A83_576.jpg Cape, Fur (about 1939-1940). H. H. Blandford Ltd. Collection of Puke Ariki (A83.576).

Rats and romance do not normally go together but this rat fur cape may have helped a possum trapper snare his wife. This one-off cape was fashioned from the skins of bush rats trapped by Mick Murphy on Mount Taranaki from 1939 to 1940. Murphy, who was employed as a possum trapper, sent the skins to a furrier in Palmerston North who made the cape.

Puke Ariki's records are silent on Murphy's motivation for all this effort but recent research suggests a romantic link. A possum trapper would not have the money to woo his girl with mink and perhaps even his possum skins were too valuable, so it makes sense he had to find a cheaper source of pelts to make his girl feel special. And it seems this unconventional romantic gesture may have worked.

A photograph also from Puke Ariki's Heritage Collection records the marriage of a Mr M (H) Murphy to Winufreda in 1945, just a few years after the cape was made. 

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