Sunday, December 8, 2013
It was spring of 1975 on the Great London Circus. One of the tigers had a litter and the mother would not take care of the 6 cubs. I knew how….and became their surragate mother. The little one that I am holding was given to me as payment for caring for the litter. They all lived. There is more to this story which I will relay to you in person if you have any interest.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Note the beautiful twisted willow whip. Becoming as rare as the Hope diamond......................
Noting the whip, Mr. Philadelphia must have also presented a liberty act. Why have we never heard much spoken about Harry Philadelphia? Does anyone have any insight into the man?
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Swedish Museum of Natural History
NATURE International Weekly Journal of Science
Nov. 6, 2013
A 300-year-old pickled fetus that was classified by Carl Linnaeus as the type specimen of the Asian elephant has been proved to be an African elephant — by the use of the emerging technology of ancient proteomics.
Evolutionary geneticist Tom Gilbert, whose University of Copenhagen lab owns one of the world’s most advanced DNA sequencing machines, had failed to identify the species from a DNA sample seven years ago because it was too degraded. To sidestep this problem, he and his colleague Enrico Cappellini decided to run an advanced protein analysis using a sample from the oesophagus of the fetus, held in the National Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. “Clearly it’s got protein, because the damn thing still exists,” Gilbert says.
The team sequenced several proteins in the specimen that were known to vary between elephant species, and each pointed to an African origin for the fetus (see go.nature.com/ivzyzm). Linnaeus assigned the elephant fetus as the type specimen of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), but zoologists had long suspected that it was in fact an African elephant (now called Loxodonta africana).
The work demonstrates the power of studying ancient proteins. Proteins are more resistant to degradation than DNA and could push the molecular fossil record back millions of years, as well as revealing biological insights that cannot be gleaned from genetic material alone, say scientists who study such remains.
Ancient protein analysis is not a new pursuit, says Matthew Collins, a biogeochemist at the University of York, UK. As long ago as 1954, amino acids were detected in trilobite and dinosaur fossils.
But the field took off in 2000, when Peggy Ostrom, a geochemist at Michigan State University in East Lansing, reported protein sequences from ancient bison and walrus bones up to 50,000 years old. Her lab was the first to analyse ancient proteins using the technique of mass spectrometry, which ionizes peptide fragments and then measures their mass, enabling identification when compared with reference databases. Mass spectrometry revolutionized the field of proteomics, in which hundreds of proteins from a tissue are analysed at once, and made it possible to sequence fragmented ancient proteins.
Early efforts by Ostrom, Collins and others focused on individual proteins that are abundant in bone remains, such as collagen. “We call it the barcode of death,” says Collins, who uses collagen sequencing to quickly and cheaply identify species found at archaeological sites, such as the animals used to make parchment or the horns on Viking helmets. Collagen is also remarkably stable: it has been sequenced from a 3.5-million-year-old fossil of a giant camel from the Arctic.
But collagen differs very little between closely related animal species, making it useless as a marker for evolutionary change. “You cannot tell an ibex from a domestic goat; you cannot tell a human from a Neanderthal,” Collins says. So Cappellini began developing methods to identify large numbers of different proteins in long-dead organisms. In 2012, his team identified 126 proteins from a 43,000-year-old woolly mammoth femur. Earlier this year they sequenced 73 proteins from a 750,000-year-old horse fossil. Both specimens also yielded DNA, but the protein data could reveal the additional information about which genes were expressed in bone tissue.
Like DNA sequencing, however, mass spectrometry of an ancient sample can yield an overwhelming amount of data, says Ostrom. “It can be daunting, you can get hundreds of sequences from just a single sample of a single protein, from one individual,” she says. And, like ancient DNA, ancient proteins suffer from contamination and chemical modification, although less is known about those processes with proteins, Ostrom says. Another drawback is that proteomics relies on databases of protein sequences to identify the proteins found. Such databases are lacking for most modern animals, let alone their ancient ancestors.
