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This blogg is about life
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Updated: April 5, 2017 at 13:30 (GMT +1)
An Introduction and an invitation to be less risk adverse and more inquisitive - more daring!
Whether the odds are against you or not depends on your own individual level of ambitions measured up against a collective public opinion at any given point in time!
Most people as I see it "are afraid to stick their neck out".
Denmark in my opinion is a quite risk adverse nation and that has partly to do with ignorance and/or the fact that someone does not know anybody else in their own network, who have taken a certain risk.
The following is a true story and an example of what you can achieve in life even if the odds are against you from the outset.
Well, first of all - in no uncertain terms: "Fuck the odds"!
Your mental state of mind can change everything!
This is about a man in his mid-thirties (1992) - a happy, go lucky kind-a-guy, who all of a sudden wanted to change his life – dramatically! The reason? He got truly inspired!
The background (1957-1974)
Born in Denmark in February 1957 (Soroe), lived with his parents and four year younger sister in Ireland (Republic of Eire) (Malahide, Swords and Dundrum (suburbs of Dublin)(1961-1965), lived in West Jutland (in a village 15KM North West of Holstebro) with parents until he was 17 years old - september 1974). Did well in state school / grade school and lower secondary school (Realeksamen in Danish).
Lower secondary school in Denmark in 1971-1974
Realeksamen was abolished by law in 1975.
In Denmark in 1971 you had the choice of two kinds of lower secondary schools.
If you wanted to aim for high school /gymnasium and later on university you could after grade school attend realskole / realschule and you could if you did well or if you felt you were up for it go to high school after two years in realskole / realschule. In my class only one person went to high school after two years.
Most stayed at realskole for three years and went on to take a commercial education at business college.
The other choice for most pupils was to take three years in 8th, 9th or 10th class.
Most pupils in his time went out of school after the mandatory nine years in school and some went on for 10th class.
The background (1974-1992)
Until he was 35 years old he had no real goal in life. He tried many different jobs – lumber jack (1974), commercial sailor (sailed with the 299 BRT coaster Eastholm from Soeby on the island of Aeroe sheepwool bales from Aberdeen to Rotterdam (Emhafen and went out in Kattendrik - a red light district (seedy place)) ((where he got his first and only tattoo (16 guilders)and returned with oil equipment to Aberdeen (Aberdeen is the oil capitol of Scotland, like Stavanger is in Norway and like Esbjerg is in Denmark (1974), course on fault detection on diesel engine (1974), contract soldier in the marine / navy - started out in the Navy's Excercer school in Auderød, moved on to Navalbase Holmen, Naval Practice Shooting area, Gniben, Sj. Odde and onboard the minesweeper "FYEN"(1974-1975), wrote a weekly column for a Danish right wing newspaper (1978-1979)(Holstebro Dagblad) and was offered job on the newspaper if he could pass the exam and enter the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus (which he did in 1979 but he never started the study), a fur trader and fur grader in Denmark (Snejbjerg), London (next to St. Pauls Cathedral) and Holland (Nijmegen) (1979-1980) (company was Hudson's Bay & Annings established in 1670), foot soldier in Jydske Dragonregiment (Holstebro) (Midgaard), started on second lieutenant school in the army (Soenderborg)(obtained lorry drivers licence) (1980), fur whole sale merchant in Germany (base was Frankfurt am Main) and Switzerland (base was Lucern) (1981), weekends - Global purchasing advisor of fur merchants (1980-1985), weekends windows cleaner (Lyngby Storcenter) (1982-1984), evening and nights - bartender and bouncer (1976), morning hotel receptionist (Copenhagen Admiral Hotel) and night receptionist at Park Hotel 1982-1984).
He started on university three times (Economics (Herning & Copenhagen) in 1986 and 1988 and Communications (Roskilde) in 1991-1992) – got quickly bored, diamond investment advisor (1989), insurance sales person (1990), office education with fokus on internal audit and bookkeeping in leading international retail organisation (from 1982-1984), Internal auditor in leading international retail organisation (from 1985-1986 and 1987 - 1989). CFO for a Canadian subsidiary in Denmark (Snejbjerg) (1986-1987).
He was single, had never been married, no children, lived in his own cheap rented apartment in central Copenhagen (Roemersgade), enjoyed night life, spend every dime, huge debt (which normal folks would not be able to repay in a life time). In 1974 he went to the most conservative folk high school (højskole) in Denmark for a three month spring semester (focus on sports and liberal education based on the teachings and philosophy of N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783-1872)). He dropped voluntarily out of high school (gymnasium/gymnasiet)(Holstebro) - to red (leftist) (1976) and passed business college (EFG (Mommark)+HH (Holstebro)) (1977-1979).
Good at sports - cardiovascular fanatic (running, cycling, rowing, swimming).
Mentally - exceptional strong. Strong health. Heavy smoker. Very rarely drank alcohol. No drugs. He loved physical exercise - on- as well as off the sheets.
He is the oldest child of three siblings (a brother is born in 1966). His father – a former sailor, marine and mink farmer – his mother – a nurse working evenings. Grew up (1965-1974) in a remote rural community, where most folks stay all their lives.
He got a job at a small broker in the capital of his native country – cold calling potential clients with different investment ideas and he is good at this job – not just good – but extremely good (1991-1992). His success was due to his ability to interpret the expectations and risk profile of his potential clients (which was not required in those days) combined with his ability to sell. He very quickly understood that to have success and be somebody in the global world of finance he has to leave his country and get a job at a leading broker. He became truly inspired.
What can happen when somebody gets truly inspired?
Suddenly, he saw himself being very successful (he saw a light at the end of the tunnel)(the same feeling/vision he had when he attacked the obstacle course or participated as a middle distance runner in the military. Before a race he saw himself crossing the finishing line (he was always no. 1 or no. 2)!
He found out that the leading broker was a global firm on Wall Street. However, he quickly realized that this global broker had a representative office in London.
He found out that in order to be a broker with this Wall Street firm – he had to have a master degree with top results and preferably from an Ivy League university, an MBA from an Ivy League Business School as well as he had to have been a successful marine, a successful commodity trader and coming from Europe or the Middle East it was a plus if his father was a US dollar billionaire.
You could say that his chances of getting a broker position with this Wall Street firm from the outset were non-existing!
Odds are against you - so what?
Persistence, Boldness, Unwavering passion, and a strong belief in himself and his abilities helped him land a job as a broker in London at this Wall Street firm six months later.
By finding out who was the top man in charge of recruiting world-wide and then convince him, that the firm could not be truly successful without hiring him.
He went on to have four interviews with the firm at its location in London and passed all interviews with flying colors!
Six months after having started at the London firm he had passed all the required UK- and US exams with top results (remember all his “competitors” where people with top results from Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, North Western and LSE). His results were among the best 1 %.
Not only did he complete the exams required to give clients advice in traditional asset classes like cash, bonds and stocks. He also specialized and got top results in the alternative investment area, where you find the most complicated- and risky investments (structured products, hedge funds, Private Equity etc.).
Very quickly after having passed his exams he got himself a mentor. He asked the most prominent senior banker (CEO and Chairman) in his country at the time to be his mentor because he knew that this prominent banker could introduce him to "all the right people". The mentor accepted, of course.
2 years after having started he became a star performer. 5 years after having started he became EMEA responsible for a large US investment House – responsible for securing large institutional mandates for discretionary management. 5 months later he had secured the largest mandate for his company in Europe – ever. He was 40 years old now. He has a wonderful fiancée, who also is career women. A women with brains and beauty (a deliberate choice of his not to have trophy wife). No debt.
A total turnaround in 5 years.
The aforementioned took place in the nineties and shows very clearly, that anything is possible – but you have to have a vision, be pro-active, strongly believe in yourself, speak your mind to the right people and "walk your talk". You have to produce results in the short term but you are also a strategic thinker – always thinking on how to improve yourself and your ability so you can keep clients happy – long-term. No short cuts!
Don't depend on luck. Luck is never a part of the equation! Hard work and true commitment is and” it shines through”!
If anything – “you create whatever luck that comes your way by being in a certain mental state of mind”
Today - 20 years later - he is married to his fianceé - has a very talented and beautiful daughter and his ambitions remain high. He is involved in different Corporate Finance-, Business Continuity Management- or IT outsourcing projects - world-wide.
Since March he has run his own mangement consultancy company. He likes being independent - but he could seriously consider being part of an ambitious global organisation, again!
Good health. No smoker (stopped when his daughter was born). Still – rarely drinks alcohol. No drugs. He still loves physical exercise – but is more laid back these days :-)
His two favorite sayings/idioms are:
“I'll either find a way or make one”! (Hannibal (247 – 183/182/181 BC) - a Punic Carthaginian military commander))
"When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either" (The advertising agency Leo Burnett)
Time is the most precious commodity there is - so use it, wisely!
Lastly - Remember - success is always what you define it to be!
The story is a story of my own life.
On another note my professional global experience tells me, that many people in Denmark in general should be more inquisitive and understand risks better in order to improve and perform better.
