A Museum Cased Late Victorian Pair of Taxidermy Dunlins by Joseph Cullingford of Durham 1898/99

Origin: English
Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1898 & 1899
The Case:
Depth: 6.5”
Width: 15”
Height: 15”

The beautifully preserved male and female pair of Dunlins ( Calidris alpina) poised in opposing positions, the male stood, with the female rendered in flight, housed within a typical Cullingford glazed museum case being square and black painted, the interior beautifully sparse with buff paper backing and lacking in simulated habitat, the whole preserved by Joseph Cullingford of Durham in 1898 & 1899, the paper pencil annotated "♀ Holy Island 31. 1. 99",  and "♂ Dunnet Sep 1898".

The overall composition is of a very high quality and the specimens are in good condition with expected light fade to the plumage but nothing out of the ordinary. The glazing and case are all original and the rest of the composition is very well preserved with expected light wear to the case, and some small amount of spotting and foxing to the paper.

Found along the coast all year-round, the dunlin is a small sandpiper that breeds and winters in the UK. It can be seen in its upland breeding grounds in summer, when it turns brick-red above and sports a black patch on its belly. The English name is a dialect form of "dunling", first recorded in 1531–1532. The common name, dunlin, comes from this birds' habit of nesting in upland moors and bogs: 'dun' is an old Gaelic word for hill and 'linne' means pool or pond.

Joseph Cullingford (one of three brothers) of Durham was responsible for some of the finest taxidermy crafted during the late Victorian period and was appointed Curator of the University Museum, Palace Green, Durham in 1877. Although clearly operating on a commercial basis, Cullingford was employed at the Museum throughout most of his working life. From his Headed notepaper, it seems he had an arrangement enabling him to work privately whilst in the museum's employ.

In our eyes, simply the most sublime taxidermist of all time.