The New International Encyclopædia/Cotton
COTTON (Fr., Sp. coton, from Ar. quṭun, quṭn, cotton, from qaṭana, to inhabit). An important vegetable fibre distinguished from all other fibres by the peculiar twist it possesses, which makes it exceedingly valuable for spinning. It is cultivated in those parts of the globe between the two thirty-fifth parallels of latitude (a region which contains the largest portion of the land surface of the globe), although its most profitable cultivation is between the twentieth and thirty-fifth parallels north of the equator. Within this belt lie the cotton districts of the United States, northern Mexico, Egypt, northern Africa, and Asia, except the extreme southern parts of India and the Malay Peninsula. South of the equator cotton is grown in Brazil, nearly all of which country is said to be favorably adapted to its cultivation; in Australia, though not to any great extent; in Africa, where the extent of production is not known, and in the islands of the Pacific. Cotton is grown under wider range of climatic conditions, over a greater area, and by a greater variety and number of people, and is useful for a larger number of purposes than any other fibre. Its cheapness and the extent of its production preclude the demand ever exceeding the supply except locally and temporarily. Although cotton is grown mainly for the fibre surrounding its seeds, its by-products, the seeds as a source of oil and cake, and also the fibre of the stalks, are of great importance. See Cottonseed and Its Products.
Botanical and Commercial Classifications. The cotton of commerce is the product of a few species of Gossypium, a genus of the natural order Malvaceæ, to which also belong the hollyhock, mallow, hibiscus, etc., as may be readily seen by a comparison of their flowers. (For illustration, see Plate with article Hemp.) There are in all about 50 species of Gossypium, only a few of which are economically important. They are small trees, shrubs, or herbaceous plants, and in their duration are perennials, biennials, or annuals. The leaves of the cultivated species are three to seven, or even nine-lobed, and are more or less sprinkled with small black or pellucid dots. The flowers vary in color; the common colors in the United States are white or light yellow, with purple spots at base, the whole flower turning red the second day after opening. The flowers usually are borne singly in the axils of the leaves except in the ‘cluster’ type, where a number occur together. At their bases the flowers are surrounded by three or more green heart-shaped bracts, which are deeply cut or fringed and are united at their bases to form a cup. These constitute the ‘squares.’ The fruit, known as the boll, is a three to five-celled capsule, containing the numerous seeds, more or less covered with lint, which is white or tawny. All of the species are of tropical origin, yet their most successful cultivation is in temperate climates where there is a period of six months free from frosts and where there is an abundant and well-distributed rainfall throughout the growing season. An increasing temperature during the period of greatest growth is believed to be conducive to the production of the best fibre, and in India, where a lower grade of staple is produced, the decreasing temperature at this period is held responsible for the inferior quality. The botanical origin of plants that have long been in cultivation is always a source of perplexity, and the exact species to which the different varieties of cotton belong has been the subject of much controversy. By almost common consent it is now agreed that most of the cotton of commerce is the product of three or four species and their hybrids. These species are Gossypium arboreum and Gossypium peruvianum, arborescent species grown only in the tropics; Gossypium barbadense, the source of the celebrated Sea Island cotton, and Gossypium herbaceum, the species from which most of the crop of India and the United States is grown. By some the American upland cotton is believed to have originated from Gossypium maritimum and Gossypium hirsutum, but these are now believed to be the same as Gossypium barbadense and Gossypium herbaceum. There is perhaps no other plant that responds so quickly to changes in environment and improved cultivation, and to this are doubtless due the many varieties and species.
The Sea Island cotton, Gossypium barbadense, with its beautiful, long and silky staple, is one of the most valuable of the races or species of cotton. The flower is of a rich cream-color and its seeds are black, small, and easily separable from the lint. This species attains the highest perfection along the coast region of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, with well-known varieties grown under irrigation in Egypt from American seed. The fibre of Sea Island cotton averages about one and three-quarter inches in length, with one and one-half to two and one-half as the extremes. It is adapted to the finest thread and lace work, and other products for which the short staple is not suited. The Egyptian varieties are usually a little shorter in staple and are of a tawny color. These are often used for the natural colored balbriggan underwear, hosiery, etc., where a smooth finish and silky lustre are desired. The cultivation of Sea Island cotton is highly developed, and the United States crop of 1898-99 was 67,611 bales of 500 pounds each. About the same amount is annually imported into the United States from Egypt.
