Women of
             the
             Fur Trade
Trade Wool in the Fur Trade  
                                        
 

     Stroudcloth, list cloth, saved list cloth, all these terms
    appear commonly in inventory lists during
 the fur trade.

    To name just a few :
   
An 1835 inventory of goods sent to the Upper Missouri
    Outfit lists 10 pieces saved list indigo blue
cloth, 5 pieces
    black list scarlet cloth, and 3 pieces saved list green cloth.

    An invoice from the Rocky Mt. outfit 1836 under the
    charge of Fontenelle, Fitzpatrick & Co from papers
of
    the 
American Fur Co lists 1 ps [piece] fancy list blue cloth, 
    16 ps saved list blue cloth, 3 gray list blue
 cloth, 3 black 
    list scarlet cloth,
 1 saved list scarlet cloth, 3 saved list
    scarlet cloth, 3 saved list green cloth.

    In 1825 Ashley made a cache, in it were included 2 pieces
    scarlet cloth and 2 pieces blue stroud.

     Trade list of John Mcnight, 1822 [partner of General Thomas
    James], lists 5 inferior blue strouds, 7 saved list
blue cloth,
    2 red stroud,
1 scarlet stroud, 5 scarlet stroud.

   
These lists could go on an on, so common is wool, or
    broadcloth, in fur trade inventories. Documentation is easy.

    Now just what is the meaning of these terms stroud, list,
    and saved list cloth? The Oxford English Dictionary
    defines stroud as: "A cheap kind of cloth, made from
    woolen rags, exported to the North American Indians". 

    Rags meant wool from dead sheep, & wool from factory
    waste. Rag material was finely carded or "deviled" then
   carded with new coarse wool for spinning. It seems from
    references to fancy and to inferior stroud that there may
   
actually have been better grades of this wool.

    Davis Schmid has found that aggressively fulled 100%
    woolen coating is virtually indistinguishable from existing
    artifacts of stroud
owned by the Minnesota Historical
    Society. This would indicate it is a nicer fabric than the
   
 above definition." 
    (personal communication from Thomas Swan) 
 

    The term stroudcloth makes reference to the town of
    Stroud in Glouchestershire County, England, famous
for
    its stroudwater red.
   
The river water there was reported to have some quality
    which produced outstanding color from the dying 
    process. This district was known
for its fine quality
   
broadcloth which was used for the uniforms of the king's 
    
army.

                                        
        
                                            
    
List refers to selvedge, where the edge is tightly woven to
    prevent any
fraying. List, or selvedge,
is cut away and
    
not used in the construction of European clothing so
    manufacturers often
used a d
ifferent fiber such as mohair 
    or a coarser
fiber for this edge since it was waste anyway.

 

    Carolyn Corey has found in her research that England had
    laws that lists be certain widths to show the 
various
    grades
of broadcloth. The gray list and black list cloth noted
    earlier in the trade lists refer 
to those colors used in the
    selvedge
warp instead of white.
Some lists have a stripe or
    two of color running
 through the white.
Carolyn in her book
    shows women's leggings with a gray list and the white
   
saved edge above it,
    from the book "Art of the Great Lakes Indians"

 
  Saved list refers to the list or selvedge being kept white 
    during the dying process.  This white edge
was much
    desired be the Indians of N.A.
and used in their clothing
    for decorative effect.  Now why
did
the practice of leaving
    a white selvedge start?

 

    As mentioned earlier, trade laws in England governed the
    width of lists to show the quality of the
broadcloth, so that
    may be a part of why, but even more plausible is this
    excerpt on dying by William
Portidge, which was originally
    published in 1820.
   
"ON COVERING THE LISTS OF CLOTH WITH WEBBING
    TO PREVENT ITS TAKING COLOR.....

    Cloth, intended for scarlet, or any other cochineal color,
    is always girt-webbed, to prevent the lists from
 taking the
    dye, as it would, being heavy
and coarse, absorb much
    of the cochineal.  This operation is
performed with thick
    cotton, or linen
webbing, which, being doubled to half its
    breadth,
is then wide enough
to enclose the list when
    rolled up. The webbing is put round the list, so as to
    enclose it all, and is sewn on
 with small twine, passing
    through the
cloth close to the list, and drawn tight over
    both.  The stitches
are
about one-fifth of an inch apart,
    when the list
is covered,
merely to save cochineal.....
    Soon as a scarlet
cloth is finished coloring, and has been
    partly cleaned by the steamers, it is put on a slatted scrave,
   
 that has been covered with a clean white cloth, and the
    girt-webbing is taken off.  This is performed by
women,
    who draw the threads out with hooks. 
After it is taken off,
    both the thread and the webbing are well washed and hung
    up to dry for further use." 
This method then, was first used
    to save
dye, and makes good sense when we recall the
    coarse goods used
in making the lists.  From his
    description it is actually
a tie-dye method
that most of us
    are familiar with.

