As I begin to learn more specifics on the vintage styles which we know and love, I’m often found in a conundrum of educational pursuits.
Today’s post is an example: One of the season’s hottest modern trends is that of fur. We saw it all over the runways in a variety of styles, from Rachel Zoe vests to full-on fur coats, gloves, earmuffs, scarfs and everything in between.
I consider myself nothing more or less than an animal of this earth. And as an animal, I feel it’s very important to respect the rights of all other brother & sister animals.
That’s why I want to start today’s post — which is an exploration and education on identifying 5 of the most common vintage furs used to create warm outerwear garments — with the declaration that I will never buy new fur or leather products.
However, I will also declare that I will buy vintage fur or leather products as a sustainable option to use the resources which are pre-existing. As another alternative, I can also decide NOT to wear these garments to perpetuate the popularity of new production of fur & leather goods by choosing to utilize them in various ways as outlined in this blog post I wrote last January on How to Recycle Vintage Fur.
I believe that we each have a right to our own opinions, no matter the subject matter. I respect anyone’s similar or differing opinion, and welcome further suggestions on how best to tackle this ethical fashion conundrum in the comments.
So, vintage lovers! For the sake of today’s post, I hope that you leave with a greater understanding of vintage fur as a whole, which will fuel your OWN opinions and decisions on how to engage with these styles and trends this winter.
Keep reading after the jump to learn how to identify vintage mink, fox, rabbit, beaver & raccoon — and to understand just how the fur industry has influenced fashion yesterday through today.
Whether you’re a vintage fur wearer or not, I hope that today’s post provides further insight into how to identify fashion furs and some knowledge on why different furs were popular at certain points in our fashion history.
What I love most about vintage fashion is the glimpse into our society’s history it offers. While the times they may be changing — and less and less “new fur” is encouraged to be made and bought — the vintage fur industry remains, and it’s with the best knowledge that we can make the right style decision for us.
Thanks to everyone for reading today’s post and hopefully, providing their own vintage fur knowledge in the comments below!
WINTER OUTERWEAR FUR TREND
Before launching into identifying vintage furs of mink, fox, rabbit, beaver and raccoon 101, I must point out that fur is a big trend for winter 2011-2012. The runways set the stage for trends and mainstream ready-to-wear designers take note.
The evidence of this cold weather season’s fur trend is apparent on the cover of the Bloomingdale’s catalog cover above, which I received in my mailbox just yesterday.
BASIC FUR TERMINOLOGY
When we speak of fur, four key words are used to describe how the fur piece is constructed.
UNDERCOAT: This is where you find the denser/thicker hair near the skin of the animal
GUARD HAIRS: These are the shinier, more delicate hairs which lay over the undercoat. They are more aesthetically pleasing while the undercoat is the practical warmth layer.
PILE: The “pile” is used to describe the direction of the hair growth, i.e. “the pile grows inward from the tail or outward from the top of the belly to the bottom of the torso.”
PELT: The literal skin of the animal, and the phrase used to describe the number of animals needed to create one fur garment. “This fur coat required 10 pelts of a fox,” for example.
OTHER RESOURCES: You can learn more about different types of fur and how to identify it by checking out the Ebay Guide to Vintage Fur & the Vintage Fashion Guild Guide to Fur.
THE ANIMAL: Wild or ranched mink, a type of weasel which can swim at free will (referred to as “semi aquatic”) and is most commonly found in North America and countries of Siberia, China and Japan.
HOW TO IDENTIFY: Mink fur is flat and short and because the animal itself is tiny (imagine no larger than a common squirrel), the pelts are long and narrow when construed together to form the garment. The look of a mink piece is described as being almost “shiny and wet.” This makes sense since the animal can swim, so it’s almost as if the hair is like aquatic skin.
Fur is usually very light but still thick, and according to the Vintage Fashion Guild, dark mink is the most recognizable (see picture of wild mink above). Ranched mink are not born with dark fur coloring, so their fur is often dyed to different shades of browns and even white or a “silver blue” shade.
POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: The definitive “mink coat.” While other animal fur is used for cold weather protective outer garments, the mink style is what I associate with Hollywood glamor and luxury.
My grandmother passed down her mink stole to me (worn below). The trend of mink began in the 20th century after mink was trapped for some time in large quantities. Beaver had been more popular previously, as you’ll learn why reading how to identify vintage beaver fur below.
