This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Asbestos (As-Bes'-Tos). A fibrous variety of a mineral substance, composed of separable filaments, with a silky luster. Its fibres are sometimes flexible and elastic, sometimes stiff and brittle, and when reduced to a powder are soft to the touch. It is incombustible, and the fine qualities have been spun and woven into gloves, shrouds, cloth for firemen's suits, lamp-wicks, roofs, floors and for various other fire-proofing purposes. Its feeble consistency has always been the chief obstacle to its general use among textile fabrics. It is mined in Canada, Vermont, Virginia, South Carolina and on Staten Island, New York.