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Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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Given under our hands and seal of office, this 12th day of November, A. D. 1896.






I am constantly in receipt of letters from United States merchants and
manufacturers requesting information, general and particular, with a view
to the introduction of their goods into Spanish markets. I always make it
a point of duty to reply to all letters of this character without exception,
although, in most cases, I have to repeat the same explanations. These ex-
planations relate to the obstacles in the way of American importations into
Spain and the disadvantages under which American merchants labor in
No. 198 2.

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trading with this country. It seems to me tlmt a useful purpose will be
served hy the imblication of these explanations in the Consular Reports,
and I herewith tabulate them for that purpose:

(i) The principal obstacle to American imports into Spain is the high
and discriminating tariff imposed by the Si)anish Government. But to this
must be added the **consumos/' or octroi tax, levied by the cities and
towns on all articles intended for consumption, the excessive freight rates
from the i)oris of entry to the interior, and, lastly, the fact that there is no
direct steamship communication between the United States and Spain, nearly
the whole of the carrying trade between the two countries being by way of

(2) England, France, and Oermany each has a special trade convention
or treaty with Spain reciprocally facilitating the exchange of certain classes
of products. The United States has no such convention, except as to the
island (;f Cuba, and is therefore at a disadvantage with respect to the classes
of goods or products embraced under these special treaties.

(3) The only direct importations into Spain from the United States con-
sist of cotton, petroleum, staves, and lumber (in the order named as to value
and importance), and an occasional cargo of wheat in years of short harvests.

(4) .Ail other importations from the United States of whatever descrip-
tion, whether manufactured articles or agricultural products, medicines, or
machinery, are indirect, coming by way of England or France, and passing
through the hands of English or French merchants. Under these condi-
tions, Spain does not offer an inviting field to American business enterprise,
and when asked for information or advice looking to the introduction of
American products, I feel a great reluctance in saying anything to encourage
undertakings that may only result in loss and disappointment to those most
nearlv concerned.

Cadiz, y«//<r J, iSc^d. ConsuL


From a very remote period, the Iberian peninsula has been celebrated
fur iis mineral wealth. The Phcenicians and, later on, the Carthagenians
worked the gold and silver mines of Spain. Hannibal extracted daily near
Carihagena a quantity of those metals equivalent to 6,000 pesetas (| 1,1 58).
The most renowned of ancient historians mention the riches of Iberia in
precious metals and relate that in the time of Justinian, gold was found
in the fields worked by the plow. Pliny the younger, says that, in his time,
2,000 pounds of gold were extracted annually from Galicia, Asturias, and
Portugal. The immense quantities of this metal drawn from Spain restored

♦ I am indebtcil to Mr, Krnest J. Bayliss, C E., agent for Fra'ier &. Chalmers, Chicago and London, min-
ing machinery manufacturers, for the information incorporated into this report

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and replenished Rome's public treasury. Cato, on his return from govern-
ing Spain, handed over i8 tons of silver and nearly .2,000 kilograms of

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the mining industry received no
great impulse from the Moors, and, finally, the discovery of the New World
was the deathblow to the miner's industry in Spain. In fact, with the
object of favoring in America an industry which was for them a source of
great riches, the kings of Spain prohibited the working of mines in the

To-day, however, owing to the persistent efforts of a few prospecting
Englishmen and to the progress being made every year in processes for the
extraction of refractory ores, it is probable that, in a short time, some of
the old Roman mines will be worked on a large scale.

The gold is found in the northwestern part of Galicia, between the slate
and granite formations. The ore is an iron pyrite containing a little arsenic.
The lodes run generally with the formation north and south, they are well
defined, and average about 14 feet in thickness. Assays have given up to 4
ounces of gold per ton and more, but the average is between 6 and 16 penny-
weights to the ton.

The following is taken from the principal mines actually being developed
in Galicia:

The Sagasta mines. — In these mines some 2,000 meters of levels and
crosscuts have been driven to fully prove the lodes. Last year, a total of
1,095 nieters were driven and 1,600 tons of ore were extracted, equal, ac-
cording to the assays, to 1,425 ounces of gold. No gold has been actually
extracted, as the syndicate working these mines have not yet decided on
what process they will adopt; most likely it will be the cyanide process.

Fosas lie Vila mines. — These mines have been proved by sinking pits,
and are, at the present time, being offered to the French market. The assays
give 18 pennyweights to i ounce of gold and 20 ounces of silver to the ton,
besides containing a considerable quantity of lead. It is not yet known by
what process they will be worked ; probably by smelting.

Josefina mines. — These are of an arsenical iron pyrite. Assays made in
Paris give over an ounce of gold and 2 to 30 grams silver to the ton.