It makes financial sense why mink is associated with such glitz & glam: Because the mink animal is so small, it requires dozens of them to make a coat or a stole. Thus the garment itself is more expensive than the same style made with a larger animal with larger pelts, like a fox.
Plus, mink fur is short and glossy, making mink the go-to animal for high-fashion pieces looking to radiate that luxurious shine.
VINTAGE MINK STOLE
THE ANIMAL: There are 12 species of what we know as the “fox,” the most recognizable of such being the red fox (shown above) or gray fox, which are the indigenous species of fox in North America.
The US, Canada and Finland are the world’s leaders in production of fox fur, or essentially the creation of the “pelts” needed to make the garments as a whole.
POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: Fox pelts complete with head and feet (see image below) were popular in the ’30s – ’50s.
Special note: While it is surely the creepiest, the easiest way to identify a type of fur is to take note of whether the garment contains the head or tail of its animal.
Mink stoles of the ’30s-’50s eras (on Etsy, seen sold often from the ’50s) were also often designed with heads and tails still intact, which I assume became trendy because it was much easier to use the entire animal versus just looping together smaller pelts.
I’d love to know why using animal heads/tails to design a fur garment because less popular after the ’50s. To my knowledge, PETA was founded as an organization in 1980, so there is less chance that this organization had influence of fur trends & styles prior to that.
I also noticed — along with rabbit & beaver — that fox fur is a popular choice for hats, shown in the picture farther above. The hat above is fur from a white fox. I believe that because there are so many “natural color choices” of foxes, that dying fox fur is not as popular as dying mink fur.
HOW TO IDENTIFY: When you’re examining a piece sans head or feet, identifying whether the fur is fox or not depends mostly on touch.
The fur is much longer in comparison to other woodland creatures. It’s a soft fur that comes in a variety of colors depending on the type of fox species: beige, blue, brown, red, silver or white.
Wild red and gray fox are the least expensive of fur because they are indigenous to North America, so production remains local instead of outsourced thereby dropping the overall average cost a garment.
THE ANIMAL: The rabbit, technically a “rodent” animal that is quite literally found all over the world in a variety of species, size, color and personality.
POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: Rabbits are so plentiful and common that many rabbit pieces are less expensive than say, a mink or a beaver piece.
According to the Vintage Fashion Guild, rabbit furs were more often dyed prior to the 1970s. Because rabbits are one of the least expensive fur garments, the trend was to dye the rabbit fur to resemble a more expensive creature. Perhaps this is why with vintage furs, we so often see a rabbit piece dyed dark brown as if it were mink, beaver or fox.
HOW TO IDENTIFY: When petting a garment made from rabbit, it should feel like you are petting a domestic cat. Because the coloring of a rabbit garment could be just about anything — from white to black and any shade in between, thanks to popularity of dying rabbit fur — it’s most important to take note of the garment’s longer, denser hairs that are silky soft. You’ll want to rub the garment on your face, much like a cat would rub it’s body on you when wanting to be stroked!
Beginning in the 1970s — when a love and acceptance of all things “natural” began thanks to the peace, love & flower power generation — the natural colors of rabbit fur were embraced as a trend and less dying occurred.
Also, the demand for “higher quality fur” had lessened. Mink was the luxurious go-to fur of its day, so rabbit fur was dyed previously to the ’70s to resemble mink fur.
The rabbit vest you see pictured above is from the ’70s and not dyed. This grey-white coloring is very unique to the common species of North American rabbit, so it’s easier to identify more modern rabbit pieces based on color alone.
Angora is another style of rabbit fur with recent popularity made from the sheared fur of the angora species of rabbit, shown below.
We’ve all loved our “cashmere” sweaters, which are soft to the touch and made from wool. Angora is a similar touch and feel to cashmere, but you’ll know it’s angora because you’ll notice small threads of fur emerging from the garment material that can almost be “brushed” like fluffy, not-thick hair.
ANGORA RABBIT HAIR VINTAGE SWEATER
THE ANIMAL: There are two distinct types of beaver: The Eurasian beaver (Europe) and the North American beaver (Canada/US/Northern Mexico).
The Eurasian beaver was literally hunted into extinction in Europe in the 17th century. The rodent creature is just recently being introduced back into its indigenous European countries.
