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Soft Gold

The abundance of sea otter brought international
fur trading interests to this area.

Northwest Trade
From the fifteenth through the
nineteenth century, European
and North Atlantic nations explored into a frenzy of worldwide exploration, discovery and conquest, lands of Africa, America, Australia, Siberia, India, Pacific Islands and the Arctic explored. Trade items from new lands were exchanged for the luxuries of the orient: tea, spices and silk.

Quick Fortunes
The discovery of sea otter pelts in the north pacific ocean started a worldwide "soft gold rush", when Europeans realized that natives would trade otter pelts for "trinkets", the rush began. Pelts were sold in Chinese and European markets for enormous profits. "... they were not appreciated at the outset; It is said that the sailors spread them on their bunks for warmth.. but when the Chinese offered high prices, the result was a scramble... with keen rivalry among the Spaniards, British, Russian and americans"(from-five centurys of famous ships)

'Round the Horn
Traders traveled nearly 20,000 miles to reach the off-shore kelp bed habitat of the sea otter. Ships sailed from America's east coast and from Europe around South America's Cape Horn to the trading porty of Redoubt St. Michael. After obtaining thousands of pelts, another 7,000-mile journey to the Chinese port of Canton was neccessary to complete the trade. Then began the return trip to home ports. Often two or three years passed before sailors saw their native lands. Russian traders traveled eastward 4,000 miles from the port of Okhotsk (on the Russian mainland) to Redoubt St. Michael. Upon return to Russia, their journey often involved an 8,000-mile overland trip to company offices in St Petersburg (now Leningrad) to complete the trade. World map names:

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