In the Mexican era, whole cattle hides were California's principal export. To prevent theft law enforcement sometimes checked the brands on hides before they were exported by sailing ship. Most went to the Boston-area shoe industry. The hides would stay intact during export and tanning, then be cut up at a shoe factory to be reused in the higher-value product. I figure that many, many copies of California cattle brands reached the hands of the Boston shoemakers.

The brand symbols are reasonably well documented in California records, but did anyone in Boston know or care which symbol was which? Was the branded part of the leather clipped and scrapped, or just incorporated into a discreet part of the shoes?

Book cover with cattle brands

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