As for North America, the same population-decline of the beaver occurred because beaver trapping became so popular in the 1600s to mid 1800s. It literally became an industry of supply & demand, and major beaver trapping companies were born out of the trend to produce all-things-outerwear from this once plentiful creature. When the beaver was hunted into practical extinction in 17th century Europe, the French & British traveled to North America to set up fur trade there.
POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: When beaver was such a sought after animal in the 1600s – 1800s, it was common for aristocrats to wear beaver “wool felt” hats. While the styles of hats changed over the course of 200 years, the tradition remained the same: Men were to wear a hat no matter the social situation — Always!
1920s BEAVER FUR FELT HAT
Flash forward to the 20th century vintage pieces, and beaver appears to have been a more popular style for outerwear accessories than anything else. Doing a quick Etsy search of “beaver fur” still results in beaver coats, but also beaver earmuffs (see above), scarves and yes … the popular beaver hat!
(BRIEF) BEAVER TRADING HISTORY: Beyond just the socially popular beaver felt hat, beaver was commonly made to produce practical tools of warmth and stable structure, like blankets, bags and coats.
In 16th to 17th century North America, Beaver pelts were also used as a currency value, as in “this knife is worth 2 beaver pelts.” Beaver belts were traded by Native American Indians and once they arrived to set their own fur trade industry, the European white man used pelts as an option of currency too.
Because beavers were literally trapped into extinction in Europe due to the fact that they were the #1 choice for the day’s hat styles, explorers to North America — including even Lewis & Clark! — sought new land there because they also desired to find new options to increase the availability of fur.
And boy, did Beaver they find! That’s why the “beaver fur wars” of the mid 1600s were so important in territorial history: The Iroquois Indians wanted to maintain rights to land where Beavers lived. But of course, the newly arrived French wanted these lands too for their own financial gain.
The result? A bloody war over the desire to simply produce and trade Beaver pelts.
The history of the beaver trade doesn’t stop in the 1600s. The industry flourished until the 1840s, when hat styles began to change and a demand for beaver lessened.
Also, much like was experienced in Europe, beaver were being slowly trapped into a dwindling population. I used this Economic History of the Fur Trade as a resource for this (brief) round up, and in the article it explains that history has no true “population” to speak of for beavers prior to present day. But it’s assumed that as the price of Beaver pelts decreased, more and more were being trapped to make up for this lost income. Thus, more beavers were removed from their natural habitats.
HOW TO IDENTIFY: Beaver was so sought after as early as the 1600s because it quite literally is the sturdiest, warmest and most hard-wearing of all fur on this list. It makes sense that the beaver doesn’t hibernate: Its fur is thick and warm enough that it can survive literally living in freezing-cold water through the course of the winter.
When examining a fur garment, note how dense the warm the fur feels. You can see in the picture of beaver earmuffs above that the fur almost looks like a bear’s cold-bearing fur.
Beaver garments have less tendency to fall apart or shed. According to the Economic History of the Fur Trade, “Wool felt was used for over two centuries to make high-fashion hats. Felt is stronger than a woven material. It will not tear or unravel in a straight line; it is more resistant to water, and it will hold its shape even if it gets wet. These characteristics made felt the prime material for hatters especially when fashion called for hats with large brims. The highest quality hats would be made fully from beaver wool, whereas lower quality hats included inferior wool, such as rabbit.”
While I can’t speak to it from experience, I would imagine that beaver garments may be easiest to find antique (100+ years old) just because they are simply that long lasting.
THE ANIMAL: The raccoon is a nocturnal creature who lives throughout all of North America. In desert areas — think the American southwest — these night-loving creatures hang more around garbage cans of your home because there are less woodlands to make their home. You can’t mistake a raccoon for another creature thanks to its ringed tail and the black mask across its face.
And if you see a raccoon out during the day, run the other way! The animal is most likely infected with rabbis and a potential harm to humans.
POPULAR VINTAGE STYLES: Raccoon is made up of approximately 90% undercoat — which remember in the terminology above, is the fur which insulates the animal and is therefore the densest & warmest.
According to hunting stats kept on record, raccoon trapping for outdoor garment use reached an all time high in the ’70s when 5.2 million raccoons were caught in the hunting season of 1976-1977.
