On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures
by Charles Babbage
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228. Pin-making. In the manufacture of pins in England the following processes are employed:

1. Wire-drawing. (a) The brass wire used for making pins is purchased by the manufacturer in coils of about twenty-two inches in diameter, each weighing about thirty-six pounds. (b) The coils are wound off into smaller ones of about six inches in diameter, and between one and two pounds' weight. (c) The diameter of this wire is now reduced, by drawing it repeatedly through holes in steel plates, until it becomes of the size required for the sort of pins intended to be made. During this process the wire is hardened, and to prevent its breaking, it must be annealed two or three times, according to the diminution of diameter required. (d) The coils are then soaked in sulphuric acid, largely diluted with water, in order to clean them, and are then beaten on stone, for the purpose of removing any oxidated coating which may adhere to them. These operations are usually performed by men, who draw and clean from thirty to thirty-six pounds of wire a day. They are paid at the rate of five farthings per pound, and generally earn about 3s. 6d. per day.

M. Perronnet made some experiments on the extension the wire undergoes in passing through each hole: he took a piece of thick Swedish brass wire, and found

Feet Inches Its length to be before drawing 3 8 After passing the first hole 5 5 second hole 7 2 third hole 7 8

It was now annealed, and the length became

After passing the fourth hole 10 8 fifth hole 13 1 sixth hole 16 8 And finally, after passing through six other holes 144 0

The holes through which the wire was drawn were not, in this experiment, of regularly decreasing diameter: it is extremely difficult to make such holes, and still more to preserve them in their original dimensions.

229. 2. Straightening the wire. The coil of wire now passes into the hands of a woman, assisted by a boy or girl. A few nails, or iron pins, not quite in a line, are fixed into one end of a wooden table about twenty feet in length; the end of the wire is passed alternately between these nails, and is then pulled to the other end of the table. The object of this process is to straighten the wire, which had acquired a considerable curvature in the small coils in which it had been wound. The length thus straightened is cut off, and the remainder of the coil is drawn into similar lengths. About seven nails or pins are employed in straightening the wire, and their adjustment is a matter of some nicety. It seems, that by passing the wire between the first three nails or pins, a bend is produced in an opposite direction to that which the wire had in the coil; this bend, by passing the next two nails, is reduced to another less curved in the first direction, and so on till the curve of the wire may at last be confounded with a straight line.

230. 3. Pointing. (a) A man next takes about three hundred of these straightened pieces in a parcel, and putting them into a gauge, cuts off from one end, by means of a pair of shears, moved by his foot, a portion equal in length to rather more than six pins. He continues this operation until the entire parcel is reduced into similar pieces. (b) The next step is to sharpen the ends: for this purpose the operator sits before a steel mill, which is kept rapidly revolving: it consists of a cylinder about six inches in diameter, and two and a half inches broad, faced with steel, which is cut in the manner of a file. Another cylinder is fixed on the same axis at a few inches distant; the file on the edge of which is of a finer kind, and is used for finishing off the points. The workman now takes up a parcel of the wires between the finger and thumb of each hand, and presses the ends obliquely on the mill, taking care with his fingers and thumbs to make each wire slowly revolve upon its axis. Having thus pointed all the pieces at one end, he reverses them, and performs the same operation on the other. This process requires considerable skill, but it is not unhealthy; whilst the similar process in needlemaking is remarkably destructive of health. (c) The pieces now pointed at both ends, are next placed in gauges, and the pointed ends are cut off, by means of shears, to the proper length of which the pins are to be made. The remaining portions of the wire are now equal to about four pins in length, and are again pointed at each end, and their lengths again cut off. This process is repeated a third time, and the small portion of wire left in the middle is thrown amongst the waste, to be melted along with the dust arising from the sharpening. It is usual for a man, his wife, and a child, to join in performing these processes; and they are paid at the rate of five farthings per pound. They can point from thirty-four to thirty-six and a half pounds per day, and gain from 6s. 6d. to 7s., which may be apportioned thus; 5s. 6d. the man. 1s. the woman, 6d. to the boy or girl.

231. 4. Twisting and cutting the heads. The next process is making the heads. For this purpose (a) a boy takes a piece of wire, of the same diameter as the pin to be headed, which he fixes on an axis that can be made to revolve rapidly by means of a wheel and strap connected with it. This wire is called the mould. He then takes a smaller wire, which having passed through an eye in a small tool held in his left hand, he fixes close to the bottom of the mould. The mould is now made to revolve rapidly by means of the right hand, and the smaller wire coils round it until it has covered the whole length of the mould. The boy now cuts the end of the spiral connected with the foot of the mould, and draws it off. (b) When a sufficient quantity of heading is thus made, a man takes from thirteen to twenty of these spirals in his left hand, between his thumb and three outer fingers: these he places in such a manner that two turns of the spiral shall be beyond the upper edge of a pair of shears, and with the forefinger of the same hand he feels that only two turns do so project. With his right hand he closes the shears; and the two turns of the spiral being cut off, drop into a basin; the position of the forefinger preventing the heads from flying about when cut off. The workmen who cut the heads are usually paid at the rate of 2 1/2d. to 3d. per pound for large heads, but a higher price is given for the smaller heading. Out of this they pay the boy who spins the spiral; he receives from 4d. to 6d. a day. A good workman can cut from six to about thirty pounds of heading per day, according to its size.

232. 5. Heading. The process of fixing the head on the body of the pin is usually executed by women and children. Each operator sits before a small steel stake, having a cavity, into which one half of the intended head will fit; immediately above is a steel die, having a corresponding cavity for the other half of the head: this latter die can be raised by a pedal moved by the foot. The weight of the hammer is from seven to ten pounds, and it falls through a very small space, perhaps from one to two inches. The cavities in the centre of these dies are connected with the edge of a small groove, to admit of the body of the pin, which is thus prevented from being flattened by the blow of the die. (a) The operator with his left hand dips the pointed end of the body of a pin into a tray of heads; having passed the point through one of them, he carries it along to the other end with the forefinger. He now takes the pin in the right hand, and places the head in the cavity of the stake, and, lifting the die with his foot, allows it to fall on the head. This blow tightens the head on the shank, which is then turned round, and the head receives three or four blows on different parts of its circumference. The women and children who fix the heads are paid at the rate of 1s. 6d. for every twenty thousand. A skilful operator can with great exertion do twenty thousand per day, but from ten to fifteen thousand is the usual quantity: children head a much smaller number: varying, of course, with the degree of their skill. About one per cent of the pins are spoiled in the process; these are picked out afterwards by women, and are reserved, along with the waste from other processes, for the melting-pot. The die in which the heads are struck is varied in form according to the fashion of the time; but the repeated blows to which it is subject render it necessary that it should be repaired after it has been used for about thirty pounds of pins.

233. 6. Tinning. The pins are now fit to be tinned, a process which is usually executed by a man, assisted by his wife, or by a lad. The quantity of pins operated upon at this stage is usually fifty-six pounds. (a) They are first placed in a pickle, in order to remove any grease or dirt from their surface, and also to render them rough, which facilitates the adherence of the tin with which they are to be covered. (b) They are then placed in a boiler full of a solution of tartar in water, in which they are mixed with a quantity of tin in small grains. In this they are generally kept boiling for about two hours and a half, and are then removed into a tub of water into which some bran has been thrown, for the purpose of washing off the acid liquor. (c) They are then taken out, and, being placed in wooden trays, are well shaken in dry bran: this removes any water adhering to them; and by giving the wooden tray a peculiar kind of motion, the pins are thrown up, and the bran gradually flies off, and leaves them behind in the tray. The man who pickles and tins the pins usually gets one penny per pound for the work, and employs himself, during the boiling of one batch of pins, in drying those previously tinned. He can earn about 9s. per day; but out of this he pays about 3s. for his assistant.

234. 7. Papering. The pins come from the tinner in wooden bowls, with the points projecting in all directions: the arranging of them side by side in paper is generally performed by women. (a) A woman takes up some, and places them on a comb, and shaking them, some of the pins fall back into the bowl, and the rest, being caught by their heads, are detained between the teeth of the comb. (b) Having thus arranged them in a parallel direction, she fixes the requisite number between two pieces of iron, having twenty-five small grooves, at equal distances; (c) and having previously doubled the paper, she presses it against the points of the pins until they have passed through the two folds which are to retain them. The pins are then relieved from the grasp of the tool, and the process is repeated. A woman gains about 1s. 6d. per day by papering; but children are sometimes employed, who earn from 6d. per day, and upwards.

