glass bottoms. They are to be used in "boxing" the smaller lepidoptera
and other delicate insects which, if killed and pinned on the field, would
be too dry upon return from the chase to make good cabinet specimens. Boxed
specimens may be kept for a day or two, and killed and mounted at leisure.
A bag containing several small boxes may also be carried. These boxes
should have in them a supply of paper envelopes, for papering specimens in
the way hereafter to be described. A loose sack-coat, with an abundance of
capacious pockets inside and out, is indispensable. A small poisoning-jar
for beetles should be carried in the right-hand pocket of the
pantaloons, a similar jar in the left-hand pocket for hymenoptera and
diptera. In the right-hand pocket of the sack-coat should be carried the
large jar for killing lepidoptera, and in the left-hand pocket a smaller
jar for neuroptera and orthoptera. Thus arrayed the collector is completely
furnished for the chase. It will, however, be well for him, if he can, to
secure the attendance of an assistant to carry some of his "traps" and
assist him. We will now go out with him into the field and give him a few
practical instructions as to the best mode of procedure.

First of all, it is proper to observe that it is advisable not to be in a
hurry and not to rush over the ground. The representations in comic
newspapers of the entomologist, wildly tearing about the fields and in mad
haste chasing a butterfly over hills and meadows, are not drawn from a
study of the methods of experts. "All things come to him who waits."
Slyness, coolness, a keen eye, and adroit quickness in the use of the net
are the qualities which yield the largest returns to the collector. In the
use of the net the habits of insects must be noted. Those which alight upon
the ground or low herbage may be caught by clapping the net over them. Most
butterflies and moths have the habit, when caught, of flying upward in the
net. Therefore so soon as the insect, if a lepidopteron, is enclosed in the
net, hold up the closed end of the sack, and, introducing the poison jar,
from which the stopper has been removed, take the insect. A little practice
will soon enable the collector to do this without allowing the fly to beat
and injure its wings, and without touching them in the least with the
fingers. (Plate XXIII., Fig. 1.) A convenient way of securing small insects
in the net is by a rapid motion hither and thither, with the mouth open to
the wind, to drive them back into the bottom of the sack, and then to place
this in the bottle and leave it there a few seconds until the insects are
stunned, when they may be shaken into the jar. When the insect alights
within reach upon the ends of branches or the tops of flowering plants, it
may be swept into the net by a dexterous movement and thus secured. A
similar stroke will often, when well-aimed, secure specimens flying past
the station of the collector. (Plate XXIII., Fig. 2.) Beetles and insects
of other orders than the lepidoptera may be placed in the jars appropriated
to them and left there until the return from the fields. With the
Lepidoptera it is necessary to exercise greater care. The smaller
specimens, such as the Tortricidæ and Phycitidæ and Tineidæ should be
"boxed" in the pillboxes provided for this purpose. The Lycænidæ,
Hesperidæ, and most of the moths, should be caught in the large jar in the
manner just described, and when stunned, pinned and placed in the
cork-lined box, where the process of completely depriving them of life will
be completed. The larger, and even some of the smaller, butterflies may be
killed while in the net by gently pinching them through its folds, between
the first finger and the thumb at the point where the wings are attached to
the thorax (see Fig. 93). The pressure should be applied when the wings are
folded back to back, as the insect sits when in repose. If applied in any
other way the specimen is likely to be seriously damaged, and moths should
never be thus killed. In pinning specimens in the tin box used for
transportation while upon the hunt, the storage power of the box will be
increased by pinning a number of specimens upon one pin, thrusting the pin
through the insect horizontally and not perpendicularly through the upper
surface of the thorax.

[Illustration: FIG. 93.--Method of Pinching a Butterfly.]

The labors of the collector should not be confined to the day. Multitudes
of the rarest and most desirable species are nocturnal in their habits.
Some of them are readily attracted to light, though, strangely enough, the
individuals among the lepidoptera thus attracted are mainly of the male
sex. By placing a lamp at an open window many moths may be secured.
Electric lights are good points for the collector, if they are within
reach. The burnt and ragged refuse which the cleaner finds in the globes in
the morning, half-buried in the dust of the disintegrated carbons, is of
little or no value. Various traps lighted with lanterns have been
suggested, but so far few of them have equalled the simple device of a
friend of mine, who, living in a tropical country, has set apart a small
room for this purpose, and having cleared it of all furniture, and
whitewashed the walls, keeps a powerful lamp burning in it every night
opposite a large window facing the forest. His captures vary from a dozen
to a hundred specimens of lepidoptera every night of the year, and
multitudes of insects of other orders. In the temperate zones a favorite
method of collecting lepidoptera is by "sugaring." For this a mixture of
sugar and stale beer, or molasses and water, flavored with rum, and of
about the consistency of thin maple syrup, should be used. It is best
applied to the trunks of trees upon the edge of clearings, and on moonlight
nights on the side of the wood toward the moon. Apply the mixture to from
forty to eighty trees, stumps, or stakes, with a whitewash brush, and then
go over the "beat" with a dark lantern and capture the moths in the
wide-mouthed cyanide jar. In this way the writer has taken as many as three
or four hundred moths in a single evening. The same trees should be
sugared and visited night after night, and the best results are often only
obtained after a beat has been in operation for some time and the insects
have learned to know it. The best catch is generally to be had in the two
hours immediately following sunset. In tropical countries, aside from the
Erebidæ and allied moths, few species appear to be attracted to sugar, and
in warm climates plenty of rum should be added to the mixture. To keep ants
off from trees which have been sugared, the writer finds it good to tie a
band of dark cloth which has been treated with a saturated solution of
corrosive sublimate about the trunk near the ground. This only is to be
done where a regular route has been selected for nightly visitation, and it
has the disadvantage of keeping away from the baits many beetles which are
attracted to sugar. Trees which have been sugared and visited at night
should be revisited in the daytime, and many day-flying species will be
found feasting upon what has been left by the revellers who attended the
banquet of the night before.


Some insects have quite revolting tastes, and may be captured by pandering
to them. The ordure of wild animals has a charm for many, and by placing
the dung of dogs, or civet-cats, or any of the Felidæ, in the woodland
paths of tropical forests many great rarities may be secured. Carrion and
dead fish in particular are attractive baits.

It has been recently claimed by a writer that painted decoys representing
butterflies, placed upon flowers, or kept in motion at the tip of a switch,
may be effectively used in securing rare and wild species. The writer has
no personal knowledge of the merit of the plan. It might be worth trying,
however, in the case of monstrous rarities.


[11] The cyanide cake is made by pouring plaster of Paris into a mould of
proper size and imbedding in it before setting a number of lumps of cyanide
of potash.



[Illustration: FIG. 94.--Manner of Folding Paper Envelope. A-B, First fold;
B-C, second fold; A-D, third fold; B-F, fourth fold; A-E, fifth fold.]

[Illustration: FIG. 95.--Butterfly in Envelope.]

The next step after the capture of the specimens is to prepare them either
for transportation or for the cabinet. If collecting upon a journey, or
where facilities for the preparation of specimens for the cabinet are
lacking, the insects may be preserved in papers. Common druggists'
envelopes are a very convenient resource for the preservation of
lepidoptera. They may be purchased by the thousand at about sixty-five
cents. If these cannot be had, envelopes may easily be made from pieces of
paper, preferably stiff newspaper or common writing-paper upon which ink
has not been used. The manner of folding these is illustrated by Figures 94
and 95. Care should be taken to write upon the envelope, before the insect
is placed in it, the date and the locality of capture. Beetles, if black
and devoid of hairy vestiture, may be preserved in alcohol, and the same
course may be taken with many insects of other orders. It is preferable,
however, to pack beetles and other hard-bodied insects in layers of cotton
batting. A small box may be made to contain an immense number of insects in
envelopes or in cotton, and they may thus be safely transported anywhere.
In case alcohol is used as a preservative all the specimens of a species
should be sorted out and tied together in a small sack made out of thin
netting, and to this should be attached a label giving the date and place
of capture and a reference to the note-book. In case cotton layers are
employed all the specimens of a species, if numerous, should be placed in
one layer, and a memorandum to the same purport as the label inserted.

Insects are prepared for the cabinet by being mounted upon pins and
"expanded." There are various sorts and sizes of insect-pins, but those
made by Klaeger, of Berlin, are generally preferred at the present time by
the leading entomologists of the world. The French pins and the so-called
"Carlsbader pins" are too long and the points are too fine, and, therefore,
too likely to be injured to make them desirable. The English pins are too
short, and except in the case of very small insects, are not used by the
best collectors. Insects should be mounted high upon the pin, _i.e._, in
such a way that not more than one-fifth or at the most one-fourth of the
pin shall be exposed above the body of the specimen. Dr. Staudinger, the
celebrated lepidopterist of Germany, makes it his rule to mount all his
specimens in such a way that the wings are elevated upon a plane one inch
above the tip of the pin. The writer has had the greater part of his
collection, of over fifty thousand specimens of lepidoptera, mounted at an
average height of seven-eighths of an inch above the points of the pins.
The "English method" of mounting low down, and only leaving enough of the
pin exposed below to permit of fixing the specimens in the cork at the
bottoms of the drawers of the cabinet, is rapidly passing out of vogue,
even in England, and is giving place to the "Continental Method." Insect
pins are of various sizes; adapted to the size of the insect which they are
to carry. The most serviceable sizes and which will be proportioned to the
majority of the insects which the collector is likely to take, are
Klaeger's No. 3 and No. 5. For very large insects higher numbers may be
employed, and for smaller insects lower numbers, though in the case of the
latter it is perhaps better to use the short English pins and then to mount
the specimens upon the bits of cork or pith which are themselves mounted
upon the longer German pins. Such mounts are known as "double mounts" (see
Fig. 96). The writer desires to utter a caution against the use of the
common black insect-pins so often sold by dealers, and the sole stock in
trade of one or two firms of opticians in this country. They are very
liable to rust at the point and to bend, and are totally unsuited for use
in humid, tropical, and semi-tropical climates, or for collections which
are to be transported far over the seas. Beetles should always be pinned
through the right elytron. Bugs should be pinned through the scutellum, as
the small triangular piece between the elytra is called. All other insects
should be pinned in the middle of the thorax, and care should always be
taken to set the pins perpendicularly.

