I’ll take one taxidermy witch mouse, please.
In 1992, two landscape designers opened Paxton Gate, a whimsical, unconventional shop to celebrate the natural world. They soon moved to a larger location on Valencia Street in the Mission district, allowing them to significantly expand upon their inventory.
Paxton Gate aims to collect “treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and natural sciences.” That may include things as benign as gardening coffee table books – but it also includes skulls, bones, skeletons, fossils, crystals, minerals, and glass taxidermy eyes.
Oh, and human molars. And turkey feet. And dried toads. And racoon penis bones. And a taxidermy blind mouse in a top hat walking a guide snail.
You can also find great taxidermy and insect mounting classes for kids and adults alike. Keep an eye on their website for opportunities to join these exciting workshops.
This is a store with deep admiration for the natural world, and as such, Paxton Gate is careful to source all of their specimens ethically. They are adamant in denouncing the trade of poached or endangered animals.
All taxidermy, vintage piecese, animal skulls and skeletons come from animals that have either died of natural causes, or were humanely euthanized as part of animal control programs to manage wildlife populations. Any baby taxidermy livestock were stillborn or died of natural causes.
Insects are often collected in regulated practice by indigenous people in Southeast Asia, the Americas, Africa, Madagascar, and other areas. Paxton Gate asserts that these practices are ultimately beneficial to the insects’ native lands, as it provides a way for indigenous people to make an income off the land in its natural state.
Paxton Gate owner Sean Quigley, one of the original founders, has supported many local organizations through the store over the years. They have included the San Francisco Women’s Building, the Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco Women Against Rape, Caral, Swing for Choice, The National AIDS Memorial Grove, The Randal Museum Friends, The San Francisco Naturalists Society, and more.
Be sure to visit Paxton Gate at 824 Valencia Street in San Francisco. Pandemic hours are Thursday through Monday from 11am to 6pm.
[All images: @paxtongate via Instagram]