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Title: Bamboo, Considered as a Paper-making Material - With remarks upon its cultivation and treatment.
Author: Routledge, Thomas
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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This Pamphlet is printed on Paper made by the Author from Bamboo.




Of all the fibre-yielding plants known to botanical science there
is not one so well calculated to meet the pressing requirements of
the Paper-trade as "BAMBOO," both as regards facility and economy
of production, as well as the quality of the "_Paper-Stock_" which
can be manufactured therefrom: grown under favourable conditions of
climate and soil, there is no plant which will give so heavy a crop of
available fibre to the acre, no plant which requires so little care for
its cultivation and continuous production.

The rapidity of the growth of "BAMBOO" is unequalled. At Gehzireh,
the gardens of the Khedive of Egypt at Cairo, it has been known
to grow nine inches in a single night. At Syon House, the Duke of
Northumberland's, stems of "_Bambusa Gigantea_" have attained the
height of 60 feet in 12 weeks; and I have made "_Paper-Stock_" from a
stem of "_Bambusa Vulgaris_," sent me by Dr. Hooker, from the Royal
Botanical Gardens at Kew, which, as measured by the gardener in the
Palm-house, grew at the rate of three feet in a single week; at
Chatsworth, the Duke of Devonshire's, this same variety (the "_Bambusa
Vulgaris_") has attained the height of 40 feet in 40 days.

Throughout the East Indies the "Bamboo" flourishes, forming indeed
in many districts impenetrable jungles. It grows abundantly also in
the West Indies, in Central and South America, the Brazils, in Africa
and Asia; in China especially, and in Japan, the plant is indigenous,
and the natives cultivate it carefully, employing it for almost every
article of convenience and luxury; in fact, wherever heat and moisture
exist, some species of the "Bamboo" will be found, or may be readily

Attempts have from time to time been made in England, and elsewhere,
to obtain from the "BAMBOO" "_Half-stuff_" or "_Pulp_" suitable for
the manufacture of paper, and paper indeed has been made therefrom,
but hitherto these attempts have neither industrially nor commercially
attained successful results, and for the following reasons.

Hitherto the "BAMBOO" has been collected and treated in a condition
more or less of maturity, or without regard to its age; and when the
plant has attained its full growth the woody fibre is extremely dense
and indurated; when old, indeed, the exterior portion of the stem of
many varieties of the plant becomes so hard and silicious that it will,
like flint, strike fire with steel.

Owing to the presence of this large quantity of silica, and the extreme
hardness of the stem when developed and matured, it has been found by
all those who have hitherto experimentally treated "BAMBOO" that the
only possible means of converting it into _Pulp_ for Paper-making, has
been to subject it to long-continued boiling, or digesting, in very
strong solutions of caustic alkali, at an elevated temperature--in
other words, at or under a pressure of ten to eleven atmospheres
(150 to 160 lb. pressure per square inch)--by which means a _Pulp_
has certainly been produced, but at a great cost, and the danger and
practical difficulties of working under such high pressure, have
deterred further progress in this direction.

I have found that when the stems of "Bamboo," are cut down at an early
stage of their growth, when the plant is full of sap, and before the
cellulose or cellular tissue, and the lignine have become indurated,
and silica deposited; while, in fact, so to speak, the plant may be
termed a succulent vegetable, and before it has become converted into
wood, that a very mild system of treatment in successive weak alkaline
baths, at atmospheric pressure only, suffices to decompose and render
soluble the mucilaginous and other extractive compounds combined
naturally with the fibrous tissue of the plant, so that they may be
readily eliminated, or separated therefrom, by subsequent washing,
leaving the residuary fibres pure and free.

A comparative illustration of the transitional stage of growth above
referred to, showing the conversion of succulent vegetable fibrous
tissue, into harsh woody fibre, may be remarked with "Asparagus,"
the young and green stems of which, are used as a delicacy for the
table, a few weeks further growth converting them into hard woody
fibre, which no amount of boiling would, or could, render palatable;
the "Asparagus," indeed, has its parallel in the "_Bambusa Edulis_," a
variety of "BAMBOO," the young stems of which are eaten and considered
very nourishing.

The "BAMBOO," being an _endogenous_ plant, (that is to say, growing
from inside) composed mainly of fibrous tissue, combined with the
ordinary sappy and other extractive matter common to all vegetable
growth, the stems do not require the elaborate preparatory manipulation
which is necessary to separate the fibrous, from the extraneous and
woody matter, which in _exogenous_ plants (i. e. growing from, or on
the outside) must be removed, as it is only the true fibre which is
useable for Textile Manufactures.

Such plants known to commerce as "FLAX," "HEMP," "JUTE," "RHEA," &c.
&c., after having become mature, and being dried, have to undergo a
process of retting, or steeping, followed by scutching and heckling, in
order to separate the ultimate fibres from the woody stem and bark to
which, while in their normal condition, they are attached.

The cost therefore, of producing merchantable fibre from this class of
plants is very considerable, and the produce or yield of fibre, to the
plant cultivated, very small, that of "FLAX" being computed at from 5
to 6 cwt., "HEMP" 7 cwt., and "JUTE" 5 to 6 cwt. per acre, "COTTON"
being much less; "BAMBOO," as I will presently show, producing tons as
compared with cwts. of the foregoing, and, be it noted, with far less
cost for cultivation, and the subsequent preparation of the fibre.

The stems of the "BAMBOO," cut young, as I propose to use them,
contain from 60 to 75 per cent. of moisture; it will be obvious,
therefore, that to ensure a regular and continuous supply, under
economical conditions, to a central factory for the manufacture of
"_Paper-Stock_," plantations would have to be formed contiguous
thereto, as practised with "SUGAR CANE," or in a similar manner to
Osier beds, in England.

I have mentioned the latter, as in order to stimulate a rapid, aqueous,
and sappy growth, as also to provide for the dry seasons common to hot
countries, a system of irrigation would be necessary, such a system
indeed being at present practised with the SUGAR CANE, in Egypt, Spain,
and elsewhere.