The reason for such hunting popularity of the ‘coon is most likely due to the fact that other animals used for warm outerwear — (cough cough) beaver — were still struggling to regain population after being over hunted for literally hundreds of years.
Raccoon was also popular in the ’20s & ’30s before the trend of “long haired fur” became less popular in the ’40s-’50s when the short haired mink reigned supreme & most stylish.
An interesting vintage trend to note is that when Walt Disney released the movie “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier” in the ’50s that raccoon hats — complete with tails and all — became popular.
HOW TO IDENTIFY: Raccoon fur is a lot like fox fur — longer and soft to the touch — but the coloring gives it a distinct difference from that of fox.
Based on my research raccoon fur was not a commonly dyed fur, so you’ll also know it’s raccoon because its body is a silver-gray coloring, while the tail has a brown base that’s easily identified thanks to black tiger-esque stripes.
The Davy Crockett ‘coon hat — while popular in the ’50s — was sold mostly using faux raccoon fur. I guess this was because the hat was mostly popular with young boys who may not have had the income to buy a bonafide coonskin hat.
VINTAGE COONSKIN HAT
L. Figment says
Very informative, thank you.
So, what is mohair then? Is it not a type of fur?
Mohair is technically fur, but in the same way that wool is fur. Mohair is the fur of an angora goat which is sheared like sheep wool to be spun and made into cloth.
Excellent article, Sammy – concise and well-written :-)
cindy- The Vintage Hat Shop says
Wow, what a lot of information. Think I’ll file it for future reference. Thank you for sharing.
Great post, Sammy. Super informative. I will definitely be referring to this post when I run aross vintage furs.
Fröken H says
Great post! :)
I’ve got a vintage coat that’s made out of musquach fur and I love it. I found it at a flea market for 300 SEK (about 45 USD) and it has been my faitful winter friend ever since.
Carol B. Harmon says
Hi Sammy, You are a kindred spirit! I have a vintage fashion show and am always looking for treasures. Your info is very helpful. You have inspired me to post photos of my fashions on facebook!
I’ll keep in touch…
I have a vintage Fur coat that my mom gave me that belonged to my aunt we know that the collar is mink but we are not sure what the actual coat is it curly like fur very soft any idea of what it may be? It isn’t rabbit ,fox,or beaver I am sure.
A fine post full of facts about fur! However… there’s one thing that I think you might want to change: unless the raccoon is some sort of Jewish transportation system, the odds of it being full of “rabbis” is pretty slim. Rabies, on the other hand… ;D
Thank you so much! I’ve been struggling with identifying whether an inherited coat is bear or beaver- I’m certain it’s beaver! Here in Newfoundland (in Canada- but we’re closer to England than to British Columbia, and only joined Canada in 1949)we have a lot of seal fur too, and because of misinformation it’s not very popular! But I want to reuse any fur I find without encouraging any new fur trade :) Thanks for a great post.
Do you know how to treat a fur coat (beaver, apparently!) that has acquired a musty smell? I don’t know if it’s salvageable, or not!
Sammy Davis Vintage says
hey Sarah! Thank you for leaving such a kind comment! I love my Canadian vintage lovers. You all ROCK. I had no idea that Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. History is so rich and enlightening. I don’t know about treating fur with a musty smell. I must do some research! I wonder if a seller on my Facebook page would know? Feel free to ask and I can repost for you! XOXO
Thanks for the information. Very helpful. Now I think I MIGHT have a mink. Don’t know for sure but my mother and father went to a LOT of auctions back east, so its possible. I was finding no use for this coat, but now I think I might at least hang onto it. I live in a warm climate area with no furiers and the furier that made my coat doean’t even get a hit on Google, so this is a very very old coat in perfect condition. Will have to take it to New York one day to find out its value.
hi Cindy! I’d love to know what the label name is … I might know. Have you looked in the Vintage Fashion Guild? Or can you send me a photo of the fur to my email? If you emailed me recently, I still have your email!
Sammy, you will NOT believe the luck I had this week. On Monday, I went thrifting and saw a brown fur coat behind the counter. It was marked $100, but it was half-off (color-of-the-week tags are 50% off). Still, I was hesitant to buy it. The cashier said it had been there for a few weeks, so she dropped the price down to $35. I couldn’t resist! I am fairly sure it is rabbit, but I need to do some more sleuthing to determine its age.
