GOODS AND YARN The two great sections of the cotton industry are yarn and cloth, and in Great Britain the production of both of these is mainly in South Lancashire, though the area extends to parts of Cheshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and there is a Scottish branch, besides certain isolated ventures in other parts of the country. Though there are local rivalries there is nothing in competitive division to compare with the northern and southern sections in America, and the British industry is, for its size, more homogeneous than most of the European industries. Both operatives and employers are highly organized and both parties are able to make articulate contribution to the solution of the various problems connected with the trade.
Cotton Yarn. - The yarn trade is mainly in the hands of limited companies, and a private firm is looked upon as something of a survival from the past. The two great centres of production are Oldham, in which American cotton is chiefly, though not exclusively, spun, and Bolton, which spins the finer counts from Egyptian or Sea Island cotton. Spinning mills are established, however, in most of the large Lancashire towns as well as in some parts of Cheshire and in Yorkshire, where there is a considerable industry in doubling yarns. The centre of trade is the Manchester Royal Exchange, and though some companies or firms prefer to do business by means of their own salaried salesmen, managers or directors, most of the yarn is sold by agents. Frequently a single agent has the consignment of the whole of a company's yarn, but many spinners, especially those whose business connexion is not perfectly assured, prefer to have more outlets than can be explored by an individual. At times of bad trade even those who usually depend on their own resources seek the aid of experienced agents, who sometimes find a grievance if their services are rejected when trade improves and sales are made easily.
Yarn is sold upon various terms, but a regular custom in the home trade is for the spinner to allow 4% discount, for payment in 14 days, of which 21 goes to the buyer, who is commonly a manufacturer, and 12 to the agent for sale and guaranteeing the account. In selling yarn for export it is usual to allow the buyer only 11% for payment in 14 days, or in some cases the discount is at the rate of 5% per annum for 3 months, which is equivalent to 14%.
The great bulk of the yarn spun in Great Britain ranges between comparatively narrow limits of count, and such staples as 32' to 36 s twist and 36' to 46' weft in American, 50 9 to 60 s twist and 42' to 62' weft in Egyptian, make up a large part of the total. It is nevertheless the experience of yarn salesmen that Lancashire produces an increasingly large amount of specialities that indicate a continued differentiation in trade. The tendency to spin finer counts has been to some extent counteracted by the development of the flannelette trade, for which heavy wefts are used, and there has been again a tendency lately to use "condensor" or waste wefts, which has worked to the disadvantage of the spinners of the regular coarse counts spun at Royton and elsewhere. The demand for cloths which require careful handling and regularity in weaving has helped to develop the supply of ring yarns which will stand the strain of the loom better than mule twists. A great amount of doubled and trebled yarn is now sold, though it does not appear that recent expansions have added much to doubling spindles, and considerable developments continue in the use of dyed and mercerized yarns.
Yarns are sold according to their "actual" counts, though when they are woven into cloth they frequently attain nominal or brevet rank. There has been a longcontinued discussion, which between buyer and seller sometimes degenerates into a dispute, on the subject of moisture in yarns, and the difficulty is not confined to the Lancashire industry. The amount permissible, according to the recommendation of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, is 8%, but while it may be assumed that yarns at the time of their sale rarely contain less than this, they frequently contain a good deal more. It is a matter of experience that cotton yarns which when spun contain only a small percentage of moisture will absorb up to about 8% when they are exposed to what may be rather vaguely described as natural conditions. The exigencies of competition prompted the discovery that if yarn were sold by weight fresh from the spindle its comparative dryness made such early sale less profitable than if it were allowed to "condition." Between loss and delay the spinner found an obvious alternative in damping the yarn artificially. As it was often clearly to the advantage of the buyer that he should receive immediate delivery he did not object to water in moderation, but art soon began to run a little ahead of nature. The essentially dishonest practice of deluging yarn with water, which has sometimes even degenerated into the use of weighting materials deleterious to weaving, has been recognized as a great nuisance, but while various attempts have been made to protect the buyer the question seems to have pretty well settled itself on the principles which commonly rule the sales of commodities between those who intend to do business continuously. The spinner who persists in over-weighting his yarn finds it difficult to obtain "repeat" orders.
