The packing of textile fabrics for foreign markets is a subject which has received very great attention in this country, notably in Lancashire. Much depends upon the proper packing of goods, and frequently improper packing causes great losses, owing to the severity of various climates, in one way or another. The shape and weight of packages are both important, and each foreign market, as a rule, has its special peculiarities, which must be carefully considered when purchases are made up for delivery.
The main points in packing are (a) to properly compress goods into the smallest possible space without damage; (6) to so protect them from wet and wear as to have them reach their destination in perfect condition; (c) to have them suit the convenience, taste, and requirements of various foreign markets; and lastly (d) to do all this well at the least expense.
It is essential that packing should be done so as to economise space, and thus save freight charges, and to do this it is necessary to press the bales into the smallest size possible without injuring the goods. Another important point is to have the goods packed so that a large bale can be separated into smaller complete packages, in order that they may be placed on mules or other beasts of burden, which are yet the common carriers in some countries. In the case of sized goods, there are many considerations to be kept in mind, such as the quality of the paper, the kind of cloth for covering, and the material oat of which these are manufactured. Mildew is common in sized goods, and great care is always necessary in packing the same. In fact, unless the ingredients used in the sizing are of the proper quality and quantity, some sort of growth in the bale is pretty sure to follow, no matter how well the goods are packed. There are fashions, so to speak, in packing goods for some foreign countries, notably in the South African trade, where even the colour of the iron hoops on a bale is important. There was an instance where a consignment of cloth in red hoops sold at once, but another lot of precisely the same goods could not be disposed of until the black hoops were painted red.
So much for native tastes and fancies.
The ordinary bale contains 50 pieces, although as many as 500 are sometimes packed together. When goods are placed in a packer's hands, the shipper gives minute directions how they shall be put up. If the packer fails on his part, and any damages arise, he is liable for the same. Of course there are various styles of packing, and cheap goods are often imperfectly packed. It is claimed, however, by old and experienced houses that cheap packing is always, as a rule, the dearest, owing to the dangers of damage through damp and handling. Hydraulic presses are generally used in packing, and the following is the modus operandi, as a rule: - First, the necessary iron hoops are laid on the bed of the press, commonly 5 in number, and on these the coverings for the goods are placed in their order. The tarpaulin is cut large enough to cover the top of the bale and fold down 6 in. or more all around. The goods are laid on the coverings, and a duplicate covering is laid on top, corresponding to that on the bottom, when the bale is pressed. A piece of tarpaulin is then wrapped around the bale, wide enough to cover the portion from the top and bottom nicely, and then the ends and sides of the covering are neatly folded.
The outside wrapper is then sewn up with strong twine, the hoops are riveted, and the work is done. The latest rivet used has 2 shoulders on it, and when placed in the slot cut through the hoop and turned half round it holds fast. When the pressure is taken off the bale, the hoops are so very tight that the rivets cannot well be moved.
The following methods of packing may be considered representative: -
(a) Best. The goods are wrapped in (1) white paper, (2) grey paper, (3) linen oilcloth, (4) brown paper, (5) patent hlack tar cloth, 20-porter linen, (6) brown paper, (7) outside canvas, 18-porter linen, (8) iron bands.
(6) Second. The goods are wrapped in (1) double grey paper, (2) jute canvas, 16 porter, (3) best brown tar cloth, 20-porter linen, (4) brown paper, (5) outside canvas, 18-porter linen, (6) iron hoops.
(c) Common. The goods are wrapped in (1) white paper, (2) double paper, (3) common brown or tar cloth, 16-porter jute, (4) brown paper, (5) outside canvas, 18-porter jute, (6) 5 iron hoops 1 1/4 in. wide.
(d) Commonest, for India and China goods. The goods are wrapped in (1) double grey paper, (2) common asphalt tar cloth, 14-porter jute, (3) brown paper, (4) outside canvas, 18-porter jute, (5) 5 iron hoops 1 1/4 in. wide.
(e) Recent, for India and China goods. The goods are wrapped in (1) double brown paper, (2) glazed brown paper, (3) tarpaulin, (4) common brown paper, (5) outside canvas, 18-porter jute, (6) 5 iron hoops.
