In this guest post, Moncef Nasri offers an insight into the unusual and unpredictable world of professional connoisseurship. As a specialist in sourcing the very best and most obscure items for some of the world’s most successful and demanding people, he uses his knowledge and experience to fulfil the brief, no matter how specific:
To anyone with a soul, the falcon is unquestionably a noble bird of prey. Yet for all its undoubted prowess in the wild, is is also vulnerable. If the feet or toes, which are unnaturally long, come into contact with materials contaminated by anything man-made there is a danger of weakening, critically loosening the otherwise uniquely powerful talons.
This sort of contamination, and the dangers of aggravating “bumblefoot”, a bacterial condition that can affect a falcon’s unusually thin feet, were to the forefront of my mind when asked to source a gauntlet for a committed falconer. His means match his passion and he was traveling with his prized specimen to Azerbaijan to hunt Canadian geese. Another consideration for such an accessory is that falcons can cost the sort of sums usually spent on a pedigree thoroughbred racehorse. More important still? This particular falconer’s sentimental attachment to his bird, which significantly transcends any conceivable market value.
Is halfway round the world too far to travel for a glove? After all, gauntlets of a good standard are available at the likes of Beretta, Purdey and Holland & Holland. Alternatively, from Ray Ward, the specialist Knightsbridge gunsmiths.
Ultimately, with the standards I must meet, I needed to go further afield, to Australia, in search of Kangaroo leather. This is some of the world’s purest hide, thanks to a nationwide attitude to pesticides that has left the bush and outback relatively untarnished by our interference with nature. Moreover, kangaroo leather is strong and at the same time light, with special properties that reflect the athleticism of the animal; both soft and durable yet also elastic. There is a smoothness beyond other leathers of this strength and suede-like texture that is unusually delicate for a wild unfarmed animal and allows the falcon’s talons to grip powerfully without creating a tear.
Having sourced the perfect hide just outside Sydney, I briefed a bespoke glovemaker based in Wales (also helpfully a falcon breeder) that the finished article had to be green and yellow, the corporate colours of the multinational that the falconer owns and which underwrites his passion. Organic dye maintained the glove’s purity. And most importantly, that of the falcon itself.
Words by Moncef Nasri