These are both furs, once highly prized and expensive forms of clothing, though now often frowned upon. Ermine comes from the stoat, and was usually used for trimmings, such as cuffs and collars, on a larger garment. The animal’s winter coat was especially coveted, a beautiful pure white. Ermine can be seen in portraits of the royalty and nobility of Europe; heraldic ermine is decorated with black spots.
Much ermine was sourced from Russia, as was sable. A species of marten, sable was prized for its dark, sometimes black colour, and the fact that it keeps its smoothness whichever direction it is stroked. Such fur is still used in expensive clothing, though hunting restrictions mean that the pelts usually come from farmed animals.