Ledger. Deer Skins. Wholesale Ledger.
Ledger. Deer Skins. Wholesale Ledger.
Documenting the Enormous Business of Importing and Selling Deer Skin in Upstate New York

Ledger. Deer Skins. Wholesale Ledger.

Fulton County, New York, 1879-1881. Item #856

Tall folio. 335 x 210 mm., [13 ½ x 8 ¼ inches].  191 pp.  Manuscript written on lined, ink. Contemporary leather spine and tips over cloth covered boards; spine and tips rubbed and a bit chipped.  Text written in a very legible hand.


 A highly legible ledger represents about 360 lots bought and sold of deer skins and other animal products. The named customers place the book in the Fulton County, New York, area which was home to Johnstown and Gloversville, a town devoted to glove and mitten manufacture. New Englanders, mainly from Massachusetts, settled the area and brought their techniques with them.


Very interesting import and wholesale ledger which records the cost of lots of deer skins purchased on the verso page with the sale of the lot with buyers names and prices written on the recto of the following leaf.  Cost, sale price and profit is calculated for each lot sold.  For example “Lot 48” is comprised of 1251 pounds of “Nicaragua” at a cost of 30.7 cents per pound for a total cost of $384.05. On the opposite page this lot was sold to D. L. France at 35 cents per pound for a total cost of $ 441.35 and a $ 57.30 profit.   


 In the history of Fulton County a detailed description of the trade in deer skins and glove manufacturing is documented.  It read in part:


 "Fulton county draws a  supply of deer skins form the entire United States, Mexico, Central and South  America. It is believed that about 1,000,000 pounds of deer skins annually  come to the New York market, with an average weight of three pounds per skin.  Of these, the larger part, of course, comes to the glove manufacturers  of this section of the county.  The hides are usually known by the name of the State or country from which they are gathered, the port from which they are shipped, or the name or trade-mark of the dealer.  For instance, "domestic deer skins" - a term applied  to distinguish them from imported stock - are known as Wisconsins,  Michigans, Missouris, etc., and these again divided into general classes  indicating the time of year the animal is killed, which makes a great difference in the value of the skins. Thus there are western "reds" and "grays", the former being skins taken in summer, quite thick, but having short, thin, reddish hair, while the latter, taken in winter, are thin skins, with very long thick hair.  It is the rule in regard to all skins, that the warmer the climate where or season when the skin taken, the thicker will be the skin, and the shorter, thinner and  more worthless the hair. The heaviest and most valuable skins,  therefore, come from under the equator.  A large number come from the  mouth of the Amazon, and are commonly known as " Jacks".  From nearly  every port between Texas and the Amazon, and even further south, skins are sent, named from the port at which they are shipped.  From the  Central American ports, or 'Mosquito coast', are obtained skins,  hence called 'Mosquitos'.


 Another example is lot 13 in the ledger which records the purchase of 9411 lbs. of “Jacks” at 27 cents per pound for a total cost of $2540.97.  Between June and November parts of this lot were sold to five different buyers, Dan Hayes paying 32 ½ cents for the purchase of about half of the lot and four other paying between 35 cents and 42 ½ cents per pound depending on the weight of purchase.  This lot brought $ 807.19 cents in gross profit.


 Other animals and products named in the ledger include reindeer, water hogs and bucks, antelopes, and so on. South American types of skins include Guatemalas, Matamoras, Vera Cruz, Laguayras, Truxillos, Angosturas, to name a few.


 A rare and interesting ledger from a trader doing a brisk business in this nineteenth century deer skin industry.


 History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties, N.Y.  New York: F. W. Beers & Co., 1878, pp. 175-178.  

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Price: $750.00

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