The upland cotton of the United States is mostly derived from Gossypium herbaceum. In this country the varieties of this species have white flowers, which turn red the second day after opening. The fibre of this series is shorter, but the plant can be cultivated over a greater extent of territory than the others. The seed of the upland varieties is usually of a greenish color and has a closely adherent gray fuzz in addition to the longer lint, making the process of ginning more difficult. There are doubtless many hybrids between these series, as may be seen in the character of some upland cottons. In 1896 descriptions were published in the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Experiment Stations, Bulletin 33, of more than 130 varieties of cotton in cultivation in the United States at that time, together with about an equal number of so-called varieties which were only old ones renamed. Most of these varieties were upland cottons, and they varied widely in their production and character of lint. Gossypium arboreum is a small tree rather common about the temples of India and China, but it is said never to be cultivated as a regular crop. The trees are rather short-lived, and they yield a fine, silky fibre an inch or more in length. This is called Nurma or Deo cotton and is little used except by the priestly class. It is probable that its value has been overrated. It will not mature in the United States. The origin of the cottons supposed to be derived from Gossypium Peruvianum is somewhat in doubt. They are South American, as their name would indicate, and their smooth black seeds adhere in a reniform mass, hence the name ‘kidney cotton,’ which is usually applied to them. Their fibre is strong, rather coarse and woolly, one and one-half inches or less in length, and from its great resemblance to wool is frequently used in combination with that staple. About 15,000 bales are annually imported into the United States, and it is claimed that most of it is used by woolen manufacturers to mix in making underwear, hosiery, etc., much of the material being sold as all-woolen goods.
In commercial usage, to fibres under 0.98 inch or 25 millimeters in length there has been given the name ‘short staple’; ‘medium’ means from 0.098 to 1.17 inches (25 to 30 millimeters), and ‘long’ 1.18 to 1.57 inches (30 to 40 millimeters); ‘extra,’ including those which are 1.58 inches (40 millimeters) or more. The extra and the long in the United States seem to come from Sea Island cotton or some of its hybrids; the short and medium from Gossypium hirsutum or Gossypium herbaceum.
The commercial classification of cotton in New York is as follows: The ‘full grades’ are fair, middling fair, good middling, middling, low middling, good ordinary, and ordinary. Half grades are designated by the prefix ‘strict,’ quarter goods by prefixes ‘barely,’ meaning the point above half grade and the next full grade above, and ‘fully,’ meaning the mean point between the half grade and the next full grade below, Liverpool high grades are lower, and low grades higher than New York.
Cultivation. The plant requires for its best development a peculiar soil and climate. While the method of cultivation is about the same in the various countries where it is grown, that in the United States is the most perfect. Although the plant is not really an annual, it is treated as such in its cultivation. The land is prepared in winter, the time of beginning varying with the locality. After thorough plowing, and after all frost has gone, the ground is bedded into rows from three to four feet wide, according to situation and the quality of the soil; the seed is sown along the centre of these beds, either in a straight furrow made with a small plow or opener, or in holes twelve to eighteen inches apart. Where artificial fertilizers or cottonseed-meal are drilled in this method of preparation is indispensable. The usual date to begin preparing land is from January 15 in southern Texas to March 5 in South Carolina. Sowing usually commences March 10 to April 15 and continues to May 15; but late spring frosts may delay it longer. The young shoots, which appear in from ten to fifteen days, are weeded and thinned when they have attained a height of two to six inches, say, when the third or first true leaf appears. The average date of bloom is June 5. As a general rule, cotton is a dry-weather plant, heavy rainfall interfering with both the culture and the stand, although an extremely dry spring interferes with the growth. For plowing it is best to have just enough rain to make the soil moist and spongy. When young, the crop flourishes best with warm steamy weather, with an occasional shower until blooming. An excess of rain produces weeds and wood; severe drought stunts the plant, matures it too early, and causes a small, light-stapled crop. Early frost causes the plant to turn brown; cold nights cause many of the plants to die. Lands in hilly or upland districts require more moisture than those lying in the plains and river bottoms. Overflowing often causes injury on bottom and flat prairie lands, but replanting or recuperation often redeems the most hopeless cases. Where, however, overflowing causes ‘sanding,’ the land is rendered utterly useless for cotton culture that year. The experiment stations in the Southern States have aided in introducing improved methods of cultivating, fertilizing, and handling the crop. Rotation of crops and green manuring have been shown to be of great advantage. From the date of bloom, warm, dry weather is needful, until picking time, which usually commences from July 10 in southern Texas up to September 10 in Tennessee, and continues until frost puts a stop to further growth. During the harvest all available hands are called into full employment. The cotton is gathered into baskets or bags hung from the shoulders of the pickers, and when the crop has been secured it is spread out, dried, and then the fibre separated from the seeds. For long-staple or Sea Island cotton in South Carolina the usual date to begin preparing land is February 1; planting begins April 1 and ends May 1; picking is from August 25 to December 10.
