A Taxidermy Teal Hung as Dead Game, Mounted on a Board c.1960


Origin: English
Period: Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1950-70   
Depth: 3 inches (at maximum)
Width: 7 inches (the board)
Height: 17 inches (the board)
The Bird: 12 inches

The stuffed and mounted teal hung as dead game, on a board, bearing "Game Bird Collection" label No. 239 survives from the third quarter of the twentieth century.

No 239 was no ordinary teal, but a lonely duckling grown up to become one man's constant companion.

When walking around his town of St Swithens, Tom Hartley, a 75-year-old English farmer, got an awful lot of attention for the feathered friend that trailed behind him. And he trudged through puddles in his tweed.

"He drives in the car with me, he goes to when I'm doing things like trading the sheep dogs," Hartley told the Telegraph in 1962. "He just goes everywhere with me. Sleeps with me – everything".

The bird, an 11-week-old dappling duck, was disinterested in being with other ducklings and started hanging around outside Mr Hartleys house, number 239 Whirlowdale Road. Hartley improvised and hand-raised the bird since. "He's just one of those very strange animals that just wants to be friends with me." His friends agree. That is strange. Who the hell would want to be friends with him? They chortled.

One day No. 239 decided that actually he might like a lady friend, just one taste, just one scent of a woman. So he abandoned Tom at midnight and found his way onto a nearby lady infested moorland. He got his girl, he spent the night with a lovely young duck, but as he was leaving he was caught in the cross fire of a pheasant hunt and sadly shot. Tom Hartley was sad, but he knew no 239 had died a happy duck. He retrieved his stuffed and mounted friend as dead game (the hunters had all their taxidermy presented as such) from a charity auction and has hung in the Hartley’s house ever since.

Ladies and Gentlemen, No. 239.