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promote its sale. The skins are appropriate to all sorts of uses in gentlemen's wear, and, when of the darker shades, bring a large price. The cat-lynx, distinct from the lynx, is also a favorite fur at the same fair.
These with the exception of the swan's-down, of which there were several specimens, most of which is used for ornamental and fancy purposes, and for military plumes-constituted the exhibition of North American furs. The European furs were exhibited by themselves, and deserve a distinct notice.
The Russian sable is, perhaps, the most interesting, and it is the most costly of the furs of Europe. The best skins are worth $50 at wholesale price in the market. It is usually manufactured into linings, which are generally used as presents by the Emperor of Russia, the Sultan, and other great potentates, at a value sometimes of $5,000. It is also manufactured into the wearing apparel of the wealthy. Its use in England is mainly confined to the city of London, which city comprises about one-eighteenth of the metropolis called London, where municipal law and custom enjoin its wear by the lord mayor, the alderman, and sheriffs, each having their robes and gowns furred with sable upon all state occasions, according to their rank. It is generally known that the livery of London constitutes the free-holders of the corporation. To be free from certain taxes, to buy and sell certain goods as trades-people, to vote for city officers, and to possess certain other priv ileges, one must belong to the livery-that is, he must be a member of one of some eighty companies, such as the Goldsmiths, Drapers, Pewterers, Ironmongers, Tailors, &c., which have been in existence from five hundred years and more back, paying his annual fees in order to enjoy the freedom of the city. These companies are generally very rich, and have what is called a court, composed of masters, wardens, deputy wardens, &c., whose chief duties appear to be the appropriation of the income of the company they represent towards weekly and monthly public dinners for themselves and wives. These members of the court are obliged to wear a certain dress, lined and faced with Russian sable fur, upon all public occasions; and as these occasions, where the funds of the company are well vested, require observance some fifty times in the year, the market for the sable fur is not likely to be soon dull certainly not so long as Parliament allows London to retain its privileges as a close corporation. The tail of the sable is universally used in the manufacture of artists' pencils and brushes; it being preferable to all other fur. It is also used for muffs and boas. Russia produces about 25,000 of these beautiful and admired skins annually. Naturalists have not yet decided whether this species is identical with that from North America; the fur of the former being much finer, softer, and longer than that of the latter.
The stone-martin, of which several groups were exhibited, is widely spread over Europe, and derives its name from the fact of the animal selecting rocks, ruined castles, &c., as its haunts. The fur, in its natural state, is soft and fine, and shades from a light to a dark bluishgray, taking the color of the rocks among which it is found. The throat is invariably a pure white. The French excel in dyeing this fur, aud it is thence termed the French sable. It is extensively used in England,
and being a permanent color, much like the true sable, it is a great favorite.
The groups of ermine-a fur little known in reality in our countrywere very attractive. For more than a thousand years the fur of the ermine has been associated with the dignity of the throne and the bench. In England, at the coronation of the sovereign, the "minever," as the ermine is styled in heraldic language, is used, being "powdered "—that is, studded with black spots; the spots, or "powdered bars," on the "minever" capes of the peers and peeresses being in rows, and the number of rows, or bars, denoting the degrees of rank. The sovereign and the members of the royal family have the "minever" of the coronation robes powdered all over, a black spot being inserted in about every square inch of the fur. The crown is also adorned with a band of "minever" with a single row of spots. The coronets of the peers and peeresses have also a similar decoration. The black spots are made of the skin of the black Astracan lamb. On state occasions, in the House of Lords, the peers are arrayed in their robes of state, of scarlet cloth and gold lace, with bars, or rows, of pure "minever," more or less, according to their degree of rank-the sovereign alone wearing the pure "minever" "powdered" all over. The judges, in their robes of office, are clad in scarlet and pure ermine. The ermine, with the tail of the animal inserted therein, is used as articles of dress for ladies, in every variety of form and shape, according to the dictates of fashion. The "minever" can only be worn on state occasions by those who, by their rank, are entitled to its use. In the reign of Edward III, furs of ermine were strictly forbidden to be worn by any but the royal family; and its general use is prohibited in Austria at the present time. The ermine is obtained in most countries; but those of the purest white are found in Russia. It is the same animal with the weasel of more southern climes. The animal is killed in the winter, when the fur is pure white, (except the tail, with its jet-black tip,) it being, in that season, in the greatest perfection. In spring and summer it is gray, and of little value. In mercantile transactions the ermine is always sold by the timber," which consists of forty skins. The "minever" fur of olden time was always taken from the belly of the gray squirrel.