With plantations of "Sugar Cane," to which plant the "BAMBOO" somewhat
assimilates in character and growth, it is necessary, in order to
ripen the canes and develop saccharine, to allow free ventilation to
the growing plant, and thus the ground is not fully occupied; this
would not be the case with "BAMBOO," which should be planted and grown
closely together to favour the stems shooting upwards, as practised
with "HEMP" and "FLAX," where fine staple of fibre is desired.

By following such a system, the stools or roots once established, a
systematical and regular cropping, or cutting, would ensue, the stems
being all cut down simultaneously, by sections or beds, in regular
succession, numerous croppings annually would thus be obtained, and
when necessary, fresh beds would be formed, the older growth being
available for fuel for the manufactory.

The Sugar Cane from the time of planting, to cutting, takes from nine
to twelve months to grow and mature; but even thus grown, the produce
of canes (ready dressed for the mill) generally ranges from 30 to 35
tons to the acre, it sometimes exceeds 40 tons; allowing several crops
or cuttings annually for the "BAMBOO," it may fairly be assumed that at
least this latter quantity would be obtained per acre.

Allowing 208 feet square to represent one acre; divided into twelve
beds, each 96 × 26 feet, with twelve paths 96´ × 8´ 8´´ wide, and one
intersecting road 208 × 16 feet wide, leaves a space for planting equal
to 2496 feet, or 29,952 feet in the twelve beds; allowing the stems to
be 2 feet apart, and say only 12 feet high, we have 7488 stems, which
at 12 lb. each = 40 tons per acre.

The stem of the "_Bambusa Vulgaris_" before mentioned, grown in
the Palm-house at Kew, was of an average size, 10 to 11 inches
circumference, and weighed green 1-1/2 lb. per foot run; and although
no doubt by denser growth, induced by frequent cropping, the stems
even of the larger varieties of "BAMBOO" would decrease in size, still
an equal tonnage to the acre would be produced, with longer joints or
internodes, and a finer staple of fibre.

The stems of the "BAMBOO" (_taken as dry_) treated by my process, will
yield 60 per cent. of unbleached _Fibrous_ "_Paper-Stock_," baled up
in merchantable condition; assuming therefore an annual cropping of 40
tons, green stems, which will lose 75 per cent. moisture in drying, we
have 10 tons dry stems per acre; these at 60 per cent. yield, will give
6 tons per acre of "_Paper-Stock_," an enormous product as compared
with any other fibrous material with which I am acquainted.

Allowing the plantation to be credited at the rate of 5_s._ per ton,
for the green stems, delivered to the central factory, and 40 tons to
be produced per acre, we have the sum of 10_l._ per acre to cover all
charges; once, however, the plantation formed, but little cost in the
way of cultivation need be incurred. The main outlay would be for rent,
irrigation, and cutting, and carrying to the manufactory.

I may here remark that I propose where possible, to return to the
_Plantation_, mixed with the water employed for irrigation, the
mucilaginous and other extractive constituents, or matters, (amounting
to 40 per cent.) abstracted from the stems during the process of
manufacturing the "_Paper-Stock_," as Manure, thus maintaining
fertilization to the growing plant.

FIBROUS "_Paper-Stock_."

An essential point in my system for treating "BAMBOO" to produce
therefrom fibrous "_Paper-Stock_," consists in operating upon the stems
of the plant when young, and preferably when fresh, as, and when, cut
and collected.

Brought therefore to a central factory in this condition, the stems
are passed through heavy crushing rolls, in order to split and flatten
them, and at the same time crush, or smash, the knots, or nodes. The
stems thus flattened, are then passed through a second series of
rolls, which are channelled, or grooved, in order further to split, or
partially divide them longitudinally into strips, or ribbons; these
being cut transversely, into convenient lengths by a guillotine knife
or shears, are delivered by a carrier, or automatic feeder, direct to
the boiling pans, or elsewhere, as desired.

As the stems when fresh and green, contain from 60 to 75 per cent.
of sappy and mucilaginous matter, much of this is expressed by the
crushing, while at the same time the fibrous mass, being partially
disintegrated, is thus more readily acted upon in the succeeding

If desired, the crushed stems may be dried and stored; such drying,
however, must be very carefully conducted and watched to avoid
destructive fermentation.

I have in the preceding "Remarks" referred to "FLAX," "HEMP,"
"JUTE," and similar FIBRES known to commerce, such fibres being
imported into this country in their prepared condition, suitable for
Textile purposes. They have, in fact, passed through a process of
semi-manufacture, such process, as I have explained, being required
to separate the ultimate fibres from the interior woody stem to which
when growing they are attached; and it is obvious that it would not be
(economically) possible to import any of these fibrous plants as grown
or produced, owing to their enormous bulk in that condition.

Now although the stems of the "BAMBOO," after cutting and crushing,
may, as I have shown, be dried (and will when dried give a yield of
60 per cent. of fibre), still their bulk and extreme lightness would
preclude importing them to this country in their _raw_ condition, not
merely from their heavy cost for carriage, but from their liability
to damage from fermentation. For these economical considerations,
therefore, I propose to reduce the "BAMBOO" into "_Fibrous-Stock_"
where grown or produced.

It may be well, before entering into details of the process, briefly
to explain the ordinary system employed for preparing fibres, or
fibrous materials, as also rags, for Paper-making. This consists in
sorting, cutting, cleaning, and, if need be, roughly opening them,
followed by boiling in alkaline leys, after which they are well washed
until cleansed from impurities in what is technically termed the rag
or breaker engine, during which operation they are disintegrated or
reduced into "_Half-stuff_," or _semi-pulp_, this being subsequently
bleached and converted into pulp and paper.

As the object of my process is to produce a fibrous or tow-like
_Stock_, retaining as far as possible the normal or natural condition
of the fibre, and not "_Half-stuff_" or "_Pulp_," my system of
treatment differs materially from the foregoing, more especially in the
boiling and washing processes.