Insect Enemies of the Cotton-Plant. See Cotton-Insects.
Cotton Diseases. There are a number of well-characterized diseases of the cotton-plant, some of which are due to disturbances in the nutrition of the plant, others are caused by fungous attacks, while still others are attributed to the presence of minute worms, called nematodes, in the roots. Attention to the requirements of the plants will correct the first class of diseases. For the fungous troubles but little in the way of prevention is known. Among the most important diseases due to physiological causes are those known as the mosaic disease or yellow leaf-blight, and the shedding of bolls. In the first, small areas of the leaves become yellow, giving to the leaf a peculiar checkered appearance. Later these areas turn brown and dry up, leaving the leaf in a more or less ragged condition. At this stage the disease is usually referred to as the black rust. Heavy applications of kainit or similar fertilizer are said to correct this evil. The shedding of the bolls, or their drying up while still attached to the plant, is often a serious trouble. Extreme dry or wet weather causes this disease by interfering with the proper supply of moisture and nutriment furnished the plant through its roots. Among the diseases due to parasitic fungi a few of the most serious and widely distributed may be mentioned. Damping off, soreshin, or seedling rot is caused by Pythium debaryanum and a number of other fungi. They attack the young plants at or near the surface of the ground, producing ulcer-like spots, and later rot the plant off. The sunken, ulcer-like spots can be readily seen on the affected stems. Another common disease is anthracnose, due to Colletotrichum gossypii. It is a widely distributed fungus that attacks the bolls, stems, and leaves. Upon the bolls small reddish spots appear which later become black. The centre then becomes gray or pink and the spots enlarge in a concentric manner with well-marked zones of color. The boll is killed outright or has its development checked so that the lint is worthless. Upon the stems the fungus is somewhat similar in its behavior, although the spots are not quite so definitely marked. Upon the leaves the disease is not very well characterized. A root-rot is very destructive in some places. Its behavior is so marked as to need no description. It is due to a rather widely distributed fungus that has been called Ozonium auricomum. It attacks a number of plants in addition to cotton. Rotation of crops is about the only method of relief known. A leaf-blight (Sphærella gossypina) and a mildew (Ramularia arcola) are common diseases in the cotton-field, but they seldom occasion much injury.
The most serious fungous disease to which the cotton-plant is subject is the wilt disease, or Frenching, as it is commonly known. It makes its appearance usually in May, when the plants are six or eight inches high. The plants are dwarfed, have an unhealthy appearance, the leaves turn yellow between the veins and their margins dry up. Sometimes plants wilt and die at once, while at other times the progress of the disease is slower and the plant may partly recover. A plant attacked by this disease will show a brownish stained color in the wood when cut across. The cause of the trouble is a fungus recently described as Neocosmospora vasinfecta, and the same or a closely related form occurs on the okra and watermelon. Some varieties and individual plants seem less liable to this disease, which attacks the plants through the soil, and it is thought the means for overcoming this trouble lies in resistant plants. This disease, as well as some others, is very much complicated by the presence in the roots of the cotton of nematodes (Heterodera radicicola), minute worms that enter the roots of cotton and a number of other plants, causing a large number of galls to be formed. The plant is injured by the nourishment taken from other parts of the plant to make the galls. This weakens the plant so it is more liable to fungous attack. When nematodes occur in abundance in the field no entirely efficient means of eradication is known as yet.
