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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dent feeder, and wonderfully considerate of the needs
of fox posterity.


Maryland trappers and foxes are active competi-
tors in catching terrapin ; but, paradoxical as it may ap-
pear, if the trapper would systematically devote all his


time to trapping foxes to the extreme of extermination,
he would catch more terrapin — later. The terrapin,
after the manner of other members of the tortoise tribe,
crawls up on the beach to lay its eggs in the sand, and in
so doing leaves a broad trail which the fox follows until
it finds the place where the eggs were deposited — and
that closes the history of the hatch; one fox will find,
dig up and devour all the eggs laid by a number of ter-
rapin, and, unless he is captured, brer fox will continue
to feast on terrapin eggs to the end of the season.

A young fox will find a buried terrapin nest as
readily as an old animal, and manifestly knows a terra-
pin trail and the meaning of it the first time it sees one ;
just how it acquired this particular knowledge, unless
its mother taught it, is an interesting mystery ; there are
very few terrapin, all lay their eggs only once a year and
very nearly at the same time, where they cannot be dis-
covered by sight or scent.

If we knew how much dumb animals know, our
fund of information, probably our knowledge, would be
materially increased.


Tails, which for a part of the anatomy of most
furry, hairy and feathered animals, are not merely
ornamental, but are serviceable in many ways, and es-
sentially so. Equines and bovines use their tails as ever
ready and effective fly swatters, and thus escape the
cruel intentions of many fierce foes.

Canines wag their tails vigorously as an expression
of joy upon meeting a human friend; wag them very
differently — slowly and doubtfully, when first meeting


another canine; maintain them extended and rigid on
scenting or pointing a bird, and move them slowly from
right to left and the reverse when running a trail.

The beaver uses its tail as a helm when swimming,
a trowel when engaged in building its lodge or dam, and
in sounding an alarm on the approach of an enemy.

The round tail of the muskrat serves the animal as
a rudder in its tortuous course through the water.

The squirrel has a handsome bushy tail which aids
the animal in maintaining its balance as it swiftly runs
along the branches of high trees ; the tail turned forward
over the back deflects light winds which would ruffle and
penetrate the fur ; the tail serves to cover and protect the
feet while the squirrel is sleeping.

The otter employs its tail as a helm in swimming, and
in steering its course when sliding down steep river
banks. The tail of the opossum serves the animal as a
fifth hand in climbing, and is very freely used in de-
scending from one branch to another which could not
otherwise be reached; all opossums and most monkeys
have prehensile tails, and they use them freely.

When frightened, angered, or about to engage in
battle, most members of the cat family very expressively
whisk their tails from side to side, and beat the ground
with them more and more rapidly to the instant of
springing upon their foe, or dashing away in retreat.

Careful observers understand this tail language
fairly well, but it doubtless means much more to those
who wear the tails in manifest appreciation of their
manifold utility.


Infant fur-bearers are not invariably named after
their parents, but are designated in the fur trade by
titles and terms which shatter all family relations and
which, if heard, would bewilder a naturalist, and para-
lyze a philologist.

The American marmot is called a prairie "dog,"
because it barks — a sound reason, but one not uniformly
observed in naming fur-bearers; very young muskrats
are called kittens, though they utter no cat-like cry, have
f urless tails and swim like ducks and fish.

The offspring of a musk ox is a calf ; but both par-
ents are always mentioned as musk oxen — no one ever
heard of a musk cow.

The prize goes to the seal ; the mature male is a bull,
the female is a cow, and the offspring regardless of sex
are pups, are sometimes called cubs, and when one year
old the males are designated as bachelors — taken col-
lectively seals and sealing are officially referred to as the
seal fishery.

The aged goat is known as Billy, the female as Nan-
nie, and the offspring as kids ; this seems to prove, if at
all affirmative, that the goat is more nearly allied to the
genus homo than any other species, and accounts for the
headiness of both.