235. Having thus generally described the various processes of pin-making, and having stated the usual cost of each, it will be convenient to present a tabular view of the time occupied by each process, and its cost, as well as the sums which can be earned by the persons who confine themselves solely to each process. As the rate of wages is itself fluctuating, and as the prices paid and quantities executed have been given only between certain limits, it is not to be expected that this table can represent the cost of each part of the work with the minutest accuracy, nor even that it shall accord perfectly with the prices above given: but it has been drawn up with some care, and will be quite sufficient to serve as the basis of those reasonings which it is meant to illustrate. A table nearly similar will be subjoined, which has been deduced from a statement of M. Perronet, respecting the art of pin-making in France, above seventy years ago.

English manufacture

236. Pins, Elevens, 5546 weigh one pound; one dozen = 6932 pins weigh twenty ounces, and require six ounces of paper.

Name of the process Workman Time for making 1 lb of pins Hours Cost of making 1 lb of pins Pence Workmen earns per day s. d. Price of making each part of a single pin in millionths of a penny

1. Drawing wire (224) Man .3636 1.2500 3 3 225 2. Straightening wire ( 225) Woman .3000 .2840 1 0 51 Girl .3000 .1420 0 6 26 3. Pointing (226) Man .3000 1.7750 5 3 319 4. Twisting and cutting heads Boy .0400 .0147 0 4 1/2 3 (227) Man .0400 .2103 5 4 1/2 38 5. Heading (228) Woman 4.0000 5.0000 1 3 901 6 Tinning or whitening Man .1071 .6666 6 0 121 (229) Woman .1071 .3333 3 0 60 7. Papering (230) Woman 2.1314 3.1973 1 6 576 7.6892 12.8732 - - 2320

Number of persons employed: Men. 4; Women. 4; Children, 2. Total, 10.

French manufacture

237. Cost of 12,000 pins, No. 6, each being eight-tenths of an English inch in length,—as they were manufactured in France about 1760; with the cost of each operation: deduced from the observations and statement of M. Perronet.

Name of the process Time for making twelve thousand pins Hours Cost of making twelve thousand pins Pence Workman usually earns per day Pence Expense of tools and materials Pence

1. Wire — — — 24.75 2. Straightening and cutting 1.2 .5 4.5 — 3. Coarse pointing 1.2 .625 10.0 — Turning wheel(2*) 1.2 .875 7.0 — Fine Pointing .8 .5 9.375 — Turning wheel 1.2 .5 4.75 — Cutting off pointed ends .6 .375 7.5 — 4. Turning spiral .5 .125 3.0 — Cutting off heads .8 .375 5.625 — Fuel to anneal ditto — — — .125 5. Heading 12.0 .333 4.25 — 6. Tartar for cleaning — — — .5 Tartar for whitening — — — .5 7. Papering 4.8 .5 2.0 — Paper — — — 1.0 Wear of tools — — — 2.0 24.3 4.708

The great expense of turning the wheel appears to have arisen from the person so occupied being unemployed during half his time, whilst the pointer went to another manufactory

338. It appears from the analysis we have given of the art of pinmaking, that it occupies rather more than seven hours and a half of time, for ten different individuals working in succession on the same material, to convert it into a pound of pins; and that the total expense of their labour, each being paid in the joint ratio of his skill and of the time he is employed, amounts very nearly to 1s. 1d. But from an examination of the first of these tables, it appears that the wages earned by the persons employed vary from 4 1/2d. per day up to 6s., and consequently the skill which is required for their respective employments may be measured by those sums. Now it is evident, that if one person were required to make the whole pound of pins, he must have skill enough to earn about 5s. 3d. per day, whilst he is pointing the wires or cutting off the heads from the spiral coils—and 6s. when he is whitening the pins; which three operations together would occupy little more than the seventeenth part of his time. It is also apparent, that during more than one half of his time he must be earning only 1s. 3d, per day, in putting on the heads; although his skill, if properly employed, would, in the same time, produce nearly five times as much. If, therefore, we were to employ, for all the processes, the man who whitens the pins, and who earns 6s. per day, even supposing that he could make the pound of pins in an equally short time, yet we must pay him for his time 46. 14 pence, or about 3s. 10d. The pins would therefore cost, in making, three times and three quarters as much as they now do by the application of the division of labour.

The higher the skill required of the workman in any one process of a manufacture, and the smaller the time during which it is employed, so much the greater will be the advantage of separating that process from the rest, and devoting one person's attention entirely to it. Had we selected the art of needle-making as our illustration, the economy arising from the division of labour would have been still more striking; for the process of tempering the needles requires great skill, attention, and experience, and although from three to four thousand are tempered at once, the workman is paid a very high rate of wages. In another process of the same manufacture, dry-pointing, which also is executed with great rapidity, the wages earned by the workman reach from 7s. to 12s., 15s., and even, in some instances, to 20s. per day; whilst other processes are carried on by children paid at the rate of 6d. per day.

239. Some further reflections suggested by the preceding analysis, will be reserved until we have placed before the reader a brief description of a machine for making pins, invented by an American. It is highly ingenious in point of contrivance, and, in respect to its economical principles, will furnish a strong and interesting contrast with the manufacture of pins by the human hand. In this machine a coil of brass wire is placed on an axis; one end of this wire is drawn by a pair of rollers through a small hole in a plate of steel, and is held there by a forceps. As soon as the machine is put in action, -

1. The forceps draws the wire on to a distance equal in length to one pin: a cutting edge of steel then descends close to the hole through which the wire entered, and severs the piece drawn out.

2. The forceps holding the piece thus separated moves on, till it brings the wire to the centre of the chuck of a small lathe, which opens to receive it. Whilst the forceps is returning to fetch another piece of wire, the lathe revolves rapidly, and grinds the projecting end of the wire upon a steel mill, which advances towards it.

3. After this first or coarse pointing, the lathe stops, and another forceps takes hold of the half-pointed pin, (which is instantly released by the opening of the chuck), and conveys it to a similar chuck of an adjacent lathe, which receives it, and finishes the pointing on a finer steel mill.

4. This mill again stops, and another forceps removes the pointed pin into a pair of strong steel clams, having a small groove in them by which they hold the pin very firmly. A part of this groove, which terminates at that edge of the steel clams which is intended to form the head of the pin, is made conical. A small round steel punch is now driven forcibly against the end of the wire thus clamped, and the head of the pin is partially formed by compressing the wire into the conical cavity.


1. I have already stated that this principle presented itself to me after a personal examination of a number of manufactories and workshops devoted to different purposes; but I have since found that it had been distinctly pointed out in the work of Gioja. Nuovo Prospetto delle Scienze Economiche. 6 tom. 4to. Milano, 1815, tom. i. capo iv.

2. The great expense of turning the wheel appears to have arisen from the person so occupied being unemployed during half his time, whilst the pointer went to another manufactory.

Chapter 20

On the Division of Labour

241. We have already mentioned what may, perhaps, appear paradoxical to some of our readers that the division of labour can be applied with equal success to mental as to mechanical operations, and that it ensures in both the same economy of time. A short account of its practical application, in the most extensive series of calculations ever executed, will offer an interesting illustration of this fact, whilst at the same time it will afford an occasion for shewing that the arrangements which ought to regulate the interior economy of a manufactory, are founded on principles of deeper root than may have been supposed, and are capable of being usefully employed in preparing the road to some of the sublimest investigations of the human mind.

242. In the midst of that excitement which accompanied the Revolution of France and the succeeding wars, the ambition of the nation, unexhausted by its fatal passion for military renown, was at the same time directed to some of the nobler and more permanent triumphs which mark the era of a people's greatness and which receive the applause of posterity long after their conquests have been wrested from them, or even when their existence as a nation may be told only by the page of history. Amongst their enterprises of science, the French Government was desirous of producing a series of mathematical tables, to facilitate the application of the decimal system which they had so recently adopted. They directed, therefore, their mathematicians to construct such tables, on the most extensive scale. Their most distinguished philosophers, responding fully to the call of their country, invented new methods for this laborious task; and a work, completely answering the large demands of the Government, was produced in a remarkably short period of time. M. Prony, to whom the superintendence of this great undertaking was confided, in speaking of its commencement, observes: Je m'y livrai avec toute l'ardeur dont j'etois capable, et je m'occupai d'abord du plan general de l'execution. Toutes les conditions que j'avois a remplir necessitoient l'emploi d'un grand nombre de calculateurs; et il me vint bientot a la pensee d'appliquer a la connection de ces Tables la division du travail, dont les Arts de Commerce tirent un parti si avantageux pour reunir a la pernection de main-d'oeuvre l'economie de la depense et du temps. The circumstance which gave rise to this singular application of the principle of the division on labour is so interesting, that no apology is necessary for introducing it from a small pamphlet printed at Paris a few years since, when a proposition was made by the English to the French Government, that the two countries should print these tables at their joint expense.