[Illustration: FIG. 96.--Double Mount. C, Long pin; P, pith; S, specimen
mounted on short pin; L, label.]

[Illustration: FIG. 97.--Frame for Mounting Beetles. a, a, Wooden frame; A,
B, paper drumhead.]

Having pinned the specimen the next step is to expand it properly. In the
case of beetles this is done by simply arranging the feet and the antennæ
in such a way that they can easily be inspected. In doing this it is well
to have a frame seven-eighths of an inch deep, or thereabouts, backed by a
thin piece of soft pine, and covered on top by a sheet of paper, which has
been first moistened and then pasted around the edges, and which when dry
expands like a drumhead. (Fig. 97.) Upon this a number of beetles may be
pinned, their feet drawn out, and there be left to dry. In the case of
lepidopterous insects, and other insects having considerable expanse of
wing, setting-boards are required. These are boards provided with a groove
in the middle capable of receiving the body of the insect, and permitting
of the expansion of their wings laterally. These boards should be of
various widths, so as to be adapted to insects having various expanse of
wings, and the grooves also should be of various depths, adapted to insects
having bodies of various size. The best form of a setting-board, with which
the writer is acquainted, is that given in Fig. 98. The narrow slit below
the groove, which is intended for the reception of the body of the insect,
admits of passing the pin down to a proper depth, and the depth is
regulated of course by the piece at the bottom of the setting-board. The
two side pieces should always be from seven-eighths of an inch to an inch
thick. The best material is soft, clean pine, or, better still, the wood of
the Kiri-no-Ki (_Paulownia regalis_).

[Illustration: FIG. 98.--Setting-Board.]

[Illustration: FIG. 99.--Setting-Board. (After Riley.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 100.--Setting-Block. A, Groove for body of insect; B,
nick for holding thread; C, cork to receive point of pin passing through
holes in bottom of A.]

[Illustration: FIG. 101.--Butterfly Expanded upon Setting-Block.]

Instead of setting-boards, setting-blocks (see Figs. 100 and 101), may be
advantageously employed in setting smaller specimens, especially of the
Hesperidæ and the Noctuidæ, the wings of which are refractory, and refuse
to be treated in the method that has just been described. Instead of using
strips of tracing muslin it is necessary, in the case of setting-blocks, to
use threads or cords, which may be adjusted, as is shown in the figure.
Care should, however, be taken not to draw the thread or cord so tightly
about the wings of the specimens as to cut into their vestiture and thus
leave marks.

[Illustration: FIG. 102.--Setting-Needle.]

The insects having been adjusted upon the board, care being taken that the
pin is set perpendicularly, the next step is to draw out the wings in the
position which they are to maintain when the specimen is thoroughly dry.
This is accomplished by means of what are known as "setting-needles" (see
Fig. 102). They can easily be made by inserting ordinary needles into
handles, which may be made of some soft wood. The writer generally employs
as handles for his setting-needles matches, from which the sulphur tip has
been removed. In drawing the wings into position care should be taken to
plant the setting-needle immediately behind the strong nervure of the
costal margin of the wing. Otherwise the wings are likely to be torn and
disfigured. The rule in setting lepidoptera is to draw the anterior wings
forward in such a way that their posterior margins form a right angle with
the axis of the body, which rests in the groove in the middle of the
setting-board. The posterior wings are then drawn forward in such a way as
fully to expose their outline. The next step is to firmly fix the wings in
position, as they have been placed. Some writers recommend for this purpose
using short strips of paper over the wings, others recommend placing upon
the wings pieces of glass, of a size sufficient to cover the entire wing. A
far better plan is to employ strips of tracing muslin, such as is used by
draughtsmen and engineers. These strips may be secured at the ends of the
setting-board by thumb-tacks, and may be drawn down over the wings of the
specimen and securely held by pins in place. Care should be always taken to
nicely turn up the edge of the strips nearest to the body, so that a crease
or depression may not be left upon the scales covering the wings of the
insects when the specimen has been thoroughly dried. The wings having been
arranged, the antennæ and the feet may be brought forward and displayed in
a natural position. Care should be always taken to lower the antennæ so
that they do not stand erect above the head. In the latter position they
are very apt to become broken. A number of such boards may be conveniently
arranged in a box, as shown in Fig. 103, and if strips of muslin are used,
and are firmly held in place by pins, such a box may be transported from
place to place, upon the backs of men or beasts, and the process of drying
the insects may go on _en route_, while the naturalist is conducting his
investigations. In this manner the writer carried four or five large boxes
with him through the interior of Japan (Plate XXIII., Fig. 2), and
succeeded in bringing home with him nearly six thousand specimens, dried
and ready to place in the cabinet. The length of time which is required for
drying, varies of course a little with the temperature, and the amount of
humidity in the atmosphere. In some climates it is almost impossible to
absolutely dry the specimens, in others they dry very quickly. In the
United States a week or ten days will generally suffice to secure that
rigidity which is necessary in a cabinet specimen.

[Illustration: FIG. 103.--Box for Receiving Setting-Boards. _a_, Board
partly withdrawn; _b_, =T=-shaped strip to hold board in place; _c_,
sliding door of box; _d_, tongue on edge of door working in groove at
front of sides.]

The process of drying may be hastened advantageously by placing the
setting-boards in a cool oven. The temperature, however, should not be
above 130° F. Some insects lose their color when dried, and it is
impossible in certain cases to retain them. In some cases also the bodies
of insects shrivel up very greatly and become distorted. It is very often
advisable in such cases to make an incision into the abdomen and withdraw
the viscera and stuff the body with cotton. Spiders should always be
treated in this way, and so also the larger Mantidæ and Locustidæ. When the
insects have become thoroughly dry, and their wings are rigid, they may be
removed from the setting-board, and are now ready for the cabinet. In case,
however, it is desired to transport them, as is the case with specimens
that have been collected upon a journey, they may be pinned in boxes lined
with cork or pith, with their wings "shingled" as in Fig. 104, and they
may, if firmly secured to the bottom of the boxes, be in this shape
transported for long distances; but it is always necessary to pack the box
in which they are contained in an outer box, separating the inner box from
the outer case by at least two inches of straw, excelsior, or some other
light and elastic substance, to save the specimens from being jarred in

[Illustration: FIG. 104.--Butterflies Pinned with their Wings Shingled.]

Specimens that have been preserved in paper, as described on page 328, in
order to fit them for the cabinet, should be relaxed and then expanded. In
order to relax them, one of the best methods is to place the envelope which
contains the specimen between layers of cloth that have been dampened in
pure water, to which has been added a small quantity of carbolic acid,
enough to prevent mould. Be careful not to add too much carbolic acid.
Another method is to lay the specimens at the bottom of a jar, half-filled
with sand, which has been moistened and well carbolized. The jar should be
tightly closed, so as to retain the moisture. Specimens that have been
fastened with pins may be placed on pieces of board, and then set in a jar,
prepared in the way that has been described. After exposure to the moist
atmosphere of the jar, or to the moisture contained within the towelling,
for a period varying from a few hours to a day, the specimens will be
sufficiently relaxed to permit of them being treated as if they had been
freshly taken, and mounted and expanded upon the setting-board as described
on page 331. It is well to have the top of the jar, before the lid is
placed upon it, covered with a layer of blotting-paper, or some other
substance which will absorb the moisture which otherwise might drip from
the lid upon the specimens below. This is a precaution which is especially
necessary in the case of butterflies which are of a bright blue or a pale
green color, and which are much disfigured by water stains.

Mould is one of the great enemies of the collector, and strenuous efforts
should be made to prevent its appearance in the cabinet or among the
specimens. In order to do this, it is well to secure a thorough desiccation
of the specimens, but where it is impossible to thoroughly dry them,
moulding may be prevented to a greater or less extent by placing between
the paper envelopes pieces of blotting-paper which have been saturated with
carbolic acid and permitted to dry. The sides of the boxes containing the
specimens may also be painted with carbolic acid. Naphthaline in crystals
may be introduced among the envelopes, and this appears in many cases to
serve as a partial preventive of mould. When a specimen has been attacked
by mould, the mould may be largely removed by thorough drying in a cool
oven and then dusting off the specimen with a soft camel's-hair pencil that
has been rubbed in carbolic acid and dried.

Specimens sometimes become greasy, and it is then desirable, if possible,
to remove the grease with which their bodies and wings are saturated. The
only method which can be employed advantageously is that of washing out the
grease by means of benzoline, or some of the allied volatile mineral oils.

By immersing a greasy specimen for a considerable time in gasoline, it is
possible to remove the grease. The specimen having been thus exposed should
be placed in a cool spot, free from dust, and all the gasoline should be
allowed to evaporate. Care should be taken to conduct this process away
from fire and lights, in order to prevent an explosion. The writer has
found that the best method for removing grease is to allow the gasoline to
fall drop by drop upon the thorax of the specimen. The specimen is
therefore placed in a very large glass jar, say six inches in diameter, and
is fixed at the bottom upon a piece of cork, tightly secured in place. The
gasoline is placed above and is allowed to filter down from the bottle in
which it is contained upon the specimen drop by drop. In this way the
grease is gradually washed out, and will be found after a while at the
bottom of the jar in the form of thick globules, the density of which
causes them to sink to the bottom. In the case of some large bombycid moths
the writer has washed out as much as a teaspoonful of animal fat from the
body and wings of the specimen, in the manner that has been described.

The receptacles into which entomologists place their collections vary
somewhat according to the taste and the length of the purse of the
collector. Some large collections are contained in boxes, and most of the
coleopterists of this country, so far as the writer knows, have adopted
these as receptacles for their collections. The boxes should be about two
inches deep in the clear, the bottom should be lined with the best quality
of cork, about one-fourth of an inch in thickness, and the whole papered
inside with white paper. The lid should be fastened upon the lower part of
the box, either by a tongue and groove or by thin strips nailed around on
the inside and projecting above the margin of the bottom portion at least
half an inch. These boxes should also be hinged. The material should be
well-seasoned. Double boxes with cork on the top and on the bottom are
sometimes used, and these may be prepared with backs resembling books, and
may be placed upon their ends upon shelves. They should not be laid one
upon the other, as the insects pinned upon the upper side are liable
sometimes, through jarring, to become detached, and falling out to cause a
breakage among the specimens. The writer employs in his own collection
drawers twenty-two inches long, eighteen inches wide, and two inches deep,
covered with glass, the glass cover being attached to the bottom by a
tongue and groove.

