Post by SouthWestern Traders on Jan 23, 2016 19:47:43 GMT
Over the winter, Southern Trader merchants had secured good deals on furs, ivory, and other similarly valuable goods best acquired in the coldest time of year, by the most hardy of hunters and trappers. Come spring, the court of the Southern Traders held an open event for all to attend, where they might purchase the very finest furs, cloths & clothes, wines, ivory, and so much more. For those interested, the auction would be followed by a feast celebrating the return of the sun (for a price, of course, to pay for the food, drinks and a modest fee to the Guild).
This event was held once per year at the court and was an exceptional time for people with exquisite tastes and a desire to acquire uncommon goods and collectibles.
The public section of the Guild's court included a large ballroom suitable for both the feast and the auction, although the auction itself would be held outside, weather permitting.
Post by x - Dumonia (OD) on Jan 24, 2016 8:12:11 GMT
Traditionally the event is attended to by Dumonian nobles, court grandees and warlords spending the year's rewards, plunder or other income, with from time to time the kings briefly appearing too. This year being no exception to the tradition. A few warriors of the realm are also unobstrusively attending, usually on hand to remove the worst drinkers and at times those with tempers heated by their failures at auctions.
King Oden of Dumonia
Emissary in Camelot: Sir Drust of Wedmore Lord Chamberlain: Sir Gwion Redside
Post by SouthWestern Traders on May 25, 2016 19:38:59 GMT
Once again, the time had come to host an auction. Following a successful Winter Ball that saw the formation of a council of Kings and Queens in Albion, and a most successful tournament as well, the guilders and courtiers of Dumonia were excitedly looking forward to this year's fur auction.
New furs had come in from Caerleon and Gawant this time around, and there were even whispers that the large wolf and bear pelts of the dwarven realm had somehow made it down; but perhaps those were just idle rumours. Hopeful merchants of the Northern Traders had also been invited to peddle their goods, as the relationship between the two Guild's slowly improved. The Eastern Traders, as well, might be able to sell some furs here if they had any to sell.
In particular, desperate and hungry trappers from Helna had managed to sell their furs just prior to the Slavers arrival in that region, securing them what little wealth they could in the wilderness of the hills and forests. They were still fine furs, likely to fetch a good price.
Post by SouthWestern Traders on Dec 2, 2016 6:10:29 GMT
This year brought forth few furs from Nemeth or Helna owing to the various decrees issued by King Alden. However, unlike previous years, there was a large selection of ivory available, along with furs not often seen that far south. It remained to be seen if that type of fur and the ivory could compete with the traditional selection of furs from Helna that so many nobles, even beyond Dumonia, prized quite highly.
Rumours from last year repeated themselves, but unlike last year, perhaps they were not entirely idle talk this time around.
Post by SouthWestern Traders on Jan 27, 2017 6:25:42 GMT
"And this fine fur," The auctioneer presented, "A veritable bear skin!" He exclaimed, "A great many of you fine noblemen have bested the bear, but few could ever bring home it's skin to hang upon your walls. Now your bare stone walls may be graced by the finest Albion has to offer. Do I hear..."
The auctioneer continued his work, as noblemen (and some commoners) milled about. Somewhere in the crowd, a pickpocket made an attempt.
A great mistake to be sure.
A guilder, assigned to the event as a sentry, cried out "Thief!"
And the poor pickpocket was beset by Dumonian guards (and armed noblemen) quite rapidly. While he caused a ruckus, he had few places to run.
Without missing a beat, the auctioneer continued, "...Do I hear a gold coin more? No? Last call for this fine bear skin!"
"And sold, to the lovely lady with the fox scarf." The auctioneer declared, while the pickpocket was dragged away to suffer the judgment of the law.
Post by SouthWestern Traders on Jun 6, 2017 17:39:04 GMT
This year's selections came from both nearby and distant lands. Many sheep had met their demise in Wessex to feed various armies and people throughout the land, and accordingly there was much sheepskin to be had. It was popular, mainly because it was cheap, which was unfortunate for many of the nobles who wanted something more extravagant.
There was something to cover expensive tastes as well, however. The ships that came back from Nagnati had brought back sealskin furs. The auctioneers loved it. They bandied about its many mythical properties.
It would make the rain fall on your neighbor instead of you!
Your rival's wife would surely be your mistress if you wore this fur!
Goblins would mistake you for a rock!