Yesterday, I re-read this article to help me in my research of the rabbit coat. After reading your article, I went back to the same store to check out the coats on the rack. Boy, oh boy, did I find some treasures! Two more vintage coats — one with a blonde fox collar and one with a chocolate mink collar! I’m overdosing on the vintage furs over here. I hope to post a blog/pictures soon so you can see what I scored (if you want.)
Long story short, THANK YOU for posting this wonderful guide to vintage furs – it brought me incredible luck as well as knowledge! :)
Natalie this comment made my heart SOAR. Thank you so much! So you were buying fur in the off season? Smart girl! That’s when the prices are the best because they can’t have those fur sitting around the vintage/thrift store weighing down the racks! I expect a full styled look shared with me once the seasons turn cold, but for now let’s enjoy the sunshine and surf! Lots of vintage love, Sammy
What is a black fur,very Curley? I thought my mother called it caracal but that doesnt seem to be the case. I know it was an inexpensive fur. It seems to have a very thin pelt. Swirly curls
it is a Karakul. which is from a type of sheep, as opposed to a caracal which is a wild cat found over here. Karakul sheep was a popular cheaper alternative for south african women and namibian(german sudwest afrika) in earlier years
Mike M. says
I have some fur questions that I am confused about that I was hoping you all could help me clear up.
1. Foxes called: white fox, polar fox, glacier fox, shadow fox, and arctic fox all look the same. Are those different names of the same fox species?
2. What is the softest species of fox? Or is it more that they pretty much feel the same and are just different colors?
3. Why is it that a “new” fox coat, same blue fox for example, can cost anywhere from $2,000-$7,000? What accounts for the difference in price?
Thank you for your time. :-)
I am not sure the answers to these questions … I don’t want to mislead you! If anyone has suggestions/advice here please share! xx
Mike M. says
A few more questions:
4. When a fox fur is dyed, what species of fox is it usually?
5. When a fox fur item is labeled white fox, what species is that?
Thanks for all the info on furs, I believe I am now the owner of a mink coat (bought for £50.00 at a local charity shop). It is in excellent condition although no labels so I took a chance, and wow has it paid off, can’t wait for winter so I can wear it.
Anne V says
Very helpful! I too will not buy new fur.
However, I just received a vintage fur jacket and hat as a gift, and had no idea what type of fur. Based on your informative, post, I believe they are fox- cream colored, very soft with a longish silky outer layer and soft dense underlayer. They were originally purchased from Marshall Fields about 40-50 years ago.
Cream and white fur is very luxe! I prefer it over black and brown. Feels more modern. That’s great, Anne!
Anne V says
Well, I checked with the previous owner, and it is mink, not fox. Clearly I do not know much about fur! The jacket is gorgeous, in fabulous condition. The lining is monogrammed with my friend’s name.
So, now I just need cold weather and a place to wear it!
Alice Fitzgerald says
Sammy, found your website. Need some info on a coat my daughter-inlaw inherited. If I send you a picture by email is that possible? Thankssss.
I have a new Long hair rare Fox coat to the waist by CLAUDE MONTANA. It’s Beautiful!!!
Never been able to wear it because of warm climate where I live. It is valued at $30,000+ willing to take all kinds of offers
LOVE Claude Montana!
judy stein says
I, too , would not buy new but found this FABULOUS taupe above-the-knee leather coat striped with “dirty” blonde fur in a second hand shop where I live halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I paid about $65. Your post was very fascinating, but I am still not sure what I have got: fox, beaver or raccoon. Or a light-colored mink? Fur is whitish in the layer underneath. The top is a tiny bit bristly but it is still soft. On another note, other sites go on and on about how you have to have it professionally cleaned annually. I am sure there is no facility for this here, and since the item is already well used (but gorgeous), I want to care for it well. Suggestions about type of fur and care, people?
judy stein says
I found this FABULOUS taupe above-the-knee leather coat striped with “dirty” blonde fur in a second hand shop where I live halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I paid about $65. Your post was very fascinating, but I am still not sure what I have got: fox, beaver or raccoon. Or a light-colored mink? Fur is whitish in the layer underneath. The top is a tiny bit bristly but it is still soft. On another note, other sites go on and on about how you have to have it professionally cleaned annually. I am sure there is no facility for this here, and since the item is already well used (but gorgeous), I want to care for it well. Suggestions about type of fur and care, people?
hello i just found four chocolate brown mink with head and tail once used as a stole …scarf thingy . They are up for sale!
