I found this fine fellow one day when searching for the image of a monkey, wearing a monocle and cravat, and holding a copy of Charles Darwin's 'Origin of Species'. I'm sure I saw something just like it once, and subsequently used the image in my novel, The Somnambulist...

'On a whatnot pushed into a corner, a stuffed monkey was sitting on its haunches, wearing a monocle and a cravat, and holding a copy of Mr Darwin's book clutched in its wrinkled fingers. A good thing Mama had not seen that. One more thing to consider as blasphemous!"

While searching, I did find other things I later wished I hadn't  - and what some might find offensive. For example, I have no idea as to what on earth is going on in the photograph posted above, though it looks like some form of dentistry...while the kittens in the bar below are clearly having a lovely time.

But, the finest collection of taxidermy I've yet had the 'pleasure' to see first hand, as opposed to via photographs, was when I went to dine one night in a restaurant in East London. Sadly, Les Trois Garcons is no longer open to the public, but it used to be gloriously camp; a unique baroque experience, though the decorations may perhaps have dampened down the appetites of more delicate constitutions.

Still, you've got to love the winged stuffed dog in the photograph below... 

And, finally, speaking of stuffed dogs, you might like the tale of Owney...

Owney, who looks like a type of terrier, wandered into the Albany post office in New York in 1888 where he was later found to be fast asleep upon some mailbags. Soon, he was riding on the trains that ferried mail across state and country. By 1895 he was also travelling around the world, sailing on mail steamships to Asia and to Europe.

Owney was thought to bring good luck. No train or boat he travelled on had ever crashed or been damaged. After every successful trip he made another lucky charm was then attached to a collar that he wore. But, eventually, the postmaster had to have a special jacket made to take the weight of all those medals.

Despite all this, poor Owney was doomed to a rather tragic end. In old age, he grew bad tempered and following an incident when a newspaper reporter was rather badly bitten, it was decided that Owney should be put down, shot with a bullet from a gun.

However, the mourning mail workers then decided to raise the funds to have their much loved mascot permanently preserved. To this day Owney is on display in the American Smithsonian Institute, where he looks to be nothing of a threat, though perhaps less shaggy and perky than he ever looked when living. 


  1. Oh, poor Owney! He looks so sweet.

    Those rabbit and kitten scenes are very like the kind of thing they had at Potter's - there were kittens singing in a choir I think, and guinea pigs playing cricket! It's rather creepy but gives an interesting insight into what the Victorians found entertaining.

  2. They created some very odd hybrids too... which takes me back to a certain mermaid!

  3. I did not know about Owney! Thanks for posting on this.

  4. Poor little Owney! He reminds me of the saddest episode of Futurama...but that's me being a total geek. As a former long-time resident of Albany I never heard of this story! Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Thank you, Lauren and Heather. I hope you're enjoying the blog.

  6. Thank you, very interesting.