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