Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/470

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470
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN INDUSTRIES SINCE COLUMBUS.

VII. THE EVOLUTION OF THE WOOLEN MANUFACTURE (concluded).

By S. N. DEXTER NORTH.

PSM V39 D470 Greek spinner of the late 19th century.jpg
Fig. 26. — A Greek Spinner of To-day.

WE shall dwell but briefly upon the dyeing and finishing branches of the wool manufacture. In dyeing, the ancients attained a degree of perfection so remarkable as to recall the saying of the prophet that there is no new thing under the sun. They discovered and utilized vegetable and animal dyes of blue, purple, and scarlet, so brilliant and so delicate that, with all our knowledge and experience, we are not able to surpass them. The chief advance in this department of the manufacture has been in the greater ease with which dyeing is effected, and the consequent reduction in its cost, and in the increased number of tints and shades which can be imparted to the material. The art of dyeing appears to have been contemporaneous with the arts of spinning and weaving. Where these flourished, there the dyer always left behind him the evidences of his skill; when these languished and decayed, dyeing became one of the lost arts. The ancient Tyrians attained their celebrity as the most skillful dyers of antiquity by their use of the liquid of the shell-fish buccinum and purpura, while the early explorers of this continent were astonished at the brilliancy of the dyes which the Mexicans and the Peruvians extracted from forest trees. In the Peruvian department at the Philadelphia Exhibition there was exhibited a piece of woven cloth, taken from the tomb of the Incas, which had retained, for