An Edwardian Museum Cased Taxidermy Goosander c.1902, by Robert Duncan of Newcastle

Origin: English
Period: Edwardian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1902
The Case:
Depth: 9”
Width: 24”
Height: 20”

The immaculately preserved Goosander (Mergus merganser), the specimen set upon a typical Duncan wooden block and housed within a beautiful scientific sparse museum case, the pine sides stained and the top with a lovely patina, the whole being beautifully unassuming with white paper backing, signed to interior upper left ''R. Duncan, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 1902'', sticker to front pane and with hand written script verso ''Shot at Hawkshill'', the whole surviving from early Edwardian England in good overall condition.

The overall composition is of a very high quality and the bird is in good condition with expected very 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. The pencil signature is clear. The lower left sticker is partially lost.

A largely freshwater bird, the goosander first bred in the UK in 1871. It built up numbers in Scotland and then since 1970 it has spread across northern England into Wales, reaching south-west England. Its love of salmon and trout has brought it into conflict with fishermen. It is gregarious, forming into flocks of several thousand in some parts of Europe.

Robert Duncan (1837-1909) of Pilgrim Street, Newcastle specialised in immaculate taxidermy, using a primitive method dating from 18th century practitioners in France. Despite this, his birds are beautifully precise, presented in a plain scientific museum box display, lacking in vegetation (akin to J.Cullingford’s) with no decoration to distract from the specimens. Unusually, he normally signed and dated his cases, like an artist, rather than attach a trade label, and dated cases have been seen from the early 1860s through to the Edwardian period. Few taxidermists had time to shoot their own specimens, but Duncan was know to have both collected and mounted his specimens. John Hancock refers to him in a letter in 1880 as: 'A good taxidemist, and his father was a good bird stuffer too'.

Beautifully pure taxidermy, the best money can buy.