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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in the list of fashionable furs, but has of late been superseded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

and trimmings.

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

of hats.

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.