And other impossible, and mostly amusing, promises. There was certainly much laughter to be had about it. All the same, the more serious procurers noted the excellent quality and rarity of the skin, and that it really did make excellent clothing. Unlike the sheepskin, the seal would not be cheap, and that made it a coveted item among those nobles who vied to be the most fashionable, who thus upped its price further, thus making it ever more desirable.
Besides those selections, the fur festival carried numerous other furs to cover almost any other tastes, no matter how obscure. The auctioneers had gotten good at their work, and usually had at least a few furs from all over Albion available, to those who desired it.
Post by SouthWestern Traders on Jan 8, 2018 18:10:59 GMT
Admiral Whiterose walked the docks of Exeter, inspecting the most recent arrivals from the Guild's furriers. She was careful with the furs, wearing gloves to keep harmful oils from ruining their splendor, and handling them delicately and with care.
The fur auction was a tradition that spanned back years, if not decades. It gave a rare opportunity for those with the wealth and means to acquire the finest clothing Albion had to offer. Mostly frequented by nobles near and far who sought the latest fashion, some well-to-do merchants also enjoyed to peruse what the annual auction had to offer. With the right coin and a good eye, the discerning fur trader could acquire a large stock of excellent tanned and untanned furs, suitable for making next year's fashion.
For nobles, the tradition was more about acquiring furs already fashioned into a variety of clothing. Some nobles might be tempted to buy tanned furs if they saw some to their liking, and to then either have their furrier make something with it, or to have their daughters show off their sewing skills. The trends varied from year to year.
For Elyssia, it was an excellent means of selling cheaply bought hides, furs, and fur coats for a premium. The truth was that, if not for distance, most of the furs were fairly common in their respective regions of origin. But even if the buyers knew that, traveling such distances could be fatal, and knowing the right people made all the difference. So even those who knew remained quite content paying and outbidding each other for these high quality furs. For all the rest, they were welcome to try to stitch something together from a bundle of cheaply bought furs. If they failed, they'd only be the laughing stock at their respective social gatherings.
Post by SouthWestern Traders on Apr 10, 2018 5:57:58 GMT
[T21, Part 1 of 5, Introductions]
The days were getting longer. Sunlight was a welcome gift, even if most days were a cloudy mess, some with snow, some with slush, and many with rain. For many, this was the best part of spring. However, there were those who knew better. Those with talents knew that there was but a week or two every year where their exquisite crafts could be presented and sold. Those with wealth, power or influence to peddle knew there was but a week or two every year where their gold and promises could buy them what none other in Albion, nay the world, could ever own.
The Dumonian Spring Fur Auction.
It was the event of a lifetime, for those who only lived one year, or for those too poor to attend it more than once. Held in Exeter, at the guild’s former headquarters that were still formidable structures in their own right and quite important locally, the event attracted nobles from far away lands, speaking strange tongues. Many local peasants attended as well in their finest attires. Those unfortunate souls who held no titles, but had much wealth to their name would journey here either to find something on which to spend their hard-earned gold, or on something to invest and sell again back where they came from.
This year was particularly well attended due to a confluence of reasons. Winter had been a harsh mistress, and the demand for furs had soared so much in other lands that few could be found at reasonable prices, and what little could be found there was of low quality. Indeed, everything of decent or high quality seemed to have made its way to Dumonia. The reasonable prices had not followed. Still, if one wanted to wear anything fashionable or presentable, the Dumonian fur auction was the place to be.
The guild had also procured many furs over the past year. Many of those would later be presented and displayed in earnest, but the gossip was that the selection was quite varied. It included furs brought down from the mountains of North Hold, some incredibly rare furs supposedly from Nagnati, Umbria and Tir Mor, and further furs from the eastern coast of Hibernia that were rumoured to be as soft as they were warm. Furs from Helna, nigh impossible to get these days, were said to be here as well. Strange furs were rumoured to be present, such as furs that could keep out not just the cold, but also repel water and which was said to come with dazzling patterns.
There was much leather as well. The best cattle had given their lives to furnish the auction, and none could doubt the quality of the leather, which either had already been or could easily be turned into any number of accessories, attires or even useful objects. Some leathers were said to have been fished out of the sea, rumoured to contain magical properties. The savvier noblemen who only wore the latest fashions scoffed at that notion; leather could not have inherent magical properties! Only powerful wizards, such as Merlin or King Oden, could impart such powers onto inanimate objects.
