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Society of American Taxidermists

Discussion in 'Taxidermy History' started by PA, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

    There have been many mentions of the Society of American Taxidermists (the original organization from the 1880's), by myself over the years. I have posted links to the Third Annual Report a few times which gave an extensive bibliography and the SAT ultimately set the stage for US dominance in the field of taxidermy in many ways, though there have been great practitioners ever since in many countries.

    I get queries sent to me on occasion and I freely give out information, unless it interferes with some publication I am already planning. Occasionally I get some feedback that points out something I was not previously aware of. That was the case recently when I sent a series of links about Frederic S. Webster, the first world class taxidermist to work at the Carnegie Museum (beginning 1897 or so), who was also the First President of the Society of American Taxidermists. I have copies and Xeroxes of the first two annual reports, as does just a very minor list of a few museums and a couple individuals, as they are extremely rare. I suggested the person I sent the info, to contact the Smithsonian as I knew they had a copy. Well low and behold, I found out they uploaded the first two annual reports to the ever-growing Biodiversity Library on-line just this June.

    The first two reports can be seen here http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/132160#/summary

    To the best of my knowledge, this first meeting was the first competition of taxidermy pieces in a society created only to advance taxidermy and run by taxidermists. From what I understand, Joe Kish used these competitions as a model to begin his Taxidermy Review Competitions in the 1970s which has led to competitions that occur worldwide.

    I would suggest anyone with a bit of time, take it upon themselves to read the three volumes of the organization. For further reading consider also reading

    Andrei, Mary Anne. 2004. Breathing New Life into Stuffed Animals: The Society of American Taxidermists, 1880-1885. Collections 1(2): 155-201.

    Andrei, Mary Anne. 2006. Natures Mirror: How the Taxidermists of Ward’s Natural Science Establishment Transformed Wildlife Display in American Natural History Museums and Fought to Save Endangered Species. A Dissertation submitted to the faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. xxvi + 303 pp.
  2. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

    David Bruce, who entered a number of mounts at the first competition, as described in the First Annual report, was the taxidermist who Carl Akeley actually trained under. See https://www.fieldmuseum.org/about/history/carl-akeley
    I doubt he was actually a "part-time" taxidermist. Back then everyone was a farmer, lumberman, did some blacksmithing, and virtually all sorts of other duties that are now done by specialists.

    Note that the third Annual report lists Clarence E. Akeley as an active member among the 94 active members. It gives his address as 2 College Avenue - I put the location into Google and it is in the "neighborhood of the arts"

    Also note Andrew Carnegie who bankrolled the third competition was an honorary member. A look at the list of Active members and Honorary members is truly impressive. Taxidermists from many major museums, professors of universities, curators or men of science at that time, put together with people who led the next 40 years of Museum advancement throughout the Us and a few who advanced the art in Canada.

  3. reprofish

    reprofish Member