Beaver Skin Manufacture

The trading and using of Beaver fur became very popular during the 1500’s. It usually took place between the Indians and the Europeans. The most common use for the fur that was traded was in the manufacture of hats. These continued to be popular until the 1800’s when beavers became scarce and people began to manufacture hats from other materials, such as Silk.

In Beaver manufacture in these times, the animals were hunted for food, the use of the pelt was just a means of reducing waste. This meant that no part of the animal was wasted. Gradually people realised how well Beaver fur felted, how many uses there was for it and how valuable it was and Beavers became hunted to the point of near extinction.

To obtain Beaver fur, the animal is skinned. The whole pelt can be used in applications such as buttons and shoes, or the fur can be shaved off. The guard hairs and the under hairs are then separated for use in different things. Beaver fur felts really well because the hairs are barbed.

The trapping of Beavers has been monitored and regulated since 1926 so that Beaver doesn’t become extinct.

Properties of Beaver

  • Keeps its shape well
  • Can get wet without being affected
  • Felts really well
  • Made from a by-product of the meat industry
  • Warm to wear
  • Versatile
  • Coarse
  • Waterproof Properties
  • Lightweight
  • Ranges in colour from light brown to almost black
  • Lasts well
  • Really good quality
  • Thick Pelt

Uses of Beaver in Fashion Past and Present

  • Usually felted and used to make hats. These were called ‘Beaver skin hats.’
  • Collars
  • Cuffs
  • Muffs
  • Shoes
  • Buttons
  • Fur coats

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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