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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 352 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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RUSSIAN SABLE.—Size 15X5 in. These skins belong to a species of marten, very similar to the European and American, but much more silky in the nature of their fur. They have long been known as " sables," doubtless owing to the density of colour to which many of them attain, and they have always been held in the highest esteem by connoisseurs as possessing a combination of rare qualities. The underwool is close, fine and very soft, the top hair is regular, fine, silky and flowing, varying from 12 to 22 in. in depth. In colour they range from a pale stony or yellowish shade to a rich dark brown, almost black with a bluish tone. The pelts are exceedingly fine and close in texture and, although of little weight, are very durable, and articles made of them produce a, sensation of warmth immediately they are put upon the body. The Yakutsk, Okhotsk and Kamschatka sorts are good, the last being the largest and fullest furred, but of less density of colour than the others. Many from other districts are pale or yellowish brown, and those from Saghalien are poor in quality. The most valuable are the darkest from Yakutsk in Siberia, particularly those that have silvery hairs evenly distributed over the skin. These however are exceedingly scarce, and when a number are required to match for a large garment, considerable time may be necessary to collect them. This class of skin is the most expensive fur in the world, reckoning values by a square foot unit. The Amur skins are paler, but often of a pretty bluish stony tone with many frequently interspersed silvery hairs. The quality too is lower, that is, the fur is not so close or deep, but they are very effective, particularly for close-fitting garments, as they possess the least appearance of bulk. The paler skins from all districts in Siberia are now cleverly coloured or " topped," that is, just the tips of the hair are stained dark, and it is only an expert who can detect them from perfectly natural shades. If this colouring process is properly executed it remains fairly fast. Notwithstanding the reported rights of the Russian imperial authorities over some regions with respect to these and other valuable fur-bearing animals, there are in addition to the numbers regularly sent to the trade auction sales in London many good parcels of raw skins to be easily bought direct, provided price is not the first consideration. Value 25g. to 980s.
End of Article: RUSSIAN SABLE

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