Fashion Takes Flight

 

 

The Story of the Plume Bloom

19th century bird collection

Photo credit: Katherine Rushworth, CazArts Newsletter

Date: October, 2020

From the museum collection of the Cazenovia Public Library

 

 

 

The Cazenovia Public Library Museum is home to a large and varied collection of birds and eggs.

Bird Eggs from the Robert F. Hubbard Collection 

Photo credit: Katherine Rushworth, CazArts Newsletter

Date: October, 2020

From the museum collection of the Cazenovia Public Library

 

Rob Hubbard’s copy of The Oologists’ Handbook

Photo credit: Katherine Rushworth, CazArts Newsletter 

Date: October 2020

From the museum collection of the Cazenovia Public Library

Much of the collection can be attributed to Robert (Rob) Frederick Hubbard, son of museum founder Robert James Hubbard. 

In 1894, Rob, an advid outdoorsman, donated his  collection of 60 bird specimens and over 200 bird eggs to the museum.

Hubbard, RF Aug 1883

Robert F. Hubbard  

Photo credit: Unknown

Date: 1883

From the archives of the Cazenovia Public Library

Title: left-Quetzel; right-Great Egret 

Photo credit: Richard Walker

Date: 2015

From the archives of Cazenovia Public Library

 

Hubbard’s collection became the inspiration for Fashion Takes Flight, a permanent exhibit on display in the Cazenovia Public Library’s reference room. The exhibit focuses on 1887-1920, a period known as the “plume bloom.”

Inspired by the fashion industry’s obsession with all things feathered, women around the globe dressed from head to toe in the latest feathered fashions. 

Mile Lilian Greuze, du Théâtre Sarah-Bernhart (Image ID: 824864)

Photo credit: Félix

Date: 1913

From picture collection of the New York Public Library

Bird-of-Paradise 

Artist: Jacques Barraband

Published in: Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux de Paradis et des Rolliers, suivie de celle des Toucans et des Barbus by Francois Levaillant and Jacques Barraband

Date: 1806

The plume bloom resulted in the decimation of bird populations around the world and the extinction of a number of species. In addition to feathers, wings, whole birds, nests and eggs were also used to adorn outlandish hats. Highly prized plumes were taken from exotic species like the beautiful Quetzel and the Bird-of-Paradise.

In 1886 alone, over 30 million birds were killed to meet the demands of the millinery (hat) trade.

 

Mrs. James Shelley, Hat trimming: body and wings of Bird-of -Paradise

Photo credit: Harris & Ewing, Inc.

Date: c. 1928

From Mr. Hubbard’s Salon Cazenovia Public Library

The cover of the Audubon Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1887

“It was a common thing for a rookery of several hundred birds to be attacked by the plume hunters, and in two or three days utterly destroyed.” 

William Hornaday (1854-1937), Director of the New York Zoological Society.  

 

 

Membership card for the Society for Abolishing the Wearing of Birds. 1899

Courtesy of Susan Langley

Appalled by the decimation of bird populations, Boston socialites Minna B. Hall and her cousin Harriet Hemenway hosted a series of teas for the ladies of Boston. By increasing awareness, they inspired support for their cause, and in 1885 the Massachusets Audubon Society was formed. The organization was the first of its kind in the nation.