Researchers studying ancient proteins hope to do more than just sort out museum collections, although Gilbert and Cappellini are working on plenty of these. Ancient proteins can indicate which genes were active in particular tissues from old specimens. They can also reveal phylogenetic information from specimens in which the DNA is too degraded to analyse, such as ancient samples from warm climates, where DNA doesn’t last long, says Collins.
For instance, the evolutionary relationship between humans and Homo floresiensis, a short-statured human fossil from the Indonesian island of Flores, is unclear, and efforts to extract DNA have so far failed. Ancient proteins might finally place this ‘hobbit’ correctly on the human family tree.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
In Thai warfare, the elephant's greatest use was that of a war mount, for kings and commanders of armies. When employed in battle, the war elephant carried three persons on his back. The king or commander, who sat alone on the elephant's neck in order to fight the enemy commander in direct mortal combat. This was a little like the individual contests between warriors in the "Heroic Age" of Ancient Greece or the jousts between knights in armour in Medieval Europe.
The tactical commander sat in the middle of the seat, strapped to the animal's back, handling either two flags or peacocks tails to signal directions of movement to the soldiers below. A third soldier sat on the elephant's hind quarters, in order to drive the animal and take care of the weapons attached to the middle seat.
The war elephant was surrounded at all times by a bodyguard of up to eight foot soldiers, known as "Chaturonkbath". It was their duty to protect the elephant's legs from a surprise attack or other cowardly maneuver by a dishonorable enemy.
The sight of the king or commander of the armies, seated on the back of the elephant and overlooking the battlefield, must have been truly magnificent and a great inspiration to his soldiers. But he would also have been highly conspicuous and vulnerable to enemy projectile weapons.
This vulnerability and indeed the role of the elephant on the battlefield began to be questioned in the seventeenth century, when large numbers of Europeans began to arrive in South East Asia. The reason for this questioning was because these Europeans brought with them, new and terrifying weapons, efficient hand held firearms.
The most notable of these weapons was the musket. It was a deadly weapon, which could kill a king, a commander or indeed an elephant at a distance. It did, however, have two major failings, which to some extent mitigated its effectiveness. It had a slow rate of fire, approximately one shot per minute, and it was inaccurate over a distance of more than two hundred yards.
European armies had developed tactics to overcome the musket's shortcomings and these could be adapted to take account of the elephant's traditional role on Thai battlefields. By the mid‑nineteenth century, however, the accurate and fast firing, repeating rifle had replaced the musket.
This development not only changed the battlefield, but it made the lung or commander and also the elephant too exposed to distant attack. So the elephant was quietly retired from the battlefield. He did, however, continue to do valuable service for the army in a support role, even as recently as the Second World War, and he proved to be an inspiring sight in parades and at ceremonial functions.
Siamese war elephant, 1866 without armor
To the King of Siam
February 3, 1862
President of the United States of America.
To His Majesty Somdetch Phra Paramendr Maha Mongut,
King of Siam,
Great and Good Friend: I have received Your Majesty's two letters of the date of February 14th., 1861.
I have also received in good condition the royal gifts which accompanied those letters,---namely, a sword of costly materials and exquisite workmanship; a photographic likeness of Your Majesty and of Your Majesty's beloved daughter; and also two elephants' tusks of length and magnitude such as indicate that they could have belonged only to an animal which was a native of Siam.
Your Majesty's letters show an understanding that our laws forbid the President from receiving these rich presents as personal treasures. They are therefore accepted in accordance with Your Majesty's desire as tokens of your good will and friendship for the American People. Congress being now in session at this capital, I have had great pleasure in making known to them this manifestation of Your Majesty's munificence and kind consideration.
Under their directions the gifts will be placed among the archives of the Government, where they will remain perpetually as tokens of mutual esteem and pacific dispositions more honorable to both nations than any trophies of conquest could be.
I appreciate most highly Your Majesty's tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States.
Our political jurisdiction, however, does not reach a latitude so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant, and steam on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient agent of transportation in internal commerce.