The squirrel has, in fact, always furnished an article of fur that has been highly prized in England. At the time just alluded to, during the reign of the third Henry, its fur was included in the sumptuary laws of that period. Even now the amount of squirrel fur used in the kingdom exceeds nearly three-fold that from all other animals. The greatest importation of this fur is from Russia, though vast quantities come from North America. The importation for 1850 exceeded two millions of skins from Russia alone. The fur of the Russia gray-squirrel is esteemed more highly for its glossy surface than any other. It is manufactured entirely for ladies' and children's wear. For cloak and mantle linings it is particularly suitable, its moderate cost adapting it to general use. The celebrated Weisenfels linings are manufactured from the belly of the dark blue squirrel. The exquisite workmanship and lightness of these linings are without parallel-a full-sized cloak lining weighing only twenty-five ounces. This favorite commodity is known as the petit gris. For colder climates the linings are made from the back, or plain gray part of the squirrel, (the belly part being white,) the best qualities having the
tail left upon the skin. The lighter colors of squirrel skins have lately been dyed to resemble sable, and are successfully palmed off upon the -public as that article.
Some forty years ago, the fitch, or polecat, furnished one of the most popular kinds of furs. Its color was rich-the top hairs a jet-black, the ground a rich yellow-and its durability surpassed all other furs. As it could be never entirely rid of its odor, it was gradually banished from use in personal wear, and is now a drug, comparatively, in the market.
Various specimens of lamb skins were shown at different stalls in the Exhibition. Among these, the best were from the Crimea and Astracan, though beautiful color and exquisite softness characterized many that were brought from Persia, Hungary, and Spain. The Russian department also exhibited some lamb skins, dressed in a peculiar style, for gentlemen's coat linings, and for many purposes. The Astracan lamb possesses a rich, wavy, glossy, black skin, extremely short in the fur, and having the appearance of watered silk. Upon inquiry as to how this appearance was produced, it was ascertained that, in order to obtain the perfection of lamb skins, the mother sheep is killed before the birth of her offspring. Hardly less beautiful than the Astracan is the Persian gray and black lamb fur, covered as it is by the minutest curls possible. This, too, is produced not by natural means, but by a method of sewing the lamb up tightly in a skin as soon as it is born, and not removing it until the desired curl is produced. Both these furs are costly, but they are very much desired for military cloaks upon the continent. The national coat, called Juhasz Bunda, of Hungary, is made from lamb skin; and the short jacket of Spain, adorned with silver filigree buttons, is from the same material. In the reign of Richard II the sergeantat-law wore a robe furred inside with white lamb skin, and a cape of the
The cat skin, whether of the wild cat of our northern forests or of the "tabby" of the fireside, is again coming into favor. The Hungarian wild cat, from its greater size, longer fur, gray color, spotted with black, and its peculiar strength, is most esteemed; but all furs of the cat are now in requisition; and so great was the demand during the fall months of the present year for the article that hundreds of thousands of domestic cats in England were stolen and bagged for the market.
The show of seal skins was perhaps the best in the way of furs With the history of this animal, so far as its skin furnishes commercial employment, we are far more familiar than our English cousins.
The seal is found in the cold climates of the North and South, and is procured by our whalers both for the value of its oil and the demand for its skin. The skins, when taken from the animal, are salted and packed in casks. When opened, they are assorted: those suitable for leather pass into the tanner's hands, making a beautiful material for ladies' shoes; those suitable for the furrier-the blue-black, the hair, and the silver seal-are dressed and sold. The manufacture of the seal fur is brought to a high state of perfection. When the skin is divested of the long coarse hair, which protects the animal in its native element, there remains the rich, curly, silky, yellowish down, in which state it was long used for travelling caps in our northern and eastern States. These having now been proscribed by fashion, the fur is dyed a beautiful van
dyke brown, giving it the appearance of rich velvet; and it is made into every variety of shape and form for the wardrobe.
The chinchilla is exclusively obtained from South America. It is about 40 years since it was first introduced into the European market. Of all other furs it has held its ground, having had nearly the same demand, and selling for the same price, since it was first used. Its extreme softness and delicacy confine it to ladies' wear.
Leaving the torrid zone, we will say a word upon the skins which were exhibited from the tropics. There were fine specimens of the skins of a lion, tiger, leopard, and panther exhibited in the Indian department-that is, in the department devoted to products from the East India Company's possessions. There is little of interest connected with tropical furs or skins, excepting as connected with the uses they subserve in various countries. In China, the mandarins cover the seat of justice with the skin of the tiger. In Austria, the small fine leopard skin is worn as a mantle by the Hungarian noblemen of the Imperial Hussar Body Guard. In England, the use of the leopard's skin as housing for the saddle is forbidden to officers below a certain rank.