The specimens should be kept in the dark, as exposure to light bleaches
them, sooner or later. Great pains should be taken to keep out dust, mould,
and insect pests, such as Anthrenus and Dermestes. Naphthaline crystals
destroy mites and they cannot exist where it is abundantly present.
Anthrenus and Dermestes may be kept out of collections by naphthaline, but
when they have been once introduced they will remain and propagate in spite
of the presence of the drug. In order to exterminate them various agents
are employed. The best is perhaps chloroform, and next to this carbon
bisulphide. In buying the latter drug, care should be taken to purchase the
washed and purified article, which is not as malodorous as the common
varieties which used formerly to be sold by druggists. It is, however,
highly explosive when mixed in quantity with the air, and care should be
taken not to use it in proximity to a light. It has the advantage of
destroying at once the imago, the larva, and, perhaps, the eggs of
museum-pests. The writer makes it a point annually, in the early summer, to
place sufficient chloroform or carbon bichloride in his cabinet drawers to
exterminate anything that may be living there, and thus secures comparative
immunity from insect attacks.

       *       *       *       *       *

Instructions as to the use of labels may be restricted to the simple advice
to make them small enough to permit of their being placed upon the pins
bearing the insects, and to have them written legibly. Of course every
label should bear, if it is possible for the student to determine them, the
generic and the specific names of the insects, and that of the author of
the specific name, together with the date and locality of capture. In
writing labels a small crow-quill pen is to be preferred.

A great many instruments of different sorts will suggest themselves to the
collector in the process of his labors as being more or less useful, but
none will prove more so than the forceps. It is impossible to do good work
in the cabinet without a forceps, and those made by Blake, of Philadelphia,
are the very best.

_Books to be Consulted by the Collector for further Information as to
Methods of Manipulating Specimens._

Packard: Guide to the Study of Insects. 8vo. Henry Holt & Co., New York.

Scudder: Butterflies. 8vo. Henry Holt & Co., New York. Kirby and Spence:
Introduction to Entomology. Various editions.

McCook: American Spiders. Strecker: American Moths and Butterflies.

A great deal of practical and valuable information is to be derived from
the pages of the following journals:

The Canadian Entomologist.

The Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society. Psyche.

_Names of Dealers in Entomological Supplies who are to be Recommended_.

John Akhurst, 78 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, N.Y.; pins, etc.

John Burr, North Fifth Street, Camden, N.J.; boxes, cabinets, etc.

Armstrong, Brother & Co., Pittsburgh, Pa.; cork. The largest cork
manufacturing firm in the United States. Will cut cork of any size which
may be ordered, within practical limits.

Blake & Co., 55 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia; forceps.




THE PESTS.--If an island of bare rock should be born to-day in the middle
of the Pacific Ocean, and an unpoisoned skin of bird or mammal laid down
upon it to-morrow morning, I would wager that _Dermestes lardarius_ would
find that skin before sunset. If you were to prepare a skin without poison,
and lock it up immediately in the bowels of a burglar-proof safe, not to be
opened for six months, at the end of that time you would find it swarming
with _Dermestes_. If you ever omit to poison anything in the shape of a
vertebrate specimen, be sure your sin and the beastly bugs will find you

DERMESTES.--The greatest enemy of the zoological collector and conservator,
and one which is world-wide in its distribution, is a small beetle,
one-third of an inch in length, commonly called the "bacon beetle." Its
flight is rather feeble, but "it gets there just the same." The most common
species, _Dermestes lardarius_, is of a dark, dirty-brown color, with a
broad, transverse band of dull gray encircling the middle of the body. The
imago is not of much consequence as a destroyer, but the larva, a nasty,
hairy, brown-backed, and white-bellied abomination half an inch long, and
with an appetite like a hog, is the incarnation of all that is pestiferous.
A skull that has been "roughed out" and put away without poisoning will
soon be literally swarming with _Dermestes_ larvæ, and half-buried with the
brown, powdery excrementation they leave behind. If the curator ever sees a
fine, brown dust falling in little heaps out of any part of a mounted
specimen, he may know that _Dermestes_ larvæ are at work.

Not long ago the National Museum was visited by another species of the
bacon beetle, _Dermestes maculatus_, a gray-colored variety, beside which
his congener seemed harmless and inoffensive. _Maculatus_ was an
unmitigated terror. He disdained to graze modestly on the outside of a
specimen, as did _lardarius_, but simply began to eat wherever he "lit,"
and went straight in to a depth of an inch or so, as if shot out of a gun.
An unhappy stuffed monkey that once crossed the track of this little fiend
had half a dozen neat round holes eaten through the dry skin of his side,
and straight on into the hard tow filling for quite an inch. A gimlet could
not have done the work half so well. The most ridiculous thing was that
this insatiable little monster attacked a plaster cast, and bored it full
of holes also! Fortunately for the National Museum, the stay of this highly
interesting stranger was of brief duration. He came in 1885, and vanished
that same year--so far as my observations went.

MOTHS.--Next in destructiveness are the tiny moths, of which four species
are to be fought in the museum and the household. These are the clothes
moth (_Tinea flavifrontella_), the fur moth (_T. pelionella_), the carpet
moth (_T. tapetzella_), and the grain moth (_T. granella_). The perfect
moth is of course by preference a night-flying insect, and very seldom
flies in the daytime except when disturbed. The imago is harmless, but the
larva--a tiny, white worm no thicker than a pin, and about one-tenth of an
inch in length--will soon shave the hair off an unpoisoned elk or deer head
more smoothly than you could do it with the best razor ever made. Of course
moth larvæ are most active and destructive during the breeding season--the
warm months from May to October--but in warm rooms they sometimes keep at
work all through the winter.

In one sense the moth is the zoologist's most dreaded foe, for the reason
that its work is so subtle and unseen. Often the first intimation the
victim has of the presence of his enemy is when dusting a favorite head he
suddenly knocks off a section of hair half a foot square, exposing
underneath the smooth, bare skin covered with fine gray dust. The larvæ of
the moth attack birds and quadrupeds in one way only, that is by eating the
roots of the hair or feathers, and the epidermis. Mounted heads of large
ruminant animals are the particular prey of these abominable pests, because
they cannot be protected by glass cases, and are seldom touched save with a
feather duster.

In ethnological collections all the garments of skin and leather, and all
the textile fabrics are subject to the attacks of the Tineids, as they also
are to those of the species to be noticed next.

ANTHRENUS.--Although I have seen this "buffalo bug" try hard to make an
impression on mounted mammals, I have not yet seen it do harm except to
furs and leather or woolen garments. The adult buffalo bug (_Anthrenus
lepidus_) is a tiny, round, brown beetle, with white spots on its elytra,
and, as usual, it is the larvæ that do the mischief.

SYMPTOMS OF THE PRESENCE OF INSECT PESTS.--Whenever little heaps of brown
dust are seen accumulating here and there on a pedestal underneath a
mounted specimen, know that dermestes are actively at work somewhere above.
Sometimes the larvæ will even show themselves on the hair, which means a
bad case.

If a perfect moth is seen flying in a case, or resting on a specimen,
search at once for the larvæ. The best way to do this is to go over a
specimen with a rough brush, or a comb, to see if the hair pulls out at any
point. If a tuft of hair gives way at its roots, and you see a bare spot
underneath, it means moth larvæ.

POISONING.--Let us take first the case of a mounted specimen which is known
to be infested with the larvæ of either _Dermestes_ or Tineids. It must be
treated thoroughly all over with a powerful poison, not only to kill the
insects already there, but to poison any larvæ that may be hatched
hereafter and seek to attack it.

If possible, remove the specimen from its pedestal, and beat out of it
whatever dust it may contain. Procure a quantity of alcohol sufficient when
diluted with fifty per cent of water to completely saturate the hair (or
feathers) of the specimen, and dissolve in it some corrosive
sublimate--about one ounce to every three pints of the liquid. The point to
strive for in making up such a solution is to make it as strong with the
corrosive sublimate as it can be without leaving on dark hair a gray (or
white) deposit when the liquid has evaporated. In practice I always mix the
liquid, and then test it with a tuft of black or brown hair. If the deposit
left is quite apparent to the eye, a little more alcohol and water must be
added. The principle of the process is simply this: The alcohol, being at
once very penetrating and very volatile, and also capable of combining
chemically with the corrosive sublimate, is used as a vehicle for the
distribution of the poison. The poison is carried to the roots of the hair
and left there as a deposit when the liquid evaporates. In Chapter XVIII.
the method of applying this solution is described. Arsenic water, also
described there, is _equally good_, and any intelligent person can make up
either solution and apply it successfully without the slightest difficulty.

When the specimen has dried, the hair must be dressed by brushing and
combing it. If the white poison shows on the hair, take a sponge, and with
either hot water or alcohol sponge off the _surface_ of the hair, leaving
all the unseen poison undisturbed. If your solution contains the proper
amount of poison, and is thoroughly applied, I warrant that insects will
never again touch that specimen, even though it should exist a thousand

It often happens that moths get into cases of birds, or mammals, or
insects, which cannot be treated as above without damaging the specimens.
In such an event there are several poisons of a volatile character which
give off fumes so deadly that no insect can live in them. The best for this
purpose is naphthaline crystals, exposed in the cases in little bags made
of musquito-netting, used in abundant quantity, and left in the cases,
which must of course be kept closed as tightly as possible. In insect
collections each box should have a little cone of crystals,[12] as a
standing menace to all would-be marauders. Liquid or crystal bisulphide of
carbon, exposed in saucers on the bottom of a tightly closed case will also
kill whatever living insects may be found therein; but it does not destroy
eggs, and by the time it has evaporated another generation of destroyers
may have been born, hungrier than the first.

A half-ounce bag of naphthaline crystals will last about three months. Mr.
John B. Smith, who published in the "Proceedings of the Entomological
Society of Washington," vol. i., No. 2, p. 113, a very interesting paper on
"Museum Pests," found in treating some boxes of coleoptera that were
infested with _Trogoderma_ that both bisulphide of carbon and naphthaline
killed all larvæ and imagoes, and held all the eggs in a dormant condition,
even through the summer months, until the poison had all evaporated, when
the eggs began to hatch.