I shall have occasion at no distant day to transmit to Your Majesty some token of indication of the high sense which this Government entertains of Your Majesty's friendship.
Meantime, wishing for Your Majesty a long and happy life, and for the generous and emulous People of Siam the highest possible prosperity, I commend both to the blessing of Almighty God.
Your Good Friend, ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Washington, February 3, 1862.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
|by P. Gavan|
Friday, November 15, 2013
One of the rarest and most threatened mammals on earth has been caught on camera in Vietnam for the first time in 15 years, renewing hope for the recovery of the species, an international conservation group said on Wednesday.
The saola, a long-horned ox, was photographed in a forest in central Vietnam in September, WWF said.
"This is a breathtaking discovery and renews hope for the recovery of the species," Van Ngoc Thinh, the group's Vietnam country director said.
The animal was first discovered in the remote areas of high mountains near the border with Laos in 1992 when a joint team from WWF and Vietnam's forest control agency found a skull with unusual horns in a hunter's home. The find proved to be the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years.
In Vietnam, the last sighting of a saola in the wild was in 1998, according to Dang Dinh Nguyen, director of the Saola natural reserve in the central province of Quang Nam.
The WWF has recruited forest guards from local communities to remove snares and battle illegal hunting in the area where the saola was photographed. It said poaching was the greatest threat to saola's survival. The snares are set to largely catch other animals, such as deer and civets, which are a delicacy in Vietnam.
Twenty years after its discovery, little is known about saola and the difficulty in detecting the elusive animal has prevented scientists from making a precise population estimate.
At best, no more than a few hundred, and maybe only a few dozen, survive in the remote, dense forests along the border with Laos, according to WWF.
The saola 'Asian unicorn' in pictures
Discovered, wiped out and cloned: the bizarre life cycle of the saola
'Asian unicorn' at risk of extinction from poaching, WWF warns
'Asian unicorn' dies after capture in Laos
Rare saola caught by villagers and shown to conservationists was thought to be one of only a few hundred left in the wild
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I have enjoyed looking at and studying Staffordshire pottery for many years, particularly their Menagerie pieces. My son's used to tell me "you better hope no one finds out you like glassy things, or they might think you are candy ass....." :) What intrigues me is their portrayal of moment's in zoological/circus history. Staffordshire is not of the caliber of Meissen or other higher quality potteries/porcelains. It was never meant to be. It was made for the "common folk" to collect and display and has the charm and beauty, to me, of tramp art and other types of folk art. Often they were not correct in their portrayal, and that has lead to speculation on what it was they were actually portraying. These 4 pieces are believed to portray an incident that occurred at Wombells Menagerie in 1834 when two felines escaped from Wombwell’s menagerie and attacked and killed four people, including a mother with a child in her arms. There was a 5th piece for this set, but none are known to exist. Below is a link to the only thing I could find about the incident in 1834:
22 Jul 1834 - ESCAPE OF A LION & A TIGRESS. - Trove
In the story it notes one person, probably a man killed when he was attacked in the cow pasture after the animal killed sheep and cows. That was most likely the "Negro" depicted below. The lion and tiger then killed a mother and child, depicted above, and an 11 year old boy, most likely the missing piece to the set, although there is not even photographic evidence of what the piece looked like.
This piece and the one below are conundrums, that still have the experts speculating on what they portrayed. The "Death of A Negro" piece has no body. Some speculated that the body had been broken off, yet there is no evidence of repair. Some speculate that the body is inside the animal. It was a lion and tigeress that got loose, yet this is obviously neither. I myself wonder if the big black smear on the nose and mouth is not an artist's mistake as some speculate, but rather, given the mind set and prejudice of the if the big black smear is actually what the artist wanted to portray as what was left of the "Negro."
The relative calmness and serenity of this lion, given the horror and carnage of the others in the set has also baffled experts. Is that supposed to be a "satisfied" look on the lions face, after a night of terror?
