Rogue Taxidermy

by Marlow Harris

Pacific Galleries had an auction of traditional taxidermy and sideshow items such as a giant skull gaff, which is a man-made object made for a freekshow, meant to imitate a mysterious find from the natural world.

* Note: Washington State ID is required to purchase some of these items, and they must not cross state lines after purchase!

Taxidermy: “Spot”, a two-headed calf which lived for six weeks on a farm in Auburn, WA in the 1930’s:
Tw0-headed calf

Gary Syers’ Mystery Wonder Show was auctioned off at Pacific Galleries in Seattle, where the two-headed calf, Goliath’s skull and Peruvian Wolf Boy sat before a mystified crowd.

Sideshow Item from Gary’s collection: Counterfeit Shrunken Head in case, under a glass dome, made from monkey skin.

Sideshow shrunken head

Rogue Taxidermy from Syers collection: Whimsy the “Great Horned Swamp Ape”, a man-made example using party of different animals to construct a mythical character. Looks like it’s made out of deer butt.

Rogue Taxidermy

Stuffed giraffe head (uh.. and neck), shoulder mounted speciman “harvested” late 20th century. Who would buy this?

Stuffed giraffe

Two-headed racoon sideshow gaff.
Two-headed racoon

“Tasmanian Werewolf” gaff. This piece of rogue taxidermy was likely assembled in the second quarter of the 20th century.
Tasmanian Werewolf Gaff

This was so large and impressive in real-life, it kinda makes me sad…

Stuffed elephant

And here’s the poor guy’s feet!
Elephant Feet

Syers entered the sideshow business in 1996 after years of working as a musician and a cook on a tugboat. His first exhibit was something called “The Strange Thing.”

“It’s what’s known in the business as a ‘question-mark show,’ ” Syers explained. “People have to solve their curiosity, so they will pay a small amount of money to do that.”

Wall of heads

For more of the story behind Gary Syer’s Myster Wonder Show see “Sideshow Chapter Closed” by Nicole Brodeur in the Seattle Times.

Couldn’t make the auction? Have a burning desire to own a dried turkey head, punk-rock squirrel, a boar hear under glass or Mummified Magic Mystery Hand Box? Check out Custom Creature Taxidermy.

Dead Squirrel

Wanna Mouse Torso, Evil Eye, or Exploding Frog? Liquid Fish

Evil Eye

How about an Aligator Boy, 3-Clawed Scorpion or a Baby Dragon? Fiendish Curiosities

Dead Kitten

Loren Coleman on Gaffs from Boing Boing

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