Q. Isn't it illegal to sell human skulls and bones?
A. U.K. Answer:
The Law: According to the Human Tissue Act 2004, section 32 it is an offence to engage in commercial dealings in bodily material, such as organs or tissue, for the purposes of transplantation. A person guilty of an offence under section 32 is liable to imprisonment for up to a year and/or a fine.
This means that these laws are referring to crimes involving the selling of organs for transplant, or for unauthorized DNA study. Those purposes are prohibited without specific licensing and do not directly apply to our business of selling antique and legally obtained human bones or skulls for private collection display only.
As of 15 October 2008 the update on their website reads :
"The HT Act is however silent on the sale of bodies, body parts or tissue for other purposes, and such sales are therefore outside the remit of the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).
The remit of the HTA is to regulate the consent and licensing provisions under the Act. Certain activities require appropriate consent to be in place in order for these to lawfully take place, and a number of these activities are also licensable. The HTA’s code of practice on consent sets out guidance on how to follow the consent requirements in the Act.
Those involved in the sale or purchase of human bodies, body parts or tissue, and those who may host adverts for such sales (such as internet sites or newspapers), will have their own professional standards to follow. As part of setting and maintaining these professional standards, individuals and organisations intending to advertise, sell or purchase human bodies, body parts or tissue should consider the appropriateness of doing so within these established frameworks. Those involved in the sale or purchase of human bodies, body parts or tissue should ensure that they are aware of the consent and licensing provisions under the HT Act . Those selling or hosting human bodies, body parts or tissue for sale should also reference that purchasers may need to be aware of consent and licensing provisions of the HT Act.
A key principle on which the Act is based is that all bodies, body parts or tissue should be treated with respect and dignity. The HTA considers that the need to maintain dignity and respect is paramount in the handling of all human bodies and tissue."
Our Interpretation of this is as follows:
"Sale of Body parts for other uses" This means skulls and bones for use when housed in a private collection. Not for public display, not as props or to be sold as Halloween decorations.
These skulls are not allowed to be displayed to the public without license, and must be treated with respect and dignity.
We sell human bones and skulls for the purpose of completing an individual's private collection. Cabinets of curiosities have contained human skulls and bones for as long as they have been in existence and that is the type of item we supply. We do not sell skulls and bones for any other reason than this.
We handle remains with the utmost respect and we do not ever forget that they were once a living and breathing human being.
U.S. Answer : We notice that the U.S. laws seem to be evolving in regards to human bones and remains and as such we can not offer these items to U.S. customers or refer you to a seller in the U.S. as we would not want to break or even stretch the law. As of July 2016 our Pandora's Boxes to the US will not contain any human parts or bones including as components of jewellery or in the form of antique medical slides or pathological samples at all, without exception.
Q. Where do you get all of your stuff?
A. All over, we go to estate sales, yard sales, search online, purchase from customers, barter and buy from many different people. We have been doing this for a long time and therefore it's easier for us to find (it often finds us!) We are not likely to give you too much information as it limits our ability to find things we need to sell :)
Q. Does killing things make you sad?
A. Yes. That is why we don't ever harm any animals for our business. Please check our our Ethics page here for more detailed information on where our taxidermy and animal specimens come from.
Q. Is it easy to do what you do?
A. No, but it's rewarding. We work 7 days a week and sometimes for very little money. It's not a get rich quick kind of business. This is a follow your dreams and love what you do job, not a sound financial decision.
Q. Will you tell me how to make stuff?
A. Some things, yes, some we consider proprietary secrets. You can probably do your research and learn, as we have done but we hold some of our processes close as we have spent hours, a ton of money and sometimes years perfecting a process, we can't just give that away.
Q. Will you tell me where you get your supplies?
A. Some things, yes. Some things, no. This growing market of oddities and collectors means it is hard to remain original. Sharing some of our sources limits our ability to be original.
Q. Will you sell me your supplies?
No. Most of our supplies are re-purposed vintage things in short supply, things we make ourselves, or we pay retail prices for them. We don't obtain enough to sell them.
Q. Do you do wholesale?
A. We no longer offer wholesale diaphonized specimens. We do not offer wholesale on anything else as wholesale is like bulk, we do not get our items in large quantities.
Q. Can you get me a crow/raven skull?
A. U.K. Answer: We can, not all bird skulls that are legal for trade in the UK are eligible for export to the US. Contact us for further details or specific inquiries.
U.S. Answer: No. Most birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We will not be able to obtain any birds on that list, nor can we take any if you find them. Even if you find illegal ones already dead, it's still illegal. All of it, even one feather! A few of the legal ones are chickens, turkeys, European starlings, sparrows, some pigeons and partridges.
Q. Are you hiring/taking interns/ can I follow you around?
A. No. We don't see this changing in the near future. It's a tiny shop, there's only so many people who can fit in here :)
Q. Will you take down a picture I find offensive?
A. No, . Sorry, we post pictures for our customers and followers to view and appreciate, ignore it if you don't like it. We do not harm any animals and we do our best to contribute positively to our community. We enjoy history, science and are fascinated by all of it. It's wonderful to be curious and open to expression in a unique way.
Q. Can you get me an endangered species?
A. No. On occasion we may have a protected/ endangered species animal skull or taxidermy for sale. We will always have the paperwork or numbers to prove the legality of such pieces. We can not take custom orders for pieces that may only cross our path once in a lifetime. We do not generally take custom orders for specific pieces at all since we don't perform the taxidermy ourselves on most pieces but rather re-sell vintage and antique pieces.
Q. Is your daughter named after the store?
A. Nope. Although the store was opened before she was born, she was expected and her name was already decided upon. The store is named after her.
Q. Why won't you ship certain items internationally? Just take my money, other people do it!
A. The UK and the US governments have numerous laws in place regarding the international shipment of animals and their remains. We can ship some items to the US in accordance with UK licences and laws. For cost prohibitive to ship pieces that are readily available from one of our colleagues in the US, we may refer you to them. Please contact us with specific questions and we are always happy to help.