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

. (page 21 of 34)
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 21 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


entered upon the work of dressing and dyeing. The
members of the firm were popular and progressive, and
made unusually rapid progress in developing a business
of exceptional magnitude. In 1909 the plant was taken
over by Theodore and Abraham Schiff, under title
Schiff Brothers, and continued with pronounced suc-
cess. Theodore Schiff died December 11, 191 5.


Herman Basch & Company in January, 1902, estab-
lished a high grade fur dyeing business in the City of
Churches, and today the "Basch Dyes," which are prac-
tically perfect in points of color and durability, are
favorably known to all leading fur merchants and manu-
facturers. The business has been incorporated and was
recently removed to enlarged premises.


C. & E. Chapal Freres & Co., old established fur
dyers of Paris, France, opened a branch factory in
Brooklyn, N. Y., early in 1904. It is one of the best
equipped plants for the purpose in America, and is espe-
cially organized and manned for dressing and dyeing fur
seal skins as perfectly as the work is done in the cele-
brated establishment at Paris. All other fur skins in
the dyeing class are also handled with equally excellent
results. Muskrat, seal and otter are not only dyed, but
are also perfectly machined.

The firm additionally operates one of the largest,
best equipped and in all respects most modern fur dress-
ing departments in America, in which they dress furs
of all kinds, the workmanship being of the highest order
of excellence in detail.



An exceptionally large and successful fur dressing
and dyeing plant is in ''full time" operation at Newark,
N. J., under the proprietorship of A. Hollander & Son.
The business was founded by A. Hollander, who began
in a small way in every particular except ability, which
was of the order which neither rests nor halts until it
"goes over the top."

Michael Hollander, of the firm, is a young man of
great enterprise and high purpose; he is extremely pro-
gressive, ceaselessly seeks the latest in method, and by
his close attention to quality and "speeding," has car-
ried the plant forward to the first class both in grade and
output. In evidence of the excellence of Hollander dye
a parcel of some thirty thousand seal-dyed muskrat
skins manipulated in the Newark factory were offered in
a regular public sale in London, England, July 2^, 1917.


The Fur Dressers' and Fur Dyers' Board of Trade
was incorporated January, 1908, with Theodore Schiif,
of Schiff Brothers, as first president; the membership
embraced the fur dressing and fur dyeing firms in
Greater New York, Jersey City and Newark. The
Board was organized to correct abuses that were seri-
ously affecting the business, noticeably terms of dating,
deductions for actual and imaginary defects in dressing
and dyeing, harmful methods in competition, and other
matters; the results sought to be effected were worked
out — and dressing and dyeing, and the trade served,
have been immensely benefitted and improved in tone
and condition.



Taxidermy may be considered as the "art preserva-
tive," not of the fur trade, but of fur-bearers, from the
mighty grizzly bear down to the tiny white mouse with
fiery eyes ; taxidermy is furthermore a coordinate branch
of the fur trade, and where furriers most abound taxi-
dermists set up their ensigns and thrive; many taxi-



dermists have enlarged their borders by becoming fur-
riers, or buyers of peltries, as secondary sources of rev-
enue; and some furriers have acquired skill as taxi-
dermists of fair repute — satisfied artisans, if not great

Furriers deserve to be nominated the patron saints,
as they surely are the financial sustainers, of taxiderm-
ists; without their aid and encouragement taxidermy
as an art might exist but would not flourish as at pres-
ent; furriers have done more than the members of all
all other branches of trade combined to develop taxi-
dermy artistically and commercially, to make it very
much more important than the occasional "stuffing" of
a dead pet canary or a lamented tom or tabby.

Once in a while, not oftener, the maker of a pre-
digested breakfast food, or an indigestible soup, may
introduce a bear "brand," or adopt a tiger trade mark,
and, in consequence, require a mounted bear or tiger for
the main office ; now and then a sportsman secures a fine
specimen and has it mounted as a memento of a never-
to-be-forgotten event; occasionally taxidermists are
kept busy for a season mounting big game slaughtered
wholesale by some mighty hunter, one more successful
as a slayer of beasts than as a winner of men with

Wonderful words of war.

