What is Taxidermy?
Taxidermy is the term used to describe the methods of recreating a life-like representation of an animal for display purposes. In short, taxidermy means stuffed animals or birds.
Taxidermy, which is practised by a taxidermist, involves preparing, stuffing, and mounting animal skins over an artificial armature. In some cases, the animal is recreated completely using manmade materials. You will find a good selection on eBay.
Taxidermists are skilled craftsmen, experienced in carpentry, woodwork, tanning, moulding, and casting. They also have artistic talents which include sculpture, painting, and drawing.
History of Taxidermy Animals
Thought to be born in England, taxidermy was for practicality more than anything else.
Going back in history, taxidermy initially involved literally gutting animals, tanning their hides, stuffing with cotton or straw, and then sewing the animal back up for it to be put on display.
This was a crude and unsophisticated process, and because the taxidermy or stuffed animal wasn’t properly preserved, its eyes, nose, teeth, and tongue would rot; however, with the discovery of arsenic, taxidermy advanced significantly.
By the early 20th century, taxidermy became a more respectable art form, and wealthy aristocrats would fill their homes with mounts of their hunting trophies from across the world. Due to the increase in popularity of big game hunting, the practice of displaying wild animals also grew.
Stuffing of taxidermy animals stopped around the 1970s and from this point on taxidermists chose to stretch the animal’s skin over mannequins or sculpted moulds. This is why taxidermists prefer to refer to a taxidermy animal as “mounted”, rather than “stuffed”.
Taxidermy Animal Methods
The following are the methods and processes practiced by taxidermists when recreating like-life Taxidermy animals for display purposes:
Believed to be the toughest animal for taxidermists to work with, a fish’s skin loses its colour when it dries out. What this means is that the taxidermist has to fully recreate the entire body of the fish’s skin with paint.
There are also different ways to mount a fish, and the chosen method depends on the type of fish. For example, a skin mount is best for bass, which is a warm water fish. Bass are skinned using a very sharp fillet knife, or a taxidermy scalpel.
The eyes of the fish are then removed, and the only things left are the skin, head, and tail. The skin and meat which can’t be removed from the tail and head of the fish are injected with salts such as borax and alum, as well as formaldehyde, in order to preserve them.
Borax is also spread inside of the skin of the fish whilst it is still wet. This prevents shrinkage, and allows the fish to dry slowly and naturally. After this, the skin is stuffed with filler material, or it is stretched over a mould, and shaped.
Finally, the taxidermist will keep the fins of the fish wet whilst sewing it shut, spreading them out, and pinning them to a cardboard backer to keep them in place whilst drying. It will take a few weeks for the fish to dry out.
When it has fully dried, the taxidermist will place a glass eye with a pin attached to the back into the socket of the fish. Paint and varnish is then added, and the fish is then ready to be mounted onto a plaque made from wood.
Coldwater fish such as salmon and trout have smooth, greasy skin, which means that the material they’re stuffed with shows through. Taxidermists therefore almost always choose a foam mould. Some taxidermists will also choose to use an artificial head, attaching it to the natural skin of the fish to avoid shrinkage.
Saltwater fish are often entirely recreated using manmade materials. When a fish is caught, a mould is made and then cast in polyester resin. It then has fibreglass added to it. The taxidermist will then recreate the colouration of the fish, painting one scale at a time from head to tail.
Taxidermists have written books on the subject of mounting deer, as it is a complex and time-consuming process.
The first step when mounting a deer involves taking its measurements. If the hide is stretched over a mould that is too short, it will result in a significant amount of sagging.
When the meat is removed from the animal’s skin, the hide is preserved using salt. Salt is used as it removes moisture, and tightens the hair follicles. At this stage, extra salt is also added to the inside of the ears, to the nose, muzzle, and between the toes because of the amount of moisture in these areas of the animal’s body.
Whilst the skin of the animal dries out, the mould is prepared. In the past, moulds were made from wire and papier maché but today’s most common choice is polyurethane foam. By using polyurethane foam, the taxidermist can recreate an accurate and detailed life-like display.
Finally, the animal’s antlers and skull are removed. The skull is discarded, and the antlers are then attached to the mould’s foam skull using screws after the skin has been stretched over it.
Once everything is in line and is nice and tight, the skin is sewn shut, and glass eyes are inserted into the sockets of the animal. The animal is then mounted onto a plaque, usually made from wood.
The first step that a Taxidermist takes when mounting a bird is to skin it. All meat and bones are removed, but the feet and talons are kept in place.
Using warm water with dish washing detergent, the taxidermist then washes the bird’s skin and feathers. They’re then dried using a towel and hair dryer, which fluffs up the feathers.
The bird is then turned inside out so that the head cavity can be filled with non-shrinking hard clay. The neck and body of the bird are sculpted using polyurethane foam, and once the body is ready, it is then put aside.
Wires are then inserted in place of the bird’s wings, tail and leg bones. Wires are also inserted under the skin of the bird’s wings, and then tied off with dental floss. The same applies to the legs and tail of the bird.
Next, the foam body of the bird and its neck are inserted, with the wires from the legs, wings and tail of the bird being pushed into the body until firm. The moulded neck is then stuck into the clay in the head area.
Finally, the bird is sewn up using dental floss or carpet thread. Glass eyes are then pushed into clay sockets, and the bird is then shaped into position, flying or resting, and mounted.
Why Choose eBay for Taxidermy Animals?
eBay is a popular place for users to purchase Taxidermy mounts, mainly due to the diverse selection available, and low prices not found elsewhere.
How to Search for Taxidermy Animals on eBay
Now that you’ve found out about the different types of Taxidermy available, you can now begin your search on eBay. To start your search, go to the All Categories link on the homepage of eBay. Click Collectables, select Animals, and then Taxidermy under item type.
Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find Bird Taxidermy, type the keywords “Bird Taxidermy" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click, "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.
If you can't find exactly what you want, try browsing eBay Stores or tell the eBay Community what you’re looking for by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a matching item becomes available.
Buy Taxidermy Animals on eBay with Confidence
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