« PreviousContinue »
Letter from the Board of Administration of the Russian American Com
pany to Captain of the Imperial Vary of the second rank Alerander Ilitch Rudakof. Written from St. Petersburg, April 22, 1853.
From dispatches received from your Excellency's predecessor we learn that the fur-seals in the Colonies are rapidly increasing, and as there is every appearance of a good market for the same, the board of administration instructs you herewith to make all necessay arrangements for carrying on the sealing industry on all the islands frequented by these animals to the full extent of their capacity, without depleting the rookeries. The rules for the protection of females, etc., will be strictly observed as heretofore.
Of the fur-seal catch you will forward annually 6,000 skins to Kiakhta by way of Ayan; 10,000 skins to Shanghai, and the remainder to St. Petersburg on the Company's ships.
At the present time, the board of administration orders the discontinuance of the present process of salting skins, as being unfavorable to the sale of fur-seal skins.
Letter from the Board of Administration of the Russian American Company to Captain of the First Rank and Knight Stepan Vassilieritch Voyerodsky, chief manager of the Russian American Colonies. from St. Petersburg, April 21, 1851.
In his dispatch, No. 318. dated May 30, 1853, Captain Rudakof, in reporting the increase of fur-seals on the Island of St. Paul, and his action relating to the fur-seal industry, requests a decision from the board of administration as to the number of seals to be killed in the future, and the grade of skins preferred.
The board of administration, therefore, respectfully requests your excellency to order the killing principally of bachelors, the older the better, since our customers are eager to secure large skins. Small seals should be killed only in numbers sufficient to supply the demand for oil and food for the natives. Since, however, at present, the demand for fur-seal skins has somewhat diminished, the catch may be limited to such a number as will not interfere with a regular increase, until a greater demand has again been created. To this end the board of managers is devoting all its energies.
Letter from the Board of Administration of the Russian American Com
pany to Captain of the second rank Prince Vaksutof, chief manager of the Russian American Colonies. Written from St. Petersburg, November 8, 1854.
At the present time the market for fur-seal skins is limited to the number of 43,000, namely: In New York, from 20,000 to 21,000; at St. Petersburg, from 15,000 to 16,000, and at Irkutsk, from 5,000 to 6,000 skins, which must all be of the best quality, i. e., full-grown males, half grown males, large and medium bachelors.
The whole number sent to New York may be salted, but the buyers demand that all fat or blubber be removed very carefully previous to salting, for the better preservation and further preparation of the skins. The skins may be shipped to New York by San Francisco, preferably as supplementary freight on the clippers of the New York and California trade, as in this manner they can be forwarded quite cheaply. At St. Petersburg only dried skins are in demand. These should be shipped in our own vessels, but in the absence of such, they may also be shipped by San Francisco or Victoria, preferably on ships bound for London, where they will be consigned to Pelly & Co., or to Hamburg, consigned to Strong & Co., thence to be forwarded to their destination, since no ships bound for St. Petersburg or Kronstadt can be found at San Francisco, and to charter special vessels is very expensive.
At Irkutsk also, only dry skins are required; they may be forwarded by Ayan.
At the same time the board of administration asks you to make arrangements to enable you, with the proposed increase in the fur-seal catch to 50,000 skins per annum, to ship 43,000 as indicated above in due time to their several destinations, storing the remainder at New Archangel for use in case of special demands. In order that these stored skins may not spoil in the warehouses you will make it a rule to ship the reserve of each year to Russia in the following year, replacing them from the new surplus. The killing of small seals should be avoided altogether, if possible, but if it must be done, for the sake of procuring food, you must find means of using the skins for clothing in the Colonies, keeping a strict watch to prevent their falling into the hands of foreign traders. In the opinion of the board there can be no difficulty in preparing such small skins in the Colonies, where so many men are in need of employment whom we can more easily assist in this way than with direct charity.
In connection with this object of finding a market for the small sealskins, the board of administration would ask you to introduce their use as an article of clothing among the savages of the northern districts who may purchase them with other furs, which the Company could dispose of at a greater profit. The principal object in trying to accustom the natives to the use of small fur-seal skins for their clothing is of course to prevent their falling into the hands of foreigners.
Letter from the Board of Administration of the Russian American
Company to Captain of the first rank and Knight Stepan Vassilie. ritch Voyerodsky, Chief Manager of the Russian American Colonies. Written from St. Petersburg, June 5, 1857.
In reply to your excellency's despatch No. 41, of March 9, concerning the shipment of furs to New York and Shanghai, the board of administration has the honor to inform you that the annual demand for fur-seal skips in Russia has now increased to 15,000 dry skins, of which 5,000 are for the Kiakhta market; at this place only 2,000 beavers will be required. The remaining number of fur-seals, 12.000 or more, principally salted (in which shape they are preferred), you will dispatch in the autumu to Messrs. Lobach & Scheppler of New York immediately after the arrival of the ship from the districts, without subjecting the skins to any kind of treatment at New Archangel, leaving them just as they are when they arrive from the districts, and in the same packages.
At the same time the board of administration places upon the men in charge of sealing gangs the strictest injunctions to discontinue the killing of small gray seals, and in no case to ship them away from the Colonies, since they seriously interfere with profitable sales of furseals in Russia and in foreign markets, where only the larger skins secure good prices,
from the Chief Manager of the Russian American Colonies to the Board of Administration of the Russian American Company. Written from the Colonies, October 7, 1857.
CONCERNING FUR-SEALS AND BEAVERS.
