Hamlyn's Menagerie Magazine (1915 to 1920)

John Hamlyn was a London based animal trader, who in spite of the outbreak of World War 1, begins to publish a monthly magazine. Hamlyn’s magazine covers a range of subjects surrounding the importing of animals from the wild, including methods of capture (1) as well as offering price lists for his animals, some of which he lodged at London Zoo. There are articles describing the animals’ aftercare in zoological collections; reports of AGMs from zoological societies; zoo reviews, references to animals that would interest a cryptozoologist (2). There’s a report on first okapi that was sent to Antwerp Zoo (3) and obituaries to significant people in the zoo and animal collecting world.

Usually under General Notes there are reports of expected shipments of animals and occasionally the import of massive numbers of animal skins, with Hamlyn expressing dismay at their high volumes of the latter and saying, in effect, that this trade isn’t sustainable. Hamlyn and his correspondents deal with potential extinctions such as Père David’s deer (4) and he repeatedly refers to the fate of ‘Elephants in the Addo Bush’ (5) . There are articles on British wildlife, overseas zoos as well as Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie.

Although Hamlyn wasn’t consistent throughout the Magazine’s publication period, he publishes a list of subscribers on the back cover, which reads like a who’s who of people in the zoo and zoology world (6) in the second part of the second decade of the 20th century. From reading the Magazine’s, Hamlyn comes across as a successful businessman who has a deep interest and cares about the animals that he traded. Beyond that I can find out relatively little about the man.

Hamlyn’s Menagerie Magazine is a veritable treasure chest for a zoo historian; it’s a mine of information. For instance there’s an article (7) that lists the travelling menagerie that visited Norfolk in the first half of the 19th century. The Magazine consists of five complete volumes, with a sixth volume that peters out with a couple months combined with the last issue that I can find being a combined issue for numbers 4 & 5 (August & September 1920). The Magazine has been scanned by the Smithsonian Libraries 8 and published online (9) . Its text is searchable. To give new readers an overview of its contents, a table of contents for all 63 issues has been created that can be viewed below.

David Lomas

  1. See: ‘Tragic Fight with Great Apes’, Hamlyn’s Menagerie Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Aug 1916)

  2. See articles on ‘The Water Elephant’

  3. Hamlyn’s Menagerie Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Aug 1919)

  4. Hamlyn’s Menagerie Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 9 (Jan 1917)

  5. For example, see: Hamlyn’s Menagerie Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Jun 1917)

  6. I came across Hamlyn’s Menagerie Magazine whilst researching one of these ‘notables’, albeit a lesser ‘notable’.

  7. Hamlyn’s Menagerie Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 8 (Dec 1918)

  8. Formerly known as the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, … serving the various Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers

  9. https://archive.org/details/hamlynsmenager121915lond/page/n7

To open this document in full screen mode click the arrow icon that appears when you place the cursor over the preview.
Hamlyn's Menagerie Magazine