A remarkable point in the Lancashire yarn trade is the looseness of the contracts between spinner and manufacturer. Doubtless some kind of sale note or acknowledgment usually passes between them, but in the home trade at least it is quite usual to leave the question of delivery an open one. It would not be correct to say that this system or want of system is satisfactory, but the trade manages to rub along very well with it, although inconveniences and disagreements sometimes arise when prices have advanced or declined considerably. Thus when prices have advanced the manufacturer may find it difficult to obtain delivery of the yarn that he *had bought at low rates, for some spinners have a curious, indefensible preference for delivering their higherpriced orders; and, on the other hand, when prices have fallen the manufacturer sometimes ceases to take delivery of the highpriced yarn and actually purchases afresh for his needs. Yet positive repudiation is very rare though compromises are not
uncommon, and a good many illogical arrangements are made that imply forbearance and amity. Litigation in the yarn trade is very unusual, and Lancashire traders generally have only vague notions of the bearing of law upon their transactions, and a wholesome dread of the exp'erience that would lead to better knowledge.
The average yearly values of the exports of cotton, yarn and cloth from Great Britain for the decades 1881-1890 and 1891-1900 respectively, are given by Professor Chapman in his Cotton Industry and Trade, in million pounds: 1881-1890.1891-1900 .
Cloth £ 60 4 £ 57'3 Yarn 12.3 9'3 Total.. £7 2.7 £66.6 During the earlier decade the prices of cotton were comparatively high The whole of the cloth exports represent, of course, a corresponding home trade in yarns. The following table, taken from the Manchester Guardian, gives in thousands of lb the amounts of cotton yarns exported from Great Britain during 1903, 1904 and 1905 respectively, according to the Board of Trade returns, together with the average value per lb for each of the countries: It should be understood, however, that in some cases the Board of Trade figures represent only an approximation to the ultimate distribution, as the exports are sometimes assigned to the intermediate country, and in particular it is understood that a considerable part of the yarn sent to the Netherlands is destined for Germany or Austria. The large business done in yarns with the continent of Europe is in some respects an extension of the British home trade, though certain countries have their own specialities. A considerable business is done with European countries in doubled yarns and in fine counts of Egyptian, including "gassed" yarns, which are also sent intermittently to Japan. "Extra hard" yarns are sent to Rumania and other Near Eastern markets, and Russia, as the average price indicates, buys sparingly of very fine yarns. The trade with the Far East, which, though not very large for any one market, is important in the aggregate, is a good deal specialized, and since the 1 000 omitted.
Russia. ... .
Sweden. .. .
I I. 00
Norway. ... .
39,5 1 3
2 9,3 8 4
10 '4 8
Belgium. ... .
France. .. .
1 4.3 6
Turkey. ... .
1 4, 2 53
9' 8 3
China (including Hong-Kong)
Japan. ... .
11 '9 2
Other countries .
Total and average
development of Indian and Japanese cotton mills some of the trade in the coarser counts has been lost. The various Indian markets take largely of 40 8 mule twist and in various proportions of 30 8 mule, water twists, two-folds grey and bleached, fine Egyptian counts and dyed yarns. China also takes 40 8 mule, water twists and twofolds. The general export of yarn varies according to influences such as tariff charges, spinning and manufacturing development in the importing countries and the price of cotton. A particular effect of high-priced piece-goods is seen in various Eastern countries that are still partly dependent on an indigenous hand-loom industry. The big price of imported cloths throws the native consumer to some extent upon the local goods, and so stimulates the imports of yarn. It appears that as the native industries decline the weaving section persists longer than the spinning section.
Cotton Goods. - Cotton goods are of an infinite variety, and the titles that experience or fancy have evoked are even more numerous than the kinds. Descriptions of the following fabrics, which are not of course invariably made of cotton, will be found in separate articles: Baize, Bandana, Bombazine, Brocade, Calico, Cambric, Canvas, Chintz, Corduroy, Crape, Cretonne, Denim, Dimity, Drill, Duck, Flannelette, Fustian, Gauze, Gingham, Longcloth, Moleskin, Mull, Muslin, Nankeen, Print, Rep, Ticking, Twill, Velveteen. The following are notes on other varieties.
Grey cloth is a comprehensive term that includes unbleached cotton cloth generally. It may be a nice question whether "yellow" would not have been the more nearly correct description. A very large proportion of the Lancashire export trade is in grey goods and a smaller yet considerable proportion of the home trade.