The Buena Esperanza. — This mine is very much like the Josefina. It
has a main lode over 2,000 meters long, about 4 feet wide, and a depth
of more than 100 meters. The ore assays give 9 to 10 pennyweights to the
ton, with less arsenic and more iron than the Josefina.

Virgen y S. Victor, — These are two mines on the same lode. The ore,
although of a very complex nature, is very rich; but owing to difficulties
which, I understand, are being overcome, nothing much has been done yet.

There are many other concessions taken up, but for want of capital are
not being developed.

On the banks of the River Sil, there are remains of important ** placer
workings," probably Roman, and even to-day a compensative quantity of

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gold is washed from the deposits in the banks of this river by the local peas-
ant women, who stand in the shallow i)laces and wash the stuff they have
collected in **bateas'* (wooden bowls), in the working of which they are

The general conditions for mining in this district are exceptionally good.
Timber, labor, etc., is plentiful and cheap. Large quantities of pine props
are shipped annually to Cardiff for coal mines. The cost of labor per day
is as follows: Miners, carpenters, etc., 2.50 pesetas (48 cents); blacksmiths,
3.50 pesetas (67 cents); laborers, 1.50 pesetas (28 cents).

The country is well watered and hydraulic power can be obtained actually
on or near to almost all the mines. The only drawback is the cost of coal
in cases where steam power would be required and for calcining when chlori-
nation is the only way of extraction.


This is one of the ores which of late years has been most worked.
There is a wide belt of tin-bearing formation, which runs from Zamora
through a corner of Portugal, through the province of Orense, and from
there through Santiago up to the coast, nearly 250 miles. The mines are
worked under considerable difficulties, as they are situated for the most part
in remote districts, and for want of means of communication, the ore, as a
rule shipped to Havre, has to be transported by mules to the nearest railway
station. Since the fall of the price of tin the greater part of those workings
have been closed.

In June last, a company was brought out by the Iberian Mines Syndicate
of London, called the Almaraz Tin Mining and Smelting Company, Limited,
with a capital of ^150,000 (^729,975), to work 362 acres of ground in the
province of Zamora, close to Galicia. The assays show from 4.91 to 25.38
per cent metallic tin. In the province of Orense, an Anglo- Dutch company
has been working for some time, but no information is available as to their


At Santa Cruz and in the Ferrol district, several mines of very rich cop-
per pyrites have been worked, but not systematically, and only by pioneers
who, through want of capital, or having lost the lode, or worked it out,
abandoned all the undertakings. The only mine at work now, and that
barely of a prospective character, is near Monforte. The ore gives from
15 to 20 per cent metallic copper. If the mine is properly opened and
the lode holds out, it ought to be a very remunerative affair.


Formerly, a great deal of this mineral was mined, but since the fall in the
price there has been very little encouragement to work it. At Puebla de
Brollon, there is a well-defined lode in excellent condition for mining and

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close to the railway; in fact, it was discovered during the construction of
the line.

From the concessions granted in the districts of Viobra and Quereno, a
large quantity of this ore could be extracted provided its price would show
a small profit.


Iron is one of the principal minerals, and one so abundant that in any
other country but Spain it would have received special attention from the
Government. But no practical interest is taken in this most important
source of wealth, and, unfortunately for the nation, nothing has been done —
not even an attempt made to estimate the quantity. Broadly speaking,
Galicia alone must hold considerably over 1,000,000,000 tons. The deposits
are disseminated throughout the entire region, for the most part on or near
the seashore, in positions which afford excellent means of shipping. The
great stumbling block to the working of these mines is the percentage of
phosphorus, and the only people who can deal with the ore are the Germans
and Belgians. It is reported that some 5,000 tons have been shipped from
Vivero to Belgium quite recently.

The La Torre mine is situated on the north side of Vigo Bay; its
ore, by means of a short pier, can be tipped from the works into the
holds of the ships alongside. Assays gave the following partial results:
Iron, 48.25 per cent; phosphorus, 1.61 per cent; sulphur, 0.02 per cent.
Other samples yielded: Iron, 48.02, 50.39, and 50.52 per cent; phos-
phorus, 0.015, 0.725, and 1.2 per cent; sulphur, 0.049, traces, and 0.044
per cent.

Incio zone, — This is one of the largest deposits, but very badly situated
at about 100 miles from the coast. Assays gave: Iron, 45.64 per cent;
phosphorus, 0.06 per cent.

Villaboa zone. — This is also badly situated, yet mtich nearer the coast
than Incio. Result of assays: Iron, 46.2 per cent; phosphorus, 0.225
per cent. I omit other deposits, because the foregoing are representative
and give a general idea. In some cases the phosphorus is fairly low and
might be accepted, though it varies too much in the same mine, as, for ex-
ample, in La Torre the lowest is 0.0125 per cent, the highest 1.61 per cent,
and the average of four samples, about 0.88 per cent.