Production and Distribution. The oldest known cotton-producing country is India, where for thirty centuries the plant has been grown and its fibre manufactured. For four hundred years before the Christian Era cotton was well known in what was then the civilized world, the writings of the Greeks and Egyptians plainly indicating the knowledge of the value of this fibre. Columbus found it in the Western world, although not so extensively cultivated as in the East; but during the past fifty years its culture here has distanced in quantity and in quality the produce of the Old World. Down to 1800 the cotton-consumers of Europe depended upon the Indies and the Levant for their raw material; but by 1860, so far had the inventive genius, the superior farming, and the greater energy of the planter of our Southern States pushed the production of the fibre, that they furnished the greater part of the cotton used by Great Britain and the Continent of Europe. From 1858 to 1860 America furnished 79 per cent. of the cotton imported into Great Britain. During our Civil War this dropped to 3½ per cent., rising to 58 per cent. in 1871, and amounting to 80 per cent. in 1900. During the Civil War, when the price of cotton was abnormally high, attempts were made to grow cotton in many countries. The industry flourished there for a while, but it has ceased to be profitable in Europe, Australia, etc. Russia in her Asiatic possessions has developed cotton-growing greatly in recent years, so that the imports into the empire have fallen off 50 per cent. in the past decade.
Cotton Production of the World. This is difficult to more than approximate, as a large proportion and amount consumed is produced in uncivilized or in semi-civilized countries, where no accurate record is kept; and in many countries and districts absolutely no data are available—as in China, where soil and climate are favorable and the clothing of the population is largely of cotton, yet the extent of its cultivation is a close secret; and in some parts of India, where the production can be estimated only by the amount in sight and the known or assumed requirements for dress. The amount produced in the vast unknown continent of Africa is even more of a mystery, although native cottons form there a large proportion of the dress.
The commercial crop for the year 1898-99 was 13,110,000 bales of 500 pounds each. This includes the total crop of the United States and the known imports into Europe and America from other cotton-producing countries. The product was divided as follows: United States, 11,189,000 bales; Egypt, 1,243,000 bales; India, China, etc., 607,000; Brazil, 23,000 bales; Peru, West Indies, etc., 30,000; and Turkey, Asia Minor, etc., 18,000. The domestic consumption in those countries from which only the exportations are given would add very materially to the total production of the world. India leads in the domestic consumption of cotton among those countries not reporting, and in 1900 about 1,100,000 bales were consumed by the local mills. According to Latham, Alexander & Co., the total production for 1900 was: United States, 9,137,000 bales; East Indies, etc., 1,562,000 bales; Egypt, 1,228,000 bales; Brazil, etc., 250,000 bales, or a total of 12,177,000 bales of 500 pounds each.
|COPYRIGHT, 1902, DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.|
Cotton in the United States. The first authentic record of cotton cultivation in the United States was at Jamestown, Va., in 1607. Sea Island cotton was introduced from the West Indies in 1786. The first exportation was in 1747, when eight bags were sent to England, the first shipment of any importance being 2000 pounds in 1770. In 1791, 189,316 pounds were exported; Whitney's invention of the saw gin in 1793 raised this amount to 17,789,803 pounds by 1800. The production reached 2,160,000,000 pounds in 1860, and amounted to 4,506,000,000 pounds in 1895 (9,467,000 bales reckoned at 484 lbs. net each). Cheapening the processes of cultivation and cleaning, and increase of acreage, have so lowered the cost of the fibre that while the average price in Liverpool was 1s. 6d. (say 36 cents) per pound in 1793, it was 5¾d. (say 11½ cents) in 1851; averaging 7d. (14 cents) for the five years ending 1861. In 1867 there was a decline from the high prices consequent upon the Civil War to 7⅜d. (14¾ cents), but in a few months it reached 1s. 1d. (26 cents). In 1890 it ranged from 5 9-16d. to 6¾d. in Liverpool, from 10¼ cents to 12¾ cents in New York; while in 1899 the range of price in New York was from 5 5-16 cents to 6⅝ cents, with an average of about 6 cents per pound, the 1900 values being considerably higher.
The acreage in cotton of the ten cotton-growing States for the season of 1899-1900 was as follows:
The accompanying Table No. 1, taken from Bulletin No. 58, census of 1900, gives the cotton crop in the United States by States, according to censuses of 1870, 1880, 1890, and 1900, for the crops of the preceding year. The bale measurement of 1890 was 477 pounds; in 1880 it was 433 pounds; in 1870 it was 440 pounds. It is interesting to note the States in which cotton has at some time been cultivated. The Bulletin states that “early settlers north of the Ohio River planted cotton for domestic uses between 1749 and 1780. The census for 1860 gave for Illinois 1482 bales, or 659,490 pounds of cotton. Stimulated by the high prices following the Civil War, the cultivation of cotton was conducted to a limited extent in California, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, and West Virginia. With the coming of low prices, cotton culture gradually disappeared from those sections not peculiarly adapted to it, and censuses after 1870 credited none to California, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, or West Virginia. Natural selection continues to eliminate the industry from sections less favored by climatic conditions. To illustrate: Kentucky is credited by the censuses of 1880 and 1890 with 1367 and 873 bales respectively, but the census of 1900 finds in this State only 84 commercial bales. The loss in those States lying along the northern border of the cotton belt is more than offset by the increase found in the territory west and southwest of the Mississippi River. According to the Eleventh Census 2,872,524 bales, or 38 per cent. of the entire American crop of 1889, was grown in that region, while in the census of 1900, in the same territory, the production reaches 4,250,940 bales, or 45 per cent. of the whole crop.”
