Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/354

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340
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

away our bark and hide mills, improved leaches and vats, handling and stuffing appliances, and other improved constructions; our splitting, scouring, boarding, whitening, polishing, pebbling, and other modern mechanical inventions, and our steam-power so economically derived from the use of spent tan as fuel; turn us out of doors to work among the rude contrivances of a century past, and would the result of our labor show an extraordinary gain either in time or quality over that of our predecessors?" Any review of this development, therefore, though it is a record of splendid achievements, is not one of the discovery or introduction

PSM V41 D354 Section of animal skin.jpg

Fig. 1.—Section of Animal Skin (magnified), a, epidermis; b, dermis; c, corium, or base of the skin; d, fibrous tissue; e, fat-cells; f and g, ducts of the sweat-gland; h, sweat-glands; i, hair; k, hair-bulb; l, sebaceous gland.

of new principles. It is a record of mechanical improvements and business economy.

Unfortunately, history gives us little definite information regarding the origin of this one of the industrial arts. Surmises, however, go for considerable in this case. The skins of birds and animals formed a large part of the first clothing of man. Now these would be found to grow hard and horny in their natural state, and on exposure to moisture to become putrid and offensive. Efforts to counteract this, and at the same time to render the skins soft and pliable for use, would be most natural, and to these are traced the beginning of the leather industry—an industry which