[Footnote *: From the “Hat Cap and Fur Trade Review.”]
[Page 284] Notwithstanding all these advertised prices, the young trapper often experiences great difficulty in a profitable disposal of his furs. Like every other business, the fur trade runs in its regular grooves, and the average furrier will often pay an experienced professional five dollars for a skin for which he would not offer a dollar to an amateur. This certainly seems discouraging, but the knowledge of the fact is calculated to prevent greater discouragement.
We often see fancy prices advertised by fur dealers for first-class skins; but when the furs are sent, only a few are selected as “prime,” the rest being rejected as worthless, or perhaps meeting with a meagre offer far below the regular rates. In this way the dealers have the opportunity of choice selection without incurring any risk. Many a young trapper has been thus disappointed, and has seen his small anticipated fortune dwindle down to very small proportions.
The fur trade is supplied through regular professional channels; and in giving our advice to the novice, we would recommend as the most satisfactory and profitable plan that he should make his sales to some local hunter or trapper, who has had experience with the fur trade, and who is satisfied to pay a fair price for the various skins with the probability of selling at an advance, and thus realizing a profit.
In nearly every trapping locality such men are to be found, and although the prices earned may be below the market rates, the amateur takes none of the speculative risks of the business, and should be willing to take lower prices on this account.
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 The mink for many years took the lead in the list of fashionable furs, but has of late been superseded by the introduction of the fur seal.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 10 to 50 guineas each in the European market. They are principally bought by the Russians and Chinese.
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 [Page 285] 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 bonnets.