At present naphthaline in the form of crystals has become the most popular
of the various volatile poisons, and among ornithologists, mammalogists,
and entomologists is very generally used. It prevents mould, destroys
bacteria and schizomycetes; the salt is perfectly neutral, is not poisonous
to man, and is cheap, costing only twenty-five cents per pound.

be put through any liquid poison, for the reason that some would be made
hard and stiff, some would lose their colors, and all would come out in bad
shape generally. To meet the exigencies of such cases one alternative is
to poison the atmosphere of an air-tight case with some of the volatile
poisons already mentioned, and the other is to treat each article with some
powerful liquid poison, applied as a fine spray with an ordinary atomizer
of gutta-percha, which can be purchased for from one to two dollars. The
immense collections of the department of ethnology in the National Museum
have necessitated a great amount of poisoning in both these ways,
especially the latter, which has the merit of being permanent. In the
"Smithsonian Report for 1887," vol. ii., pp. 549-558, Mr. Walter Hough has
published a very complete, lucid, and valuable paper on "The Preservation
of Museum Specimens from Insects, and the Effects of Dampness," which every
zoological conservator should read and hold for ready reference.

In spraying large objects Mr. Hough uses either a Shaw & Geary No. 2
air-compressor (cost, $15) or a four-nozzle gutta-percha atomizer ($2.50),
and the spray is from the following solution:

    Saturated solution of arsenic acid and alcohol      1 pint.
    Strong carbolic acid                             25 drops.
    Strychnine                                       20 grains.
    Alcohol (strong)                                  1 quart.
    Naphtha, crude or refined                         1 pint.

For treating specimens of ordinary size with the concentrated fumes of
bisulphide of carbon, the National Museum uses a galvanized sheet-iron tank
3 × 2 × 2 feet, which has around its upper edge a deep groove filled with
water, into which the rim of the cover fits when the tank is closed. The
centre of the cover contains an air-hole, which is also capable of being
hermetically closed in the same way. This tank should be used in the open
air, if possible, so that the fumes will not injure the health of the

POISONING RUGS.--It has long been a problem how to poison a fur rug to
protect it from insects, and yet to keep out of it the dry mineral poisons
which would be injurious to the health of the little ones, the dog, and the
cat, who are "tenants in common" of the bear-skin on the floor. Mr. F.S.
Webster has solved the difficulty by poisoning all his rugs on the inside
with our old and valued friend, arsenical soap. It strikes into and through
the skin, of course, and, contrary to previous expectations, it is by no
means offensive, or even noticeable by odor in the finished rug.

FURS.--Even in Washington, the City of Moths, Mrs. Hornaday carried the
family rugs and furs, and all woolen clothing, through eight summers,
unscathed, by the liberal use of camphor gum alone. If the crumbled gum is
sprinkled liberally into the folds of anything when it is being folded or
rolled up, its protection against moths is assured.

INSECT POWDERS.--For the benefit of the American housewife I will mention
the fact that for the complete annihilation of ants, roaches, water-bugs,
and the like, there is nothing that I know of that is so far-reaching and
so deadly as a powder produced in California called buhac, costing sixty
cents per pound. The price is high, but the powder is well worth it--and
this is an absolutely free advertisement.

THE EFFECT OF POISONS ON THE TAXIDERMIST.--Arsenical soap is by all odds
the safest poison that can possibly be used. It gives off no poisonous
fumes whatsoever, its presence in the mouth, nose, or eyes is always
detected instantly, and the worst that it ever does is to get into a cut or
under the ends of the finger-nails of the careless taxidermist, and make a
festering sore which is well in a few days--a purely local ill.

Dry arsenic is more injurious. It sometimes poisons the fingers of a
careless operator, and if it is inhaled in the form of dust the effect may
be serious. A few persons are very susceptible to the effects of dry
arsenic, others are not. If the blood is in a healthy condition there is
little to fear from it, except through gross carelessness. I have used, all
told, probably more than a hundred and fifty pounds of arsenic in various
forms, and never had an hour's illness in consequence, nor anything more
serious than a sore finger.

Corrosive sublimate is much more powerful and more dangerous. It should
never be used in the preparation of a skin before it is mounted; after
mounting it may, with care, be used quite safely.

Strychnine is far too dangerous to be used by a taxidermist save in
poisoning animals he wishes to secure as scientific specimens.


[12] Made and sold by Blake & Co., Philadelphia.



_Recipe for Making Arsenical Soap._

    White bar soap, soft rather than hard      2 pounds.
    Powdered arsenic                           2   "
    Camphor                                    5 ounces.
    Subcarbonate of potash                     6   "
    Alcohol                                    8   "

Directions: The soap should be the best quality of laundry soap, and of
such composition that it can be reduced with water to any degree of
thinness. Soap which becomes like jelly when melted will not answer, and
should never be used.

Slice the soap and melt it in a small quantity of water over a slow fire,
stirring sufficiently to prevent its burning. When melted add the potash,
and stir in the powdered arsenic. Next add the camphor, which should be
dissolved in the alcohol at the beginning of the operation. Stir the mass
thoroughly, boil it down to the consistency of thick molasses, and pour it
into an earthen or wooden jar to cool and harden. Stir it occasionally
while cooling to prevent the arsenic from settling at the bottom. When cold
it should be like lard or butter. For use, mix a small quantity with water
until it resembles buttermilk, and apply with a common paint-brush.

The prices charged for the manufactured article by chemists who make
arsenical soap to sell are out of all proportion to the cost and labor
involved, and every taxidermist who uses much of it should by all means
manufacture his own supply.

_Hendley's Enamel Varnish._--Take equal parts of ether and alcohol, mix
them, and add one-third as much gun-cotton. To every gill of this mixture
add six drops of olive-oil to give elasticity. It is a good plan to keep
two bottles, one containing the varnish ready for use, and the other
containing the proper mixture of ether, alcohol and olive oil, to use in
thinning the varnish when it gets too thick. This is a very superior
varnish being absolutely colorless, and of high gloss.

_The Wickersheimer Solution for the Preservation of Fleshy Objects

    Alum                                500 grains.
    Salt                                125  "
    Saltpetre                            60  "
    Potash                              300  "
    Arsenic trioxide (white arsenic)    100  "

Dissolve in one quart of boiling water. Cool and filter, and for every
quart of solution add four quarts of glycerine and one quart of alcohol.
Immerse the objects to be preserved in this solution, and keep them in it.
It is but little else than our old familiar friend, the salt-and-alum bath,
with enough glycerine added to prevent the excess of alum from unduly
hardening and shriveling the specimens.

_Composition for Use in Modeling Tongues, Mouths, and in General
Fancy-Work._--"Procure 3 pounds white glue, 1 pint raw linseed oil, and 1
pound of resin. Heat the oil and resin, then add hot glue and stir
thoroughly. Thicken with Paris white until the mixture has the proper
consistency to mould when warm. This composition soon dries, becomes very
hard, and can be colored or gilded. Fancy decorations of any design can
readily be made from moulds of plaster or wood, and be glued on to shields
and cases, thereby saving the expense of carving. The above is my own
composition, which I have successfully employed for many years."--(_J.H.

_Composition for Snow Scenes._--"Crush burnt alum with a roller, and remove
small lumps. Add frosting, which has been pulverized in a mortar to the
proper degree of fineness."--(_Batty._)

_Varnish Cutter_ (to remove old varnish from antlers, teeth, wood, or from
the surface of an old oil-painting).--Take a sufficient quantity of eighty
or ninety per cent alcohol, and slowly pour into it clear spirits of
turpentine until the mixture becomes of a milky color. Then cork the bottle
and shake the mixture thoroughly, and it is ready for use. Apply it with a
small sponge, rub the surface vigorously for a moment only, then dip a rag
in boiled linseed-oil and apply it to the cleaned surface. The varnish
cutter acts almost instantly, and if left on too long the surface of a
painting might be injured.

_To Prevent Mould in Boxes of Specimens._--Take some carbolic acid crystals
(forty cents per pound), melt them in the sun, and with the resulting
liquid acid paint the entire inside of each box, and, if possible, pack
contents with naphthaline crystals. This is efficacious in boxes of small
skins of birds and mammals, of insects and the like, even in hot climates,
but of course does not apply to boxes of large specimens which contain a
great amount of moisture.

_To Polish Hard Wood._--1st. Rub the surface thoroughly with raw
linseed-oil, turpentine, and powdered pumice-stone. 2d. Give the surface a
smooth coat of shellac. 3d. When dry, take fine sand-paper and go over it
rather lightly. 4th. Give the surface a good coat of hard oil finish (a
white varnish), and let it harden. 5th. When quite dry rub down with raw
oil, turpentine, and pumice-stone, to soften the gloss of the varnish, and
give a polish instead. For rubbing, use a piece of hair-cloth, or clean

_Cement for Gumming Labels to Minerals and Shells._--"Pulverized gum
Arabic, 4 ounces; pulverized white sugar, 2 ounces; starch, 4 drachms.

Dissolve all separately in as little water as convenient. Dissolve starch
in cold water, then stir it into sugar water, and then that mixture into
the gum water. Boil with great care, as burning will spoil the whole. It is
well to use a tin vessel raised from the bottom of another vessel
containing water. After the starch ceases to make the mixture look milky it
is cooked, but at least an hour's time will be required. Keep in large
mouthed, tightly corked bottles, or when done pour into a tray covered with
strong paper, spreading it evenly over the paper, and allow it to dry. When
dry enough, moisten back of paper and remove it from the gum, dry again
thoroughly, break into fragments and preserve for use in wide-mouth
stoppered jar."--(_Southwick & Jenck's "Random Notes."_)

_Arsenic Water_ (for poisoning mammal skins, etc.).--Water, 4 quarts;
arsenic, 4 ounces. Mix, stir and boil until the arsenic is all taken up.

