Includes interesting stories from the world of leather and updates on the Museum. Issued periodically.
Fur is defined as the short, fine, soft hair attached to the skin of certain animals some of which (for example, sheep) are domesticated. Fur skins continue to play a very important role in a number of communities’ way of life. Apart from the meat from the animals, the skins are used as a vital part of their protective clothing for the harsh climates in which they live. In the past, many species were hunted solely for their furs, but this practice has now been largely abandoned.
Leather is defined as a material made from the skin of an animal by tanning or a similar process. Hence fur and leather are both derivatives from the processing of animal skins and for this reason it would be invidious for fur not to be considered a legitimate part of the Museum’s collection provided items have been acquired in accordance with the 1975 CITES convention (refer to Appendix).
The Museum’s collection represents, in part, an ongoing record of past practice and also a showcase to illustrate the unique, aesthetic qualities of fur skins. It is recognised that fur remains a controversial subject and the Museum considers it has a responsibility to explain what fur is and, by exhibiting its collection it is permitting and encouraging the ethical, practical and aesthetic issues to be openly considered.
The CITES convention provides the international framework for regulation concerning the trade in endangered species. In essence, it is legal to trade in endangered species if killed before 1947. For animals killed after that date endangered species can only be traded provided exemption and imports permits are obtained. Farmed species (for example, mink) that are not endangered can be legally traded. Fur farming was banned in the UK in 2003.