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Published: 17 October 2015

By Andy Ross

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The luxurious ostrich feather, once the height of fashion and a multi-million pound industry, has never fallen completely out of favour but here is a use for them in the modern day. 

Ford motor car factory in Spain, the biggest in Europe, is using them to collect microscopic specks of dust and static electricity which could ruin the finish on a new car. Not surprising to those of us who have seen vendors touting ostrich feather dusters on the streets of Cape Town, or to those who have been to Oudtshoorn, once the capital of the ostrich industry in the world when magnates built ostrich palaces before the collapse of the industry, and now on the rise again as the feathers come back into fashion following a ban on the export from South Africa due to foot and mouth disease. 

The story of the ostrich trade is a wild ride through the ups and downs of fashion, greed, industry and wild optimism, all because of the fabulous plumes of the bird. I love this 2000 article in the New York Times about a book which seems to capture the atmosphere of it all. We will try to get a copy for the library...