A Little Vermont “Victorian Whimsy”

by - 9:32 AM


Vacation.  A time to explore… let loose… do things you never have time to do, explore and see things you never see…

The Moose River Lake and Lodge Store
definitly go visit next time you find
yourself in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
In preparation for a family wedding in Vermont we decided to make a vacation out of the time there and secured an out-of-the-way cabin on a pond just outside St. Johnsbury.  Because the cabin was so out-of-the-way and without a cyber connection, on one of the days we set out in search of wifi for some unfinished work.  Actually wandering more than working, we found ourselves in the Moose River Lake and Lodge Store, what a place for amazing rustic gifts! 

We were fascinated by one of the more whimsical finds sprinkled throughout the store.  There, among the linens, was a squirrel getting ready to fish.  In another room a raccoon feasting on Cracker Jacks is seated above the delicious selection of Vermont made soaps. 

Now, I have never been a fan of taxidermy.  I remember growing up visiting my Grandfather’s rock and mineral store and hanging on the back wall of the shop was the head of a large buck.  I would run my hands through its fur and apologize to it for its demise every time I saw it.  I remember thinking that somehow being hung on a wall after your death was kind of an insult.

We giggled about these though, brought the kids back even, to check them out later.  I agree taxidermy does have its place but the Moose River’s collection is definitely a whimsical twist on their dustier brothers and sisters of the taxidermy world. 

Yum!  Cracker Jacks...

These pieces in the store have a Walter Potter “flavor” to them.  Potter, an English taxidermist, was well known in the 1800’s for his museum which featured his mounted animals mimicking human life.  The museum included works like “kittens’ wedding party, a rats’ den being raided by the local police rats and some hamsters playing cricket among the 10,000 specimens in the museum.  Potter’s taxidermy is a well-known and popular example of “Victorian Whimsy” during a time where there was a fascination with collecting stuffed animals.  

As interest waned the museum closed and the collection sold.  In the later years of the museums existence it deflected animal cruelty claims with a sign on the museum door reportedly letting people know that all of the animals in the collection had died of natural causes.  Although the museum closed, the fascination with his whimsical style of taxidermy still exists today with a recent book and short film

As we chatted about the two raccoons sitting on top of shelf the fantastic ladies behind the register laughed as they exclaimed that we wouldn’t believe how many of those they sell!  No, we really couldn’t believe it but tried to imagine what the response would be if that were coming out of the box as our wedding gift!

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