Tidbits from Then and Now
Rutland Herald August 14,1980
Submitted by Mickey Kelly and Fred Remington
Tony Pratico: Veteran Furrier
By Ed Glodzik
If you are a trapper in these parts and have furs to sell, almost invariably you think of Tony Pratico of Rutland.
For more than 50 years the 80 year old fur dealer has been buying and selling plus trading all types of pelts and hides while becoming one of the biggest dealers in New England.
Pratico came to the United States from his native Italy when he was 23 years old to join his brother Pasquel, who was already in Rutland working on the railroads.
Since his arrival in Rutland, Pratico has become a champion trap shooting artist and was state champion for almost 16 consecutive years. His love of the outdoors and his hunting background quickly led him into the fur business as an early hobby. Before he had reached his 25th birthday, was becoming a fulltime fur dealer.
Now after 50 years of working fulltime as a fur buyer, Pratico is slowly starting to get out of the business and trying to "retire". His younger son William is becoming more involved and is learning the business from the expert in the family.
“Once you get furs in your system it’s hard to stop working, buying and selling fur is a gamble, a lot of gambles, just like the stock market."
Pratico learned the fur business just a few years after coming to Vermont from a New York City fur grader named Sal Cali, Cali knew the Pratico family and encouraged young Tony to learn the business.
Over the years Pratico, mentioned the fur business has remained basically the same since he started in the late 1920’s. Although the price of fur has increased dramatically over the years, the methods of trapping are basically the same.
“The business is about the same, but only the prices have gone up and during the past few years because of the increase in the prices of pelts, more people are starting to get interested in trapping.”
Pratico is also proud to point out he is willing to help anyone getting into the business. “If people learn to take proper care of fur they can make more money and I am willing to help them,” said Pratico.
With his long years in the fur business Pratico had some stories illustrating how big a gamble being a fur buyer really is.
Between 1940 and 1950 Pratico saved over 10,000 red fox furs. During this period there was little demand for the fur and the price for the fur dropped to as low as half a dollar.
Pratico tried to get rid of the furs in 1950 because he lost his storage area but no buyer in either New York or Montreal would even pay a dime for a pelt. So with no storage or available, the 10,000 pelts were taken to the dump and burned. Shortly afterwards the price went up. In today’s market the furs would be worth over $1 million dollars.
But there have always been smart moves and he has made many of them. Everyone knows being in the fur business is risky and the tough old Italian native enjoys being the gambler.
Ironically, Tony Pratico has never set a trap in his life. During his early days in Vermont he hunted fox and raccoon, but never trapped.
But if you want to know about furs or hides, ask Tony Pratico. You’ll get the answer and have fun with a fine old gentleman.
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