THE TREATMENT OF FURS AND PELTRIES.--Inasmuch as the readers of this book
may sometime desire to preserve a few mammal skins as furs, or to be made
up as rugs, I will quote entire, _verbatim et literatim_, a circular of
instructions lately issued by one of the largest fur houses in this
country, Messrs. William Macnaughtan's Sons, of New York City. Observe
particularly, however, that skins prepared thus are _utterly worthless to
the taxidermist and the scientific museum_. They are good _for furs only_:

"_Directions for Fur Collectors and Trappers, to Insure High Prices, Ready
Sales, and Save from Losses through Ignorance._--'_Cased:_' Ermine, fisher,
fox, lynx, martin, mink, opossum, otter, skunk, must be 'cased,' that is,
not cut open. In skinning, cut at the rump, and turn the skin inside out
(like a glove) over the body of the animal, leaving the pelt side out. Then
after scraping, cleaning, and drying, turn the skin back again while it is
soft and easily managed, leaving the fur side out. Then put a thin board
inside the skin, cut the natural shape of it, stretching the skin to its
fullest extent, but not so much as to make the fur thin. Too much
stretching spreads the fur over a large surface, and makes it thin and
lacking in richness. A liberal supply of good boards should be kept on
hand. Never use bent sticks, bows, or anything irregular in shape or that
yields. When the above are 'opened' they have a Southern appearance that
lessens the value greatly.

"'_Open:_' badger, bear, beaver, cats, raccoon, wolves, wolverine, must be
'open;' that is, cut open, up the belly from rump to head. After scraping,
cleaning, and drying, stretch a uniformly oblong shape, to the fullest
extent of the skin, but not so much as to make the fur thin. When
thoroughly dry, trim off legs, shanks, flippers, and any little pieces that
spoil the appearance of skin.

"_Exceptions:_ Skunk, long stripe, such as come from the Territories and
sections of California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, cut open and
stretch oblong, as explained. Skunk, with the white stripe (or any portion)
shaved out, blackened, or tampered with, must be collected at half price.
Opossum from Indian Territory, cut open, and stretch oblong as explained.
Chop off the tails where the fur ends, as they make opossum look poorly and
lessen their value. Beaver are sometimes stretched almost round, but appear
very much better stretched oblong. Value by the skin, never by the pound.
They rapidly lose heavily in weight. They bring most sold by the skin.
Muskrats must be 'cased,' but with fur side in. Chop off the tails as
explained. Skin at the nose and make rumps square. Round tails have less
value and do not sell well. Muskrats must not be injured by shooting or
spearing. Trap them.

"Skins that have dried without proper care can be treated same as fresh,
green skins. Otherwise they have no value. Dissolve a handful of common
salt in a pail of fresh water, and apply frequently with brush or rag (to
pelt side only, as it spoils appearance to wet the fur) until the pelt
becomes perfectly soft. Then handle as explained. The same with 'open'

"_Cautions:_ Do not cure with alum or salt. It injures them for dressing
and spoils their sale. Do not dry skins at a fire, or in the sun, or in
smoke. It often 'burns' them; when they then spoil, and ruin on being
dressed. Dry in the open air where shady. Meaty skins often 'burn.' The
meat and fat on them heats and 'burns' them, and they then go to pieces and
rot on being dressed. Too much warmth curls and spoils the top fur or hair.
Never stuff furs of any kind; dry and stretch as explained. Do not stretch
out the noses and make them pointed. It gives a Southern appearance and
lessens value. Do not cut off heads, ears, or noses, or mutilate in any
way. It lessens value and injures sales. Remove as much of bone from tail
as possible, otherwise the tail rots.

"_Trapping:_ Fur-bearing animals must not be killed till they have at least
a fair growth of fur. Stop trapping as soon in early spring as the fur
begins to shed or becomes thin, or a little faded. These too early or too
late caught furs are a disgrace to fur trappers and collectors, and a
wasteful, worthless slaughter."



It is manifestly impossible even to name under this head a tenth part of
the excellent books which might well be given place. It is also inexpedient
to include in a list, that must of necessity be brief, the names of
special works relating to the fauna of other countries than North America.
Having been from first to last a diligent user of books in the course of my
work, and ever on the alert for something new in printed word or picture
that would be of practical use, I will give here the titles of the books
that have proven of the greatest practical value to me. I must also in this
connection strongly urge the young taxidermist and collector to supply
himself with as many of these standard works as he can possibly procure. If
diligently studied they are bound to save him from many an error, and
richly repay their cost.


"Steele's Popular Zoology." By Professor J.W.P. Jenks. American Book
Company, New York. $1.00.

A model manual; of great value to the student because of its clearness,
conciseness, and wealth of information. Copiously and elegantly

"Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London;" also "Transactions."

Contains a great number of fine animal plates of much value to professional
taxidermists. The series is extensive and very costly, and is therefore
usually inaccessible except when it can be reached in some scientific


"Illustrated Natural History: Mammals." Rev. J.G. Wood. Routledge, London,
1861. Price about $4.00. Get the original edition if possible.

This book has been of more help to me than any other I have ever found.

"Quadrupeds of North America." Audubon and Bachman.

Out of print and difficult to obtain, but very valuable.

"The Mammalia, in Word and Picture." By Carl Vogt and F. Specht. Translated
from the German by Geo. G. Chisholm. D. Appleton & Co., 1-5 Bond Street,
New York, 1890. Super royal 4to. $12.00.

This great work contains the finest illustrations of mammals, both singly
and in groups, ever published in any country. The groups represented are
wonderfully fine and life-like, and must be seen to be appreciated. No
mammal taxidermist can afford to be without this work.


"The American Ornithologist's Union Code of Nomenclature, and Check-List of
North American Birds." L.S. Foster, 35 Pine Street, New York City. $3.00.

Indispensable to the American collector, because it is the highest
authority on the classification and nomenclature of North American birds.
Thanks to this work, it is no longer necessary to take a daily paper in
order to keep posted on the latest changes in bird nomenclature. The names
adopted by Baird (1858), Coues (1873), Ridgway (1880), and Coues (1882) are
all given. No illustrations.

"Key to North American Birds." By Dr. Elliott Coues. Estes & Lauriat,
Boston. $7.50.

This great work--indispensable to every ornithologist--consists of a
masterly treatise on systematic ornithology and the anatomy of birds, a key
by which even the tyro can learn to analyze any American bird and identify
it, and also a valuable treatise on "Field Ornithology," or

"Nomenclature of North American Birds." Robert Ridgway. Sold by F.B.
Webster, 409 Washington Street, Boston. $7.50.

Especially designed for use in the determination of species.

"Illustrated Natural History: Birds." Rev. J.G. Wood. Routledge, London,
1861. Price about $4.00. Get the original edition.

To a bird taxidermist this is the most valuable book ever published in a
single volume, because of its wealth of excellent illustrations. Of special
value in mounting strange foreign birds. Beware of the later editions.

"Studer's Birds of North America." Illustrated by Theodore Jasper. Large
royal quarto. Jacob H. Studer, New York. $25.00.

Contains 119 plates, and a colored figure of every species of North
American bird known at the date of its publication. A notable work. The
illustrations are of great value to young taxidermists as models by which
to mount birds.

"Birds of North America." J.J. Audubon.

This superb work is out of print; rare and costly. The octavo edition is to
be found in most large libraries, however, and every bird taxidermist
should at least know where the copy nearest to him is to be found, and how
to gain access to it in time of need.

"Oology of New England." E.A. Capen. Sold by Frank B. Webster, 409
Washington Street, Boston. $8.75.

This is the finest illustrated work on birds' eggs ever published in this


"Illustrated Natural History: Reptiles." Rev. J.G. Wood. Routledge, London,

Uniform with volumes on Mammals and Birds.


"American Fishes." G. Brown Goode. Standard Book Co., New York, 1888.

An elegant work, of convenient size. Comprehensive and eminently useful.
Fully illustrated. No collector or student of American fishes can afford to
be without it.

"The Fishery Industries of the United States." Section I. By G. Brown Goode
and Associates. 2 vols. Complete and exhaustive, both in text and plates,
and very valuable. Government publication. Sold at cost by the U.S. Fish
Commission, Washington.

"Introduction to the Study of Fishes." Albert Gunther. A. & C. Black,


See the end of Chapter XLIV.


"The Ocean World." Louis Figuier. Cassell & Co., New York. $2.50.

"Recent and Fossil Shells." S.P. Woodward, London. John Weale, 1856. (Apply
to Bernard Quaritch, London.)

A very handy and useful manual for the field. Many illustrations. Price
about $1.50.

"Structural and Systematic Conchology." Geo. W. Tryon. Philadelphia Academy
of Natural Sciences. $12.00.

A great work; complete, exhaustive, and richly illustrated.


"Homes Without Hands." Rev. J.G. Wood. Longmans, Green & Co., London. Price
about $3.00.

"Mammalia in Word and Picture." Specht and Vogt, already described.


"The Sportsman's Library," as advertised by the _Forest and Stream_
Publishing Company, 318 Broadway, New York, contains an attractive and
valuable selection of books on subjects of special interest to the
sportsman, naturalist, and traveller. It includes books by specialists on
such subjects as "Camping and Trapping," "Hunting and Shooting," "Angling,"
"Boating and Yachting," "Guide-Books and Maps," "Horse," "Kennel," "Natural
History," and miscellaneous works. The list, as a whole, is an excellent
one to select from.