Table I.—Cotton Grown in the United States in the Years 1869, 1879, 1889, and 1899 (in Bales)
|STATE||1869||1879||1889||1899||Per ct. of Total|
|Actual No.|| Equivalent No.
in 500 lb. bales
The value of the exports of cotton from the United States between the years 1895-99 averaged $213,378,243 a year. The United Kingdom took 49 per cent.; Germany, 22 per cent.; France, 11 per. cent.; Italy, 5.2 per cent.: Spain, 3.8 per cent.; Belgium, 1.8 per cent.; Japan, 1.7 per cent.; Russia, 1.6 per cent.; and Canada, 1.5 per cent.
The number of spindles in Europe and the United States, September 30, 1900, and the consumption of cotton for the season of 1898-99, are as follows:
bales of 500 lbs.
Cost of Production. A great many estimates have been published as to the cost of production of a crop of cotton. None of these are accurate or of value, as so many factors must be considered, such as different soils, methods of cultivation, season, etc. According to Hammond, the cost of producing Sea Island cotton in 1880 ranged in South Carolina from 15 to 21 cents a pound; in Georgia, 50 cents per pound of lint. The cost of producing upland cotton varied within wide limits. In North Carolina in 1880 it ranged from 6.2 cents in the Piedmont region to 7.3 cents in the Pine levels. In 1892 the range was from 3.5 to 6.6 cents. The cost in South Carolina in 1880 ranged from 6.91 to 8 cents; in 1892 it was 6.6 cents for the Pine Hills region; in 1893, from 5 to 14 cents dependent upon the nature of the soil. In Georgia the crop of 1880 was estimated at from 3 to 6 cents for the Pine Hills region and 8 to 10 cents in other regions; the crop of 1892 averaged 7.5 cents per pound; that of 1893, 6.75 cents. In Alabama, in 1880, the crop cost from 3 to 8 cents per pound; in 1892, from 4.5 to 7.75 cents; and in 1893 it averaged 8 cents. In Mississippi the cost varied from 4 to 11 cents in 1880, and from 4 to 8.4 cents in 1893, dependent upon the producing region. In Louisiana the cost varied in 1880 between 6.8 and 7.4 cents, and in 1893 between 4.9 and 7 cents. In Arkansas in 1880 the range was from 6.2 to 7 cents per pound; in 1893 from 4 to 7 cents. In 1880 the Texas crop cost from 3 to 9 cents per pound, with averages of from 4.5 to 6.5 cents in the principal producing regions. In Tennessee the cost of the 1880 crop was from 3.5 to 10 cents per pound, that of 1893 averaged 7 cents. The average production for the United States in 1900 was about 200 pounds per acre.
Manufacture. The process of transforming cotton from its raw condition after picking into the thread or cloth that is such an essential of daily life is one which involves many different operations. It must first be cleaned to remove sand, dust, and other foreign substances. It then contains about two-thirds of its weight in seeds, which must be removed.
Cotton-Ginning.—Before Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton-gin, the removal of the seeds by hand was so difficult a task that very little cotton was raised. It would take one person two years to turn out an average bale of cotton, three to fifteen of which are produced by one machine in one day. Before the Civil War the gins were run chiefly by mule-power, which, when operated in connection with slave labor, was cheaper than steam. Whitney's cotton-gin, known as the saw gin, may be briefly described as a series of circular saws with fine teeth, revolving with an arc of their circumference projecting through a guide into a receptacle for seed cotton. These saws tear the lint from the seed and carry it through the guide. It is removed from the saws by a brush and carried to a condenser. Great care must be exercised not to injure the cotton (1) by having the saws too close to the bars of the grate, so as to rub; (2) by having them revolve too fast; or (3) by having the teeth too sharp. See Brooks, Cotton (New York, 1898). The roller gin is growing in favor among cotton-producers, especially for the long-staple or Sea Island cotton, and in the United States and Egypt all long-staple cotton is ginned in this way. It removes the seed with only one-fifth the rapidity of the saw gin, but it does not injure the fibre. In a primitive form it has been used in Egypt and India for many centuries. It consists of two rollers, revolving in opposite directions, between which the cotton is passed and the smooth, hard seeds thrown off. Both the saw gin and roller gin have been much modified and their effectiveness increased by successive improvements.
