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Carl E. Akeley Memorial Stone Monument

Discussion in 'Taxidermy History' started by John Janelli, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    With hardly an opportunity to disassemble a duck these days much less a lion, how can any artist match the experience of Akeley? Taxidermy gave him the animal's skeleton, muscles and sinew; his field experience gave him his stance and habitat; his character gave him the exhaustible drive to create; and his talent gave him the magic to transform animal spirit into art.

    Brooke Chilvers - Gray's Sporting Journal May/June 2006 - From Taxidermy To Fine Art - The Other Side Of Carl Akeley
     
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  2. JOHN O. COOK JR
    HELEN L. COOK
    SAMUEL F. COOK
    JOHN O. COOK III
    SANDRA L. COOK

    Have sent $500 for this opportunity........
     
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  3. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    In the last chapter of Roy Chapman Andrews' book; Ends Of The Earth, he writes a lot about his friend Carl Akeley. It starts off with this:

    I returned to the American Museum of Natural History after two years of wandering in the Far East. The first man I met in the foyer was Carl Akeley of African fame. We hugged each other, for there were few men who inspired such deep affection for his friends than "Old Ake".

    "What's up Ake? Are you coming, going or staying?"

    "I'm just leaving Roy. In a week we sail for British East. The African Hall is a real going concern. It has been a long fight, but at last it is over the top. Come on up to my room."

    I went in. In the half light of a partitioned hall an elephant bulked hugely almost to the ceiling. A white rhinoceros stood in majestic repose beside the window. The floor was strewn with a mass of half packed equipment, boxes and debris. An elephant gun lay upon the desk.
    We picked our way through the litter and sat down. Puffing away at his brown pipe, Ake told me of his efforts in the last two years to obtain financial support for his greatest life work, African Hall.


    ( Andrews goes on to say...)

    In spite of his infectious enthusiasm Akeley looked like a broken man physically.

    ( and then...)

    We often talked of the difficulties of financing our respective work and of the obligations we incurred to those who made it possible. I remember that he said one day, "Roy, sometime before I die I'm going on my own. I'll build my little camp fire in Africa and I'll sit there and smoke my pipe and do nothing and be happy because I won't have to make good to anybody."

    "Yes" said I, "You will not!" You know damn well you'll have to make good to yourself. When you kill an elephant, why do you slave in the heat and the flies and the fever to save it's skin? Do you think it is because of the people who gave you the dollars to send you to the jungle? Rot! Why do you go there anyway? You know well enough you can't help but do it. You were born that way!"


    How many times have we all felt the same way in taxidermy? Burn out was not in Akeley's psyche at all. Yet no one could deny the fact that he was certainly played out by the end of his life. Couldn't you just see and hear the above conversations taking place? These two men were apparently very close and they relied very heavily on the money from the same benefactors too. Akeley never came home from that final expedition and Andrews never saw his friend alive again afterwards. Andrews, like he told Akeley, was born that way also. This is why it is so imperative that together we, the taxidermists who have come after Akeley, make sure that his memorial stone in Clarendon, NY is to us what taxidermy was to him; a life he was born to live.
     
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  4. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    Nicely put JJ. Money, unfortunately is what drives it all, and there is never enough time nor money to do the things we all wish we could do. While I believe Akeley had an amazing vision and was very talented, what made him special was his ability to talk money out of donors and fulfill parts of his vision for improving the various museums he worked at. Some lesser known, but just as talented taxidermists, are long forgotten because of their inability to be able to schmooze with the rich and famous.

    Perhaps what this monument funding project needs is a more visible way for the public to contribute to try and locate people with money. Most on this forum don't have any money to begin with, or if they did they would use it towards attending the World Show or the NTA.

    I don't know if the people on this forum are familiar with the Brain Scoop blog put out by the Field Museum. The series delves into many aspects of the scientific collections, preparation, or field work or related topics but a recent one is actually on a new way of trying to raise money to build a full diorama for a series of striped hyenas that Carl Akeley collected on his first trip to Africa in 1896. See http://www.fieldmuseum.org/science/blog/project-hyena-diorama-indiegogo-campaign

    Perhaps if someone was computer savvy they could get some way of raising the last money needed for this monument.
     