Most people as I see it "are afraid to stick their neck out". Denmark in my opinion is a quite risk adverse society and that has partly to do with ignorance or the fact that someone does not know anybody else in their own network, who have taken a certain risk.
We see it in the way some companies/people invest including the way they hire people.
The knowledge of even large global companies is sometimes very limited - if non-existing. This is just to say that the quality of e.g. some people within Human Resources in Denmark is not that impressive!
Amazing that curiosity is not more in the forefront of the mind of some people!
Here are some examples of some very interesting international companies in their respective fields, which apparently does not ring a bell amongst some recruiters:
IHI (Denmark), GE (General Electric, one of the largest corporation in the world and founded in 1892), World Wide Shipping (today BW Group) (World Wide Shipping bought the shipping company Bergesen in Norway), P&O Nedlloyd (today after many mergers and acquisitions it is a part Maersk Line) and on it goes.
The same applies to education. Many foreign excellent educations are not known in Denmark it seems.
Fore example a highly appraised international professional accreditation within Human Resources is offered by CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) - but in Denmark this international highly appraised accreditation does not ring a bell. Here a Master in Human Resources (cand. merc. HR) is what is on the radar screen of most Human Resource people.
However, it is important to bear in mind, that if Denmark wants to attract highly skilled professional people from abroad and I mean some of the very best - the knowledge and curiosity of some individuals have to improve!
Denmark is very dependent on being able to act - professionally - in a multi-cultural, global environment.
Fact remains - it is indeed not very smart to be e.g. a person, who scans applications without the necessary knowledge to do so. Excuses that come up are e.g. well we are pressed for time. My reply: you don't work hard and thorough enough and quite frankly your knowledge in my opinion is fairly limited - equals not good enough!
The result is, that many companies risk not get their hands on the best people for certain positions (cause being: risk adverse, limited curiosity and ignorance)
Furthermore, it is unfortunately prevailing in Denmark, that formal education is more important than a persons ability to learn and apply!
I recommend, that companies in Denmark today get smarter in their recruiting process!
Have a great day
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These days it seems to be very popular to do a lot of physical exercise and to participate in various kinds of endurance-related sports. It also seems that many people are very fixated on buying goods including food as cheaply as possible. Mental well-being is good! Regular physical exercise is good! No doubt about it. However, is it good if the result is a human being turned exercise junkie with little or no conscious awareness of striking the right balance including not being aware of consuming high quality/nutritious food? Good and healthy living is about relating in a conscious/enlightened way to various risks. When I was a boy in West Jutland in Denmark we grew almost everything in our own garden. That was the priority of my parents and many other parents at the time (my mother was a full-time nurse and my father mink breeder) despite the fact that they experienced hard physical work every day. Life was very physical back then and my parents, deliberately, were highly aware of the food we consumed. The food we consumed was very seasonal conditioned and there were no artificial additives in the food. As kids – after school - we were constantly being physical active – playing outside in fields, woods aso. Physical activity was a top priority in my home.
Today we are altogether more privileged than back in the 1950'ies and 1960'ies - and we could prioritize to grow our own vegetables or at least buy the best quality.
Today, many choose to practice endurance sports and boasts almost of their large training volumes, but it does not seem that they are especially conscious of what they are actually doing from a holistic health perspective. It seems like a self-reinforcing form of herd behavior, where a healthy overview disappeared into “flimsy shadow lands”! My experience tells me that endurance training is 80-90 % mental and maybe 10-20 % physical condition. So what’s the purpose and is it a conscious choice for a normal person to practice endurance sports or is it a mainly an inconscious choice stimulated by what is happening in the brain of someone becomming slowly ever more addictive? A good physical fitness, I believe, can be achieved by focusing on training shorter durations but training more intensely - including interval training. It is important to remember and not underestimate that we all only have 24 hours available.
There are very few professional people who, through their work, for many years must to be "equipped" to handle extreme physical activity while being mentally in top shape - including soldiers, who specializes in UW (Unconventional warfare/special forces soldiers) and top professional athletes. Taking anything to the extreme without being highly aware of the risks involved is a dumb philosophy in life as it is not in the interest of any healthy human being to reach the goal line of life too quickly!
Hopefully the choices you make in life are the
result of conscious actions from a holistic perspective! Extreme endurance sports
by non - professionals combined with a herd mentality behavior does not look
like the result of a conscious action!
Personally, I believe that conscious high volume training is also not the same thing as overtraining.
Training in a progressive, well-thought through intelligent manner, with adequate recovery between workouts and high quality varied nutritious food might enable you to build up to extremely high training loads and still be protected against potentially dangerous levels of oxidative stress.
The following text is an excerpt from www.oxidativestress.org and gives a very good explanation of oxidative stress: "What is Oxidative Stress? Oxygen – So crucial to life itself can also have damaging consequences as well. Although we need it to live and breathe, if the concentrations are too high the effects can be toxic and cause damage. Oxygen is the terminal acceptor of electrons in all living mammals. A simple illustration is how metals can rust when exposed to a process called oxidation. Oxidation is the process of the removal of electrons from a molecule. The body also can get out of balance. An imbalanced molecule is also known as a free radical. A cell with out of control free radicals starts to become damaged. The ultimate effects are damage to all the components of the cell, namely proteins, lipids and DNA. Websites such as Pubmed.gov have thousands of studies that show the impact that this process has on malfunction, aging and disease progression. The body has a system of defenses to protect the cell from free radical damage or Oxidative Stress. It produces amongst other things enzymes and genes known as survival genes. In the ideal environment, these enzymes neutralize the free radicals before they can cause significant damage. The younger we are the more chance the body can cope with the damage, but the older we get (aging) the less of these enzymes get created and the free radicals start to get the upper hand. Think of it, in general do more people incur disease states later in life or younger in life. The answer should be self-evident to anyone reading this web site. Diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Fybromyalgia, Cancer, Heart Disease, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are all examples of diseases that have a high correlation to Oxidative Stress".
At the age of 18 in the spring of 1975 I decided to take a 3 - month stay at the Ronshoved Folk High School (RFHS) - a folk high school in a historic very important border region in the south of Jutland (the part of Denmark, which is connected to mainland Germany). This stay combined with my upbringing and later experiences in life have helped to shape and fortify me in my values from a sincere desire to understand the complexities and differences we are surrounded by. The formation process is a continuous and eternal process, which I think really helps to establish a democratic society by securing stability and security and thereby creating the conditions for prosperity and success - both privately and professionally!
For many years I have participated in the annual celebration that takes place the last weekend in October every year and I am also participating this year. While writing this article – night has come and from my room there is a splendid view over Flensburg Fjord.
Ronshoved Folk High School – The school at Flensburg Fjord is an independent, private foundation created by Aage Moller, 9 March 1921 after The Reunification and the school began operating as a folk high school on 3 November 1921. Today, there is room for 148 students at the school. Since its establishment in 1921, there have been seven folk high school principals (see further below under "The History of Ronshoved Folk High School")
The purpose and values of Ronshoved Folk High School
The school's aim is to run a general folk high school in the Danish border region, based on the Grundtvigian folk high school tradition and where the foundation is based on holistic humanity principles. The thoughts of Grundtvig are seen by many in Denmark as very important pillars in the formation of the process leading to democracy. Grundtvig understood the importance of that the Danes had a common reference to history and culture and RFHS is trying to continue the respect for the aforementioned tradition and values and simultaneously interprets these into a modern framework.
RFHS welcomes all political points of view. Diverging opinions helps to oxygenate our views and attitudes. Left - or right-wing attitudes are equally welcome at the school. Whether you are Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist or atheist does not matter!
We value learning and formation through openness, curiosity and vitality. We see it even as a prerequisite for a modern state like Denmark that we meet in a peaceful competitive atmosphere to discuss divergent views and we believe that our approach to life helps create greater stability and peace in the world .
The starting point is the desire of an individual to live in freedom and security. Daily life at RFHS can therefore be expressed in such a way that all opinions are voiced because of our liberal values based on trust and openness. We believe that freedom is achieved by acknowledging and understanding the history and traditions we all are a part of and which can help us in our continuous formation process as enlightened citizens in a modern dynamic world. This understanding, I believe, allows us to relate to one another and to meet our challenges with an open mind and in a holistic way as they confront us in all walks of life. At RFHS contemplation, professionalism, debate and conversation are keywords. The aim is to nurture confidence and security through the wonder and curiosity about the challenges of life!
We believe it is useless to create a democracy if the individuals of a society are not to some degree informed individuals with a holistic perspective on life and if we do not have confidence in and trusts each other in order to engage in an open dialogue.
Grundtvig was unlike Kierkegaard of the belief that it was in our communities that we revealed us to ourselves and others. It is in the communities that we become people in our own right. Individuality arises therefore not in a vacuum or in front of the TV, but when meeting other people.
RFHS, therefore, offers both artistic, musical, political and sporting classes. It is the aforementioned disciplines enacted with a curious and open mind that help us in our formation process. It is the set of values , we will advocate in a time when too many are becoming more and more one-dimensional and subject specific. This precept has drawn RFHS since its foundation in 1921 .