Thanks for a great post!!
Hoping you can offer some advice as I am still stumped :) I have a couple of old what I believe are mink stoles, but one has the usual looking mink tails (thiner, not overly bushy) and the other has super fat fluffy tails (almost into the size and fluff factor of a marten). But I am (and I have no idea why) convinced they are both mink … any idea?
Hello Sammy,thank you for your most informative website.
I have a twin Arctic Fox Stole that my Great Grandmother
wore in 1930’s so I was told ,they are complete and have head and feet . May I send a photograph ,please ?
Am in Cornwall,UK .Regards Alan.
Janice Rodic says
I was wondering if you could help me identify what type of fur my jacket is as well as several fur collars onn coats that I would like to sell. I have taken photos. Can you reply via my email address please?
Ron Tesorero says
Love your website . It’s very informative .My mother left us a fur designed by Maggy Rouff ( Paris ).We looked her up on Google & apparently she was an underappreciated but brilliant clothes designer . It is a mid length fur about 60 years old . To our untrained eyes it seems to be beaver
it has a chevron design.It is light/medium brown.
We’re wondering if our guess is correct & if we’re right
would it have any value today in the resale market .
How much is a natural white fox stole with head and tails worth?
Please, please can you help me identify what fur my vintage stole is?! I’ve wanted a fur stole since being about 13 and finally at 27 have treated myself to one! It’s just really frustrating not knowing what fur it is and the assistant at the vintage shop didn’t know either.
After reading your post I think it sounds like beaver although I’m not certain. It’s not mink or rabbit as I have mink and rabbit furs but if you could shed any light or look at a picture for me I would be so greatfull.
The fur itself is dark brown, very snug and thick. It’s glossy too. Any help would be appreciated.
It sounds like Mouton. My mom gave one to my sister, my aunt and one to me one very lovely Christmas. We were dirt poor BUT my mom worked at Goodwill that year and she kept her eyes perked up all year. My sisters was a light brown, my aunt’s was a dark brown and mine was a really pretty shade of silvery gray. It was one of the best Christmas’s we ever had.
I asked my mom what a Mouton was? (pronounced moo ton – ton rhymes with don) She said it was a lamb.
I agree with Trinka – it sounds like mouton, which is sheared, dyed and processed lambskin. Here in the UK it’s called (rather confusingly) ‘beaver lamb’ because it was intended to resemble sheared beaver,
Hi. Thank you for putting this piece together. I was so pleased to find this on the Web and will be bookmarking your site for future reference. I especially appreciate the historical perspective and the pictures! However, I wish that you would add something to the beaver fur section about sheared beaver, similar to your sidebar on angora. Sheared beaver looks so different than long-hair beaver and that is worth noting. Thanks again!
Since you consider yourself no more or less of an animal, would you wear human around your neck? This post has made me never want to promote your blog so thank you very much for the unsettling truth.
oh get over yourself- you probably eat meat, drink milk and use eggs- dont you think thats extortion too?…
After some “animal lovers” threw red paint on some ladies fur coats in Calif,(at some televised red carpet opening- late 70s?) it got raving, mixed reviews from across the nation. The red was used symbolically, for blood.
Some SHARP detective documented, with pictures, most of the paint pouring perps. Several of them were pictured Wolfing down steaks, Wearing or purchasing leather coats, luggage, purses or shoes.
I thot the best kicker of it all was — the picture of the one who Screamed the Loudest throwing the paint—
She was filmed getting into a beautiful white Mercedes and driving away. The investigator had just filmed the sheer white interior, then backed away and filmed her return. The whole interior was SOLID white leather.
Try researching “Persian lamb” for the curly black fur coat. It was popular in the 1950’s.
I have two old (world war II) fur coats with the fur on the inside; wooden cylinder type buttons. They appear to be possibly military issue, but maybe not U.S. and they are in poor condition.
I’d like to find out type of fur they are made from. Some is sheep skin, but some is a longer white fur (I don’t think it’s rabbit).
Is there a place I can send a sample to see what the fur is?
