An Unbecoming Fur

In this relation it may be said that the Chamber of Commerce issued a warning to the public, through the Press, as to the misnaming of furs, giving the names of certain furs and their incorrect descriptions. At the same time the chamber sent out to the wholesale and retail fur warehouses a list of "permissible descriptions." In this list sham ermine appears as follows: "Proper name - white rabbit. Incorrect - ermine. Permissible - mock ermine." But the "permissible descriptions" have few defenders, as the actual name of the animal is, in most cases, not mentioned.

Ermine has beauty, but it is one of the most unbecoming furs in existence. The effect is hard and crude, and the dead white proves a trial even to the fairest complexion. Ermine is much worn by smart Parisians, especially in the spring and early autumn. But Frenchwomen are artists, and tone down the effect by means of lace, tulle, or chiffon. Ermine is at its best when worn with dark-coloured velvets. The contrast of a black velvet or deep violet velvet gown with ermine makes a perfect ensemble..

Suitable for Evening Wear

Ermine looks well in the evening. It can be worn as a stole for the shoulders, or as a long cloak, which has a regal effect; or else to line a cloak of satin or velvet.

Ermine, however, has a third fault, it does not combine well with other furs, but stands aloof in its proud purity. One often sees it mixed with musquash or sealskin, but a woman of fine taste finds the sharp colour contrast a trifle hard and aggressive. Ermine mates best with moleskin, and an ermine tie and muff worn with a moleskin coat will show to immense advantage.

Ermine is a fur that adapts itself well to small articles and trimmings. In fact, one wonders that it is not more often used to

Dress trim Court trains and wedding costumes. A winter bride does wisely who has her white velvet train trimmed with ermine. And this has had a precedent. When the beautiful Miss Enid Wilson became Lady Chesterfield, she wore a white velvet Court train bordered with ermine, and made a fairy tale bride on a snowy February morning in 1900.

When before-easter Courts are again in vogue, fine effects might be produced with ermine on white satin, brocade, or velvet. Contrasts of texture, rather than of colour, have much interest. Whistler's symphony in white makes a good example; and a more modern instance is that of a young duchess who once wore her famous pearls with a cream costume. Ermine, well arranged, has many possibilities.

Its Ancient Popularity

The fur Was known to the ancients, and owed its debut to the Byzantine emperors. The Greeks, who were fond of ermine, believed it to be the skin of the white rat, and Wagner was the first naturalist to class the creature among the weasels. The Byzantines called it the Armenian rat fur; hence the words Hermine and ermine; and until late in the seventeenth century it was called le rat d'armenie.

In old days the finest skins were obtained from the rich plateau of the Taurus (Armenia). And even now the great ermine markets of the world are at Van, Erivan, and Mitlis. But the creature was found elsewhere, as the Dukes of Brittany used to wear ermine robes of native production. Marco Polo, in his book of travels, mentions ermine as among the most costly dress of the Tartars; and remarks that he found the tents of the Cham of Tartary lined with the skins of ermine and sables in the year 1252.

Ermine does not appear to have been used as an official mark of distinction earlier than the fourth century; and in the fifth it was adopted by the French as a sign of legal dignity. This custom still remains, as the judges have their scarlet robes edged with ' rmine. It was also used at a very early age by the Court of Rome for the State garments of the cardinals; but the little black tails were usually omitted in church costumes, in order to emphasise the purity of the priestly profession.

Photo, Ruttlinzer

Photo, Ruttlinzer

Ermine worn as a cloak has a regal effect, the black tails forming the most suitable trimming. A stole of the fur, with tails at the ends, is another favourite arrangement of ermine

Then, in later times, one Czar of Russia had Coronation robes, in the making of which 250,000 ermines were sacrificed; and the Coronation robes of the first Napoleon, preserved at Notre Dame, are also lined with the most costly ermine.

Ermine Makes History

The earlier Queens of the House of Hanover were especially fond of narrow stripes of ermine, perhaps to emphasise their regal dignity. The hanging sleeves affected by Queen Charlotte are often seen lined with black-tailed ermine; and there is a good portrait of Queen Adelaide with a deep ermine tippet. The Duchess of Kent, too, is represented as wearing a round cape of ermine And the Coronation robes of Queen Victoria and of our late King Edward were splendid specimens of the art of the furrier. Ermine is a fur that makes history.

Ermine is a fur that must be treated with due care and consideration. Its fine quality and pure whiteness causes it to become easily soiled and damaged. A careful lady's-maid would wrap her mistress's ermine fur in layers of tissue paper; and. after use, a muff, stole, or necktie should be lightly wiped over with a fine white cloth - for choice, with a cambric handkerchief. A brush must never be used, and, if wet, ermine must not be dried by the fire, but should be gently shaken. And even when economy is an object, good fur should be sent, when soiled, to a furrier's, and by no means be subjected to what is known as ' home-cleaning." And precious fur of any sort ought never to be left in a room with a dog, unguarded. A tragic tale is told of a costly ermine muff worried to pieces in its owner's absence.