Collecting the Live and the Skinned
Britain’s control of more than a fifth of the world’s land area made it more possible to collect animals from the reach of empire. Live exotic specimens were brought back to England, and if they survived, shown to an inquisitive public as well as to zoologists. Scientists also collected the skins of these exotics, for their markings were basic to compiling a more definitive taxonomy. Gathering these specimens, however, was a complex, costly, and risky business. Letters sent from dealers and agents record just how complicated and chaotic the trade in wild animals was. They contain narratives of loss, hardship, and frustration. This chapter concentrates on the extensive correspondence (1830s–1850s) sent from dealers and agents to England’s most prolific collector, the 13th Earl of Derby.
KeywordsHunting: exotic animals 12th Earl of Derby 13th Earl of Derby British Empire
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