Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/120

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104
SILK


Between 1840 and 1850, after the opening of trade with China, large quantities of silk were sent from the northern port of Shanghai, and afterwards also from the southern port of Canton. The export became important just at the time when disease in Europe had lessened the production on the continent. This increased production of medium silk, and the growing demand for fine sorts, induced many of the cocoon-growers in the Levant to sell their cocoons to Europeans, who reeled them in Italian fashion under the name of " Patent Brutia," thus producing a very fine valuable silk. In 1857 commenced the exportation of Japan silk, which became so fierce a competitor with Bengal silk as gradually to displace it in favour; and the native silk reeled in Bengal has almost ceased to be made, only the best European filatures, produced under the supervision of skilled Europeans, now coming forward.

China and Japan, both of which contribute so largely to the supplies that appear in European and American statistics, only export their excess growth, silk-weaving being carried on and native silk worn to an enormous extent in both countries. The other Asiatic exporting countries also maintain native silk manufactures which absorb no inconsiderable proportion of their raw material. Since about 1880 the silk production of the world (including only exports from the East) has more than doubled, the variations owing to partial failures from some countries being more than compensated by increase from others. The supplies available for European and American consump- tion have been carefully tabulated by the Lyons Chamber of Commerce, as shown by the table.

While the tables indicate the fluctuations of supply they show generally that Asiatic countries, in addition to supplying the neces- sities for their home trade, export to Europe and America about three- nfths of the whole of the silk consumed in Western manufactures

Up to the year i860 the bulk of the silks from the East was shipped to London, but subsequently, owing to the importance of continental demands, a large portion of the supplies has been unshipped at Genoa and Marseilles (especially the finer reeled silks from Japan and Canton), which are sold in the Milan and Lyons markets. Those for American consumption are sent direct by the Pacific route via San Francisco. Table II. shows the official annual returns of silk imports into Great Britain from 1880 to 1908.

Table II.— Imports of Silk into Great Britain.

Years.


1880 1884 1888 1892 1896 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904

1905 1906 1907 1908


Raw Silk.


3.673,949 4,522,702 3.065,771 1,503,283 1,697,668 1,413,320 1,332,480 1,252,848 1,109,930 1,337,579 1,160,265 1,036,258 1,195,366 1,110,481


Knubs or

Husks of Silk

and Waste.


55,002

67,239 83,466

46,392 62,923 60,720 48,162 55,782 66,782

71,450 72,055 66,348 66,299 64,669


Thrown Silk.


203,567

323.947 559,289

502,777 572,599 664,641 624,859 802,964 662,677 769,297 878,850 924,007 938,112 809,610


Silk (including

Lace, &c.) Manufacture.


13,329,935 10,984,073 10,466,537 11,412,263 16,923,176 14,767,610 13,708,645 14,320,541 I3.493.96l 13,585,462 13,010,766 13.069,588 12,862,834 11,907,661


The power loom, owing to the improvement in its mechanism, has gained a distinct precedence and materially increased its producing power. In the development of silk manufacture the hand loom has taken a very secondary position. In order to form a relative idea of the importance of the various countries engaged in silk manufacture, a tabulation of the number of looms employed in each country would prove an inadequate guide, owing to the variations from time to time of the fabrics woven, as also to the difficulty in obtaining trustworthy statistics of the number in active operation. The production and consumption of raw material shown in Table III. was prepared by Messrs Chabrieres, Morel & Co. of Lyons, Marseilles and Milan, and issued in 1905.

America takes a premier position in consumption of the raw material. The development and expansion of silk manufacture, owing to the importance and extent of the home market, coupled with high protective tariffs, has been enormous. In 1867 the import of raw material amounted to 491,983 lb. In 1905 a record was reached of 17,812,133 lb. During the decade of 1898 to 1908 the consumption has gone on steadily from about 10 million lb in the first five years to an average of 15 million lb in the second half of the decade. France comes a good second in importance with a