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Albatross stuffed and mounted in a case

Date: 1899
Overall: 830 x 994 x 508 mm, 30.8 kg
Medium: Bird, wood, glass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Albatross
Object No: 00015712

User Terms

    This stuffed albatross mounted in a glass display case most likely dates from the late c19. Taxidermy by this time had become a popular method of display as peoples interest and awareness in the natural world had increased and techniques had improved enormously.
    SignificanceThe albatross has always had an intricate link with sailors superstitions and myths. It is traditionally thought to be bad luck to kill an albatross as they were thought to embody the soul of dead mariners. In Coleridge's well-known poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the narrator, after shooting an albatross, is forced to wear the dead bird around his neck by the other crew members as penance for inflicting bad luck on the ship by his actions.
    HistoryBy the late C19 taxidermy had reached alevel of expertise thtat now saw animals andbirds artfully displayed in relica habitiats and cabinets that could tastefully be displayed in the home.
    Many travellers saw native fauna and birds as the ideal momento to bring home from their journey and an albatross such a this would undoubtedly have been prepared as an interesting and unusual specimen of a seabird, especially considering its special significance to sailors. It is not unusual to read in various accounts of travel by sea that a crew member would shoot an albatross for a passenger to take home as a souvenir of the journey. With refrigeration, albatross bodies could be frozen until they reached port and a taxidermist. Alternatively, a crew member may have had the skills to prepare the bird on board.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Albatross stuffed and mounted in a case

    Exhibition object title: The sailor’s companion

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