Shirting, which has long since ceased to refer exclusively to shirt cloths, includes a large proportion of Lancashire manufacture. Grey and white shirtings are exported to all the principal Eastern markets and also to Near Eastern, European, South American, &c. markets. Certain staple kinds, such as 30 in. 372 yd. 84 lb. 16 X 15 (threads to the 4 in.), largely exported to China and India, are made in various localities and by many manufacturers. The length quoted is to some extent a conventional term, as the pieces in many cases actually measure considerably more. The export shirting trade is done mainly on "repeat" orders for well-known "chops" or marks. These trade marks are sometimes the property of the manufacturer, but more commonly of the exporter. Generally the China markets use rather better qualities than the Indian markets. The principal China market for shirtings and other staple goods is Shanghai, which holds a large stock and distributes to minor markets. A considerable trade is also done through Hong-Kong and other Far Eastern ports. The principal Indian markets are Calcutta, Bombay, Karachi and Madras.
Shirt-cloth is the term more commonly applied to what is actually used in the manufacture of shirts, and it may be used for either plain or fancy goods.
Sheeting has two meanings in the cotton trade: (I) the ordinary bed sheeting, usually a stout cloth of anything from 45 in. to 120 in. wide (the extremes being used on the one hand for children's cots or ship bunks and on the other for old-fashioned four-posters), which may be either plain or twilled, bleached, unbleached or half-bleached; (2) a grey calico, heavier than a shirting, sent largely to China and other markets, usually 36 in. by 40 yd. and weighing about 12 lb. American sheetings compete with Lancashire goods in the China market. The Cabot is a kind of heavy sheeting, and for the Levant markets the name as a trade mark is said to be the exclusive property of an American firm, although the general class is known by the name and supplied by other firms.
Mexican is a plain, heavy grey calico, sometimes heavily sized. The origin of the word is doubtful, and it seems to be an arbitrary term. Mexicans are exported to various markets and also used in the home trade. For export the dimensions are commonly 32 or 36 in. by 24 yd., and a usual count is 18X18. In the Mexican the yarns were originally of nearly the same weight and number of threads to the 4 in., an arrangement which gave the cloth an even appearance, thus differing from the "pin-head" or medium makes. Now, however, Mexicans are often made with lighter wefts, though the name is usually applied to the better class of cloths of the particular character. Punjum is a Mexican, generally 36 yd. in length, sent mainly to the South African market.
T Cloth is a plain grey calico, similar in kind to the Mexican and exported to the same markets. There is no absolute distinction between the two cloths, but the T cloth is generally lower in quality than the Mexican. The name seems to have been originally an arbitrary identification or trade mark.
Domestic, a name originally used in the sense of "home-made," is applied especially to home-made cotton goods in the United States. In Great Britain it is employed rather loosely, but commonly to describe the kind of cloth which if exported would be called a Mexican. It may be either bleached or unbleached.
Medium is a plain calico, grey or bleached, of medium weight, used principally in the home and colonial trade. The word is sometimes particularly applied to cloths with a comparatively heavy weft, the distinction being made between the even "Mexican make" and the "pin-head" or "medium-make." Raising-cloths are of various kinds and may be merely mediums with a heavy weft, or "condensor" weft made from waste yarns. The essence of the raising-cloth is a weft that will provide plenty of nap and yet have sufficient fibre to maintain the strength of the web.
Wigan is a name derived from the town Wigan and seems to have been originally applied to a stiff canvas-like cloth used for lining skirts. Now it is commonly applied to medium or heavy makes of calico.
Double-warp, as its name implies, is a cloth with a twofold warp. It is usually a strong serviceable material and may be either twilled or plain. Sheetings for home trade are often double-warp, and double-warp twills and Wigans were and are used for the old-fashioned type of men's night-shirts.
Croydon, which seems to be an arbitrary trade name, is a heavy, bleached, plain calico, usually stiff and glossy in finish. It used to be sold largely in the Irish trade as well as in the English home trade, but it has been supplanted a good deal by softer finishes.
Printing-cloth is a term with a general significance, but it is also particularly applied to a class of plain cloths in which a very large trade is done both for home trade and export. The chief place in Lancashire for the manufacture of printing-cloths is Burnley, and in the United States, Fall River. The Burnley cloths range in width from 2 9 in. to 40 in., and are usually about 120 yd. in length. The warp is commonly from 36 8 to 44 8, the weft from 36 8 to 54 8, and the threads from 13 X 13 to 20X 20 to the 4 in. Cheshire printers, which are made at Hyde, Stockport, Glossop and elsewhere, are commonly 34 in. to 36 in. wide, the warp is from 32' to 36', the weft 32' to 40 8, and the counts 16X16 to 19X22.