The Ainos, natives of the Kurile Islands, are so
completely covered with hair that the Japanese assert
that they are descended from bears, but are too mani-
festly human to be killed as fur-bearers. Research
might prove them to be the posterity of Esau.


iHaterta MtUta

Fur-bearers contribute to the real pleasure and
comfort of man by furnishing him with warm clothing,
oil for lighting and lubricating purposes, delicious food,
tools and weapons, prophetic warnings regarding that
absorbing subject, the weather, and additionally pro-
mote his welfare by supplying him with sundry specifics
of great curative power. In some of the truly rural dis-
tricts of England it is believed that the tongue of a fox,
cut from the living animal, renders the person carrying
it immune to all diseases — we would except brain strain.

This remedy has a serious drawback, as the person
using it is sure to die very soon after meeting a fox at a
place where two roads cross — and ought to die much

Marrow from the large bones of the stag was for-
merly prescribed as a cure for certain diseases, but was
valued only by English physicians of the very old school ;
in recent times it has been taken internally to relieve a
"ravenous" appetite.

In some cantons of Switzerland colds and other af-
fections are promptly cured, it is said, by a dose consist^
ing of five or six drops of the blood of the steinbok
taken in a glass of wine ; in the United States the home-
opathic quantity of blood is considered unnecessary,
"rock and rye" being independently effective. In rural
England many believe that a sty on the eye may be cured
by brushing the eye with a hair plucked from the caudal
appendage of a black cat ; the same treatment serves as
a preventive. In former days the right forefoot of a
hare was carried in the pocket, any pocket, as a pre-



ventive of rheumatism, and doubtless was as eflfective as
a horse chestnut persistently toted for the same purpose.
The negro voodoo doctor, even in enlightened America,
still carries a rabbit foot somewhere about his person
and considers it an irresistible charm, working good to
himself and evil to his enemies.

Bear fat once ranked very high as a never-failing
remedial agent for increasing the growth of the human
hair ; but as the supply was small, and adulterants were
freely used, patients were put to it to catch their own
bears as the only sure means of obtaining the genuine
article. Bear galls are regularly used. Castor, a pun-
gent substance found in two sacs in the beaver, has long
been considered as an excellent antispasmodic; beaver
"castors" are regularly collected in Canada and the
United States in quantity, and offered at the London
public sales of furs.

The odorous fluid secreted in the pouch of the civet
was at one time quite generally prescribed by practicing
physicians, and though it "worked wonders" has been
superseded by more or less potent specifics procurable at
lower cost.

Muskrat skins, worn with the fur next to the person,
will relieve, if they do not cure, the severest case of asth-
ma ; the fur is warm and electrical, and is more protective
against cold than softest knitted fabrics ; the skin should
be worn over the lungs, both on the chest and back.

Cat skins, to be worn in the same way are recom-
mended in cases of lung trouble ; a live kitten, owing to
the fact that cat fur is charged with electricity, would
be even more efficacious, but is not so easily applied or
retained in the position where it will "do the most good."

In China and India the fat of the tiger is used in
single and compound forms to cure rheumatism; and
nearly all parts of the body are said to possess valuable
remedial properties.

Some Chinese doctors, who are not anxious to pro-
cure testimonials, prescribe or administer the scrapings
of deer horns as a sure cure for vertigo; it is doubtful
if any one but a Chinaman can take the remedy without
contracting the disease.

In some sections of the United States where every
one has a remedy to offer, skunk oil is considered an
infallible cure for rheumatism, stiff joints and all ach-
ing bones, and doubtless does soften and assuage; but
mortals endowed with supersentitive olfactory organs
regard the remedy as worse than the disease. The pun-
gent fluid which characterizes the skunk, and is gener-
ally dreaded, is also credited with wonderful medicinal
qualities, and is occasionally prescribed in cases of asth-
ma — but most sufferers choose to endure the ills they
have rather than fly to a remedy they know so well.

Furriers prepare deer skins for invalids, not to be
taken as medicine, but to be used as cool, restful couches,
for which purpose they are incomparable.


The raccoon as an efficient destroyer of harmful
grubs and insects is invaluable to agriculturists, and as
a fur-bearer is of great worth to furriers if captured
when the fur is prime; it has remained for the legisla-
ture of the great State of Pennsylvania to classify the
raccoon as a game animal, and to legalize its capture in
September — at which time the fur is valueless — to grat-
ify selfish Keystone "sports." In some parts of the
country the raccoon is hunted by men, boys and dogs on
all moonlight nights, and in defending itself is game to
the last, but not in the sense comprehended by framers
of game laws, most of which are strangely human in
that they are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Kill-
ing raccoon just to kill and calling it sport, is a perver-
sion of terms outclassed only by the declaration that
"war is a blessing in disguise."

