Not currently on display at the V&A

Feather

1850-1925 (made)
Place Of Origin

Over the course of the nineteenth century, ostrich feathers transitioned from being a status symbol of the affluent, to an affordable accessory for lower class women. This was, in part, due to Britain’s exclusive trading relationship with ostrich farms in South Africa. Ostrich feathers also benefitted from being one of the few specimens that could be plucked from the tail of the living bird without harming it, which meant that they became the favoured choice of fashionable women engaged in the anti-plumage lobby. Dyeing, enlarging, and combining ostrich feathers was a sizeable industry, employing high numbers of underpaid workers in London, Paris and New York.


object details
Category
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Feather
  • Feather
Materials and Techniques
Ostrich feather
Brief Description
Two sprays of grey ostrich feathers, probably connected to British millinery, 1900s
Physical Description
Two sprays of ostrich feather, dyed grey. Each spray is made up of at least two feathers sewn together along the spine.
Dimensions
  • Length: 240mm
  • Width: 180mm
Summary
Over the course of the nineteenth century, ostrich feathers transitioned from being a status symbol of the affluent, to an affordable accessory for lower class women. This was, in part, due to Britain’s exclusive trading relationship with ostrich farms in South Africa. Ostrich feathers also benefitted from being one of the few specimens that could be plucked from the tail of the living bird without harming it, which meant that they became the favoured choice of fashionable women engaged in the anti-plumage lobby. Dyeing, enlarging, and combining ostrich feathers was a sizeable industry, employing high numbers of underpaid workers in London, Paris and New York.
Collection
Accession Number
T.21:1, 2-2021

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record createdAugust 20, 2019
Record URL