Silver fox is one of the most valuable of all furs, as much as £480 having been given for an unusually fine pair of skins in 1902.
The pelt or skin is requisite to keep out the piercing wind and driving storm, while the fur and overhair ward off the cold; and "furs" are as much a necessity to-day among more northern peoples as they ever were in the days of barbarism.
This, in brief, has been the history of its use in China, Tatary, Russia, Siberia and North America, and at present the employment of fancy furs among civilized nations has grown to be more extensive than at any former period.
Furs have constituted the price of redemption for royal captives, the gifts of emperors and kings, and the peculiar badge of state functionaries.
The history of furs can be read in Marco Polo, as he grows eloquent with the description of the rich skins of the khan of Tatary; in the early fathers of the church, who lament their introduction into Rome and Byzantium as an evidence of barbaric and debasing luxury; in the political history of Russia, stretching out a powerful arm over Siberia to secure her rich treasures; in the story of the French occupation of Canada, and the ascent of the St Lawrence to Lake Superior, and the subsequent contest to retain possession against England; in the history of early settlements of New England, New York and Virginia; in Irving's Astoria; in the records of the Hudson's Bay Company; and in the annals of the fairs held at Nizhniy Novgorod and Leipzig.