Of course no one with a spark of interest in hunting and the natural
history of the higher vertebrates will be without _Forest and Stream_--a
whole sportsman's and naturalist's library in itself,--or _The Field_, or
_Sports Afield_. No young ornithologist can get along without his best
friend, the _Ornithologist and Oologist_, and it would indeed be rank
heresy for the professional bird-man to ignore the stately and infallible


    Accessories, artificial, 338-339
      natural, 247

    Africa, destruction of game in, 2

    Agassiz, Professor Louis, 72

    "Agassiz Tank," for alcoholic specimens, 72-73

    Albatross, 62

    _Alces malchis_, 248

    Alcohol, preservation of specimens in, 66, 70, 71-75, 83, 127, 202-204

    Alcoholometer, 75

    Aldrich, P.W., 219

    Alectorides, treatment of, 65

    Alligators, collecting, 66-68
      mounting, 204-206
      skeletons of, 293-294

    Alum, use of, 32, 45, 51, 61, 68, 115, 162

    American Museum of Natural History, 109, 236, 249

    Ammonia, use of, 322

    Anatomy, caution against detailed external, 112

    Antennæ, 332

    _Anthrenus_, 336, 341

    Apes, treatment of large, 43-45

    Apparatus for drying larvæ, 315
      for inflating larvæ, 314
      for mounting larvæ, 315

    Arsenic, use of, 32, 51, 64, 115, 148, 151, 344-345

    Arsenic water, 342, 348

    Arsenical soap, use of, 32, 45, 51, 61, 65, 68, 118, 132, 148, 162, 167
      recipe for making, 346

    Artificial branches, 127
      foliage in group, 238-239

    Attitudes of animals, 111, 121, 171-172, 192, 205
      of skeletons, 288

    Backgrounds, painted, for cases and groups, 221-222

    Bailly, Jules F.D., grotesque groups by, 227

    Bath, _see_ Salt-and-alum bath

    Batrachians, 202-203

    Bats, mounting, on glass, 127-128
      mounting skeletons of, 291

    Battle in the Tree-tops, 233, 234

    Beetles, collecting, in alcohol, 328
      frame for mounting, 330

    Bird, names of external parts of, 47

    Birds, arrangement of feathers on, 182
      collecting, best season for, 16
      collecting skins of small, 46-57
      determination of sex in, 56
      groups of, 224, 232, 235, 249-250
      mounting large, 191-197
      mounting small, 183-190
      mounting skeletons of, 287, 292-293
      painting mounted, 256
      relaxing dry skins of, 179-182
      shooting, as a pastime, 18
      skeletonizing, 276-278
      skinning large, 58-65
      wrapping skins of, 53-55

    Bison, American, extermination of the, 1
      group of, by the author, 234-235, 245, 246
      manikin for, 148
      mounting the skeleton of, 296
      specimens of, collected by author, 234

    Blood on specimens, 42, 47, 198, 201

    Body, artificial, for birds, 184, 191-192

    Bone-scrapers, 286

    Books of reference on birds, 352
      on fishes, 354
      on general zoology, 351
      on groups of animals, 355
      on insects, 337
      on invertebrates, 354
      on mammals, 352
      in "Sportsman's Library," 355
      miscellaneous, 355

    Boxes for collecting insects, 323, 324, 332
      for exhibiting insects, 335-336
      for relaxing skins, 180
      for tools, 11

    Breeding-cages, 317, 318

    Breeding larvæ, 316-319

    Brushes for painting specimens, 252

    Buffalo, _see_ Bison

    Butterflies, breeding larvæ of, 317
      collecting, 325, 332

    Cages for breeding larvæ, 317, 318

    Capybara, 103

    Carbon bisulphide, use of, 336, 342

    Carbolic acid, use of, 61, 323
      crystals prevent mould, 348

    Carving wooden skulls and leg bones, 104-106

    _Carpocapsa_, 306

    Cases of ornamental taxidermy, 220-224

    Casts, 21, 25
      making moulds and, 259-270
      of mammals in the flesh, 268
      of fishes and reptiles, 269-270
      painting plaster, 257

    Cassowary, 61

    Cat a difficult subject, 127

    Chimpanzee, 43-44

    Chloroform, use of, 322, 336

    Chelonia, collecting, 68-70
      mounting, 206-207

    Chloride of lime, 88, 89

    Clay, Colonel Cecil, moose collected and presented by, 248

    Clay as a filling material, 112-113, 119, 124, 167, 207, 211
      preparation of, for use, 113, 148

    Cleaning feathers, 65
      skins of mammals, 102-104

    Clothing and food, 4

    Collecting, best seasons for, 16
      -boxes for insects, 323-324
      by amateurs, 17
      eggs of insects, 309-311
      fishes, 71-79
      insects, 320-327
      jar for insects, 321
      large mammal skins, 37-45
      marine invertebrates, 80-89
      nests and eggs, 90-97
      reptiles, 66-70
      small birds, 46-57
      small mammal skins, 24-36
      shells, 85-89
      specimens for groups, 237, 243-244

    Collectors, character of ideal, 3, 46
      firearms for, 9, 12
      golden rule for, 20
      need of skilful, 1-3
      outfits for, 8-15

    Colors, how to handle, 253-255
      kinds of, 252
      list of, 23
      necessity of recording, 22, 25, 43, 48, 71-72

    Coloring soft parts, 113-114, 253-255

    Combs, furrier's steel, 36

    "Coming to the Point," 221-222

    Composition for use in modeling, 347
      for snow scenes, 347

    Corals, collecting and cleaning, 81-83

    Corn meal as an absorbent, 59, 64, 198

    Cornell University insect-house, 318

    Corrosive sublimate solution, 151, 341, 345

    Cotton, use of, in making bird skins, 52-54

    Crabs, cleaning and mounting, 217-218

    Cranes, 65

    Crocodiles, collecting, 66-68
      mounting, 204-206
      skeletons of, 293-294

    Crustaceans, cleaning and mounting, 217-218

    Cyanide of potash, 321, 323

    Dead game panels, 224

    _Dermestes lardarius_, 64, 336, 339
      _maculatus_, 340

    Designing groups, 237, 243, 244-245

    Ducks and their treatment, 64

    Ear, treatment of the, 45, 125, 160-162, 167

    Echini, collecting and preserving, 84

    Eggs, blowing, 95
      collecting and preserving, 94-97
      removing embryos from, 96

    Eggs of insects, 309-311
      how deposited, 309-310
      how devitalized, 310
      how preserved, 310-311

    Elephant, prize won by, 141

    Elephants, firearms for hunting, 12
      preserving skin of, 41

    Embryos, removal of, 95, 96

    Emu, 61

    Enamel varnish, Hendley's, 346

    Entomological supplies, 337

    Entomology, economic, 306

    Envelopes for insects, 328

    Excelsior, use of, 147, 148

    Expression, 169, 171-172

    Extermination, animals threatened with, 1

    Eye, treatment of the, 44, 124, 160, 169, 172, 188, 196, 212

    Eyes, cleaning glass, 177

    Feathers, cleaning, 65, 198-201
      distribution of, on bird's body, 182

    Felidæ as taxidermic subjects, 171

    Filling for dry skins, 33, 52, 60, 166
      for necks, 166
      skins of mammals, 129, 130, 132, 138
      small mammals, 122-125

    Finishing a small mammal, 123-127
      large mounted mammals, 150-155

    Firearms, 9, 12

    Fire-screens, feather, 225

    Fish medallions, 213

    Fishes, cartilaginous, treatment of, 77-78, 214-216
      field notes on, 71
      museum collections of, 208-209
      mounting, 208-216
      painting casts of, 257
      painting mounted, 256
      preserving entire, 73-75
      skeletons of, 78, 294
      skinning, 76-77

    Flamingoes, group of, 232-233

    Florida, collecting in, 80-87

    Foot, treatment of the, 44, 192, 194

    Fossil skeletons, 280

    Fraine, Thomas W., 219
      fire-screens by, 225

    Frogs, grotesque groups of, 227

    Furniture of taxidermic laboratory, 100

    Furs and peltries, treatment of, 349

    Game panels, 224

    Garman, Samuel, quotation from, 203

    Gasoline, 335

    Geese, 64-65

    Gelatine moulds, 265

    Goode, Dr. G. Brown, 72, 234, 251
      "American Fishes," by, 354
      "Fishery Industries of the United States," by, 354

    Gorilla, 43, 44, 130

    Government Museum at Madras, 208

    Grease, on skins, 59, 64, 65
      removal of, from insects, 335
      removal of, from birds, 191-201

    Grotesque groups, 227

    Group of antelope, 235
      of buffaloes, 234-235, 246
      of coyotes, 234
      of flamingoes, 232-233
      of moose, 235, 247
      of musk oxen, 235

    Groups by European taxidermists, 230, 239
      for special exhibition, 239
      of birds, 232, 234
      of orang-utans, 231, 232

    Group-making, general principles of, 237-240
      with birds, 249-250
      with large mammals, 244-248
      with small mammals, 241-244
      with reptiles, 250-251

    Guides in hunting and collecting, 4

    Gum for labels, 348

    Hair, treatment of, 126, 127, 150, 169
      gluing on, 155-157

    Hand of anthropoid ape, 130

    Hares, _see_ Rabbits

    _Hatteria punctata_, 204

    Hawks, group of, by F.A. Lucas, 224

    Head, finishing a small mammal's, 124
      finishing a bird's, 188

    Heads, exhortation to sportsmen regarding, 158
      how to cut off, 159
      how to skin, preserve, and mount, 159-178

    Health, preservation of, 4

    Heron, neck of a, 195-196
      prize won by F.S. Webster with, 195-196
      skins, 59, 60, 65

    _Hexanchus griseus_, 214

    Holland, Dr. W.J., author of Part V., 61, 305-338
      advice from, to insect collectors, 324, 327
      collecting-boxes devised by, 323
      Japanese insects collected by, 333
      "Homes Without Hands," 93

    Hornaday, William T., advocacy of painted backgrounds by, 221-223
      use of clay by, 112
      prizes won by, 141, 222, 233
      new method of mounting bats by, 127
      development of clay-covered manikin by, 140
      method of head-mounting developed by, 163

    Hornaday, William T., new treatment of feline tongues by, 174
      new method of making ape's hands by, 130-131
      new method of mounting fishes by, 211, 213-214
      museum groups advocated by, 231, 232, 234
      groups of mammals mounted by, 231, 234-235

    Human figure in groups, 239-240

    Hunting, hints on, 13, 14
      the alligator and crocodile, 67

    Hygiene, principles of, 5

    Ice, artificial, 220

    Inflation of larvæ, 312-316

    Insect labels, 329, 337
      nets, 320
      pests, 336, 339-341
      pins, 329-330

    Insects, boxes for, 335-336
      breeding-cages for, 317, 318
      carrying-boxes for, 333
      classification of, 305-308
      collecting perfect, 320-327
      collecting-boxes for, 323-324
      drying, 333
      eggs of, 309-311
      effect of light on, 336
      house for breeding, 318
      killing, best methods of, 321-322
      mounts for, 329
      mounting, 329-332
      mould in collections of, 334-335
      pinning, 330-332
      poisoning collections of, 336
      ravages of, 306
      relaxing dried, 334
      removing grease from, 335
      setting-boards for, 330-331
      stuffing, 333