The Thomas-Gilcrist process seems to be the only one adopted, but as
Middlesboro (Great Britain) buyers will not give over 3s. 6d. (85 cents) a
ton, that market is closed. Offers have been received from Antwerp of 5
marks (J1.19) per ton free on board on this side. Such a price would
doubtfully hold good for any large contract, as it is probable that the ship-
ments made were more for experimental purposes than otherwise.

If anything is done to work these mines, it will have to be through for-
eign enterprise. The problem may be solved ere long, for there is a con-
tinual coming and going of English, French, and German experts and
chemists. Moreover, the British Iron and Steel Institute held their annual

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meeting this year at Bilbao, and it was rumored that they would also visit

Another fact to be noted is that the supply of coal in Asturias is abun-
dant. In 1894, the output was 1,000,000 tons, against 880,000 tons in 1893.
Price, free on board at Gijon, about 9 pesetas (J 1.73) per ton for slack and
18 pesetas'(§3.46) for screened.

The import duties on iron and steel are 20 pesetas ($3.86) per ton on
pig iron, from 50 to 80 pesetas ($9.65 to J 15. 44) on iron cast in pipes or
columns, 60 pesetas ($11.58) on steel rails, etc., and 250 pesetas ($48.25)
on crucible steel.

So that, altogether, with the greatest facilities for mining, labor, and all
the necessary elements present, the iron trade of Galicia and Asturias will
be a first-class investment for foreign capital.


Practically, there appears to be none in Galicia, although it joins Astu-
rias, where that combustible fossil is abundant. The only specimen found
is a brown coal (lignite), but, as far as I am able to ascertain, no work has
been attempted.


The Ferrol district holds some fairly important deposits of this lead.
Some years ago, a small shipment to Liverpool was sold for ^^6 ($29.20) per
ton; but since the opening of large layers in Ceylon of a better class of
plumbago, and as the demand is very limited, the price has gone down to
from 40s. to 50S. ($9.72 to $12.15), ^^^ consequently the mines are now


The discovery of several mines of asbestos near Puente de Eume is quite
recent. Up to the present, they appear broken, and only yield very short
fibers and mineral of poor quality; yet, if the i)resent prospectors persevere,
they may find it to improve and ultimately be rewarded for their efforts.


Very large quarries of slate run nearly due north from Lugo up to the
coast; but, strangely enough, except of a very primitive fashion and right
in the slate districts, slate roofing has not been adopted by the building
trades. About ten years ago, an English company was formed in London to
take over a very large i)roperty on exceedingly favorable terms; the only
condition as to payment was 25 centimes (0.048 cent) per ton royalty for
the right of quarrying. Unfortunately, the shares were not taken up or for
some reason or other the company went into liquidation and nothing has
been done since. Slate quarries are profitably worked in Wales, where royal-
ties of from 7s. 6d. ($1.82) up to i6s. (^53. 88) a ton are being paid.

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The mining laws of Spain are the best in the world for the protection of
the miners* interests, and all possible facilities are granted by the Govern-
ment. The concessions or grants are given in perpetuity and can only be
cancelled through nonpayment of taxes, which amount to about $7.40 per
acre, plus a royalty of 3 per cent on the value of bullion, metal, or ore

The question of gold is well worth the attention of our miners and in-
ventors, who have been used to work low-grade and refractory ores. All
the mill management of the Rand mines. South Africa, is practically in the
hands of American citizens.

Spain, although in former times a large producing country, is at present
quite dormant; and until the Spaniards can understand that, with every
other condition being favorable, there are practicable means of making 10
pennyweights or even 5 pennyweights of gold to the ton pay dividends, it
will be hazardous to think of local capital. However, the recent formation
in London of the Spanish Gold Syndicate, Limited, and the establishment
in Madrid of the company El Oro Espafiol, with a capital of 2,000,000 pesetas
($386,000) in 80,000 shares of 25 pesetas ($4,825) each to work some 945
acres of alluvial ground in Galicia, and to assay a minimum of 2 grams of
gold to the ton of 1,000 kilograms, evidently prove that an interest is being
awakened with regard to the future prosperity of gold mining in this


CORUNNA, October 11, i8g6. Consul,


In one of my previous reports, I pointed out the importance of the fan
industry in Valencia.* I have mentioned how this work was not only sepa-
rated into manufacturers of the fan handles and painters of the fan cloth, but
that these two distinct branches of industry are split up among numerous
small and independent workmen, who compete with each other in cheap
labor. With the exception of three or four establishments which might be
styled factories, the others, some six in number, established in garrets, work
with but few hands, thereby saving expenses and at the same time creating
a competition which has finally reduced the profits of the entire industry to a
very low level.

