Albert Lord Belden.

The fur trade of America and some of the men who made and maintain it, together with furs and fur bearers of other continents and countries and islands of the sea online

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to heaven," they had a distinct .K9 odor, which at times
is fairly high, and consequently were promptly and


scornfully condemned by the coat manufacturers at St.
Paul and elsewhere. A second dressing by expert
American workmen rendered the skins quite rosy, and
the Celestial substitute for the American buffalo robe
was accepted, and has remained the great coat skin to
date, its only large and moderate priced rival being the
Chinese goat.

Mr. Fleet later imported skins direct, and made a
feature of Asiatic, African and European skins of ex-
ceptional interest, embracing a number of articles not
handled to any extent by other houses. His business
steadily expanded, and in a brief period outgrew the
premises at 92 Gold Street, which in the meanwhile had
ceased to be in convenient touch with the leading fur
firms who had moved northward ; consequently in April,
1899, Mr. Fleet removed to 121 Mercer Street, the cen-
ter of the fur district at that time; in 1904 he leased the
entire building, 52 East Thirteenth Street, where he
has continued to the present date.

As the business increased Mr. Fleet enlarged its
scope, adding thereto the importation of furs and skins,
and the manufacture of ladies' and men's fur garments,
small furs, robes, rugs and gloves in all moderate priced
and costly peltries adapted to the purpose.


The firm of G. Gaudig & Blum, fur merchants, es-
tablished at Leipzig, Germany, in 1831, has made an en-
viable record for efficiency, mercantile and commercial
enterprise and integrity, meriting the close study and
faithful emulation of all young men who really desire
to achieve enduring success in any branch of business.


As the years passed the firm opened branches in other
European cities, and from 1877 to 1885 was represented
in the American trade by J. B. Chemidlin with head-
quarters in New York. In 1887 the firm opened in New
York a branch, fully equipped and stocked, under their
own name, with Eugene Wulzo as manager. Mr. Wulzo
remained in charge of the rapidly developing business
until the close of 1900, when he was succeeded by Carl
Wespy, who conducted the American aflFairs of the
house with marked ability for a little more than two
years, when he was recalled to Leipzig, where he died on
October 23, 1905, at the early age of thirty-eight. Fol-
lowing Mr. Wespy's withdrawal from New York, G.
Gaudig & Blum wisely, as time has shown, committed
the entire management of their New York branch to
Charles S. Porter, and the control of the business in
America passed, for the first time in its history, into the
hands of an American representative.


Herskovitz & Roth began their mercantile career in
New York as manufacturing furriers at wholesale in
April, 1887, with factory and salesrooms at 180 Mercer
Street ; ten years later they discontinued manufacturing
and engaged in importing furs and skins for the trade
at large. When the firm dissolved Albert Herskovitz
continued alone without change of firm name until the
close of 1909. On January i, 19 10, he admitted his son.
Max Herskovitz, since which date the business has been
conducted with unvarying success under style, Albert
Herskovitz & Son. The firm additionally does a large


direct business in raw furs, and has an important branch
at St. Louis.


Jardine, Matheson & Company, Limited, fur im-
porters of Chinese and Japanese skins collected by their
own branch houses in Europe and Asia, have conducted
a steadily developing business in New York since 1907.
The furs brought forward by the house have been in
good request for American manufacture owing to the
steady rise in prices of sundry American furs adapted to
particular purposes, and the very great consumption of
fur of all kinds in recent years; the demand remains
strong in consequence of the fact that supplies are still
available, notwithstanding the war. The imports of the
house include dressed dog skin mats, goat skins and
rugs, kid crosses, lamb skins, China mink skins, Thibet
crosses, and white coney skins and crosses ; raw ermine,
fox, kid, raccoon, leopard, marmot, fitch, kolinsky, hare
and sundry desirable peltries. The entire fur depart-
ment of the business was removed in May, 1916, to 25
Madison Avenue, for the convenience of the trade.


Albert Jaulus established in New York in 1879 as
an exporter of American raw furs; he has been from
first to last an efficient, conservative and dependable
merchant, and fully merits the success crowning his la-
bors. Mr. Jaulus has established excellent American,
Canadian and other connections, and is particularly well
informed on all essential trade matters.