The History of Ronshoved Folk High School
The founder of RFHS, Aage Moller,
was from the Danish island of Funen (Fyn). He was the founder of the
Mythological High School, which was a countermove towards the cultural radicals
Colleges at the time. Aage Moller advocated the historical right of Denmark to Schleswig.
In 1941 Aage Moller sold RFHS to Hans Haarder (1905-1990) – the father to the present
Danish liberal politician, Bertel Haarder. Hans Haarder, who was born in
Western Jutland, bought the school in 1941 and he was the first principal at
RFHS to have an academic education. Hans Haarder was engaged in the Liberal
Party of Denmark and he was the parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Party
on the island of Fyn. Hans Haarder was followed by his son, Oscar Haarder,
who join his father at RFHS in 1958. In 1958 RFHS went from being a private
school to become an independent institution. It demanded new skills. Oscar
Haarder was seen as the man, who possessed these skills. Oscar Haarder as an
economist and he possessed the unique traits of a professional, operational
modern leader and at the same time was able to be a good folk high school teacher. In
1967 Oscar Haarder was formally appointed as Co-Manager and was officially in
charge alongside his father. The purpose of the education of Oscar Haarder was community oriented and
characterized by timeliness. Oscar Haarder is seen as the man who
took/transformed RFHS to a modern day folk high school. It was thus during the
reign of Oscar Haarder, who was supported by his good wife, Marta Haarder, that
the contours of the current RFHS folk high school were shaped. The 20 years
when Oscar Haarder was leading principal at the school (1967-87), was a
turbulent period in which the Danish folk high schools were challenged by the
youth rebellion (the flower power syndrome of the time). Oscar Haarder managed
to navigate through these challenging times and managed to create a relatively
smooth transition between the old peasant folk high school and the new modern folk
high school. Following Oscar Haarder as principal for RFHS came Laurids Kjær
Nielsen (1936-2009), who continued the line of modernity Oscar Haarder had started. Laurids
Kjær Nielsen was the principal for RFHS from 1986 to 1996. He was then followed
by Erik Lindsø, who was the principal until 2001 and who increased modernity even
further at the school so that it could match the challenges of time. The
present principal is actually a principal team consisting of the married couple,
Thue and Nina Kjærhus, both from Southern Jutland and who have continued a
modern folk high school tradition that respects the classical universe from the holistic
education philosophy which emerged from Grundtvig's thoughts on population
equality. This has meant that subjects like Sociology, Literature, Music,
Physical Education, Political Science, Philosophy, Journalism, Psychology and
World History is being taught at RFHS and RFHS is the only folk high school
that offers Greek, Hebrew and Latin as subjects.
Interested in Ronshoved (Rønshoved) Folk High School - please also read the link to the schools own home page:
Jeg valgte som 18 årig i forsommeren 1975 at tage et 3 – måneders ophold på Rønshoved højskole – en folkehøjskole i grænselandet og dette ophold kombineret med min opvækst og senere livserfaring i- som udenfor Danmark har været med til at forme og bestyrke mig i mine værdier ud fra et oprigtigt ønske om at forstå verden og al(le) dens forskellighed(er). Der er tale om en kontinuerlig og evig dannelsesproces, som jeg tror egentlig er med til at stabe stabilitet og tryghed og derigennem skabe grobund for succes - privat som professionelt!
I mange år har jeg deltaget i årsfesten, der finder sted den sidste weekend i oktober måned hvert år og jeg deltager også i år. I skrivende stund er jeg indkvarteret i et dobbeltværelse i Udgård – med skøn udsigt over Flensborg fjord.
Rønshoved Højskole - Højskolen ved Flensborg Fjord er en uafhængig og selvejende institution oprettet af Aage Møller den 9. marts 1921 efter Genforeningen og påbegyndte sin virksomhed som højskole i grænselandet den 3. november 1921. Der er i dag plads til 148 elever på skolen. Siden oprettelsen i 1921 har der været syv højskoleforstandere (se mere herom nedenfor under afsnittet ”Rønshoved Højskoles historie”)
Rønshoved Højskole fik i 1922 en talerstol til festsalen og indskriften lyder ”Men immer det dages dog på ny hvor hjærterne morgen vente”. Citatet ” men immer det dages dog på ny hvor hjerterne morgen vente” går igen på flere genforeningsstene og stammer fra vers 13 i Grundtvigs salme ” Den signede dag med fryd vi ser” fra 1826.
Om Rønshoved Højskoles formål og værdigrundlag
Skolens formål er at drive en almen folkehøjskole i grænselandet, funderet på den grundtvigske højskoletradition og hvor fundamentet er et holistisk menneskesyn. Grundtvig så folke-ligheden i Danmark som forudsætningerne for folkestyret. Ved folke-lighed forstod Grundtvig, at danskerne havde fælles reference til historie og kultur og Rønshoved Højskole forsøger at videreføre respekten for gode traditioner og samtidig fortolker disse ind i en moderne ramme og tid.
På Rønshoved Højskole er alle politiske holdninger velkomne. Divergerende meninger er med til at ilte vore synspunkter og holdninger. Venstre- eller højreorienterede holdninger er derfor lige velkomne på skolen. Om du er katolik, protestant, jøde, muslim, buddhist eller ateist er også ligegyldigt!
Vi fornægter overfladiskhed og tilstræber altid kvalitet gennem åbenhed, nysgerrighed og vitalitet. Vi ser det ligefrem som en forudsætning for et levende folkeligt Danmark, at vi mødes i en fredelig kappestrid om divergerende synspunkter og vi tror på at vores tilgang til livet er med til at skabe større stabilitet og fred i verden.
Udgangspunktet er det enkelte menneskes ønske om at leve i frihed og tryghed i et folkeligt fællesskab. Livet på skolen skal derfor være båret af frisind, tillid og åbenhed. Friheden opnås kun i bundetheden/trofastheden til det, vi værdsætter og tror på. I bundetheden hertil kan vi også forholde os til at møde hinanden, det universelle, det politiske og alle arbejdslivets aspekter med åbent sind. På skolen er fordybelsen, fagligheden, debatten og samtalen nøgleord. Der tilstræbes at skabe grobund for frimodighed og tryghed gennem undren og nysgerrighed overfor livets udfordringer.
Højskolernes opgave var fra første færd at skabe et sådant tillidssamfund og at undervise i de fundamentale ting som et demokrati er rundet af. Det er derfor nytteløst at skabe et demokrati, hvis individerne i et samfund ikke er frimodige og har tillid til hinanden.
Grundtvig var i modsætning til Kirkegaard af den overbevisning, at det var i fællesskaberne, at vi åbenbarede os for os selv og andre. Det er i fællesskaberne, at vi bliver særegne mennesker. Individualiteten udspringer derfor ikke i et tomrum eller foran TV’et, men i mødet med andre. I det grundtvigske er der fokus på alle de menneskelige aspekter.
Rønshoved Højskole vægter derfor både det kunstneriske, musiske, politiske og idrætslige på skolen lige højt. Det er det, som gør os almene. Det er det værdisæt, vi vil forfægte i en tid, hvor vi alle bliver mere og mere endimensionelle og fagspecifikke. Dette udgangspunkt har tegnet Rønshoved Højskole siden dets grundlæggelse.
Rønshoved Højskoles historie
Rønshoved Højskoles grundlægger, Aage Møller, var fynbo og grundlæggeren af den Mytologiske højskole som var et opgør med tidens kulturradikale Højskoler. Aage Møller var nationalt og folkeligt orienteret og advokerede for Danmarks historiske ret til Sydslesvig. I 1941 solgte Møller Højskolen til Hans Haarder (1905-1990) – Bertel Haarders far. Hans Haarder, der var vestjyde, købte skolen i 1941 og han var Rønshoved Højskoles første forstander med en akademisk uddannelse. Hans Haarder var engageret i partiet Venstre, som han var folketingskandidat for på Fyn. Haarder var, i modsætning til Aage Møller, en stærk forkæmper for sindelagsprincippet i grænselandet. Hans Haarders søn, Oscar Haarder, som var økonom (f.1932 -d. 2011) kom til Rønshoved fra Ryslinge Højskole i 1958. Rønshoved Højskole var i 1958 gået fra at være en privatejet skole til at blive en selvejende institution. Det fordrede nye kompetencer. Disse kompetencer besad Oscar Haarder som økonom og med erfaringerne fra Ryslinge Højskole. Oscar Haarder besad den unikke egenskab, at han både var en fremragende driftsmand og en god højskolelærer. Oscar Haarder var reelt medforstander på skolen fra 1958, men blev i 1967 formelt udnævnt som medforstander. Oscar Haarders undervisning var samfundsorienteret og præget af aktualitet. Oscar Haarder må frem, for nogen betegnes som den moderne Rønshoved højskoles byggekonge. Det var således i Oscar- og Marta Haarders tid, at profilen til den nuværende højskole får sine konturer. De 20 år som Oscar Haarder var forstander på skolen (1967-87), var en turbulent periode, hvor de danske højskoler blev udfordret af ungdomsoprøret. Oscar Haarder formåede at navigere igennem disse forstyrrelser og skabe en relativt rolig overgang mellem den gamle bondehøjskole og den nye moderne højskole. Oscar Haarder kom derfor mere end nogen anden af skolens forstandere til at indvarsle en ny tid for højskolen. Derefter kom, Laurids Kjær Nielsen (1936-2009), der videreførte den linje Oscar Haarder havde påbegyndt (forstander fra 1986-1996) – efterfulgt af Erik Lindsø, der var forstander indtil 2001 og som skærpede moderniteten yderligere på skolen så den kunne matche tiden. Det nuværende højskoleforstanderpar, Thue- og Nina Kjærhus, er begge sønderjyder og har videreført en moderne højskole, der respekterer det klassiske univers ud fra en holistisk dannelsesfilosofi udsprunget af Grundtvigs tanker om folke-ligheden. Det har betydet at fag som Sociologi, Litteratur, Musik, Idræt, Politisk videnskab, Filosofi, Journalistik, Psykologi, og Verdens historie tilbydes. Rønshoved Højskole er den eneste højskole der udbyder Græsk, Hebraisk og Latin som fag.