Both of these processes I conduct in a battery, or series of vessels
(16, 20, or more in number), such vessels being connected together
by pipes, or channels, furnished with valves, or cocks, so that
communication between the individual vessels may be maintained,
disconnected, and regulated as desired, in such manner that the
vessels, being methodically charged in succession with the material to
be operated upon, the heated leys (composed of caustic alkali) can be
progressively conducted from vessel to vessel of the series, passing
over and through the material placed therein.

The leys are thus used again and again, (each successive change,
or charge of ley, carrying forward the extractive matters it has
dissolved from the fibre with which it has been in contact) until
exhausted or neutralized, (when they are discharged), fresh leys
being methodically, and successively, supplied, until by degrees, the
extractive matters combined with the fibre or fibrous material have
been rendered sufficiently soluble, when hot water for washing, or
rinsing, is in the same continuous manner run successively from vessel
to vessel, over, and through, the material contained therein, until
the extractive matters rendered soluble by the previous alkaline baths
have been carried forward and discharged, leaving the residuary fibre
sufficiently cleansed.

By this system of boiling in continuity, until all the effective
alkali in the leys is exhausted or neutralized, I realize an economy
of from 30 per cent. to 40 per cent. of soda over the ordinary process
of boiling, and by the subsequent washing, or rinsing, in the same
continuous manner, without removing the material from the vessels, the
normal structure of the fibre is in a great measure retained, waste is
minimized, and thus, while being thoroughly cleansed and freed from
extraneous matter, the strength and staple of the fibre are preserved;
a considerable saving of fuel results from the heated liquors being
used again and again, less steam being required, as also less water,
while at the same time economy of both labour and power is effected
over the ordinary system.

Assuming the boiling and succeeding washing processes to be concluded,
and the material ("BAMBOO") in one of the vessels of the series in its
regular succession, to be found sufficiently treated and cleansed, a
final cooling water is run on and through the fibre, which is then
drained, and the contents of the vessel (disconnected for the time
being from the series) emptied into a waggon running on a railway,
by which it is conducted to a press or otherwise to abstract all the
remaining moisture possible.

The dry, or semi-dry fibre, is then submitted to the action of a
willow, or devil, by means of which it is opened or teazed out, and
converted readily into a tow-like condition, when it is dried by a
current of heated air, induced by a fan-blast, and finally baled up for
storage or transport, in a similar manner to COTTON or JUTE.

In this condition of "_Paper-Stock_," it may be kept an indefinite
length of time without injury, and when received by the
Paper-manufacturer requires merely soaking down and bleaching, to fit
it for making into paper, either by itself, or used as a blend with
other materials, as desired.

The minuter details of my process for treating raw fibres, or fibrous
material, for the manufacture therefrom of _Fibrous_ "_Paper-Stock_,"
are fully described in my several Patents, the only variation so far
as relates to "Bamboo" being the preliminary preparation of the young
stems, the other portions of the process being substantially the same
as in daily operation at the Ford Works, Sunderland, for the treatment
of "Esparto," and other "_raw fibres_."

I have only now further to remark that the "Plant" required to
manufacture "_Paper-Stock_" from "Bamboo" on an economical and
practical working scale, would consist of a battery of boiling pans,
with the other necessary adjuncts and machinery, steam engines
and steam boilers, such "Plant" being on a scale adequate to the
manufacture of 100 tons "Bamboo" weekly, producing therefrom say 60
tons merchantable "_Paper-Stock_."

As the above scale of operations, viz. the Manufacture of 100 tons
("BAMBOO") weekly into "_Paper-Stock_," may appear somewhat large, it
is necessary I should explain that owing to the nature of the Process,
the desired effect being produced by the reiterated and continuous
action of repeated _weak_ Alkaline Baths or Leys, in a Series of
Vessels, such an operation involves the treatment of a large quantity
of "_Raw Material_," at one time, and cannot either conveniently or
economically be conducted upon a much smaller scale.

The cost of the "Plant" and Machinery required for such a Factory
would amount to about ***, packed ready for shipment in England, to
which would have to be added the carriage and cost of erection, with
the necessary buildings, which, however, would be of a very simple and
inexpensive character.

I do not feel myself competent to determine what quantity of Land
would be required for a plantation to supply such a factory, which
would absorb 100 tons dry, say 400 tons green, "Bamboo" stems weekly,
but assuming 40 tons produce to the acre, with only once annual
cropping, 500 acres should be ample. This calculation doubtless would
be influenced by the varying conditions of climate and soil, as also by
the variety of "Bamboo" cultivated.

It may be expected that I should in these "REMARKS" include some
reference to the "_Variety_" of "BAMBOO" which could be most
economically and profitably cultivated for the supply of such a
Factory, on the scale I propose.

In respect to this portion of my subject I experience some difficulty,
inasmuch as the _Varieties_ of "Bamboo" are so numerous, and so widely

A Monograph by Colonel (now General) Munro, C.B., published in the
'Transactions of the Linnean Society,' affords the most elaborate and
comprehensive description of the "Bamboo:" in this paper upwards of 170
species are described.

The "_Bambusa Vulgaris_," as its name indeed denotes, appears to be the
most generally distributed, as it is found in both Hemispheres, General
Munro being in considerable doubt as to which it is a native of.

I quote from his Monograph: "I have seen it collected by Wallich, in
Silhet, by Hooker, in Chittagong (both North-east India), from Ceylon
wild, in the Mauritius cultivated abundantly, in the West Indies
naturalized, and cultivated in several parts of South America, this is
the only thoroughly cosmopolitan species."

Bambusa "_Gigantea_," growing to the height of 120 feet and from
25 to 30 inches circumference; B. "_Edulis_," or edible Bamboo; B.
"_Arundinacea_;" B. "_Balcooa_;" B. "_Brandisii_," &c., all varying in
growth to from 60 to 70, to 120 feet high, abound throughout India, and
all our Asiatic Dependencies. In the West Indies also, where not now
indigenous, doubtless any variety selected could readily be introduced
and cultivated.

