Mistress of Death: Walter Potter and His Taxidermy Friends

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For those of us intrigued by the idea of taxidermy, Walter Potter (1835-1918) is probably one of the best examples of creativity centered around dead animals. Potter, a resident of Bramber, Sussex in the United Kingdom was a taxidermist who spent a good deal of time stuffing animals as his day job. In this age of Victorianism, it was considered completely normal to have an entire case of birds you shot while hunting stuffed and placed in a glass case as part of your parlor room. It was seen as a faux pas not to have something of that nature in many cases.

Walter Potter began to use dead rats that his neighbor’s dog, Spot, caught, as well as rabbits and kittens. Sadly, drowning kittens was fairly commonplace before the invention of spaying and neutering your pets. Potter used these tragedies to create exhibits such as the elaborate display The Kittens’ Wedding, or his most famous display The Death of Cock Robin.

Potter’s museum was popular into the sixties, but after Potter’s death and the death of his children and grandchildren, the museum was sold off in pieces at auction.

For more information on Walter Potter, check out the book Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy by Dr. Pat Morris. Also, the British Pathe archives feature many videos of the museum in Bramber, all of which are available on Youtube for free.

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