feather, noun

Origin:
EnglishShow more Special senses of general English.
Ostrich-farming
a. As a commodity: an ostrich feather. Also attributive. See also body-feather, chick, onderbaatjie, prime, tail, wing.
Note:
Ostrich-feathers have been valuable articles of trade since the earliest European settlement at the Cape. They form the basis of an industry concentrated around the town of Oudtshoorn, and in parts of the Eastern Cape. See also ostrich.
[1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. I. 130Ostriches, the birds whose feathers our luxury occasions to be brought from the remotest plains of Africa, I likewise saw today in their wild state, at the southernmost promontory of this quarter of the globe.]
1866 E.L. Price Jrnls (1956) 194Sebele asked Roger to add up..the price of the house in feathers, & other things.
1866 E.L. Price Jrnls (1956) 195Instead of 300 pounds sterling (or 1,800 feathers) he had thought it was to be 300 feathers only.
1877 De Mosenthal & Harting Ostriches & Ostrich Farming 195It is by no means uncommon to meet a..Hottentot boy with three or four first-class feathers stuck jauntily through his ears, or fastened in his woolly head.
1877 De Mosenthal & Harting Ostriches & Ostrich Farming 198The average length of a really good feather is about two feet, and eight to nine inches wide.
1880 S.W. Silver & Co.’s Handbk to S. Afr. 227Before domestication was attempted..the chief sources of the feather supply were..in the far interior.
1886 W. Bruce in C. Cowen S. Afr. Exhibition 1885 9To some extent, like diamonds, articles of luxury, feathers have recently been in very limited demand in Europe.
c1911 O. Evans in S. Playne Cape Col. 53I may here give details of the growth of the industry from returns of feather sales and exportations: 1865 17,811 lbs — £65,426..1905 471,024 lbs — £1,081,187.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 167Feathers vary in value according to the sex of the bird and the part of the body from which they are plucked; they are also named accordingly.
1920 Dunell, Ebden & Co.’s Price ListMay-June [Cover], Telephone Numbers: Counting House 850...Native Truck-Manchester 393...Feathers 549.
1930 M.F. Wormser Ostrich Indust. in S. Afr. 51The outbreak of war brought the final collapse of the feather trade.
1930 M.F. Wormser Ostrich Indust. in S. Afr. 67The commoner feathers, a fair quantity of which was absorbed by the brush and broom factories, were sold for good prices.
1955 G. Aschman in Saron & Hotz Jews in S. Afr. 130The immigrants themselves learnt to sort feathers just as they quickly learnt the names of all the different types of feathers.
1956 P.J. Botha in F. Goldie Ostrich Country (1968) 55Palatial twenty bedroomed..mansions built in the town and district of Oudtshoorn by many feather-rich farmers.
1968 F. Goldie Ostrich Country 50Critics declared that tame feathers would not curl, and would be of little value in competition with wild feathers.
1968 F. Goldie Ostrich Country 53The disastrous feather slump of 1914 brought many ostrich farmers and others dependent upon the sale of feathers to ruin.
1973 G.J. Broekhuysen in Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. VIII. 396Feathers are still required for dusters and for ornamental purposes.
1983 Flying Springbok Jan. 52Ostrich farms were established in the late 19th century boom when zealous feather hunters threatened to wipe out South Africa’s wild ostrich population.
1989 Reader’s Digest Illust. Hist. of S. Afr. 227The new industry inevitably attracted great numbers of commercial operators, most of them reasonably honest, but some, especially among the itinerant feather-buyers, decidedly crooked.
b. combinations
feather bird, see quotation ;
feather boom, the period of prosperity following the development of ostrich-farming during the nineteenth century ;
Feather City, the city of Oudtshoorn, in the south-eastern Cape ;
feather market, commerce in ostrich products; a place in which ostrich products are traded ;
feather palace, a name given to any of a number of large houses built in the Oudtshoorn district by ostrich farmers and dealers in ostrich products during the feather boom ;
ostrich palace, see ostrich .
c1881 A. Douglass Ostrich Farming 67From one to four years old, they are called..feather birds.
c1881 A. Douglass Ostrich Farming 173A nice ‘feather bird’..will give at least £12 a year in feathers.
c1936 S. & E. Afr. Yr Bk & Guide 557The fantastic figures due to the feather boom have gone.
1968 F. Goldie Ostrich Country 51The feather boom..always depended almost entirely on the vagaries of fashion.
1991 Best of S. Afr. Short Stories (Reader’s Digest Assoc.) 103In the ‘feather boom’ many Oudtshoorn farmers reaped rich rewards which they spent in erecting elaborate homesteads.
1983 Frontline Feb. 46It had been a spanking hot, bright day when we set off from Feather City..in the direction of Mossel Bay.
c1881 A. Douglass Ostrich Farming 4Business men were always prognosticating that the feather market would collapse with the increase of the ostrich; but the reverse has been the case.
1968 F. Goldie Ostrich Country 53The need for a local feather market was met when the..Landboukoöperasie at Oudtshoorn initiated regular feather sales.
1968 C.J. Orffer in D.J. Opperman Spirit of Vine 120After the collapse of the feather market in 1913, the farmers went back to the tried ways and vineyards were again widely planted.
1988 D. Hughes et al. Complete Bk of S. Afr. Wine 32The advent of the motor-car made billowing plumage disconcerting and the feather market collapsed.
1968 F. Goldie Ostrich Country 4Ornate Victorian mansions..known as feather palaces, bear testimony to the boom years of the feather industry.
1978 Argus 7 Apr. 9The old ‘Feather Palace’, the magnificent homestead on Greylands ostrich farm..has been declared a national monument.
1980 Het Suid-Western 13 Feb.The Oliviers’ magnificent 20-room feather palace..became the centre of gracious living.
1993 Sunday Times 24 Jan. 5Ostrich barons exhibited their wealth by building magnificent Victorian mansions which became known as ‘feather palaces’.
an ostrich feather. Also attributive.
, see quotation
, the period of prosperity following the development of ostrich-farming during the nineteenth century
, the city of Oudtshoorn, in the south-eastern Cape
, commerce in ostrich products; a place in which ostrich products are traded
, a name given to any of a number of large houses built in the Oudtshoorn district by ostrich farmers and dealers in ostrich products during the feather boom
ostrich palace, see ostrich
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