Jacconet is understood to be the corruption of an Indian name, and the first jacconets were probably of Indian origin. They now make one of the principal staple trades of Lancashire with India. The jacconet is a plain cloth, lighter than a shirting and heavier than a mull. When bleached it is usually put into a firm and glossy finish. A nainsook is a jacconet bleached and finished soft. It also goes largely to India.
Dhootie is a name taken from a Hindu word of similar sound and referred originally to the loin-cloth worn by Hindus. It is a light, narrow cloth made with a coloured border which is often so elaborate as to require a dobby loom for its manufacture. The finer kinds, made from Egyptian yarns, are called mull-dhooties. The dhootie is one of the principal staples for India and is exported both white and grey.
Scarf is a kind of dhootie made usually with a taped or corded border.
Madapolam or Madapollam is a name derived from a suburb of Narsapur in the Madras presidency where the cloth was first made. It is now exported grey or white to India and other countries. In weight it is lighter than a shirting, and it is usually ornamented with a distinctive coloured heading.
Baft, probably of Persian derivation, and originally a fine cloth, is now a coarse and cheap cloth exported especially to Africa.
Germany. .. .
Belgium. .. .
Portugal, Azores and Madeira.
Greece.. ... .
Turkey. ... .
Egypt. .. .. .
Algeria. .. .
Foreign West Africa
Dutch East Indies .
Philippine Islands .
China, including Hong-Kong .
Japan. .. .
United States of America
Foreign West Indies .
Central America .
Colombia and Panama .
Peru. .. .. .
Chile. .. .. .
Brazil. .. .. .
Uruguay. .. .
Argentine Republic .
Malta. ... .
British W. Africa .
„ S. „ .
Bombay. ... .
Madras. ... .
Bengal. ... .
Straits Settlements' .
Australia. .. .
New Zealand. .
Canada. ... .
British West India Islands,
Bahamas and British Guiana
Other countries. .
5, 1 57,3 16
Sarong, the Malay ward for a garment wrapped round the lower part of the body and used by both men and women, is now applied to plain or printed cloths exported to the Indian or Eastern Archipelago for this purpose.
Jean, said to be derived from Genoa where a kind of fustian with this title was made, is a kind of twilled cloth. The cloth is woven "one end up and two ends down," and as there are more picks of weft per inch than ends of warp the diagonal lines pass from selvage to selvage at an angle of less than 45 degrees. The weft surface is the face or wearing surface of the cloth. Jeans are exported to China and other markets, and are also used in the home trade. Jeanette is the converse of jean, being a twill of "two ends up to one down"; the diagonal passes from selvage to selvage at a greater angle than 45 degrees and the warp makes the wearing surface.
Oxford is a plain-woven cloth usually with a coloured pattern, and is used for shirts and dresses. The name is comparatively modern, and is, no doubt, arbitrarily selected.
Harvard is a twilled cloth similar to the Oxford.
Regatta is a stout, coloured shirt cloth similar in make to a jeanette. It was originally made in blue and white stripes and was used largely and is still used for men's shirts.
Fancy cotton goods are of great variety, and many of them have trade names that are used temporarily or occasion produced on the surface of the cloth by needles placed in a sliding frame; lustre, a light dress material with a lustrous face sometimes made with a cotton warp and woollen weft; zephyr, a light, coloured dress material usually in small patterns; bobbinnet, a machine-made fabric, originally an imitation of lace made with bobbins on a pillow.
Some fancy cloths have descriptive names such as herringbone stripe, and there are many arbitrary trade names, such as Yosemite stripe, which may prevail and become the designation of a regular class or die after a few seasons.
Cotton linings include silesia, originally a linen cloth made in Silesia and now usually a twilled cotton cloth which is dyed various colours; Italian cloth, a kind of jean or sateen produced originally in Italy. Various cotton cloths are imitations of other textures and have modified names which indicate their superficial character, frequently produced by finishing processes. Among these are sateen, which, dyed or printed, is largely used for dresses, linings, upholstery, &c.; linenette, dyed and finished to imitate coloured linen in the north of Ireland and elsewhere; hollandette, usually unbleached or half-bleached and finished to imitate linen holland; and interlining, a coarse, plain white calico used as padding for linen collars.
