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Cold Hands? (Artifact #90101-3)

Artifact#: 90101-3

Donor: Walter and Jean Kaye

How are you going to keep your hands warm while out on a sleigh ride, at a skating party, or just fashionably walking through town?

If you were around a couple hundred years ago, a muff might have your go-to! A muff was a cylinder of fur or fabric with both ends open for inserting your hands. It was introduced to women's fashion in the 16th century and was used by both men and women in the 17th and 18th centuries, but by the early 19th century, muffs were primarily worn by women in Europe. Muffs returned as a fashion accessory during WWII but didn’t last because, according to one source they “were unsuited to modern women who drove cars, traveled on planes, lived in heated houses, and earned their own living.” ( )

Several types of fur could be used to make muffs: beaver, fox, seal, Persian lamb, ermine, etc. or even the distinctive marking of skunk fur. The fur was lined with soft materials such as silks or satins, or heavier brocade fabrics. A muff could also double as a purse. An opening was made on one side of the muff, and held close to your body, to carry your money or other necessities. Newer muffs would have a zipper closing, but older muffs would close with a tie. A wrist loop inside the muff would ensure you didn’t lose your hand warmer.  

If this sounds like the solution to your cold weather blues, you're in luck! There are many modern variations available on the market today.


This muff is one of 6 items donated to the museum by Walter and Jean Kaye.


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