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Cream-coloured courser (Cursorius cursor)

Cream-coloured Courser

A scarce straggler to England, shot at Sopley...

Cream-coloured Coursers are desert birds which occasionally find their way to Northern Europe. This bird was shot in 1845 at Sopley, Hampshire by a shepherd employed by Mr W Tice and later mounted for display. The background shows a wet heathland typical to the north of Christchurch with the Purbeck Hills in the background. Extract from Edward Hart's Catalogue: "A scarce straggler to England, shot at Sopley, 1845, by a Shepherd in the employ of Mr W Tice."

This cased bird is the work of Edward Hart, a 19th century taxidermist, who lived in Christchurch. Edward’s father, William, was also a taxidermist who passed on his skills, and later his business 'William Hart & Son, Preservers of Birds and Beasts', to his son. Unlike the cases produced by William, which were quite crude by modern standards, Edward's Work was of very high quality.

Of how he became interested in taxidermy Edward Hart wrote 'In 1857 I shot three…. birds and afterwards mounted them, little thinking at the time that this attempt at taxidermy was to be the beginning of making my collection, which has been my fortune to accumulate principally from Hampshire'.

Quick Facts

  • Accession number HMCMS:Bi1983.2.11
  • Dimensions of case Length 53cm, Height 55cm, Thickness 28cm
  • Specimen prepared by Edward Hart (taxidermist)
  • Date bird shot 1845
  • Place bird shot Sopley, Hampshire

Facts

  • Cream-coloured Coursers eat mostly insects, foraging on foot, usually running in short dashes. They breed in North and Central Africa, Central and Southern Asia, and winter in India.
  • As well as preparing animals and birds for local sportsmen, taxidermist Edward Hart started his own collection. Most of his specimens were taken between 1867 and 1897. In 1866, his collection was large enough to open a museum.
  • Shortly before Edward's death in 1928, the collection was offered for sale. Most of the cases were purchased by John Hall of Stafford. For the next few years until his death, Edward Hart corresponded with John Hall, a keen ornithologist, sending batches of bird records to him for checking and answering enquiries regarding some of the cases of birds.
  • After the death of John Hall, Edward Hart’s collection was passed to Stowe School in Buckinghamshire where it remained until 1923. The collection was, by this time, in a sad state of neglect and staff at Leicester Museum took them on for conservation and safe storage.
  • In the early 1980's, Stowe School offered the Edward Hart collection for sale and it was purchased by the Horniman Museum, Leicester Museum and Hampshire County Council Museums Service. Twenty two cases were purchased by the latter and chosen, not only as fine examples of taxidermy, but also because the backgrounds show Christchurch at the time the birds were collected.

Did you know?

In addition to the twenty two cases of Edward Hart's work, Hampshire County Council Arts and Museums Service also hold examples of specimens prepared by his father, William. Although William's work is not of the quality produced by Edward, they still represent good examples of early 19th century taxidermy.

Gallery

Edward Hart - taxidermist

Fact Sheets

More about Edward Hart (the taxidermist of the Cream-coloured Courser)

More about taxidermy

More about Cream-coloured Coursers

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