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fur

fur, hairy covering of an animal, especially the skins of animals that have thick, soft, close-growing hair next to the skin itself and coarser protective hair above it. The underhair is frequently called the underfur or fur proper; the outer hairs are the guard hairs; the whole, when dried, is the pelt. The term fur is extended to dressed sheep and lamb skins when they are prepared for wearing with the hair retained, and usually to curled pelts such as Persian lamb, karakul, astrakhan, and mouton.

Since prehistoric times humans have used furs for clothing. Traditionally, the prized furs have been sable, marten, and fisher (all of the genus Martes), the related mink and ermine (of the genus Mustela), and the chinchilla, from South America. The coats of the ocelot, the wildcat, the common house cat, the marmot, the nutria, the raccoon, the hare, and the rabbit are less expensive because the animals are numerous and easy to trap. Beaver and seal are prized for their durability, but such furs as squirrel and skunk are valued for their delicacy of texture. Fox furs have also been much esteemed, and the rare wild silver fox and Pribilof blue fox are sought after, although silver fox is now bred on fur farms.

The Fur Trade

The hunting of wild furs is still an important occupation in wilderness areas, notably in N Canada, Alaska, Mongolia, and Siberia. The finer wild furs come from northerly regions, where because of the climate the animals produce sleeker and better pelts. In the more populated and temperate regions of the world, however, only small pockets of territory retain enough wild animal life to be good for fur hunting. Because of this condition furs have always been luxury goods and were associated early with royalty and nobility (e.g., sable and ermine).

The fur trade has gone on since antiquity, but it reached its apogee in the organized exploitation of the wilderness of North America and Asia from the 17th to the early 19th cent. The staple fur of the great fur-trading days in North America was the beaver, though the fur seal was and is the object of highly lucrative fur hunts.

Many furs are also now grown extensively by fur farming, which has developed into a major industry in the United States and Canada in the 20th cent. The preparation and sale of fur remains a very considerable business. The dressing and dyeing and the matching and cutting of furs to make fine coats and other garments occupy the labors of a great many people concentrated in the few great fur markets of the world.

Threat to Fur-bearing Animals

The depletion of fur-bearing animals was strikingly indicated in the fate of the sea otter on the Northwest Coast. The threat of similar extinction of the fur seal later led to the international quarrel called the Bering Sea Fur-Seal Controversy (see under Bering Sea). Because some fur-bearing animals were in danger of extinction, the U.S. government in 1969 enacted the Endangered Species Act, which bans the importation and sale of pelts of such animals as the polar bear, the jaguar, and the tiger (see endangered species). Since the 1960s the clubbing of baby fur seals has become the focus for considerable concern among the various humane societies of Canada and the United States, and since the 1980s the protests of animal-rights groups led to a decrease in popularity of all furs.

Synthetic Fur

After World War II synthetic fur, a deep-pile fabric closely resembling fur, became popular. George W. Borg was among the first to adapt circular knitting machines to make a pile fabric from synthetic fibers. The machines knit a double layer of fabric leaving free ends of yarn that form a pile as deep as 4 in. (10.2 cm). In 1953 an improved form resembling sheared beaver or mouton was introduced. Later types use different synthetics and are woven as well as knit; they also use cotton backing. Other synthetic furs imitate Persian lamb, seal, ermine, chinchilla, and mink. Since the 1960s synthetic furs have become increasingly popular as a result of their relatively low cost and realistic appearance, greater public awareness of endangered species, and the disappearance of certain furs from the market because of restrictive conservation laws.

Bibliography

See A. Samet, Pictorial Encyclopedia of Furs (rev. ed. 1950); P. C. Phillips and J. W. Smurr, The Fur Trade (2 vol., 1961; repr. 1967); E. Coues, The Fur Bearing Animals of North America (1877, repr. 1970); L. R. Hafen, ed., The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West (10 vol., 1965–72); S. Geary, Fur Trapping in North America (rev. ed. 1985).

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Fur

Fur

The most ancient humans created the garments they wore from materials that were around them, and it is likely that animal furs were one of the earliest materials used in the making of clothes. Fur clothing is not only soft, warm, and durable, but has often been a sign of wealth and rank in society. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it became fashionable for both men and women to wear fur and fur trimmed coats, hats, dresses, and other accessories. Even the top hat, one of the most commonly worn items of the 1800s, could be made from beaver fur. This popularity continued until the 1960s, when some people began to protest the deaths of animals for clothing. They stopped wearing it themselves and protested against those who did.

During the Middle Ages (c. 500c. 1500) fur was widely used in Europe as a luxurious trim worn by noblemen on cloaks, hats, and tunics to show their wealth and importance. Men also wore fur coats, almost always with the fur on the inside, as a soft, warm lining. Fur was so popular that the buying and selling of furs became a major part of European economies, and a major reason behind the exploration of the New World. In the late eighteenth-century United States, men like John Jacob Astor became millionaires in the fur trade, shipping thousands of beaver furs to Europe to be pressed into thick, durable felt for hats.

