Text by Tim Todish:
As the American frontier pushed ever westward, trade was one of
the most important aspects of the relationship between the Indians
and the whites. This painting depicts a scene thaat no doubt was
repeated many times during the fur trade era. Four native hunters
are scrutinizing the weighing of a bundle of fur pelts that they
have brought to a trading post to exchange for European made goods.
The value of the furs was based on their weight, and accurate measurement
was in the best interest of both sides. For the most part, fur trade
transactions were conducted honestly, but occasionally white traders
sold inferior goods or charged inflated prices, and Indians were
known to rub sand into the skins to increase their weights.
The demand for animal furs among Europeans dates back at least
to the Middle Ages, and by the mid-eighteenth century, the time
period depicted in this painting, North America had become a major
source of those furs. The fur trade was a complex and risky business.
Goods had to be manufactured and purchased in Europe or the Orient
and shipped to North America. Then they had to be transported into
the interior where they could be traded for furs, usually from Indian
hunters and trappers.
The original oil painting sold at the 2010 Masters of the American
West show for $85,000.00.