PA2009_155.jpg Fan (about 1830s). Collection of Puke Ariki (PA2009.155).

Ostrich feathers provided a touch of glamour in colonial Taranaki. This fan, made of black ostrich feathers attached to tortoiseshell sticks and guards, was brought to New Zealand by Louisa Lethbridge when she arrived with her family on the Oriental on 7 November 1841.

Feathers, along with leaves or plaited straw, were among the earliest materials used for fans. During the 19th Century ostrich feathers were very much in demand, not just for fans but also as head-wear. A variety of colours were incorporated, with white or brown and white feathers coming from the female bird and black feathers from the male. Taranaki Herald advertisements from the 1850s show feathers, both black and coloured were being sold in New Plymouth during this time so Mrs Lethbridge would have had the opportunity to replenish her supply if the mood took her.

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