AN EXTREMELY LARGE TAXIDERMY AFRICAN GIANT PANGOLIN (MANIS GIGANTEA)
18th/19th century or even earlier
The enormous scaled-anteater with thick scales and a beautiful dark-brown patina.
L. 125 cm
Private collection, United Kingdom
How a little animal can change the world.
These are the scales of an antique taxidermy pangolin, particularly one from our collection that measures a whopping 125 cm in length.
It’s the largest one we’ve seen other the one in the @naturalhistorymuseumlondon, and @axelvervoort has one in his collection.
This one dates from the 19th century, but might even be 18th or earlier, because of the deep dark patina and the tar that has been used to conserve its skin on the bottom side.
Pangolin scales and flesh are used as ingredients for various traditional Chinese medicine preparations. While clinical tests have not demonstrated the efficacy of those practices and they have no logical mechanism of action, their popularity still drives the black market for animal body parts, despite concerns about toxicity and transmission of diseases from animals to humans, such as the pest and corona-viruses. The ongoing demand for parts as ingredients continues to fuel pangolin poaching, hunting and trading.
Conservation efforts are unfortunately still in vain, however, a ban on the use of pangolin scales in traditional Chinese medicine by the Chinese government may give us hope. We will, therefore, donate part of the revenue of our antique specimens to a pangolin conservation fund.
The pangolin trade, for kunstkammer or other purposes, is centuries old, but this trade did not threaten their numbers. An early known example is in 1820, when Francis Rawdon, 1st Marquis of Hastinges and East India Company Governor-General in Bengal, presented King George III with a coat and helmet made with the scales of Manis crassicaudata.