1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Can You Name These Once Very Familiar Faces?

Discussion in 'Taxidermy History' started by Joe Kish, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    It speaks volumes that the last entry on this forum was in last April. And last February before that. It's hard to believe that there is so little interest in the history of taxidermy. Then again it's not when it appears that the vast majority of today's practitioners only interest in the art is making money and winning ribbons.
    These taxidermists were once known to just about everyone who attended taxidermy conventions from the mid '70s through the mid '80s. Each made his mark and one of them has left a trail so wide even beginners can't help but stumble over it today.
    Can you identify them?

    030.jpg
     
    creepers likes this.
  2. the first guy,top of photo is john janelli ?
     
    creepers likes this.

  3. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    Very few of the younger generation has much interest in the past. I have an interest in all types of history, but limited time to focus specifically on the history of taxidermy. At this phase of the game, my interests is in keeping the books in the black! BTW, I don't recognize any of them.
     
  4. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    Joeym,
    I can understand a man's need to pay first and foremost attention to his work. None can fault that. Like you I too have an interest in history of just about everything, but with an emphasis on the subject of my lifelong livelihood, taxidermy. If you've ever read any of the postings on the history of taxidermy by Stephen P. Rogers, aka PA, or John Janelli, or any of the famous people I've written about in Breakthrough and other magazines, you likely know and appreciate how and why we all stand on the shoulders of real accomplished taxidermists who have made our careers possible, successful and rewarding in so many ways. Our history is the history of people, like the history of any other subject. And that history is found in books and pictures, which only the interested will bother to read. It sounds like a cliche, but "a man who does not read is no better than one who cannot." (Earl Nightingale.)

    There is nothing mundane about the lives and careers of taxidermists who have gone before us. You want high adventure, low adventure, who invented or discovered what and when, or what is so interesting about the lives of 5 brothers who emigrated from Hungary and left a legacy in this art like none other, or all the other Europeans who came to this country practically penniless but with a burning desire to practice their art and craft where opportunity was unlimited. Yes, they're all gone now, but the tales that those of us still on this side of the sod can tell are quite entertaining as well. Start with George Roof's book, Cat Head Biscuits and Squirrel Stew. There's a common thread between a love for hunting and the practice of taxidermy all seem to share. Unless you read it yourself, you wouldn't believe that Henry Inchumuk once spent six months alone in the Red Desert of Wyoming, surviving off the land just to test his mettle and prove to himself that he could do it? Why he picked such a hard place to survive I can't say, but he must have eaten a lot of jack rabbits and pronghorns. Cicero wrote over two thousand years ago, "Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child."

    This isn't meant to be a lecture. I just hope others will join in this discussion of the men and women who have epitomized the skills and ideals of what it's like to have left a real mark on the art of taxidermy.

    In the picture above is Terry Ehrlich, publisher and editor of Taxidermy Today along with the late Larry Quinn, formerly of Rock Hill, SC, and a close friend of Larry's whose name escapes me after these forty years since this picture was taken.

    Here's Henry along with Bob Berry and Mindy Jaffe, with their first, second and third place bird bodies from the Bird Body Wrapping Contest at a 1978 Taxidermy Review convention/competition.

    Bob, Henry, Mindy Jaffe.jpg
     
    creepers likes this.
  5. DTS 1046

    DTS 1046 Member

    35
    4
    Any body want a close look at those bird bodies? We purchased than in the auction. Like many back then, I wrapped most of my mammals and birds.

    MD
     
  6. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    Don Hood is the fellow in the foreground of my first post above. According to Terry Ehrlich Don was a close friend and classmate of Larry Quinn (mustache) at Piedmont Community College’s taxidermy program. Don operated a tannery in Florida but Terry doesn't know if that is still running.
     
    magicmick likes this.
  7. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    I have read George's book! It's great. JJ is a good friend, and we talk once or twice a year. He sent me an ancient book on taxidermy (which I perused, but haven't read). Keep those old photos coming! I enjoy them!
     