    Invertebrates, marine, 80-89
      Ward's catalogue of, 81

    Iron square, the, 136-137

    Irons for necks of mammals, 132
      legs of mammals, 130, 131, 145

    Javelle water, for skeletons, 287

    Jenks, Professor J.W.P., author of "Steele's Popular Zoology," 351

    Jesup, Morris K., bird groups ordered by, 235

    "Key to North American Birds," 48, 352

    "Killing-knife," 15
      -jar, for insects, 321

    Knives for a collector, 15, 49

    Labeling, 23, 72, 94, 97, 387, 348

    Laboratory, taxidermic, 99-101

    _Lacertilia_, 66, 202-203

    _Lamellirostres_, treatment of, 64

    Larvæ, breeding and rearing, 316-319
      collecting, 311

    Larvæ, drying, 315
      inflation of, 316
      mounting, 315
      preparation of, 312
      transformation of, 312

    Leaves, artificial, 220

    Leg-bones, value of, 32, 33, 42

    Leg-irons, best attachment for, 136-137
      how to prepare and attach, 143-147

    Leg-wires, attachment of, in birds, 193

    Legs, of large mammals, making, 130-147
      of small bird, wiring, 184-186
      of small mammals, making, 116-118
      treatment of, in skinning, 33, 59, 60, 61

    Lepidoptera, 317-318

    Ligamentary skeletons, cleaning, 286
      mounting, 288

    Lion, 171-172

    Liquors, hurtfulness of intoxicating, 6

    Lizards, 66, 202-204

    Lobster, how to clean and mount, 217-218

    _Longipennes_, treatment of, 62

    Lucas, Frederic A., 69, 219, 223, 276
      work in National Museum by, 288
      group of turtles by, 250
      group of hawks by, 224
      wall-cases of birds by, 224

    Macerating skeletons, 282-284

    Mammals, collecting, best seasons for, 16
      gluing hair on mounted, 155-157
      groups of large, 231, 234
      groups of small, 234, 241, 244
      mounting, general principles of, 109-114
      mounting groups of, see Groups
      mounting heads of, 163-178
      mounting medium-sized, 129-134
      mounting large, 135-149
      mounting small, 115-128
      mounting skeletons of, 289-293
      painting mounted, 254-255
      relaxing dry skins of, 102
      skeletonizing, 273-279
      trapping and poisoning small, 18
      treatment of skins of small, 24-36
      treatment of skins of large, 37-45

    Manikin, advantages of the, 141, 142
      how to construct the best, 142-149
      required for largest birds, 193

    Maynard rifle, recommendation of the, 12, 13, 15

    Medallions, bird, by F.S. Webster, 225
      fish, 213

    Measurements, of birds, 20, 48, 191
      of large mammals, 37-39
      of small mammals, 24

    Medicines, collector's outfit of, 5, 6

    Microscopic slides of insects' eggs, 311

    Modeling an open mouth, 172-177
      -tools, 173

    Monkeys, treatment of, 43-44

    Moose, group of, in National Museum, 247

    Montana, natural accessories from, 247

    Moth, destructiveness of the codling, 306

    Moths in museum collections, 340, 341

    Mould, in insect collections, 344, 345
      precautions against, 61, 348

    Moulds, gelatine, 265
      making "piece," 259-263
      making waste, 263-265

    Mouth, expression of the, 171
      modeling the, 172

    Muriatic acid, use of, 81, 88, 89

    Museum, American, 109, 236, 249
      British, 235
      Comparative Zoology, 202, 203
      Government, at Madras, 208
      United States National, 97, 109, 209, 221, 234, 235, 241, 251, 270,

    Naphthaline crystals, use of, 335, 342, 343

    Neck irons, 107, 130, 132, 138
      treatment of the, 60, 65, 159, 165, 166, 169, 195
      of a heron, 195
      of a trophy head, 159, 165

    Needles, extra long, for sewing manikins, 107

    Nests, collecting, 91-93
      displaying, 94

    Nets for insects, 320

    Nose, treatment of the, 44

    Nostrils, treatment of the, 169

    Notes, field, 22

    Oologist, outfit for an, 91
      work of an, 90-97

    "Oology of New England," 225, 353

    _Ophidiæ_, 66, 202

    Opossums, group of, 241

    Orang utans, groups of, 231, 233
      treatment of, 43, 130

    "_Ornithologist and Oologist_," 355

    Ostrich, 61, 193

    Outfit for collecting insects, 320-324
      for general collecting, 9
      of medicines, 6
      for an oologist, 91
      for sportsmen and travellers, 11

    Outlines of dead animals, 22, 25

    Owl, snowy, 192

    Packing bird-skins, 56, 61
      corals, 82
      eggs, 97
      insects, 332-333
      skeletons, 291.

    Painting finished specimens, 170, 218, 252-258
      materials, 252
      on papier-maché, 155
      plaster casts, 257

    Papier-maché, how to make, 151-153
      rustic case made of, 223
      use of, 151, 154, 173, 246

    Parasites, 73

    Passions, expression of the higher, 171

    Pedestals, for skeletons, 292

    Pelican, 62

    Peltries and furs, treatment of, 349

    Penguin, 62

    Photographing animals, 21

    Pinning insects, 330-332

    Plaster Paris as an absorbent, 50-64, 65, 198-201
      casts, 21, 25
      tablets for reptiles, 202-204
      use of, 163-164, 198-201, 220

    Plumage, cleaning soiled, 198-201

    Poison, effects of, on taxidermist, 344

    Poisoning furs and rugs, 344
      -jar for insects, 321
      mounted specimens and collections, 341
      skins and mammals, 32, 110, 148, 151
      textiles and skin clothing, 343
      wild animals, 18

    Polishing hardwood, 348

    Principles of bird-mounting, 188-190
      of group-making, 237-240, 249-251
      of mammal-mounting, 109-114

    Proportions of animals, 112

    Pulp, paper, 152

    Python, 202

    Rabbits, mounting, 127

    Rats, necessity of guarding against, 33

    Ray, author vanquished by a villainous, 215

    Rays, treatment of, 77-78, 214-216

    Relaxing skins of mammals, 102-104

    Reptiles, casts of, by Joseph Palmer, 270
      collecting, 66-70
      groups of, 250
      mounting, 202-207
      new method for alcoholic, 202-203

    _Rhinobati_, 216

    Ribs, attachment of, 298-299

    Richardson, Jenness, groups of birds by, 236, 249, 250
      preservation of evergreens by, 221

    Rocks, artificial, 228-229

    Rugs, 227

    Salometer, use of the, 30, 31

    Salt, use of, 30, 33, 162

    Salt-and-alum bath, 30, 31, 102, 115, 127

    Saurians, 66-68

    Saw-fish, 214-215

    Scapula, attachment of, 302

    Screens, feather fire-, 225

    Sea-eggs, 84
      -porcupines and -urchins, 84

    Serpents, 66, 202, 293

    Setting-boards for insects, 330

    Setting-needle, 332

    Sewing skins, hints on, 106

    Sex in birds, determination of, 56

    Sharks, 77
      difficulties in preserving, 214, 215

    Shells, cleaning, 87-89
      fresh-water, 83
      land, 85
      "living" and "dead," 85
      marine, 83

    Shooting, hints on, 13, 14

    Shot-gun, use of the, 14, 15

    Shields for trophy heads, 170

    Shrinkage in mounted specimens, 150, 214

    Skeletons, bleaching, 283
      collecting, 271-279
      cleaning by macerating, 282-288
      fish, 78, 294, 295
      field-work on small mammal, 273-275
      fossil, 280
      mounting large disarticulated, 296-303
      mounting small, 288, 295
      packing, 279
      repairing damaged, 272
      "rough," 271
      selection of, 271
      snake, 66
      tools for mounting, 303
      various methods of cleaning, 282, 285, 287

    Skeletonizing birds, 276-278
      cetaceans, 279
      fishes, 78
      mammals, 273-279
      reptiles, 278

    Sketching from nature, 3, 4, 21, 22, 71

    Skin, superfluous folds of, 134, 149, 167

    Skins, cleaning bird-, 181, 182
      cloth lining for old, 182
      making alcoholic fish, 76-78
      making alligator and crocodile, 66-68
      making dry mammal, 32-36
      making large bird, 58-65
      making small bird, 47-50
      relaxing bird-, 179-181
      shrinking power of, 214-215

    Skinning apes and monkeys, 43
      crocodilians, 67
      deer's ear, 161
      fishes, 76
      large birds, 58-65
      large mammals, 39-42
      and preserving mammal heads, 40, 159, 162
      sharks, etc., 77
      small birds, 47-50
      small mammals, 26-29
      reptiles, 66-70
      turtles, 69

    Skulls, how to dispose of small, 34
      value of, 32

    Snakes, 66

    Snow, artificial, 220

    Society of American Taxidermists, 141, 163, 196, 222

    Space in groups, 238

    Specimens, half-spoiled, 31
      selection of, 20

    _Sphargis coriacea_, author's struggle with, 206

    _Sphenisci_, treatment of, 62

    Spirits, use of, _see_ Alcohol

    Sponges, collecting and cleaning, 81-82

    Squirrels, groups of, 242, 243

    Star-fishes, collecting and preparing, 83

    Steam, use of, 200

    "Steele's Popular Zoology," 47, 351

    _Steganopodes_, 62

    Straw, use of, 129, 132, 133, 205, 207

    Struthiones, treatment of, 61

    Strychnine, 18, 345

    "Sugaring" to capture insects, 326

    _Suidæ_, 103

    Swan, 64, 65

    Sweat-box, for relaxing skins, 180

    Table groups, 224

    Tail, wiring the, 118, 132
      attitude of, 126, 172
      treatment of a bird's, 54, 190

    Taxidermy, ornamental, 219-229, 250
      possibilities in, 149, 222, 224, 250
      common faults in, 109

    Taxidermist, 53
      materials necessary for, 100-101
      requirements in successful, 104, 108, 154
      tools necessary for, 100

    Taxidermists, Society of American, 231
      organization of, 232
      exhibitions of, 227
      gifts by, 219
      prizes awarded by, 141, 195, 222, 223, 224
      productions of, 219

    Teeth, how to clean, 176, 206

    Temperance, value of habits of, 6

    Thread, 168

    Tiger, facial expression of, 171-172

    "Till the Doctor Comes," 6

    Tin, sheet, in ears, 167

    _Tinea_, 340

    Tongue, treatment of the, 174-176, 206

    Tools, for bird taxidermist, 183
      for general taxidermist, 100

    Tools, for oologist, 91
      for professional collector, 9
      for traveller and sportsman, 11

    Tow, use of, 147, 187, 207, 211

    Trappers, directions for, 344

    Trapping mammals, 19

    Turpentine, use of, in cleaning feathers, 65, 198-201
      in painting, 114

    Turtles, collecting, 68-70
      mounting, 206-207
      skeletons of, 294

    Umbrella, use of, in catching insects, 321

    Varnish cutter, 347
      Hendley's enamel, 346

    Wall cases, 220-223

    Ward, Professor Henry A., 226, 234
      first large mammal group ordered by, 232

    Ward, Henry L., West Indian seals collected by, 2

    Ward's Natural Science Establishment, 136, 204, 231

    Water, artificial, 220

    Wax, use of, in mouth modeling, 176-177

    Webster, Frederic S., 189, 204, 219, 228, 232, 233
      bird medallions by, 225-226
      prize won by, 195, 224
      "Wounded Heron," by, 224

    Weight of animals, 39

    Wickersheimer solution, 347

    Winding a mounted bird, 189-190

    Wing, treatment of the, 59, 188

    Wings, spread, mounting birds with, 194

    Wire, how to anneal iron, 116

    Wire supports for mammals, 131
      supports for birds, 183

    Wiring a bird, 184-186
      a small mammal, 116-120

    Wood duck, by F.S. Webster, 233


Our new firm will now successfully compete with the best establishments of
a similar kind in this country.