Robert Hogan (born 1937) is an American psychologist known for his innovations in personality testing, and is an international authority on personality assessment, leadership, and organizational effectiveness.
Hogan earned a Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley. He was McFarlin Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at The University of Tulsa for 17 years. Prior to that, Dr. Hogan was Professor of Psychology and Social Relations at Johns Hopkins University. He has received a number of research and teaching awards, and is president of Hogan Assessment Systems based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Hogan's work in personality measurement is distinctive as it is theory based. He has contributed to the development of socioanalytic theory, which maintains that the core of personality is based on evolutionary adaptations. Humans, in this view, always live in groups and groups always demonstrate status hierarchies. This in turn leads to two further generalizations: people are motivated to get along with other group members but also to get ahead (to enjoy the perquisites of status). Hogan, an iconoclastic observer of American psychology, maintains that personality is best examined from the perspective of the observer (reputation) rather than the actor (a person's identity). As a consequence, Hogan has insisted that personality tools should be evaluated in terms of how well reputations (defined on personality tests) predict behavior on the job and in relationships.
Hogan is widely credited with demonstrating how personality factors influence organizational effectiveness in a variety of areas - ranging from organizational climate and leadership to selection and effective team performance.
The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship
The future of the US (and world) economy depends on the activity of entrepreneurs, who create businesses, jobs, and wealth. Although, as Adam Smith noted, they do this for perfectly self-centered reasons and the fact that others profit from their activities is of no interest to them. Adam Smith was speaking from personal experience, and if he were alive today, he would still need to speak from experience, because applied psychology knows little about the psychology of entrepreneurship in an empirical way—although interest in the subject has begun to emerge. This paper concerns what happens when they are in charge. The bottom line is that they make disastrous managers.
Writers from Drucker (1985) to Christiensen (1997) note that the essence of entrepreneurship is “creative disruption” – tearing up the old to make way for the new. In addition, these writers suggest that the characteristics of entrepreneurs closely resemble the characteristics of creative people in general; these involve: making statistically unusual associations; challenging conventional wisdom; observing standard practices closely; networking; and constant experimentation. This suggests that the literature on creativity will hold some insights regarding the characteristics of entrepreneurs.
Barron (1965) provides an old
but hard-to-improve-upon summary of the empirical literature on the personality
characteristics of highly creative people (writers, mathematicians, architects,
etc.). Making an early version of the distinction between the bright side and
the dark side of personality, Barron notes that highly creative people score
high on measures of normal personality. In terms of the FFM, creative people
are above average on Adjustment, Sociability, and Openness, and somewhat below
average on Conscientiousness and Agreeableness – so they make a strong first
impression. But, as Barron (1965, p. 61) stated: “The evidence is convergent
from a number of sources: creative individuals are very much concerned about
their personal adequacy, and one of their strongest motivations is to prove
themselves.” And this statement is the key to the dark side of these people
who, as a group, receive high scores
on the MMPI and on the Hogan Development Survey. They are driven, edgy, impatient, volatile, and
unconcerned with their impact on subordinates.
This profile has several
implications for thinking about entrepreneurial managers. I will mention three. First, because
they make a strong first impression, they will do well in front of various audiences, including search
committees, but also customers. As leaders, they make a good visible face of the organization, and this is
often quite important. Second, the essence of leadership involves building a team. Because these
people tend to bully and intimidate their subordinates, they are, by definition, poor leaders. Third,
as managers rise in organizations, their duties change. Entry level managers need good team building
skills, while middle managers need good bridge building and implementation skills. But CEOs
and top level leaders need good judgment, because their decisions set the direction for their
business. Entrepreneurs are most needed, and probably function best, at the top of organizations. We refer to
this as “the Apple Paradox”: Steve Jobs is a very difficult person with minimal leadership skills, but
he is a marvelously successful CEO—because of his astute decision making. The bottom line of this
discussion is that entrepreneurs are hard to live with but successful businesses can’t live without
them. The quandary is somewhat resolved by the fact that entrepreneurs dislike working for other people
and, although they tend to make poor organizational citizens, they tend to avoid becoming organizational
Barron, F. X. (1965). The psychology of creativity. In T. M. Newcomb (Ed.), New directions in psychology,
Vol. II. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. Pp. 3 – 134.
Christiensen, C. ((1997). The innovator’s dilemma. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
Drucker, P. (1985). Innovation and entrepreneurship. New York: Harper & Row.
Larrabee, E. (1987). Commander in chief. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
John Jacob Astor: Wealthy Merchant and Fur Trader
Originally published by American History magazine. Published Online: June 12, 2006
John Jacob Astor, the man most closely associated with the American fur trade and whose name is a synonym for wealth surpassing imagination, became involved in the business without ever setting a trap. The German-born immigrant to the United States, who rose from obscurity to build a financial empire, typifies the great American success story.
Fur became an item of great economic importance to the development of America, but it was politically important as well. The existence of French Canada depended upon the profits of the fur trade. France was not going to spend money on an unproductive outpost, and it was fur that kept Canada solvent. The beaver became a factor of empire, and battles were fought and treaties delayed over who was to control access to prime trapping areas. The future of North America depended on the flashing paddle and the beaver trap as much as it did on muskets and bayonets.
By 1756, the fur trade was so well established that it survived the upheaval of the French and Indian War with little alteration. The routes to the west continued to run from Hudson's Bay, where an English company was dominant; from New York City up to Albany and out past the Great Lakes to the Illinois country; and the greatest route of all, from Montreal up the Ottawa River, out across Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes, and past the settlement of Grand Portage to the river systems in the heart of the continent.
After their victory in the French and Indian War, the British ran the fur trade largely as their predecessors had done. From the eastern depots came the annual fleet of canoes holding 12 men and four tons of goods. At the western end of the Great Lakes they were replaced by the northern canoes; in these the traders penetrated as far as the foothills of the Rockies where they wintered and traded with the Indians. As the ice broke up in the spring, the trappers from the west would head for Grand Portage with their furs. There they met their eastern partners with European goods and drank, fought, feasted, and settled accounts for the year.
Because the pelts were better farther to the north, the southern trade to the Illinois country was the weakest of the three areas. But the drawing of an artificial boundary line right across the heart of the trade and the later quarrel between the Hudson's Bay Company and the Montreal-based Northwest Company served as an advantage to the American traders. Together they helped make John Jacob Astor one of the richest men in North America.
The third son of a butcher, John Jacob was born in Walldorf in the Duchy of Baden, Germany, in 1763. His father was a ne'er-do-well, but his mother was industrious and frugal to the point of parsimony, though the family often went in rags. The eldest son, George, left home for England, where he set up in the musical instrument business. The next son, Henry, soon departed for New York City where he became a butcher like his father. John Jacob remained at the small family holding until 1780; by then his mother had died and his father had remarried. When relations between John Jacob and his stepmother became strained, he left his father's house with what money he had to seek his fortune. He headed out on foot for the Rhine Valley.
Young Astor worked his way down the Rhine River on a timber barge, and by the time he reached salt water he had enough money to pay for passage to London. There he went to work with his brother George, learning to make musical instruments. He mastered the English language and gathered all the information he could about the then-rebellious American colonies. By the end of the American Revolution in 1783, John Jacob Astor had saved enough money for passage to the new United States. He took ship in November with about $25, seven flutes as stock-in-trade, and a ticket giving him a berth in the crew's quarters.
It was the typical eighteenth-century passage across the Atlantic Ocean, about eight weeks of cold and misery before the ship entered Chesapeake Bay late in January–just in time to be frozen in the ice for two months. Astor was not one to pass up opportunities, even in mid-ocean; on the passage he met another German emigrant who had been to North America before, and who had dealt successfully in the fur trade. He questioned the man extensively, and by the time the ice had melted from the bay, Astor was sure the fur trade was for him.
