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Dunedin’s first female detective’s fashion fur donated to Museum

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The Otago Museum’s significant textiles collection continues to grow with the donation of a fur stole originally owned by Dunedin’s first female uniformed detective, Lenore Lillian Wilson (née Lawrence).

Wilson, whose police number was W.90 (W was a prefix for all serving women at that time), joined the Force in 1952. She was appointed Acting Detective in 1956, and resigned in 1959 as Constable. She previously worked at the Dental School and at Dunedin Hospital in the X-Ray Department.


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Image credit: Sapphire marmot stole. Gift of Lorraine Lawrence; Otago Museum Collection 


Following Mrs Wilson’s death in September 2016, her stole was donated to the Otago Museum by her niece, Lorraine Lawrence. Made by locally-founded fashion fur specialists Mooneys, the sapphire marmot stole is in excellent condition.

Capes and stoles were a very important part of fur sales in the 1950s and 1960s, although demand dropped dramatically in the early 1970s. 

Mrs Wilson's nephew, Murray Lawrence, says his aunt owned three fur stoles and the family have photographs of her wearing them at various social functions. He added, “There's another earlier link with the Otago Museum, too. My aunt's father and grandfather's company, Lawrence and Sons, had the construction contract for the Willi Fels Wing of the Museum. Lenore was a proud Dunedinite and would have loved to see such history being preserved for others to ponder the fashions of the day”.

Moira White, Curator, Humanities at Otago Museum, is excited to welcome this piece into the collection, sharing the story of an important female figure in Dunedin’s history.


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Image credit: Sapphire marmot stole. Gift of Lorraine Lawrence; Otago Museum Collection