Collection Online

Cape
(c. 1890)

Artist/s name
Medium
platypus fur, silk, cotton
Measurements
39.0 cm (centre back) 158.0 cm (hem circumference)
Place/s of Execution
Tasmania
Accession Number
CT105-1985
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Mrs F. Smith, 1985
Gallery location
Not on display
About

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.

—text from Fashion Detective (May 2014)