Beaver trappers tanned the fur for trading, saved the castor from scent glands for baiting other beavers, used fat for cooking and make-shift candles, cooked the tail in soup, and polished the teeth for trade with Native Americans [4] Beavers were tough to hunt. London: Routledge, 1993. Since 1993, Fausz has traveled the state, sharing his treasure chest of history with everyone from kids to senior citizens. Exchange at first was haphazard and it was only in the late sixteenth century, when the wearing of beaver hats became fashionable, that firms were established who dealt exclusively in furs. The British export data indicate that demand for beaver hats was growing not just in England, but in Europe as well. Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment. In 1829, Auguste Chouteau, the "patriarch of St. Louis," died. Although many hunted into old age, their sons did not follow suit. There are far fewer prices available for Paris, but we do know that in the period 1739 to 1753 the trend was also sharply higher with prices more than doubling. when Fort visitors ask “how much was a beaver pelt worth?” to let me know, The constraint was relaxed when carotting was developed, a chemical process by which parchment skins were transformed into a type of coat beaver. For example, a marten (a type of mink) was a made beaver, a blanket was 7 made beaver, a gallon of brandy, 4 made beaver, and a yard of cloth, 3? The French, by contrast, moved into the interior, directly trading with the Indians who harvested the furs. without any date or source notation, circulating around Ft. Vancouver NHS, including a set encased in plastic and placed under the counter in the Indian Trade Shop, to aid in interpreting that location for park visitors. It was the end of an era. What remained a constant was the material from which hats were made – wool felt. “Agency Problems in Early Chartered Companies: The Case of the Hudson’s Bay Company.” Journal of Economic History 50, no. James Henry Gilbert, http://www.nps.gov/fova/historyculture/upload/Hussey%20HSR%202.pdf. The Ecological Indian: Myth and History. Designer - Tracy Ritter McManus, John. You can tell by the price — 10 pelts for a musket. By 1848, beaver hats could be purchased for as little as 12 shillings. Hats of wool felt were much less expensive, at 50 cents to $1.00. London: Studio Editions, 1990. To join the newsletters or submit a posting go to, The Economic History of the Fur Trade: 1670 to 1870, http://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economic-history-of-the-fur-trade-1670-to-1870/. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978. Beavers were a top trade animal. Any permanent increase, however, was ultimately dependent on the animal resource base. "Exports are tied to the prevailing fashion trends, primarily in Europe," Hamilton explains. Attempts were also made, not always successfully, to introduce new products (Carlos and Lewis, 2002). Fall beaver skins were lighter than those trapped in the spring, as spring beavers still had the heavy winter coat. Ginsburg Madeleine. Here is a passage from page 191: “The price of a beaver skin in the What was worth the most? Of course styles changed, and, in response to the vagaries of fashion and politics, hats took on various forms and shapes, from the high-crowned, broad-brimmed hat of the first two Stuarts to the conically-shaped, plainer hat of the Puritans. Boarding houses, banks and bars lined streets for two miles inland. However much hats may be considered an accessory today, they were for centuries a mandatory part of everyday dress, for both men and women. The Rocky Mountains were the last bastion of the beaver. The records of the Hudson’s Bay Company provide us with a unique window to the trading process, including the bargaining ability of Native traders, which is evident in the range of commodities received. See. course, any other questions or comments are also welcome. They were fashionable across much of Europe during the period 1550–1850 because the soft yet resilient material could be easily combed to make a variety of hat shapes (including the familiar top hat). F(X) = aX – bX2, a, b > 0 (1). Leghorn hats, … It's free and you can opt out anytime! In 1821, the Northwest Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company merged under the name of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Fur trapping was hard, grueling work, and helped settle the West. The archaeological evidence indicates an extensive trade between Native tribes in the north and south of North America prior to European contact. Mountain men had a hard life. I’ve seen two different dates for this list — 1704 and 1793. Carlos, Ann M., and Frank D. Lewis. The Europeans, it might be noted, supplied no food to the trade in the eighteenth century. Beaver pelts: 1 trapper, 1 post, 1 company, 1 year. each fort and employee had a certain amount of discretion that they could use in order to drive a hard bargain as they saw fit. Hunters were offered some trade goods on credit — a whole new way of commerce. Ironically, Auguste was just as comfortable in Osage lodges carved from tree bark. Although beaver was quite coveted by traders, Europe also had a market for lynx and marten furs as well as feathers of Canadian ducks, geese, and swans. For example, one beaver pelt could buy either one brass kettle, one and a half pounds of gunpowder, a pair of shoes, two shirts, a blanket, eight knives, two pounds of sugar or a gallon of brandy. Ray, Arthur J. and Donald Freeman. The fur trade dates far back in North American history. A final note — a beaver pelt in a circular frame was called a plus, pronounced “ploo.” It was also called a “blanket,” and still is. The opening of the North American trade not only increased the supply of skins for the felting industry, it also provided a subset of skins whose guard hairs had already been removed and