Martens are related to mink, Otters, Badgers and Weasels. Martens were very widespread across Britain until the 1800s. It was around this time that its numbers started to decline. By 1900, Martens were at their lowest numbers since records began. One of the reasons for this was the loss of woodland occurring; the most common however was the value of the Marten Pelts and the fact that they were hunted for this.
Marten pelts were traded all through the 1600’s along with Beaver, Otter and Sable. They were usually traded between the Indians and the Europeans, usually the French. By 1870, most fur trade had ended and with the increase of fabrics such as silk for fashion items it began to decrease rapidly long before.
Martens are easily harvested and for this reason, it is easy to over-harvest them. By 1912 the Marten population was protected and because of low numbers of Martens it was banned completely between 1937 and 1973.
Today the Pine Marten is protected and it is illegal to kill them.
Properties of Martins
- Colour varies from yellow to dark brown
- Highly Priced
- Easy to process
- Silky Fur
Uses of Martins in Fashion Past and Present
- Used extensively for garments called Zibellini in the 1500’s, most commonly in Northern Italy. This was a full body pelt worn purely as a fashion accessory and it was usually heavily embellished with jewels.
- Used as stoles in the 1930’s and 40’s complete with head and feet
- Fur trims
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