R. Mautner, an exceptionally upright and able mer-
chant, engaged in the fur manufacturing business in
New York in 1869, ^^^ by great industry built up a bus-
iness which extended to all parts of the country. He re-
tired in July, 1 90 1, and was succeeded by his sons under
style, H. Mautner & Brother, who have continuously
conducted a constantly enlarging business in raw,
dressed and dyed fur, in every particular extending and
broadening the excellent reputation for efficiency and in-
tegrity characterizing the business from the date of its
inception. In the course of the years H. Mautner &
Brother have successively opened branches in Chicago
and St. Louis, which are successfully maintained. Sam-
uel Mautner, of the firm, died May 4, 1916, aged forty-


Ferdind N. Monjo, on March i, 1897, succeeded to
the fur importing and exporting business for twenty
years conducted at 160 Mercer Street, New York, by his
father, Nicolas F. Monjo, who retired on that date.
For a number of years following F. N. Monjo continued
actively engaged in importing, handling a general selec-
tion of European furs of known merit suited to the vary-
ing needs of manufacturers in the United States and
Canada. Subsequently he devoted his attention to raw
furs, securing supplies direct from trappers in all the
States, Alaska and Canada, and has thus been enabled to
meet the demands of manufacturers at "ground floor
figures." He continues to hold a leading place in the
same branch of the trade, with offices and show rooms


at 152-156 West Twenty-fifth Street, New York, and a
growing branch at 1-3 North Main Street, St. Louis.
He is actively interested in every organization and
movement designed to improve the fur trade of America
both in its domestic and foreign relations and honorable


J. Iv. Prouty established solely on his own account
in the raw fur business in New York in 1874; he was
alert, energetic and remarkably industrious, and steadily
worked his way to a position of prominence in the trade.
He dealt direct with producers, or trappers, and as the
consequence of rigid honesty in all his transactions
gained the perfect confidence of a very large number of
shippers of peltries scattered over the trapping sections
of the United States and Canada; and in the course of
time built up a satisfactory and profitable export trade.
Mr. Prouty continued actively engaged in business to
the time of his death, January 5, 1897.

Following this event his sons, William L. Prouty
and Almond E. Prouty succeeded to the business under
style, J. L. Prouty's Sons ; these successors continue the
trade upon the correct principles steadfastly adhered to
by the founder of the house.


Samuel Sachs in association with his brother, Louis
Sachs, established in the fur importing business in New
York in 1865, under firm name of L. Sachs & Brother,
continuing until December 31, 1904, when the partner-
ship was dissolved, Louis Sachs retiring, and Samuel


Sachs continuing the business alone, as Samuel Sachs &
Company. One year later Louis Sachs re-entered the
firm as an active member, and remained associated with
it until December i, 1899, when he withdrew and opened
a fur business in his own name, conducting it for two
years, when it was liquidated.

Samuel Sachs maintained the old business from
December i, 1899, to April 8, 1905, on which date he
died ; the business then passed to his son, Edward Sachs,
who had been with the house for seven years. The firm
from the beginning made a feature of skins of depend-
able quality, making specialties of nutria and beaver;
the firm was one of the first to import nutria direct from
South America, the goods coming forward in sailing
vessels, the voyage usually consuming about one hun-
dred days. Chinchilla skins, in small supply at first,
were brought to New York in the same way ; one of the
earliest shipments arrived showing considerable damage
by water, and the skins were sold in bulk "as are" ; the
buyer hung them up on lines strung across the back yard,
dried them thoroughly, and sold them at a substantial

Mr. Samuel Sachs enjoyed the respect and esteem
of the entire trade and as man and merchant his career
was creditable to himself and the fur industry of


Theodor Thorer, of Leipzig, entered the importing
fur trade of New York in the eighties of the last cen-
tury under styl^ of the Transatlantic Fur Company, and
gradually built up an important business in Leipzig


goods particularly adapted to the American market ; the
affairs of the house were conducted under above title
until April i, 1896, on which date Paul Albert Thorer
and Carl Praetorius succeeded under style, Thorer &
Praetorius, with desirable warerooms at 99 Spring
Street. In April, 1903, Edward M. Speer, a young man
of high principles and every essential qualification, and
who for some years had been prominently connected
with Herskovitz & Roth, accepted the responsible posi-
tion of general manager of the American business of
Thorer & Praetorius, and under his efficient charge,
maintained to the present moment, the business has
continuously expanded, and for years past the house has
occupied a leading place among the progressive fur im-
porting institutions of the greatest market in the world.
Thorer & Praetorius dissolved partnership by mutual
consent on February i, 1913, Carl Praetorius retiring
from the firm and the fur business, and Theodor Thorer
continuing. In 19 14 the business incorporated under
style, "Thorer Company, Inc." In addition to the im-
portation of dressed and dyed fur skins, the company
conducts a large business in American raw furs collected
from all best sections of production.