The Angora goat of Asia Minor is remarkable as producing a long, curly, rich, white, silky coat. It was formerly a most costly and fashionable article of female wear, but has now gone into disuse. When dyed, it takes some of the most beautiful and brilliant colors. It is also woven into rugs for drawing-rooms, halls, carriages, &c.
There is an aquatic bird found in the large lakes of northern Europe called the Grebe, (Podiceps cristata.) It is also killed in the forests of Germany. The feathers taken from it are of the purest white, having the appearance of polished silver, the plumage on the outer edge of the skin being a rich dark brown. It is one of the most durable of feathers, the smoothness of the surface preventing its soiling in wear, and is at the present time in great favor for the dresses at court.
Of the universally used downs-the swan, goose, and eider-nothing new can be said. In the neighborhood of the specimens of these was exhibited the duck bill platibus, a native of Australia-a bird whose existence was long denied by naturalists. It is certainly one of the most extraordinary animals in nature, supplying a sort of connecting link between the bird and the beast, having the claw and body of the latter, with the bill and web-foot of the duck. The male is furnished with two powerful spurs on each hind-leg, similar to the game cock. The female lays eggs, which she hatches, and then suckles her young brood. The skin strongly resembles that of the otter, but seldom exceeds twelve inches in length. Many attempts have been made to take them alive, but without success.
Passing from the raw skins and furs to the articles manufactured from them, but little need be said. There is probably no article of commerce in which so much deception is practised as in furs-and this not upon the wearers only, but also upon all buyers after the skins have left first hands. Among the great exhibitors, after the Messrs. Nicholay, were Messrs. Robert Clarke & Son, Mr. Ellis, the Messrs. Pawson, Mr. Sampson, and Messrs. Lutge & Co., all furriers of London. The manufactures of the Messrs. Nicholay, however, far surpassed the others, and it is said that so great is their skill and influence, that the prevailing style of furs for the London season depends upon their decision. The seal
fur has been upon the decline in trade for several years, while imports to the market have increased. Among their display were to be seen dresses of seal fur, colored a vandyke brown, for her Majesty the Queen, and for the princesses, whereupon, for the present winter, the demand for seal dresses has so far outrun the supply that the price of the article has greatly increased.
M. Rea, of Paris, exhibited a muff and boa made of the down which forms the military and state plume known as the aigrette, procured from a bird called the eigret, which ought not to pass unnoticed. This material is far more costly than even the most choice of the eider down. Its rarity is so great, that three other sets only have been made during the present century, viz: one for the Empress of Russia, one for the Duchess of Berri on her marriage, and one for the Princess Adelaide, sister of Louis Philippe. The articles are beautiful beyond all description, as the reader will judge they ought to be at a price of 500 guineas.
The use of carpets is far more universal in the United States than in any part of Europe. The floors of concrete, which are almost universal in houses of the middle and humble class upon the continent, are nearly unknown in our country; while the polished deal and oak, universal in the baronial halls and palaces, with or without the addition of parquetrie, have never to any extent been introduced across the water. Of course upon the subject of carpets little can be written that would be useful or interesting in a Report like this, and the subject is referred to more for the reason that several very important improvements have of late been introduced into carpet-manufacturing abroad, the knowledge of which may be serviceable to our own carpet-makers, than for anything else. With a few words of preface in reference to the past history and present condition of this branch of industry, we will immediately proceed to describe what those improvements are.
Carpets are entirely a modern luxury. It was not until the seventeenth century was somewhat advanced that carpets were considered a necessary article of furniture by the wealthy; and up to so late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, whether in the United States or Europe, the use of carpets was exclusively confined to the independent in means of living, it not to the wealthy. The first carpets used in England were brought from Persia. In after years, for the space of nearly half a century, the greatest importation of them was from Flan. ders. The former country still furnishes its small quota of supply for the European demand; but France has for many years past supplanted Flanders in supplying the richer classes with the best specimens of design and coloring. Persian carpets are now what they always were in manufacture and design. Like the manufacturers of China, India, Turkey, and Tunis, they show no improvement; and it is evident that the day is not far distant when their manufacture will become as extinct as the manufacture of cottons, for which India was once so famous.
Contrary to universal belief, there are but few kinds of carpets. The mode of operation pursued in producing tapestry and Tournay, Axminster and Wilton-names given at the caprice of the maker, and in most instances neither indicating the locality of the manufacture nor the quality