To conclude, it would appear that with the "_Raw Material_" "Bamboo,"
we have under our control "an embarrassment of riches," and I have only
further to add that I know of no other that can at all approach it in
economy of production, and I believe very few if any in the quality of
the "_Stock_" produced therefrom suitable for Paper-making purposes.




"The deficient supply of, and the increasing price for, the materials
for making paper and the prospect of a still greater consumption has
for some time excited the attention of manufacturers and the public."

The above REMARKS prefacing a MEMORANDUM drawn up by Dr. Forbes
at the desire of "THE LORDS OF HER MAJESTY'S TREASURY," and of "THE
subsequently published in his valuable work, "THE FIBROUS PLANTS OF
INDIA," in 1855--twenty years ago--truly represent the position of the
Paper-Trade at the present time.

The extension of education and literature, the necessity for cheap
newspapers and serial publications, the increased demand for paper for
writing, as also for manufacturing and commercial purposes generally,
have greatly stimulated consumption, and it is believed that since the
abolition of the Excise duty in 1861, the annual production of paper
has more than doubled.

Previous to 1861, raw fibrous material, with the exception perhaps of
Straw, was but little used in paper-making, the waste of cotton, flax,
hemp, and jute mills, having undergone a process of semi-manufacture,
being comprised under the generic term of--Rags.

The American war, immediately following the repeal of the paper duty,
threatening a cotton famine, the Paper-makers gladly availed themselves
of a new material, "Esparto," which I had for some time previously been
ineffectually endeavouring to introduce, and adopting my process for
its treatment, this material entered speedily into consumption, and
has tended more than anything else to promote the development of the
Paper-trade by enabling the manufacturers to keep pace with the rapidly
increasing demand.

The importations of "ESPARTO," which did not amount to 1000 tons in
the year 1860 (indeed up to that date I was the only manufacturer
using it[A]), rose to upwards of 50,000 tons in the year 1865, and by
1871--ten years only from its introduction--the annual imports had
attained the large total of 140,000 tons.

"ESPARTO" being a wild grass (or, botanically speaking, a sedge)
growing on waste lands, in Spain and Africa, owing to the greed of
the native collectors--who, while gathering the plant, pluck it up
recklessly, roots and all--is being gradually but surely exterminated.

The complete exhaustion of the plant is proceeding very rapidly in
Spain; and as it is estimated by the best informed authorities that it
will take, even with the greatest care and under the most favourable
conditions, at least fifteen years to reproduce it from seed (a system
not very likely to be pursued in that country,) at no very remote
period this valuable paper-making material appears doomed to extinction.

During the last few years a large and increasing supply of "ESPARTO,"
or as it is there called "_Alfa_," has been received from Africa;
and although the quality of African Esparto is not valued by the
paper-trade as high as the Spanish, still it meets with a ready sale,
being used to mix with, or in substitution of the latter.

As much as 60,000 tons were imported last year (1874) from Algeria,
and great inducements by concessions and otherwise, are offered by the
French Government to induce railway communication with the interior
districts of that country, where the plant is said to abound on some of
the mountainous plateaux, and thus for some little time the market may
be supplied, but the difficulty of procuring labour, and the cost of
railway carriage for such long distances, will add considerably to the
present charges of transit to this country.

Within the last two or three years, the Belgian and American
Paper-makers have commenced using "Esparto," and so latterly have the
French, and as our main sources of supply will now be Algeria, (a
French colony,) any material reduction in prices can hardly be looked

"ESPARTO," like other commercial products, is amenable to the law
of supply and demand; and thus, as the demand is, and is likely to
continue in excess of the supply, its cost has enormously increased,
the price it now commands in the market being nearly double that,
at which I sold many thousand tons during the early years of its

The Paper-manufacturers are thus again experiencing the same difficulty
1854, and which more recently was considered of sufficient importance
to induce the appointment of a SELECT COMMITTEE ordered by THE HOUSE OF
COMMONS in 1861:

and their effect upon that MANUFACTURE."

The COMMITTEE REPORTED: "That the production of paper in this country
is in excess of the supply of the material of which it is made, and
the paper manufacture is in consequence dependent for a large portion
of its supplies on foreign Rags, amounting to about 15,000 tons per
annum, which is by estimation a fifth of the whole quantity of Rags
used for the manufacture of white paper in this country, on nearly the
whole of which heavy export duties are paid."

Another paragraph of the COMMITTEE'S "REPORT" states: "That the
Committee have directed their especial attention to inquiring as to the
possibility of applying any _New Fibre_ as a substitute for the refuse
material now in use for Paper-making purposes, and find that great
efforts have been made to discover some material of this nature, but as
yet with little success; and although they see no reason to doubt that
Straw and other fibrous substances may form a supplementary part of the
material for paper-making, the great comparative expense of chemically
reducing these _Raw Fibres_ presents difficulties to their becoming a
substitute for the refuse material now used."

Since the above "REPORT" was published, the position of the Trade has
materially altered. The export duties in some countries have been
abolished, in others reduced; Rag material has increased in quantity
and diminished in price; "the difficulties of chemically reducing _Raw
Fibres_" no longer exist; and the "15,000 _tons_ of Rags" estimated
by the "COMMITTEE" as the requirements of the Trade have been more
than "substituted" by the 150,000 _tons of_ "ESPARTO" _and other Raw
material_, now annually imported, while the development of the chemical
trade keeping pace with the introduction of "RAW FIBRES" has materially
facilitated their employment.

Caustic soda, but little known in 1861, is now extensively
manufactured, and Weldon's new process has greatly increased the power
of production and diminished the cost of manufacturing bleaching
powder; thus "the comparative expense of chemically reducing _Raw
Fibres_" is no longer an obstacle to progress.

The manufacturer of the present day will, in fact, undertake to make
paper from any raw fibre, or fibrous substance that may be submitted to

He has, however, several questions to consider before he will commit
himself to purchase or contract for any new fibrous material, these
being: its cost, not merely as a raw material, but in the details
of manufacture, and the quality of the paper that can economically
be made from such fibre, either alone, or introducing it as a blend
with the material he at present employs; then, assuming these points
satisfactorily determined, he would desire to know the quantity of such
material annually available, with some guarantee for continuous and
reliable supply at a price not liable to erratic fluctuations.