  5. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    This was our exact purpose of essentially soliciting the taxidermy industry proper Mr. Rogers. Certainly you know full well what drives this Akeley devotee. I believe however that Akeley himself was driven more by premonition than vision. By that I mean when he finally realized Africa was loosing it's wildlife and its habitat to human progress and greed, something had to be done and quick. What many people don't realize is that Akeley used a great deal of his own resources and money to preserve Africa through the eyes of the gifted taxidermist, naturalist and sculptor that he was. At the same time, he was in stiff competition for contributions because the very same benefactors he was "schmoozing" was also being schmoozed for every other expedition that was being sent out around the globe in the name of museological sciences. Consequently the AMNH was deeply embroiled in the "Minik the Eskimo" scandal just as Akeley was beginning his career there. This alone turned many would be donors off to parting with their money that would enable any expeditions or dioramas at all. In fact, I firmly believe that if Roy Chapman Andrews had not been the decision making power back then after Akeley's death, which incidentally was also the beginning of the Great Depression, neither the African Hall, the Asian Hall, or the North American Mammal Hall would have ever been completed in such a timely manner, much less at all. RCA caught hell for it all too from other trustees and benefactors as well.
    When Melissa Ierlan, the president of the Clarendon Historical Society elected to promote a memorial for Akeley, she had the incredible technology and wherewithall of social media to approach many non-taxidermist entities to make the goal possible. I had only one - Ken Edwards, without whose support, encouragement and talents, would have never made this dream even remotely close to reality as it is destined to be. And as you can see, the fund is growing and with some very affluential names and organizations - we are very proud to say all of whom are directly and firmly attached to taxidermy in various ways. Melissa then gave Ken the necessary ingredients for the main course which ultimately was the stone design and inscriptions. Melissa also came up with the extraordinary idea of the donor in-scripted bricks that will lead up to the African stone itself. Now the amazing thing about all this is that a year ago, Melissa never even imagined she would be so totally immersed not just in Akeley's unswerving presence in our profession, but that because of our world of taxidermy, Melissa and everyone else will now have something to touch and see just how effectively Carl Akeley made a lasting impression upon the very people he came from, taxidermists.
    It might interest some to know in 2008, that the very first attempt in procurring a memorial stone for Akeley was emphatically turned down by the owners of Young Cemetery of Oyster Bay, NY, the place were Theodore Roosevelt in interred. So you see, these are just a few of the many reasons why we're not "schmoozing" John Q. Public. Yet together, we are galvanizing the many more reasons why this lasting testament to Carl Akeley must come from our own for our own.
     
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  6. ierlan66

    ierlan66 Member

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    Today we received a check in the mail from the National Taxidermists Association for $500. This places us that much closer to our ultimate goal! As we near the celebration of Carl Akeley's birth in a few weeks, I am hopeful that before next years celebration we will be unveiling this awesome monument in his honor. Thank You so much for realizing the importance of this project!
    Melissa Ierlan
    Clarendon Historical Society President
     
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  7. davidferguson

    davidferguson Member

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    Isn't today the 151st anniversary of Carl Akeleys birth? What better day to pump up the donation numbers for this valuable memorial to a man who helped get us to where we are today!
     
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  8. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    You were correct Mr. Ferguson, and the town of Clarendon along with our beloved industry came out for the event on the night of May 20, 2015. Many were there physically and more in spirit as can be seen by John Bellucci's essay below which was one of three that were publicly read for all to apprciate then and now...

    When I was very young, and my Pop took me to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, I remembered marveling at the mounts I saw in the dioramas, and thinking and saying "I want to do things like that when I grow up". I recall staring up in utter amazement at the giant African Elephants in the center of the great African Hall, and wanting to know "How were they done?" Then I remember reading stories about the man who did many of those things that held me rapt when I was a child, and the name of Carl Akeley was planted in my brain from an early age!

    Without the innovations perfected by the Maestro - Carl Akeley - I don't think Taxidermy would have been able to make the strides that it has. He not only developed the method that has been come to be called the "Akeley Method", but he passed this knowledge of his techniques on to other Taxidermists of his day. Though the work of men like James L. Clark, Louis Paul Jonas, and Robert Rockwell, to name a few, were outstanding in their own right, Carl - or "Ake", as he was known to many of his contemporaries - brought their skills up to a level that surpassed what they were currently achieving. He also emphasized a study of the subjects in order to produce the finest work that was humanly possible.

    These philosophies were adopted by myself in the Taxidermy work I produce, in the works of other Taxidermists of my generation, as well as the works and teachings of those that were earlier than I. Men such as Joe Kish, Henry Wichers Inchumuk, and Forest 'Toby' Hart - all contemporary heroes and mentors of mine - were also touched and inspired by the writings and the works of Carl Akeley and his contemporaries.