There were surely other reasons as well, but the spring fur auction was shaping up to be quite the event that year.
Post by SouthWestern Traders on Apr 10, 2018 17:01:39 GMT
[T21, Part 2 of 5, Invitations]
Invitations were sent out far and wide by land and by sea. To distant, exotic courts both regal and rich in the dwarven highlands and the Hibernian forests. To the brutally efficient courts of Lothia and Bayard. To the enormous and varied courts of Camelot: To King Glendall, to Duke Uther, to Lord Holt, and others there as well. To the allied courts of Caerleon, Gawant, Alined and Dumonia. To the druid circles of the old religion, and to the druids of benevolence. To lesser lords, prosperous merchants and pious priests. Many throughout the land received word of the decree, with select persons receiving personal invitations. Even to the court of the Silvermount Trading Consortium. Notably not to the court of the Eastern Traders, though they would surely catch wind of it all the same.
The illustrious halls of the Southwestern Traders hereby cordially invite all the good peoples of Albion, Hibernia and North Hold to attend the Dumonian Spring Fur Festival.
Come see the fine wares procured from all over Albion, and make your bids that you might wear only the best and the finest of leathers, furs and attires. Come enjoy the hospitality, food and drink of Exeter. Adorn yourself in the greatest fur accessories that Albion has ever seen, courtesy of our talented craftsmen, intrepid merchants, and the many harder trappers that help make this festival a reality.
Come witness the trade fleet, and the brave captains and crew who have sailed tirelessly to bring peace and prosperity to all of Albion. Shake their hands, make their acquaintance, and give thanks to those who risk their lives to keep all safe from acts of piracy.
May the light of the stars guide your ships to safe harbour,
Elyssia Whiterose, Admiral of the Southwestern Traders Victor, Commodore of the Southwestern Traders Lilly Everwater, Commodore of the Southwestern Traders
Post by SouthWestern Traders on Apr 11, 2018 17:44:59 GMT
[T21, Part 3 of 5, Furs of Albion and Beyond]
The stories of where many of the furs came from could be quite embellished at times. As per usual, the furs ranged from the raw untanned hides that needed much work to become anything of value (which was not to say that they weren't good quality, some craftsmen just preferred to start with a raw hide and so it was offered), all the way to the finished product that could keep even the bravest knight safe from harm.
The more distant the origin of the fur, the more embellished the tale.
The auctioneers spoke of majestic beasts in Helna that could snap a poorly-built trap in half. The trappers there were said to be burly, ingenious men and women who had to use wits and brawn alike to bring down the beasts that provided them with the fur they could then sell to the mainland. Having to fend off skulking goblins, wily elves, itinerant thieves and greedy tax collectors, the life of a trapper and furrier on Helna was not an easy one. Naturally, the auctioneers assured that all due taxes on all items had been paid, and that the workers had merely sought to avoid unlawfully collected taxes, as is a risk in remote regions. A particularly large tanned hide with luscious fur was large enough to drape a seven foot tall warrior from head to toe and make him look like a great warrior - or like a trapper from Helna. The bid started at a gold coin for that one.
From North Hold, beasts of the sea had been corralled into shallow bays and carefully speared. Thanks to the skill and talent of the trappers up there, the furs were impeccable and bore no sign of having been stabbed or spread themselves. To show the amazing properties of those hides they had the sealskin laid flat next to a sheepskin. "Ladies and gentlemen, both of these hides here have merely been tanned, not tarred. Yet watch as this fine northern hide lets nary a drop of water out and remains as dry as it was before. Warm, supple, this is the hide that will keep your head warm in cold winter snows and through wet winter springs." He poured the water across both hides and later held them up, revealing a soaked sheepskin, and a dry sealskin.
From Hibernia, the cattle hides were exquisite. Through no fault of the auctioneer, a bone-white cattle hide had been perceived by a bidder as being the hide of a unicorn. It wasn't, of course, but once the rumour spread of a unicorn hide at the auction, it was nigh impossible to stop interested bidders from inspecting it. Guards had to be posted to make sure the bone-white cow leather wasn't stolen, and prospective bidders were allowed near it only under supervision, in anticipation of the inevitable high bids. Despite many attempts to convince people otherwise, all assumed that some higher level guilders merely wanted unicorn hide from themselves, and few believed repeated statements that "This fine piece of leather, however exquisite, does not come from a unicorn." albeit with no statement on whether they would sell unicorn hide if they had one. Elyssia, at least, was superstitious enough that she did not want the misfortune of slaying a unicorn on her conscience.
