American Fur Skins--their Uses At Home And Abroad
In the early history of fur apparel, its use was determined by
climate; to-day, and especially in this country, it is regulated
by the caprice of fashion. The mink for many years took the lead
in the list of fashionable furs, but has of late been superseded
by the introduction of the fur seal. The most choice and costly
of our American furs at the present day is the Silver Fox. When
highly dressed they are worth from 1
to 50 guineas each in the
European market. They are principally bought by the Russians and
The skins of the Red Fox are purchased by the Chinese, Greeks,
Persians, and other Oriental nations. They are made into linings
for robes, etc., and ornamented with the black fur of the paws
which is set on in spots or waves. The fur of the
Beaver was formerly highly prized in the manufacture of hats and
yielded a large portion of the profits of the Fur Companies,
constituting the largest item in value among furs. Cheaper materials
have since been substituted in making hats, and the demand for
this purpose has been greatly reduced. By a new process the skin
is now prepared as a handsome fur for collars and gauntlets, and
its fine silky wool has been successfully woven. The soft, white
fur from the belly of the animal, is largely used in France for
Raccoon skins are the great staple for Russia and Germany, where,
on account of their durability and cheapness, they are in demand
for linings for coats, etc. Among the Bear skins, those of the
black and grizzly are extensively used for military caps, housings,
holsters, sleigh robes, etc.
The fur of the Lynx is soft, warm and light, and is commonly dyed
of a beautiful shining black. It is used for the facings and linings
of cloaks, chiefly in America.
The Fisher yields a dark and full fur which is largely used in
fashionable winter apparel.
The skin of the Marten, is richly dyed and utilized in choice furs
The Mink, like the two foregoing, belongs to the same genus as
the Russian Sable, and its fur so much resembles the latter as to
be sometimes mistaken for it. It is one of fashion's furs, and the
hair of the tail is sometimes used in the manufacture of artist's
The Muskrat produces the fur most worn by the masses, and is largely
exported into Germany, France and England. It is estimated that
over six millions of muskrat skins are annually taken in America,
and of that number one-half are used in Germany alone.
The skin of the Otter is at present classed among the leading
fashionable furs in this country. They are dyed of a deep purplish
black color, and are made into sacques, muffs, etc. It is also
used by the Russians, Greeks and Chinese. It is mostly an American
product, but is also procured to some extent in the British Isles
from a smaller variety of the species.
The skins of the Wolf are chiefly used for sleigh robes and such
purposes. The fur of the Rabbit is mainly employed in the manufacture
of felt, and is also utilized for lining and trimming. The business
of breeding rabbits for their fur has been introduced into the
United States, and large numbers have been successfully raised in
Danbury, Conn., for felting purposes connected with the manufacture
The fur of the Wolverine or Glutton, finds a market for the most
part in Germany, where it is used for trimmings and cloak linings.
The Skunk furnishes the fur known as Alaska Sable, which forms
one of our staple pelts, many thousands being annually exported
to Poland and the adjacent provinces.
The Badger yields a valuable and fashionable fur, which is also
extensively used in the manufacture of artist's brushes; a good
badger blender forming a valuable accessory to a painter's outfit.
Shaving brushes by the thousand are annually made from the variegated
hair of the badger.
The Opossum yields a fur in very common use among the masses, and
the skins of the domestic Cat are utilized to a considerable extent
in the manufacture of robes, mats, etc. The fur of the Puma and Wild
Cat are also employed in this form, and may often be seen handsomely
mounted and hanging on the backs of sleighs on our fashionable
thoroughfares. Among the small game the skins of Squirrels are used
for linings, and the soft, velvety fur of the Mole is manufactured
into light robes, and very fine hats, and in theatrical paraphernalia
is sometimes employed for artificial eyebrows.
Full descriptions of the color of the various furs will be found
in our lengthy illustrated chapter on our American animals.