The value of "ESPARTO" as a Paper-making material having been
recognized, and its employment almost universally adopted in the Trade,
naturally led to various attempts to introduce other "_new material_,"
which hitherto, however, have met with only partial success: the
"DWARF PALM," _Chamoerops humilis_, and "DISS," as well as some
other materials from North Africa, have been tried and abandoned as
unsuitable: "JUTE" also has latterly attracted considerable attention;
"Butts" or "Cuttings," as they are termed, the refuse from the
preparation of the long clean fibre now so largely used as a Textile,
have entered extensively into consumption, being imported from India
specially for paper-makers' use, packed in hydraulic-pressed bales;
but this fibre is difficult and costly to bleach perfectly, and is
only employed for the lower class of "News" and "Common printing," or
unbleached, for "Brown" and "Wrapping" papers; but as it has long been
familiar to the trade in the form of Waste, Gunny-bagging, and Rope, it
can hardly be termed a "_New Material_."

Two or three other excellent fibrous materials may be mentioned, small
parcels of which are occasionally to be met with, that are, or more
correctly speaking would be, much prized by Paper-manufacturers if
obtainable at reasonable rates, such as "ADANSONIA BARK," "NEW ZEALAND
all of which will bleach well and make paper of superior quality; but
unfortunately the quantity available is so small, and the supply so
irregular and uncertain, that they can hardly be relied upon as "_Raw

"WOOD," both chemically and mechanically prepared, has been, and indeed
is now, used to a very considerable extent; but the latter, produced
by grinding down "billets" from the tree as cut down, on a grindstone
to a pulp, with water, or without water, to the condition of flour,
contains but little fibre, and that fibre with very little "felting"
property (an essential for a good sheet of paper); thus it can only be
used as a "filler-up" for "cheap News" and common papers, like "clay"
(facetiously called in the trade Devonshire linen), or any other adulterant
which the necessities of the Paper-maker, to meet the market, (_or in other
words deficient supply of good and cheap suitable material_) compel
him to use.

"WOOD," chemically prepared, is costly in production, as it is only
possible to reduce it into _Pulp_, by boiling under very high pressure,
with strong caustic alkali; several mills established both in England
and Scotland, to carry out this manufacture, have abandoned it, and
such _Pulp_ as is now used in the Trade is derived exclusively from the
countries where the wood is grown. The _Pulp_ thus produced, although
somewhat hard and harsh, if the wood is carefully selected, and
properly prepared, will, blended with other material, produce a fair
quality of paper.

The use of "STRAW," from the "_Cereals_," WHEAT, OATS, and RYE, has
of late years greatly extended, both in this country and throughout
the continent of Europe, as well as in the United States of America,
either alone or as an admixture with rags and other material, for
all classes of paper, as these countries equally with England suffer
from a deficient supply of _Raw Material_; but in England, owing to
the increased consumption for agricultural and feeding purposes, and
influenced also by the scarcity and high prices lately ruling for
"ESPARTO" in many districts, "STRAW" has become very difficult to
obtain, and considerable quantities have in consequence been imported
from Holland and Belgium, both raw, and as bleached _Pulp_.

I may here mention two other fibrous substances, which have from time
to time attracted considerable attention, viz. "MAIZE LEAVES" and "RICE
STRAW," both of them _raw materials_, from which a fair quality of
paper is produced in the countries where these plants are cultivated;
but, as in their natural condition after being harvested they are far
too bulky to permit of transport to this country, they would have to be
reduced to a portable form where they grow, and even then, owing to the
small yield of "_true fibre_," their economical conversion is somewhat
doubtful, unless under favourable conditions.

The daily increasing demand for PAPER being recognized, and the
impending if not immediate scarcity of _Raw Material_ available for its
manufacture, up to the present time, having been shown, to what quarter
must the Trade look for an extended supply?

This it must be admitted has become an important question for
consideration, it being evident that unless some "_New Material_"
suitable for the purpose is speedily introduced, the "PAPER TRADE,"
one of the most important in the UNITED KINGDOM, will be seriously
crippled; meanwhile of necessity high prices are maintained, and as a
natural consequence the consumer suffers.


The high value of land precludes the cultivation of any fibrous
material exclusively for paper-making in England, even if this climate
was suitable for its growth; with the exception indeed of "FLAX" and
"HEMP," it would appear that northern latitudes are not favourable for
the production of fibre-producing plants, and therefore it is to warm
or _tropical countries_ alone any reliable supply of "NEW MATERIAL" can
be looked for.

In the _East_, and _West Indies_, in her _Colonies_ and _Dependencies_,
England possesses an inexhaustible supply of fibre-producing plants; in
India especially, almost every plant abounds more or less in fibre.

In China and Japan, as also in India, from the earliest times, paper
has been made exclusively from _raw indigenous virgin fibres_, and the
paper produced in these countries is in consequence generally extremely
strong and tough, and although unbleached, and not made in a fashion
adapted to European requirements, affords ample and conclusive evidence
of the valuable supply of material at our disposal.

into two distinct CLASSES or DIVISIONS: ENDOGENS, or inside growers;
EXOGENS, or outside growers.

From the former are obtained the fibres known as "MANILLA HEMP" or
"ABACA" (from the _Musa textilis_ or _Plantain_), the "ALOE," "AGAVÉ"
(or "_Pita_ _Fibre_"), the "YUCCA," "BROMELIA PENGUIN," "SISAL HEMP"
(or _Hannequin_); "PINA FIBRE" from the "PINE APPLE" (_Ananassa
sativa_), "MAROOL or MOORVA" (_Sanseveira Zeylanica_), "NEW ZEALAND
FLAX" (_Phormium tenax_), &c.; "MAIZE" (or _Indian Corn_), "RICE,"
and other "CEREAL STRAWS," "ESPARTO," "DISS," and various "Sedges,"
"Reeds," and "Grasses," the latter including "BAMBOO," and "SUGAR
CANE," are also comprised in this Class.

