International Fur Store - Hudson Bay House 1906
- Original Designs
- Perfection of Fit
- Best Workmanship
- All Prices Marked in Plain Figures
- Sound Skins and Correct Descriptions Guaranteed
- Renowned for the Finest Furs the World Produces
Only Address: 163-165 Regent Street, London, West
An advertisement from the 1906 Cunard Daily Bulletin, Fashion & Pleasure Resort Supplement.
The International Fur Store also stocks Gentlemens' fur-lined overcoats, ready for immediate wear. For traveling, motoring, driving, etc., at prices from 10 to 500.
Trimmed Russian Sable, Hudson Bay Sable, Otter, and other Furs. Carriage Motor and Traveling Rugs in great variety.
The International Fur Store, Manufacturing Furriers,
163, Regent Street, London, W.
Telegraphic Address: —" Furriery, London." Telephone Number: —" 3,799."
"The International Fur Store: The Finest Furs the World Produces," in the Cunard Daily Bulletin, Fashion & Pleasure Resort Supplement, 1906.
History of The International Fur Store
One cannot fail to be struck by the fact that, though the clothing of primitive peoples consisted chiefly of furs and skins. No sooner does a nation arrive at a certain high degree of civilization than the same material is adopted to represent robes of state and ceremony.
The authority of judges, the nobility of the peer, and the chivalry of the knight; for the "hair" or fur, which is seen in heraldry, finds later expression in the cloak or mantle, or civic border of fur; these have even survived the sarcasm of the author of " Sartor Resartus."
By far the more significant quantities of furs now used are brought from North America; at one time this would have been at the sole disposal of the Hudson Bay Company.
Although their charter of monopoly was removed in 1865, their long experience has enabled them to keep a foremost place among the traders. However, the whole system of obtaining furs has been changed; the trappers will no longer sell their hard-earned skins for beads or tobacco.
The principles of extended commerce have regulated prices to specific market values, even between the hunter and the first consignee, the result is that what is called "fancy" prices have disappeared.
Of course, there must be slightly more fluctuation of value in furs than in commodities manufactured in the loom and from raw material, which is a regular and calculable product.
The mystery of the fur trade has disappeared before the regular developments of commerce, just as the enterprise of travelers has diminished the magic of the far country.
Still there are times when it may be wise to purchase, in view of a coming scarcity and higher price in the following season; but the management of the International Fur Store hold firmly to the assertion that marked and stated charges, and intelligent information as to the reasons for differences in value, are as applicable to the trade in furs as any other, and upon that principle the International Fur Store is conducted.
We now turn to the consideration of some of the peculiarities of those furs that are currently in demand.
The first of these, both for beauty and for fashion, which generally follows beauty, is that of the Seal. The most significant number of seals' skins comes from North America, but some from Northern Europe; and seals with an exceptional quality of fur are sometimes captured off Shetland.
There are many sorts of seals taken in different parts of the world, but the color of their coats varies scarcely at all. The rich dark, or warm red-brown tone which we see in the prepared seal-skin, is produced by the art of the dyer, the English being most skillful in giving what may be called a natural-looking tinge.
Without much and patient preparation, even the best seal-skin would not make a handsome fur. Fine close pile and soft, pliable pelt are the first considerations in choosing a seal-skin, and as several are required to make a mantle, or cloak, or jacket of any considerable size, it is crucial that there should be uniformity of quality, hue, and luster. Only the best skins will take the fashionable rich dark color.
The trapper has taught us to judge of the skin by turning it the "wrong way" so that we do not see the points, but the whole depth of the hair. The prices of seals' skins vary so considerably according to quality that it is a significant advantage to be able to see the skin before it is made up.
This, in all the higher qualities, may be done at the International Fur Store, where purchasers are invited to examine the furs in this state. The most costly of all furs is that of the marten, by which technical name sables are known.
The more substantial number comes from Hudson's Bay, and these are the best of the North American sables but are still inferior to the true Russian sables. Of this latter, the most exceptional kind have been known to fetch £20 and more per skin.
The American and Hudson's Bay varieties range in price from fifteen to sixty shillings each. The average length of the body is twelve inches, and of the tail about six inches, so that the cost of a sable cloak or coat is very considerable.
A coat of fine sables would cost from £200 to £300; it is, therefore, not surprising to find that these furs are chiefly used for trimmings and "sets." In any form, this fur possesses a stunning appearance.
The natural color of the Hudson Bay sable is a warm brown, with a yellowish brown at the sides, and a darker tint along the back. The Russian skins are more delicate and darker of hue. Sable has always been a regal fur, the expense of which precluded its common use.
In the reign of Henry VIII, it was forbidden to anyone below the rank of viscount. This gives force to Hamlet's declaration that he would no longer wear black or mourning attire; he would "have a suit of sables"!—such a dress being proper to those of high rank at the court of Denmark.
A pelisse of sables belonging to the Emperor Nicholas of Russia, shown in the Exhibition of 1851, was valued at £2,500. A cloak lined with sables is often worth from £300 to £400, but then the best kinds of fur will last for more than one lifetime. Sables may be regarded as an heirloom.
Besides the furs already mentioned, there are many others less known, but none the less beautiful. At the International Fur Store, many of these animals can be seen as they were in life, thus forming a fascinating exhibition.
A choice fur is that of the Beaver. Silk plush has done much to lessen the demand for this fur, but it is still primarily used for coats, muffs, etc.; also in cold climates, its uses are many. The Silvered Beaver is a powerful trimming; art and not nature provide the silver hairs.
