Historical information

After European settlement in 1788 Australian Fur Seals were hunted intensively from 1798 until 1825 for meat, oil and their skins. The growing Industrial Revolution called out for oil which was readily sourced from seals along with their valuable fur. Indigenous people had been sustainably harvesting seals for their meat and their skins .and the European sealers often coerced or kidnapped Aboriginal women for their knowledge of hunting seals. After 1825 the seal population had been decimated and therefore the hunt was no longer economically viable, but it wasn’t until 1923 that the Australian Government legislated to stop the hunting of seals altogether. In the time of the Amess family residence on Churchill Island it was perfectly legitimate to shoot any seal that interfered with fishing and furs were tanned and lined with fine fabrics to create items of apparel. Seal fur has a soft velvety feel when stroked in the direction of growth.

A muff was a thick tubular piece of fur or other material used by women and girls to keep the hands warm and it was also used as a handbag,


The Amess family owned Churchill Island from 1872 to 1929. This lace collection was owned and contributed to by four generations of Amess women, see above.

Physical description

Seal fur muff, with lining and some fraying on edges.