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William H. Wakeley

William Henry Wakeley was born in 1858 in Michigan, the son of Laura Skinner and Capt. Alfred Wakeley (1832-1900), a carpenter/joiner, orchardist and hardware merchant. William clerked in his father's store, learning the business.

William came to Pasadena, California with his father in 1881, and worked as a "tinner" while his father farmed orchards and opened a mercantile business. William married Lulu G. Page in 1886. He was an enthusiastic naturalist, especially regarding the study of birds and lizards, and his hobbyist efforts eventually grew into the first taxidermy business in Pasadena.

In 1883 he opened a small hardware and plumbing store, and exhibited taxidermy specimens which attracted the attention of tourists. In 1886 he advertised for 1,000 horned toads for taxidermy purposes. That same year he opened "The Natural History Store" in Pasadena, devoted entirely to collecting, manufacturing and selling California natural history "curios." The business became a success on its own, and within a few months he sold the shop to an Englishman, Thomas W. Furlong (1863-) and Frank A. Healy, in order to concentrate on his wholesale business under the name of Wakeley's Novelty Works. He was the only seller of Southern California specimens at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

In February 1898 the Natural History Store was advertised for sale: "must change hands at once; stock will be sold at a tremendous sacrifice, as owner is going to leave town; this is an interesting, genteel, cash business, paying good profits." (Los Angeles Sunday Times, February 13.)

The Natural History Store dealt in mineral specimens as well as botanical and animal specimens. In 2018, Arizona mineral dealer Evan Jones acquired a collection of Bisbee and Morenci azurites and malachites that bore labels from the Natural History Store.

The rest of the Wakeley collection was found recently under a porch in Springfield, Oregon and purchased by A.J. Luzier of Springfield. Luzier then sold it to Dan Weinrich in 2019. Dan was told it had been there for over 40 years.

REID, H. A. (1895) History of Pasadena. p. 460.
US Federal Census.
California Voter Records.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
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The Mineralogical Record - William H. Wakeley
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