Elephant’s Foot

An image of an elephant foot. It is lined with a brass top. The foot is sitting in a corner of a wood paneled hallway.
The elephant's foot in its original spot in the Front Hallway of Eldon House

Country of Origin: Unknown, potentially Angola or Kenya
Year: ca. 1899-1904
Materials: Brass, skin, thread 

African safaris were a popular pastime for the elite in the Victorian Era. It was an opportunity to view what they considered to be an ‘uncivilized landscape’ and see ‘exotic’ creatures. It was common until the 1930s to tour with small groups and participate in large game hunts. For many, they would look to keep parts of their hunt, and companies all over Africa specialized in transforming animal parts into pieces for a Westerners collection.

This is an elephant foot umbrella stand and is one of two elephant feet held in the Eldon House collection. They are preserved by drying the skin and stretching it over a large brass tube. These pieces were acquired by Ronald Harris on his trips to Africa between 1899-1904. Ronald, did not shoot this elephant, he purchased its feet along with several other trophies at a specialized shop called Rowaland Ward Ltd.  Ronald did bring these pieces back to Eldon House, and this one was on display by the front door, acting as an umbrella stand well into the 1960s. Since the 1960s, it has been a piece for discussion on colonialism and trophy hunting in the Museum.