  8. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    Yo Mary, (DTS above for Dinges Taxidermy Studio.)
    Holy cow, I plumb forgot those bird bodies were auctioned off. That means you and Mike (hubby) are the actual owners of a piece of masterwork from THE Bob Berry and THE Henry Inchumuk, and Mindy too? I wonder who had high bids on the pieces from the fish carving contest?
    Here's a few historical facts. We ran the wrapping and carving contests only two years I think. It was meant to challenge competitors on their skill in both operations. Simultaneously attendees could watch and learn from the pros. We dropped them for lack of participation. The feedback we got from too many attendees was something like "Why do I need to learn to do that when I can just buy a form ready made?"

    You likely remember the fish carving masters too. There's Bob again along with Jack Robertson (left) from Oregon and I can't recall the name of the fellow in the middle. As the 3rd recipient of the Breakthrough Lifetime Achievement Award we all learned that Bob is a Vietnam War veteran (Army) who was awarded a bronze star for heroic or meritorious service. What is not widely known about Jack Robertson is that he is a 1st Marine Division Korea War veteran of the Chosin Reservoir campaign/battle which is now in North Korea. To know these men personally, one would never guess that they were once warriors of the first rank. That's history for you.

    Fish carving contest.jpg
     
    Micah Howards likes this.
  9. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    1,703
    176
    The old days, I like it !
     
  10. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    No one has written a definitive biography of the the great Henry Wichers Inchumuk. Chances are no one ever will. The market is too small. Yet the man's life was almost what every dedicated career taxidermist might liked to have lived for it's high adventure and steady drama. Henry was exceptionally accomplished in everything he did in taxidermy, sculpting, photography, as a naturalist, a hunter and film maker. He once raised a family of kit foxes and made a movie of one year in the life of a den of foxes.
    Once while hunting with his friend Ted Schlaepfer from Jonas Bros., I forget what they were collecting, but Ted had a rifle and Henry, a shotgun. A jack rabbit bolted from cover ahead of Henry who took a snap shot at it but the hare never slowed down. Henry quickly turned to Ted and said "give me that thing," switching his shotgun for Ted's rifle. As the jack rabbit was by then in full stride beyond the maximum effective range of a shotgun, Henry dumped it with one shot from the rifle. He turned back to Ted and as he traded back the rifle for his shotgun, Ted told me he said, referring to the shotgun, "I never could shoot one of those things!"

    Here's a few candid shots of Henry back in the '60s and '70s in his museum studio.
    These photos are by courtesy of John Janelli who was an intimate friend of the late great master - Henry Inchumuk. I could show a lot more, but the window keeps telling me the files are too big to upload.

    Untitled-7.jpg

    Untitled-14.jpg
     
    Chippers, creepers, George and 2 others like this.
  11. Ken Edwards

    Ken Edwards Taxidermy.Net Administrator Staff Member

     
    Chippers, creepers and magicmick like this.
  12. DTS 1046

    DTS 1046 Member

    35
    4
    We were hosts to Henry and Melody on a visit to Omaha a few years ago, and I can say that he was also a very humble man. Many of the new Taxidermists of today should take the time to study the history of Taxidermy greats. I am so proud to have known many of the great ones, and been able to have taken the time to follow their path.

    MD
     
    creepers likes this.
  13. vic h

    vic h Member

    81
    51
     
  14. vic h

    vic h Member

    81
    51
    I'm guessing but the middle man in the fish carving comp. might be Bob Hutchinson from PA.
     
  15. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    It’s unlikely that many people today have ever heard the name “Bushman”. Bushman was a world famous lowland gorilla that lived out his life in the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. When he died at age 22, he was mounted by taxidermists at the Field Museum in that city. From the museum’s own website we read this:

    “In 1928, a group of American missionaries found a young gorilla in Cameroon, Africa. Accounts of his discovery vary. …..The missionaries looked after the young gorilla. Their children especially enjoyed the ape’s company, teaching him to do tricks like brush his hair and ride in their toy car.