Weasel words of hate,
'Possum words of envy —

Words unfit to enunciate.

Gun and ammunition manufacturers, dealers in
sportsmen's goods, and northwestern and Canadian rail-


way companies decorate their offices and show rooms
with mounted moose, deer, antelope, bear and wolf
heads, and in instances entire specimens of animals and
birds. Larger collections are preserved in museums
throughout the country ; the best and most complete dis-
play in this class is shown at the Museum of Natural
History, New York, where perfectly mounted specimens
of practically all species of American wild animals, and
many Asiatic and African specimens, are shown in fam-
ilies and small herds in separate rooms which by the use
of rocks, tree trunks, shrubbery, grasses, leaves and
painted backgrounds, are made to correctly represent
the haunts of the various animals.

All these give the taxidermist much to do, but it is
the furrier who keeps him busy with orders for speci-
mens, show pieces, and mounted heads for rugs.

A furrier, with the aid of a small, oddly-shaped
knife and a common needle, can do many wonderful

A taxidermist, one who is an artisan indeed, using
equally simple tools, can perform startling feats — re-
store unsightly skins of dead creatures to the natural
form and beauty of the animals from which they were
taken ; make them again lifelike, true to nature in every
respect excepting the power to breathe.

Ancient embalmers were semi-taxidermists; their
subjects are well preserved ; modern taxidermists excel,
in that specimens passing through their hands are per-
fectly restored.


dime's (ilf)mQti

Definitely in the Fur Trade,
and possibly in other branches of
business regarding which we are
not fully informed, custom deter-
mines policy and procedure as au-
tocratically as Mrs. Grundy ruled
the world of fashion continuously
adown the years to the close of the
first decade of the present century.
American raw furs were sent
abroad to be publicly sold in world-
wide competition in order to de-
termine market values; any sug-
gestion, however reasonable, that
the method might be at least par-
tially changed with beneficial re-
sults, was scornfully rejected by men of the older gen-
eration with the terse remark: **It is impossible; the
business has never been done any other way."

Manufacturers annually sailed the sea to procure
the latest Paris models; nothing else would do, though
many were extreme, even bizarre, and had to be materi-
ally changed, modified and adapted; but so long as the
"style" could be put forth as "from Paris," though only
a reflection of the original, it was accepted by the de-
votees of fashion, not necessarily as a thing of beauty,
but as an "artistic creation" devoid of the crudities



manifest in American productions — and, of course,
"worth the difference in cost."

The importance of "keeping up with Paris," and
somewhat later and in a lesser degree, Berlin, extended
beyond form or fashion, and embraced the fur; if silver
fox, or fitch, or dyed rabbit, or mole skin were the
"rage" at Paris, they at once ranked first among the
articles in vogue in America. Some of the furs that
were at times the rage in Paris were outrageous, notice-
ably furs dyed green, red, yellow, purple, and pink; but
they sped across the ocean in response to cabled orders,
ran riot in favor for a day, and were succeeded by some
other fad born over night in the gay capital.

Time has wrought many changes; skins are now
publicly sold in quantity at regular intervals in America,
the land of their origin, and will continue to be so sold
in all future time ; though it is not to be understood that
they will not, as heretofore, be also similarly offered

American designers of styles are no longer merely
copyists or adapters, but are artistic, masterful creators
of incomparably beautiful apparel, and more, apparel
combining beauty and utility in the highest degree.

Time has effected an awakening to the fact that
among the hundred millions in America the percentage
of fur wearers is vastly greater than it was when the
population was three million, or when it had increased
to twenty times three million.

Time's changes are noted not only in methods, prac-
tices and rooted opinions, but in men as well. Men
erected buildings and named them after themselves;
struggled, and successfully, to gain leadership and for-


tune; built and toiled and planned, as though conlfident
of living forever — time has swept away the "grand"
three or four-story structures, and in their places has
arisen twenty and thirty lofts piled one upon another;
and the men themselves have passed on into the great
beyond to give place to the present, passing, following
procession. We are not contemplating time's changes
as wrought in the centuries, but as evidenced in less than
a generation — a lesson which it is not wise to lightly
learn. In April, 1886, thirty-one years ago, the Manu-
facturing Furriers' Association of New York was or-
ganized by the following firms :
John Ruszits F. Booss & Bro.