Table II.— Cotton-Ginneries in the United States in 1899 (from Twelfth United States Census)
|STATE||NUMBER OF GINNERIES||Average|
|Total|| The Public
In Bulletin No. 58, on Cotton-Ginning, Twelfth United States Census, Daniel C. Roper divides cotton-ginneries into three general classes: Those conducted exclusively for the public, those conducted exclusively for the plantation, and those conducted for both the public and plantation. Table II., preceding, shows the number of all classes by States in the United States. The Bulletin states that “the rapidity with which the private or plantation ginneries have been supplanted by public, and more modern equipments, is noteworthy. Through inquiries of the census of 1880, covering the power and machinery of cotton-ginning establishments, it was ascertained that a large percentage of the crop of 1879 was handled by ginneries of a private character. The motive power of these ginning and baling plants consisted of horses or mules, and each had a daily capacity of from three to five bales. The general introduction of steam-power brought economic methods that have crowded out primitive horse-ginneries to such an extent that they are now curiosities.” As shown in the table, there are in the United States 29,620 cotton-ginneries, of which 2863, or less than 10 per cent., are reported as ginning exclusively for the plantation. Bulletin No. 98 of the Twelfth United States Census also deals with cotton-ginning, with particular reference to the crop of 1900, and contains an historical and descriptive sketch of the methods of preparing raw cotton for the market.
Baling.—The cotton having been separated from the seed, the next step is to pack it in bales, for shipment. Different methods of baling prevail among the cotton-producing countries. The American product, as put up in the old-fashioned tortoise-back bales, has the reputation of being the worst-baled cotton in the world. East Indian cotton is shipped in cubical bales, weighing about 400 pounds, covered with thick Indian hemp and held together with strong iron bands. The Egyptian bale weighs about 700 pounds, is a little thicker and not so long as the American, and has eleven, instead of seven or eight, bands around it. Brazilian cotton comes in very light bales, weighing only 200 pounds, which are tied with trailing vines. In the cotton States of America, the cotton which is not consumed by the Southern mills is shipped to the exporting city, by rail, steamboat, or wagon. It is there graded by the exporter, who fastens a tag to each bale, and also to a sample taken from it. It is from these labeled samples that the foreign manufacturer makes his purchases. The bales are then subjected to enormous pressure, usually by the transportation company, a standard bale weighing 500 pounds. During its progress from the farm to the factory, a bale of cotton is given a series of brands, by the farmer and the ginnery, as well as the exporter, so that fraud can easily be traced. One of the objections to the American baling methods, however, is that the covering becomes so torn that the marks on it cannot be deciphered.
The manner in which American cotton is generally baled and pressed for transportation to the markets and mills is not only needlessly expensive and wasteful, but fails to protect the cotton from damage and theft. The bales are covered with jute cloth, made of thread so coarse and loosely woven that, while it adds unnecessarily to the weight of the bale, it does not protect the cotton. The bales are held together by steel bands, which still further increase the weight. The weight of the bagging and ties on a bale weighing 500 pounds is about 23 pounds. Besides the increased freight rates due to this bulky method of baling, the necessity of a second pressing, and the bad condition in which the cotton reaches the factory, a more grave defect is its excessive inflammability, resulting in high insurance charges. So great is this risk that on some passenger steamers cotton is not carried, on account of the danger of fire. An illustration of this danger was afforded by the terrible fire which occurred on the docks of the North German Lloyd Steamship Company at Hoboken, N. J., on June 30, 1900. The fire started in some unknown manner in a lot of cotton-bales and spread with such rapidity that efforts to check it were unavailing. The loss of property caused by this cotton fire has been estimated variously at from $4,000,000 to $6,000,000, and the loss of life was about 200 persons.