243. The origin of the idea is related in the following extract:

C'est a un chapitre d'un ouvrage Anglais,(1*) justement celebre, (I.) qu'est probablement due l'existence de l'ouvrage dont le gouvernement Britannique veut faire jouir le monde savant:

Voici l'anecdote: M. de Prony s'etait engage. avec les comites de gouvernement. a composer pour la division centesimale du cercle, des tables logarithmiques et trigonometriques, qui, non seulement ne laissassent rien a desirer quant a l'exactitude, mais qui formassent le monument de calcul 1e plus vaste et le plus imposant qui eut jamais ete execute, ou meme concu. Les logarithmes des nombres de 1 a 200.000 formaient a ce travail un supplement necessaire et exige. Il fut aise a M. de Prony de s'assurer que meme en s'associant trois ou quatre habiles co-operateurs. La plus grande duree presumable de sa vie ne lui sufirai pas pour remplir ses engagements. Il etait occupe de cette facheuse pensee lorsque. Se trouvant devant la boutique d'un marchand de livres. Il appercut la belle edition Anglaise de Smith, donnee a Londres en 1776: il ouvrit le livre au hazard. et tomba sur le premier chapitre, qui traite de la division du travail, et ou la fabrication des epingles est citee pour exemple. A peine avait-il parcouru les premieres pages, que, par une espece d'inspiration. il concut l'expedient de mettre ses logarithmes en manufacture comme les epingles. Il faisait en ce moment, a l'ecole polytechnique, des lecons sur une partie d'analyse liee a ce genre de travail, la methode des differences, et ses applications a l'interpolation. Il alla passer quelques jours a la campagne. et revint a Paris avec le plan de fabrication. qui a ete suivi dans l'execution. Il rassembla deux ateliers. qui faisai ent separement les memes calculs, et se servaient de verification reciproque.(2*)

244. The ancient methods of computing tables were altogether inapplicable to such a proceeding. M. Prony, therefore, wishing to avail himself of all the talent of his country in devising new methods, formed the first section of those who were to take part in this enterprise out of five or six of the most eminent mathematicians in France.

First section. The duty of this first section was to investigate, amongst the various analytical expressions which could be found for the same function, that which was most readily adapted to simple numerical calculation by many individuals employed at the same time. This section had little or nothing to do with the actual numerical work. When its labours were concluded, the formulae on the use of which it had decided, were delivered to the second section.

Second section. This section consisted of seven or eight persons of considerable acquaintance with mathematics: and their duty was to convert into numbers the formulae put into their hands by the first section an operation of great labour; and then to deliver out these formulae to the members of the third section, and receive from them the finished calculations. The members of this second section had certain means of verifying the calculations without the necessity of repeating, or even of examining, the whole of the work done by the third section.

Third section. The members of this section, whose number varied from sixty to eighty, received certain numbers from the second section, and, using nothing more than simple addition and subtraction, they returned to that section the tables in a finished state. It is remarkable that nine-tenths of this class had no knowledge of arithmetic beyond the two first rules which they were thus called upon to exercise, and that these persons were usually found more correct in their calculations, than those who possessed a more extensive knowledge of the subject.

245. When it is stated that the tables thus computed occupy seventeen large folio volumes, some idea may perhaps be formed of the labour. From that part executed by the third class, which may almost be termed mechanical, requiring the least knowledge and by far the greatest exertions, the first class were entirely exempt. Such labour can always be purchased at an easy rate. The duties of the second class, although requiring considerable skill in arithmetical operations, were yet in some measure relieved by the higher interest naturally felt in those more difficult operations. The exertions of the first class are not likely to require, upon another occasion, so much skill and labour as they did upon the first attempt to introduce such a method; but when the completion of a calculating engine shall have produced a substitute for the whole of the third section of computers, the attention of analysts will naturally be directed to simplifying its application, by a new discussion of the methods of converting analytical formulae into numbers.

246. The proceeding of M. Prony, in this celebrated system of calculation, much resembles that of a skilful person about to construct a cotton or silk mill, or any similar establishment. Having, by his own genius, or through the aid of his friends, found that some improved machinery may be successfully applied to his pursuit, he makes drawings of his plans of the machinery, and may himself be considered as constituting the first section. He next requires the assistance of operative engineers capable of executing the machinery he has designed, some of whom should understand the nature of the processes to be carried on; and these constitute his second section. When a sufficient number of machines have been made, a multitude of other persons, possessed of a lower degree of skill, must be employed in using them; these form the third section: but their work, and the just performance of the machines, must be still superintended by the second class.

247. As the possibility of performing arithmetical calculations by machinery may appear to non-mathematical readers to be rather too large a postulate, and as it is connected with the subject of the division of labour, I shall here endeavour, in a few lines, to give some slight perception of the manner in which this can be done—and thus to remove a small portion of the veil which covers that apparent mystery.

248. That nearly all tables of numbers which follow any law, however complicated, may be formed, to a greater or less extent, solely by the proper arrangement of the successive addition and subtraction of numbers befitting each table, is a general principle which can be demonstrated to those only who are well acquainted with mathematics; but the mind, even of the reader who is but very slightly acquainted with that science, will readily conceive that it is not impossible, by attending to the following example.

The subjoined table is the beginning of one in very extensive use, which has been printed and reprinted very frequently in many countries, and is called a table of square numbers.

Terms of Table A Table B first Difference C second Difference

1 1 3 2 4 2 5 3 9 2 7 4 16 2 9 5 25 2 11 6 36 2 13 7 49

Any number in the table, column A, may be obtained, by multiplying the number which expresses the distance of that term from the commencement of the table by itself; thus, 25 is the fifth term from the beginning of the table, and 5 multiplied by itself, or by 5, is equal to 25. Let us now subtract each term of this table from the next succeeding term, and place the results in another column (B), which may be called first difference column. If we again subtract each term of this first difference from the succeeding term, we find the result is always the number 2, (column C); and that the same number will always recur in that column, which may be called the second difference, will appear to any person who takes the trouble to carry on the table a few terms further. Now when once this is admitted, it is quite clear that, provided the first term (1) of the table, the first term (3) of the first differences, and the first term (2) of the second or constant difference, are originally given, we can continue the table of square numbers to any extent, merely by addition: for the series of first differences may be formed by repeatedly adding the constant difference (2) to (3) the first number in column B, and we then have the series of numbers, 3, 5, 6, etc.: and again, by successively adding each of these to the first number (1) of the table, we produce the square numbers.

249. Having thus, I hope, thrown some light upon the theoretical part of the question, I shall endeavour to shew that the mechanical execution of such an engine, as would produce this series of numbers, is not so far removed from that of ordinary machinery as might be conceived.(3*) Let the reader imagine three clocks, placed on a table side by side, each having only one hand, and each having a thousand divisions instead of twelve hours marked on the face; and every time a string is pulled, let them strike on a bell the numbers of the divisions to which their hands point. Let him further suppose that two of the clocks, for the sake of distinction called B and C, have some mechanism by which the clock C advances the hand of the clock B one division, for each stroke it makes upon its own bell: and let the clock B by a similar contrivance advance the hand of the clock A one division, for each stroke it makes on its own bell. With such an arrangement, having set the hand of the clock A to the division I, that of B to III, and that of C to II, let the reader imagine the repeating parts of the clocks to be set in motion continually in the following order: viz.—pull the string of clock A; pull the string of clock B; pull the string of clock C.

The table on the following page will then express the series of movements and their results.

If now only those divisions struck or pointed at by the clock A be attended to and written down, it will be found that they produce the series of the squares of the natural numbers. Such a series could, of course, be carried by this mechanism only so far as the numbers which can be expressed by three figures; but this may be sufficient to give some idea of the construction—and was, in fact, the point to which the first model of the calculating engine, now in progress, extended.

250. We have seen, then, that the effect of the division of labour, both in mechanical and in mental operations, is, that it enables us to purchase and apply to each process precisely that quantity of skill and knowledge which is required for it: we avoid employing any part of the time of a man who can get eight or ten shillings a day by his skill in tempering needles, in turning a wheel, which can be done for sixpence a day; and we equally avoid the loss arising from the employment of an accomplished mathematician in performing the lowest processes of arithmetic.

251. The division of labour cannot be successfully practised unless there exists a great demand for its produce; and it requires a large capital to be employed in those arts in which it is used. In watchmaking it has been carried, perhaps, to the greatest extent. It was stated in evidence before a committee of the House of Commons, that there are a hundred and two distinct branches of this art, to each of which a boy may be put apprentice: and that he only learns his master's department, and is unable, after his apprenticeship has expired, without subsequent instruction, to work at any other branch. The watch-finisher, whose business is to put together the scattered parts, is the only one, out of the hundred and two persons, who can work in any other department than his own.

