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 -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 from Puke Ariki's Swainson - Woods collection records the marriage of a Mr M (H) Murphy to Winufreda in 1945, just a few years after the cape was made. Ref: A83.576
Information and images from the Puke Ariki collection may not be reproduced, transmitted or copied without permission except for the purposes of private study and research, criticism and review, or education consistent with the New Zealand Copyright Act 1994. Please contact the Puke Ariki Image Service for any further permissions.