Furs-How to Grade-Can you tell me how to grade furs?
I am afraid that I cannot tell you much that will be of value and certainly cannot give any of the fine points of fur grading in this limited space. Furs are generally assorted into four grades as to quality-Nos. 1, 2 ,3 and 4-and into three grades as to size-large, medium and small-the buyer keeping in mind the district from which the furs came, for they often average larger or smaller than the standard from one district or another; also finer or coarser furs, etc. Then there is, or should be, a distinction in the color of all such furs as are made up in natural color, such as mink, otter, marten, coon, etc., and most buyers say on their list that quotations are for dark furs, or that extra dark will bring higher prices, anyway you should fully understand what color grade prices quoted refer to before shipping to any firm. Each firm has a somewhat different system and it pays well to study carefully the price list before shipping. These remarks about color apply mostly to mink. If you make a number of shipments to the same firm you will soon get onto their system of grading and then you can grade your furs and estimate their value before you ship them. In grading furs for quality the condition of the skin, whether prime or unprimed, is most important. A prime skin is one that is taken from an animal killed in proper season, when the winter coat is grown out to its full length and density. One a prime skin the fur stands up and is usually rich and lustrous, and the flesh side of the skin is cream colored, white, or pinkish. If it is unprimed the fur is thinner and shorter and lies flatter, and the skin is blue or dark when dry. If the fall the skins turn from unprimed to prime sometimes in a week or two, and when at this turning point about the only difference you can see is in the color of the pelt, but if it shows any dark marks it is unprimed-caught too early. Other thinks that are considered are the way the animal was killed, the way skinned, and the way the skin was cured and cared for. If the skin has a large hole caused by a load of shot at close range, it is not a firs-class fur; if the skin was ripped open when it should have been cased, or if it has the head or tail cut off, or was cut badly in skinning or fleshing, it is lowered in value and grade; if it has not been cleaned of flesh and fat, has been dried to rapidly and is hard and brittle, or dried too slowly so that it heated and slipped the fur in places, or if removed from the board too soon so that it is shrunken and wrinkled, if is not a first class skin. A No. 1 prime skin is one that is fully prime, clean, nicely handled and properly cured. It may be pale or dark and large or small, and it is still a No. 1 but the price varies according to size and color. No. 2 skins are those that were taken a few days too early and are not quite prime, or prime skins that are damaged somewhat, dirty, badly stretched, etc. No. 3 skins are of poorer quality, badly damaged, very coarse thinly furred, etc.; and No. 4 skins are the very poorest, unprimed, tainted skins, or those very badly damaged during curing.
Harding, A.R.. 3001 Questions and Answers. Columbus, Oh: A.R. Harding, 1913.
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