Various cotton imitations share the name of the original, such ally. Apart from the large class of brocaded cloths made in Jacquard looms there are innumerable simpler kinds, including stripes and checks of various descriptions, such as Swiss, Cord, Satin, Doriah stripes, &c. Mercerized cloths are of many kinds, as the mercerizing process can be applied to almost anything. Lace and lace curtains are made largely at Nottingham. Various light goods are madein Scotland, such as book muslin, a fine light muslin with an elastic finish, so called from being folded in book-form.
Among the fancy cloths made in cotton may be mentioned: matting, which includes various kinds with some similarity in appearance to a matting texture; matelasse, which is in some degree an imitation of French dress goods of that name; pique, also of French origin, woven in stripes in relief, which cross the width of the piece, and usually finished stiff; Bedford cord, a cheaper variety of pique in which the stripes run the length of the piece; oatmeal cloth, which has an irregular surface suggesting the grain of oatmeal, commonly dyed cream colour; crimp cloth, in which a puckered effect is obtained by uneven shrinkage; grenadine, said to be derived from Granada, a light dress material originally made of silk or silk and wool; brilliant, a dress material, usually with a small raised pattern; leno, possibly a corrupt form of the French linon or lawn, a kind of fancy gauze used for veils, curtains, &c.; lappet, a light material with a figure or pattern as lawn, batiste, serge, huckaback, galloon, and a large number of names are of obvious derivation and use, such as umbrella cloth, apron cloth, sail cloth, book-binding cloth, shroud cloth, 1 Including Federated Malay States.
Among the miscellaneous cloths made or made partly of cotton may be mentioned: waste cloths, made from waste yarns and usually coarse in texture; khaki cloth, made largely for military clothing in cotton as well as in woollen; cottonade, a name given to various coarse low cloths in the United States and elsewhere; lasting, which seems to be an abbreviation of "lasting cloth," a stiff, durable texture used in making shoes, &c.; bolting cloth, used in bolting or sifting; brattice cloth, a stout, tarred cloth made of cotton or wool and used for bratticing or lining the sides of shafts in mines; sponge cloths, used for cleaning machinery; shoddy and mungo, which though mainly woollen have frequently a cotton admixture; and splits, either plain or fancy, usually of low quality, which include any cloth woven two or three in the breadth of the loom and "split" into the necessary width. Cotton is used too for many miscellaneous purposes, including the manufacture of lamp wicks and even of billiard balls.
British Cotton Cloth Exports
The main lines of the Lancashire export trade in cotton goods are indicated in the Board of Trade returns. The table on p. 150 compiled from them is taken from the Manchester Guardian. It gives in thousands of yards the quantities of cotton goods exported from Great Britain during 1903, 1904 and 1905 respectively, together with average value per yard for each of the countries.
Grey or unbleached .
Dyed and coloured .
The following table gives, approximately, in thousands of yards the quantities exported of the four main divisions of cotton cloths: - In the case of cloth, too, the Board of Trade returns must not be taken as an absolute record of imports to the particular countries, as the ultimate recipient is not always determined. The development of the Eastern trade has been one of the most remarkable features of the cotton trade in the 19th century. Professor Chapman writes in his Cotton Industry and Trade: "In 1820 Europe received about half the cotton fabrics which were sent abroad, while the United States received nearly one-tenth and eastern Asia little more than one-twentieth. By 1880 Europe was taking less than one-twelfth, the United States less than one-fiftieth, and eastern Asia more than a half." Naturally a trade tends to find out the most direct means of distribution, and Manchester merchants are now generally in direct connexion with native dealers in India. Bombay was the pioneer in the custom, followed now by Calcutta and Karachi, by which deliveries of goods from British merchants remained under the control of the banks until the native dealers took them up. Manchester business with India, China, &c., is done under various conditions, however, and a good many firms have branches abroad. The regular "indent" by which most of the Manchester Eastern business is conducted now implies a definite offer for shipment from the dealer abroad, either direct or through the exporter's agents, and commonly includes freight and insurance. The term "commission agent" is now discredited, and buying done by Manchester houses on simple commission terms is unusual though not unknown. This has been so since the famous law case of Williamson v. Barbour in 1877, when it was established that whatever might be the custom of the trade a commission agent was not entitled to make a profit over his commission on the various processes, such as handling and packing, which are a necessary part of the exporter's work. A good deal of business is done, however, for South America and other markets in which the goods are bought for delivery in the Manchester warehouse, all charges for packing, &c., and carriage being extra.
