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52   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

fox will become even more fashionable than at present and that the demand will thus be increased, but no one can forecast definitely what fashion will do. It should also be noted that the Russian sable, chinchilla, sea-otter and seal will be off the market for several years and, on this account, an increased demand for the fur of the silver fox may be created.

The imitation of silver fox is also impossible because of the colours of the silver-banded black overhairs. The nearest imitation is the German-dyed pointed fox, made from a common red fox dyed black, which has white hairs from the badger or other animals sewed into it or fastened in by adhesives. It is easily distinguished from the silver fox fur and is not favoured except as a medium-priced article. It is not nearly as beautiful as silver fox. The silver band in a genuine skin is not white, but silvery, and the whole skin possesses a gloss not equalled by a dyed product. The dyeing process, also, has the disadvantage of rendering the fur less durable.

With regard to the statement that much of the stock is of poor quality and low-priced, it must be admitted that this is true. While statistics of the low prices obtained for pelts obviously could not be secured, it is quite probable that at least 30 per cent. of the silver foxes would bring a price of from $50 to $500. At the present quotations, probably another 30 per cent. would be priced between $500 and $1,000 and the other 40 per cent. would bring from $1,000 to $4,000 each. The ability to recognize a cheap grade of fur instantly is essential in the present state of the business as traders represent a silver fox as such regardless of quality; and, usually, only a short and distant examination of the animal is possible. Besides, the sales are made at a season when the fur is not in prime condition to pass judgment on.

If wild foxes do not decrease when a country is settled, it is not recorded that they increase. The number in unsettled regions, how-ever, is diminishing.

Profits in the industry so far have been large, but, except from the point of view of the individual, the dividend on the money invested is not the main consideration. From the social and economic viewpoint, the discovery of how to breed high-grade foxes is what is important. It is akin to an invention; but, as it cannot be patented, the neighbours of the inventors have become the promoters of a new method of producing a marketable commodity. No huge factories can be built in a few months to manufacture the article to the limit of demand; only the natural law of increase of foxes which is not much over 100


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