Dead on Arrival: The Best Taxidermy and Bone Art from Etsy

It may seem a bit macabre today, but in Victorian times–when the art of taxidermy was pioneered–it was considered quite fashionable to decorate one’s home with stuffed and mounted dead creatures. Since that time, taxidermy has been mostly the dominion of elderly movie villains, hardcore hunters, and overly attached pet owners.

But like many other weird bygones, taxidermy is experiencing a recent surge in popularity. Shops like Paxton Gate nestle comfortably among record stores and coffee shops in the hipper districts of major cities.

In celebration of the this “dead revival” and the beginning of this morbid month of October, here are some of the strange and beautiful departed Etsy has to offer.

1. Rabbit Skull Necklaces from VirginiatheWolf


Virginiathewolf hails from gloomy and fashionable London, an attitude embodied in their jewelry. Their pieces are made from real animal bones, painted and spangled into one-of-a-kind art pieces. Their store is definitely worth a look. The above are rabbit skull necklaces, which buyers can customize by color and design.

2. Death’s Head Moth from BugUnderGlass


Fans of the Hannibal Lecter series will remember this moth from Silence of the Lambs movie (it’s also pictured on the poster).

There are technically three species of similar moths under the name Death’s Head. The one sold by BugUnderGlass is Acherontia styx. Below is a better picture of the markings that give the group their name.

I’m a long time fan of BugUnderGlass, owned by Kevin Clark of San Francisco. Kevin does amazing work preserving beautiful butterflies and other fascinating and rare insects . Check out his store here.

3. Mounted Bird Head from andthebigbadwolf


The Danish store differs from the other shops on this list in that they sell vintage items instead of handmade creations. They have a wide selection of antique curiousities. There’s quite a bit of taxidermied birds, which includes some full specimens in addition to the mounted head style, like the one above.

4. Baby Octopus from WolfKing


Note: Browsing Etsy for “wet specimens”–real animals preserved in jars–can be frustrating, as almost every item that pops up features a warning about “mature content” in place of the product photo. Etsy recently decided wet specimens were too graphic for younger viewers. Weirdly, this only applies if the specimen is in a jar. Taxidermied and mummified items are a-ok if they stay out of fluid. 

The shop Wolf King bills itself as “the original home of the tentacle jar”, and I’m not really in a position to dispute that claim. I can assert that their store has a wide selection of creepy and awesome wet specimens for purchasing, like the above Baby Octopus.

5. Bat Skeleton from OddlyCustomCreations 


There’s a lot of skulls and bones to buy on Etsy, but few are as elegant as the pieces from OddlyCustomCreations. This one features a bat skeleton articulated in mid-flight encased in a large glass dome.


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