We devote many hours hand selecting the finest furs available. The natural surface of fur is like a landscape, with varying textures and shadowy furrows. These distinctive features are unique to genuine wild fur, a product which has been harvested from nature rather than engineered. As with all things in nature, no two hides will be exactly alike. Each fur’s distinctive markings impart a unique character.
Common Wild Fur Markings
Wild animals often fight for various reasons…to protect their homes from predators, compete for territory, and as part of the natural mating process.
Healed scratches are common markings on a wild pelt.
Little nodules may form when a small group of fur follicles are damaged in the scarring process. This is often the result of a small but deep puncture wound.
Fur pelts consist of skin leather, guard hairs and under fur. The guard hairs are the long glossy hairs that overlay the shorter, denser under fur. The guard hairs help to repel moisture in addition to protecting the under fur from damage. The under fur primarily serves to insulate the skin, especially in cold climates. For this reason, furs from northern areas are generally higher in quality and of more value than those from southern regions. Fur "primeness" refers to the degree of development of the animal's winter pelt. All furbearing animals undergo at least one annual molt. Summer pelts are thin and flat and are of little or no value as furs. In the fall, as the days begin to shorten. the winter fur grows in.
A simple rating system has been devised to indicate each fur rating in four different areas-1) primeness, 2) size, 3) color and texture, 4) density and length. Much like the grading system of the diamond industry, which define clarity, cut, color and carat weight, these four characteristics will assist you in making the right fur decision for your new home accessories in conjunction with your lifestyle.
Furbearers pelts will be prime for only a few weeks of the year when they have built up their winter coats. Primeness of a pelt is usually determined by examining the skin or Ieather side. They will also be "flat" or lacking in guard hairs or under fur. Fully prime pelts will be a creamy white on the skin side, indicating that the hair follicles are fully developed. If the hair follicles are not developed fully enough, the hair will fall out or "slip during the tanning ("dressing")
Some furbearers are at their best before the skin is fully prime.Fox, because it has better color early in the season. Muskrat and Beaver because when fully prime in the leather, are past prime in the fur. Once the fur has completely grown in. it begins to deteriorate, either by fading or by damage or loss of hair. By late winter, most furbearers begin to show signs of "rubbing" (guard hair breakage), "shedding" (loss of guard hairs), or "singeing" (curling of guard hairs).
Pelts are graded according to sizes such as small (S), medium (M), large (I), and extra large (XL). Sizes are based on pelt measurements (length and width) and vary by species and region. For beaver, the term "blanket" refers to a stretched and dried pelt measuring over 65 inches, length and width combined. Generally, the larger the pelt the higher its value.
Colour and Texture
Color and texture are very important in determining the value of some species. Red fox occur in several color phases, with the more cherry reds being most preferred of the standard phase. The less common "cross" and "silver" phases are considered high value variations. "Samson" fox are animals which are partially or totally lacking guard hairs, but which have apparently normal under fur. This results from a genetic or hereditary condition and these types of pelts have little or no commercial value, although they make an interesting tanned fur or a warm garment. Paler and softer western and northwestern type coyotes are preferred over the darker and coarser eastern types of coyote such as occur in Minnesota. Coyotes from the northwest have the highest value due to the density of the fur.
Fur Density and Length
In grading a beaver pelt, it is common to brush one's forearm it against the grain of the fur. If the guard hairs spring back, you can be sure that the under-fur is very thick and that you have a top quality pelt. The region of Canada where NCFP is located was explored by Europeans so they could have access to these beaver fur...the best in the world.
All of the measurements of quality discussed above (except size) are used to assign pelts to quality "grades." The top grade usually includes one-fourth to one-third of a season's collection and is referred to as "Ones" (written I) or as "Ones part Twoes" (written I pt. II. These are the top quality or near perfect pelts.
The "Seconds" (II's) are flatter, slightly rubbed, very slightly damaged, or slightly off-color pelts, but still fairly average with a solid, usable amount of fur. Seconds represent the bottom end of the quality range that most good manufacturers would be likely to use.
Furs below II's are referred to as "low-grade" and are used in cheaper garments and for trim. Thirds (III's) are badly rubbed or flat (unprime) pelts and fourths (IV's) are extremely bad and of very little value.
Durability: Guard hairs increase a fur’s durability considerably. However, nothing can surpass the softness and luxury of a sheared pelt. When choosing a Natural Canadian Fur Product to grace your bed or furniture, please consider matching the fur to your lifestyle.