Transactions with distant markets are now done almost entirely by cable, and a remarkable development of the telegraphic code has enabled merchants to pack a good deal into a brief message. A cable sent to India in the evening may bring a reply next morning, and in these days of rapid cotton fluctuations mail advices are confined mainly to general discussion, hypothetical inquiry, advice, admonition and complaint. Some Manchester export business is done through London, Glasgow, and continental towns, of which Hamburg is the principal. Glasgow buys largely of yarns and cloth, some considerable part of which is dyed or printed, for India and elsewhere, and has an indigenous manufacture and trade in fine goods such as book-muslins and lappets, a somewhat delicate department of manufacture which necessitates a slower running of machinery than is usual in Lancashire. Besides the indent business there is, of course, purely merchant business by Manchester exporters, who buy on their own initiative at what they consider to be opportune times or on recommendations from their houses or correspondents abroad. In the Indian trade, especially in the Calcutta trade, a large proportion of the total amount is done by a few houses who buy in this way, and there is some difference of opinion as to whether the method, which had fallen out of fashion, may not further develop. It is more speculative than the indent business, but the dealing with large quantities which it involves gives the opportunity to buy very cheaply. A good many firms venture occasionally to buy in anticipation of their customers' needs, especially when they expect a rising market. During the great trade "boom" of 1905 there was a good deal of buying by exporters in advance of their indents because manufacturers continued to contract engagements which threatened to exclude dilatory buyers. On the whole, however, what may be called the speculative centre of gravity of Great Britain's export business in cotton goods is not in Manchester but abroad.
The terms on which business is conducted are various even in a single market, and it is sometimes a reproach that British firms are old-fashioned in their reluctance to give credit. The socalled enterprising methods of some German traders are, however, condemned by many experienced English traders, and it is said that in China, for instance, the seeming successes of the newcomers are delusive. The Tientsin developments of German business on credit terms are said to have proved unsatisfactory, and heavy losses were suffered in Hong-Kong some years ago by merchants who endeavoured to initiate a bolder system of trading. The very common complaint of British consuls that British firms neglect to send out travellers may have some foundation, but a commercial house naturally follows the line of least resistance to the development of its trade, and cannot be expected to work remote and barren ground when better opportunities are near at hand. On the whole it appears that the British cotton trade continues to increase to a satisfactory degree in fancy and special goods, which require for their production a comparatively high degree of technical skill, and are more lucrative than some of the simpler products in which competitors have been rr ost formidable. Various finishing processes, and particularly the mercerizing of yarn and cloth, have increased the possibilities in cotton materials, and while staples still form the bulk of our foreign trade, it seems that as the stress of competition in these grows acute, more and more of our energy may be transferred to the production of goods which appeal to a growing taste or fancy. British Home Trade. - The home trade in cotton cloths is a great and important section, but it is not comparable in volume to the export trade. It involves more numerous and more elaborate processes, and the qualities for home use are generally finer and more costly than those for export. Of course by far the larger part of the yarn spun in Lancashire is woven in Lancashire, but of the cotton cloth woven in Lancashire it is roughly estimated that about 20% is used in Great Britain. Not only is the average of quality better, but the variety of kinds and designs is greater in the home trade than in the export trade. A good home trade connexion is considered an extremely valuable asset, and as the trade is highly differentiated the profits are usually good. Some manufacturers devote themselves exclusively to the home trade, and some exclusively to foreign trade, but there is a large class with what may be called a margin of alternation, which serves to redress the balance as business in one or other of the sections is good or bad.
Certain kinds of light goods made for India and other Eastern markets are not used in the home trade, and the typical Eastern staples are not generally used in their particular "sizings," but with these exceptions and various specialities almost every kind of cotton cloth is used to some extent in Great Britain. Grey calicoes for home use, except the lowest kinds, are comparatively pure, and of late years the heavy fillings which used to be common in bleached goods have become discredited. The housewife long persisted in deceiving herself by purchasing filled calicoes, and the movement in favour of purer goods owes a good deal, strangely enough, to the increase in the making-up trade and the consequent inconveniences to workers of sewing machines, whose needles were constantly broken by hard filled calicoes.