He reached New York in March 1784, and perhaps no 21-year-old approaching the metropolis has ever been more determined to make his fortune than John Jacob Astor; certainly few have more completely fulfilled their ambition.
Around 1785 he married Sarah Todd, who was connected to one of the old Dutch families. To the marriage she brought a dowry of $300.00, a keen business sense, and an expert eye for furs. It may have been the dowry that enabled Astor to set up a shop of his own, for in 1786 he opened a store on Water Street where he sold musical instruments and bought furs. The Astors tended strictly to business, living frugally, and devoting themselves almost exclusively to making money. Astor himself often left the shop in his wife's care while he went off to the frontier.
Within a few years he knew the fur trade well and had established connections, not only throughout the American Northwest territories, but also in Montreal, which was the heart of the trade. He gained a great advantage over his competitors in 1796 when Jay's Treaty, between the United States and Great Britain, was put into force. Prior to that it had been agreed that neither British nor American traders were to be hindered by the international boundary. Jay's Treaty did away with that; the British were already beginning their time-honored practice of seeking American friendship at Canada's expense, and the Canadian fur traders were left in the lurch.
Their misfortune was Astor's gain. He and the United States would expand together. Astor not only took over territory that had been closed to the Canadians, he was then clever enough to make a deal with the Northwest Company so that he could import goods through them. Thanks to the treaty makers, he was able to insert himself into the American end of the Canadian trade. By 1800, Astor was recognized as the leading American merchant in the fur trade and was thought to be worth a quarter of a million dollars. He was still only beginning.
By now Astor was starting to act and look like a comfortable capitalist. He moved into a new house in New York City and established worldwide connections, becoming the very picture of early nineteenth-century American merchant enterprise. His horizons were always expanding, at least as far as profits were concerned.
Soon after the turn of the century, he became interested in the Orient. American ships were just starting their China trade, and Astor, on a visit to London, obtained from a friend a license to trade in any East India Company port. Armed with this mandate, Astor persuaded another friend in New York to join in his venture, and they sent a trade ship to Canton, China. When it returned successfully, Astor's share of the profit was $50,000. New vistas were opening up before him, though fur was still his primary interest. Part of his profit from the venture into China went into the purchase of real estate in New York City, property that later proved to be the real basis of the Astor fortune.
Some thought the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 was an act of folly for the young republic, but Astor was not one of them. With that immense territory under United States control, it became possible to see the fur trade extending all the way to the Pacific coast. The return of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1806 added fuel to his ambition, and by the next year he and his agents were fighting to drive the Canadian fur traders out of the upper Mississippi Valley.
These were the years of Astor's peak activity. In 1808 he incorporated as the American Fur Company, a move that consolidated his holdings and prepared for an all-out assault on the Far West. He was not, of course, without competition, and it was actually the antagonism of the fur traders of St. Louis that led him into his most grandiose scheme.
By this time, the best fur lands were being found farther to the west. In the United States traders were in the Rockies already, and in Canada they were working to the north and toward the mountains. The increasing length of the journey from the Great Lakes area to the West cut into the profits of the trade, shortened the time that could be spent among the Indian tribes, and generally narrowed the margin on which the traders operated.
A western entrance to the trading areas had long been desired, but to this point, none had been found. Canadians had already searched; a Scottish Canadian named Alexander MacKenzie had set out for the Pacific from the Athabasca country in 1780, but he did not reach it. Instead he found the Arctic by what he called the River of Disappointment–today's MacKenzie River.
In 1793-94, he tried again, and this time he almost reached his goal. He wanted to find the Columbia River, and American and Canadian history might have been different had he done so. But he was a couple of hundred miles north of his aim when he crossed the Continental Divide, and instead of the easy Columbia, he found the turbulent and unnavigable Fraser River. The Canadians kept trying; an employee of the Northwest Company, David Thompson, was deep in the Rockies, surveying, exploring, and preparing a final drive to the Columbia River.
Montreal was itself almost in the heart of the continent, and to the Canadians it was logical to find a western terminal as an extension of their already existing trade network. To Astor, it was less sensible to trek all the way across the continent than to sail south around South America and land at the back door. He would do it the easy way.
It took more than a year to formulate his plans. This was not to be a one-shot stab in the dark; it was to be a large enterprise, and Astor foresaw the depot he hoped to establish on the Columbia River as the focus of the whole western trade. Even Astor did not have the money for the venture alone, and he approached the Northwest Company with his project, offering the organization a one-third interest in his proposed Pacific Fur Company.
Officially the Northwest Company was uninterested; it was feeling its way to the coast, and was confident that in any struggle it could control the area. However, three former members of the company agreed to join Astor. Internal dissension was a part of the history of the Northwest Company, and there were always Montreal men around who, for one reason or another, had been squeezed out. The articles of incorporation of the Pacific Fur Company were signed in June of 1810, and the venture was ready to be launched.
In the spring of 1811 the ship Tonquin arrived on the Pacific coast, and a fort was built at the mouth of the Columbia River. The traders named it after their employer, and thus Astoria was born. Six weeks after the American flag had been hoisted over the little stockade, a party of white men came down the river from the interior–David Thompson and his fellows of the Northwest Company. He had lost time in surveying one river too many, and so the Oregon coast became American instead of Canadian.
Astor's plan for his fur empire was really world-wide. He proposed to send out one or two ships a year from New York around Cape Horn to Oregon. These ships would carry American manufactured goods for trading with the Indians. The furs obtained in this exchange would not return to New York, however, other ships would carry them to the best market for fur, the Orient. At Canton they would be traded for Oriental goods. These in turn would be carried through the Indian Ocean to Europe. There they would be traded–always at a profit–for European goods that would then be brought across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. The scheme had a great deal to recommend it and deserved to succeed.
Unfortunately for Astor, however, it was a failure. One of the ships was lost to an explosion, with all hands. There were difficulties with the Indians, and the outbreak of the War of 1812 and the disruption of normal trading patterns were altogether too much for the enterprise. In 1813 an expedition of the Northwest Company, commissioned by the British government in Canada, arrived and demanded the cession of the fort. Astor's agent sold it to them for $58,000, succumbing to a combination of military and business pressure.
Aside from the premature demise of the Pacific Fur Company, Astor had little cause to regret the War of 1812. His own interest in it, as always, was economic profit. Because of connections in Washington, D.C., he was able to secure concessions allowing him, in effect, to continue the fur trade in Canada throughout the war.
During the conflict, Astor bought up Canadian furs at a better price and less risk than London merchants and made enormous profits from them in New York. Ostensibly these furs were from American property owned in the Northwest at the time of the outbreak of war. In 1812, Astor amassed $50,000 worth of raw furs. That was his poorest year of the war.
The fur trade continued to be basic to his interests, but he never let his profits lie idle. By the end of the war, the United States government was on the brink of bankruptcy. Astor's response, together with a consortium of associates from Philadelphia, was to buy high-interest bonds with debased currency, and he emerged from the war in far better shape than the Federal Government. At the same time, he enlarged his New York City holdings so that by the time peace was made, Astor was immensely wealthy and ready to take over virtually the whole of the American fur trade.
Now, Astor again looked beyond the Mississippi River to the West. He helped persuade Congress in 1816 to pass an act excluding Canadians from the American fur trade unless employed by an American company. Astor then bought out the holdings of the Northwest Company inside American territory for a fraction of its worth. The company was at that point engaged in a struggle with the Hudson's Bay Company and was in no condition to defend itself.
Five years later, trading competition in the Missouri River country was all but nonexistent, leaving the area practically free for Astor. The St. Louis interests tried to fight him for a while, but they lacked the strength for a long contest and were finally absorbed. Astor pushed farther west yet and challenged Jim Bridger's Rocky Mountain Fur Company for its territory. This was a hard-fought and vigorous contest; Bridger and his people knew their country, were effective traders, and were nearly as unscrupulous as Astor's men.
By the late 1820s, the fur trade was beginning to die. Geography and economics were working against it. The distances and costs were becoming too great for the returns, and in Europe styles were changing and the price of furs was in decline. Perhaps because his business acumen never left him, or because he was getting tired, Astor determined to leave the trade, and in June 1834, he sold all of his commercial interests. He spent the last 14 years of his life administering his estate, until his death in 1848.
If his astuteness never left him, neither did his love of money. He died the richest man in America by far, leaving an estate estimated at more than $20,000,000. Washington Irving thought him a great man; Astor's official biographer, James Parton, considered him ruthless and selfish, but added, he was 'one of the ablest, boldest, and most successful operators that ever lived.' His obituary printed in the New York Herald stated that he 'exhibited at best but the ingenious powers of a self-invented money-making machine.'
In his later years, Astor tried to pass himself off as a liberal humanitarian, but the pose was too unnatural, and it never became credible. To the end, money was his passion, and to make it his men evicted widows and debauched Indians. Though some writers, notably in the late nineteenth century, have regarded him as a great American hero, history has not accepted the verdict. Today, in a more complex era, Americans ask more of their heroes than the ability to make money.
This article was written by James L. Stokesbury and originally published in December 1997 issue of American History Magazine.
