In many of the museums efforts are made to perfect economic collections of animals, so as to show how they can be applied to advantage in the arts and sciences. The collection and preparation of the corals, for example, form an important industry. The fossil corals are richly polished and set in studs and sleeve-buttons, forming rich and ornamental objects. The fossil coral that resembles a delicate chain has been often copied by designers, while the red and black corals have long been used. The best fisheries are along the coasts of Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco, from 2 to 10 miles from shore, in from 30 to 150 fathoms. Good coral is also common at Naples, near Leghorn and Genoa, and on various parts of the sea, as Sardinia, Corsica, Catalonia, Provence, etc. It ranges in color from pure white through all the shades of pink, red, and crimson. The rose pink is most valued. For a long time Marseilles was the market, but now Italy is the great center of the trade, the greater number of boats hailing from Torre del Greco, while outside persons are forced to pay a heavy tax. The vessels are schooners, lateen-rigged, from three to fourteen tons. Large nets are used, which, during the months between March and October, are dragged, dredge-like, over the rocks.
A large crew will haul in a season from 600 to 900 pounds. To prevent the destruction of the industry, the reef is divided into ten parts, only one being worked a year, and by the time the tenth is reached the first is overgrown again with a new growth. In 1873 the Algerian fisheries alone, employing 3,150 men, realized half a million of dollars. The choice grades are always valuable, the finest tints bringing over $5 per ounce, while the small pieces, used for necklaces, and called collette, are worth only $1.50 per ounce. The large oval pieces are sent to China, where they are used as buttons of office by the mandarins.