This vintage real photo postcard is quite unusual. The photograph preserves a time when it was fashionable to accessorize hats with real birds.This style hat is not one of my favorite examples of millinery design. At the turn of the 19th century it became the style in the US and Europe to wear feathers and even whole taxidermied birds on their hats. This resulted in the killing of millions of birds all around the world. An article in “Sociological Images” (2014) reports on a single order of feathers by a London dealer in 1892 requiring the “harvesting” of 6,000 Birds of Paradise, 40,000 Hummingbirds, and 360,00 of various East Indian birds. Ornithologists started to speak out in resistance to this practice. One asserted that 67 types of birds were at risk for extinction. Ornithologists and their supporters began to target women who were supporting the practice of slaughtering birds. Women were receiving the blame for the barbarism being committed against birds. The writer, Virginia Woolf (1882-1942) reminded readers that it was men who were actually murdering the birds and making a profit from them. Interestingly, middle class women were major advocates in the bird preservation movement. In the US the movement sparked the development of the first Audubon societies. The Massachusetts Audubon Society organized a feather boycott, and soon the US government passed  conservation legislation that protected the birdsThis style hat is not one of my favorite examples of millinery design. This postcard has a stamp box that I have not seen before. Apparently, the postcard is part of a series  (# k 519). Google translate indicates that the words in the stamp box, “Echte Foto” are in Dutch and that they can be translated as meaning “Real Photo”. This postcard is in very good condition (see scans).  (SOLD)

Published in: on September 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “….Put a feather in his cap and called it macaroni…” …Sorry, I couldn’t resist… Actually, “Macaroni’s” were well-admired Italian dandy’s of the Revolutionary War period, and whenever a soldier put a feather in his military headdress, e.g., cap, those impressed likened him to a “macaroni”. (Not a thing to do with noodles.)

    So much for my daft sense of humor. – Your comments make me recall those old Marlene Dietrich movies. In film after film, that divine woman was plastered with feathers. Fashion can indeed be heartless, and often grotesque. Think of the grand ladies in the court of Louis, who competed with high white wigs. (Some so lofty and often heavily stacked with bizarre or even obscene decoration, that many a courtesan ended up sporting a neck brace after the fete.)

    You wouldn’t have liked that millinery style either. Not only did these wigs frequently employ the use of bird feathers, but for a time it was the style to incorporate whole bird’s nests in them! Tiny blue robin’s eggs and all.

    Still, the pink-knit hats of today’s New Wave Feminist Style, well, maybe they cannot compete for feathers, but as for the name given these social statement toppers…well, I’d prefer you “knock me over with a feather” rather than ask me to wear one!

    Great photo and commentary CC. As usual, you present an excellent photo product image. Thanks! Looking forward to more great pics and analysis.

    • Thank you so much for your very interesting comment and history lesson. After I read your note, it dawned on me that the lyrics of “Yankee Doodle” make more sense to me now. “ Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni”. Thanks for explaining to me a mystery of my childhood.

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