DCP-LETT-1784

# To T. C. Eyton   26 November [1855]

## Nov. 26th

My dear Eyton

As you have had such great experience in making skeletons,1 will you be so kind as to take the trouble to give me some pieces of information. But I must premise that I have been making a few,2 & when I took the body out of the water, the smell was so dreadful that it made me reach awfully.3 Now I was told that if I hung the body of a bird or small quadruped up in the air & allowed the flesh to decay off, & the whole to get dry, that I could boil the mummy in water with caustic soda, & so get it nearly clean, but not white, with very little smell. What do you think of this plan? And pray tell me how do you get the bones moderately clean, when you take the skeleton out, with some small fragments of putrid flesh still adhering. It really is most dreadful work.— Lastly do you pluck your Birds?—4

I am getting on with my collection of Pigeons, & now have pairs of ten varieties alive & shall on Saturday receive two or three more kinds.—

Your’s very truly | C. Darwin T. C. Eyton Esqe

## Footnotes

1
Eyton had himself prepared the majority of the skeletons in his large museum on the family estate at Eyton. He possessed one of the finest collections of bird and animal skins in Europe (DNB).
2
See, for example, letter to W. D. Fox, 22 August [1855].
3
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 11 [December 1854], n. 13.
4
In CD’s Address book (Down House MS), the following recipe appears under ‘Skeletons’: ‘Skeletons $\frac{1}{4}$ oz Caustic Potash to Pint of Water Siver Oxide $\frac{1}{2}$ gram: twice a day, for month’. In 1856, however, CD began sending his specimens out to have skeletons prepared.

## Summary

His pigeon collection is growing; now has pairs of ten varieties.

## Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-1784
From
Darwin, C. R.
To
Eyton, T. C.
Sent from
Down
Physical description
3pp