There were, of course, many others furs, hides and leathers available for purchase. Not unicorn, though, despite the rumours of such.
With regards to important guilders, both Admiral Whiterose and Commodore Everwater were seen attending the spring fur auction. Others as well, to be sure, but those two in particular were quite noticeable.
Post by Elyssia Whiterose (SWT) on Apr 13, 2018 7:02:24 GMT
[T21, Part 4 of 5, The Sunken Sailors]
Gathered at the pier, the dockworkers, sailors and captains had joined their admiral, who stood proud on a stack of furs. Her red hair blew in the wind, and her green eyes shone with delight at the sight of the sea. Draped in fine furs, she looked almost majestic, though she was ultimately but a bastard child. Hardly suitable to be a queen, let alone a princess.
“Haul up the flags, lads!” she called out, “Heave ho! Heave ho!” Two masts on land had been set up, and flags were lifted half-way up at which point Elyssia stopped them, “Avast!” and she took off her hat. The flags of the two Dumonian ships, Amber and Gilded, had been raised. Both had been sunk by pirates.
“To bring us furs as fine as these, to bring us food to eat and whiskey to drink, to bring us the tools with which to work our trade, good sailors have given their lives again and again.” She looked out at the crowd gathered before her. “They have given their lives in battle for Albion, they have given their lives in storms, they have given their lives in defense against pirates.”
“A toast!” She cried, “A toast to the lads and lassies who went before for us, may the wind be ever be at their backs!” She took a swig of an indeterminable liquid, as did many before her.
She looked out in silence at the crowd for a minute.
“Right then.” she said jokingly, “Get back to work ye scallywags. We’ve got furs to sell and memories to honour!”
Admiral Elyssia Whiterose of the Southwestern Traders
Post by Elyssia Whiterose (SWT) on Apr 17, 2018 4:50:25 GMT
[T21, Part 5 of 5, Dumonian Sweethearts]
Reefrunner came in early in the spring, as Avalon and Justice was leaving. As the skilled crewmembers passed each other they sang and caroused, seeking to deafen the songs of the other, yet it was strangely melodic all the same, with the lads from Reefrunner crying out "Hurrah lads, we're homeward bound!", and singing songs to that effect. The sailors from Avalon and Justice responded with songs honouring Captain Tristan, "Captain Tristan's known wherever sailors go, as toughest bastard on the go!". They seemed to be having great fun for the brief moments it lasted, which was a little while longer thanks to good planning between the captains. Just enough to provide the sailors with that much more merriment.
When Reefrunner came in, the sailors were overjoyed. There were many sweethearts to be found on the pier. One in particular seemed a little lost, calling out for a "William!?", but rebuffing those who presented themselves as William. Finally she spoke with Captain Evans, who informed her that her sweetheart, William Williamson, was not to be found aboard his vessel. It didn't set well with her, though he was clearly courteous and spoke softly.
Admiral Whiterose, witnessing the scene approached. The sweetheart was wringing her hands, like a young girl in great despair. She began tearing out her hair and moaning William's name first softly, then louder. She threw herself at Elyssia, pounding her chest and crying William's name, blaming the Admiral. Elyssia stood resolutely, embracing the young girl, as she wept for her William, her sweet William, sadly drowned at sea, never to return. Though a good sailor, they lost sight of him during a storm, and they presumed him drowned when they could not rescue him.
People such as Captain Evans and Elyssia knew the risks, as surely did William, but the young girl was no sailor, and knew not the risk nor did she understand them. She only understood that her William was gone.
Admiral Elyssia Whiterose of the Southwestern Traders
Post by SouthWestern Traders on May 1, 2018 17:19:09 GMT
[T21, Bonus, Parchment of Albion & The Solidarity of Guilders]
One of the many challenges of a craftsman and merchant alike was the tough decision on what product to make from the available raw materials. Considerations included expertise, time available, demand of the product in question, and the opportunity cost of using that particular raw material versus just doing something else entirely. Often times the question was reduced to a simple matter of demand - a woodworker and carpenter usually had a choice in whether to work on making furniture or maintaining homesteads, and what type of furniture or homestead they worked on was then by request. So the question for him was whether his time and skill was better spent on furniture or construction.
