Who knew that furs were all the rage back home (shoutout to my Interpol stans) in Colorado circa 1919? From what I’ve read about Jim Bridger and his ilk back in the 1850s, the trap(per) game had become so unprofitable during that decade that many trappers turned in their skinning knives for hardrock pickaxes and started prospecting for gold, or like Bridger himself, became entrepreneurs and mountain guides.
But lo and behold we have a vibrant market for furs in the early 20th century! Indeed, one of the earliest and most popular outdoorsmen type magazines called Hunter, Trader, Trapper, circulated from 1903-1934, and they frequently ran Shubert ads for raw furs.
In this wordy mess of an ad from the Crested Butte area newspaper, Elk Mountain Pilot, A.B. Shubert is willing to pay more than the paltry $15 that most fur dealers are offering. In fact, he’s going to shell out up to $28 for an extra large coyote fur that has been prepared in the casing style, or up to $22 for an extra large coyote that has been prepared open and headless! Incredible right?
Actually that’s not too shabby. As a point of reference, $15 in 1919 is equivalent to $224.11 in 2019, $22 in 1919 is equivalent to $328.70 in 2019, and $28 in 1919 is equivalent to $418.34 in 2019, according to Dollar Times. So now I’m looking at this ad as an opportunity to potentially make $418 vs $224 per pelt in today’s dollars, and for many people in 1919, I’m sure they took a shot (pun very intended), and shipped their stanky coyote furs from Colorado to Chicago in hopes of big returns.
But who knows how Shubert and his cohort actually made their evaluations of how much money to send back to you? What exactly is an “extra large” coyote and not merely a “medium” coyote? And how does a fur trapper in a Colorado small town — which Shubert targeted specifically — file a grievance against a Chicago company for short payment or even no payment at all? They probably didn’t.
So what is this Casing vs. Open style of fur preparation anyway? For this answer we go straight to the source: A. B. Shubert himself, in his tiny tome, The Art of Trapping from 1917.
How to Skin an Animal Cased Style:
To skin an animal “cased,” cut the skin crosswise, just under the tail, large enough to pull the body through. Skin the tail and remove the tail bone. Draw the skin downward from the body, keeping it as clean of flesh and fat as possible….Mink, Muskrat, Skunk, Civet Cat, Ringtail Cat, Opossum, Lynx Cat, Coyote, Otter, House Cat, White Weasel, Marten, Wild Cat, Fisher, Lynx, Wolverine, and the entire Fox family should be “cased.”The Art of Trapping (1917), by Shubert, A. B.
How to Skin an Animal Open Style:
To skin an animal “open,” cut the skin down the belly from the head to the tail. The skin should be peeled from the body, using the knife whenever necessary. Raccoon, Bear, Badger, Timber Wolf, Mountain Lion and Beaver should be skinned “open.” Stretch and dry the skins in the open air, where there is shade.The Art of Trapping (1917), by Shubert, A. B.
100 years ago today, A.B. Shubert hopes to ride fur fever by incentivizing Colorado trappers to send extra large coyotes — that have had their bodies removed from their fur coats through their asses — to Chicago in the hopes of making $418.34 in today’s dollars.