These examples will furnish full details of the methods, and in large part the materials, in use here in packing goods for the different markets of the world, so far as the coverings are concerned. Some packers use white paper next to the cloth, while others use "unbleached" paper, claiming that it is purer and less liable to injure the goods. Style (e) of packing has been used by a large firm in Manchester for 2 years past, without a single complaint from purchasers.
Goods for Africa are, in large part, cased in wood and tin. They are generally packed in small cases so that they may be easily transported on camels. The cases are 12-14 in. deep, and the width and length depend upon the size of the cloth. If the goods are heavy, what is known as German-hoop cases are used; if light goods, plain hoops are provided. A layer of ordinary brown paper is placed next to the cloth, so as to prevent the tin from soiling or rubbing it. Fine pieces are generally packed in brown-paper packages, and these are first pressed before they are placed in the tin- or zinc-lined case, so as to form as solid a package as possible. Where goods are packed in bales for Africa, much the same covering is used as in the examples already given. The cheap goods are generally packed in bales to save expense.
Small bales are the rule in this great trade. Double wrappers are generally used, and for the interior 4-fold wrappers are necessary to protect the goods from the rough usage of long-overland conveyance. The paper and other wrappers are similar to the examples given.
For this market the largest buyers have their goods packed in zinc-lined cases. The zinc finds a ready market for roofing purposes. The covering for the goods is similar to the packing for the African trade.
The goods are mostly packed in large bales for these markets, about 20 cwt. each. Spain will not have small bales. All these goods are packed in single wrapper. Jute wrapper is used, but single wrapper, though rather dearer, is much the best. The difference in the cost of the two wrappers, for a bale requiring 4 1/2 yd., is about 6d.
The bales landed at this point have a covering of wood 3/4 in. thick on the top and bottom of each bale, to shield it, as packages receive rough handling at this port. It has been found that this protection of wood adds to the security of the goods, and also meets the wishes of merchants who purchase them.
Specially small packages are made up for this trade, as they are transported hundreds of miles on mules, and these average about 80 lb. in weight. They are some 3 ft. long, 2 1/2 ft. wide, and 8 in. thick; 3 iron hoops are used, and the covering is similar to (d) heretofore given; 2 of these packages are carried by each mule, one on each side.
Wrapper is of different qualities, and is described as 6, 8, 10,12, 14, 16,18, and 20 porter wrapper. The term "porter" indicates the number of threads to the inch; 16-porter wrapper meaning 16 threads to the inch, and so on. The larger the numbers the closer and finer it is, 16 being the popular wrapper in general use. The wrapper is 32, 36, 40, 45, 50, 60, and 72 in. wide, and has to be selected according to the width of the goods to be packed and the intended size of the bale. Very little of 60 and 72 is now used, but the packer must always keep these widths in stock. The tarpaulin need not be above 50 in., which is the maximum. If it is too narrow to cover a bale, a slit can be cut to cover the same. There are 3 widths for tarpaulin, viz. 36, 40, and 50 in. Both wrapper and tarpaulin should be kept on rollers, where they keep softer, and the latter more pliable.
There are various preparations used in the production of tarpaulin, and almost every manufacturer has his own special mixture. Among the many named are the following: - 5 parts Stockholm tar pitch melted with 4 of rosin and 1 of Stockholm tar; 48 parts Stockholm tar pitch, 10 Stockholm tar, 32 rosin, and 1 tallow.
Special attention must be called to the necessity of having thick packing paper, in double sheets, placed between the tarpaulin and cotton goods, where the tarpaulin had been made with the pitch of cotton-seed and other oils, as damage to the goods would take place unless this precaution was observed.
The cost of tarpaulin in Manchester is as follows: 36 in. wide, 3 3/4d. per yd.; 40 in. wide, 4 1/8d. per yd.
The best hoops cost 9s.to 9s. 6d. a cwt., cut to the desired length, and painted such colours as may be desired.
Turner's patent packing is much used here as a substitute for paper. It is strong, and answers its purpose very well. The prices are as follows: 22 1/2 in. wide, 13/8d. per yd.; 28 in. wide, 1 5/8d. per yd.
The twine used in sewing up the bales should be finished in tallow, as this is much the best. Jute stitching-twine is generally used here, but cotton twine is stronger and better. It never gets hard, and is more pliable than jute. A good twine costs here 10s. 6d. per doz.