John Adnet Jacobs (1853) bought himself out of the British Army for 'one shilling' (ten cents) to join his family who were emigrating to New Zealand. In 1878 he married Alice Sussanah. Alice was a remarkable woman, who at the age of 6 walked with her family from Whangarei to Auckland (97 miles) to avoid a Maori raid. At the time of their wedding, John was already established as a taxidermist and paperhanger - a curious combination of trades. Alice had trained as a "naturalist" in London, England.

 

 

 

Together they trained several of their fourteen children in taxidermy and travelled throughout New Zealand collecting and preparing skins of native birds. These were sold to American and European institutions and collectors. When the bird numbers were depleted they moved on. They established businesses in Masterton, Palmerston North, Nelson and Dunedin. In addition to taxidermy, the businesses included furrier and rabbit skin export.

 

 

 

John and Sussanah's youngest son Ray (1906) was appointed taxidermist and Head of the Display Department, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch. After 31 years he was awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire) "....for meritorious contribution to taxidermy and museum display" by Sir Dennis Blundell, Governor General. Among many other displays, Ray constructed the original "Christchurch Street" and the "Hall of New Zealand Birds" that was opened in 1956 and may still be seen to this day. Ray was a particularly talented man. In addition to being an outstanding taxidermist he constructed the foreground and painted the huge backdrops for all the habitat groups.

 
Ray drawing charcoal sketch for the background, 1955.
The fore and background painting completed, and Ray placing the gulls, 1956.

 

 

Ray's youngest son Terry (1938) learned taxidermy at his father's elbow. While Ray worked on clients' trophies Terry skinned wrecked birds picked up on New Brighton Beach. Even before leaving school his ambition was to become New Zealand's leading taxidermist, as his father before him.

 

 
Terry took up a position as Senior Zoological Technician, University of Canterbury, where he met his wife Eileen. During this period he travelled to Antarctica as part of the University of Canterbury's Biological Unit Expedition to Ross Island. He joined his father at the Canterbury Museum as a taxidermist and preparator. By 1968, Terry had decided to broaden his international career by accepting a post of Chief Technician at the National Museum of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, where he remained for two years. He followed this with a study tour of North America, Europe and the British Isles.

 

By 1970 Terry decided to enter business on his own account. He established the company of Terry Jacobs Limited early that year and brought to bear all of his experience and talents which had been honed over the previous two decades. It's no exaggeration to claim he revolutionised the whole industry by setting new standards which have now come to be accepted as a national benchmark for taxidermy in New Zealand. In 1974, to underscore the new company's presence, he took three gold and two silver medals out of the five classes available to taxidermists at the New Zealand Exhibition of Hunting.

 

 

 

David Jacobs, Terry and Eileen's youngest son, worked his way through college as a part time taxidermist in his father's studio. He graduated Bachelor of Forestry Science from Canterbury University and travelled soon after to Arkansas, USA on an Ottenheimer Scholarship. It was while visiting the many hunting and taxidermy friends his family had made over the years that he decided to embark on a career in taxidermy.

 

In September 1994 David received a business development grant to explore the United States taxidermy market, to visit their studios and study the latest developments. He visited many world class facilities including the Denver Natural History Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum and the Field Museum, Chicago. David is a keen hunter and outdoorsman.

 

His particular love is alpine hunting for Himalayan Tahr in the South Island's Southern Alps.

 

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