A longtime customer of mine (let’s call her Gwen) is moving to Florida and needed to relieve herself of about 40 years of penguin collecting. I was honored that she thought of Penguin Place and our P-Bay Section (which is for used, vintage and collectible penguins only) as a way to help her lighten her waddling load. But, among the hundreds of penguin items Gwen has sent us, one stands out, and I mean really stands out. It’s a two foot tall taxidermy Adelie Penguin that stands on a half foot tall rocky pedestal. Gwen gave me the heads up that the real live, well not really live for the last 40 years anyway, penguin was waddling my way. But, when informing me about the Adelie she also mentioned that there was a set of two and that Andy Warhol had purchased the other Adelie. I asked her to expand on that and this is her reply.
“My husband and I were living in Greenwich Village at the time and there were many antique stores on Bleecker Street at that time. There were two Adelies in the window and when we went in Andy Warhol was buying one of them and we just had to have the other—they looked like twins. I have never seen another like it. I hope the penguin died of natural causes. I am too much of an animal lover to accept anything else. That was in the 70′s. A lot of people don’t realize that the penguin is a bird—that flies underwater. There are many layers of fine feathers that keep them warm. I forgot which explorer it was that named the Adelie after his wife. I don’t understand the taxidermy process–only that it preserves the animals.”
Right now the Adelie is proudly sitting atop our bookshelf in our living room. Safe from the over enthusiastic hands of my daughters and their friends. For the time being he’s not for sale until I decide what I want to do with him (or her). But for now I can’t wait to bring him into Sophie’s first grade class for my Spring Penguin talk. I hadn’t scheduled a Spring Penguin Bridge St. School Talk until my Adelie friend waddled in. Like any proud penguin papa, I just want to show him off.