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Vintage Fur Coat ID Series #3: Persian Lamb

Vintage Fur Coat ID Series #3: Persian Lamb


One of the most common vintage furs that people bring into the store and we see in vintage shops is the classic Persian Lamb coat.  Ubiquitously known as ‘Grandma’s coat’, it was most common in the late 1950’s and throughout the 1960’s.  Typically these are found in black, grey, and chocolate brown, often with a sapphire or brown mink collar.


Persian lamb was one of the warmest and most affordable fur coats of the time.  Persian lamb is recognizable for its tight woolly curl. 



The lamb is actually a “Karakul” variety originating from Africa, but was most commonly used for its fur internationally throughout the Middle East in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many other former Soviet Union nations, gaining its commonly used name: Persian Lamb, but also known as ‘Astrakhan’ in some regions. 



Persian lamb can be seen on many women throughout the western world as the recognizable coat, but also on men and women in the middle east as coats, vests and very famously as the classic ‘wedge hat’ from the Afghan and Pakistan region.



A similar variety is ‘Swakara’, that has a shorter hair and more of a ‘swirl’, found in black and brown shades.  They are actually South West African Karakul (Swakara), and were also popular from the 1950's to 1970’s.



Swakara and other lamb furs have made a significant comeback in recent years as the go-to fur, from short haired Swakara to much longer haired Tuscan lamb, that are used by most of the major fashion brands today and dyed into every shade imaginable.



New tanning and dyeing techniques that meet stringent environmental standards make the leathers buttery soft and lightweight.  Much improved over grandma's coat that tended to weigh a tonne. 



The good thing is that the leather of lamb is very strong and typically lasts for decades.  If the coats were kept in climate-controlled storage, you are almost assured an excellent piece for upcycling into fur-lined or reversible vests, small jackets, hats, scarves, pillows and throws.



Like any vintage heirloom item, the best thing to do is just wear it. If you have one of these items and want to discuss options, please email or call the store to set up an in-person, video, or phone consultation.




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