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Water rat skin cape made from over 50 pelts

2007.0008.0001

Water rat skin cape made from over 50 pelts

Object information

Physical description

Water rat skin cape made from over 50 pelts in two vertically-aligned rows, and two around the collar. It is fully lined with dark purple Rayon, which has a pocket in it. Two long ribbon ties in the same fabric, which are sewn into the back of the collar, fasten the cape around the wearer's neck, and two hook-and-eye fasteners secure the front opening.

Statement of significance

The Hinchley Family Collection contains a 1940s water rat skin cape made from 51 pelts. It is fully lined with rayon, and is secured by a ribbon and two hook and eye fasteners. The cape is in excellent condition.

The water rats used to make the cape were trapped by Hinchley family members in the Riverina, New South Wales, using old jam tins bated with sardines or fish oil. The pelts were taken to a Wagga Wagga furrier - the Schultz Tannery - to be made into a cape. Trapping of water rats, which are a native species, is now illegal but in the 1930s and 1940s water rats were trapped in large numbers for their fur. The height of fashion, fur items were popular in the first half of the twentieth century. When a shortage in the supply of muskrat fur from America occurred in the late 1930s, trapping of local water rats intensified. In the 1940s, as World War II continued, bans on fur importations increased demand for local furs. Some farmers and fishermen, who considered them a pest, also trapped water rats. Once thought to be at risk, the species now has secure population levels. The cape is a rare item, irreplaceable under current wildlife conservation laws

Object information

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