In the world of fur, hides and leather, the question could not be avoided. Sometimes it was an easy question to answer. If the raw material was of such rare, high quality that to use it for anything else but the finest of clothing, it would be a travesty to ruin it for something lesser. Other times, the question was not as simple. Should a pelt be used as a fine rug? As a to-be-weathered adventurer's cloak? As a trophy to be hung on a wall?
Sheepskin and cattle rawhides alike, even of low quality, faced similar problem. While higher quality skins from lambs and calves could be turned into vellum for use by Abbotts, Kings, Queens and Wizards, the lower quality stuff was suitable both as warm clothing for shepherds and peasants, but also as parchment for ordinary day-to-day scribes. It was suitable for quivers, for simple non-descript armour, for boots, and for so much more.
Thankfully, the spring fur festival of Dumonia allowed for such a wide range of raw material that the question was not about how best to use the raw material available, but rather how best to spend the time and expertise of the various craftsmen who knew how to work it. Some focused exclusively on a specialized craft, at the risk of being unable to sell their product if demand was low, while others could adapt more easily to requests. As it so happened, it seemed likely that much of the parchment to be used in Albion, and beyond, for the year to come would come from Dumonia.
Ultimately, it was the value of the final product the guild sold that mattered, and the guild could subsidize sales between its members to encourage the highest value goods to be made, whether that be fine fur clothing, exquisite pelt rugs, or absurd quantities of parchment for the absurd dispatches between realms. Bought at the best (lowest) price from peasants outside of the guild and sold at the best (highest) price to nobles outside of the guild meant every piece of silver between those two prices would end up in the hands of guilders, and that was what the guild sought to encourage.
Post by SouthWestern Traders on Jul 30, 2018 18:12:19 GMT
[T25] The Picks and Shovels of a Fur Auction
Every year, without fail, the markets of Dumonia buzzed with activity. Winter balls came and went. Wars were waged and peace was signed. Ships sailed off to sea, with some making it back. Many things might change from season to season or year to year. Yet the spring fur auction was like a rock, as everlasting and resolute as Tintagel. Such tenacity was rewarded, for even distant merchants and noblemen from all across Hibernia and Albion could be confident that the auction would be held. They could be confident that the quality would be among the best they could hope for. And so, they could depart months ahead of time to make the long journey, knowing that their journey would not be in vain. Sure, not everyone always got what they wanted, especially if they didn't bring enough gold for the auction. But that merely inspired distant lords and ladies from making sure they brought enough gold for the auction, driving the prices up higher. And the higher prices inspired distant merchants, some only loosely affiliated with the Southwestern Traders, to bring ever more furs, products and more.
Indeed, such was the benefit of the fur action that, much like a gold rush, the furs themselves were starting to become incidental as a source of income. Much wealth was spent on food, lodging, and related services surrounding the fur auction. Such wealth was vastly more important than the wealth gathered from the fur auction, at least it was to the innkeepers, the bakers, the brewers and many more. Widows selling pies could easily make their year's income if they played their cards right during the fur auction, giving them time to grieve and manage their households. Intrepid merchants could insert themselves among the fur auctioneers, hawking distant, high quality wares with the guild's blessing. As mentioned, due to the large influx of wealthy patrons, the markets were very much desired by foreign merchants, and opened by the Southwestern Traders to allow dwarves, elves, Hibernians and others from participating. Granted such participation warranted an additional fee from the merchants, but it was a fee that was very much well-worth it. Those merchants actually affiliated with the Southwestern Traders (including Dumonian merchants) were, of course, given priority and a much reduced fee.
For as one is better off selling picks and shovels during a gold rush, so is one better off selling everything but furs during a fur auction.
Which was not to say that the Southwestern Traders didn't make a lot of money off of the fur auction. But lessons had been learned from last year, and recognition of the incidental wealth to be made - potentially far greater than the fur auction itself - had warranted this renewed focus on the goods and services surrounding the auction.
Post by ET (Kerberos) on Jul 31, 2018 17:34:10 GMT
While no doubt many products other than furs were being sold furs were the product of greatest interest to the Aelven visitors from Umbria. The visitors test extensively what fur coats allow such a range of movement that a bows and spears can still be used. For the moment no major orders are placed, but a nubmer of samples are bought and contact information is sought for such merchants as might be able to supply larger orders for the following winter.