           

   
    Dyes at this time were Indigo for blue and cochineal for
    red.  Both these hold their color well. It was not
until 1856
    that William Perkin
discovered a synthetic dye, mauve,
    but it was an analine dye that faded easily.
 
Wools need
    an acid
dye.

    In 1878 Biebrich scarlet was invented,   this time a red acid
   
dye rivaling cochineal in brightness.  Fustic from a
    mulberry tree was used for yellow and mixed with blue for
    green. 

   
These two colors faded easily. (Dye History form 2600 BC
    to the 20th Century) 
These colors can be documented from
    records 1775-1825: white, red, scarlet, blue, aurora, green.

   
 (A Compendium of material,  " Northwest Journal vol X
    1997)

    Now lets take a look at the use of wool during the fur trade.
    Native Americans had fine clothing from their
brain
    tanned hides
but this wool cloth that traders were
    bringing was new and different.  Besides the pretty,
   
bright colors it had some advantages. 

    This is from David Thompson writing March 25, 1810, at
    Saleesh House:  "We now plainly, as well as the Salish
   
Indians, see in this climate, the great advantage of woolen
    over leather clothing, the latter when wet sticks to the
skin,
    and is very uncomfortable, requires time to dry,
with
    caution to keep it to it's shape of clothing.  
On the contrary
    the woolen, even when wet, is not uncomfortable, is readily
    dried and keeps it's shape,
which quality they admire.  
    The Indians now fully appreciate the  use of woolen
    clothing, and every one is glad by
means of trade, to
    change this leather dress, for one of the woolen 
    manufacture of England." we can see from
this quote that
    it soon became a coveted
item for those who could afford
    it, and thus it also became somewhat of a status symbol.
  
 

                    

 

    An important Blood chief was painted by Bodmer  wearing
    a red saved list war shirt with buckskin sleeves.

    Native Americans used the white edge of saved list wool for
    decorative effect instead of cuting it off and 
hemming
as
    the Europeans did.  It seems they were quite fond of it since
    photographs even into reservation times show
Native
    American women of the Northern plains and plateau still
    wearing saved list dresses, but as early as 1739
a HBC
    employee wrote of the
Indians fashion to wear the list at
    the bottom or even the side of the garment.

    Here's a trapper, Joe Meek, describing his beautiful wife's
    dress….
"She wore a skirt of  beautiful blue broadcloth, and
    a bodice and leggins of scarlet cloth, of the very finest
    make."

    In summary, it has been believed that stroudcloth meant the
    white edged wool, but seeing these different t
erms in the
    same inventories,
now I can only be sure that saved list
    has the white edge.

    Stroud cloth and list cloth may or may not be. I also heard
    stories that stroud was
 a cheap wool used to blot up
    excess dye from fine fabrics. I could find no reference to
    anything like this, 
besides, wool has to be immersed
and
    stirred and kept at a hot temperature to take the dye well.

    I experimented for a long time on just how to make this,
    and even tried other methods when my
wrapping didn't
    work. Over time and lots
of wasted dye and wool, I found
    a natural dye company that
gave me good information ,
    such as the fact that wool needs an acid dye,
and that it
    needs to be gradually
brought up to the dying temperature.
    Trouble was, they wanted to sell me 100 pounds of each
    color at a time!

    I also found that the wool edge and webbing needs to be
    soaking wet or the dye seeps into the edge.
If you want to
    try making
saved list yourself, or if you want more detail
    of its history, I have just touched the surface
and Carolyn
   Corey has written an excellent
book on the subject.  I would
    definitely recommend it to anyone
wanting to make or use
    saved list. She even gives her sources for dye!

    The name of her book is, The Trade cloth Handbook.
   
You can get it from,

     Four winds Trading Post
    
P.O. Box 580
    
St. Ignatious, Montana 
                         
59865
              
      Or e-mail to:
       ccorey@bigsky.net   
                                                                                                                                                                                    

               Go STROUD!
            And Happy Dyeing
 
                                       Jill and Sandy
     

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