The FIBRES, or FIBROUS TISSUE enveloping the _Stems_ of _Herbaceous
Plants_, known as "HEMP," "FLAX," "JUTE," "HIBISCUS," (_Gombo_ or
_Okhro_), "RHEA," or "CHINA-GRASS" (_Urtica nivea_), "SUNN HEMP"
(_Cratolaria juncea_), &c., as also the LACE BARKS (so called), such
as the "ADANSONIA DIGITATAS" (from the _Baobab_ tree), the "NEPAL
PAPER PLANT" (_Daphne cannabina_), the "PAPER MULBERRY" (_Broussonetia
papyrifera_), &c., constitute the latter Class.

I have confined myself to recapitulating _a few only_ of the _fibres_
in either class, best known to commerce; this list, indeed, might be
extended almost indefinitely, as may be seen by reference to the work
before alluded to, 'The Fibrous Plants of India,' by Dr. Forbes Royle,
as also to the elaborate Paper on the same subject, read at the meeting
of the Society of Arts, May 9, 1860, by Dr. J. Forbes Watson, Reporter
on the Products of India, Dr. Royle's able successor.

With some few exceptions (notably "Esparto" and some of the Cereal
straws and grasses), the resulting or ultimate fibres from vegetable
fibrous plants, before they can be utilized either for Textile
purposes, or for the manufacture of Paper, must be freed from the
extraneous substances with which during their growth they are more or
less combined.

In the case of _Endogens_, the fibres are imbedded or enveloped in
succulent, fleshy, or pulpy stems, or leaves; and in the case of
_Exogens_, the fibre is combined with, and attaching to, wood, or woody
matter, such extraneous substances or matters constituting, more or
less, a considerable portion both of the weight and bulk of the plant
even when matured.


From all, or nearly all, _Endogenous_ plants the fibres are extracted
by hand labour, no machinery having been hitherto invented by which
this operation can be performed in an economical and satisfactory

The fleshy stems, or leaves, of this class of plants are crushed and
beaten, macerated in water, scraped and roughly combed, to separate the
fibrous from the vascular, or pulpy portion of the plant; sometimes
the plants are buried in wet sand, or mud, leaving them to soak, or
rot, for many days, then beaten on a stone, scraped, and combed; but by
this system the fibres generally lose colour and strength. The yield of
fibre from this class of _Endogens_ ranges from 6 to 12 per cent., and
it is only where native labour is exceedingly cheap and abundant that
such a laborious and tedious process could be carried on.

The majority of the fibres from _Exogenous_ plants are also, in
somewhat a similar manner obtained solely by manual labour; the
herbaceous, or woody stems of such plants, being first steeped, or
retted, to induce partial fermentation, and facilitate the separation
of the corticular fibres, from the woody stem.

When produced in Europe, Flax and Hemp form an exception, being
generally dried before steeping, which process is also more
systematically and regularly conducted, and the subsequent separation
of the ultimate fibres effected by breaking, scutching, and heckling;
these operations being as far as possible carried out mechanically.

When the cost of cultivation, of carriage, freight to this country,
charges and merchants' profit, are added to the outlay involved
in producing clean fibres by the laborious and tedious processes
described, even with the exceedingly cheap labour of _tropical
countries_, it will readily be understood that they cannot be sold at a
cheap rate.

When the above outlay has been incurred, and clean merchantable fibre
results, such fibre will generally secure a high price in the market
for Spinning, Roping, and other Textile purposes, far beyond the
Paper-maker's limits, who therefore can only avail himself of damaged
parcels, or such as, being of low or inferior quality, have been
rejected by the "Spinner," and, even then, has to come into competition
with the maker of low-class goods, the common "sacking and mat-maker,"
as any fibre of fair strength, long enough to spin into a coarse yarn,
commands good value in the market.

It will be obvious from the preceding remarks that the
Paper-manufacturer, for an extended supply of _Material_, must look
to a _fibre_ or fibrous substance which, either like "Esparto," can
be utilized direct, without having to pass through this process of
semi-manufacture, or to some other "_New Material_," which, from the
peculiarity either of its production or growth, and to the simplicity
and economy of its treatment, can be imported into this country, in a
condition suitable for his requirements.

Knowing from personal observation the peculiarities of the growth,
production, and collection of the "ESPARTO" plant, and believing
the time would come when the supply would be unequal to the demand
(although I must admit, owing to the rapid extension of the
Paper-trade, that time has arrived sooner than I anticipated), I
have long and continuously kept my attention directed to any "_New
Material_" which appeared likely to become available for Paper-making

For many years past, I have devoted much time to the investigation of
_Fibres_, during which period I have, I believe, tested both chemically
and practically as a Paper-maker, nearly every _fibrous material_
introduced into the market, with, as may naturally be supposed,
extremely variable results.

Before any "_New Material_" will be favourably received by the
Paper-manufacturer, it is clear that certain conditions must be
fulfilled; these being that such "_Material_" shall favourably compare,
so far as regards quality and cost, with those he now employs,
and that he shall feel satisfied he may rely upon a continuity of
supply, not subject to violent fluctuations in price.

Once assured on these points, there can be no doubt that, especially
under existing circumstances (viz. deficient supply and high prices),
the Paper-trade would gladly welcome the advent of any "_New Material_"
calculated to relieve the present, or apprehended scarcity.


Fortunately for the Paper-trade, and its supply of materials in the
future, two _raw fibrous substances_ exist, to which I now desire
to direct special attention, as I believe it would be difficult, if
not impossible, to meet with any others to compare with them in the
essential points, of reliable supply at extremely low cost combined
with quality.

With this conviction I have devoted much attention to perfecting a
simple and economical system of treating them, in order to produce a
fibrous "_Paper-Stock_," considering _that_ to be the most practicable
and best form in which they can be introduced into the Market.