R. Prince Louis Cohen & Bro.

Lyon Brothers Ph. Weinberg & Co.

Asch & Jaeckel L. Loewus & Co.

Harris & Russak Chas. Heidenheimer

E. E. & B. Baldwin Mayers & Rab

Alfred Muenzer H. M. Silverman & Co.

Moses Foltz M. Bermond

Maerlender Bros. Metzger & Schiff

M. Stern Sowdon & Bloch

C. C. Shayne J. Freystadt & Sons

A. E. Harris Kesner & Hall

Chas. A. Herpich E. Kolben

Of the above only the following are still living : E.
E. Baldwin, Hugo Jaeckel, Sr., Edmond R. Lyon, Louis
Cohen, Gerald Lyon, and W. H. Freystadt.

Louis Cohen and Edmond R. Lyon have retired
from the fur business. The only firm still in business
under the same name is that of J. Freystadt & Sons, the
surviving member being W. H. Freystadt.









Are included in the record
because ultimately peltries of
every name and clime are
measurably utilized in the



^outi) Slmerica

Several species of animals valued on
account of their furry coats abound in the
South American States, some of which are
not found elsewhere; the number includes
the chinchilla, otter, coypu, fox, beaver,
skunk, wild cat, wolf, weasel, puma, jaguar,
paco, rabbit and hare; other animals not
' iA % classed as furry, are the deer, elk, goat and
sheep; the best, gauged by fur value, fre-
quent mountainous districts, or lakes,
streams and marches.


Chinchilla is the most beautiful fur ob-
tained on the continent, and in the estima-
tion of those to whom grey is a preferred
I color is without an equal regardless of the
country of origin; it surely occupies first
place among furs in point of delicacy, being
as soft as purified down, and as charming
in color as the rose coming from the same
creative hand ; the exquisite greys, includ-
ing every shade from the lightest to dark-
est, are most pleasingly modulated and nat-
urally blended in harmonious and contrast-
ing association, and no matter in what form it is made
up — cape, collar, muff or border — it strongly attracts
the attention of lovers of the beautiful, and aflPords the



utmost satisfaction to the wearer. Chinchilla fur, which
is particularly suited to young ladies possessing ample
means to indulge in luxurious attire, is always used to
some extent, and at times has been extremely fashiona-
ble, so much "in style" that the animal was nearly exter-
minated a few years since, and surely would have been
utterly destroyed if the government had not intervened
to restrict its unwise and wanton slaughter. In 1883
more than two hundred thousand skins were offered at
the London sales ; during very recent years the offerings
have been only a fraction of that great total, owing in
part to the fact that as an innovation in conducting the
business one leading New York house made direct pur-
chases in South America to more effectively handle the
article as a specialty. In 1883 best chinchilla skins sold
in London at eighteen dollars per dozen, and early in the
present century above one hundred and twenty dollars
per dozen, the great advance being due to scarcity con-
sequent upon excessive slaughter in previous years.

The chinchilla, which is very small, only ten to four-
teen inches in length, including the tail, inhabits sandy



districts in the mountain ranges throughout Chili and
Bolivia, the choicest skins, gauged by purity of color and
density of fur, being procured at the greatest altitudes.

Until near the close of the nineteenth century the
collection of chinchilla skins in Chili and Bolivia ranged
below two thousand dozen pelts per annum, but under
the incentive of the personal solicitation of an American
buyer, who was prepared to pay cash at a higher figure
than had previously been received by dealers and trap-
pers, the annual collection amounted to approximately
thirty-six thousand dozen skins.

Prior to 1896 the bulk of the catch of chinchillas
went to London to be sold at auction, but subsequent to
that date about three-quarters of the collection was
shipped direct to New York.

In September, 191 6, the Chilian government enacted
a law prohibiting the catching, selling and exporting of
chinchillas; this law became effective March 6, 191 7, to
remain in force until March 6, 1922; severe penalties,
fines or imprisonment, or both, are provided for viola-
tions of the law.

After March 6, 1922, it will be permissible to catch
chinchillas, and to sell and export the skins, only during
the four months. May to August, in each year.

