Muslin. A name derived from Mosul, a city in Asiatic Turkey, long celebrated for the fineness and delicacy of its cottons. Mosul, while it did not originate the muslin manufacture, yet earned for itself the reputation at one time of producing muslins of the greatest beauty. Cotton for unknown ages has been grown in that portion of Asia in plenty; the inhabitants, especially the women, were gifted with such quick feeling of finger that they could spin thread of more than hair-like fineness. Cotton with them took the place of silk in the loom, and "gold was not forgotten in the weaving." Their work, not only because it was so much cheaper, but from its own peculiar beauty and comeliness, won for itself a high place in common estimation, and the name of the town where it was wrought in such perfection was consequently given to it as its distinctive title.

The original home, however, of muslin-weaving is in India, where since the time when the mind of man runneth not to the contrary it has formed an important industry, and where even yet wonderful fabrics of airy lightness continue to be woven with the aid of only the most rude and primitive looms. These India looms consist merely of two bamboo rollers and a pair of heddles and a shuttle. The loom in its entirety is attached between any two native trees affording a comfortable shade. The rigid and clumsy fingers of our American weavers would scarcely be able to make even a piece of rough canvas with the instruments the Hindoo uses in making a web of the finest cambric muslin. It cannot but seem astonishing that in a department of industry, where the raw material has been so grossly neglected [see Cotton], where the machinery is so rude, that the results should be fabrics of the most exquisite delicacy and beauty, unrivalled by the products of civilized nations, even those best skilled in the mechanical arts. This can only be explained by the remarkably fine sense of touch possessed by that effeminate people - the Hindoos - by their patience and gentleness, and by the hereditary continuance of muslin-manufacture in families through many generations, which leads to the training of children from their very infancy in the processes of the art. For the lightest India muslins the young women spin the thread during the early part of the day, while the dew is yet on the ground; for such is the extreme tenuity of the fiber that it will not bear manipulation in the dry atmosphere after the sun has risen. Some of the allusions to the wonderful fineness of these India muslins appear to border on the marvelous. We read in a missionary's account of a dress length of cotton being enclosed in a nut-shell; and of a daughter being reproved by her father for the indecent transparency of her dress, retorting that she was robed in 40 yards of the stuff. Another missionary writing from Serampore asserts that "some muslins are made so fine you can hardly feel them with your hand, and when laid on the grass to bleach, and the dew is fallen on it, it is no longer discernible." And the same writer says : "There is made at Seconge a sort of muslin so fine that when a man puts it on, his skin appears as plainly through it as though he were quite naked; but the merchants are not allowed to transport it, for the governor is obliged to send it all to the Great Mogul's seraglio and to the principal lords of the court, to make the sultanesses and noblemen's wives shifts for the hot weather; and the King and the lords take great pleasure to behold them in these shifts, and to see them dance with nothing else upon them." The name bestowed by the Romans on the fabric - ventus textilis, or "woven wind "—id not entirely figurative. It is remarkable that every distinct quality of muslin made in India is the production of a particular district, in which the art of making the fabric has been transmitted for centuries from father to son - a custom which alone must have conduced to the perfection of the manufacture. The history of cotton-weaving in India is curious in many ways. When the East India Company first traded in the Eastern seas, India cotton fabrics were without a rival in European markets. The beautiful muslins of Dacca, which were famous when Babylonian and Assyrian kings ruled Western Asia, were among the wares first brought to England and America by the old East India Company. In 1787 the value of the imports of these muslins into England was estimated at $2,000,000 annually. But the invention of the spinning jenny in England was presently followed by a cry for protection by both the British and American manufacturers. A heavy duty was imposed on all India goods and the manufacture of Dacca muslins for export purposes was killed.

The term muslin, as accepted in the United States signifies a thin, plain woven cotton cloth, brown or bleached, of any width. The India muslin is known by different names, according to its place of manufacture and and its fineness and beauty. The first muslin woven in this country was at Pawtucket, Rhode Island, December 21, 1790, by Samuel Slater, the father of American cotton manufacture. Prior to this date all common muslins consumed by the colonists were imported, being of English manufacture, and of linen warp, with cotton weft. Proximity to the raw material, and the inventions of the cotton gin and spinning appliances made it possible for the United States to produce her own muslins. In 1890, one hundred years from the date of the erection of the first muslin loom, there were the following number of mills engaged directly and indirectly in the production of brown, bleached and colored cottons:

Mills making bleached and colored cottons_____________________________150

Mills making brown and bleached cottons _____________________________125

Mills making colored cottons                     _____________________________250

Mills making print cloth                            _____________________________ 85

The above if added together would make 610 establishments, but the number is not so large as that, for the reason that many mills make in varying quantity all of the cottons described, while others are devoted exclusively to specific manufactures, such as brown and bleached sheetings and shirtings, or brown and colored cottons or print cloths, and are necessarily contained in each classification. However, the above figures show one thing clearly: that all of the various " regular" and "standard" tickets, as well as " fancy" brands of brown and bleached muslins made in this country, numbering well up among the thousands, are produced by these factories. While diversification of quality and style of our domestic cotton fabrics is steadily and rapidly enlarging, it is a question whether they will keep pace in this direction with the increase in the variety of fancy names given them. As an illustration, one particular make of muslin having a standard reputation will not only be made and branded with its own original and regular ticket, but to satisfy the caprice or necessity of the trade in various parts of the country, will probably have a dozen different fancy names that bear no relation whatever to the original brand or to the name of the factory making it. This is due to the keen and close competition on the part of both jobbing and retail trades, which reduces sometimes the profit to such a low ebb, that they cannot afford to carry the goods unless they have some protection in the way of fancy tickets that are not strictly competitive, so far as the brand is concerned.

The following estimate is the cost making one pound of cotton into brown muslin:

The cost (or nearly so) of manufacturing any brown muslin may be ascertained by dividing 15.86 (cents) by the number of yards of the muslin to the pound. Heavy muslins like Indian Head and Wachusett A weigh 2.85 yards to the pound; PepperillR3.75 per pound; Lawrence LL 4 yards to the pound; while light muslin, like Augusta B weigh 4.55 yards per pound; Great Falls N 5, Utica C 5.45, and Windsor H 5 yards to the pound. Bleached cottons usually come one cent higher than brown, and lose a certain per cent of their weight in bleaching. A power loom weaves five yards of muslin per hour, and one young woman or boy can tend from eight to twelve looms.

The variety of fancy muslins are endless, the following being among the most-used descriptions: Ami muslin, an extremely fine muslin made at Ami, in the presidency of Madrid, Bengal; Book muslin, a thin starchy muslin, used principally for covering books and as lining for cheap dresses; Corded muslin, a variety in which a thick, hair-like cord is introduced into the fabric; Coteline muslin, a hair-cord muslin, printed in all patterns and colors. It is of French manufacture, thirty-one inches wide, and designed for dress material; Dacca muslin, a fine thin variety made at Dacca, in Bengal. The machine-made "Dacca" muslin, produced in this country is chiefly used for curtains. It is two yards wide, when figured, and narrower when plain. Figured muslin, varieties wrought in the loom to imitate tamboured muslin, or muslin with figures printed in color on it; Linen muslin, same as leno; Tamboured muslin, see Tambour. [See Appendix "B," Sheeting]