Within the past few years the cylindrical bale has been growing in favor among all classes of cotton-dealers. The American Cotton Company makes a bale four feet long and two feet in diameter, weighing over 35 pounds per cubic foot. The cotton is pressed gradually, so as not to injure the fibre, and is in the form of a continuous lap or roll. Since the air is pressed out of the cotton, it has no tendency to expand, and the covering is only sufficient to keep the cotton clean. The heavy bagging and ties are entirely dispensed with. The cotton is compressed as fast as ginned and is shipped direct from the ginhouse to the warehouse or mill. The cylindrical bale of the Planters' Compress Company is 36 inches long, 18 inches in diameter, and weighs 250 pounds. This bale is held together by wires passing from end to end through a small opening in the centre. It is covered with cotton duck, and the weight of the cloth and wire is about three pounds per bale. Most satisfactory tests have been made with each of these types of bales, showing that they are both fire and water proof. The other objections to the old-fashioned methods of baling are also met by the cylindrical bales described.
Spinning.—When the cotton-bales are received. at the factory, the cotton from the different bales is first mixed in order that the yarn produced may be of uniform quality. It is next submitted to a process of opening and picking that loosens the fibres which became closely packed together when the bale was pressed. Then follow the processes of carding, drawing, slubbing, roving, spinning, and doubling, by which the cotton-fibre is reduced by successive stages from a web or sheet into cotton yarn. The process of carding is described under that title. Its object, besides cleaning the cotton of any foreign substances still adhering, is to reduce the lap into a thin fleece and then contract it into a ribbon or sliver. The sliver, after being doubled so that inequalities in the single slivers are counterbalanced, is put through a drawing machine, consisting of successive pairs of rollers, each of which revolves more rapidly than the preceding one, and which reduces the sliver to a finer and finer thread. By slubbing and roving, the process of attenuation is continued, the thread in each case taking the name of the machine through which it has just passed. The thread is also twisted, and when it leaves the roving machine it is strong enough to be wound on a bobbin. Spinning is the concluding process, and in this the thread is given the requisite firmness and twist. Doubling is the combining of two or more threads into a single cord. Every step in the manufacture of cotton yarn has for its object (1) the removal of finer and finer impurities, (2) the attenuation and strengthening of the thread, (3) correcting the mistakes of the preceding process. The whole process is described in more detail in the general article on Spinning.
The thread may be subjected to the additional processes of gazing and polishing. The object of gazing is to singe off all the loose fibres and so produce a very smooth yarn. This is accomplished by passing the thread through a very fine jet of gas, as it is wound from one bobbin to another. The yarn is polished by applying a sizing made of starch, beeswax, or other materials. This not only gives the yarn a gloss, but increases its strength and weight. The process of weaving cotton into cloth does not differ materially from that of silk and wool, and is treated in the general article on Weaving.
The bulk of the world's cotton is shipped into foreign countries and often across the ocean twice, once to the factories to be transformed into yarn and cloth, and again, perhaps, back to the very region where it was first raised, in the form of cotton goods. The best example of this fact is offered by the United States, which raises nine-tenths of the world's cotton, yet exports less cotton goods than the republic of Switzerland, which raises not a pound of cotton and has not even a seaport. Of course the United States is an enormous consumer of cotton, and this fact must be remembered in considering the extent of her export trade. Obviously the amount of cotton goods imported, and the amount produced and consumed at home, are also important factors.
Table III. — Value of the World's Exports of Cotton: Goods by Countries
(From The World's Export Trade)
Table III. gives the value of the world's export trade in cotton, by countries, for 1897, 1898, and 1899. The table is taken from a pamphlet, entitled The World's Export Trade, published by the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, April, 1900. Of more value, however, as showing the actual extent of the cotton industry, including both home and foreign consumption, and its geographical tendencies as well, are the Tables IV. and V., showing the number of cotton-mills and spindles, the amount consumed, and the value of the output. By studying these tables, certain facts and tendencies in the cotton trade are apparent. Great Britain is and always has been at the head of the cotton trade, both in the amount exported and in the actual amount produced. It is interesting to note that this enormous industry is concentrated about Lancashire, in a district whose area is about 50 per cent. greater than that of the State of Rhode Island. In the United States, the most marked development of the last decade of the nineteenth century is the relative importance of Southern factories, situated in the very locality where cotton is produced. In this period the number of spindles increased 245 per cent. and became nearly one-third of the whole number in the country. Other industrial conditions besides the nearness to the cotton crop produced this growth, chief of which has been the general industrial awakening experienced by the South. Capital, however, in this section, has shown greater progress than labor, so that the latter is still cheap; a working day is long, and there are comparatively few labor laws restricting the age, sex, and other conditions of labor.