Some men count it sport to attend a hanging, wit-
ness a prize fight, or view with delight a revolting battle
to the death between two cocks; if these "sports" were
autocrats, men, coons and birds would soon vanish from
terra firma, and the only pleasure remaining for the
sports would be the final sporty act of "dog eat dog."

^tr (Buxtin in. Hamtision

We close the records with a brief reference to a
man of vision, who knew his own times so well that he
was able to clearly scan the age in advance, discern the
needs of his immediate contemporaries, those just com-
ing upon the scene, and the throng following; he was
not only able to perceive, but was capable of devising,
directing and executing methods of incomparable value
and benefit to the fur trade at large.

Curtis M. Lampson was born in New Haven, Ver-
mont, in 1805; when a young man he sought and found
employment in the fur business in New York, and proved
so attentive and efficient that when an emergency arose
he was chosen as the one best prepared to cope with the
condition, and was despatched to London with all neces-
sary authority in the matter. Mr. Lampson had the fur
trade at heart, and in a short time developed plans, and
interested capital, for having American raw furs sent to
London in quantity to be attractively offered as a unit
on specified dates, convenient alike to shippers and buy-
ers, not at private sale but in public auction, in fair, open
competition to merchants from all parts of the world.

Mr. Lampson became a British subject, we believe,
to more effectually carry out his plans, and in order to
develop to the utmost American fur interests. He chose
London as a permanent center of operation funda-
mentally on account of the fact that he found men and
commercial conditions there pronouncedly in harmony
with his own character, mercantile instincts, and moral
training in his boyhood home.

He found London merchants absolutely honest,


^ir £urtis( iW. Hamps^on


Strictly so in all their transactions; all dealings were
"open and above board," and terms of sale and purchase
were made known in detail in advance, and were
adhered to, come weal or woe, without deviation;
furthermore, he found the London merchants, and in
the main those journeying thither to trade, absolutely
honest in regard to their word ; they honored their word
without a bond, rigidly and more definitely than mer-
chants in some centers respect their signed, sealed and
sworn statements.

Mr. Lampson found London a mercantile field of
greater breadth than any he had known, or of which he
had entertained even vague conceptions; a mercantile
and commercial center in which every commodity of
utility, little or great and no matter where produced or
originating, can be marketed at a consistent price. While
it may be true that there are in London, as elsewhere,
certain speculators in specialties, it is more noticeably
true that there are in that great clearing mart specula-
tors who will purchase any article found on earth, in or
under the waters, because of their confidence that every-
thing can be utilized somewhere.

Furs beautiful or ugly, skins fully furred or furless,
peltries regarded as undesirable in New York, rejected
as temporarily "not in fashion" at Paris, and which meet
with disfavor at Berlin, may be sold at a price to London
speculators who make it their business to familiarize
themselves with the many minor markets as well as the
great commercial centers of the world.

Mr. Lampson also found banking facilities excep-
tionally favorable at London for creating and develop-
ing his enterprise ; this fact was not only personally im-


portant, but was of incalculable advantage to all con-
cerned, merchants and speculators, as London banks
freely made advances on readily marketable goods of
every description, wisely regarding such advances as
specially desirable loans.

Mr. Lampson, in brief, quickly sensed the fact that
all essential conditions for building a permanent busi-
ness of extreme worth to the fur trade abounded at Lon-
don ; and consequently he at once laid the deep and broad
foundations upon which he subsequently erected a super-
structure of world-wide interest — the center of the fur
trade of the universe.

The public fur sales established in London by Mr.
Lampson steadily advanced in magnitude and impor-
tance, and in a very brief period practically all surplus
collections of American raw furs were regularly for-
warded to London to be marketed through the "Lamp-
son Sales" ; shipments, however, were not limited to sur-
plus lots, but included hundreds of bales just as they
were received from country collectors.

These skins were all assorted and graded in the
London warehouse, and the "Lampson assortment"
ranked as the standard, and was invariably found to be
as represented in the catalogue.