Monday, November 11, 2013
Polito's menagerie came in two sizes, achieved by putting the standard backplate onto varying base forms and modifying the cast of characters standing on the base
The smallest at 8 1/2 in. high, rarest, and probably earliest earthenware form
Wombwell's large menagerie. An adaptation of the Polito's menagerie, with a change in titling.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Monday, November 4, 2013
I have had this tape which was copied off of a dvd, so forgive the quality, for many, many years. It is the first White Tiger act in the world, the Hawthorn Tigers. The act was video taped in 1979 in Ft. Worth Texas, by Herta Klauser Cuneo. You will note I was still in my "Gunther" faze with the dyed blond hair. I have had hundreds of requests to put this tape on line, but lacked the technical skills necessary to pull it off. Now finally, thanks to a brilliant young man named Eduardo Fuentes and his girlfriend Dani, assisted by his beautiful mother Roseleni, I am finally able to share it. What a glorious time to be in the American Circus.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
“Like almost everyone else, Pat English dreamed of being famous. But two years ago she was merely a pretty 15-year-old kid at Bayside (N.Y.) High School, and the chances for fame seemed small indeed. Then one day she read an exciting account of how the great Clyde Beatty was opening a school at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for girl lion trainers.
She immediately registered. Pat was one of ten girls who started the course. Eight of them quit the first time they ever saw a lion. Another quit when she saw the lions chew up a mule. Only Pat was left to learn how to use the whip, gun and kitchen chair with which lion tamers overawe their animals. On her second day alone in the cage she was almost clawed to death. Stepping backward, she fell over a block of wood. Only the prompt appearance of Beatty saved her. Today Pat is 17 and a first-rate lion trainer.” - LIFE Magazine, June 22, 1940.
'Pat English is someone rarely mentioned, so I assume her career, as "cute and charming" as it probably was, was short. Does anyone have any other insight? I wonder how a lion "chewed up a mule?" Did it get into their pen, did they get loose, or was it a dead carcass being fed?'
Tipoo Tiger Gravy Boat--Designed 1976 By Roger Michell, Decorated By Danka Napiorkowska. Limited Edition of 60
(see more images)
The tiger and the head lift off, so that gravy can be pored out the collar of Munro's jacket.
Engraving from Third Chapter of Accidents and Remarkable Events c.1807
This account first appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine in July 1793 and was repeated in the The Terrific Register in 1825:
The beast was about four feet and a half high, and nine long. His head appeared as large as an ox’s, his eyes darting fire, and his roar, when he first seized his prey, will never be out of my recollection. We had scarcely pushed our boat from that cursed shore, when the tygress made her appearance, raging mad almost, and remained on the sand as long as the distance would allow me to see her.
To describe the awful, horrid, and lamentable accident I have been an eyewitness of, is impossible. Yesterday morning Mr Downey, of the Company’s troops, Lieut Pyefinch, poor Mr Munro (son of Sir Hector) and myself, went on shore on Saugur island to shoot deer. We saw innumerable tracks of tigers and deer but still we were induced to pursue our sport, and did the whole day.About half past three we sat down on the edge of the jungle, to eat some cold meat sent to us from the ship and had just commenced our meal, when Mr Pyefinch and a black servant told us there was a fine deer within six yards of us. Mr Downey and myself immediately jumped up to take our guns; mine was the nearest, and I had just laid hold of it, when I heard a roar like thunder, and saw an immense royal tyger spring on the unfortunate Munro, who was sitting down; in a moment his head was in the beast’s mouth, and he rushed into the jungle with him with as much ease as I could lift a kitten, tearing him through the thickest bushes and trees — every thing yielding to his monstrous strength. The agonies of horror, regret, and I must say fear, (for there were two tygers, a male and female), rushed on me at once; the only effort I could make was to fire at him, though the poor youth was still in his mouth. I relied partly on Providence, partly on my own aim, and fired a musket. I saw the tyger stagger and agitated, and I cried out so immediately; Mr. Downey then fired two shots, and I one more. We retired from the jungle, and a few minutes after, Mr. Munro came up to us, all over blood, and fell; we took him on our backs to the boat, and got every medical assistance for him from the Valentine Indiaman, which lay at anchor near the island, but in vain. He lived twenty-four hours in the extreme of torture: his head and scull were all torn and broken to pieces, and he was wounded by the beast’s claws all over his neck and shoulders: but it was better to take him away, though irrecoverable, than leave him to be devoured limb by limb. We have just read the funeral service over his body, and committed it to the deep. He was an amiable and promising youth.