Max Wulfsohn, who had for many years been
identified with the fur industry of New York, established
individually at 63 East Eleventh Street in November,
1904, making a specialty of raw and dressed furs
adapted to the known needs of leading manufacturers
throughout the country.

In 1907 he associated with another in forming an


organization, and then engaged warerooms at 91-93
University Place, to conduct a similar business, but
with increased attention to the purchase of raw furs
for domestic consumption and export.

The company was dissolved in November, 1912, at
which time Max Wulfsohn secured attractive premises
at 122-126 West Twenty-sixth Street, where he inde-
pendently engaged in the raw fur business under most
favorable auspices ; as the season progressed he consum-
mated many large transactions with leading merchants
at home and abroad. The business has continued to in-
crease in volume, and undoubtedly has a great future.

In 19 1 6 the style of the firm was changed to M.
Wulfsohn & Company.


iHilton ^cfireilier

Milton Schreiber was born in Albany, New York,
July 24, 1873. While as yet a mere lad he went to
New York City where he promptly secured employment
in the manufacturing branch of the fur business, to
which he devoted studious attention, in due course
acquiring a comprehensive knowledge of the industry.
In 1900 he established in the manufacture of popular
furs, and so continued until November, 1905, when he
retired from manufacturing and engaged in the raw
fur business under style : Milton Schreiber & Company,
in a little more than a year the business, under Mr.
Schreiber's able management, outgrew the chosen
premises, 28 East Twelfth Street, and in 1910 was re-
moved to more spacious warerooms at 130 West Twenty-
sixth Street. Mr. Schreiber remained at that location
until 191 5, when he transferred the business to the pres-
ent much larger quarters in the new center of the trade
at 134-140 West Twenty-ninth Street.

Mr. Schreiber is a remarkably capable judge of raw
fur qualities and intrinsic values, an attainment by no
means common; there are many judges of fur, but the
number of experts is comparatively small — it is freely


JHilton ^cfjreiber


acknowledged among the informed that Mr. Schreiber
long since quaHfied as an expert in all particulars
essential to enduring success.

During the season of collection he daily receives
numerous bales and packages of newly caught skins,
shipped to him by trappers and collectors operating in
all parts of the country, the mainland of Alaska and
the wilds of Canada, and he considers it to be his duty
to the many shippers reposing confidence in his judg-
ment to personally value the peltries thus received. It
is a matter of record that receipts of skins from the
various sources of origin of collection have steadily in-
creased from year to year, old shippers being retained
and new ones added to the roll each season — a result
which eloquently affirms that the success achieved by
the house has been amply merited. On the selling side
of the business it is noted that Mr. Schreiber has de-
veloped gratifying relations with leading merchants in
all markets, and alert furriers in the great manufactur-
ing center. New York.

" Mr. Schreiber is popular in the trade locally and at
large, and is regarded by all as a friendly friend, and
a dependable merchant.

i^tmhtta of tt)t Kxattt,

prominent in their day and generation, who have joined
The Great Majority.


Washington BeU, who had conducted a raw fur
business in Newark, Ohio, for some time, came to New
York in 1866, and in association with John K. Cilley
established the firm of Belt & Cilley, dealing in raw furs
and wool. In 1882 the firm dissolved, and Mr. Belt took
his son-in-law, Elliott L. Butler, into partnership, under
style Belt & Butler ; later the name was changed to Belt-
Butler Company.

Washington Belt died September 11, 1898.

Elliott L. Butler died May 20, 1916. The business
is continued by Howard R. Butler and John Connell.