252. In one of the most difficult arts, that of mining, great improvements have resulted from the judicious distribution of the duties; and under the arrangments which have gradually been introduced, the whole system of the mine and its government is now placed under the control of the following officers.

1. A manager, who has the general knowledge of all that is to be done, and who may be assisted by one or more skilful persons.

2. Underground captains direct the proper mining operations, and govern the working miners.

3. The purser and book-keeper manage the accounts.

4. The engineer erects the engines, and superintends the men who work them.

5. A chief pitman has charge of the pumps and the apparatus of the shafts.

6. A surface-captain, with assistants, receives the ores raised, and directs the dressing department, the object of which is to render them marketable.

7. The head carpenter superintends many constructions.

8. The foreman of the smiths regulates the ironwork and tools.

9. A materials man selects, purchases, receives and delivers all articles required.

10. The roper has charge of ropes and cordage of all sorts.


1. An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith.

2. Note sur la publication, proposee par le gouvernement Anglais des grandes tables logarithmiques et trigonometriques de M de Prony De l'imprimerie de F. Didot, December 1, 1829, p. 7

3. Since the publication of the second edition of this work, one portion of the engine which I have been constructing for some years past has been put together. It calculates, in three columns, a table with its first and second differences. Each column can be expressed as far as five figures, so that these fifteen figures constitute about one ninth part of the larger engine. The ease and precision with which it works leave no room to doubt its success in the more extended form. Besides tables of squares, cubes, and portions of logarithmic tables, it possesses the power of calculating certain series whose differences are not constant; and it has already tabulated parts of series formed from the following equations:

The third differential of ux = units figur of delta ux

The third differential of ux = nearest whole no. to (1/10,000 delta ux)

The subjoined is one amongst the series which it has calculated:

0 3,486 42,972 0 4,991 50,532 1 6,907 58,813 14 9,295 67,826 70 12,236 77,602 230 15,741 88,202 495 19,861 99,627 916 24,597 111,928 1,504 30,010 125,116 2,340 36,131 139,272

The general term of this is,

ux = (x(x-1)(x-2))/(1 X 2 X 3) + the whole number in x/10 + 10 Sigma^3 (units figure of (x(x-1)/2)

Chapter 21

On the Cost of Each Separate Process in a Manufacture

253. The great competition introduced by machinery, and the application of the principle of the subdivision of labour, render it necessary for each producer to be continually on the watch, to discover improved methods by which the cost of the article he manufactures may be reduced; and, with this view, it is of great importance to know the precise expense of every process, as well as of the wear and tear of machinery which is due to it. The same information is desirable for those by whom the manufactured goods are distributed and sold; because it enables them to give reasonable answers or explanations to the objections of enquirers, and also affords them a better chance of suggesting to the manufacturer changes in the fashion of his goods, which may be suitable either to the tastes or to the finances of his customers. To the statesman such knowledge is still more important; for without it he must trust entirely to others, and can form no judgement worthy of confidence, of the effect any tax may produce, or of the injury the manufacturer or the country may suffer by its imposition.

254. One of the first advantages which suggests itself as likely to arise from a correct analysis of the expense of the several processes of any manufacture, is the indication which it would furnish of the course in which improvement should be directed. If a method could be contrived of diminishing by one fourth the time required for fixing on the heads of pins, the expense of making them would be reduced about thirteen per cent; whilst a reduction of one half the time employed in spinning the coil of wire out of which the heads are cut, would scarcely make any sensible difference in the cost of manufacturing of the whole article. It is therefore obvious, that the attention would be much more advantageously directed to shortening the former than the latter process.

255. The expense of manufacturing, in a country where machinery is of the rudest kind, and manual labour is very cheap, is curiously exhibited in the price of cotton cloth in the island of Java. The cotton, in the seed, is sold by the picul, which is a weight of about 133 lbs. Not above one fourth or one fifth of this weight, however, is cotton: the natives, by means of rude wooden rollers, can only separate about 1 1/4 lb. of cotton from the seed by one day's labour. A picul of cleansed cotton, therefore, is worth between four and five times the cost of the impure article; and the prices of the same substance, in its different stages of manufacture, are—for one picul:

Dollars Cotton in the seed 2 to 3 Clean cotton 10 to 11 Cotton thread 24 Cotton thread dyed blue 35 Good ordinary cotton cloth 50

Thus it appears that the expense of spinning in Java is 117 per cent on the value of the raw material; the expense of dying thread blue is 45 per cent on its value; and that of weaving cotton thread into cloth 117 per cent on its value. The expense of spinning cotton into a fine thread is, in England, about 33 per cent. (1*)

256. As an example of the cost of the different processes of a manufacture, perhaps an analytical statement of the expense of the volume now in the reader's hands may not be uninteresting; more especially as it will afford an insight into the nature and extent of the taxes upon literature. It is found economical to print it upon paper of a very large size, so that although thirty-two pages, instead of sixteen, are really contained in each sheet, this work is still called octavo.

L s. d.

To printer, for composing (per sheet of 32 pages) L3 1s. 10 1/2 sheets 32 0 6 [This relates to the ordinary size of the type used in the volume.]

To printer for composing small type, as in extracts and 2 0 3 contents, extra per sheet, 3s. 10d.

To printer, for composing table work, extra per sheet, 2 17 9 5s. 6d. Average charge for corrections, per sheet, L3 2s. 10d. 33 0 0 Press work, 3000 being printed off, per sheet, L3 10s. 36 15 0 Paper for 3000, at L1 11s. 6d. per ream, weighing 28 lbs: the duty on paper at 3d. per lb. amounts to 7s. per ream, so that the 63 reams which are required for the work will cost:

Paper 77 3 6 Excise Duty 22 1 0 Total expense of paper 99 4 6

Total expense of printing and paper 205 18 0 Steel-plate for title-page 0 7 6 Engraving on ditto, Head of Bacon 2 2 0 Ditto letters 1 1 0 Total expense of title-page 3 10 6 Printing title-page, at 6s. per 100 9 0 0 Paper for ditto, at 1s. 9d. per 100 2 12 6 Expenses of advertising 40 0 0 Sundries. 5 0 0

Total expense in sheets 266 1 0

Cost of a single copy in sheets; 3052 being printed, including the overplus 0 1 9 Extra boarding 0 0 6

Cost of each copy, boarded(2*) 0 2 3

257. This analysis requires some explanation. The printer usually charges for composition by the sheet, supposing the type to be all of one kind; and as this charge is regulated by the size of the letter, on which the quantity in a sheet depends, little dispute can arise after the price is agreed upon. If there are but few extracts, or other parts of the work, which require to be printed in smaller type; or if there are many notes, or several passages in Greek, or in other languages, requiring a different type, these are considered in the original contract, and a small additional price per sheet allowed. If there is a large portion of small type, it is better to have a specific additional charge for it per sheet. If any work with irregular lines and many figures, and what the printers call rules, occurs, it is called table work, and is charged at an advanced price per sheet. Examples of this are frequent in the present volume. If the page consists entirely of figures, as in mathematical tables, which require very careful correction, the charge for composition is usually doubled. A few years ago I printed a table of logarithms, on a large-sized page, which required great additional labour and care from the readers,(3*) in rendering the proofs correct, and for which, although new punches were not required, several new types were prepared, and for which stereotype plates were cast, costing about L2 per sheet. In this case L11 per sheet were charged, although ordinary composition, with the same sized letter, in demy octavo, could have been executed at thirty-eight shillings per sheet: but as the expense was ascertained before commencing the work, it gave rise to no difficulties.

258. The charge for corrections and alterations is one which, from the difficulty of measuring them, gives rise to the greatest inconvenience, and is as disagreeable to the publisher (if he be the agent between the author and the printer), and to the master printer or his foreman, as it is to the author himself. If the author study economy, he should make the whole of his corrections in the manuscript, and should copy it out fairly: it will then be printed correctly, and he will have little to pay for corrections. But it is scarcely possible to judge of the effect of any passage correctly, without having it set up in type; and there are few subjects, upon which an author does not find he can add some details or explanation, when he sees his views in print. If, therefore, he wish to save his own labour in transcribing, and to give the last polish to the language, he must be content to accomplish these objects at an increased expense. If the printer possess a sufficient stock of type, it will contribute still more to the convenience of the author to have his whole work put up in what are technically called slips,(4*) and then to make all the corrections, and to have as few revises as he can. The present work was set up in slips, but the corrections have been unusually large, and the revises frequent.

