Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/437

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421
MATCHES.

greatest care and economy, secures but a small margin on his sales. A heavy tax of this kind is liable to defeat its own object, as is exemplified by numerous facts. Thus, in 1865, matches were imported into the United States from New Brunswick, and sold in packages suitable for the retail trade without paying any tax under the internal-revenue law. When, a few years ago in England, a stamp-duty was put upon matches, the opposition was so violent that the attempt had to be abandoned.

In 1872 the French Government, desiring an additional source of revenue, determined to extract it from their matches. They therefore let to a single great company the sole right of making them for twenty years, and agreed to buy up all the old factories and furnish the company with new ones. In return the latter was to pay a fixed rent of $3,200,000 per annum. It was furthermore stipulated that the price of the matches should not be raised, but the company is already accused of treating this as a dead letter. The matches are said to be so bad that they will hardly light, and the peasants, instead of buying them, use a match of home-manufacture, made by steeping hemp in sulphur. Great trouble and expense have been incurred by the state; the company has been despotic and unable to fulfill its obligations; a proposition has been made and rejected on the part of the Government to reduce the rent one-half; and the probabilities are, that the lease will expire before the time agreed upon.

The extent to which the manufacture of matches is carried can be but faintly indicated by means of figures. The demand for them in Great Britain is, on an average, eight daily for each individual; in Belgium, nine per head; and, for Europe and North America, the entire average is six for every inhabitant. To meet this demand matches are produced by the million, and the waxed taper, before division into small pieces, is measured by the mile. It is stated that one pound of phosphorus is sufficient for 1,000,000 matches, though the proportion varies greatly. In France there are consumed for this purpose 70,000 pounds of phosphorus every year. The largest makers are in Austria, two of whom use twenty tons of phosphorus per annum, and produce nearly 45,000,000,000 matches. One firm in New York uses annually 700,000 feet of choice white-pine timber, 100,000 pounds of sulphur, and 150 tons of straw-board for their boxes. Large quantities are exported from the United States to the East and West Indies, China, South America, and other countries. At the census taken here in 1870 there were found to be 75 establishments engaged in the business, and the value of the products for that year was $3,540,000.