Peter Spicer was born in 1893 and died 20th January 1935, aged 96, This was a good age considering his life-long use of arsenic. He moved to Leamington Spa and set up in business as a taxidermist in the year 1860 at 4 Upper Parade. This was to be the start of one of the most famous taxidermy firms ever, covering the golden age of taxidermy from birth, all the way right through to the end. According to Mr Robottom, an employee of Spicers, who was interviewed when the firm closed in 1959, "the peak years were 1904 to the First World War."
Peter Spicer was a true naturalist with vision, an artist and a totally competent taxidermist (taxidermy is in reality art in a case). This ensured the highest quality work, but of course the was a price to pay and the taxidermy of P. Spicer & Sons was expensive in its day. However, finding customers who appreciated the quality and were prepared to pay doesn't seem to have been a problem. A glimpse at some of their patrons listed in their various publications is testimony to this. The cases today are highly sought after and as in their day, can be expensive.
There was a tremendous trade in sporting trophies and the firm's catalogues and books indicate the magnitude of the business. An example is "Spicer's Stalking Records". This book was an annual publication recording stalking statistics for that year and listing the names of key people involved and the estates with the record trophies. There were also illustrations of the best mounted trophies. This not only fuelled competition among the deer stalkers to out do each other, but also served as a fine advertisement for Spicer's excellent taxidermy.
Peter Spicer married Ann Ward of Leamington in 1865 and by 1870 three children had been born, Amy, William Sydney and Emma. At this point the business must have been reasonably prosperous as Peter Spicer and his wife now employed a servant, Jane Saul aged 20 from Leamington, and a nurse, Sara Hextall aged 16 of Aldershot. Another child, Alice Gertrude, was born in 1872 but only lived for five months. In 1873 a further child, Peter Henry, was born he also lived for five months, this was a recurrent tradgedy for the family. Ann Spicer had another confinement in 1874, her second in eleven months the child Ann (named after the mother) and the mother died after 23 days. They were buried together at All Saints, Leamington on 5th September 1874.
Some time later, P. Spicer married his housekeeper, Lavinia Williams of Cirencester and they had two children. Percy who died when he was eight in 1886 and Gilbert Henry, born in 1880.
We have bought major collections from museums and private collectors.
Offer your items here.
Ayre & Co does not source modern taxidermy specimens that have been killed for the purpose of taxidermy. Our modern taxidermy is mainly roadkill and catkill as these are sadly the top two threats to British wildlife. We also get animals that have died of old age, largely from zoos and falconers.
Antique pieces for us are another matter. Although some of these old specimens were hunted, we see no harm in trading them today.
Destroying them will not bring the animal back.
Taxidermy law can be complicated. We make it our business to know the laws surrounding the trade, keeping up to date with changes in current legislation so you can buy in confidence.
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