Ermine fur in SCA period (was Re: A qestion about a cloak.)
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, Kareina Talvi Tytär <kareina.sca@...> wrote:
>In period a garment would be lined with miniver or pured miniver (and sometimes "snow weasel", which is any non-ermine weasel that turns white in the winter) except where it showed, and then they would use ermine--household accounts show purchases of (for example) 12 ermine skins and some huge number of squirrel skins for linings. 12 ermine skins doesn't cover a heck of a lot, even if you use as much of the skin as is possible, so they are clearly *only* using the ermine where it is visible.
> At 09:30 21/06/2011, Leonor wrote:
> >For what it's worth, I also saw them and isntantly thought "vair". Ermine
> >tends to look differently and was incredibly expensive.
> It isn't just that ermine are expensive, they are also small enough
> that it takes LOTS of them to make something. One of my friends in
> Oertha once made an Ermine mantle for Duke Radonr--it took 36 ermine
> (which her partner trapped) to make the mantle, which just covers his
> shoulders. After sewing that many furs together she swore that once
> was enough. Finding enough ermine to make a cloak would require
> using all of the critters from not just one trapper's area, but many
> of them. I just compared a random mantle and cloak from my closet,
> and it looks like the cloak is 10 to 12 times the area of the mantle,
> which would mean that to make an ermine cloak would require 300 to
> 400 (or more) ermine!
My consort and I lined the hoods of our master's/elevation robes completely with ermine, because of the non-availability of miniver (given the relative prices and availability of grey squirrel vs. ermine, it was actually cheaper to use ermines), and it took something like 52 medium-sized skins for two relatively fitted hoods. IIRC the linings are four plates sized roughly 12"x14"x, and not really carefully matched or anything.
[We now pause for a brief side note on furs in period]
Skins were trimmed and sewn in rows, which were then assembled into plates. Vair is the whole squirrel, gris is the back of the squirrel, miniver is the whole belly of the squirrel, and pured miniver is the belly of the squirrel with the grey edges trimmed off.
Rabbits (the precursor of the domestic rabbit, as opposed to hares) were introduced into greater Europe by the Romans, but died out in England when the Romans left, to be re-introduced in the 13th century. They are otherwise originally native mostly just to the Iberian peninsula.
[This concludes our brief side note.]
Margaret FitzWilliam of Kent