'Reading the British account's in the thread below, it seems they were quite miffed and aghast at Sultan Tipu having the "Tipu Tiger" built. The stiff upper British lip's of the time sure seem to have curled at the barbarism of a people's that they had attempted to conquer, educate and teach how to be society gentlemen. In this account from Wikipedia:'
" Tipu grew up with violently anti-British feelings. The tiger formed part of a specific group of large caricature images commissioned by Tipu showing European, often specifically British, figures being attacked by tigers or elephants, or being executed, tortured and humiliated and attacked in other ways."
'And this from Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley:'
"This piece of mechanism represents a royal Tyger in the act of devouring a prostrate European. There are some barrels in imitation of an Organ, within the body of the Tyger. The sounds produced by the Organ are intended to resemble the cries of a person in distress intermixed with the roar of a Tyger. The machinery is so contrived that while the Organ is playing, the hand of the European is often lifted up, to express his helpless and deplorable condition. The whole of this design was executed by Order of Tippoo Sultaun. It is imagined that this memorial of the arrogance and barbarous cruelty of Tippoo Sultan may be thought deserving of a place in the Tower of London."
'And this from James Salmond:'
"The machinery is so contrived, that while the organ is playing, the hand of the European is often lifted up to express his helpless and deplorable condition. It is imagined that this characteristic emblem of the ferocious animosity of Tippoo Sultaun against the British Nation may not be thought undeserving of a place in the Tower of London."
'But not so miffed and shocked, that famed English pottery/porcelain company Staffordshire produced, as far as I can learn 3 figurines commemorating the event, including the last one pictured in which Hugh Monro has a bloody stump, obviously removed by the tiger. I guess a Sultan having something for his pleasure, is worse then having something to sell for a profit. The figurines were produced in the 1830's so there is the possibility that 30 some years removed some of England's shock at the heathen Sultan Tipu having the shameful "Tipu Tiger" built. Fabulous history, none the less, and a heck of a way for Hugh Monro to be remembered and commemorated. :)'
Saturday, November 2, 2013
The Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore from 1782-1799, adopted the tiger as his royal symbol. He fought many battles against the British throughout his reign. So after a particularly painful defeat against the British:
He ordered the walls of houses in Seringapatam to be painted with scenes of tigers mauling Europeans. Live tigers were kept in the city and there were stories of prisoners thrown into the tiger-pits.The death of young Munro delighted the Tipu Sultan, so he commissioned the creation of this macabre automaton.
Tipu must have been intrigued by a news item widely reported in India and Britain in 1793, only months after he had been compelled to sign the hated Treaty of Seringapatam. A young Englishman out shooting near Calcutta had been carried off by 'an immense riyal tiger...four and a half feet high and nine long', sustaining fatal injuries. The victim was the only son of General Sir Hector Munro, who had commanded a division during Sir Eyre Coote's victory at the Battle of Porto Novo in 1781 when Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan's father, was defeated with a loss of 10,000 men during the Second AngloMysore War.
Tipu's Tiger was originally made for Tipu Sultan (also referred to as Tippoo Saib, Tippoo Sultan and other epithets in nineteenth century literature) in the Kingdom of Mysore (today in the Indian state of Karnataka) around 1795. Tipu Sultan used the tiger systematically as his emblem, employing tiger motifs on his weapons, on the uniforms of his soldiers, and on the decoration of his palaces. His throne rested upon a probably similar life-size wooden tiger, covered in gold; like other valuable treasures it was broken up for the highly organized prize fund shared out between the British army.