One of these materials, "MEGASSE," or "BEGASSE," fulfils the main
conditions which would be looked for by the Paper-manufacturer,
inasmuch as vast quantities are available at a low cost, and owing to
the peculiarity of its production being the necessary by-product of
a large and widely spread staple industry--Sugar--not subject to the
ordinary irregularity of supply.

"MEGASSE," the fibrous residue of the Sugar-Cane (after it has been
crushed to extract the juice), properly prepared, affords a strong,
nervous fibre, or "_Fibrous Stock_," which bleaches well, and possesses
all the characteristics of a first-class Paper-making material.

"MEGASSE" however, as it comes from the crushing rolls, and even when
dried after crushing, is so exceedingly bulky, that (being produced
almost exclusively in tropical countries) the cost of carriage added
to its great liability to damage from fermentation, precludes the
possibility of its being imported to England in its crude state;
moreover, the true fibrous portion of "Megasse" does not amount to
more than 40 per cent., the remainder being constituted of CELLULOSE,
combined with glutenous and other compounds, which of themselves are
useless for Paper-making, and which consequently must be separated from
the residuary or ultimate fibre.

It follows, therefore, that "MEGASSE" must be converted into a _Fibrous
Stock_ at, or near, the Sugar factory where it is produced, then dried,
and put up in hydraulic-pressed bales for economical transport.

The present value of "MEGASSE" (in its crude condition as produced)
is relatively to that of fuel, as, unless it is returned to the soil
as manure (which is the practice in some countries), it is employed
in the Sugar factories, for raising steam, for motive power, and for
evaporating the Cane juice.

As the value of "Megasse" thus considered is very low, factories
established in connection with existing sugar mills for the manufacture
of "_Paper-Stock_," where sufficient quantities of so bulky a material
could be concentrated, and where other favourable conditions exist (of
which an abundant supply of water is an essential), would yield a large
profit to the planter or sugar manufacturer, as the "_Paper-Stock_"
he would produce would meet with a ready sale at prices at least
equivalent to "ESPARTO," reduced to the same condition.

Having made "_Paper-Stock_," and "_Paper_" of good quality from
"MEGASSE," and determined the profitable result of such a manufacture
beyond dispute, I look forward at no very distant date to see the
Paper-trade of this country receiving, at least, a portion of its
_raw material_ from some of our own _Colonies_ and _Dependencies_ (in
most of which Sugar is produced), instead of, as now, being entirely
dependent on Foreign Countries for supply.

It is estimated that the consumption of sugar in England amounts
annually to upwards of 800,000 tons, or about 57 lb. per head of the
population; and as it may be assumed that for each ton of sugar 1 ton
of "Megasse" at least is produced, it will be seen that a large reserve
of _Fibrous Material_ is available, awaiting the enterprise of either
the Sugar or the Paper-manufacturer or a combination of both.

It is now my object to show to the _Two parties_ mainly interested, the
PRODUCER and the CONSUMER, how closely their interests are coincident,
and how both would be benefited by the creation and development of a

The PRODUCER, the Sugar-manufacturer, is, in point of fact
suffering from a similar competition to that experienced by the
Paper-manufacturer in 1861--handicapped by the _drawback_ allowed on
the export of FRENCH, AND BELGIAN, BEET-ROOT SUGAR, with which he is
unable to compete, in the same manner as the Paper-maker suffered from
the introduction of FRENCH, AND BELGIAN, PAPER--_free_, while the RAW
MATERIAL--RAGS, paid a heavy _export duty_.

The CONSUMER, the Paper-manufacturer, is suffering from a lack of
suitable material, which the Producer is able to supply, and by so
supplying and utilizing a by-product, hitherto of little value to him,
places himself in a position to meet his competitors on equal, if not
better terms in the market.

It is true, that this (to him) new system of utilizing what may now be
termed a waste, or by-product, would involve the outlay of additional
capital, by the Sugar-planter or manufacturer, which he may deem
foreign to his present business, but manufacturers now-a-days make
their profits mainly by utilizing by-products.

A familiar instance of this may be cited in the Chemical trade; the
muriatic acid produced in the manufacture of soda, formerly run to
waste, being now employed for making bleaching powder; and, still more
recently, the by-products annaline, anthracene, ammonia, &c., which
formerly created a nuisance wherever Gas-Works existed, now constitute
a large portion of their profits.

"BAMBOO," the other _Raw Material_ to which I have alluded, can hardly
be called "_New_," it being well known that both the Chinese and
Japanese have from time immemorial employed "Bamboo" for Paper-making
purposes; and I have shown in the preceding "Remarks" that attempts
have more recently been made, not hitherto affording successful
commercial results.

It therefore would have been more correct had I, in directing
attention to "BAMBOO," described it as an "_Old material_" under
"_New treatment_." Such indeed was the case with "ESPARTO," an "_Old
material_," well known, and tried ineffectually by many, previous to
my process for converting it into paper being adopted, which, however,
did not take place until it had been fully tested and approved, leading
then to its speedy employment.

I believe with my new system of treatment "BAMBOO" will prove to be as
superior to "Esparto," in every respect as "Esparto" was found to be
superior to "Straw," the only other "_raw material_" used when it was

"BAMBOO" differs from "MEGASSE," inasmuch as the latter is produced, as
it were, involuntarily, its maximum value as a "_raw product_" being
determined by its comparison with fuel; whereas "BAMBOO" would have to
be cultivated; but, as this plant will not only grow, but flourish, in
localities unsuitable for other cultivation, and is produced with such
extraordinary rapidity and abundance, it would appear that, as a _Raw
Product_, it would not cost much, if any, more than "MEGASSE."

It is hardly my province to discuss here to which of the two materials,
"MEGASSE" or "BAMBOO," the preference should be given. Suffice it to
say that, with "_the admitted fact_" of the increasing scarcity of _Raw
Material_ for Paper-making, there is ample scope for both. I have only
to add that I shall be happy to advise with parties who may desire to
interest themselves in either question.


