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The ExpeditionMarias River
Soft Gold - Fur
Hard Gold - Wheat

Beaver Plew

Legal Tender

photo of beaver plew

Dean Hellinger photo, courtesy of the
Great Falls Lewis & Clark Encampment

beaver pelt, or "plew" (Canadian French, pelu, from the French adjective poilu, hairy), mounted as early trappers would have stretched it for drying. Pictured above is a "coat beaver" plew, with the hair still on. A dried plew with hair removed was called a "parchment beaver." At the beginnings of the Western fur trade in the late 1700s until its decline in the early 1840s, dollars were useless in this part of the realm, while beaver "parchments" had a comprehensible value in trade. Twenty parchments for a gun was a real deal; a price of fifty dollars for the same gun was just talk. Pelts other than beaver could be valued in terms of "made beaver." A marten might be valued at two made beaver; a white weasel (ermine) pelt might be worth eight or more made beaver.

--Joseph Mussulman, 1999

Soft Gold - Fur
Hard Gold - Wheat

From Discovering Lewis & Clark ®, http://www.lewis-clark.org © 1998-2014
by The Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, Washburn, North Dakota.
Journal excerpts are from The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary E. Moulton
13 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983-2001)