    In all, Carl Akeley, had shown the world that Taxidermy could be more than the "stuffing" of skins it had been for so many generations ... that it could be more of a sculptural art form, where the animal subject was the basis of the art form, and that Taxidermy could become a teacher of the Natural world so that others could learn to appreciate and love Nature as he did ... as all of us in this field do. Carl Akeley formed the foundation for others to follow, that we might have a standard to achieve in the field we have chosen.

    For these and so many other things that are more personal and intangible, I say here and now ... Thank you Maestro! Thank you for forging ahead and bringing our beloved field of Taxidermy out of the Dark Ages and into the light of reason and intelligence. Thank you for doing what you did, so that the rest of us could do what we do, and do it in a way that brings honor and respect to the animal world that crosses out workbenches.

    Humbly submitted, this day of May 19, 2015, by John Bellucci.
     
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  9. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure when this video was posted on-line, but here is a link to a bit on Akeley.

    http://interactive.wttw.com/jayschicago/taxidermy#.VWcyi6HD_w8
     
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  10. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    Mr. Rogers, thanks for posting that very interesting clip on Carl Akeley. As usual, your dedicated research of our industry's heritage is extremely appreciated by anyone with an even remote wonder lust to our history and legacies as taxidermists. Today I came across this letter from Wilfred J. Osgood of the Field Museum in Chicago, to ''Akeley" just two years shy of the correspondence being a century old. In his whole career, Akeley sent only one letter of recommendation for a taxidermist whom he believed to be worth his salt in a museum environment. More on that some other time. But what I found remarkable in this letter was Akeley's willingness to march off to war with the Colonel himself, Theodore Roosevelt, leaving behind a myriad of work and projects perhaps never to return home at all to finish them. Moreover, the fact that Osgood tells Akeley that he's more valuable to his country by staying home rather than being in action over in Europe, truly makes a statement to Akeley's patriotism at the same time, indicating valid concern of sustaining museum projects without Akeley to execute and oversee them. Rather than to just quote a line or two as we normally would do here, we elected to share this letter verbatim as it reads from my personal collection:

    April 26, 1917

    Mr. Carl Akeley
    American Museum of Natural History
    New York City, NY

    Dear Akeley,

    Can you recommend a taxidermist of the grade we can employ, that is to say, $100.00 to $125.00 per month? I do not approve, as you know, of the method of going out for a taxidermist on short notice, but would prefer to try out men until good ones can be found. However, we need men now especially for work on large mammals and I would like to get as good as one as possible. If you can recommend one, I will not hold you responsible but take him for better or worse if his specifications seem promising. At any rate, I should be very glad to have the addresses of any men who may be possibilities whether they are employed or not. As you know, I have no delusions as to the difficulties of getting the kind of men but I am appealing to you for any help you can give me. If you cannot give any, as I suspect may be the case, still I am bound to ask.
    The war has not hit this museum very hard as yet and so far as I am concerned, I would like to be in it, but not until I know whether or not I can be of any real service. I believe you said some time ago that you were in for it if Theodore Roosevelt went, but I should strongly disapprove your going for you are worth very much more to the country here at home.

    With best wishes

    Yours very truly,
    Wilfred H. Osgood
    Assistant Curator of Mammalogy and Ornithology
     
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  11. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    what great history....very interesting
     
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  12. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    The Clarendon Historical Society is extremely happy to announce the tentative planning for the unveiling of the Carl Akeley monument on May 20, 2016. What a tremendous occasion this will truly be when that time comes for everyone who has so generously made this possible. In addition, all continued donations will be used to:

    .1) Lay the concrete foundation beneath the stone.

    .2) Enhance the walk way and engraved bricks (with donors name inscribed) that lead to the stone itself.

    .3) Laser etch various selected photos that have graciously been provided by the American Museum of Natural History and the Explorer's Club to name but two of many incredible institutions that Carl Akeley was devoted to, and for one central core reason - sculpture taxidermy.
     