Tipu had inherited power from his father Hyder Ali, a Muslim soldier who had risen to become dalwai or commander-in-chief under the ruling Hindu Wodeyar dynasty, but from 1760 was in effect the ruler of the kingdom. Hyder, after initially trying to ally with the British against the Marathas had later become their firm enemy, as they represented the most effective obstacle to his expansion of his kingdom, and Tipu grew up with violently anti-British feelings.
The tiger formed part of a specific group of large caricature images commissioned by Tipu showing European, often specifically British, figures being attacked by tigers or elephants, or being executed, tortured and humiliated and attacked in other ways. Many of these were painted by Tipu's orders on the external walls of houses in the main streets of Tipu's capital, Seringapatam. Tipu was in "close co-operation" with the French, who were at war with Britain and still had a presence in South India, and some of the French craftsmen who visited Tipu's court probably contributed to the internal works of the tiger.
Tipu's Tiger was part of the extensive plunder from Tipu's palace captured in the fall of Seringapatam, in which Tipu died, on 4 May 1799, at the culmination of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. An aide-de-camp to the Governor General of the East India Company, Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, wrote a memorandum describing the discovery of the object:
"In a room appropriated for musical instruments was found an article which merits particular notice, as another proof of the deep hate, and extreme loathing of Tippoo Saib towards the English. This piece of mechanism represents a royal Tyger in the act of devouring a prostrate European. There are some barrels in imitation of an Organ, within the body of the Tyger. The sounds produced by the Organ are intended to resemble the cries of a person in distress intermixed with the roar of a Tyger. The machinery is so contrived that while the Organ is playing, the hand of the European is often lifted up, to express his helpless and deplorable condition. The whole of this design was executed by Order of Tippoo Sultaun. It is imagined that this memorial of the arrogance and barbarous cruelty of Tippoo Sultan may be thought deserving of a place in the Tower of London."The earliest published drawing of Tippoo's Tyger was the frontispiece for the book "A Review of the Origin, Progress and Result, of the Late Decisive War in Mysore with Notes" by James Salmond, published in London in 1800. It preceded the move of the exhibit from India to England and had a separate preface titled "Description of the Frontispiece" which said:
"This drawing is taken from a piece of mechanism representing a royal tyger in the act of devouring a prostrate European. There are some barrels in imitation of an organ within the body of the tyger, and a row of keys of natural notes. The sounds produced by the organ are intended to resemble the cries of a person in distress, intermixed with the roar of a tyger. The machinery is so contrived, that while the organ is playing, the hand of the European is often lifted up to express his helpless and deplorable condition.Unlike Tipu's throne, which also featured a large tiger, and many other treasures in the palace, the materials of Tipu's Tiger had no intrinsic value, which together with its striking iconography is what preserved it and brought it back to England essentially intact. The Governors of the East India Company had at first intended to present the Tiger to the Crown, with a view to it being displayed in the Tower of London, but then decided but to keep it for the Company. After some time in store, during which period the first of many "misguided and wholly unjustified endeavours at "improving" the piece" from a musical point of view may have taken place, it was displayed in the reading-room of the East India Company Museum and Library from July 1808.
The whole of this design is as large as life, and was executed by order of Tippoo Sultaun, who frequently amused himself with a sight of this emblematic triumph of the Khoodadaud, over the English, Sircar. The piece of machinery was found in a room of the palace at Seringapatam appropriated for the reception of musical instruments, and hence called the Rag Mehal.
The original wooden figure from which the drawing is taken will be forwarded, by the ships of this season, to the Chairman of the Court of Directors, to be presented to his Majesty. It is imagined that this characteristic emblem of the ferocious animosity of Tippoo Sultaun against the British Nation may not be thought undeserving of a place in the Tower of London."
