20623--As Precious as Gold - Weighing Raw Silk on Delicate Scales, Japan.

Silk in the raw state absorbs a large amount of moisture, and may contain from 20 to 30 percent of water without being manifestly damp. As it is largely sold by weight it becomes necessary to ascentain its condition in respect to absorbed water, and for that purpose official conditioning houses are established in all the considerable centers of silk trade. The silk is for four hours exposed to a dry heat of 230 degrees Fahr. and immediately after weighed. To the weight 11 percent is added as the normal proportion of water held by the fibre. After the silk has been thus tested a certificate of weight is issued in accordance with the results.

It was long ago suggested that the Japanese Government in order to promote the trade in raw silk should establish a regular silk conditioning house to undertake the weighing of wet and condition weight of silk and determine its quality. It was not, however, until August of 1896 that a conditioning house was opened in Yokohama. The work undertaken at this establishment includes the following subjects:

(1.) To determine the net weight of silk.
(2.) To determine the condition weight of silk.
(3.) To examine the number of breakages by means of re-reeling the silk and to determine the rate of such breakages per reel.

In this view two men can be seen busily at work, one weighing the silk and the other recording in a book, the results.

As Japan exports nearly 10,703,570 lbs. of raw silk, of which the United States takes over 50 per cent., reason can be seen why these men must do their work so carefully.

From the collection of the Manchester Historical Society.