Collection Online
platypus fur, silk, cotton
39.0 cm (centre back) 158.0 cm (hem circumference)
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
Australian Fashion and Textiles
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Mrs F. Smith, 1985
Gallery location
Not on display

Insatiable demand in Australia for fur coats, collars, cuffs, capes and trimmings, and geographic isolation, created a market for locally sourced pelts. Amateur hunters were quick to supply furs of native animals to individuals and manufacturers.

This luxurious cape was originally thought to be made from wombat fur. Yet research and analysis undertaken in 2001, in collaboration with zoologist Dr Peter Temple-Smith at the Melbourne Zoo, soon proved otherwise. The cape was confirmed to be Tasmanian platypus fur, identifiable by the large size and density of the pelt. Hunted extensively, the platypus was afforded legal protection in 1907.