I collect Boer War postal history and have over 40 covers addressed to H. Naested , feather merchant , at Cradock. Most are registered mail from Army field post offices, probably containing payment for goods of some kind. Can anyone enlighten me on the history and business of this gentleman? Thanks! Peter
The ostrich feather boom took place around the time of the South African War. One kg of feathers was worth more than 1kg of gold, while ladies in Europe sought ostrich feathers for their hats or boas. The SA ostrich farmers, many of whom were immigrants from eastern Europe, became known as Ostrich Barons, see: Feather Palaces of the Klein Karoo
When the Titanic sank in 1912, the most valuable cargo on board was a shipment of feathers that was insured for $2.3 million in today’s money.
The feather industry went bust during the Great War, with women in mourning and taking jobs as nurses and ambulance drivers and postal workers. In addition, travel by motor car was too fast to allow a feathered bonnet to stay in place.
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
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Evidently two Hans Michael Naesteds then at the time of the ABW : senior (died 1907) and junior (died 1915), both in the feather business. Hans snr's death certificate can be seen here :
They seem to have been quite prominent, as there's a Naested Street in Cradock.