It rapidly became a very popular exhibit, and the crank-handle controlling the wailing and grunting could apparently be freely turned by the public. By 1843 it was reported that "The machine or organ ... is getting much out of repair, and does not altogether realize the expectation of the visitor". Eventually the crank-handle disappeared, to the great relief of students using the reading-room in which the tiger was displayed, and The Athenaeum later reported that:
"These shrieks and growls were the constant plague of the student busy at work in the Library of the old India House, when the Leadenhall Street public, unremittingly, it appears, were bent on keeping up the performances of this barbarous machine. Luckily, a kind fate has deprived him of his handle, and stopped up, we are happy to think, some of his internal organs... and we do sincerely hope he will remain so, to be seen and admired, if necessary, but to be heard no more".
The operation of a crank handle powers several different mechanisms inside Tipu's Tiger. A set of bellows expels air through a pipe inside the man's throat, with its opening at his mouth. This produces a wailing sound, simulating the cries of distress of the victim. A mechanical link causes the man's left arm to rise and fall. This action alters the pitch of the 'wail pipe'. Another mechanism inside the tiger's head expels air through a single pipe with two tones. This produces a "regular grunting sound" simulating the roar of the tiger. Concealed behind a flap in the tiger's flank is the small ivory keyboard of a two-stop pipe organ in the tiger's body, allowing tunes to be played.
In a detailed study published in 1987 of the tiger's musical and noise-making functions, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume concluded that since coming to Britain, "the instrument has been ruthlessly reworked, and in doing so much of its original operating principles have been destroyed". There are two ranks of pipes in the organ (as opposed to the wailing and grunting functions), each "comprising eighteen notes, which are nominally of 4ft pitch and are unison's- i.e. corresponding pipes in each register make sounds of the same musical pitch. This is an unusual layout for a pipe organ although while selecting the two stops together results in more sound ... there is also detectable a slight beat between the pipes so creating a Celeste effect. ... it is considered likely that as so much work has been done ... this characteristic may be more an accident of tuning than an intentional feature". The tiger's grunt is made by a single pipe in the tiger's head and the man's wail by a single pipe emerging at his mouth and connected to separate bellows located in the man's chest, where they can be accessed by unbolting and lifting off the tiger. The grunt operates by cogs gradually raising the weighted "grunt-pipe" until it reaches a point where it slips down "to fall against its fixed lower-board or reservoir, discharging the air to form the grunting sound". Today all the sound-making functions rely on the crank-handle to power them, though Ord-Hume believes this was not originally the case.
Works on the noise-making functions included those made over several decades by the famous organ-building firm Henry Willis & Sons, and Henry Willis III, who worked on the tiger in the 1950s, contributed an account to a monograph by Mildred Archer of the V&A. Ord-Hume is generally ready to exempt Willis work from his scathing comments on other drastic restorations, which "vandalism" is assumed to be by unknown earlier organ-builders. There was a detailed account of the sound-making functions in The Penny Magazine in 1835, whose anonymous author evidently understood "things mechanical and organs in particular". From this and Ord-Hume's own investigations, he concluded that the original operation of the man's "wail" had been intermittent, with a wail only being produced after every dozen or so grunts from the tiger above, but that at some date after 1835 the mechanism had been altered to make the wail continuous, and that the bellows for the wail had been replaced with smaller and weaker ones, and the operation of the moving arm altered.
Puzzling features of the present instrument include the placing of the handle, which when turned is likely to obstruct a player of the keyboard. Ord-Hume, using the 1835 account, concludes that originally the handle (which is a 19th-century British replacement, probably of a French original) only operated the grunt and wail, while the organ was operated by pulling a string or cord to work the original bellows, now replaced. The keyboard, which is largely original, is "unique in construction", with "square ivory buttons" with round lathe-turned tops instead of conventional keys. Though the mechanical functioning of each button is "practical and convenient" they are spaced such that "it is almost impossible to stretch the hand to play an octave". The buttons are marked with small black spots, differently placed but forming no apparent pattern in relation to the notes produced and corresponding to no known system of marking keys. The two stop control knobs for the organ are located, "rather confusingly", a little below the tiger's testicles.