259. The press work, or printing off, is charged at a price agreed upon for each two hundred and fifty sheets; and any broken number is still considered as two hundred and fifty. When a large edition is required, the price for two hundred and fifty is reduced; thus, in the present volume, two hundred and fifty copies, if printed alone, would have been charged eleven shillings per sheet, instead of 5s. 10d., the actual charge. The principle of this mode of charging is good, as it obviates all disputes; but it is to be regretted that the custom of charging the same price for any small number as for two hundred and fifty, is so pertinaciously adhered to, that the workmen will not agree to any other terms when only twenty or thirty copies are required, or even when only three or four are wanted for the sake of some experiment. Perhaps if all numbers above fifty were charged as two hundred and fifty, and all below as for half two hundred and fifty, both parties would derive an advantage.

260. The effect of the excise duty is to render the paper thin, in order that it may weigh little; but this is counteracted by the desire of the author to make his book look as thick as possible, in order that he may charge the public as much as he decently can; and so on that ground alone the duty is of no importance. There is, however, another effect of this duty, which both the public and the author feel; for they pay, not merely the duty which is charged, but also the profit on that duty, which the paper-maker requires for the use of additional capital; and also the profit to the publisher and bookseller on the increased price of the volume.

261. The estimated charge for advertisements is, in the present case, about the usual allowance for such a volume; and, as it is considered that advertisements in newspapers are the most effectual, where the smallest pays a duty of 3s. 6d., nearly one half of the charge of advertising is a tax.

262. It appears then, that, to an expenditure of L224 necessary to produce the present volume, L42 are added in the shape of a direct tax. Whether the profits arising from such a mode of manufacturing will justify such a rate of taxation, can only be estimated when the returns from the volume are considered, a subject that will be discussed in a subsequent chapter.(5*) It is at present sufficient to observe, that the tax on advertisements is an impolitic tax when contrasted with that upon paper, and on other materials employed. The object of all advertisements is, by making known articles for sale, to procure for them a better price, if the sale is to be by auction; or a larger extent of sale if by retail dealers. Now the more any article is known, the more quickly it is discovered whether it contributes to the comfort or advantage of the public; and the more quickly its consumption is assured if it be found valuable. It would appear, then, that every tax on communicating information respecting articles which are the subjects of taxation in another shape, is one which must reduce the amount that would have been raised, had no impediment been placed in the way of making known to the public their qualities and their price.


1. These facts are taken from Crawford's Indian Archipelago.

2. These charges refer to the edition prepared for the public, and do not relate to the large paper copies in the hands of some of the author's friends.

3. Readers are persons employed to correct the press at the printing office.

4. Slips are long pieces of paper on which sufficient matter is printed to form, when divided, from two to four pages of text.

5. Chapter 31.

Chapter 22

On the Causes and Consequences of Large Factories

263. On examining the analysis which has been given in chapter XIX of the operations in the art of pin-making, it will be observed, that ten individuals are employed in it, and also that the time occupied in executing the several processes is very different. In order, however, to render more simple the reasoning which follows, it will be convenient to suppose that each of the seven processes there described requires an equal quantity of time. This being supposed, it is at once apparent, that, to conduct an establishment for pin-making most profitably, the number of persons employed must be a multiple of ten. For if a person with small means has only sufficient capital to enable him to employ half that number of persons, they cannot each of them constantly adhere to the execution of the same process; and if a manufacturer employs any number not a multiple of ten, a similar result must ensue with respect to some portion of them. The same reflection constantly presents itself on examining any well-arranged factory. In that of Mr Mordan, the patentee of the ever-pointed pencils, one room is devoted to some of the processes by which steel pens are manufactured. Six fly-presses are here constantly at work; in the first a sheet of thin steel is brought by the workman under the die which at each blow cuts out a flat piece of the metal, having the form intended for the pen. Two other workmen are employed in placing these flat pieces under two other presses, in which a steel chisel cuts the slit. Three other workmen occupy other presses, in which the pieces so prepared receive their semi-cylindrical form. The longer time required for adjusting the small pieces in the two latter operations renders them less rapid in execution than the first; so that two workmen are fully occupied in slitting, and three in bending the flat pieces, which one man can punch out of the sheet of steel. If, therefore, it were necessary to enlarge this factory, it is clear that twelve or eighteen presses would be worked with more economy than any number not a multiple of six.

The same reasoning extends to every manufacture which is conducted upon the principle of the division of labour, and we arrive at this general conclusion: When the number of processes into which it is most advantageous to divide it, and the number of individuals to be employed in it, are ascertained, then all factories which do not employ a direct multiple of this latter number, will produce the article at a greater cost. This principle ought always to be kept in view in great establishments, although it is quite impossible, even with the best division of the labour, to attend to it rigidly in practice. The proportionate number of the persons who possess the greatest skill, is of course to be first attended to. That exact ratio which is more profitable for a factory employing a hundred workmen, may not be quite the best where there are five hundred; and the arrangements of both may probably admit of variations, without materially increasing the cost of their produce. But it is quite certain that no individual, nor in the case of pin-making could any five individuals, ever hope to compete with an extensive establishment. Hence arises one cause of the great size of manufacturing establishments, which have increased with the progress of civilization. Other circumstances, however, contribute to the same end, and arise also from the same cause— the division of labour.

264. The material out of which the manufactured article is produced, must, in the several stages of its progress, be conveyed from one operator to the next in succession: this can be done at least expense when they are all working in the same establishment. If the weight of the material is considerable, this reason acts with additional force; but even where it is light, the danger arising from frequent removal may render it desirable to have all the processes carried on in the same building. In the cutting and polishing of glass this is the case; whilst in the art of needle-making several of the processes are carried on in the cottages of the workmen. It is, however, clear that the latter plan, which is attended with some advantages to the family of the workmen, can be adopted only where there exists a sure and quick method of knowing that the work has been well done, and that the whole of the materials given out have been really employed.

265. The inducement to contrive machines for any process of manufacture increases with the demand for the article; and the introduction of machinery, on the other hand, tends to increase the quantity produced and to lead to the establishment of large factories. An illustration of these principles may be found in the history of the manufacture of patent net.

The first machines for weaving this article were very expensive, costing from a thousand to twelve or thirteen hundred pounds. The possessor of one of these, though it greatly increased the quantity he could produce, was nevertheless unable, when working eight hours a day, to compete with the old methods. This arose from the large capital invested in the machinery; but he quickly perceived that with the same expense of fixed capital, and a small addition to his circulating capital, he could work the machine during the whole twenty-four hours. The profits thus realized soon induced other persons to direct their attention to the improvement of those machines; and the price was greatly reduced, at the same time that the rapidity of production of the patent net was increased. But if machines be kept working through the twenty-four hours, it is necessary that some person shall attend to admit the workmen at the time they relieve each other; and whether the porter or other servant so employed admit one person or twenty, his rest will be equally disturbed. It will also be necessary occasionally to adjust or repair the machine; and this can be done much better by a workman accustomed to machine-making, than by the person who uses it. Now, since the good performance and the duration of machines depend to a very great extent upon correcting every shake or imperfection in their parts as soon as they appear, the prompt attention of a workman resident on the spot will considerably reduce the expenditure arising from the wear and tear of the machinery. But in the case of single lace frame, or a single loom, this would be too expensive a plan. Here then arises another circumstance which tends to enlarge the extent of a factory. It ought to consist of such a number of machines as shall occupy the whole time of one workman in keeping them in order: if extended beyond that number, the same principle of economy would point out the necessity of doubling or tripling the number of machines, in order to employ the whole time of two or three skilful workmen.

266. Where one portion of the workman's labour consists in the exertion of mere physical force, as in weaving and in many similar arts, it will soon occur to the manufacturer, that if that part were executed by a steam-engine, the same man might, in the case of weaving, attend to two or more looms at once; and, since we already suppose that one or more operative engineers have been employed, the number of his looms may be so arranged that their time shall be fully occupied in keeping the steam-engine and the looms in order. One of the first results will be, that the looms can be driven by the engine nearly twice as fast as before: and as each man, when relieved from bodily labour, can attend to two looms, one workman can now make almost as much cloth as four. This increase of producing power is, however, greater than that which really took place at first; the velocity of some of the parts of the loom being limited by the strength of the thread, and the quickness with which it commences its motion: but an improvement was soon made, by which the motion commenced slowly, and gradually acquired greater velocity than it was safe to give it at once; and the speed was thus increased from 100 to about 120 strokes per minute.

267. Pursuing the same principles, the manufactory becomes gradually so enlarged, that the expense of lighting during the night amounts to a considerable sum; and as there are already attached to the establishment persons who are up all night, and can therefore constantly attend to it, and also engineers to make and keep in repair any machinery, the addition of an apparatus for making gas to light the factory leads to a new extension, at the same time that it contributes, by diminishing the expense of lighting, and the risk of accidents from fire, to reduce the cost of manufacturing.

268. Long before a factory has reached this extent, it will have been found necessary to establish an accountant's department, with clerks to pay the workmen, and to see that they arrive at their stated times; and this department must be in communication with the agents who purchase the raw produce, and with those who sell the manufactured article.