The Economic History of the Fur Trade: 1670 to 1870
Ann M. Carlos, University of Colorado
Frank D. Lewis, Queen's University
A commercial fur trade in North America grew out of the early contact between Indians and European fisherman who were netting cod on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland and on the Bay of Gaspé near Quebec. Indians would trade the pelts of small animals, such as mink, for knives and other iron-based products, or for textiles. Exchange at first was haphazard and it was only in the late sixteenth century, when the wearing of beaver hats became fashionable, that firms were established who dealt exclusively in furs. High quality pelts are available only where winters are severe, so the trade took place predominantly in the regions we now know as Canada, although some activity took place further south along the Mississippi River and in the Rocky Mountains. There was also a market in deer skins that predominated in the Appalachians.
The first firms to participate in the fur trade were French, and under French rule the trade spread along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers, and down the Mississippi. In the seventeenth century, following the Dutch, the English developed a trade through Albany. Then in 1670, a charter was granted by the British crown to the Hudson's Bay Company, which began operating from posts along the coast of Hudson Bay (see Figure 1). For roughly the next hundred years, this northern region saw competition of varying intensity between the French and the English. With the conquest of New France in 1763, the French trade shifted to Scottish merchants operating out of Montreal. After the negotiation of Jay's Treaty (1794), the northern border was defined and trade along the Mississippi passed to the American Fur Company under John Jacob Astor. In 1821, the northern participants merged under the name of the Hudson's Bay Company, and for many decades this merged company continued to trade in furs. Finally, in the 1990s, under pressure from animal rights groups, the Hudson's Bay Company, which in the twentieth century had become a large Canadian retailer, ended the fur component of its operation.
The fur trade was based on pelts destined either for the luxury clothing market or for the felting industries, of which hatting was the most important. This was a transatlantic trade. The animals were trapped and exchanged for goods in North America, and the pelts were transported to Europe for processing and final sale. As a result, forces operating on the demand side of the market in Europe and on the supply side in North America determined prices and volumes; while intermediaries, who linked the two geographically separated areas, determined how the trade was conducted.
The Demand for Fur: Hats, Pelts and Prices
However much hats may be considered an accessory today, they were for centuries a mandatory part of everyday dress, for both men and women. Of course styles changed, and, in response to the vagaries of fashion and politics, hats took on various forms and shapes, from the high-crowned, broad-brimmed hat of the first two Stuarts to the conically-shaped, plainer hat of the Puritans. The Restoration of Charles II of England in 1660 and the Glorious Revolution in 1689 brought their own changes in style (Clarke, 1982, chapter 1). What remained a constant was the material from which hats were made - wool felt. The wool came from various animals, but towards the end of the fifteenth century beaver wool began to be predominate. Over time, beaver hats became increasingly popular eventually dominating the market. Only in the nineteenth century did silk replace beaver in high-fashion men's hats.
Furs have long been classified as either fancy or staple. Fancy furs are those demanded for the beauty and luster of their pelt. These furs - mink, fox, otter - are fashioned by furriers into garments or robes. Staple furs are sought for their wool. All staple furs have a double coating of hair with long, stiff, smooth hairs called guard hairs which protect the shorter, softer hair, called wool, that grows next to the animal skin. Only the wool can be felted. Each of the shorter hairs is barbed and once the barbs at the ends of the hair are open, the wool can be compressed into a solid piece of material called felt. The prime staple fur has been beaver, although muskrat and rabbit have also been used.
Wool felt was used for over two centuries to make high-fashion hats. Felt is stronger than a woven material. It will not tear or unravel in a straight line; it is more resistant to water, and it will hold its shape even if it gets wet. These characteristics made felt the prime material for hatters especially when fashion called for hats with large brims. The highest quality hats would be made fully from beaver wool, whereas lower quality hats included inferior wool, such as rabbit.
The transformation of beaver skins into felt and then hats was a highly skilled activity. The process required first that the beaver wool be separated from the guard hairs and the skin, and that some of the wool have open barbs, since felt required some open-barbed wool in the mixture. Felt dates back to the nomads of Central Asia, who are said to have invented the process of felting and made their tents from this light but durable material. Although the art of felting disappeared from much of western Europe during the first millennium, felt-making survived in Russia, Sweden, and Asia Minor. As a result of the Medieval Crusades, felting was reintroduced through the Mediterranean into France (Crean, 1962).
In Russia, the felting industry was based on the European beaver (castor fiber). Given their long tradition of working with beaver pelts, the Russians had perfected the art of combing out the short barbed hairs from among the longer guard hairs, a technology that they safeguarded. As a consequence, the early felting trades in England and France had to rely on beaver wool imported from Russia, although they also used domestic supplies of wool from other animals, such rabbit, sheep and goat. But by the end of the seventeenth century, Russian supplies were drying up, reflecting the serious depletion of the European beaver population.
Coincident with the decline in European beaver stocks was the emergence of a North American trade. North American beaver (castor canadensis) was imported through agents in the English, French and Dutch colonies. Although many of the pelts were shipped to Russia for initial processing, the growth of the beaver market in England and France led to the development of local technologies, and more knowledge of the art of combing. Separating the beaver wool from the felt was only the first step in the felting process. It was also necessary that some of the barbs on the short hairs be raised or open. On the animal these hairs were naturally covered with keratin to prevent the barbs from opening, thus to make felt, the keratin had to be stripped from at least some of the hairs. The process was difficult to refine and entailed considerable experimentation by felt-makers. For instance, one felt maker "bundled [the skins] in a sack of linen and boiled [them] for twelve hours in water containing several fatty substances and nitric acid" (Crean, 1962, p. 381). Although such processes removed the keratin, they did so at the price of a lower quality wool.
The opening of the North American trade not only increased the supply of skins for the felting industry, it also provided a subset of skins whose guard hairs had already been removed and the keratin broken down. Beaver pelts imported from North America were classified as either parchment beaver (castor sec - dry beaver), or coat beaver (castor gras - greasy beaver). Parchment beaver were from freshly caught animals, whose skins were simply dried before being presented for trade. Coat beaver were skins that had been worn by the Indians for a year or more. With wear, the guard hairs fell out and the pelt became oily and more pliable. In addition, the keratin covering the shorter hairs broke down. By the middle of the seventeenth century, hatters and felt-makers came to learn that parchment and coat beaver could be combined to produce a strong, smooth, pliable, top-quality waterproof material.
Until the 1720s, beaver felt was produced with relatively fixed proportions of coat and parchment skins, which led to periodic shortages of one or the other type of pelt. The constraint was relaxed when carotting was developed, a chemical process by which parchment skins were transformed into a type of coat beaver. The original carrotting formula consisted of salts of mercury diluted in nitric acid, which was brushed on the pelts. The use of mercury was a big advance, but it also had serious health consequences for hatters and felters, who were forced to breathe the mercury vapor for extended periods. The expression "mad as a hatter" dates from this period, as the vapor attacked the nervous systems of these workers.
The Prices of Parchment and Coat Beaver
Drawn from the accounts of the Hudson's Bay Company, Table 1 presents some eighteenth century prices of parchment and coat beaver pelts. From 1713 to 1726, before the carotting process had become established, coat beaver generally fetched a higher price than parchment beaver, averaging 6.6 shillings per pelt as compared to 5.5 shillings. Once carotting was widely used, however, the prices were reversed, and from 1730 to 1770 parchment exceeded coat in almost every year. The same general pattern is seen in the Paris data, although there the reversal was delayed, suggesting slower diffusion in France of the carotting technology. As Crean (1962, p. 382) notes, Nollet's L'Art de faire des chapeaux included the exact formula, but it was not published until 1765.
A weighted average of parchment and coat prices in London reveals three episodes. From 1713 to 1722 prices were quite stable, fluctuating within the narrow band of 5.0 and 5.5 shillings per pelt. During the period, 1723 to 1745, prices moved sharply higher and remained in the range of 7 to 9 shillings. The years 1746 to 1763 saw another big increase to over 12 shillings per pelt. There are far fewer prices available for Paris, but we do know that in the period 1739 to 1753 the trend was also sharply higher with prices more than doubling.
The Demand for Beaver Hats
The main cause of the rising beaver pelt prices in England and France was the increasing demand for beaver hats, which included hats made exclusively with beaver wool and referred to as "beaver hats," and those hats containing a combination of beaver and a lower cost wool, such as rabbit. These were called "felt hats." Unfortunately, aggregate consumption series for the eighteenth century Europe are not available. We do, however, have Gregory King's contemporary work for England which provides a good starting point. In a table entitled "Annual Consumption of Apparell, anno 1688," King calculated that consumption of all types of hats was about 3.3 million, or nearly one hat per person. King also included a second category, caps of all sorts, for which he estimated consumption at 1.6 million (Harte, 1991, p. 293). This means that as early as 1700, the potential market for hats in England alone was nearly 5 million per year. Over the next century, the rising demand for beaver pelts was a result of a number factors including population growth, a greater export market, a shift toward beaver hats from hats made of other materials, and a shift from caps to hats.
