The raw silk skeins are here shown at close range, the camera facing a stack of skeins with their ends immediately in front of the camera.
The estimates supply of raw silk which passed through the world's ports of export for the year 1912 was 50,000,000 pounds. Of this amount, about 5 percent went to Asiatic ports; 45 per cent to the United States and 50 per cent were distributed throughout all the countries of Europe. This shows the United States as the first silk manufacturing and consuming country, exclusive of China, in the world. In 1912 the raw silk consumed by the United States was but little less than the total consumed by the whole of Europe. While the value of the raw silk imported into the United States during the year 1912 was $80,000,000, its value when manufactured was about $200,000,000.
In connection with this subject of raw silk, it would not be amiss to recall that the silk industry, according to history, had its origin in China as early as 2640 B.C. At this time the Chinese empress Se-ling-she (wife of the famous emperor, Hwang-te) gave especial encouragement to the rearing of worms and reeling of silk. The silk industry was later carried to Korea, and thence to Japan after the beginning of the Christian era. About this time, or a little earlier, raw silk was imported from the East to Rome, where silk continued as a costly luxury for a long time.