Judy Stein says
Discovered that my blonde $65 short coat with taupe leather (written about above) is indeed mink. Met an elderly furrier who said that this label, Flier Furs of Beverly Hills, was known to him. The man (Flier) passed away about 20 years ago and had produced and popularized many of these coats in the early to mid-1960’s, as a way of recycling mink coats whose pelts were either falling apart or in need of re-styling. Indeed, what appeared to be one or two rips between pelt and leather ( 3″ strips of course running vertically down the coat) became almost impossible to keep repairing once I began to wear it. Nevertheless, I keep sewing them up. It’s nice to know that I am indeed further recycling something that was recycled 50 years ago. I love to think of how the former owners enjoyed it as I do.
Sharon Selby says
A rabbit is not a rodent. It is a Lagomorph.
I am trying to identify and sell a fur coat for a friend. Am having a devil of a job identifying it but it seems to be made of a number of small pelts (brown) so it may be Mink. (I do not want to cut into the lining, so can’t look at the back of the fur) It is well made, looks about 1950’s…? unsure. No label.
The lining is brown and a distinguishing feature is the lining has a “bluebird” pattern all over it. I’ve tried to research this -as to maker and date- but can’t find anything. Does anyone here know which designer/manufacturer could have used this lining? (BLUEBIRDS) ??
Thank you anyone who can point me in the right direction!
Great site! Will bookmark it. I collect vintage fur coats, particularly beaver lamb (mouton).
I see a lot of people saying that they wouldn’t buy a new fur coat but vintage is okay…I’m sorry but what is the difference exactly??!!! If you think fur is cruel why buy a vintage fur coat?! The animals died in exactly the same way as the “new” ones. I think it’s kind of hypocrite thing to say.If you love fur so much just say so!
I love fur and i don’t mind having a “new” or an “vintage” one.
Anyway this is great article
Honey: For me, the vintage/new debate is not about perceived cruelty, it’s about style. I just prefer the style of vintage fur coats. If I saw a new fur coat whose style I liked (and which I could afford!) I’d certainly buy it.
Margaret Ralph says
What is Musquash? and how to identify it? I have a light/mid brown vintage fur coat and I don’t think its mink – could it be Musquash?
With all this above discussion how are China going to learn to stop skinning animals alive for fur when they know fur is liked by many women still just for fashion/glamour? These animals sufffer and China are very cruel, if the animal was killed humany but they are not. The fur looks better on the animal. As for myself I have never worn fur and never would. I eat free/range eggs, organic milk and organic poultry but would not wear a leather jacket has thats going too far for. Cattle are meant for food and as long as they have a natural good life before. I support the British farmer and to buy good quality from the farmer as the animal as had a good life. It will never stop many people eat meat and farmers have a business to run to make a life for themselves and many farmers love their cattle. I wear leather shoes because I damn well have it arounnd my gear/stick in the car so I cant contradict myself by saying I dont wear it. Compassion in animal farming is a must but as for fur and that many animals die a horrible death mostly being alive is barbaric and wicked to inflict this pain on our friends. China skin dogs and cats too and it makes me feel sick what these un/compassionate people do to animals. Just greed and money so if they know lots of women love their fur, how are they going to learn to stop this barbaric trade? Vintage fur too, those animals suffered years ago . No animal should suffer in the hands of humans, they should not feel pain and fear. Too many greedy, selfish people on this earth.
this topic is about recycling old furs, the animals died decades ago and it makes no sense to throw away perfectly usable fur. Fur is biodegradable, a new synthetic jacket is made from crude oil and takes 500 years to break down and isn’t as warm. How many years do you get out of a synthetic coat? They keep saying the oil is running out and the prices of it is climbing!
As for how the animals died, do you really believe anyone in the business of killing animals is going to waste time, potentially damage the pelt and risk personal injury by skinning a live animal? The video you refer to was made by an animal rights group and the Chinese government has demanded they turn over all information so they can prosecute the ones that are in it. The animal rights group refuses to say who did it! If they really care, wouldn’t they want them jailed for this crime? Not if THEY made it themselves! Never blindly believe outrageous stories, research the topic and use logic.
I like my vintage fur and will continue to wear it!
This is an old comment but oh well. There are rescue centers that will take fur coat donations to use for animal rehabilitation. People don’t seem to concerned with that.