269. We have seen that the application of the division of labour tends to produce cheaper articles; that it thus increases the demand; and gradually, by the effect of competition, or by the hope of increased gain, that it causes large capitals to be embarked in extensive factories. Let us now examine the influence of this accumulation of capital directed to one object. In the first place, it enables the most important principle on which the advantages of the division of labour depends to be carried almost to its extreme limits: not merely is the precise amount of skill purchased which is necessary for the execution of each process, but throughout every stage—from that in which the raw material is procured, to that by which the finished produce is conveyed into the hands of the consumer—the same economy of skill prevails. The quantity of work produced by a given number of people is greatly augmented by such an extended arrangement; and the result is necessarily a great reduction in the cost of the article which is brought to market.

270. Amongst the causes which tend to the cheap production of any article, and which are connected with the employment of additional capital, may be mentioned, the care which is taken to prevent the absolute waste of any part of the raw material. An attention to this circumstance sometimes causes the union of two trades in one factory, which otherwise might have been separated.

An enumeration of the arts to which the horns of cattle are applicable, will furnish a striking example of this kind of economy. The tanner who has purchased the raw hides, separates the horns, and sells them to the makers of combs and lanterns. The horn consists of two parts, an outward horny case, and an inward conical substance, somewhat intermediate between indurated hair and bone. The first process consists in separating these two parts, by means of a blow against a block of wood. The horny exterior is then cut into three portions with a frame-saw.

1. The lowest of these, next the root of the horn, after undergoing several processes, by which it is flattened, is made into combs.

2. The middle of the horn, after being flattened by heat, and having its transparency improved by oil, is split into thin layers, and forms a substitute for glass, in lanterns of the commonest kind.

3. The tip of the horn is used by the makers of knife handles, and of the tops of whips, and for other similar purposes.

4. The interior, or core of the horn, is boiled down in water. A large quantity of fat rises to the surface; this is put aside, and sold to the makers of yellow soap.

5. The liquid itself is used as a kind of glue, and is purchased by cloth dressers for stiffening.

6. The insoluble substance, which remains behind, is then sent to the mill, and, being ground down, is sold to the farmers for manure.

7. Besides these various purposes to which the different parts of the horn are applied, the clippings, which arise in comb making, are sold to the farmer for manure. In the first year after they are spread over the soil they have comparatively little effect, but during the next four or five their efficiency is considerable. The shavings which form the refuse of the lantern maker, are of a much thinner texture: some of them are cut into various figures and painted, and used as toys; for being hygrometric, they curl up when placed on the palm of a warm hand. But the greater part of these shavings also are sold for manure, and from their extremely thin and divided form, the full effect is produced upon the first crop.

271. Another event which has arisen, in one trade at least, from the employment of large capital, is, that a class of middlemen, formerly interposed between the maker and the merchant, now no longer exist. When calico was woven in the cottages of the workmen, there existed a class of persons who travelled about and purchased the pieces so made, in large numbers, for the purpose of selling them to the exporting merchant. But the middlemen were obliged to examine every piece, in order to know that it was perfect, and of full measure. The greater number of the workmen, it is true, might be depended upon, but the fraud of a few would render this examination indispensable: for any single cottager, though detected by one purchaser, might still hope that the fact would not become known to all the rest.

The value of character, though great in all circumstances of life, can never be so fully experienced by persons possessed of small capital, as by those employing much larger sums: whilst these larger sums of money for which the merchant deals, render his character for punctuality more studied and known by others. Thus it happens that high character supplies the place of an additional portion of capital; and the merchant, in dealing with the great manufacturer, is saved from the expense of verification, by knowing that the loss, or even the impeachment, of the manufacturer's character, would be attended with greater injury to himself than any profit upon a single transaction could compensate.

272. The amount of well-grounded confidence, which exists in the character of its merchants and manufacturers, is one of the many advantages that an old manufacturing country always possesses over its rivals. To such an extent is this confidence in character carried in England, that, at one of our largest towns, sales and purchases on a very extensive scale are made daily in the course of business without any of the parties ever exchanging a written document.

273. A breach of confidence of this kind, which might have been attended with very serious embarrassment, occurred in the recent expedition to the mouth of the Niger.

'We brought with us from England,' Mr Lander states, 'nearly a hundred thousand needles of various sizes, and amongst them was a great quantity of Whitechapel sharps warranted superfine, and not to cut in the eye. Thus highly recommended, we imagined that these needles must have been excellent indeed; but what was our surprise, some time ago, when a number of them which we had disposed of were returned to us, with a complaint that they were all eyeless, thus redeeming with a vengeance the pledge of the manufacturer, "that they would not cut in the eye". On examination afterwards, we found the same fault with the remainder of the "Whitechapel sharps", so that to save our credit we have been obliged to throw them away.'(1*)

274. The influence of established character in producing confidence operated in a very remarkable manner at the time of the exclusion of British manufactures from the continent during the last war. One of our largest establishments had been in the habit of doing extensive business with a house in the centre of Germany; but, on the closing of the continental ports against our manufactures, heavy penalties were inflicted on all those who contravened the Berlin and Milan decrees. The English manufacturer continued, nevertheless, to receive orders, with directions how to consign them, and appointments for the time and mode of payment, in letters, the handwriting of which was known to him, but which were never signed, except by the christian name of one of the firm, and even in some instances they were without any signature at all. These orders were executed; and in no instance was there the least irregularity in the payments.

275. Another circumstance may be noticed, which to a small extent is more advantageous to large than to small factories. In the export of several articles of manufacture, a drawback is allowed by government, of a portion of the duty paid on the importation of the raw material. In such circumstances, certain forms must be gone through in order to protect the revenue from fraud; and a clerk, or one of the partners, must attend at the custom-house. The agent of the large establishment occupies nearly the same time in receiving a drawback of several thousands, as the smaller exporter does of a few shillings. But if the quantity exported is inconsiderable, the small manufacturer frequently does not find the drawback will repay him for the loss of time.

276. In many of the large establishments of our manufacturing districts, substances are employed which are the produce of remote countries, and which are, in several instances, almost peculiar to a few situations. The discovery of any new locality, where such articles exist in abundance, is a matter of great importance to any establishment which consumes them in large quantities; and it has been found, in some instances, that the expense of sending persons to great distances, purposely to discover and to collect such produce, has been amply repaid. Thus it has happened, that the snowy mountains of Sweden and Norway, as well as the warmer hills of Corsica, have been almost stripped of one of their vegetable productions, by agents sent expressly from one of our largest establishments for the dying of calicos. Owing to the same command of capital, and to the scale upon which the operations of large factories are carried on, their returns admit of the expense of sending out agents to examine into the wants and tastes of distant countries, as well as of trying experiments, which, although profitable to them, would be ruinous to smaller establishments possessing more limited resources.

These opinions have been so well expressed in the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on the Woollen Trade, in 1806, that we shall close this chapter with an extract, in which the advantages of great factories are summed up.

Your committee have the satisfaction of seeing, that the apprehensions entertained of factories are not only vicious in principle, but they are practically erroneous: to such a degree. that even the very opposite principles might be reasonably entertained. Nor would it be difficult to prove, that the factories, to a certain extent at least, and in the present day, seem absolutely necessary to the wellbeing of the domestic system: supplying those very particulars wherein the domestic system must be acknowledged to be inherently defective: for it is obvious, that the little master manufacturers cannot afford, like the man who possesses considerable capital, to try the experiments which are requisite, and incur the risks, and even losses, which almost always occur, in inventing and perfecting new articles of manufacture, or in carrying to a state of greater perfection articles already established. He cannot learn, by personal inspection, the wants and habits, the arts, manufactures, and improvements of foreign countries; diligence, economy, and prudence, are the requisites of his character, not invention, taste, and enterprise: nor would he be warranted in hazarding the loss of any part of his small capital. He walks in a sure road as long as he treads in the beaten track; but he must not deviate into the paths of speculation. The owner of a factory, on the contrary, being commonly possessed of a large capital, and having all his workmen employed under his own immediate superintendence, may make experiments, hazard speculation, invent shorter or better modes of performing old processes, may introduce new articles, and improve and perfect old ones, thus giving the range to his taste and fancy, and, thereby alone enabling our manufacturers to stand the competition with their commercial rivals in other countries. Meanwhile, as is well worthy of remark (and experience abundantly warrants the assertion), many of these new fabrics and inventions, when their success is once established, become general amongst the whole body of manufacturers: the domestic manufacturers themselves thus benefiting, in the end, from those very factories which had been at first the objects of their jealousy. The history of almost all our other manufactures, in which great improvements have been made of late years in some cases at an immense expense, and after numbers of unsuccessful experiments, strikingly illustrates and enforces the above remarks. It is besides an acknowledged fact, that the owners of factories are often amongst the most extensive purchasers at the halls, where they buy from the domestic clothier the established articles of manufacture, or are able at once to answer a great and sudden order; whilst, at home, and under their own superintendence, they make their fancy goods, and any articles of a newer, more costly, or more delicate quality, to which they are enabled by the domestic system to apply a much larger proportion of their capital. Thus, the two systems, instead of rivalling, are mutual aids to each other: each supplying the other's defects, and promoting the other's prosperity.