The management of the public sales was wise in
detail; when the total receipts of any article sent for-
ward for a particular sale definitely exceeded trade re-
quirements under the existing conditions in leading mar-
kets, instead of offering the entire supply regardless of
the loss certain to be incurred by shippers in consequence
of sharp declines, Mr. Lampson exercised a large meas-
ure of discretion, and considerable quantities were with-


held from sale — the fact was not advertised, or even
privately circulated among shippers or buyers. This is
only one of many ways in which Mr. Lampson was in-
strumental in placing a hitherto somewhat haphazard
trade upon a sound business basis, and a higher plane
than others deemed attainable.

As general interest increased, the scope of the sales
was greatly enlarged; their importance was augmented
by the inclusion of European furs, and then Australian
peltries, and in due course skins from Asia, South Amer-
ica, Africa, and the islands of the sea, including upwards
of 250,000 fur seal skins per annum for the full period
of the catch at its maximum quantity. It is not strange
that this world-war, which closed London as a market of
supply and interchange to so large a part of the civilized
universe, paralyzed the fur trade for many weary months
— and that recovery is as yet only a hope.

Mr. Lampson rendered valuable assistance in mak-
ing the Atlantic cable a certainty, and was noticeably
broad minded and public spirited. England, in recogni-
tion of his worth, conferred upon him the title of

We regret our inability to present a later photo-
graph of Sir Curtis M. Lampson. One was mailed to
us in London, but was withdrawn by the Censor.

We are indebted to A. V. Eraser, Esq., New York,
for photograph shown.

Daniel Leonard, see page 342, died October 26,
191 7, at Richmond, while on his way to Florida. Born
October 3, 1839.

Tables appended show the offerings of raw furs at
the several sales, Messrs. C. M. Lampson & Co., and the
Hudson's Bay Company, and concerns of later date, held
in London by decades for one hundred years, 1813 to
191 2; all the years from the middle of the eighteenth
century might be given, but space will not permit; the
record closes with 1912 owing to the fact that reliable
statistics cannot be given for a later date on account of
bad business conditions in 1913 to 1915, causing many
thousands of skins to be withdrawn from one sale to be
offered in another, and still later sales, no record of the
total number thus manipulated being available.

Table I.




Cat, House

Cat, Wild



Deer and Elk



Fur Seal

Hair Seal




Monkey, African

Musk Ox


Opossum, American . .
Opossum, Australian..

