Ostrich Feather Dusters

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High Quality Ostrich Feather Duster
One of the most useful contributions of the Ostrich feather to industry is its use in the feather duster. Although feather dusters have been in production since the 1800s the Ostrich Feather Duster was not invented until the beginning of the 1900s. The basic feather duster is actually a patented invention. Susan Hibbard is credited with the first Feather Duster Patent in 1876.


The original South African Ostrich Feather Dusters were invented in Johannesburg, South Africa by missionary, broom factory manager, Harry S. Beckner in 1903. He felt that the Ostrich feathers made a convenient tool for cleaning up the machines at the broom factory. His first Ostrich Feather Dusters were wound on broom handles using the foot powered kick winders and the same wire used to attach broom straw.

The First Ostrich Feather Duster Company in the United States was formed in 1913 by Harry S. Beckner and his brother George Beckner in Athol Massachusetts and has survived till this day as the Beckner Feather Duster Company under the care of George Beckner's great granddaughter, Margret Fish Rempher. Today the largest manufacturer of Ostrich Feather Dusters is Texas Feathers (TxF)which is located in Arlington Texas.

Building an Ostrich Feather Duster

Ostrich feathers are sorted for quality, color and length before being wound in three layers to the handle. The first layer is wound with the feathers curving inward to hide the head of the handle. The second two layers are wound curving outward to give it a full figure and its trademark flower shape.

Young apprentices still use the manual kick winder to learn the trade of building the hand crafted Ostrich Feather Duster. However, to expedite the manufacturing process, factories now allow veteran craftsman to use electric powered winders to build the duster. Building an Ostrich feather duster can be a dangerous. The wire is under tension that is strong enough to sever a finger if it were to get caught between the handle and the wire.

The Ostrich Feather

The Ostrich feather is unique in its durability, softness and flexibility which accounts for the success of the Ostrich feather duster over the last 100 years. Because the feather does not zipper together as most birds it is prone to developing a static charge when rubbed against a surface which actually attracts and holds dust which can then be shaken out or washed off. Because of its similar makeup to human hair, care of the ostrich feather requires only an occasional shampoo and towel or air dry.

Collecting Ostrich Feathers

The farming of Ostriches for their feathers does not harm the bird. During molting season the birds are gathered in pens, burlap sacks are placed over their heads so they will remain calm and trained handlers or "pickers" pluck the loose molting feathers from the birds. The birds are then released unharmed back onto the farm.


  • The feather duster was considered a status symbol in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
  • Susan Hibbard is credited with the first Feather Duster Patent in 1876.
  • Harry S. Beckner invented the first Ostrich feather duster in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1903.
  • Ostrich Feather Dusters are so durable they have been known to last for over 20 years.

External Links

Vigors, 1825

Genus: Struthio
Linnaeus, 1758

Species: S.
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A feather duster is an implement used for cleaning. It consists typically of a handle and a segment composed of natural or artificial feathers which form the cleaning-contact surface. It is particularly useful for removing dust from surfaces.
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