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Reuben Webster
Dates: 1826 - 1885
Biographical Account: Reuben Webster was a naturalist and taxidermist born in Brampton near Chesterfield in 1826.  He opened a taxidermy shop called Neptune, based in Orchard Street (above the Museum Hotel), Sheffield and worked with his sons, John Thomas and Reuben.  Webster was a very good taxidermist, considered by some to be the best outside of London.  He specialised in birds, particularly ducks, which are prevalent in his collection in the museum.  He sold material to Royalty, including the Earl of Wharncliffe and both he and his son were known by eminent ornithologists such as Henry Seebohm.  He is known to have travelled with Seebohm through Norway in 1874.  He often shot the animals he later mounted as taxidermy himself and is known to have had an interest in rarer birds and unusual visitors to Britain.  He died in 1885, leaving behind a large collection of taxidermy.  By 1890, this had still not been sold and his executors asked the curator of Sheffield Public Museum if they would consider purchasing the material.  After inspection by the curator, who said that the taxidermy was of the highest quality, 108 cases were purchased at the price of £100.  Today, much of the collection survives in surprisingly good condition considering its age, and is still considered to be high quality work.
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