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  13. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    The wonderful people at the Woodside Granite Co. of Albion, NY and the Clarendon Historical Society were extremely pleased to pass along this photo (Thank You Ken!) of Carl Akeley's memorial stone actually in the works now.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, it's progress is coming along quite nicely since the stone itself was specifically selected from one of only two quarries that hold this particular kind of granite. We sincerely thank each and every donor who has made this most significant tribute to Carl Akeley possible. Also currently underway is the selection and color of the many bricks inscribed with your names and or that of loved ones whose memory will long be endeared in this project. As donations continue to come in, the size and depth of the walkway will also be greatly enhanced. Melissa Ierlan and yours truly thanks all of you in a very special way that is making this small dream into such a huge reality.
     
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  14. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    Going through some vintage Taxidermy Review magazines, this short piece written by 2015 WTC Life Time Achievement Award recipient Joe Kish, was found on page 45 of Vol. 13 - no. 3 (Winter 1985). It was simply entitled "Traditions"...

    Taxidermists who specialize in one area are usually honored by their peers with the distinction of being called, "Bird Man or "Fish Man". To earn this title however, specializing is not enough. The specialist is to be recognized as having mastered his area before the title catches on. Leslie Jonas and John Moyer are noted Birdmen of a previous generation of taxidermists so distinguished. Al Pflueger and Leon Pray also enjoyed the title of "Fishmen".
    Game head specialists, mammal taxidermists, or all around experts have seldom been recognized the same way. Perhaps the words "Game Head Man" does not roll as handily from the our lips, but I think there is another reason. The distinction of Bird Man or Fish Man is our special way of recognizing that birds and fish are more difficult to master than mammals. Carl Akeley was never called "Mammalman" even though he mastered that specialty. His greatest contribution was elevating taxidermy from a craft to an art and caused him to be known as "The Father of Modern Taxidermy". It's a tradition.
     
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  15. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    Since no one has posted much on Akeley for a while, I thought I would put a link in on an article. the citation
    Akeley, C. E. 1921. Autobiography of a taxidermist. World's Work, 41:177-195.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=SqbNAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA177&lpg=PA177&dq=%22Autobiography+of+a+taxidermist.%22&source=bl&ots=Bkc35fdCx4&sig=J6-fg0u47YGZiBA9ItLNVg1S1y0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBQQ6AEwAGoVChMIjqWG95_hyAIVCDM-Ch1Z5wlC%20-%20v=onepage&q=%22Autobiography%20of%20a%20taxidermist.%22&f=false#v=snippet&q=%22Autobiography%20of%20a%20taxidermist.%22&f=false

    Click on page 177 and you can read the entire article.

    The deer pictured on page 192 is currently in private hands. Unfortunately it isn't in good shape, but it is a treasure trove of information considering it is a piece by James Lippitt Clark when he was just learning the "Akeley" technique from Akeley
     
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  16. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    best article I have read in quite some time!
     
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  17. Ken Edwards

    Ken Edwards Taxidermy.Net Administrator Staff Member

    Wow! Thank you, PA, for the outstanding information you continue to provide year after year.
     
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  18. ierlan66

    ierlan66 Member

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    Hope everyone is getting ready for the busy Christmas season. I just wanted to give a quick update on what is happening with our Akeley monument.
    The stone is currently at Family Memorials in Barre Vermont.
    http://www.sbetch.com/
    We are having a collage of pictures etched on the back of the stone. I am very excited to see the layout before it gets done. Please check out their web site and see the amazing work they do.
    We will be having a ceremony in 2016 to unveil the monument. It will be held on Akeley's birthday which falls on a Friday. If anyone would like information on the event or would like to attend please contact me anytime.
    Melissa Ierlan
    [email protected] com
    585-402-0148
     
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  19. So glad this is all coming together! Was this 100% funded in the end? had a bit of a poke back through the comment's but didn't see if it got fully funded or not.
     
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  20. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

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    Thanks to our dear friend Ken Edwards and Taxidermy.Net, along with the many international taxidermists, tanners, suppliers, WTC, national and state organizations who are making this momentous occasion possible, we are happy to report that 98% of donations have come directly from YOU, our industry! The remaining 2% have come from private donors who saw the marvelous presentation given by Mr. Steve Quinn (AMNH) last May in Clarendon coupled with a slide show of taxidermy masterpieces and essays that were submitted by several of our very own contemporary masterful taxidermists. At this time, the bricks are being delivered to the cutter where each donor's names will be etched into, that will lead the walk way up to the monument itself. The unveiling will be held on the exact day commemorating Carl Akeley's birth, on May 19, 2016.
    Donations are still being accepted, whereby every cent will be put towards this memorial location. The Clarendon Historical Society will post a complete financial disclosure upon finalization of all incurred expenses.
     
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