ROWLAND WARD & Co.Ltd.The Jungle, 166, Piccadilly, London
Rowland Ward Ltd. - London - 1903
Rowland Ward Ltd. - London - 1904
Rowland Ward Ltd. - London - 1906
Rowland Ward Ltd. - London - 1907
One of the more unusual businesses to register at the London Assay Office was Rowland Ward & Co. Ltd. James Rowland Ward was born in London in 1847, he was the son of the noted taxidermist, Henry Ward. Rowland Ward left school at the age of 14 and served a 10 year apprenticeship at his father’s taxidermy studio, during that period he became noted as a gifted sculptor as well as an illustrator. Following the completion of his apprenticeship he was granted a large commission to produce a series of sculptured life-size heads of animals to be displayed in a large country house, the resulting fee he earned was used to start his own business with immediate success. He was recorded as exhibiting a grizzly bear at the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876.
Rowland's father, Henry, died in c.1878, and Rowland acquired his father's business and moved into larger premises in fashionable Piccadilly, which he named 'The Jungle'. He broke from the conservative style of taxidermy and produced animals in realistic settings and became very successful. In 1886 he arranged a vast tableau especially for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, it consisted of over a hundred specimens including a full size elephant, this ambitious achievement was one of the most notable exhibits on view at the exhibition, this format was to become a forerunner of later museum displays worldwide.
Rowland Ward died in 1912, but his business, that had become a limited liability company in 1890's, continues, in part, to this day. Following Rowland Ward's death the business was in the hands of John Binmore Burlace, who had been a director of the firm for some years, and in 1946 Gerald Best acquired the controlling interest in the firm, and later, in 1950 he opened a branch in Nairobi.
Gerald Best died in 1969, the business passed to his sons, Anthony and Timothy, but the days of big game hunting were becoming a thing of the past and the taxidermy workshops closed in the mid 1970s and the company was formally wound up in 1983.
Rowland Ward & Co.Ltd. were also publishers of books and related material on the subject of hunting etc., including Rowland ward's autobiography 'A Naturalist’s Life Study in the Art of Taxidermy'
that was published in 1913 (reprinted 2002), 'The Sportsman’s Handbook to Practical Collecting, Preserving, and Artistic Setting-up of Trophies and Specimens'
which was first published in 1880 and has been updated over the years and is now in its 15th edition (2004), and 'Horn Measurements and Weights of the Great Game of the World'
first published in 1892 and now in its 26th edition. The name Rowland Ward and the rights to the publications have now been bought by the Halse family and the books continue to be edited and published in South Africa.
Rowland Ward entered his marks at the London Assay Office on the 18th October 1888, 'RW' in an oblong punch with clipped corners in two sizes. Rowland Ward & Co. Ltd. entered their marks on the 5th February 1907, 'RW' above 'LTD' in an oblong punch with a semi circular base.