Commerce and Statistics Leather Entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica MDCCCLXXXII

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Commerce and Statistics.

It is quite impossible to form any adequate estimate of the extent and value of such a trade as that in leather. The raw materials are obtained, in almost equal abundance, throughout the civilized world, and the manufacturing operations are, to a greater or less degree, carried on in every centre of industry. Thus local wants are largely supplied by local producers, and much of this trade is never recorded in any statistical returns. There can be no doubt that leather takes rank among the foremost half dozen of human industries. Both in Europe and America there is a large international trade in the raw materials and manufactured products, while from the East Indies and the British colonies the largest supplies of various untanned and tanned hides and skins are now exported. Taking cattle hides alone, the import trade of the great manufacturing centres has been thus stated for 1879:-


United Kingdom……………… 1,162,405

Marseilles……………………..    652,967

Havre…………………………..   853,741

Antwerp……………………….    958,412

Hamburg………………………    646,330

Boston and New York (U.S.)…  3,153,026

Total for Europe and America    7,426,881

These are principally from the River Plate, Rio Grande, and Bazil, and are exclusive of 250,000 horse hides imported into Europe, and the whole of the enormous exports of the East Indies. The total number of hides raw and tanned, exported from India in the year 1877-78 was 9,300,955, and the average for the four preceding years exceeded 7,250,000. A great proportion of these are tanned kips, shipped from Madras almost exclusively to the United Kingdom,-buffalo and the heavier flint dry hides going more largly to the United States. The imports of East Indian kips into the United Kingdom during 1880 amounted to 6,135,978, and in 1881 the number fell to 4,580,303. Of tanned goat and sheep skins, again, the annual export from Madras alone reaches nearly 10,000,000 skins, the numbers for 1880 was 11,731,885, of which 6,332,635 were raw soft stock, 3,353,750 were raw hard East Indian skins, principally from Bengal, and 2,055,500 were tanned East Indian skins.

            The following table shows the sources and number of hides imported into the United Kingdom during 1880:-


River Plate, salted hides : 319,745

River Plate, dry hides : 31,057

Rio Grande, salted hides : 178,897

Cape, salted hides : 36,538

Cape, dry hides : 209,176

Australia : 196,140

Brazil : 96,246

West Indies : 10,584

West Coast of America : 15,107

Cape kips and guns : 13,097

North America : 5,983

East India kips and Buffalo : 6,707,142

Horse hides : 98,200