The Gentle Art of Political Taxidermy

Submitted by Stephen on 1/25/01. ( )

The Wife brought home an interesting tidbit today, and as this is my extended family (All three of you who read my posts), I thought I would share the info.
The Wife, being of superior intelect, spends her off time at work reading posting on science or coruptions thereof. For instance, besides the below topic, she read today where scientists have succeeded in slowing down a photon to 17 meters a second, and it will be used in computer applications. Kinda changes what I used to consider faster than light speed - heck we were going light speed on the road on the way back from work.
ANYHOW, she was reading the on-line version of the Annals of Improbable Research, a genuine periodical, and found in Volume 6, the last issue of the 2000, an article titled "The Gentle Art of Political Taxidermy: Charles Waterton, Squire of Walton Hall." (Heck it doesn't even mention the NTA mandate - how up to date can it be?).

For those interested the site in total is You may have to go to the webcite and click on various links to arrive at the cite. It has about four pages of text and four small pictures.

Charles Waterton is probably the most celebrated taxidermist in England in the first half of the 1800's, and only second all time behind Englands Henry Ward (we also had a tres famous Henry Ward in the US). The cite tells a brief rundown of some of his escapades but there are a number of books about this taxidermist/naturalist besides his famous book "Wanderings in South America, the North-West of the United States, and the Antilles, in the years 1812, 1816, 1820, and 1824. with original instructions for the perfect preservation of birds, &c. for cabinets of Natural History" publish in 1825, and reprinted over 10 times - even till the 1900's (Check Abebooks web cite).

Waterton as a joke made the first mounted "sasqwatch" or man beast which he termed the 'Non Descript' which he fashioned out of a monkey cape and made up to look like a human ancestor. This piece is still in existance and can be seen in England today. Much of this is covered in the online article which makes it seem that Mr. Waterton was even more eccentric than Mr. Rummans. And even went one step further in taxidermy - Waterton insisted on not even use of wire in taxidermy (Mr. Rummans often doesn't use a carved body or one wrapped from excelsior simply wire and loose fill cotton). Waterton used small stitches at precise spots and posed the birds supported by cotton or corks on tripods with pins while the bird was drying. Once dry, the body could be supported by the outside skin itself. Some day I am going to try a duck with the waterton method - removing almost all bones and filling with loose cotton only - should weight all of 150 grams when done. Maybe I will do it at light speed in the back of a winnebago driving to some convention (George - quick how fast does the driver have to go?).

I hope you enjoy the webcite!

The Taxidermologist

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According to what I read...

This response submitted by George on 1/25/01. ( )

..he can be stopped at the traffic light (which also does not move) and be in concert with the speed of light. (I just wonder what it looks like if it's not moving?)

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