The British export data indicate that demand for beaver hats was growing not just in England, but in Europe as well. In 1700 a modest 69,500 beaver hats were exported from England and almost the same number of felt hats; but by 1760, slightly over 500,000 beaver hats and 370,000 felt halts were shipped from English ports (Lawson, 1943, app. I). In total, over the seventy years to 1770, 21 million beaver and felt hats were exported from England. In addition to the final product, England exported the raw material, beaver pelts. In 1760, £15,000 in beaver pelts were exported along with a range of other furs. The hats and the pelts tended to go to different parts of Europe. Raw pelts were shipped mainly to northern Europe, including Germany, Flanders, Holland and Russia; whereas hats went to the southern European markets of Spain and Portugal. In 1750, Germany imported 16,500 beaver hats, while Spain imported 110,000 and Portugal 175,000 (Lawson, 1943, appendices F & G). Over the first six decades of the eighteenth century, these markets grew dramatically, such that the value of beaver hat sales to Portugal alone was £89,000 in 1756-1760, representing about 300,000 hats or two-thirds of the entire export trade.
European Intermediaries in the Fur Trade
By the eighteenth century, the demand for furs in Europe was being met mainly by exports from North America with intermediaries playing an essential role. The American trade, which moved along the main water systems, was organized largely through chartered companies. At the far north, operating out of Hudson Bay, was the Hudson's Bay Company, chartered in 1670. The Compagnie d'Occident, founded in 1718, was the most successful of a series of monopoly French companies. It operated through the St. Lawrence River and in the region of the eastern Great Lakes. There was also an English trade through Albany and New York, and a French trade down the Mississippi.
The Hudson's Bay Company and the Compagnie d'Occident, although similar in title, had very different internal structures. The English trade was organized along hierarchical lines with salaried managers, whereas the French monopoly issued licenses (congés) or leased out the use of its posts. The structure of the English company allowed for more control from the London head office, but required systems that could monitor the managers of the trading posts (Carlos and Nicholas, 1990). The leasing and licensing arrangements of the French made monitoring unnecessary, but led to a system where the center had little influence over the conduct of the trade.
The French and English were distinguished as well by how they interacted with the Natives. The Hudson's Bay Company established posts around the Bay and waited for the Indians, often middlemen, to come to them. The French, by contrast, moved into the interior, directly trading with the Indians who harvested the furs. The French arrangement was more conducive to expansion, and by the end of the seventeenth century, they had moved beyond the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers into the western Great Lakes region (see Figure 1). Later they established posts in the heart of the Hudson Bay hinterland. In addition, the French explored the river systems to the south, setting up a post at the mouth of the Mississippi. As noted earlier, after Jay's Treaty was signed, the French were replaced in the Mississippi region by U.S. interests which later formed the American Fur Company (Haeger, 1991).
The English takeover of New France at the end of the French and Indian Wars in 1763 did not, at first, fundamentally change the structure of the trade. Rather, French management was replaced by Scottish and English merchants operating in Montreal. But, within a decade, the Montreal trade was reorganized into partnerships between merchants in Montreal and traders who wintered in the interior. The most important of these arrangements led to the formation of the Northwest Company, which for the first two decades of the nineteenth century, competed with the Hudson's Bay Company (Carlos and Hoffman, 1986). By the early decades of the nineteenth century, the Hudson's Bay Company, the Northwest Company, and the American Fur Company had, combined, a system of trading posts across North America, including posts in Oregon and British Columbia and on the Mackenzie River. In 1821, the Northwest Company and the Hudson's Bay Company merged under the name of the Hudson's Bay Company. The Hudson's Bay Company then ran the trade as a monopsony until the late 1840s when it began facing serious competition from trappers to the south. The Company's role in the northwest changed again with the Canadian Confederation in 1867. Over the next decades treaties were signed with many of the northern tribes forever changing the old fur trade order in Canada.
The Supply of Furs: The Harvesting of Beaver and Depletion
During the eighteenth century, the changing technology of felt production and the growing demand for felt hats were met by attempts to increase the supply of furs, especially the supply of beaver pelts. Any permanent increase, however, was ultimately dependent on the animal resource base. How that base changed over time must be a matter of speculation since no animal counts exist from that period; nevertheless, the evidence we do have points to a scenario in which over-harvesting, at least in some years, gave rise to serious depletion of the beaver and possibly other animals such as marten that were also being traded. Why the beaver were over-harvested was closely related to the prices Natives were receiving, but important as well was the nature of Native property rights to the resource.
Harvests in the Fort Albany and York Factory Regions
That beaver populations along the Eastern seaboard regions of North America were depleted as the fur trade advanced is widely accepted. In fact the search for new sources of supply further west, including the region of Hudson Bay, has been attributed in part to dwindling beaver stocks in areas where the fur trade had been long established. Although there has been little discussion of the impact that the Hudson's Bay Company and the French, who traded in the region of Hudson Bay, were having on the beaver stock, the remarkably complete records of the Hudson's Bay Company provide the basis for reasonable inferences about depletion. From 1700 there is an uninterrupted annual series of fur returns at Fort Albany; the fur returns from York Factory begin in 1716
The beaver returns at Fort Albany and York Factory for the period 1700 to 1770 are described in Figure 2. At Fort Albany the number of beaver skins over the period 1700 to 1720 averaged roughly 19,000, with wide year-to-year fluctuations; the range was about 15,000 to 30,000. After 1720 and until the late 1740s average returns declined by about 5,000 skins, and remained within the somewhat narrower range of roughly 10,000 to 20,000 skins. The period of relative stability was broken in the final years of the 1740s. In 1748 and 1749, returns increased to an average of nearly 23,000. Following these unusually strong years, the trade fell precipitously so that in 1756 fewer than 6,000 beaver pelts were received. There was a brief recovery in the early 1760s but by the end decade trade had fallen below even the mid-1750s levels. In 1770, Fort Albany took in just 3,600 beaver pelts. This pattern - unusually large returns in the late 1740s and low returns thereafter - indicates that the beaver in the Fort Albany region were being seriously depleted.
The beaver returns at York Factory from 1716 to 1770, also described in Figure 2, have some of the key features of the Fort Albany data. After some low returns early on (from 1716 to 1720), the number of beaver pelts increased to an average of 35,000. There were extraordinary returns in 1730 and 1731, when the average was 55,600 skins, but beaver receipts then stabilized at about 31,000 over the remainder of the decade. The first break in the pattern came in the early 1740s shortly after the French established several trading posts in the area. Surprisingly perhaps, given the increased competition, trade in beaver pelts at the Hudson's Bay Company post increased to an average of 34,300, this over the period 1740 to 1743. Indeed, the 1742 return of 38,791 skins was the largest since the French had established any posts in the region. The returns in 1745 were also strong, but after that year the trade in beaver pelts began a decline that continued through to 1770. Average returns over the rest of the decade were 25,000; the average during the 1750s was 18,000, and just 15,500 in the 1760s. The pattern of beaver returns at York Factory - high returns in the early 1740s followed by a large decline - strongly suggests that, as in the Fort Albany hinterland, the beaver population had been greatly reduced.
The overall carrying capacity of any region, or the size of the animal stock, depends on the nature of the terrain and the underlying biological determinants such as birth and death rates. A standard relationship between the annual harvest and the animal population is the Lotka-Volterra logistic, commonly used in natural resource models to relate the natural growth of a population to the size of that population:
F(X) = aX - bX2, a, b > 0 (1)
where X is the population, F(X) is the natural growth in the population, a is the maximum proportional growth rate of the population, and b = a/X, where X is the upper limit to population size. The population dynamics of the species exploited depends on the harvest each period:
DX = aX - bX2- H (2)
where DX is the annual change in the population and H is the harvest. The choice of parameter a and maximum population X is central to the population estimates and have been based largely on estimates from the beaver ecology literature and Ontario provincial field reports of beaver densities (Carlos and Lewis, 1993).
Simulations based on equation 2 suggest that, until the 1730s, beaver populations remained at levels roughly consistent with maximum sustained yield management, sometimes referred to as the biological optimum. But after the 1730s there was a decline in beaver stocks to about half the maximum sustained yield levels. The cause of the depletion was closely related to what was happening in Europe. There, buoyant demand for felt hats and dwindling local fur supplies resulted in much higher prices for beaver pelts. These higher prices, in conjunction with the resulting competition from the French in the Hudson Bay region, led the Hudson's Bay Company to offer much better terms to Natives who came to their trading posts (Carlos and Lewis, 1999).
A price index for furs at Fort Albany and at York Factory represents a measure of what Natives received in European goods for their furs. At Fort Albany, fur prices were close to 70 from 1713 to 1731, but in 1732, in response to higher European fur prices and the entry of la Vérendrye, an important French trader, the price jumped to 81. After that year, prices continued to rise. The pattern at York Factory was similar. Although prices were high in the early years when the post was being established, beginning in 1724 the price settled down to about 70. At York Factory, the jump in price came in 1738, which was the year la Vérendrye set up a trading post in the York Factory hinterland. Prices then continued to increase. It was these higher fur prices that led to over-harvesting and, ultimately, a decline in beaver stocks.
