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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

Wool, Fibre, &c

Wool, Fibre, &c.

Of the general quality of the New Zealand wools, nothing need be said here. A fine lock of long wool was shown, and Mr T. York had two bales of scoured wool, extremely well got up, representing the product as ready for shipment, and not in any way specially treated for exhibition. Woollen goods were—almost as a matter of course—most largely displayed by the Kaiapoi Company. It was peculiarly gratifying to be enabled to note that within the past year the Company has not only greatly enlarged its operations and its list of productions, but has succeeded in obtaining as high a degree of finish as could well be desired. The Exhibition display demonstrated in an unmistakeable manner the great variety of the products. The excellence of the goods was decisively and emphatically pronounced upon, for scarcely had the Exhibition been well opened, when it was known that Messrs Ballantyne and Co, of Cashel street, had purchased the entire collection. Some of the Company's tweeds were shown as made up into suits of clothing, and they most deservedly won general admiration. In the machinery room, the Company had one of their more recently imported Jacquard looms at work. This particular machine, manufactured by Messrs Schofield and Kirk, of Huddersfield, works five shuttles and 24 shafts, and is, therefore, capable of producing complex patterns. It simply represents numerous other looms, of a similar nature, which have been in use by the Company for some time past. The woollen manufacture is now firmly established here, and, so far as the production of goods of first-class quality is concerned, it is certain to increase year by year, and to take in other details. Our manufacturers do not attempt to compete with "shoddy." Let us hope that public demand will never be of such a nature as to induce them to do so. The New Zealand Clothing Company (Messrs Hallenstein Bros.) were also large exhibitors, their goods including an excellent variety of the Mosgiel tweeds, Other minor displays were made.

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Hope, cordage and twine, fax and tow, were included in the stands of Messrs Hale and Forbes, Mr R. Marshall (Oust), Mr J. Seed (Rangiora), Messrs Hayman Bros., and Mr R. Gould. Of the general excellence of these products there could be no doubt. At the present time, however, most interest attaches to the examples of locally grown European flax, and to the rope or twine made therefrom. Mr Murphy's able paper on the subject is yet fresh in the minds of the public, and as it has fortunately been reprinted in pamphlet form by the Local Industries Association, its valuable information, both as to culture and manufacture, has been made a still more permanent record. It was intimated in these columns some time since, that there was the possibility of a company in connection with the growth and manufacture of the European flax being formed at no distant date. It may now be stated that detailed estimates are being obtained from England for the required machinery, and that not a few of our capitalists are sanguine as to the success of the enterprise if undertaken. It has been pointed out that of twine for reaping and binding machines an enormous quantity must be used here, and for such twine the fibre of the European flax is much better adapted than the coarser, and more brittle kind we are familiar with; and in a small way, but nevertheless in a really practical manner, one of our farmers has shown how well the European flax can be grown and worked here.

Closely connected with the manufactures from wool and flax, there are various minor industries. One of these, the production of felt, could be readily undertaken at Kaiapoi; and the quantity now required in this Colony in one branch of work alone—the manufacture of hats—is very great. It is, indeed, highly probable that the Kaiapoi Woollen Company will, before long, include felt in their list of products; though, of course, some special machinery must first be obtained. In the production of the variety of felt required by hatters, the necessary materials are just those which this Colony produces in enormous quantities—wool and rabbit fur. Another "waste" product is flock, of which three bags were shown by Messrs Ellis and Nicholson, of Kaikorai, near Dunedin. These samples had been well prepared, and commanded much attention as a Colonial product. The whiter sample had apparently been prepared from waste flannel, &c., and was priced at. Is per pound. The grey variety was offered at 6d, and the darker kind—the waste from grey blanketing, &c., at 3 ½ d. The flax mills also yield large supplies of waste, and a sample thereof was shown by Mr Stansell, together with specimens of "half stuff" and papier-maché. By properly macerating the flax waste, so as to reduce it to a pulpy condition, and then subjecting a layer of it to hydraulic pressure, a millboard of coarse paper-like material is produced. Such millboard is used in strong and cheap binding, for the foundation of cardboard boxes of large size, and for various other purposes. If the pulp from the flax waste is somewhat differently treated, and has incorporated with it substances such as resin and glue, it may by powerful pressure and suitable moulds be squeezed into any desired forms, and it sets with extreme hardness. It is now "papier-maché," and is capable of receiving a high degree of subsequent decorative finish. Mr Stansell's papier-maché specimens were squeezed into the comparatively coarse moulds used by plasterers, and the details have therefore none of the sharpness obtainable by the use of the proper moulds of metal; he has obtained rather better results, with a pair of lion heads, by using wax moulds. In boiling and filtering the waste, a saponaceous matter is obtained which it is believed might very well be utilised. Mr Stansell showed a bottle of this substance.

A sample of the brown wrapping-paper, made at the Mataura mills, was shown. This paper, which is strong and tough, has been manufactured from the fibre of one of our native tussacs, danthonia flavescens, or broad-leaved oat tussac grass. On our upland sheep runs it grows in great abundance, up to an altitude of 3000ft, and it is considered to be capable of affording "an unlimited amount" of fibre material for the manufacture of paper. The manufacture of printing and other papers from linen rags, &c., has yet to be undertaken in New Zealand. The manufacture of paper or cardboard boxes has been begun in Christchurch by Mr A. Aulsebrook, who makes an excellent and very complete show, His specimens are well finished and tasteful, and they include such kinds as will meet almost all commercial requirements.