Breeding chinchillas is now encouraged by the gov-
ernment of Chili.


The coypu, next in individual value, but exceeding
the chinchilla in general utility, is a reddish-brown
animal intermediate in size between the muskrat and
beaver, inhabiting the river banks and low lands from


Brazil southward, though not to the extreme southern
portion of the continent. A fully grown specimen
measures, tail included, about thirty-five inches in
length; the animal was formerly very abundant in its
native wilds, but now exists in only comparatively small
numbers on account of the greed of Indian hunters, half-
breeds, or Gauchos, and soldiers engaged in the numer-
ous petty wars, by all of whom the coypu was ruthlessly
slaughtered in and out of season to secure the fairly
good price constantly ruling on account of steady de-
mand. Hunters and trappers conduct their operations
from May to October, and cure the skins in the open air
in direct exposure to the rays of the sun, thus reversing
in detail customs in fur trapping and handling in North
America, and all cold sections. The hunters and trap-
pers dispose of their skins to traders, who in turn sell
them to larger collectors who annually visit the known
districts of production, and by whom the skins are baled
and shipped abroad. Coypu skins, like beaver, are quite



often sold by weight; pelts of fair average size weigh
from six to eight ounces each.

Nutria is the name by which both the pelt and fur
of the coypu is exclusively designated and known in the
fur and hat trades of the world. Nutria fur, natural,
plucked uncolored, and plucked and dyed black, is used
in the production of articles of wearing apparel similar
to those made of beaver fur, which in the manufactured
state it so closely resembles in every particular that only
an expert can surely state whether the article is beaver
of medium grade or nutria of superior quality; the
difference in price is marked, in durability comparatively
slight. Nutria fur ranks next to beaver in the manu-
facture of super-fine, durable and costly soft felt hats
for men's wear.

Interested persons in Philadelphia and New York
have made several attempts to acclimatize the coypu, but
with only temporary success, as the specimens procured
soon perished either from cold or for want of proper


The fierce jaguar continues to exist in fairly large
numbers in the tangled forests of South America, where
it will doubtless hold sway to the end of time, as the
value of the skin rarely suffices to induce indolent native
hunters to incur the toil and danger involved in the pur-
suit and capture of the savage beast.

The jaguar is somewhat larger than either the
Asiatic or African leopard, which it resembles in color
and general appearance, but from which it noticeably
differs in having two or three clearly defined black bars


across the breast, and black angular spots, larger than
those marking the leopard, distributed over the entire

The color of the fur of the jaguar, other than the
black spots and figures, varies from a beautiful golden
tint, to a deep shade of brown.

Jaguar skin is used in making neck pieces in various
designs, collars, muffs, automobile garments, and hand-
some floor rugs; the article is classed as "fancy," and
owing to small supply will never have an extended vogue.

Other South American animals valued to some ex-
tent on account of their pelts, include the paco, or vicuna,
which is somewhat larger than the common goat ; it has
a yellowish-brown coat of hair and fur, woolly in tex-
ture, which is occasionally used by furriers as a trim-
ming for exclusive garments. Very fine fabrics are
woven from the fleece of the paco.

The South American otter is exceptionally large,
exceeding six feet in length, but the fur is very short,
unattractive and of no value to furriers.

The fox, small in size and value, outnumbers all
other fur-bearers on the continent, and under stress of a
strong demand has been caught and marketed in large

These rather diminutive foxes are generally known
in the trade as Patagonian kitt foxes.

Lamb skins, suitable for the manufacture of
coats, linings, caps and mats, are regularly exported in


From an unknown age in the misty past down to
the present day, fur-bearing animals of many species
have lived their lives of conflict preying and being preyed
upon in ceaseless alternation, upon practically all the
islands of the sea from the greatest to the diminutive,
surviving, whether fittest or otherwise, in spite of the
devouring fury of a crafty host, or the effort to pre-
empt their "place in the sun" insistently made by man
with the aid of traps, deadly weapons, and trained
hounds, hawks and leopards.

#reat Britain

Several species of fur-bearing animals abounded in
Great Britain, the number including the fox, otter, wild
cat and others; owing to its ferocity and voracity the
last named was systematically exterminated. The fox
and otter remain in some sections, but like the deer are
chiefly of interest to sportsmen.