During the late 1800s, France, the capital of the Western fashion world, developed a friendly alliance with Russia. The Tsar, or ruler, of Russia visited Paris, to the delight of cheering crowds, and all over Europe people took an interest in Russian styles, especially in the wearing of fur. Hats, scarves, and muffs were made of fur. Cloth coats and dresses were trimmed with fur collars, cuffs, and bands around the hem. Men wore ankle-length coats made of buffalo and beaver, and women wore coats made of Russian sable and Hudson Bay seal. The seal coat was the first fur coat to be worn with the fur on the outside to show off its beauty and texture. This trend, started in 1840, spread throughout Europe and by the mid-nineteenth century had become customary throughout the Western world. As fur became something to display on the outside of garments, sometimes two different types of fur were used so that the different furs provided a contrast. Even whole small animals, such as foxes, were used, including the head and feet, to make a fur wrap. A single whole animal skin, called a stole, could be worn around the shoulders or many whole animals could be sewn together to make a large wrap.

During the early part of the twentieth century, the manufacture of the automobile gave fur clothing another boost. Cars were open and driving could be quite cold and messy. Many men and women wore long coats made of sturdy fur such as raccoon, lynx, or sheepskin to protect them on windy drives.

The French House of Paquin, founded in late 1891, was an important designer of fur fashions. Madame Isidore Paquin not only designed many fur and fur-trimmed garments, but also developed a method of treating furs to make them softer and more comfortable. Some fashion experts said that every well-dressed woman of the early 1900s had a fur-trimmed Paquin coat.

Even during the 1800s, many people protested that wearing fur was cruel to animals and even barbaric. By the 1960s the number of people who felt this way had grown. In addition, fabric manufacturers had developed attractive "fake" furs that imitated the look, warmth, and softness of fur. During the late 1900s and early 2000s, many people chose to wear imitation fur instead of real fur.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Crawford, M.D.C. The Ways of Fashion. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1941.

Municchi, Anna. Ladies in Furs, 19001940. Hollywood, CA: Costume and Fashion Press, 1996.

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"Fur." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved December 14, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fur

fur

fur / fər/ • n. 1. the short, fine, soft hair of certain animals: a long, lean, muscular cat with sleek fur. ∎  the skin of an animal with such hair on it. ∎  skins of this type, or fabrics resembling these, used as material for making, trimming, or lining clothes: jackets made out of yak fur | [as adj.] a fur coat. ∎  a garment made of, trimmed, or lined with fur: she pulled the fur around her ∎  Heraldry any of several heraldic tinctures representing animal skins in stylized form (e.g., ermine, vair). 2. Brit. a coating formed by hard water on the inside surface of a pipe, kettle, or other container. ∎  a coating formed on the tongue as a symptom of sickness. • v. (furred , fur·ring ) [tr.] 1. [as adj. , often in comb.] (furred) covered with or made from a particular type of fur: silky-furred lemurs. 2. level (floor or wall timbers) by inserting strips of wood. PHRASES: fur and feather game mammals and birds. make the fur fly inf. cause serious, perhaps violent, trouble.DERIVATIVES: fur·less adj.

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fur

fur sb. XIV. f. fur vb. line or trim with fur XIII; cover, become covered, with a coating (whence a new sb. XIX) XVII. — AN. *furrer, OF. forrer (mod. fourrer) line, sheathe f. OF. forre, fuerre — Gmc. *fōðram sheath (OE. fōddor, OHG. fuotar, G. futter, ON. fóðr, Goth. fōdr), f. IE. *pō- protect.
Hence furry XVII; see -Y1.

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fur

fur Soft, dense hair covering the skin of certain mammals. Such mammals include mink, fox, ermine, musquash, wolf, bear, squirrel and rabbit. Some are hunted and killed for their pelts which, when manufactured into clothing, may command high prices. Some fur-bearing animals are now protected by law because overhunting has threatened extinction.

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fur

fur •à deux, agent provocateur, astir, auteur, aver, bestir, blur, bon viveur, burr, Chandigarh, coiffeur, concur, confer, connoisseur, cordon-bleu, cri de cœur, cur, danseur, Darfur, defer, demur, de rigueur, deter, entrepreneur, er, err, farceur, faute de mieux, fir, flâneur, Fleur, force majeure, fur, hauteur, her, infer, inter, jongleur, Kerr, littérateur, longueur, masseur, Monseigneur, monsieur, Montesquieu, Montreux, murre, myrrh, occur, pas de deux, Pasteur, per, pisteur, poseur, pot-au-feu, prefer, prie-dieu, pudeur, purr, raconteur, rapporteur, refer, répétiteur, restaurateur, saboteur, sabreur, seigneur, Sher, shirr, sir, skirr, slur, souteneur, spur, stir, tant mieux, transfer, Ur, vieux jeu, voyageur, voyeur, were, whirr

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