Do any of you have a collection of Modern Taxidermist Magazines out of NY ? I subscribed to that pub starting back in the 60's until it ended but some of my issues are missing and I remember seeing just one ad during all of those years for a Passenger Pigeon specimen for sale. As a kid back then I wrote to he person but the specimen had been sold long before my letter arrive. I'm compiling a historical record of such ads and would like to find that add again just to re-read the details and who was offering it.
Anyone out there who could help?
I'd even like to find other similar ads from years back.
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The folks on this forum kid me about being around long enough to have mounted dinosaurs. (I haven't, but I DID work on the Miocene mammals...LOL!)
I have also worked on a few passenger pigeons. Long before my time, my home state was home to an estimate two billion of these birds. There were a number of them around that were housed in those old Edwardian or Victorian wood and glass display boxes. I have seen several other free mounts in the past. A couple came through my shop years ago for cleaning or repairing, but I don't remember anyone except Ellis Crawford (deceased) among those who owned them. I even assisted a bit with the clean up of "Martha", the last living passenger pigeon (long after she died in 1917) decades ago.
To the best of my knowledge, there may still be a few in the midwest, although most have probably been sold to collector's at this point.
There is a beautiful old mount pictured at: http://www.ulala.org/P_Pigeon/imgs/PIGEON.jpg in case you are not aware of it.
The repository at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History has a number of the skins. I tried to talk them into letting me relax and mount one thirty years ago to no avail. They did let me borrow one for a painting I did in 1972, but I understand that they are a bit tighter with things now that Devere Burt has left.
Your ad request? Sorry, can't help you there.
I remember about a year or two ago before I got upset at ebay and stoped looking at their site, one passinger pegion was for sale there. There was a photo of it, it was mounted and was under a glass dome that hung on the wall and the taxidermy did not look that bad for an old mount. I think it sold for $1.25 million! I have seen some strange stuff on ebay and some stuff that was not true or real, but I do think this was a real item that sold for big money?
Actually that particular Passenger Pigeon on ebay, never sold, the owner first advertised it for $1.4 million then 6 months later $450.000, and later on Yahoo Auctions for $180,000.
It never sold. I spoke with him and he said the PP alone had been valued at $80,000+ [wonder who gave him that evaulation] and he wanted $200,000 or there abouts for the complete collection (there were 16 ornate glass cases with birds in them, but only 2 passenger pigeons, the other birds were (are) still common species) Nice cases, nice mounts but not worth $200,000.
I do have a friend that just purchased two male Passenger Pigeons from a private collection. He paid $10,000 each for them.
My main interest is locating old ads, not buying a specimen, I just want to find old ads that were placed by people who were trying to sell PP specimens, if any of you find such ads, please send them to me.
I have almost all the Modern Taxidermist Magazines from the 1960's and when I find time I will search for the particular add you saw. I also have all of Hoffman's Taxidermist news and I recall photographs at least of Passenger Pigeons.
I assume for your Passenger Pigeon Site you wish to create a tracing of prices charged for this now extinct species. Auction catalogues are one way to go about it, but the United states is not nearly as good a place to find prices for birds. England on the otherhand has had a long history of auctions and I know of one individual who maintains a collection of different auction catalogues. Perhaps not Passenger Pigeons, but the sale of Great Auks is well documented.
A second avenue you may possibly explore would be publications dealing with extinct species. The Royal Ontario Museum put out a nice little publication detailing, at that time, all known extinct North American bird specimens. I looked at the book not long ago and I think I remember there were roughly either 500-600 or on the order of 1300 known passenger pigeons. The publication listed all the Museums claiming specimens and their provenence. There may be records of sale prices there. I can't recall the publication citation and it unfortunately went to Cornell last week with a Library of a retired Curator. The ROM cite should have it though, it was from the 1970's I think. You may also look into the Eroll Fuller Books on extinct birds, one which I think was recently updated 2001.
A third possible record you could explore is Journals of Ornithology put out by Supply companies. The best record of specimens for sale is in the Journal the Hummingbird put out by I think Boucard in England. The Smithsonian should have a complete run of the journal which ran from roughly 1888? (damn my memory) to the 1920's. The individual issues were often split out and the front four pages of the catalogue of bird skins for sale were threw out, and only the journal proper saved. While the years covered hardly constitutes much of a record it occurred during a period when the bird was rapidly dissappearing. LSU should have a run of the journal also. We bound the flyers at the end of the small articals.
The fourth avenue would be taxidermist supply companies who also had a side business selling prepared mounts or study skins. I have a few of these but the Lacey act in 1918(?) kind of made it difficult to sell birds in the United States, even though they were recognized as extinct. You Louisianans still think there are Ivory Bill's running around the bayous of your state, and until they are officially declared extinct in the United States I can't sell my Great-Grandfathers collection of 2,567 Ivory Billed Wookpeckers he put up in 1878 (just kidding, its only 1,300). Unfortunately the biggest buyers of the rarer old taxidermy catalogues on Ebay seems to be people I have traced to England. The fervency to collect has caught on there greater than in the US. The best sellers were Frank B. Webster, The Brothers Reed, and a few others. I have only a few pricelists for birds, but again, it will take some time to search out the exact information you require. Nag me in a couple weeks if I don't respond. It may take as long as the list of Taxidermists from the 1800's I sent.
Speaking of old Modern Taxidermist Magazines, do you (or any forum readers) have duplicates of some of the older issues. I am missing No. 189, 159, 156, 152, 145, 144, and many prior to that. I could trade issues I have duplicate to that you don't have. Please contact me.
Regarding the price of 1.3 million for a passenger pigeon. It seems a good bit high, unless it WAS Martha (My memory places it as 1914? the exact year the last Carolina Parakeet died - either my memory or Cur is wrong - just remembered and checked Garrie's website - 1914 the miocene did you in - exactly what did those ground sloths look like? Did you see Nebraska with all the Rhinocerus relatives?).
It is perfectly legal to sell these birds and they do come in occassionally to Museums where someone finds them in Attics in old houses. Most think they are mourning doves - in the last 20 years we have had a few donated. A friend from Chicago last year located a couple new extinct specimens, so they are "still out there"
You hit on a subject I like, Ivory Bills! I saw an article recently about them, but unfortunately it was in the seat of a plane, and some pages were missing. DRATS! They still think they are seeing them near the Singer Tract, and that they are not Pileateds. If you get time, email me more about those Ivory Bills!
Garrie..I looked in my 1914 Guide To Taxidermy by Chas. K. Reed & Chester A. Reed, B.S., and they give a price guide of fair valuation of the eggs, skins and mounted specimens for what seems to be every bird in North America. According to this book, a Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) egg is worth $2, a skin is worth $5 and a
mounted specimen is worth $8. They also list the Carolina Paroquet(Conurus carolinensis) as being worth $10 for an egg, $5 for a skin and $7 for a mounted specimen. Most birds listed are in this price range,although most are quite a bit lower. The only really high prices
are for the Heath Hen with no price for an egg, and $100 for a skin or a mounted specimen, and the California Vulture which is $100 an egg, $40 a skin and $55 for the mount. Although this isnt an ad , at least you know what they were going for back then...Mike