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42

FELTING PROPERTY OF WOOL.

drum takes two skins at a time, and presses them under a nicely adjusted knife, which does its work most efficiently at the rate of 300 per day, or as much as six men could do in the same time. Moreover, the pelt is in no way damaged, and the appliance requires only the attention of two boys, who can stop the movement in an instant.

Wool and hair can be felted, that is, made into a dense and compact cloth, without the intervention of the processes of spinning or weaving. So great is this tendency that in a flock bed the carded wool, of which it is made, is constantly felting itself into lumps, and from time to time the bed requires to be taken to pieces, that the wool may be carded afresh. This felting property of wool and certain kinds of hairs, is caused by the peculiarity in the structure already mentioned; the filaments are notched or jagged at the edges, the teeth or imbrications invariably pointing upward, that is from the root to the point, so that the fibres, when subjected to gentle friction, move in one direction only, and consequently mat together and form the kind of cloth called felt. This felting property of wool is greatly assisted by the peculiar crimp in the fibre, which it retains with great pertinacity, so that if drawn out straight it immediately contracts again on being released; thus the forward motion of the fibre under friction is partly counteracted or converted into a circular or zigzag movement, which is precisely that which most completely effects the matting together of the various fibres.

Wool in the yolk, that is with the natural grease adhering to it, cannot be felted, the roughness of the fibre being in that case smoothed over by the oil; were it otherwise the wool would felt on the sheep's back and be comparatively useless.

For manufacturing, it is necessary to remove all the animal oil in order that the wool may take colour in dyeing; whilst a Cotswold fleece will lose in scouring but 18 or 20 per cent., some Merinoes will shrink 70 per cent. One great reason why the English and German woollen manufacturers beat the Americans in the bright

GREASE IN WOOL.

43

ness of colour and beauty of finish of their goods is, because they use more washed wool and less of the

greasy

wool. The fleece of the Merino is so compact on the animal that the grease or yolk does not escape, but is condensed in the wool and produces a gum which is impervious to moisture, and while it protects the carcase from rain, its compactness causes all the more perspiration, which is produced at the expense of the food consumed.

The quantity of suint or yolk varies in different wools according to their fineness, in about the following ratio per cent. :

Fine Saxon Electoral wool
French fine wools of Brie
Merino wool
Common wools, rarely less than

80 60 to 75

66

20

CHAPTER II.

Treats of the several uses of Sheep skins, describes the woollen, worsted,

shoddy, carpet, felt, and other British manufactures of wool, and gives the latest official statistics; proceeds on to the Goat tribe, from which we obtain skins, the materials for the principal glove manufacture, mohair, Cashmere shawls, and other useful products; and then follows on with details of the Alpaca, Llama, and Camel, and their various uses to Man, for their hair, flesh, and as beasts of burden; with full statistical information relating to the animals, and their manufactured products,

"*

SHEEP-SKINS.—There is an extensive use of sheep and lambskins for different purposes. About 17,000,000 are obtained annually from home-slaughtered animals, and 10,000,000 more imported from abroad. They are usually split into two portions, known respectively as "skivers” and “fleshes," the former being the grain side; the unsplit skins are termed “roans.'

Sheep-skins form a large item in the commerce of the Cape Colony. The shipments there now reach about 1,500,000 skins annually. It is chiefly, however, the indigenous or half-bred sheep that are killed, the Merinoes being more valuable to keep for their wool.

The manufacturers of boots and shoes consume large quantities of sheep-skins for linings, toppings, etc. Roans are also finished to

* In frames hung on the raised divisional partitions will be found a series of samples, furnished by Messrs. Bevington and Sons, of some of the uses of sheep skins tanned, for coloured roans, furniture morocco, hard and crossgrained morocco, hand-grained skivers, hatters' skivers, coloured calf, grained sheep, hard and cross-grained sheep, glazed sheep, cross-grained sheep, crossgrained and glazed sheep. The whole process of preparing and tanning sheep skins is also shown in a series of large photographs of the various departments in the Bermondsey tannery of that firm.

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imitate goat-skin morocco to a considerable extent. Bookbinders use very much imitation morocco made from skivers, and so closely does this resemble the real article that, when on the book, it takes a good judge to detect the difference; “fleshes" are employed in the manufacture of blank books, and for other

purposes, where strength rather than superior finish is desirable. Sheepskins are also used by trunk and bag makers, saddlers, pocket-book manufacturers, jewel-case makers, hatters, organ and other musical instrument makers, upholsterers, glovers, suspender manufacturers, druggists and perfumers, etc. In England quantities of fleshes are manufactured and sold as "chamois skins." The glove manufacturers are also large consumers of fleshes, having them dressed in oil and finished to imitate buck or deerskins.

Sheep-skin mats are prepared by stretching the fresh skin, well furnished with a coat of wool, with the wool side down, by means of tacks at the edges, and then rubbing the skin over with a powdered mixture of equal parts of common salt and alum-repeating the operation twice afterwards on the two following days. It should remain exposed to the air, but not to the sun, till well dried. When skins are “ tawed” with the wool on, as for mats and rugs, they are doubled with their wool side inward, so as to expose only the flesh side to the alum mixture.

“Slink” lamb-skins are called in Persia Karpak. They are greatly prized, and fetch as much as seven pounds for ten or a dozen skins. These skins are obtained by causing the ewes to bring forth prematurely, which is managed as follows: The ewes, when within a month of lambing, are driven out two miles or so on a cold night, and are brought back suddenly into a very warm stable. The violent change of temperature causes the ewes to bring forth, and the skins of the lambs thus born are those which are so highly prized. A hat made from these skins will sell for nearly £10, and in such a hat only the prime parts of the choicest skins will be used.

In some northern countries the ewe is killed purposely to

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THE WOOLLEN MANUFACTURE.

obtain this fine skin wool from the unborn lamb, in order to be made into glove linings and for saddle covers, &c.

The Russian, Astracan, Hungarian, and Spanish lamb skins are remarkably fine.* The grey and black Russian lamb-skins are mostly used for cloak and coat linings, collars, caps, &c. The Astracan lamb has a rich, glossy, black skin, with short fur, having the appearance of watered silk. The Astracan lamb-skins used to be much in demand in China, as many as 1,750,000 having been shipped via Kiachta in some years ; now scarcely 100,000 are sent yearly. The Hungarian lamb-skin is used in that country in immense numbers; of it is made the national coat. In summer the woolly part is worn outside, in winter inside. They are often highly decorated. The Spanish lambs furnish the well-known short jackets of the country.

WOOLLEN MANUFACTURE.—The Woollen Manufacture begins with the stapler, who buys the wool of the farmer or wool-broker, and ends with the merchant. It is divided into three principal processes, which are again subdivided.+

First there is what is called the Manufacturer ;
Secondly, the Finisher; and
Thirdly, the Rag Grinder.
The first manufactures the raw material into cloth.

The second finishes it, and gives it its appearance as it is ordinarily worn.

The third takes the manufacture of the two former processes, when thrown aside by the wearer, cuts it into patches, which he forcibly tears asunder into woolly fibres, and then remodels this again into the raw material known as shoddy, to be once more used by the manufacturer.

And of so much consequence is this last process to the trader,

*

Samples of these will be found in Case 97. + The whole stages of progress of the woollen manufacture, the various kinds of woollen goods, and the shoddies, are all shown in the Animal Products Collection of the Bethnal Green Museum.

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