Northern California Angora Guild

Friday, February 28, 2014

French Angora Session at the Judges Conference

Betty starts the session by passing around some bags of wool samples from an English Angora and a French Angora, asking the attendees to look and feel to identify which wool sample is English and which sample is French.

While the bags of wool samples are being passed around, Betty shows the first photo that appeared in the ARBA Standard of Perfection (SOP).   In her hand, Betty shows the copies from the old ARBA SOP.   Angora Wooler was the official name in the 1934-1939 SOP, but no photo included.  In 1939-1944 SOP there was this photo shown in the slide.   Under the name of Angora Wooler there was the "English Type" and the "French Type".   The photo does not say whether it's an English Type or a French Type Angora Wooler.  This photo is believed to be the first official photo in an ARBA publication.

This photo is provided by Eric Stewart from his collection of a 1927 book about Angora.   It was written by an author in England, he used the names of "English Angora" and "French Angora" when referred to the Angoras that he saw in England and the Angoras that he saw in France and how these Angora rabbits differed thus he considered them the names of the breeds.  It's considered that the English Angora was "fancy" and the French Angora was "working mules".    However, this photo does not specify whether it was an English Angora or a French Angora.

In the SOP 1944-1947, the English Angora and the French Angora officially became two separate breeds.  Photo in the slide is taken from the 1966-1970 SOP.   

Betty puts a French Angora junior doe on the table.

Betty says,

It's a Friday night special, you are welcome to come to the front to touch this young French Angora and the young English Angora.  Later in the session I will ask you how your hands feel and whether there are any differences.  

Attendees line up to get the chance to touch.

Allen posts on his Facebook:

History made: Betty announces, "This is not a 'no touch' time!"

Betty is notorious for having signs of "Do Not Touch" on all her carriers.  On the table are a 3-1/2 months old French Angora doe and a 2-1/2 months old English Angora buck.      

Betty puts two "old men" on the table, one English Angora and one French Angora, both are about 2 years old.

The French Angora buck is getting excited, Betty has to hold him down before he does something XXX.

 Kathi and Jeannie are at the table checking out the two matured bucks.

Here are the four rabbits being touched: standing up is French Angora buck HGF Jim, on his right is white buck Chu's Ebby.   In the back are the two babies: the far left is baby English Angora buck Chu's Mackie and the broken chestnut is French Angora junior doe BCW Checker.

Some key points:

(a) All Angora should have underwool and guard hairs.  The French Angora should have more guard hairs than the English Angora but underwool is still vital.  No Angora should have more hair than wool, Angoras are wool breeds, not hair breeds.  
(b) The English Angora and the French Angora were originally the same breed but bred toward different directions.   The wool from the first coat English Angora and first coat French Angora are not that different; the English Angora is treasured for its first coat because it's finer and softer while the French Angora first coat with similar characteristics is considered as too soft.  
(c) When the wool are harvested then grow back, there will be more hairs regardless whether it's the French Angora or the English Angora.   If a French Angora still has a good amount of underwool, with the additional guard hairs from the second and subsequent coats, the texture would be considered as ideal.  Same situation in the English Angora would be considered as too coarse.     The standard is so written that the best show coat for the English Angora breed is the first coat while the best show coat for the French Angora breed is the 2nd or 3rd or ... coats. 
(d) The French Angora wool has a slightly bigger diameter than the English Angora wool thus easier to care for.   The finer the fiber, the harder to untangle.   If one uses an extreme example: imagine the embroidery thread vs. the rope, it's harder to untangle a messed-up ball of the embroidery thread than a messed-up pile of the rope. 

Toward the end of Betty's presentation, she asked the participants about their feels of wool samples that have been passing around when the session stated.   Though there were some correct answers, most identified them incorrectly.   The French Angora wool in the bags was from the first coat but the English Angora wool in the bags was from the 2nd coat; most of the participants identified the softer wool as the English Angora wool but in fact it's the first coat French Angora wool .    The first coat wool is always softer than the 2nd or subsequent coats, regardless of whether the wool comes from an English Angora or a French Angora.  



  • At 11:25 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    This is a wonderful article on the differences in French and English. Thanks for sharing!


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