If you’re bringing up environmental issues, just remember that the chemicals in tanning the hides are extremely toxic pollutants. So yeah, I would rather wear synthetic materials than the carcass of a dead animal on my back.
You sound like you don’t even research the topics and use logic, because there are numerous barbaric things that have been going on in China for years. not only animals, but humans. Why do you think governments are trying to crack down on counterfeit products? Because of the human rights issue. China tops the list for human trafficking. So yeah, if they can do all that, it wouldn’t suprise me if there would be instances of animals skinned alive.
Look, none of us can live an environmentally perfect lifestyle. But when you are further promoting a garment (even vintage is promoting it) that comes from a being that is farmed just to be killed I 100% believe it’s wrong. And before you ask, no, I don’t eat meat or wear leather. By all means you can continue to wear your vintage fur, but we can still continue to call you out on it.
I was given a black fur coat from a friend as a gift. She’s in her late 50’s and said it used to belong to her mom. There’s a tag inside below the collar that says the root store terre haute. I can find info on the store but not the furs they sold. It seems to be short haired, thick, sooooo soft, jet black, and about 4-5″ strips with a black silk liner that has what looks like maple leaf pattern on it. Can anyone tell me the age, type of fur, and perhaps value of this jacket/coat maybe?
Sherry nour says
Hi , if I send you photo of the fur I have can u tell me what kind or u have to see it
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Animals in China are electrocuted then skinned for their fur. Disgusting and barbaric suffering. The fear these animals have when it id their turn dragged out of their cage. This is done so the fur is not marked. Disgusting and sickening trade!! And you people are discussing how you love your hand me downs vintage fur! Ifyou want to wear fur then buy the natural way an alpacca fur . These animals died a natural death so no need to waste their coat although the people that look after the animals are still upset when they pass. Alpaccas are not farmed here in the UK for their fur but used for trekking and prople love having an hour with them .
Thanks for this wonderful article. I live in New Zealand and yesterday scored a fabulous fur coat which I now think may be mink. I have been trying to research it’s age but have come up empty. I don’t suppose any one knows anything about the Union Fur Co in Johannesburg, South Africa?
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kretha mac says
I purchased a coat and am having difficultly identifying the maker tossed what kind of fur it may be. It is made in Vietnam. The label is M or W obbino. It is written scribbled. The coat is blond with a lot of light and dark pattern. Very curious. Thank you if you can help identify. It.
I recently bought a beautiful and soft black beaver stole/cape, and was wondering if anyone recognizes the name “Roberts, Fall River, MA”. It is in excellent condition except for one rip in the seam (easy fix) and minimal staining. The lining has tree branches embroidered in it. I’m guessing the era is 1930s through 1950s, but it is hard to tell. My mom and I also both have mink stoles from her grandmothers on both sides, but the one I inherited is slightly too big, as my great-grandmother was a slightly larger person. The beaver fits much better. I love being able to have this form of material family history! I love your site–great job!
GREAT ARTICLE! However, silly me am still a bit confused on what I have. I have four vintage furs that are unique. One is BonWit Teller and two are Davellin but one has no tag. Unfortunately, I don’t know what kind of furs they are! Where can I send pics to to get a confirmation? I hate to wear and someone ask what it is and I don’t know!
(They were inherited.) Thank you SOO much!
This is a great site and very well written descriptions! I can help anyone who has a fur that they are having a difficult time identifying. Please feel free to send pictures of the fur to nikki (at) coolcraniums.com.
I found at the G.W. a beautiful stole. No head or tail as a decider so I’m guessing from your description that it is probably fox. The pelts seem to be full length but only about 6″ wide. The inner lining is apart and it has a couple of pockets inside that are coming apart. I really don’t want to wear it since I have no idea where it’s BEEN! Other than being apart from the lining that is still with it it’s in beautiful shape. Also I really would NEVER have any place to wear it to, so my purchasing it was purely and act of preservation and maybe some $$$ for repairing it to original state and selling for a profit. I’m not to good at pictures to send but if it would help let me know. Thanks
Matt Lowry says
I have what I believe to be a mink stole or wrap from the 30’s to 40’s. has three whole (heads and tails) linked together with tassels and a mouth minted clip on one head. I would be interested in selling it. Make is H. liebes. Please contact me back.