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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76



I arrived in this city on the 30th September, and soon after called upon the Mayor, Mr. Josiah Quincy, to whom I am indebted for many acts of kindness during my stay in the city.

I also paid a visit to the Plymouth Cordage Company, and interviewed Mr. E. D. Yer Planck, a large broker in the trade. He has written me as follows, viz.:—

Boston, Mass.,

Dear Sir,—

I take the liberty of addressing you in regard to New Zealand hemp, and outlining my views as to the measures I think producers should take to make the hemp a permanently saleable article in the fibre markets of America.

We have suffered from irregular quality; and, while allowances have been made for imperfections, such allowances do not reimburse manufacturers when, owing to the great distance of the place of production, they cannot replace poor parcels of hemp with good quality in time for their needs.

New Zealand hemp will never replace manila for cordage purposes, as the strength of the latter will always be in its favour; but it might easily take a better position in twice manufactures, where only a certain strength is required, and in doing so it might easily offset or replace a large quantity of sisal hemp.

In making twine the chief object is to obtain a free-running clean fibre. Sisal is particularly so, and New Zealand fibre must be the same. New Zealand fibre will always be at some disadvantage over sisal owing to the great distance of the producing country, and, to offset this and other objections to New Zealand fibre, I think the following are the main points to be observed: First, a uniform, reliable, and responsible grading of the hemp, so that buyers can always count upon getting what they buy; second, the production in large quantities of a hemp of good colour, free from straw, and perfectly free from tow.

The above points, if rigidly observed by the manufacturers of hemp, would produce confidence in this country, and allow the manufacturers to go to the trouble and expense of introducing and establishing brands of rope and twine for which they could always be certain of having a reliable and abundant supply of raw material.

New Zealand is now a secondary fibre, used only when other fibres are scarce and high. It has always disappeared when sisal and manila were low. It should be able to remain in the markets at any and all prices. To-day, when all fibres are high, is the time for New Zealand producers to step forward and, with a superior grade of hemp, command attention. The world is now using about all the sisal and manila produced in page 15 normal times, resulting in high prices. The war has shut off a large part of the manila production, and the time is most opportune for New Zealand to again enter the American market. It depends upon the New Zealand hemp-grower whether or not his product is to again disappear entirely from the market with the return of low prices for sisal and manila.

In working New Zealand hemp tow is the greatest objection. The method of decortication, as described by you, seems to me to be one that would create tow. The fibre is too soft to warrant the scutching process as applied to manila hemp in our mills, and we must therefore look to the producer to make the scutching here unnecessary.

Trusting the above will be of some service to you in your efforts,

I am, &c., Mr.

John Holmes

, Government Commissioner of New Zealand, Montreal, Canada.

E. D. Ver Planck.

I also received the following letter from him:—

Boston, Mass.,

Dear Sir,—

Your favour of the 10th instant at hand.

The imports of manila into America last year were about 457,000 bales. Of sisal there were imported, during 1898, 439,000 bales, and exported 11,000, leaving a balance in this country of 427,000 bales.

During last summer I think about 83/94,000 tons of binder-twine were made.

I trust the above is what you want. The answer to your letter has been delayed owing to my absence in New York.

I am, &c., Mr.

John Holmes


E. D. Ver Planck.

Government Commissioner of New Zealand, Montreal, Canada.

This information is most valuable. Read in conjunction with the other opinions expressed by competent authorities, it clearly demonstrates the necessity for the compulsory grading of our hemp.