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Vintage Fur Coat ID Series #4: Raccoon

Vintage Fur Coat ID Series #4: Raccoon

A very common fur type that comes into the store for identification, upcycling and consignment is raccoon.  The American type is medium to long haired fur in grey and silver colouring with a very dark to black stripe.  We also see a more reddish coloured raccoon called ‘Tanuki’ which is a rusty reddish dyed American raccoon, or bleached raccoon that is very pale in colour.  With its mid to long dense fur and heavy leather, it is one of the warmest coats you could buy.  These can sometimes be seen on toboggan hills and keeping people warm as they sit on a stool in the middle of a frozen lake ice-fishing.




Some of the raccoon coats we receive date back to the 1930’s when raccoon was one of the most common coats worn by college boys in the US.  One of the reasons we see so many of these coats, car coats (or ¾) and jackets is that the leather is so strong and can typically last 40-50 years or longer if well kept in climate controlled storage.
They are most often seen in a ‘let-out’ fashion, where the dark stripes are about 4” wide with silver/grey stripes that go from top to bottom of the coat giving in long beautiful vertical lines, and sometimes ‘swirl sleeves’ from the 1980’s. 
However, the raccoon was also commonly made into ‘skin-on-skin’ style, where the rectangle shape of each pelt is trimmed and sewn together showing large patches of black and grey/silver fur.  Each has its own style and to some extent indicates era and place of production.
Raccoon has a surprisingly soft and often very dense ‘underfur’ that lends itself to being sheared into a soft, wooly fur.  Raccoon is graded into various ‘nap’ heights with heavy nap or longer hair coming from Canada, semi-heavy or mid length and coat type of flat raccoon coming from southern states. Darker coloured raccoon typically come from eastern Canada and the north-east seaboard of the USA.
Raccoon are perhaps the most populous fur-bearing animal in North America, as the raccoon has adapted well and even thrived in human impacted environments, specifically in urban areas where there is an endless food supply and places to nest in sheds, garages or underneath porches.
Raccoon, as a long haired fur, lends itself to being upcycled into blankets, pillows, scarves and hats, but also sheared and turned into very nice fur lined coat, parka or jacket.
From a vintage standpoint, you will see many as the leather is so strong and long-lasting, so find one you love and wear it - you will be amazed with how warm it is.
A comment about ‘fit’.  Raccoon can be on the heavy side, so be sure it fits you will in the shoulders, where it balances well for your size and it will feel much lighter on than it does on the hanger.  If you need custom alterations take it to a reputable furrier to give it a cleaning, adjust fasteners, hem sleeves or overall length and you will have a super warm coat for years to come.



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