Jun
28

The American Pygmy Bison

By

Inches, not feet.

In August 1828, “V,” a correspondent to the Loudon Magazine, reported on his examination of a mounted specimen of the American pygmy bison in the possession of a Hastings dealer named Murray. The creature was said to have been among the holdings of the comte de Bournon, at the time of his death three years earlier the director of the mineralogical cabinet of Louis XVIII.

V found the animal to be 7 or 8 inches tall, “quite perfect in horns, coat, and every other which distinguishes the adult male bison.” And, unfortunately, an example of “the summit of the art of deception.”

It appeared to me to have been grounded on a well-formed model of wood, very tightly covered, in the first instance, by the skin of a pug-dog of corresponding size, the long hair about the head, hunch, and belly being added with consummate skill from the skin of a young bear, while the horns and hoofs were formed out of the black horn of the buffalo.

A fake, yes, but “the tout ensemble so elegant” that V thought it entirely worth the price of 40 guineas set by Mr. Murray.

Where is it now?

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