Otter, Land

Otter, Sea



















* 3,221













* 4,167






































Table II. 1853 1863 1873 1883

Badger 955 1,295 1,563 745

Bear 10,774 10,552 12,983 12,088

Beaver 63,902 136,760 169,149 152,725

Cat, House

Cat, Wild 5,426 5,355 13,670 7,094

Chinchilla 48,970 37,785 20,560 25,953


Deer and Elk 88,841 3,100 8,857

Fisher 8,802 8,079 6,627 6,488

Fox 82,905 84,400 111,223 122,821

Fur Seal 2,714 27,986 171,569 171,336

Hair Seal 1,750 16,692 8,776 1,895

Lynx 5,578 7,810 7,280 11,460

Marten .- 101,024 127,310 93,212 104,506

Mink 232,791 93,240 107,015 179,950

Monkey, African 17,686 32,800 23,430 60,541

Musk Ox

Muskrat 1,800,402 2,322,19* 2,600,869 3,031,948

Opossum, American.. 54,407 89,579 250,464 183,160

Opossum, Australian.. 313,339 934,950

Otter, Land 15,626 21,885 16,913 15,912

Otter, Sea 3,005 5,090 5,679

Rabbit 82,430 39,300 6,450 13,600

Raccoon 508,542 478,514 462,516 401,890

Skunk 6,459 99,611 262,472 586,242


Wolf 7,228 8,203 9,228 2,142

Wolverine 1,104 1,374 1,891 1,842

Table III. 1893 1903 1912

Badger 33,074 10,842 23,415

Bear 29,457 33,987 21,172

Beaver 95,009 77,646 60,949

Cat, House 70,001 61,831 120,452

Cat, Wild 4,010 20,028 25,479

Chinchilla 172,048 153,180 27,911

Ermine 6,501 123,915

Deer and Elk

Fisher 7,675 7,003 2,737

Fox 225,149 162,250 213,900

Fur Seal 71,333 158,010 26,619

Hair Seal 4,496 16,674 100

Lynx 13,759 14,091 12,573

Marten 109,314 152,214 55,394

Mink 300,541 253,938 158,940

Monkey, African 123,583 113,583 6,032

Musk Ox 871 1,271 292

Muskrat 3,067,850 3,792,363 5,099,072

Opossum, American ' 371,196 170,708 1,386,410






























Opossum, Australian 1,945,990

Otter, Land

Otter Sea







Civet Cat

During the past twenty-five or thirty years several articles, in
addition to those given in the tables, have been sent forward to the
London Sales from time to time, latterly with fair regularity, to meet
the constantly enlarging demand for fur. Offerings of this character
for one year, 1912, are appended :

Kitt Fox 48,096 Mole 385,593

Russian Sable 4,357 Marmot 24,500

Fitch 1,925 Kolinsky 28,168

Stone Marten 2,874 Dog 8,600

Hare 2,111 Persian Lamb 4,000

Polar Bear 113 Squirrel 280,000

Wombat 8,661 Wallaby 1,258,000

Australian Fox 164,565 Kangaroo 24,725

Chinese skins as follows:

Fox 10303, mink 69,886, marmot 65,329, civet 7,942, otter 505,
kolinsky 64,595, raccoon 77,288, kid 180,685, red fox 16,530, white
rabbit 62,380, moufflon 12,894, dog 47,730, wild cat 774, wolf 1,796,
sable 2,109, Thibet lamb 43,505, Thibet robes and crosses 2,862,
Mongolian lamb 705, dog robes 758, deer rugs 22,221, black goat skins
141,911, grey goat skins 41,649, white goat skins 31,372, mixed gcat
skins 2,985, and small lots of tiger, leopard, civet and house cat skins.

and sheep rugs.


Each generation is wont to regard its own particu-
lar period of activity in commercial and mercantile
affairs as selfish and evil in detail past precedent ; but the
confirmed records of the passing years impress the con-
viction that yesterday was more evil than to-day. Co-
operation is steadily outflanking untoward competition;
devious practices are increasingly giving place to moral
methods in merchandising, local, national and inter-
national; the march of the legions in trade and com-
merce is definitely forwarded from the better, already


compassed, to the best, which is being progressively

The American Fur Trade is progressing, unfolding,
expanding, because it is intensely alive.

Fur serves man successively through each of the
"seven stages" of expanding experience, from bud to
fruition; and on the beginning of the eighth relieves
by a touch of silent beauty the deepening shadows
clustering the exit gate of earthly hopes. The infant in
its carriage is carefully protected, not only from "every
stormy wind that blows," but from genial zephyrs, with
a robe of softest fur ; and onward through all the allotted
years, until the autumnal frosts their withering work
perform, fur most delightfully comforts, shields and pro-
tects; and finally in the prescribed undertakers' rug of
purple, black, white, gold or grey, fur is laid beneath the
casket of kindred color over which chants and sighs
commingle in an enforced farewell.

The untutored Indian dreams of happy hunting
grounds, where game abounds, and the chase will be
crowned with unvarying success; the trapper, who is
that and nothing more, indulges in visions of a material-
istic Eden in which sables exceed the sands in number,
and every fox is black ; and fur-bearers, wild and domes-
ticated, doubtless revel in dreamy forecasts of brilliant
landscapes, gurgling brooks and placid lakes where they
shall enjoy surcease from woeful worry in abiding amity.

Spiritualized man, in his best estate, daily lives
anew in far grander visions, and moves in majestic hope
toward a destiny in nowise comparable to aught he now
knows — not present conditions vastly improved, but a
change in scene and self transcending knowledge before
which vaunting imagination "pales its ineffectual fires."


Alaskan Trophies Frontispiece

American Indian 5

Astor, John Jacob — Portrait

opp. 32

Australian Opossum 394

Aviation 181

Badger Head 246

Beaver 59-255

Bear Head 398

Becker, O. Godfrey— Portrait

opp. 208

Bison, American 219

Bison Hide, Indian Art 376

Black Cat 244

Black Colobus 441

Blustein. David — Portrait, opp. 216
Bossak, Joseph M — Portrait

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 32 of 34)