Who came up with the idea of making forms from foam and when did they hit the market?
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First it was lumber and bones, then it went to paper, and then to foam with a lot of little nuances added along the way. At one point, expandable foam beads were used. Stephen Rogers or John Janelli would probably know exactly ,but I THINK the first supplier that went totally to foam was one whose name is not allowed in print on this site. Up until a very short time ago, both Jonas and Bob's (now a part of Van Dykes) still offered those horrendous paper forms.
The first foam forms that I recall were made by (a supply co.),
although Penn Taxidermy Supply had forms they called Hemcolyte, or
something to that effect. They were white, and looked like compressed small foam beads. I am not really sure which one was first.
But now you've got me wondering about the company you can't name :)
I remember many years back may have been Richard C or Pearl Henderson, the first organizational meeting in Popular Bluff MO 1973?
I saw were about 1971.There were some Flexiforms then too.
In fact, he had some combination forms using both paper and foam back in the 60's I think. Expandable beads were sort of an offshoot.
Not all taxidermists of note attended the first NTA meeting, and it was doubtful that the person referred to above was both the first to try the technique, but he may have been the first to market the "urethane" expanded foam style manikans we now use. George missed a few styles that came and went over the years - for example, plaster and burlap was used for many years, fiberglass forms were used, powdered cork held together by some sort of glue, carved balsa wood heads, and as Mr Haynes said above, various pre-cursors to foam as we know it by Penn Taxidermy Studios, and even I believe Herters marketed a form not made of paper.
The patent search was quite enjoyable, as I saw many familiar names of old taxidermists or taxidermy supply companies, Kaempfer, Jonas, Onno Van Veen, etc., some never taxidermists Roger Martin, Eppley, Lennard, John Crossley, etc. Unfortunately the patents prior to 1976 don't have text and only have written abstracts of pictures. I tried to trace the beginning of Polyurethane foam which had 16,410 hits - versus Taxidermy which had 85 total (though there was earlier unsearchable patents)
One of the most interesting, beside Stitt above, was patent 221,569 which shows a great method for molding a torso see:
Just for curiosity I did a patent search at the US patent office to see who might have patented a particular technique. Sam Touchstone patented a method of attaching two "foam" pieces together in 1976, and suggested in the information that it was routine by then to use foam. Reinhart patented a different improvement in 1982, but the method was already routine by then. One early refernce to molding manikans was in a foamed doll manikan with an outside framework similar to that used today - the date 1969.
Some other interesting patents with illustration on file by computer-
Nowotny in 1942, patent 2,305,464 on plastic artificial mouth inserts.
Igwersen in 1928 predated it with patent 1,667,205
This one is facinating - a manakin with a separte nose section and head plate. If the link works, here is a patent 2,831,271 by Stint.
there is even a patent on the artificial head in a mink wrap - 1922 patent 1,432,704.
That Taxidermologist is totally unorganized.