1. Lander's Journal of an Expedition to the Mouth of the Niger, vol. ii., p. 42.

Chapter 23

On the Position of Large Factories

277. It is found in every country, that the situation of large manufacturing establishments is confined to particular districts. In the earlier history of a manufacturing community, before cheap modes of transport have been extensively introduced, it will almost always be found that manufactories are placed near those spots in which nature has produced the raw material: especially in the case of articles of great weight, and in those the value of which depends more upon the material than upon the labour expended on it. Most of the metallic ores being exceedingly heavy, and being mixed up with large quantities of weighty and useless materials, must be smelted at no great distance from the spot which affords them: fuel and power are the requisites for reducing them; and any considerable fall of water in the vicinity will naturally be resorted to for aid in the coarser exertions of physical force; for pounding the ore, for blowing the furnaces, or for hammering and rolling out the iron. There are indeed peculiar circumstances which will modify this. Iron, coal, and limestone, commonly occur in the same tracts; but the union of the fuel in the same locality with the ore does not exist with respect to other metals. The tracts generally the most productive of metallic ores are, geologically speaking, different from those affording coal: thus in Cornwall there are veins of copper and of tin, but no beds of coal. The copper ore, which requires a very large quantity of fuel for its reduction, is sent by sea to the coalfields of Wales, and is smelted at Swansea; whilst the vessels which convey it, take back coals to work the steam-engines for draining the mines, and to smelt the tin, which requires for that purpose a much smaller quantity of fuel than copper.

278. Rivers passing through districts rich in coal and metals, will form the first highroads for the conveyance of weighty produce to stations in which other conveniences present themselves for the further application of human skill. Canals will succeed, or lend their aid to these; and the yet unexhausted applications of steam and of gas, hold out a hope of attaining almost the same advantages for countries to which nature seemed for ever to have denied them. Manufactures, commerce, and civilization, always follow the line of new and cheap communications. Twenty years ago, the Mississippi poured the vast volume of its waters in lavish profusion through thousands of miles of countries, which scarcely supported a few wandering and uncivilized tribes of Indians. The power of the stream seemed to set at defiance the efforts of man to ascend its course; and, as if to render the task still more hopeless, large trees, torn from the surrounding forests, were planted like stakes in its bottom, forming in some places barriers, in others the nucleus of banks; and accumulating in the same spot, which but for accident would have been free from both, the difficulties and dangers of shoals and of rocks. Four months of incessant toil could scarcely convey a small bark with its worn-out crew two thousand miles up this stream. The same voyage is now performed in fifteen days by large vessels impelled by steam, carrying hundreds of passengers enjoying all the comforts and luxuries of civilized life. Instead of the hut of the Indian, and the far more unfrequent log house of the thinly scattered settlers—villages, towns, and cities, have arisen on its banks; and the same engine which stems the force of these powerful waters, will probably tear from their bottom the obstructions which have hitherto impeded and rendered dangerous their navigation.(1*)

279. The accumulation of many large manufacturing establishments in the same district has a tendency to bring together purchasers or their agents from great distances, and thus to cause the institution of a public mart or exchange. This contributes to diffuse information relative to the supply of raw materials, and the state of demand for their produce, with which it is necessary manufacturers should be well acquainted. The very circumstance of collecting periodically, at one place, a large number both of those who supply the market and of those who require its produce, tends strongly to check the accidental fluctuations to which a small market is always subject, as well as to render the average of the prices much more uniform.

280. When capital has been invested in machinery, and in buildings for its accommodation, and when the inhabitants of the neighbourhood have acquired a knowledge of the modes of working at the machines, reasons of considerable weight are required to cause their removal. Such changes of position do however occur; and they have been alluded to by the Committee on the Fluctuation of Manufacturers' Employment, as one of the causes interfering most materially with an uniform rate of wages: it is therefore of particular importance to the workmen to be acquainted with the real causes which have driven manufactures from their ancient seats.

"The migration or change of place of any manufacture has sometimes arisen from improvements of machinery not applicable to the spot where such manufacture was carried on, as appears to have been the case with the woollen manufacture, which has in great measure migrated from Essex, Suffolk, and other southern counties, to the northern districts, where coal for the use of the steam-engine is much cheaper. But this change has, in some instances, been caused or accelerated by the conduct of the workmen, in refusing a reasonable reduction of wages, or opposing the introduction of some kind of improved machinery or process; so that, during the dispute, another spot has in great measure supplied their place in the market. Any violence used by the workmen against the property of their masters, and any unreasonable combination on their part, is almost sure thus to be injurious to themselves."

281. These removals become of serious consequence when the factories have been long established, because a population commensurate with their wants invariably grows up around them. The combinations in Nottinghamshire, of persons under the name of Luddites, drove a great number of lace frames from that district, and caused establishments to be formed in Devonshire. We ought also to observe, that the effect of driving any establishment into a new district, where similar works have not previously existed, is not merely to place it out of the reach of such combinations; but, after a few years, the example of its success will most probably induce other capitalists in the new district to engage in the same manufacture: and thus, although one establishment only should be driven away, the workmen, through whose combination its removal is effected, will not merely suffer by the loss of that portion of demand for their labour which the factory caused; but the value of that labour will itself be reduced by the competition of a new field of production.

282. Another circumstance which has its influence on this question, is the nature of the machinery. Heavy machinery, such as stamping-mills, steam-engines, etc., cannot readily be moved, and must always be taken to pieces for that purpose; but when the machinery of a factory consists of a multitude of separate engines, each complete in itself, and all put in motion by one source of power, such as that of steam, then the removal is much less inconvenient. Thus, stocking frames, lace machines, and looms, can be transported to more favourable positions, with but a small separation of their parts.

283. It is of great importance that the more intelligent amongst the class of workmen should examine into the correctness of these views; because, without having their attention directed to them, the whole class may, in some instances, be led by designing persons to pursue a course, which, although plausible in appearance, is in reality at variance with their own best interests. I confess I am not without a hope that this volume may fall into the hands of workmen, perhaps better qualified than myself to reason upon a subject which requires only plain common sense, and whose powers are sharpened by its importance to their personal happiness. In asking their attention to the preceding remarks, and to those which I shall offer respecting combinations, I can claim only one advantage over them; namely, that I never have had, and in all human probability never shall have, the slightest pecuniary interest, to influence even remotely, or by anticipation, the judgements I have formed on the facts which have come before me.


1. The amount of obstructions arising from the casual fixing of trees in the bottom of the river, may be estimated from the proportion of steamboats destroyed by running upon them. The subjoined statement is taken from the American Almanack for 1832.

Between the years 1811 and 1831, three hundred and forty-eight steamboats were built on the Mississippi and its tributary streams. During that period a hundred and fifty were lost or worn out.

Of this hundred and fifty: worn out 63 lost by snags 36 burnt 14 lost by collision 3 by accidents not ascertained 34 Thirty six or nearly one fourth, being destroyed by accidental obstruction.

Snag is the name given in America to trees which stand nearly upright in the stream with their roots fixed at the bottom.

It is usual to divide off at the bow of the steamboats a watertight chamber, in order that when a hole is made in it by running against the snags, the water may not enterthe rest of the vessel and sink it intantly.

Chapter 24

On Over Manufacturing

284. One of the natural and almost inevitable consequences of competition is the production of a supply much larger than the demand requires. This result usually arises periodically; and it is equally important, both to the masters and to the workmen, to prevent its occurrence, or to foresee its arrival. In situations where a great number of very small capitalists exist—where each master works himself and is assisted by his own family, or by a few journeymen—and where a variety of different articles is produced, a curious system of compensation has arisen which in some measure diminishes the extent to which fluctuations of wages would otherwise reach. This is accomplished by a species of middlemen or factors, persons possessing some capital, who, whenever the price of any of the articles in which they deal is greatly reduced, purchase it on their own account, in the hopes of selling at a profit when the market is better. These persons, in ordinary times, act as salesmen or agents, and make up assortments of goods at the market price, for the use of the home or foreign dealer. They possess large warehouses in which to make up their orders, or keep in store articles purchased during periods of depression; thus acting as a kind of flywheel in equalizing the market price. 285. The effect of over-manufacturing upon great establishments is different. When an over supply has reduced prices, one of two events usually occurs: the first is a diminished payment for labour; the other is a diminution of the number of hours during which the labourers work, together with a diminished rate of wages. In the former case production continues to go on at its ordinary rate: in the latter, the production itself being checked, the supply again adjusts itself to the demand as soon as the stock on hand is worked off, and prices then regain their former level. The latter course appears, in the first instance, to be the best both for masters and men; but there seems to be a difficulty in accomplishing this, except where the trade is in few hands. In fact, it is almost necessary, for its success, that there should be a combination amongst the masters or amongst the men; or, what is always far preferable to either, a mutual agreement for their joint interests. Combination amongst the men is difficult, and is always attended with the evils which arise from the ill-will excited against any persons who, in the perfectly justifiable exercise of their judgement, are disposed not to act with the majority. The combination of the masters, on the other hand, is unavailing, unless the whole body of them agree, for if any one master can procure more labour for his money than the rest, he will be able to undersell them.