    When the missionaries’ time in Cameroon came to an end, the gorilla couldn’t return to the wild. Dr. Johnson, a reverend in the camp, sold him to animal collector Jules L. Buck, who, in turn, offered the gorilla to Lincoln Park Zoo. In 1930, Buck’s team transported the young ape over 6,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to Chicago.”

    Even fewer people including taxidermists today have ever heard the name of the taxidermist that mounted Bushman; Leon Walters. Walters was famous for inventing and perfecting the celluloid process for reproducing reptiles from turtles, to snakes to crocodilians. His work at the Field is still on display and is a must see. I lost count of how many times after 4 that I’ve been there to see and study all the magnificent work of Walters, Pray, Akeley, Friesser, Albrect, Moyer and a host of others only John Janelli can name. I highly recommend everyone interested in what the Field Museum has to show, to not only visit and see Bushman and all the rest, but check out its website as an appetizer. It's a feast for the eyes.

    Bushman - 9.jpg
    Bushman - 8.jpg






    Bushman - 6.jpg
     
    Micah Howards and creepers like this.
  16. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    1,703
    176
    Very interesting, thank you Joe Kish ! More history articles Joe!
     
    creepers likes this.
  17. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    I just discovered from further browsing, that when you go on the Field Museum's website, they show actual videos of Walters and his crew modeling, molding and mounting Bushman.
    The movies were made by John Moyer who besides being a top bird taxidermist there, was also in charge of filming the mounting process of numerous other specimens. Again, from its website:

    John Moyer, who worked at the Field Museum from 1929-1970, was the Chief of Motion Picture Division as well as a taxidermist. He created this behind the scenes film of the taxidermy techniques used on Bushman (gorilla specimen). When Bushman died on New Year’s Day 1951, the Lincoln Park Zoo gave his remains to the Field Museum in order to preserve and care for the beloved animal. Several taxidermy processes were used on the gorilla including the Walters Process for the face and feet. Leon L. Walters taxidermist and model-maker (from 1911 to 1954), Frank C. Wonder taxidermist (from 1926 to 1954) and Joseph B. Krstolich artist (from 1941 to 1972) prepared the mounted skin.
     
    creepers likes this.
  18. LarryL

    LarryL Member

    Joe, I remember about 30 years ago meeting you at Jack Robertson’s shop across from the mill you and Jack were working on a life-size mule deer and you were enjoying the black berry’s from out behind the shop how Time has flown by jack was a great taxidermist and very nice guy.
     
  19. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    I don't remember that, but I do recall the peppermint crop was being harvested that time of year and everywhere you drove the sweet smell of that herb was everywhere while that lumber mill stunk to high heaven.
    Yes, Jack was mild mannered and easy to work for. I got him to tell me what it was like in Korea and what he endured was more than enough to shock the conscience. I worked for him for three weeks helping him catch up. Prior to that I had Mike Frazier as a sculpting student in Denver and Jack contacted me looking for a full time guy. I recommended Mike, Mike worked for Jack about a year then opened his own supply business and named it Research Mannikins. Mike is still the largest stake holder in that company.
     
    creepers likes this.
  20. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Active Member

    281
    205
    Texas
    While I'm at it, here's an interesting story about John Moyer who worked at the Field Museum along with Leon Pray. John was a skilled and known movie photographer at the museum. In the early 1950s the Chinese were in tight control of Tibet and were keeping close tabs on their border with India. For whatever reason they didn't want the Dali Llama to escape out of Tibet. I don't recall the exact reason. The U.S. CIA wanted some first hand intelligence on what the situation was and what might be going on over there at the time. So they hired John Moyer to pose as a wildlife photographer on a photographic safari up along the Indian border and report back. He made a fine film which we invited him to show and narrate at a TR convention one year. John was probably to only taxidermist who was ever an actual government spy. We also published a long interview with John in the July-August 1977 issue of Taxidermy Review. I have first and second editions of his book, Practical Taxidermy. The first edition is autographed.

    John Moyer at the Field.jpg

    John Moyer ad.jpg
     
    Micah Howards and creepers like this.