Table IV. — Number of Spindles in Cotton-Mills
(Compiled by A. P. Shepperson and published in Cotton Facts)
|SEASON OF||Great Britain|| Continental
|Increase in 10 years||1,900,000||8,115,000||1,700,000||3,340,000||5,040,000||2,182,000|
|Per cent. of Increase||43||323||134||2455||357||79|
During the closing years of the nineteenth century the manufacture of cotton was much advanced in China and Japan. In China cotton has been made into cloth since 1260, and for four centuries it usurped the place of silk. Steam-power was introduced into Chinese cotton-factories in 1865-67, and into Japan in 1889. Great difficulty has been experienced in both China and Japan in getting laborers. There is no factory legislation in either country limiting the hours of labor, and in China children begin to work at a very early age. The working day is eleven or more hours long, and the factories run seven days in the week. Labor is also very cheap, as estimated by the amount of money paid for a day's work, which averages from 10 to 15 cents; but the standard of intelligence and faithfulness among operatives is so low that, measured by the amount and quality of the product, the real cost of labor is high. In Japan, it is particularly hard to keep steady employees. The girls are used to the freedom and out-of-door life of the country and will not stay long at their situations, so that mill operators are constantly hampered with green hands. In Japan the weaving of cotton and other fabrics is still largely a household industry. In 1896, according to the French consul at Yokohama, 660,408 dwellings or establishments contained 949,123 looms, at which 1,043,866 persons were engaged in weaving. The yarn used in this household art is largely factory-spun, thus increasing rather than diminishing the demand for cotton-factories.
Table V.—Cotton Consumption of the World, in 500-Pound Bales
|United States||India||All Others||Total World|
Japan had 200,000 spindles in operation in 1889, and 1,358,125 spindles in 1899. Japan consumed 99,375 bales of cotton in 1890, and 644,818 bales in 1898. China had 570,000 spindles in operation in 1899. It is estimated that on July 1, 1900, the world's working spindles numbered 105,000,000.
Bibliography. Description and cultivation.—True, “The Cotton Plant,” in United States Department of Agriculture Office, Experiment Stations, Bulletin 33 (Washington, 1896); Wilkinson, Story of the Cotton Plant (New York, 1899); Lecompte, Le coton: monographie culture, histoire économique (Paris, 1900); Hohnel, Ueber die Baumwolle (Vienna, 1893); Parlatore, Le specie dei cotoni (Firenze, 1866); Todaro, Relazione sulla cultura dei cotoni in Italia . . . (Rome, 1878); Mallet, Cotton: the Chemical, Geological and Meteorological Conditions for Its Successful Cultivation (London, 1862); Bowman, Structure of the Cotton Fibre (Manchester, 1881); Monie, The Cotton Fibre: Its Structure (Manchester, 1890); Tompkins, Cotton, Cotton Oil, Cotton Planting, Harvesting . . . (Charlotte, N. C., 1901); Dana, Cotton from Seed to Loom (London, 1878).
Manufacture and Uses.—Ashworth, Cotton: Its Cultivation, Manufacture and Uses (Manchester, 1858); Ellison, Cotton Trade of Great Britain (London, 1898); Brooks, Cotton and Its Uses, Varieties, Structure of Fibre . . . (New York, 1898); Hammond, The Cotton Industry (New York, 1897); Latham, Alexander & Co., Cotton Movement and Fluctuations (New York, 1899); Royle, Culture and Commerce of Cotton in India (London, 1851); Marsden, History of Cotton Manufacture (London, 1895); Posselt, The Structure of Fibres, Yarns and Fabrics (Philadelphia, 1892).
Statistics.—Shepperson, Cotton Facts (New York, annually); Statistical Abstract of the United States (published amiually); United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Experiment Stations, Bulletin 33, and Publications of the Statistical Division and Section of Foreign Markets, Twelfth United States Census (Washington, 1902). See Cottonseed and Its Products; Spinning; Weaving; Muslin.
- Calculated on basis of 500-lb. bales.
- Spindles in Northern States, 14,150,000. Spindles in Southern States, 3,950,000.
- Bales of 392 pounds.