This development of the making-up trade has become an important element in the home trade, and it has greatly reduced the retail sale of piece-goods. The purchase of ready-made shirts, underclothing, &c., corresponds to a change in the habits of the people. The factories which have been erected in the north of Ireland, on the outskirts of London and elsewhere turn out millions of garments that would, under the old conditions, have been made at home. It is not necessary here to balance the advantages and disadvantages of the two systems, and it must not be supposed that made-up cotton garments are necessarily cheap and inefficient.
The chief distributing centre of cotton made-up goods is London, though a considerable trade is done through wholesale houses in Manchester and elsewhere. Large warehouses in the city of London carry on the trade and frequently supply Lancashire with her own goods. Of course the partial loss of the piece-goods trade by the shops is not a loss in aggregate trade, as they are the ultimate distributors of the made-up garments, which are probably at least as profitable to retail as calico or flannelette sold in lengths.
The normal course of home trade piece-goods is from manufacturer to bleacher, dyer, printer or finisher, either on account of a merchant to whom the goods are sold or on the manufacturer's own account. By far the majority of Lancashire manufacturers sell their goods as they come from the loom, or, as it is called, in the "grey state," but an increasing number now cultivate the trade in finished goods. Usually the manufacturer sells either directly or through an agent to a merchant who sells again to the shopkeeper, but the last twenty or thirty years have seen a considerable development of more direct dealing. Some manufacturers now go to the shopkeeper, and this has made it difficult for the merchant with a limited capital and therefore a limited assortment to survive. The great general houses such as Rylands's, Philips's and Watt's in Manchester, and Cook's and Pawson's in London, some of which are manufacturers to a minor degree, continue to flourish because under one roof they can supply all that the draper requires, and so enable him to economize in the time spent in buying and to save himself the trouble of attending to many accounts. Some general merchants, indeed, supply what are practically "tied houses," which give all their trade in return for pecuniary assistance or special terms.
The tendency to eliminate the middleman has not only brought a good many manufacturers into direct relation with the shopkeeper, but in some exceptional cases the manufacturer, adopting some system of broadcast advertisement and postal delivery, has dealt with the consumer. Naturally, the merchant resents any developments which exclude him, and some mild forms of boycott have occasionally been instituted. In the United States there has been an arduous struggle over this question, and combinations of merchants have sometimes compelled favourable terms. In England, though the merchant has maintained a great part of the trade with shopkeepers, the developing trade with makers of shirts, underclothing, &c., is mainly done by the manufacturers directly, and perhaps the simplification of relations by direct dealing in the cotton trade has now reached a point of fairly stable compromise. The tendency to direct trading is naturally controlled by the exigencies of capital. Those manufacturers who act as merchants aim to retain the merchant profit and must employ a merchant capital in stocks. There has been a tendency, indeed, to make the manufacturer the stockkeeper, and some merchants do little more than pass on the goods a stage after taking toll. The great improvement in trade during 1905 and 1906 checked this tendency, and probably the manufacturing extensions owed something to the capital set free by the reductions of stocks.
It must be noted, however, that while most of the spinning concerns are worked by limited companies or individuals with a considerable capital, a good many small manufacturers exist who have little capital and are practically financied by their agents or customers. This is so in both the export and home trades.
The home trade merchant or merchant-manufacturer works largely through agents and travellers, and though railway facilities continue to improve, some shopkeepers rarely visit their markets. The difficulty that is naturally experienced by a traveller in finding sufficient support on a sparsely populated "ground" has brought into vogue the traveller on commission who represents several firms. The traveller with salary and allowances for expenses survives, but the quickening induced by an interest in the amount of sales has caused many firms to adopt the principle of commission, which may, however, be an addition to a minimum salary. Of course, such travellers are not peculiar to the cotton trade, but cotton goods in various forms are an important factor in the home trade.
The profits of manufacturers, merchants and shopkeepers are commonly very much less on the lower classes of cotton goods than on the higher ones. Thus while there may be a difference of id. per yd. between the qualities on a manufacturer's list, the difference in cost may not be more than a farthing; and, again, while the shopkeeper sometimes pays 22d. or even 28d. per yd. for a calico to retail at 21d., his next selling price may be 34d. for one which costs him only 24d. or 3d. per yd. It appears, therefore, that if the poorer classes of the community have the discretion to avoid the lowest qualities they may obtain very good value in serviceable goods. In the matter of profits, however, there is a good deal of irregularity.