286. If we look only at the interests of the consumer, the case is different. When too large a supply has produced a great reduction of price, it opens the consumption of the article to a new class, and increases the consumption of those who previously employed it: it is therefore against the interest of both these parties that a return to the former price should occur. It is also certain, that by the diminution of profit which the manufacturer suffers from the diminished price, his ingenuity will be additionally stimulated; that he will apply himself to discover other and cheaper sources for the supply of his raw material; that he will endeavour to contrive improved machinery which shall manufacture it at a cheaper rate; or try to introduce new arrangements into his factory, which shall render the economy of it more perfect. In the event of his success, by any of these courses or by their joint effects, a real and substantial good will be produced. A larger portion of the public will receive advantage from the use of the article, and they will procure it at a lower price; and the manufacturer, though his profit on each operation is reduced, will yet, by the more frequent returns on the larger produce of his factory, find his real gain at the end of the year, nearly the same as it was before; whilst the wages of the workman will return to their level, and both the manufacturer and the workman will find the demand less fluctuating, from its being dependent on a larger number of customers.

287. It would be highly interesting, if we could trace, even approximately, through the history of any great manufacture, the effects of gluts in producing improvements in machinery, or in methods of working; and if we could shew what addition to the annual quantity of goods previously manufactured, was produced by each alteration. It would probably be found, that the increased quantity manufactured by the same capital, when worked with the new improvement, would produce nearly the same rate of profit as other modes of investment.

Perhaps the manufacture of iron(1*) would furnish the best illustration of this subject; because, by having the actual price of pig and bar iron at the same place and at the same time, the effect of a change in the value of currency, as well as several other sources of irregularity, would be removed.

288. At the present moment, whilst the manufacturers of iron are complaining of the ruinously low price of their produce, a new mode of smelting iron is coming into use, which, if it realizes the statement of the patentees, promises to reduce greatly the cost of production.

The improvement consists in heating the air previously to employing it for blowing the furnace. One of the results is, that coal may be used instead of coke; and this, in its turn, diminishes the quantity of limestone which is required for the fusion of the iron stone.

The following statement by the proprietors of the patent is extracted from Brewster's Journal, 1832, p. 349:

Comparative view of the quantity of materials required at the Clyde iron works to smelt a ton of foundry pig-iron, and of the quantity of foundry pig-iron smelted from each furnace weekly

Fuel in tons of 20 cwt each cwt 112 lbs; Iron-stone; Lime-stone Cwt; Weekly produce in pig-iron Tons

1. With air not heated and coke; 7;3 1/4; 15; 45 2. With air heated and coke; 4 3/4; 3 1/4; 10; 60 3. With air heated and coals not coked; 2 1/4; 3 1/4; 7 1/2; 65

Notes. 1. To the coals stated in the second and third lines, must be added 5 cwt of small coals, required to heat the air.

2. The expense of the apparatus for applying the heated air will be from L200 to L300 per furnace.

3. No coals are now coked at the Clyde iron works; at all the three furnaces the iron is smelted with coals.

4. The three furnaces are blown by a double-powered steam-engine, with a steam cylinder 40 inches in diameter, and a blowing cylinder 80 inches in diameter, which compresses the air so as to carry 2 1/2 lbs per square inch. There are two tuyeres to each furnace. The muzzles of the blowpipes are 3 inches in diameter.

5. The air heated to upwards of 600 degrees of Fahrenheit. It will melt lead at the distance of three inches from the orifice through which it issues from the pipe.

289. The increased effect produced by thus heating the air is by no means an obvious result; and an analysis of its action will lead to some curious views respecting the future application of machinery for blowing furnaces.

Every cubic foot of atmospheric air, driven into a furnace, consists of two gases.(2*) about one-fifth being oxygen, and four-fifths azote.

According to the present state of chemical knowledge, the oxygen alone is effective in producing heat; and the operation of blowing a furnace may be thus analysed.

1. The air is forced into the furnace in a condensed state, and, immediately expanding, abstracts heat from the surrounding bodies.

2. Being itself of moderate temperature, it would, even without expansion, still require heat to raise it to the temperature of the hot substances to which it is to be applied.

3. On coming into contact with the ignited substances in the furnace, the oxygen unites with them, parting at the same moment with a large portion of its latent heat, and forming compounds which have less specific heat than their separate constituents. Some of these pass up the chimney in a gaseous state, whilst others remain in the form of melted slags, floating on the surface of the iron, which is fused by the heat thus set at liberty.

4. The effects of the azote are precisely similar to the first and second of those above described; it seems to form no combinations, and contributes nothing, in any stage, to augment the heat.

The plan, therefore, of heating the air before driving it into the furnace saves, obviously, the whole of that heat which the fuel must have supplied in raising it from the temperature of the external air up to that of 600 degrees Fahrenheit; thus rendering the fire more intense, and the glassy slags more fusible, and perhaps also more effectually decomposing the iron ore. The same quantity of fuel, applied at once to the furnace, would only prolong the duration of its heat, not augment its intensity.

290. The circumstance of so large a portion of the air(3*) driven into furnaces being not merely useless, but acting really as a cooling, instead of a heating, cause, added to so great a waste of mechanical power in condensing it, amounting, in fact, to four-fifths of the whole, clearly shews the defects of the present method, and the want of some better mode of exciting combustion on a large scale. The following suggestions are thrown out as likely to lead to valuable results, even though they should prove ineffectual for their professed object.

291. The great difficulty appears to be to separate the oxygen, which aids combustion, from the azote which impedes it. If either of those gases becomes liquid at a lower pressure than the other, and if those pressures are within the limits of our present powers of compression, the object might be accomplished.

Let us assume, for example, that oxygen becomes liquid under a pressure of 200 atmospheres, whilst azote requires a pressure of 250. Then if atmospheric air be condensed to the two hundredth part of its bulk, the oxygen will be found in a liquid state at the bottom of the vessel in which the condensation is effected, and the upper part of the vessel will contain only azote in the state of gas. The oxygen, now liquefied, may be drawn off for the supply of the furnace; but as it ought when used, to have a very moderate degree of condensation, its expansive force may be previously employed in working a small engine. The compressed azote also in the upper part of the vessel, though useless for combustion, may be employed as a source of power, and, by its expansion, work another engine. By these means the mechanical force exerted in the original compression would all be restored, except that small part retained for forcing the pure oxygen into the furnace, and the much larger part lost in the friction of the apparatus.

292. The principal difficulty to be apprehended in these operations is that of packing a working piston so as to bear the pressure of 200 or 300 atmospheres: but this does not seem insurmountable. It is possible also that the chemical combination of the two gases which constitute common air may be effected by such pressures: if this should be the case, it might offer a new mode of manufacturing nitrous or nitric acids. The result of such experiments might take another direction: if the condensation were performed over liquids, it is possible that they might enter into new chemical combinations. Thus, if air were highly condensed in a vessel containing water, the latter might unite with an additional dose of oxygen, (4*) which might afterwards be easily disengaged for the use of the furnace.

293. A further cause of the uncertainty of the results of such an experiment arises from the possibility that azote may really contribute to the fusion of the mixed mass in the furnace, though its mode of operating is at present unknown. An examination of the nature of the gases issuing from the chimneys of iron-foundries, might perhaps assist in clearing up this point; and, in fact, if such enquiries were also instituted upon the various products of all furnaces, we might expect the elucidation of many points in the economy of the metallurgic art.

294. It is very possible also, that the action of oxygen in a liquid state might be exceedingly corrosive, and that the containing vessels must be lined with platinum or some other substance of very difficult oxydation; and most probably new and unexpected compounds would be formed at such pressures. In some experiments made by Count Rumford in 1797, on the force of fired gunpowder, he noticed a solid compound, which always appeared in the gunbarrel when the ignited powder had no means of escaping; and, in those cases, the gas which escaped on removing the restraining pressure was usually inconsiderable.

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