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The Most Expensive Feather In The World

Updated on July 14, 2010

A Very Costly Feather

In June 2010 a single feather was sold at an auction house in New Zealand for £3,800. The feather originated from the extinct Huia bird, last seen in the wild in 1907. There have been a number of unsubstantiated reports of sightings since that time. One of the most recent was in the 1960s.

Although long prized in Maori culture they never actually placed a monetary on what was to them a traditional token. In 1902 however a Rotorua chief presented a feather to the Duke of York when he visited New Zealand. On his return to the UK he wore the feather in his cap. This immediately caused a huge demand for the feathers. Costing about £1 at the time the price rocketed and hastened the bird towards extinction.

Both the seller and the buyer at this most exciting of auction sale declined to be identified. It is believed to have passed from one private collection and into another. The chances of another feather coming up for auction again in the near future are pretty remote.

The Huia Heteralocha acutirostris was the largest of the family of New Zealand Wattlebirds and was found only in the North Island of New Zealand.

Huia Feather

High Rank

The Feathers of the Huia Bird were normally worn by Maori people of high rank. They were worn singly or in pairs. The feathers were sometimes placed on the dead and were traded too. They were much sought after and were considered lucky. The bird was in no way threatened however until an interest was shown it and its feathers in the West.

The name 'Huia' is much used in North Island New Zealand today.

A pair of Huia

Huia Feather Wine Label

Photo from: http://www.huia.net.nz/wines/label/sauvignonblanc_2005.jpg
Photo from: http://www.huia.net.nz/wines/label/sauvignonblanc_2005.jpg

Huia, The Place

Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arielophelia/395774593/
Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arielophelia/395774593/

Te Waka Huia

Maori Chieftain with Huia Feathers in His Hair

Photo by: http://www.nzetc.org/etexts/CowYest/CowYest_163a.jpg
Photo by: http://www.nzetc.org/etexts/CowYest/CowYest_163a.jpg

Huia feather sells for $8k

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  • Peter Dickinson profile image
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    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Lee B - Greed, avarice, one-upmanship is the curse of so many creatures. Thank you for reading.

  • Lee B profile image

    Lee Barton 7 years ago from New Mexico

    Once again, you've educated me about something I had no idea existed. Too bad greed doomed this bird and it no longer exists!

  • Peter Dickinson profile image
    Author

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Thank you Duchess OBlunt. It is all a case of supply and demand. I imagine there were several bidders for the feather for it to command such a price.

  • profile image

    Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

    Peter, your hubs always bring some little known facts to light.

    I really hope that bird survived somewhere too.

    I cannot imagine spending that kind of money on a single feather!

  • Peter Dickinson profile image
    Author

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Thanks Hello, hello. It was a pleasure to pull it together. I really hope that they do find that some birds survive somewhere.

  • Peter Dickinson profile image
    Author

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Thanks Anath. I have never explored the fetish of feathers but I can well imagine.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for such an interesting hub to read.

  • Anath profile image

    Anath 7 years ago

    Wow, always bringing something interesting Peter, fancy paying £3,800 for a feather... What could I do with a feather like that? I already have a few ideas ;-)

  • Peter Dickinson profile image
    Author

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    annmeadows - Thanks for reading. The history does go a lot deeper. I skimmed the surface to present the facts. Thanks for reading.

  • Peter Dickinson profile image
    Author

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    travel_man1971 - I, like you would like to think that there were still some around in a remote valley. Who knows? This week heralds the discovery (possibly) of a new species of great ape.

  • Peter Dickinson profile image
    Author

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Austinstar - The second most expensive feather to ever go at auction was an American Bald Eagle. Thanks for reading.

  • annmeadows profile image

    annmeadows 7 years ago from Mobile, Al.

    Wow, I'd never have known if I hadn't read your article. I love the rich history behind the feather. Isn't it amazing how things get started?

  • travel_man1971 profile image

    Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

    Is it really extinct? Such a rare feather, isn't it, Sir Peter? I hope we still have a sightings on these bird called huia.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 7 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Nice feathers. At least the US finally protected the Eagles before they became extinct. So many birds lost their lives just because of their feathers. It's a shame to see this.

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