As early as the middle of the fourteenth century
furs of domestic production were generally worn, but



in the reign of Edward III all persons who could not
afford an annual expenditure of £ lOO were forbidden
to wear furs in any form ; this royal decree passed into
limbo long ago, but the effect is maintained by prevailing
prices which make it impossible for furs to be worn to
any extent by the man of only a hundred pounds a year.

Somewhat later a promising trade in furs was
established between England and Russia, but endured
only briefly, as Queen Elizabeth prohibited the wearing
of imported furs in the interest of the home industry —
and in due course the extinction of domestic fur-bearers
terminated a profitable home trade.

Great Britain, dating from the chartering of the
Hudson's Bay Company in 1670, and particularly dur-
ing the past one hundred years, has occupied a leading
position in the fur business of the world, not on account
of production or consumption, but because of the effi-
ciency, reliability and sound business methods of the
merchants of London, through whose industry and en-
terprise that city became the great center for the receipt
and distribution of raw furs, peltries of every descrip-
tion, annually procured in all parts of the world.

The Hudson's Bay Company collection, entire and
invariably; peltries from the finest to the cheapest per
skin caught in the United States to the aggregate value
of millions of dollars; collections large and small, good
bad and indifferent from every nook and corner of
Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, islands of the sea
and both Poles, have annually been sent to London for
distribution to points of greatest utility and specific in-
terest through the medium of open, equitable public sales
regularly attended by merchants of highest mercantile


standing in every important fur consuming section of
the universe.

These sales are held regularly in January, March,
June and October, notice of exact dates of beginning
and closing being sent some months in advance to the
entire trade ; for many years fur seal skins were offered
at the October sale, but subsequently when but compara-
tively few buyers were interested in the article, fur seals
were offered separately at a special sale held annually
in December.

Owing to the European war no sale was held in
October, 19 14, and only small collections were offered
in January and June, 191 5 ; the October, 191 5, catalogues
embraced full average supplies.

Offerings in October, 1917, comprised: Muskrat
400,000, raccoon 20,000, skunk 120,000, opossum 130,-
000, mink 15,000, civet cat 50,000, mole 150,000, fitch
10,000, wolf 9,000, bear 2,500, fisher 300, lynx 900,
otter 300, beaver 1,200, ermine 5,000, red fox 6,500,
kitt fox 8,000, white fox 750, cross fox 200, silver fox
200, Australian opossum 20,000, wombat 5,000, stone
marten 700, chinchilla 250, grey fox 500, wild cat 1,000,
badger 500, squirrel 200,000, white hares 6,000, mar-
mot 3,000, broadtail i ,000, house cat 7,000, nutria 8,000,
hair seal 200, wolverine 1 50, and sundries.

While these public sales afford merchants and
speculators the incalculable advantage of securing at
most reasonable outlay and on equal terms furs of any
desired description, staple or ultra-fashionable, at a
single center of exchange, the sales are additionally im-
portant to the trade at large owing to the fact that the


prices realized serve as a basis of value for new collec-
tions of raw furs in countries of production.

Some seventy-five years ago Mr. Curtis M. Lamp-
son, a native of Vermont, at that time a young man, was
sent to London by the Southwest Company to super-
vise its interests at the public sales as then conducted,
and upon his reporting that the goods were not manipu-
lated to the best advantage, all subsequent shipments
were consigned to him for sale and distribution in ac-
cordance with arrangements which he had perfected in
co-operation with an experienced dealer and capitalist,
, and which resulted successfully. Mr. Lampson took an
active interest in other enterprises, private and public,
and in consequence of important services rendered by
him in connection with laying the first Atlantic cable
connecting England and America, he was made a baronet
by Queen Victoria in 1866.

Sir C. M. Lampson & Company for many years re-
ceived for public sale all collections forwarded to Lon-
don from the United States, smaller supplies from
Russia, Canada and other places, and the entire catch
of American fur seal skins, and though sales are held
by a number of brokers, and a few years since two pro-
gressive concerns have entered the field at London as

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 21 of 34)