For more than thirty years the business transacted
in raw furs, deer, antelope and buifalo hides under the
name of Boskowitz was not exceeded in magnitude on
the North American continent, with the single exception
of the Hudson's Bay Company. They handled immense
quantities of goods annually collected in the great north-
west, the Pacific Coast, British Columbia, and later on
the mainland of Alaska.

Leopold and Joseph Boskowitz, under the firm style
of J. & A. Boskowitz, with whom Ignatz Boskowitz was
associated, began fur trading with the Indians in 1858,
and were the first to so operate in California, the Pacific
Coast, and points in British Columbia, with headquarters



at Victoria. They opened a house in Chicago in 1862,
and in New York in 1864.

Down to the close of 1867, while Russian- America,
now Alaska, was owned by Russia, all furs collected on
the mainland and the adjacent islands were taken over
under government concessions by the Russian- American
Fur Company, and no one, not even a Russian subject
was allowed to trade in furs with the natives. In the
spring of 1868 a small trader of Victoria, while sailing
along the coast to purchase raw furs from the Indians,
was caught in a terrific storm, carried far out to sea, and
finally driven upon the shore of Russian- America ; know-
ing that it was unlawful for any one to trade with the
natives he supposed his vessel would be seized, and
that he himself would be imprisoned or shot, and was
agreeably surprised to learn from the governor that the
United States had purchased the country, and further-
more that the Russian-American Fur Company was
quite eager to close out its entire collection of furs at
"unheard of prices" — seal, sea otter, fox, lynx, mink and
other fine skins, at something like half a dollar per skin
straight — counted, not graded. He invested every penny
he had, loaded his vessel with fine furs, and on arriving
at home reported his great luck. J. & A. Boskowitz at
once sent vessels to Russian-America and secured the
surplus stock of the Russian-American Fur Company,
at like favorable rates, and cleared a large cash balance.
This venture revealed something of the wonderful
fur wealth of the new possession of the United States,
and shortly afterward Leopold and Joseph Boskowitz
conceived the idea of forming a strong organization to
control the fur seal and general fur business in Alaska,


and in due course organized the Alaska Commercial
Company, which obtained from the government a
twenty-year lease of the fur seal islands, and still collects
furs on the mainland. L. and J. Boskowitz withdrew
from the company at the end of two years.

The firm of J. & A. Boskowitz were pioneers in
pelagic sealing; previous to their entry into the trade,
the native sealers operated close to shore, or at most not
more than a mile at sea, and at that distance only on
very pleasant days.

Commodore Warren had charge of the Boskowitz
vessels, and was very successful; fur seal skins at that
time were low in price, ranging from six to ten dollars
each. The firm undertook the work of dressing and dye-
ing fur seal skins in New York, engaging E. C. Bough-
ton, 7 Howard Street, to operate the branch ; at that time
the greater part of the seal dyeing was done in London ;
the London dyers produced a deep brown or rich plum
color, and Boughton could only dye black, and as the
London color alone was popular, the Boskowitz-Bough-
ton venture was not a success.

For many years prior to 1870 the Indians were the
only buffalo hunters on the western and southwestern
plains, and the red men were wards of the government
— their collections were sold for them by government
agents ; these buffalo hides, also known as "robes," were
sold to highest bidder at stated times, and for a con-
siderable period an extremely large portion of the
annual catch was bought by J. & A. Boskowitz at
Chicago. The offerings of Indian goods also included
good sized lots of raw and Indian tanned black-tail deer,
elk and antelope skins, for glove manufacturers, and


sundry small furs, all of which were handled in quantity
by J. & A. Boskowitz; the glove stock, augmented by
large supplies of South American deer skins, was mar-
keted for the firm by O. & A. DeComeau in New York.

Between 1875 and 1885, when greedy white hunters
entered into competition with the Indians, upwards of
two hundred thousand bison were killed in a season, and
Indian dressing practically ceased; in the height of the
trade J. & A. Boskowitz leased a factory in Bridgeport,
Connecticut, and turned out the first white-man dressed
buffalo robes offered in the market in quantity ; this fac-
tory was kept running until all the bison were killed. At
this time the firm sought a new fur world and found it in
China, from which country they imported large quanti-
ties of goat and dog skin plates and robes, which were
readily worked up into warm and serviceable coats and
sleigh robes; at first the "China goods" were very low in
price, and excellent profit producers for the importers;
but in a comparatively short time competition, both in
buying abroad and selling at home, moved prices up in
China and profits down in America, and reduced goats
and dogs to the "deal level" which is of no particular in-
terest to any one in the fur trade. The consumption of
goat and dog skins is still large, but both animals con-
tinue to flourish in China in ample numbers to meet the

Ignatz Boskowitz died in Europe in 1906.

