Who is Dale Knobloch?
Today, if you were to ask a taxidermist who is new to the industry or the first time DIY tanner “Who is Dale Knobloch?” you may get a blank stare or a shrug of the shoulders. However, ask someone who has been in the industry for 30+ years and they most likely know.
A New York native, Dale is a pioneer in the industry
and his story is worth telling.
The Early Years
At age 14, Dale and his father caught a 5-pound largemouth bass and brought it to a local taxidermist to mount. He was fascinated with taxidermy from that point forward. Dale remembers the taxidermist having a heavy German accent and being reluctant to share any information on the trade.
Dale enrolled in the J.W. Elwood Taxidermy Correspondence course, and at the age of 14, Dale had his own taxidermy business. Dale also subscribed to a magazine “Lessons in Taxidermy” where he learned additional tricks of the trade. During this time, Dale was also dabbling in taxidermy tanning.
Although he had a successful business, he wanted to learn more, including the sculpting of forms with the idea of starting a supply business. So, in 1977, Dale applied for a taxidermy job at Jonas Bros. of Denver and was hired. This brought him along with his 3 children across country from New York to Colorado.
At the time, Jonas was the complete package: Jonas Taxidermy, Jonas Supply, Jonas Tannery and Jonas Furs. Dale wanted to learn sculpting and some of the best sculptors in the industry were there at Jonas.
Dale became friends with Joe Kish, who was also a taxidermist, publisher of Taxidermy Review magazine, and organizer of Taxidermy Review’s Annual competition for taxidermy mounts and sculpting.
“He encouraged me to compete in the sculpting competition. I was reluctant going up against others like Tom Powell, Tommy Ray, and Denny Behn who have done it for years professionally. With some prodding from Joe, I choose to compete. To my surprise, I won first place with an open mouth deer.”
Around this same time, Dale was developing an allergy to tanned skins and had to leave his job at Jonas. He continued doing taxidermy work on the side. Then Rocky Losasso of Rockmont Industries, a sub-contractor to Jonas Supply, asked Dale to come work for him repairing old Jonas models and make new molds. During this time in the early 1980s, Dale worked with Denny Behn to develop the “Signature Series,” a line of game heads exclusive to Jonas. To this day, the “Signature Series” still sells, although Dale states there are many more quality forms available.
See the article in Taxidermy Review, Sept-Oct 1981, where Dale and Denny grace the cover.
(Click here to read the full article)
At the same time, Dale continued working on a one-step tan. When he felt that it was good enough to put on the market, he approached Rocky as a partner. Together, they had an agreement for Jonas Supply to carry it and production began.
“The product was called TC-9. At first we were mixing in 5 gallon containers, and then the sales exploded. We got an old 300 gallon candy mixer to keep up with demand."
At this point is where I come into the picture. Dale married my mother, Beverly in 1983. This combined union instantly yielded a family of six teenagers and we became the “Brady Bunch.” It was little chaotic, but I wouldn’t trade it — fate brought us all together.
In 1985, Dale and Mom headed back east to Maine. There was an understanding that Dale would do a certain amount of sculpting (life size) every month for Jonas Supply and when that agreement fell through, he started a chemical supply business.
Dale developed a new formula for the one-step tan. Rocky was hesitant to carry it because the new tan was a liquid instead of a creme. The new tan would be called Liqua Tan. So, in 1985, Dale and Mom decided it was time to go into their own business and “Knobloch’s” was born. The business grew, adding many new products.
During this time, Dale was asked to host seminars, judge and offer feedback at many state and national taxidermy shows.
In 1990, the business sold to Rockmont and was moved back to Colorado. Dale continued on as technical support while still testing and developing. Later, Knobloch’s was sold again and currently resides with McKenzie Taxidermy Supply on the east coast.
Being the inventor and entrepreneur he is, in 1994 Dale developed a product for treating green wood and waterlogged wood and founded Preservation Solutions. This business was purchased by my husband Gary and I in 2010.
In 2017, Dale was contacted by industry tanneries asking for guidance on their processes and new formulations. From this, another company was founded, Advanced Tanning Solutions. He restarted the taxidermy chemical supply business and developed a whole new line of chemicals for the taxidermy and tanning trade. The main product was the upgraded and improved replacement of Liqua Tan. The new product is NuTan. This company was also purchased by Gary and I in 2019 and resides in Golden, Colorado.
Where is Dale Now?
To this day, Dale continues to help tanneries, home DIY tanners, and taxidermists. A highlight of this business for me is having a customer tell me they have been using the same tanning process that Dale helped them with 30+ years ago.
So, Who is Dale Knobloch?
To me, he will always be a legend in my mind and the father and grandfather he didn’t have to be.
Some words from pioneers in the industry as key as Dale:
"Dale Knobloch and I came up in the art/craft/business of taxidermy about the same time, the 60s and 70s. I was an early follower of Dale through Joe Kish’s Taxidermy Review magazine, and the Jonas Studio and Supply company. Our first person-to-person meeting I remember was at one of the early NTA conventions in Denver, CO. I do not recall the year, but in the conversations we had, which were often in a group of aspiring taxidermists, most questions were directed at and answered by Dale. He was without question one of the earliest leaders in advancing and updating old taxidermy practices of the 40s, 50s and 60s into the renaissance years of taxidermy in the 70s and beyond. He was one of the first to sculpture detailed highly accurate anatomical forms in the Jonas Signature Series. He also introduced one of the early tanning creams and many other tanning chemicals for taxidermy purposes. Dale's ideas, techniques, and products had a big influence on my success and that of many others in the taxidermy industry. He was one of the pioneers that helped advance the superb quality of taxidermy of this 21st century.”
Larry Blomquist, Professional Taxidermist and Publisher Breakthrough Magazine
“Dale, The Man, The Myth, The Legend. Dale is a reservoir of knowledge and is honorable. His warmth, wisdom, skill and willingness to share that knowledge, drew me to him in the 1970’s. He was very thorough with everything he did. From being a father, taxidermist, sculptor, chemist, husband, builder, antiquer, dog trainer, to a person who is a leader in his field. He has created many innovations in the taxidermy industry – always striving for better results.
When Dale moved to Maine, I was beyond excited to have such a gifted and talented artist living close by. We spent many hours analyzing the world of taxidermy in detail. He would come to my shop and by the end of the day, one of my sculptures would be dismantled and rebuilt. It is a privilege and honor to call Dale Knobloch my friend.”
Forest Hart, Founder of Hart Forms, and World Renowned Sculptor
"When you think of the pioneers of the taxidermy industry, Dale has to be one of the people that come to mind. His work and his products with the new line and old line is an absolute staple in today’s industry and they are some of the best products money can buy. We have been carrying his products for years and years and that will continue forever. Can you imagine how many thousands and thousands of capes have been tanned with his tanning agents?"
Joe Coombs, Joe Coombs Classics, Taxidermy Supply Warehouse
“I enrolled in the Northwestern School of Taxidermy Correspondence course when I was 14.
I met Dale in Denver at the Taxidermy Review competition in the early 1980’s. When some were reluctant to share their “trade secrets”, Dale was always open. One particular time, he helped me with designing rug shells – I was halfway there, he made a diagram, “a tune up” – do this and that – we have rug shells that we still sell today.
Dale was a big help to me in setting up our business in Canada giving us the opportunity to distribute his chemical line , which we still do to this day working with Kim at Advanced Tanning Solutions."
Peter Knapton, Taxidermist and owner of Knapton Studios, Dunchurch, ON Canada