Referring to the dispatches of the board, Nos. 635 and 650, dated respectively June 5 and 10, and received on the 7th of September of this year, I have the honor to report that the instructions contained therein in regard to fur-seals and beavers will be carried into effect at once. From the fur-seal skins on haud 10,000 have been packed and forwarded by the ship ('zarevitch to Kronstadt; 5,000 skins will be put aside for shipment to Kiakhta by way of Ayan; and the remainder, about 5,000 skins, not including grays, will be forwarded to New York, together with all the beaver skins which can be collected, except the 2,000 skins destined for Kiakhta.
The fur-seal skins require no working over in New Archangel, but when the fact is taken into consideration that they will have to stand the passage across the equator and the tropics twice, it will hardly be safe to send them to New York, as indicated in the dispatch of the board, in the same packages in which they are received from the vari.
ous districts, i. e., in bundles of several tens of skins, bound by leather straps.
According to information received by me from Messrs. Lobech and Sheppler, the people at New York were greatly pleased with the way in which our skins were forwarded and packed, the same having been received in good order, and it is probable that it would be better to contivue packing in the same way, and, by way of experiment, to send two or three packages in the condition in which they are received from the colonial districts.
Messrs. Lobech and Sheppler advised that in packing the skins should not be folded on account of their liability to break at the folds; this advice will be followed in future in shipping of skins around the world.
The salting of fur-seals, which had been stopped by order of the board, will be renewed next year; but inasmuch as the orders to that effect will reach the islands of St. Paul and St. George not earlier than in the summer of that year, the receipt of a sufficient number of salted skins from those islands in the same year can not be guaranteed.
The experiment of salting fur-seal skins in New Archangel will also be made.
In regard to gray seals, I have the honor to express the opinion that the number of such seals taken should be increased. Until now, only such number of these seals was taken as was necessary for obtaining blubber to supply the wants of the Aleuts on the islands and to send to St. Michael's redoubt in exchange for skins furnished by the independent natives, but of late the demand for blubber in New Archangel itself has been on the increase by reason of the increase in the number of steamers and engines.
The blubber to be found in this market comes very high, and in order to reduce the expense 1 sent orders to the islands of St. Paul and St. George for supplies of fur-seal blubber, and have now received about a thousand gallons of seal oil, the cost of which at San Francisco would be about 8,000 paper rubles. In view of the above stated considerations, while issuing orders for the suppression, as far as practicable, of the killing of small gray seals, fit only for oil and meat, as winter supplies, I find it necessary to request definite instructions from the board of administration as to the absolute suspension of such killing. Should, however, the board, in view of the above-stated circumstances, authorize the killing of gray seals in such quantities as may be necessary for the supplies of blubber and meat required by the natives and residents on the islands of St. Paul and St. George, in such case the question will arise as to the disposition of the skin.
At the present time, there are about 5,000 such skins in the warehouse, and if about 3,000 skins a year be taken, then in a few years a quantity will be accumulated which will require a correspondingly large place of storage. I am inclined to the opinion that in case the sending of such skins to Russia and foreign markets should prove unprofitable, an attempt might be made to dispose of them in the colonies for making garments and coats, which, if the tanning is good, may be substituted for sheep-skin coats.
As an experiment a few garments might be made from the skins now lying unused in warehouses.
In conclusion, I have the honor to report to the board of administration that according to information now received, the fur-seal rookeries in all places, but particularly on the island of St. Paul, are so crowded that all available points for breeding are filled and they appear to be adequate so that an extension of the catch is deemed indispensable; and this will be carried into effect next year.
Letter from the Chief Manager of the Russian American Colonies to the
Board of Administration of the Russian American Company. Written from the Colonies, January 13, 1859.
In accordance with the instructions of the board of administration in dispatch No. 697, dated June 5, 1858, and received on the 2d of November, there were sent by the ship Kamchatka, in addition to the 10,000 ordered by former instructions, 10,664 skins which had been prepared and packed before the receipt of dispatch No. 697, for shipment to New York; thereafter there remained 3,600 dry skins and 1,176 salted skins, which are now sent per brig Kadiak to San Francisco, for transmission to Messrs. Lobach and Sheppler.
In regard to the inquiry of the board as to the number of fur. seals which might be taken annually in the Colonies without detriment to the preservation of the species and to the rookeries, I have the honor to report that, according to information received from the manager of the Pribilof Islands, where the most important rookeries are situated, and from the Commander Islands, the numbers of seals on all the rookeries have increased to such an extent as to render the space quite inadequate, and that it would be quite possible to take from all the rookeries a total of 70,000 skins in one season, including the grays, but that in order to take such quantity, it would be necessary to increase the number of sealers on the Pribilof Islands, and the supply of firewood for the drying of the skins.
It may be positively stated that the takiug of 70,000 skins each year for a long period to come, will not result in the impoverishment of the rookeries.
Letter from Captain of the first rank and Knight Ivan Vassilivitch
Furuhelm, Chief Manager of the Russian American Colonies, to the Board of Administration of the Russian American Company. Written from the Colonies, May 13, 1860.
I have the honor to submit to you herewith a list of the furs obtained during the past year from the districts of the colonies, from which the board will learn the following:
Eight hundred and ninety-two more sea-otters were killed than in the year 1858. There has not been so good a season since 1814, and the increase is confined to the Kadiak district, Unalaska, and Urupa.
With reference to the sea-otter industry, the Kadiak office reports to me that pursuant to the arrangements made by my predecessor the Chugatch people living in the vicinity of the Konstantin redoubt, have been permitted to hunt independently of the general hunting party, in places known only to themselves. On their arrival at Katliak, however, it appeared that they had been hunting on grounds upon which a close season had been proclaimed for 1859), and where our principal party was to have hunted during the current year. Under such utortunate circumstances, I can not hope to meet with the same success in