Leopold Boskowitz died June 15, 1895.

Joseph Boskowitz has for many years resided in
Victoria, B. C, and is now about eighty years of age.

Adolph Boskowitz enjoys a lucrative law practice
in New York.


Jean Baptiste Chemidlin was born in Imling,
France, in 1834, and came to New York sixteen years
later ; shortly after his arrival he was employed by Pierre
Chouteau & Company, fur merchants, with whom he re-
mained until the firm retired from business in December,
1857. He then joined with Gabriel Franchere in form-
ing the firm of G. Franchere & Company, continuing un-
til 1869, when he became associated with N. F. Monjo
under style, J. B. Chemidlin & Company. In 1874 the
firm was changed to Oberndorfer, Chemidlin & Com-
pany, and so remained until 1877, ^^ which year Mr.
Chemidlin was appointed American agent for G. Gaudig
& Blum, which position he held from 1877 to 1885.

Mr. Chemidlin died September 17, 1888.




Louis Briefner began his highly honorable and suc-
cessful career in the fur business in New York in 1861,
and during his active life in the trade, covering more
than half a century, he conducted at different times all
branches of the business, manufacturing, importing, ex-
porting, and dealing in raw furs purchased direct from
trappers and collectors throughout the country. As the
years progressed he took his sons successively into
partnership, and from the beginning the business was
faultlessly conducted, and Mr. Briefner was freely ac-
corded the highest esteem of all shippers and competitors
in the trade at large.

Louis Briefner died May 12, 19 16, aged seventy-six.


John K. Cilley began his successful mercantile
career in New York City in the general commission
business, but very early relinquished the produce depart-
ment, which he found rather distasteful, and in associa-
tion with Washington Belt, under style Belt & Cilley, de-
voted his attention to raw furs and wool, in which branch
of trade he attained a commanding position, and was
favorably known in America and Europe.

In 1 88 1 the firm was dissolved, and Mr. Cilley con-
tinued the business as J. K. Cilley & Company with
marked success until 1893, when he was elected presi-
dent of the Ninth National Bank of New York. In con-
sequence of this change in his affairs Mr. Cilley with-
drew from mercantile life, and the fur business he had
so long conducted was taken over by Joseph L. Cilley,


his brother, in partnership with N. D. Marshall. On
May I, 1894, owing to the death of Mr. Marshall, the
firm of Cilley & Marshall was dissolved, and Joseph L.
Cilley continued the business individually until May,
1898, when it was liquidated.

John K. Cilley faithfully served the Ninth National
Bank as its president until 1900, when he retired.

John K. Cilley was born April 13, 1840; died De-
cember 5, 19 1 6.

Joseph L. Cilley was born December 22, 1842 ; died
May 29, 191 1.


Olivier de Comeau entered the fur business as a
general broker in 1858, giving particular attention to im-
portations of cut fur for felting. From March 31, 1876,
to March 31, 1879, he was a member of P. Robinson &
Company, cutters of hatters' furs, Danbury, Connecti-
cut; the firm was dissolved by limitation on the last
named date, and Mr. de Comeau resumed his brokerage
business, handling Scotch, English, German and Aus-
tralian hare and rabbit skins. North American and Cen-
tral American deer skins, and sundry furs; he at one
time attempted to corner deer skins with disastrous re-
sults, but began life anew, and still remains in the field —
the oldest member of the trade daily in active business.


Gabriel Franchere was a lover of the woods, hills
and valleys, and all out doors, and owing to that fact
chose the life of fur trader at a time, early in the nine-
teenth century, when the great west was a wilderness.


Indians on the warpath were more easily met than
avoided, and the only habitations were within the forts
built by pioneer fur traders as centers of collection.

Online LibraryAlbert Lord BeldenThe fur trade of America and some of the men who made and maintain it, together with furs and fur bearers of other continents and countries and islands of the sea → online text (page 16 of 34)