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Sea Otter Pelt Coat

Curated Submission
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
103 x 45
Materials & techniques
Tanned sea otter pelt, taffeta; Tanning, pelting
Jesse and Karen Olson
Delta Museum and Archives Society DE2000.47.2
One of the traditionally prized furs of the Pacific coast was that of the sea otter, a material valued for its insulation and remarkable ability to repel water. These characteristics are essential to the sea otter, which has no blubber to stay warm. The outer guard layer of the fur keeps the inner insulating layer dry and protected so that the animal remains warm under frigid waters. Sea otter fur was an important material used for winter clothing in the Pacific Northwest.
Coastal First Nations communities used the pelts of the sea otter for thousands of years before European settlement. By the 1800s the fur industry attracted attention from traders worldwide – including those from Spain, Britain, China, and Russia. At some point, each of these countries had trade treaties with the indigenous residents of British Columbia. Yet as the process of pelt collection became increasingly dependent on mechanized farms, traditional roles in fur production became marginalized. This pelt originated on Canada's west coast but was manufactured by the now defunct Dayton Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the owner of the coat lived. Later the owner moved to Ladner, British Columbia, and returned the fur to its place of origin.
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