Stories Organisations Projects About Login

Coat - Water rat fur coat

From the Collection of Brighton Historical Society First Floor Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre (Old Brighton Town Hall) Corner Carpenter and Wilson Streets Brighton Victoria

Description
Three-quarter length brown fur coat made of Australian water-rat (rakali) pelts. Wide raised collar and cuffs. Fastens centre front with two large hooks and eyes. Lined with chocolate brown silk satin.
Links
Object Registration
T0028
Keywords
fur coat, rakali, australian water rat, melbourne fashion, audrey winifred heriot, audrey winifred pickett, audrey winifred north, francis john ellemor, f. j. ellemor, furrier
Historical information
This coat belonged to Brighton resident Audrey Winifred Pickett (nee Heriot; 1915-2011).

The coat is made from the pelts of rakali, also known as the Australian water rat, a native rodent species similar to an otter. Growing up to 35 centimetres in length, rakali typically live in burrows near water, feeding on fish, insects, yabbies and waterbirds. Throughout the early twentieth century, they were widely considered to be a nuisance and were hunted for their soft and waterproof fur. Demand for rakali pelts increased during the 1930s Depression years, when a ban was placed on the import of overseas furs; rakali fur became a popular substitute for the fur of the American muskrat. The species was placed under a protection order in 1938, although periodic culls were allowed until 1957 due to their perceived destruction of irrigation banks and fishing nets.

Audrey recalled that the coat was made for her by furrier F. J. Ellemor after a large cull of rakali. The coat was displayed in the window of Ellemor's Block Place store.

F. J. Ellemor Pty Ltd was established in 1908 by furrier Francis John Ellemor (1867-1944) and continued into the late twentieth century under the management of his son Wilfred (1801-1972). Francis and his wife Edith lived in Rothesay Avenue, Brighton from the late 1930s.
When Made
c.1930s
Made By
F. J. Ellemor Furriers (Maker)
Inscriptions & Markings
Label, woven brown on beige silk, centre back neck: created by / F. J. Ellemor / FURRIERS / MELBOURNE
Last updated
13 Feb 2020 at 10:51AM