     We are ready to furnish and prepare

     =Groups of Mammals and Birds,=

     for museums and the trade; also, =heads= of large game,
     =artistic articles= for household ornament and utility, such as
     =picture groups=, =panels=, =screens=, and many original
     novelties in fur and feather, unique in design,


Mr. Webster's long professional experience and reputation as an expert
taxidermist is well known and established. Under his personal
superintendence of the large trained force employed by us in this important
branch of our business, the very best work obtainable is guaranteed.


     With Mr. Sowdon's 30 years experience in the trade, we offer a
     full line of

     =Fur Garments, Animal Rugs, Robes and Fine Furs of every

We carry a full line of fur stock, raw and dressed. With competent
designers, fitters and cutters, our patrons are assured of good fitting and
well-made garments at reasonable prices. Correspondence solicited.

    In Mounting Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Fishes,




    The best procurable are those made by


    89 Walker Street, New York.

    Manufacturers of FINE GLASS EYES of every description,

    from life studies of living animals.

WHITE CORNERED EYES for the larger animals a specialty, and eyes are made
to order on short notice when colored sketches are furnished.

The attention of American taxidermists is called to the fact that for eight
years past our glass eyes have been used exclusively by Mr. Hornaday in all
the animals mounted by him and under his direction in the U.S. National
Museum, and reference to him as to the quality and cost of our goods is
hereby made, by permission.

Send for our price-list and diagram of sizes.


    GLASS SHADES of all shapes and sizes for the protection of
    mounted birds, flowers, wax fruit, etc.

    SCIENTIFIC GLASSWARE of every description.

    Brewers, etc.

All kinds of glass work done to order. Established 1862. The oldest and
best firm on the continent in the manufacture of Artificial Eyes and Glass
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mail orders.

Glass Factory on Newtown Creek, near Penny Bridge, Brooklyn, E.D., New




The undersigned manufactures the Patent Brackets and Racks for adjustable
shelves (Fig. 1), also Patent Monitor Locks (Fig. 2). These are arranged
for all styles of Museum and Book Cases, French Windows, etc. Adopted and
recommended by the principal Museums in the United States. Special new and
improved machinery for cutting and polishing Minerals, Petrified Wood,
etc., by steam or foot power, on hand or furnished to order (Fig. 3).

Full information given on application to



    Plymouth Co.,


    _The Best are the Cheapest._



    _Museum Case Locks_,

    _Brackets and Racks_,

    is fully attested by their adoption and general
    use in such Institutions as the following:

    Smithsonian Institution,
    United States National Museum,
    Museum of Comparative Zoology,
    Peabody Museum, Cambridge.
    Boston Society of Natural History,
    College of New Jersey, Princeton.
    Yale College, Vassar College,
    Brown University,
    Peabody Academy of Science,
    College of Charleston, S.C.,
                  and many others.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

[Illustration: FIG 2.]

[Illustration: FIG 3.]



    Groups of Mammals, Birds and Reptiles,


    Artificial Leaves, Plants and Vines,




    Successors to C. PELLETIER,


    (ESTABLISHED 1856,)

    135 Wooster Street, New York.

For the last eight years we have supplied the U.S. National Museum with all
the artificial leaves used by Mr. Hornaday in his animal groups, and refer
to him by permission. The most of the leaves thus used were made to order,
on short notice and at reasonable prices, from samples furnished us. Fine
leaves and tropical plants are our specialty. Let us know your wants, and
we will supply them promptly, and to your satisfaction.




    White Mills, Wayne Co., Penn.




Our Jars are used largely by the Smithsonian Institution and United States
National Museum, and give such satisfaction as is found only in first-class


We have always on hand a large assortment of well prepared =Skins for
Taxidermists=, also finely mounted specimens of native and foreign
=Mammals=, =Birds=, =Reptiles=, =Fishes=, =etc.=

    _Catalogue 150 pages._  _Price 30 cents._


Also HEAD SKINS AND ANTLERS. Custom work done in Taxidermy, and in
preparing and mounting skeletons.

    Natural Science Establishment,

Minerals, Rocks, Fossils, Casts of Fossils, Geological Relief Maps, Models
and Diagrams, Archæological Specimens, and Birds' Eggs.

Skins and Skeletons of Animals, Invertebrates, Crustaceans, Shells, Corals,
etc., Anatomical Models, Human Skeletons, Skulls and Skeletons of Races,


Taxidermists: Naturalists:

Before you can properly understand the practice of Taxidermy, it will be
necessary to engage in the work, and attain efficiency by actual practice.
To accomplish the best results, it is of vital importance to have the
proper tools and materials. Poor tools and materials produce poor results.
See to it then, that you are amply provided, and before you purchase, write
us for our 24 page Catalogue, devoted entirely to =SUPPLIES FOR THE

We can not only supply any and all of the materials named in the preceding
pages, but we can also supply you with





of which we carry thousands of specimens in stock. We specially desire to
call your attention to our line of supplies for the

    Ornithologist, Oologist, Entomologist,
    Botanist and Taxidermist,

Such as =glass eyes= of fine grades, =leaves and grasses= for case
decorations, =tools= of all kinds from a skinning knife to an engine lathe,
=collecting paraphernalia=, and a large line of =books= treating on Natural



The only periodical in this country treating directly on matters of special
interest to the Field Collector. Price, $1.00 per year.

    Frank Blake Webster Company,






You may go shooting and get no game, or fishing and catch no fish; but you
cannot buy a copy of the _Forest and Stream_ (this week or next week or any
week) without finding it brimful of capital sketches of shooting and
fishing, and papers on natural history and sportsman's travel and
experiences, and discussions of yachting and canoeing. A paper for men.

_Forest and Stream_ believes in the recreation found in the haunts of deer
and grouse, and trout and bass. It believes in the common sense that calls
a halt in business drive and professional grind, for a holiday with gun,
rod, and paddle--if only afterward to drive the faster and grind the
harder. It is a journal for those who love the country and life out of
doors. It reflects the spirit and records the experiences of the great army
of outers. If you have any sympathy with these things, the _Forest and
Stream_ is just the paper you would like to have come into your home every
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a year's subscription. Sold by all newsdealers.


    We make a specialty of books on


    Send for our free illustrated _Catalogue of Forest and Stream Books_




    The Experiences of a Hunter and Naturalist in India,
    Ceylon, the Malay Peninsula, and Borneo.


    Chief Taxidermist U.S. National Museum.

    One vol., 8vo, pp. xxii. 512, two folding maps and 51 illustrations.
    Price, $3.00.


The author relates the experiences of a hunter and naturalist in India,
Ceylon, the Malay Peninsula, and Borneo; and certainly no richer
hunting-ground could be found anywhere else in the world. Mr. Hornaday is
chief taxidermist in the United States National Museum. He was formerly
connected with Professor Ward's Natural Science Museum of Rochester, N.Y.,
and his expedition to the East was in the interests of that establishment.
While his book is in some respects like such works as those which Du
Chaillu and Sir Samuel W. Baker have written to delight and interest a
multitude of readers, he has imparted a vast amount of information, a large
part of which is new and of the greatest moment to the naturalist.

Mr. Hornaday started from New York in 1876. From England he went finally
south to India, arriving at Bombay; he went across country to Benares; from
here he made an expedition to the north to Cawnpore and Agra. From Benares
he worked his way to Calcutta, journeyed down the Bay of Bengal to Madras;
southward again, he made a complete circuit of Ceylon, than to the Malay
Peninsula, and finally to Borneo, where his adventures with the oran-gutan
were met, ending his two years of fruitful and entirely successful search.
The illustrations are many, and most of them are taken from Mr. Hornaday's
own sketches. Though it may seem to be stating much, it certainly may be
truly said that a more interesting book of travel and adventures was never

"Decidedly the most interesting and instructive book of travel and
adventure in the East Indies it has ever been our good fortune to
read."--_Baltimore News._

"An entertaining volume.... The author has proved his ability to write a
good book of travel."--_Morning Post_ (London).

"To the naturalist, Mr. Hornaday's book cannot but be as deeply interesting
as to the sportsman and traveller.... It deserved to be distinguished from
among the mass of books of sporting adventure."--_Melbourne Argus._

"One of the most entertaining and instructive books of its kind that has
been published."--_San Francisco Post._

       *       *       *       *       *

    Transcriber's Notes

    Obvious punctuation and spelling errors repaired.

    on page 14, column heading "Best distance.", had to be changed to
    "Best dist." for space requirements.

    In ambiguous cases, the text has been left as it appears in the
    original book. In particular, many mismatched quotation marks have
    not been changed.

    Inconsistent hyphenation has been repaired.
    corn-meal changed to cornmeal
    some one changed to someone
    over night changed to overnight
    well polished changed to well-polished
    well aimed changed to well-aimed
    well seasoned changed to well-seasoned

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