Sold as White hairs inserted in foxes and sables Sold as real or natural furs.
Bears, wild boars, hares, wolves, foxes and wild cats are very common, and in the north sables are found in great numbers.
The Carnivora include bears, wolverines, wolves, raccoons, foxes, sables, martens, skunks, kolinskis, fitch, fishers, ermines, cats, sea otters, fur seals, hair seals, lions, tigers, leopards, lynxes, jackals, &c. The Rodentia include beavers, nutrias, musk-rats or musquash, marmots, hamsters, chinchillas, hares, rabbits, squirrels, &c. The Ungulata include Persian, Astrachan, Crimean, Chinese and Tibet lambs, mouflon, guanaco, goats, ponies, &c. The Marsupialia include opossums, wallabies and kangaroos.
Some Russian sables are of a very dense bluish brown almost a black, which is the origin undoubtedly of the term "sables," while some, from one district in particular, have a quantity of silver hairs, evenly interspersed in the fur, a peculiarity which has nothing to do with age.
Skins of a pale bluish tone are generally used in their natural state for stoles, boas and muffs, but the less clear coloured skins are dyed in beautiful shades similar in density to the dark and valuable sables from Russia, and are the most effective skins that can be purchased at a reasonable price.
They have long been known as "sables," doubtless owing to the density of colour to which many of them attain, and they have always been held in the highest esteem by connoisseurs as possessing a combination of rare qualities.
A furrier or skin merchant must possess a good eye for colour to be successful, the difference in value on this subtle matter solely (in the rarer precious sorts, especially sables, natural black, silver and blue fox, sea otters, chinchillas, fine mink, &c.) being so considerable that not only a practised but an intuitive sense of colour is necessary to accurately determine the exact merits of every skin.
In England, for instance, the dressing of sables, martens, foxes, otters, seals, bears, lions, tigers and leopards is first rate; while with skunk, mink, musquash, chinchillas, beavers, lambs and squirrels, the Germans show better results, particularly in the last.
In Paris, too, they obtain beautiful results in the "topping" or colouring Russian sables and the Germans are particularly successful in dyeing Persian lambs black and foxes in all blue, grey, black and smoke colours and in the insertion of white hairs in imitation of the real silver fox.
The sables, martens, minks and otters are poor in quality, and all of a very yellow colour and they are generally dyed for the cheap trade.
The opportunities for cheating in the fur trade are very considerable, and most serious frauds have been perpetrated in the selling of sables that have been coloured or "topped"; that is, just the tips of the hairs stained dark to represent more expensive skins.
Bears, foxes, otters and sables are numerous, as also the reindeer in the north, and the musk deer, hares, squirrels, rats and mice everywhere.
Sables, ermine, wolverines, minks, land otters, beavers and musk-rats have always been important items in the fur trade.