These are taken from the badger, and each separate hair is inserted into the black beaver skins employing a barbed needle. The Sea Otter yields a deep close fur; it is often used for the " Shubes," or large coats worn during sled journeys.
The Black Fox is of great value. A portion of the neck is used by the Russian nobility to form the collars of their coats; as six necks are required to create a collar, this little extravagance represents an outlay of about £120.
The Red Hudson's Bay Fox yields a thick, soft fur of a sandy color, magnificent in quality, and excellent either for a fur robe or rug. The superb Silver-grey Fox fur is, like that of the black fox, of great value, and is mostly used for trimming, except by luxurious Russian millionaires.
There are, however, grey fox furs, from Virginia and elsewhere, which are of smaller value, though handsome and useful.
Another well-known fur is that of the Mink. This is taken from an animal resembling the marten, and although being the same size and color, is of only half the value.
This fur was at one time so much in request, on account of its resemblance to sable, that an attempt was made to establish "Minkeries" for breeding the animal.
It was found, however, that the fur of the tame mink had so deteriorated as to be comparatively useless. Bear is again revived as a fashionable fur and is much worn for articles of dress, mainly the kind is known as the "Isabella," which is of a pale color ground, the tips or points of the hair is quite golden; it is made in the form of long boas.
For capes, plastrons, and trimmings, the black cub bears from the Hudson's Bay, and the brown bear cubs from Russia are best.
The grizzly bear from the Rocky Mountains and the large brown bears are extensively used for hearth-rugs and driving-aprons; the commoner kind of bears are dyed and made into coachmen's capes and cuffs.
A cheaper kind of rug and coachman's cape is made from the dyed Chinese goat, which has a very near resemblance to bear but costs much less.
The arctic wolf and the less valuable prairie wolf are principally used for driving-aprons and also for men's coats.
The Ermine is a popular and classical fur, and after being but little in demand for some years, it is now extensively used for linings and trimmings of the most fashionable garments.
Many other beautiful specimens of fur-producing animals are to be seen at the International Fur Store, but we must content ourselves with merely mentioning the different varieties.
The Chinchilla, a native of South America, is now in higher favor than for many years past. There is also an inferior or "bastard" chinchilla among the cheap kinds of skins.
The International Fur Store has just received a large consignment of the choicest skins both for color and quality that have been seen in London for thirty years.
The Muskrat, or Musquash, is often dyed to imitate sable, to which it has a very similar appearance, when its pale salty color has been converted into a warm brown tint, with a "topping" of darker hue on the back.
Here are the opossum, skunk, grey squirrel, wildcat, monkey, and many others. The collection is one full of interest to the naturalist, and to the purchaser, who would like to choose from amongst the "finest furs the world produces."
Of the many furs and skins of which we have been speaking, a most extensive, rich, varied, and tastefully displayed stock is to be seen at the International Fur Store.
Almost every imaginable fur-bearing animal is represented, from the cautious seal of the Arctic seas to the glossy, sleek-coated black bear of the Canadian forest; from the luxurious fur of the fish-loving otter to the beautifully-marked coats of the silver fox, or the wily raccoon.
Since its inception, the object of the "International" has been the supply of the very best and most stylish furs for ladies and gentlemen's wear at the very lowest possible prices for cash.
The credit system is non-existent here; thus Mr. Jay, the proprietor, has been enabled to take the fullest advantage of his exceptionally close connection with the best sources of the fur supply and to purchase his goods to the direct and unquestionable benefit of his customers.
Indeed he has neglected no opportunities in this respect, either in the old or the new worlds; and the stock he now exhibits in his ground-floor suite of commodious and handsomely-appointed show-rooms, or in the well-stocked ware-rooms, is unsurpassed in its many attractive and excellent qualities; while it is gratifying to the prospective purchaser to observe that all the goods are marked plainly in figures, which can be easily understood.
As has already been mentioned, Mr. Jay buys all his skins for cash in the best European and American markets. The skins are all dressed under the direct personal supervision of that experienced gentleman, and the garments thereof are turned out in the highest style of artistry and finish.
A walk through the various departments in the busy season—the fitting-rooms, skin-rooms (for storage purposes), quilting and finishing-rooms, and other workshops—reveals an industrious force of skilled operatives, numbering from 100 to 150 hands, all intent upon the several processes of manufacture under their care, and combining their individual efficiency in the satisfactory production of the handsome wares that form such a center of attraction in the show-rooms beneath.
Particular attention is given in the working departments to the mounting of all kinds of skins in the most artistic manner. Mr. Jay has only once exhibited his goods at a general exposition, namely, at the Health Exhibition of 1884, and in that instance, he obtained the only medal awarded to an English furrier.
The trade of the International Fur Store extends throughout the world, the English circle of custom enjoyed is of a very high class, —and one of the strongest recommendations for the excellence of the goods supplied by the establishment lies in the fact of its particularly extensive business connections among Americans.
In short, Mr. Jay is beyond a doubt most completely carrying out the acknowledged purpose of his establishment, viz., "the supplying of the public with sound furs and fur garments of every description at the lowest possible prices for cash;" and his commendable enterprise in this direction is unquestionably meeting with hearty popular recognition.
“The International Fur Store,” in Wyman’s Commercial Encyclopedia of Leading Manufactures of Great Britain, and Their Productions; Being a Guide to Merchant Buyers All Over the World, London: Wyman & Sons, 1888, p. 285-286.
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