The Manchester Royal Exchange
There are not many cotton mills or weaving sheds in Manchester, which is, however, the great distributive centre, and its Exchange is the meeting-place of most classes of buyers and sellers in the cotton trade and various trades allied to it. As buyers of finished goods for London and the country do not attend it, certain departments of the home trade are hardly represented, but practically all the spinners and manufacturers and all the export merchants of any importance are subscribers. Transactions between spinners and manufacturers are largely effected on Tuesdays and Fridays, the old "market days," when the manufacturing towns are well represented, but a large amount of business is transacted every day. Besides the persons immediately concerned in the cotton trade and connected with allied trades, a large number of members find it convenient to use this great meeting-place as a means of approach to a body of responsible persons. Thus not only bleachers, carriers, chemical manufacturers, mill furnishers and accountants find their way there, but also tanners, timber merchants, stockbrokers and even wine merchants. Since the Ship Canal made Manchester into a cotton port there has been a steady development of the raw cotton trade in Manchester, and many cotton brokers and merchants have Manchester offices or pay regular visits from Liverpool.
The various expansions and developments have made it difficult to maintain the ratio between accommodation and requirements, and although overcrowding is troublesome only during some three or four hours a week, at "high 'Change" on market days, various complaints and suggestions provoked in 1906 an appeal from the chairman of directors to the Manchester corporation. This took the form of a suggestion that the Exchange should be worked as a municipal institution on a new site, and though such a development met with opposition it was apparent that Manchester must presently have a new or an enlarged Exchange. The present building is, however, the largest of the kind in the world, and the history of the various exchanges coincides with the expansion of the Lancashire industry.
According to semi-official records "the first building in the nature of an Exchange" was erected in 1729 by Sir Oswald Mosley, and though designed for "chapmen to meet and transact their business" it appears that, as to-day, encroachments were made by other traders until cotton manufacturers and merchants preferred to do their business in the street. In 1792 the building was demolished, and for a period of some eighteen years there was nothing of the kind. In 1809 the new Exchange was opened, and terms of membership were fixed at two guineas for those within 6 m. of the building and one guinea for those outside this radius. In the following year plans for enlargement were submitted to the shareholders, and various extensions followed, particularly in 1830 and 1847. The present building was opened partly in 1871 and partly in 1874. The area of the great room is 4405 sq. yds. The subscription was raised on the 1st of January 1906 from three guineas to four guineas for new members, but the number of members continues to increase and early in 1906 amounted to 8786.
Of course in this great mart a large variety of types is to be found and the members fall into some kind of rough grouping. Export buyers, attended by salesmen, are commonly more or less stationary and prominent; Burnley manufacturers abound in one locality and spinners of Egyptian yarns in another. The importance of the Exchange as a bargaining centre is fairly maintained, though buyers are assiduously cultivated in their own offices, and the telephone has done a good deal to abbreviate n.`egotiation. As to the amount of business transacted on the Exchange there is no record. The market reporters make some attempt to materialize the current gossip, and doubtless catch well enough the great movements in the ebb and flow of demand, but the sum of countless obscure transactions cannot be estimated. Some few years ago an attempt was made to mark more clearly the course of business in Manchester, and a scheme was prepared for the recording of daily transactions. This could only have been a somewhat rough affair, but its originator maintained reasonably that it would be of interest if some indication of the daily movements could be obtained. For some time a memorandum of the total of daily sales reported was posted on 'Change, but the indifference of traders, together with the distrust that makes any innovation difficult, caused the scheme to be abandoned.
It would be difficult in any attempt to estimate the volume of British home trade to distinguish what may be called the effective movements of goods. There is a considerable amount of re-selling both in yarn and cloth, and, though the bulk of cotton goods finds the way through regular and normal channels to the consumer, these channels are not always direct. A good many transactions on the Manchester Exchange are intermediate, without fulfilling any useful function, and could be accomplished by the principals if they were brought together. Agents, of whom there are many, sometimes occupy a precarious position, but they are protected in some degree by law as well as by the custom of the trade and the point of honour. Points of honour in the Manchester business may seem to be arbitrarily selected, but they are an important part of the scheme. An immense amount of business is done without any apparent check against repudiation. It is, of course, the verbal bargain that binds, and large transactions are commonly completed without witnesses, though before the contract or memorandum of sale passes the fluctuations of the market may have made the bargain, to one side or the other, a very bad one. (A. N. M.)
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Bibliography Information Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Cotton Goods and Yarn'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/c/cotton-goods-and-yarn.html. 1910.
Sunday, December 5th, 2021 the Second Week of Advent