To remove the fur for a simple tanned skin, the hide should be immersed in a liquid composed of—soft water, five gallons; slaked lime, four quarts; and wood ashes, four quarts. Allow [Page 278] the skin to soak for a couple of days, after which the fur will readily slip off.
Another method—take equal parts wood ashes and slaked lime, and add water to the consistency of batter. Spread this over the inside of the skin, roll it up, and place it in a pail, covering it with water. Here let it remain from one to five days, or until the hair will shed easily, after which it should be finished with the fleshing knife and velveted with sand paper.
In all cold climates, man has availed himself liberally of the warm covering with which nature has clothed the animals around him; but the wealth of the most favored nations has drawn to them the most beautiful furs, in whatever part of the world they are procured. Skins of animals were among the first materials used for clothing. Before Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, they were furnished with coats of skins. The ancient Assyrians used the soft skins of animals to cover the couches or the ground in their tents, and the Israelites employed badger’s skins and ram’s skins, as ornamental hangings for the Tabernacle. The ancient heroes of the Greeks and Romans, are represented as being clothed in skins. AEneas, wearing for an outer garment, that of the lion, and Alcestes being formidably clad in that of the Libyan Bear. Herodotus speaks of those living near the Caspian Sea wearing seal skins, and Caesar mentions that the skin of the reindeer formed in part the clothing of the Germans. In the early period, furs appear to have constituted the entire riches of the Northern countries, and they were almost the only exports. Taxes were paid on them, and they were the medium of exchange. So it was also in our own Western territories in the latter part of the last century, and is to the present day, to a great extent, among the Indians. In the eleventh century, furs had become fashionable throughout Europe, and the art of dyeing them, was practiced in the twelfth. In the history of the Crusades, frequent mention is made of the magnificent displays by the European Princes, of their dresses of costly furs, before the Court at Constantinople. But Richard I. of England, and Philip II. of France, in order to check the growing extravagance in their use, resolved that the choicer furs, ermine and sable amongst the number, should be omitted from their kingly wardrobes. Louis IX. followed their example in the next century, but not [Page 279] until his extravagance had grown to such a pitch, that seven hundred and forty-six ermines were required for the lining of one of his surcoats. In the times, the use of the choicer furs, as those of the sable,