Item number: 4409
A Superb 19th Century Preserved Polycephalic Duckling
Ex English Private Collection
Animals born with two heads have been known, documented and desired as fascinating curiosities throughout history. The condition is known as polycephaly and is the result of the failed separation of monozygotic, (identical) twins.
Travelling exhibitions of curiosities, oddities, wonders of nature and human and animal freaks had existed since at least the 17th century appearing at fairs and taverns in England. They became hugely popular during the 19th century. Relying heavily on ignorance and shock, creatures displaying severe physical abnormalities proved to be especially popular and profitable exhibits.
Many terrifying twin headed creatures were already well known from ancient mythology and folklore. The exhibition of such creatures in real life provided disturbing substantiating evidence of the possible existence of such abominations, attesting these stories.
This extraordinary and very rare specimen was originally conserved by suspension in fluid. Now long evaporated, it has resulted in this example being wonderfully preserved in a mummified state with the fluids concentrated residue evidenced at the base of its original glass jar.
Glass Jar: Height: 14cm, Width: 6.5cm
Duckling: Height: 5cm, Width: 3cm