An increase in price paid to Native hunters did not have to lead to a decline in the animal stocks, because Indians could have chosen to limit their harvesting. Why they did not was closely related their system of property rights. One can classify property rights along a spectrum with, at one end, open access, where anyone can hunt or fish, and at the other, complete private property, where a sole owner has full control over the resource. Between, there are a range of property rights regimes with access controlled by a community or a government, and where individual members of the group do not necessarily have private property rights. Open access creates a situation where there is less incentive to conserve, because animals not harvested by a particular hunter will be available to other hunters in the future. Thus the closer is a system to open access the more likely it is that the resource will be depleted.
Across aboriginal societies in North America, one finds a range of property rights regimes. Native Americans did have a concept of trespass and of property, but individual and family rights to resources were not absolute. Sometimes referred to as the Good Samaritan principle (McManus, 1972), outsiders were not permitted to harvest furs on another's territory for trade, but they were allowed to hunt game and even beaver for food. Combined with this limitation to private property was an Ethic of Generosity that included liberal gift-giving where any visitor to one's encampment was to be supplied with food and shelter.
Why a social norm such as gift-giving or the related Good Samaritan principle emerged was due to the nature of the aboriginal environment. The primary objective of aboriginal societies was survival. Hunting was risky, and so rules were put in place that would reduce the risk of starvation. As Berkes et al.(1989, p. 153) notes, for such societies: "all resources are subject to the overriding principle that no one can prevent a person from obtaining what he needs for his family's survival." Such actions were reciprocal and especially in the sub-arctic world were an insurance mechanism. These norms, however, also reduced the incentive to conserve the beaver and other animals that were part of the fur trade. The combination of these norms and the increasing price paid to Native traders led to the large harvests in the 1740s and ultimately depletion of the animal stock.
The Trade in European Goods
Indians were the primary agents in the North American commercial fur trade. It was they who hunted the animals, and transported and traded the pelts or skins to European intermediaries. The exchange was a voluntary. In return for their furs, Indians obtained both access to an iron technology to improve production and access to a wide range of new consumer goods. It is important to recognize, however, that although the European goods were new to aboriginals, the concept of exchange was not. The archaeological evidence indicates an extensive trade between Native tribes in the north and south of North America prior to European contact.
The extraordinary records of the Hudson's Bay Company allow us to form a clear picture of what Indians were buying. Ina table the goods received by Natives at York Factory are listed, which was by far the largest of the Hudson's Bay Company trading posts. As is evident from the table, the commercial trade was more than in beads and baubles or even guns and alcohol; rather Native traders were receiving a wide range of products that improved their ability to meet their subsistence requirements and allowed them to raise their living standards. The items have been grouped by use. The producer goods category was dominated by firearms, including guns, shot and powder, but also includes knives, awls and twine. The Natives traded for guns of different lengths. The 3-foot gun was used mainly for waterfowl and in heavily forested areas where game could be shot at close range. The 4-foot gun was more accurate and suitable for open spaces. In addition, the 4-foot gun could play a role in warfare. Maintaining guns in the harsh sub-arctic environment was a serious problem, and ultimately, the Hudson's Bay Company was forced to send gunsmiths to its trading posts to assess quality and help with repairs. Kettles and blankets were the main items in the "household goods" category. These goods probably became necessities to the Natives who adopted them. Then there were the luxury goods, which have been divided into two broad categories: "tobacco and alcohol," and "other luxuries," dominated by cloth of various kinds (Carlos and Lewis, 2001; 2002).
We have much less information about the French trade. The French are reported to have exchanged similar items, although given their higher transport costs, both the furs received and the goods traded tended to be higher in value relative to weight. The Europeans, it might be noted, supplied no food to the trade in the eighteenth century. In fact, Indians helped provision the posts with fish and fowl. This role of food purveyor grew in the nineteenth century as groups known as the "home guard Cree" came to live around the posts; as well, pemmican, supplied by Natives, became an important source of nourishment for Europeans involved in the buffalo hunts.
The value of the goods listed in Table 2 is expressed in terms of the unit of account, the made beaver, which the Hudson's Bay Company used to record its transactions and determine the rate of exchange between furs and European goods. The price of a prime beaver pelt was 1 made beaver, and every other type of fur and good was assigned a price based on that unit. For example, a marten (a type of mink) was a made beaver, a blanket was 7 made beaver, a gallon of brandy, 4 made beaver, and a yard of cloth, 3? made beaver. These were the official prices at York Factory. Thus Indians, who traded at these prices, received, for example, a gallon of brandy for four prime beaver pelts, two yards of cloth for seven beaver pelts, and a blanket for 21 marten pelts. This was barter trade in that no currency was used; and although the official prices implied certain rates of exchange between furs and goods, Hudson's Bay Company factors were encouraged to trade at rates more favorable to the Company. The actual rates, however, depended on market conditions in Europe and, most importantly, the extent of French competition in Canada. Figure 3 illustrates the rise in the price of furs at York Factory and Fort Albany in response to higher beaver prices in London and Paris, as well as to a greater French presence in the region (Carlos and Lewis, 1999). The increase in price also reflects the bargaining ability of Native traders during periods of direct competition between the English and French and later the Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company. At such times, the Native traders would play both parties off against each other (Ray and Freeman, 1978).
The records of the Hudson's Bay Company provide us with a unique window to the trading process, including the bargaining ability of Native traders, which is evident in the range of commodities received. Natives only bought goods they wanted. Clear from the Company records is that it was the Natives who largely determined the nature and quality of those goods. As well the records tell us how income from the trade was being allocated. The breakdown differed by post and varied over time; but, for example, in 1740 at York Factory, the distribution was: producer goods - 44 percent; household goods - 9 percent; alcohol and tobacco - 24 percent; and other luxuries - 23 percent. An important implication of the trade data is that, like many Europeans and most American colonists, Native Americans were taking part in the consumer revolution of the eighteenth century (de Vries, 1993; Shammas, 1993). In addition to necessities, they were consuming a remarkable variety of luxury products. Cloth, including baize, duffel, flannel, and gartering, was by far the largest class, but they also purchased beads, combs, looking glasses, rings, shirts, and vermillion among a much longer list. Because these items were heterogeneous in nature, the Hudson's Bay Company's head office went to great lengths to satisfy the specific tastes of Native consumers. Attempts were also made, not always successfully, to introduce new products (Carlos and Lewis, 2002).
Perhaps surprising, given the emphasis that has been placed on it in the historical literature, was the comparatively small role of alcohol in the trade. At York Factory, Native traders received in 1740 a total of 494 gallons of brandy and "strong water," which had a value of 1,976 made beaver. More than twice this amount was spent on tobacco in that year, nearly five times was spent on firearms, twice was spent on cloth, and more was spent on blankets and kettles than on alcohol. Thus, brandy, although a significant item of trade, was by no means a dominant one. In addition, alcohol could hardly have created serious social problems during this period. The amount received would have allowed for no more than ten two-ounce drinks per year for the adult Native population living in the region.
The Labor Supply of Natives
Another important question can be addressed using the trade data. Were Natives "lazy and improvident" as they have been described by some contemporaries, or were they "industrious" like the American colonists and many Europeans? Central to answering this question is how Native groups responded to the price of furs, which began rising in the 1730s. Much of the literature argues that Indian trappers reduced their effort in response to higher fur prices; that is, they had backward-bending supply curves of labor. The view is that Natives had a fixed demand for European goods that, at higher fur prices, could be met with fewer furs, and hence less effort. Although widely cited, this argument does not stand up. Not only were higher fur prices accompanied by larger total harvests of furs in the region, but the pattern of Native expenditure also points to a scenario of greater effort. From the late 1730s to the 1760s, as the price of furs rose, the share of expenditure on luxury goods increased dramatically. Thus Natives were not content simply to accept their good fortune by working less; rather they seized the opportunity provided to them by the strong fur market by increasing their effort in the commercial sector, thereby dramatically augmenting the purchases of those goods, namely the luxuries, that could raise their living standards.
As important as the fur trade was to Native Americans in the sub-arctic regions of Canada, commerce with the Europeans comprised just one, relatively small, part of their overall economy. Exact figures are not available, but the traditional sectors; hunting, gathering, food preparation and, to some extent, agriculture must have accounted for at least 75 to 80 percent of Native labor during these decades. Nevertheless, despite the limited time spent in commercial activity, the fur trade had a profound effect on the nature of the Native economy and Native society. The introduction of European producer goods, such as guns, and household goods, mainly kettles and blankets, changed the way Native Americans achieved subsistence; and the European luxury goods expanded the range of products that allowed them to move beyond subsistence. Most importantly, the fur trade connected Natives to Europeans in ways that affected how and how much they chose to work, where they chose to live, and how they exploited the resources on which the trade and their survival was based.
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Citation: Carlos, Ann and Frank Lewis. "Fur Trade (1670-1870)". EH.Net Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Whaples. March 16, 2008. URL http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/carlos.lewis.furtrade