As I have broadly stated that "_Paper-Stock_" can be produced from both
"BAMBOO" and "MEGASSE," to show a good _Profit_, it may be well to
mention the present cost of "ESPARTO" reduced to the same condition (of
"_Paper-Stock_"), as it is with this _Material_ these _Fibres_ would
mainly have to compete, seeing that with its large consumption and
widely extended use for most classes of Paper it now rules the Market.

The cost of good _Spanish_ "ESPARTO" at current rates, is, delivered
into a Mill (say), 10_l._ per ton; it is generally assumed in the
Paper-trade that about 2 tons of "Esparto" are required to make 1 ton
paper, the yield being from 48 to 50 per cent.

At 50 per cent. yield therefore we have 20_l._ per ton for "_Raw
Material_." Add to this, for chemicals, boiling, fuel, and labour,
50_s._ × 2 tons, we arrive at 25_l._ for the cost of "Esparto" in the
same condition of _unbleached_ "_Stock_," sufficient for 1 ton paper.

"ALFA" or "_African_" Esparto does not afford so good a yield, neither
will it bleach to so high a colour, nor make so good a quality of paper
as "_Spanish_"; its value therefore is proportionately lower in the
Market, say 8_l._ per ton as compared with 10_l._: the cost therefore
of "Alfa" reduced to a similar condition of "_Stock_" may be taken at

"ALFA" (if carefully selected) so closely resembles "_Spanish_"
"ESPARTO," in its _raw condition_, that it is very difficult to
distinguish one from the other, and when the two are skilfully blended,
it is impossible to do so, until the bleaching process of manufacture
is reached; thus, it has happened, that during the past two or three
years many thousands of tons of "ALFA," having taken a "tour" through
"_Spain_," and being there naturalized, have found their way to England
and been sold to the unsophisticated English Paper-maker as "_Spanish_"
"ESPARTO," thus supplementing the rapid exhaustion of the indigenous
grass of that country.

"WOOD" "_Pulp_" as I have mentioned, is imported, both mechanically
and chemically prepared, the latter (unbleached) finding a ready sale,
at 24_l._ to 25_l._ per ton; "STRAW" "_Pulp_" also (bleached) realizes
26_l._ to 27_l._ per ton, but neither of these materials are likely to
be introduced to any considerable extent.

"_Paper-Stock_," resulting from either "BAMBOO" or "MEGASSE," will show
a very large margin of profit from the figures I have quoted, thus
allowing for any necessary reduction should prices fall from increased

In concluding my "_Remarks_," having in the preceding Pages suggested
the conversion of "_Raw Fibrous Substances_," notably, "BAMBOO" and
"MEGASSE," into Fibrous "_Paper-Stock_," I ought perhaps distinctly
to explain the difference between "_Half-Stuff_," or "_Pulp_," and
"_Paper-Stock_," and my reasons for expressing a preference for the
latter form of preparation,--a preference warranted, I believe, both by
practical, and economical considerations.

Whatever "_Material_" the Paper-maker employs, be it Rags (of any
denomination) or any other "_Fibre_," or "_Fibrous_," substance, after
Boiling, he disintegrates, or comminutes it into "_Half-Stuff_,"
before, or while bleaching. This process, carried a stage farther,
converts the "_Half-Stuff_" into "_Pulp_." Herein, not less than in
the proper selection of his "_Raw Material_," lies the skill of the
Paper-maker, as, however good his "_Material_" may be, in its _Raw_
or normal condition, it may be very easily spoilt in either of the
processes of Boiling,--Bleaching,--or Pulping.

For example, when Bread is once toasted, thereby becoming brown (and
the purer and whiter the greater the change), whereby its chemical and
mechanical character has become altered, no power can reconvert it into
its original condition; in like manner, however good a "_Raw Fibrous
Material_" may be, if that "_Material_" be either over-boiled, or
over-pulped, no power will restore its normal character.

Moreover, a "_Fibrous_" substance once reduced to the condition of
"_Pulp_," it is difficult, if not impossible, even for a Microscopist,
to distinguish accurately the character or quality of the original
"_Fibre_,"--its strength,--or whether it has been properly or
improperly treated, and reduced to that condition--until, perhaps
too late, when he has bleached it, and converted it, or attempted to
convert it, into a sheet of Paper.

With a Fibrous "_Paper-Stock_," however, these objections do not apply,
or certainly not to the same degree, as the Paper-maker could readily
examine and judge of the character and strength of the "_Fibre_"
whether it was clean and free from imperfections or adulterations--in
fact, could see what he was buying, or proposing to buy, which he could
not do with "_Half-Stuff_" or "_Pulp_."

So far as the Producer is concerned, his outlay for the primary "Plant"
and the mechanical appliances, the cost of the subsequent treatment,
the drying, packing, and economical carriage and freight from a Foreign
country, would in all respects be less for "_Paper-Stock_" than for
"_Half-Stuff_" or "_Pulp_."

Speaking from the experience of some years, during which I have
conducted the manufacture and sale of many thousand tons of
"_Half-Stuff_" prepared from "ESPARTO" and other "_Raw Fibres_," I
feel satisfied that in introducing a _New Semi-prepared Material_,
from a Foreign country, the preference would be given by the practical
Paper-maker to a "_Fibrous Paper-Stock_."

                                         THOMAS ROUTLEDGE.



[A] The Journal of the Society of Arts, 28th Nov., 1856, was printed
on paper made from Esparto, at Eynsham Mills, near Oxford, then in my

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

Fractions are displayed as follows: 1/2 correlates with 1 half, 1-1/2
correlates with 1 and a half....

On page 15 some text is missing it is marked as ***.

Other than the corrections listed below, printer's inconsistencies
in spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, and ligature usage have been

The following misprints have been corrected:

  changed "with "HEMP' and "FLAX," where"
     into "with "HEMP" and "FLAX," where"
    (page 8)

  changed "the "15,000 _tons_ of Rags estimated by"
     into "the "15,000 _tons_ of Rags" estimated by"
    (page 22)

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