the keratin broken down. As Ashley M notes in the comment above, even when a monetary value was set by Company policy, local managers used their discretion in specific circumstances. Missis Karen: If I had more links, I would have put them in the text of this posting. Conservation agents work with their neighbors to protect Missouri's resources. The items have been grouped by use. It was, according to University of Missouri-St. Louis history professor Fred Fausz, a "noisy, smelly, violent and raucous place.". Only the wool can be felted. “Changes in English and Anglo-American Consumption from 1550-1800.” In Consumption and the World of Goods, edited by John Brewer and Roy Porter, 177-205. "Here are metal buttons, shiny red beads, some little bells," Fausz says. It was also necessary that some of the barbs on the short hairs be raised or open. Antique Beaver Fur Top Hat & Leather Carry Case Box. Berkes, Fikret, David Feeny, Bonnie J. McCay, and James M. Acheson. The Restoration of Charles II of England in 1660 and the Glorious Revolution in 1689 brought their own changes in style (Clarke, 1982, chapter 1). In a table entitled “Annual Consumption of Apparell, anno 1688,” King calculated that consumption of all types of hats was about 3.3 million, or nearly one hat per person. Rich, E. E. Hudson’s Bay Company, 1670 – 1870. The wintering clerks at those fur posts kept detailed records of what trade goods sold the best; the owners read their comments very carefully to help them plan their purchase orders. But the wind soon changed and a cold northwestern wind made it impossible to work. At Fort Albany the number of beaver skins over the period 1700 to 1720 averaged roughly 19,000, with wide year-to-year fluctuations; the range was about 15,000 to 30,000. "Both Indians and Europeans admired this ingenious and industrious rodent," says Fausz during a lecture. FAST 'N FREE. People delivering pelts to the Indian Trade Shop, in turn, were getting widely different amounts of goods depending on the item being traded--all in comparison to the monetary cost of those items to the Company and the retail prices charged for them in its store. Buffalo skins were also exported, although they were quite impervious to bleaching and drying. To show how drastically the value of beaver pelts fell, in 1810 one prime beaver pelt was worth more than three buffalo robes. Vol. where X is the population, F(X) is the natural growth in the population, a is the maximum proportional growth rate of the population, and b = a/X, where X is the upper limit to population size. There's more than one way to identify a fish. Nevertheless, despite the limited time spent in commercial activity, the fur trade had a profound effect on the nature of the Native economy and Native society. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991. Following these unusually strong years, the trade fell precipitously so that in 1756 fewer than 6,000 beaver pelts were received. Beaver pelts imported from North America were classified as either parchment beaver (castor sec – dry beaver), or coat beaver (castor gras – greasy beaver). 13, No. Their primary use is for Stetson hats. Purchases would then be deducted from the credit they had "on the books." Corner, David. From this time until March [1862], extremely cold weather continued. Beavers are still one of the primary furs exported to Europe. They brought opportunity: Laclede wanted furs to ship to Europe, while the Indians admired French iron, brass, blankets and firearms. Aristocrats turned to silk hats, while European commoners donned wool caps. These were called “felt hats.” Unfortunately, aggregate consumption series for the eighteenth century Europe are not available. The breakdown differed by post and varied over time; but, for example, in 1740 at York Factory, the distribution was: producer goods – 44 percent; household goods – 9 percent; alcohol and tobacco – 24 percent; and other luxuries – 23 percent. The view is that Natives had a fixed demand for European goods that, at higher fur prices, could be met with fewer furs, and hence less effort. Carlos, Ann M., and Frank D. Lewis. The contents could be on a flea market's 10 cent table. Felt dates back to the nomads of Central Asia, who are said to have invented the process of felting and made their tents from this light but durable material. The beaver returns at Fort Albany and York Factory for the period 1700 to 1770 are described in Figure 2. All I know is that for all of time, beaver has been loved and desired by man... this didn't answer my original question but I learned a few new things. II of his 1976 "Historic Structures Report" in this downloadable, for John McLoughlin's comments (including the need to adjust trade values on the spot to meet American competition) and the detailed list for Outfits 1843 and 1844. It showed friendliness to the tribes; it also helped demonstrate how to use a new product, which made it more desirable. “The Economics of Clothing in the Late Seventeenth Century.” Textile History 22, no. In Lion of the Valley, historian Neal Primm describes the unique Chouteau Osage alliance: "The Osage trusted and respected the [Chouteau] brothers, both of whom ... lived with them periodically for nearly twenty years" and "could think as they thought, speak as they spoke and live as they lived.". Untamed water stretched in every direction, and traders could navigate flat-bottom boats upriver to meet Indians, sailing back downstream with precious furs for Europeans. Hunters had to dig around beaver lodges, laying a net to thwart escape, or crash through the top of the lodge, spearing the beaver. The pattern of beaver returns at York Factory – high returns in the early 1740s followed by a large decline – strongly suggests that, as in the Fort Albany hinterland, the beaver population had been greatly reduced.

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