Beginning of the Fur Trade
The fur trade
has been around for as long as people have been wearing clothes.
Animals were hunted for food, and their pelts
worn for protection.
The use of the
hair from animal pelts to make felt
was probably started by wandering peoples in Central Asia. They
used the hair of goats, sheep, camels and other animals to
make their tents. They found that felt lasted a long time and was
easily made. One of the best furs for making felt was beaver.
It became very valuable.
is a cloth made by pressing, heating or treating animal hair
with chemicals. It is valuable because it is waterproof, moldable,
and doesn't wear out easily. The best kinds, like beaver, are
very soft and smooth.
peoples such as the Chinese, the Greeks and the Romans used it as
padding under heavy armour, or to stop arrows. After the fall
of the Roman Empire, the art of making felt was lost in Western
Europe. It did not come back until two things happened: First,
crusaders visiting Constantinople
saw the fine hats and other clothes worn by people there and learned
how they were made. Second, a great invasion into Russia forced
many felt makers west into Europe.
By the year
1600, the need for more beaver fur exploded. European beavers
were dying out because of over-hunting, and new fashions, like hats,
used lots of beaver felt. Which was why the discovery of the
North American beaver was like a miracle to hat-makers!
Preparing the Furs
was beaver fur so valuable?
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