However, this industry has at present the prospect of better times, since
the workmen employed upon the manufacture of fans have more work to do
than they can fill, and able hands for special labor are scarce.

Ever since the introduction of the Japanese fan into Europe, the Valen-
cian industry has suffered greatly, but the turn of the tide seems to have set

•Printed in Consular Reports No. 164 (May, 1894), p. 55.

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in now with the change of taste for a more artistic fan, i)articularly as to the
frame. The fashion of the coming season is a small-sized fan. The bars are
made of ebony, olive, sandal, or violet wood, and also of bone from horses
or cattle, which are beautifully bleached and neatly carved. The sticks are
carved by machinery, and some very elaborate work is produced. The cov-
ering is of silk or cotton gauze, and painted by artists of more or less skill.
The designs this year are in the *'rococo** style, and the paintings are
done in the same fashion, or they are covered With bright little round or star-
shaped metal spangles in different colors.

The cheap labor of the Spanish workman, combined with a rare natural
ability in carving, have raised the reputation of Valencia's fan industry to
such a degree that there is now no importation of fans, but they are exported
from here to the principal fan-trading centers, such as Paris, Vienna, and
Milan, to such an extent that incoming orders can not be filled at once.
Besides, Spain is supplied with fans from here.

Although immense numbers of very artistically carved fans are finished
daily, the work on the fans is distributed among many, each performing a
small part of labor on them, so that a finished fan has, according to the
ornamentation it contains, often passed through fifteen different hands.
Through this division of labor, more work can be done and the workmen
become in time more skillful in their different branches.

The fashion and taste of the best patterns originate in Paris; however,
the Valencians possess such a Japanese-like ability of copying that they can
imitate any costly article in this line at a considerably cheaper price; hence
the importance of their products, which, in complete and deceiving imita-
tion of the better and costlier qualities, are brought within the reach of the
majority of the public who could not afford to buy a more expensive novelty,
but nevertheless like to keep up with fashion.

As long as the taste for carved fans lasts and elaborate and well-finished
work can be produced cheaper here, Valencia's fan industry is guarantied ;
moreover, the depreciated value of the Spanish money yields the foreign im-
porter of Spanish fans nearly 20 per cent extra profit.

Fan sticks in wood or bone, carved, painted, and ornamented, vary in
prices from 75 cents to $20 per dozen. The painted cloth or embroidered
with spangles costs, ready folded, from $2 to $10 per dozen, according to
work and material. Thus the work of the real fan dealer is reduced to put-
ting the two parts together and presenting them in the market for sale at a
handsome profit, in spite of the large competition.

This report refers only to the middle and better qualities of fans; the
cheap paper fans on ordinary wood and ornamented with chromos are not


Grao, August /J, i8g6. Consular Agent.

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On two previous occasions (Consular Reports for August and Novem-
ber, 1894), I have referred to the terrible scourge, phylloxera, which threat-
ens the existence of the vines on the favored hills around the town of Jeres,
the district which, from time immemorial, has produced the wine known as
sherry. The production of sherry and its shipment was indeed an old-
established trade in the time of Shakespeare, as may be seen from his numer-
ous allusions to it, or *'sack,'* as it was then termed, and there is no doubt
that it was at that time the most popular wine in England, though it is sup-
posed to have been very sweet.

The output of sherry represents the chief item in the exports from the
port of Cadiz, as the cultivation, the growth, and rearing of the vine does
the staple industry of the province.

The vineyards on the white Jeres hills have given the wine drinkers of
northern Europe for many generations their first favorite, but the lower plains
of sandy soils have produced wine adding nothing to the luster or reputa-
tion of sherry, although it has found ready buyers in all countries, the United
States included, on account of its low price and substantial body. The
tendency of modern times to bring prices to low levels, the keen competi-
tion, the modern craze for the cheap, have thrown wines of inferior Jeres
origin and other districts (not sherry prop)er) into foreign markets, that of
the United States among the rest, under the same name and description as
good sherry.

It is, in my opinion, the confusion existing between the good sherry and
the cheap which has prevented the further development of the trade with
Cadiz in 'our country. Good sherry only comes from a certain number of
acres of white soil (albariza). The nature of this soil and the antiquity
of the vine growing on it prevents any large yield per acre (the average
quantity is about 300 gallons). The wine is subject to greater vicissitudes
of fermentation than others, so that a considerable percentage is always lost;
it costs also much more to cultivate than land yielding double the quantity
of inferior wine. Besides all this, it requires longer storage to reach ma-
turity. The sherries of low grades and prices are grown at a cheai>er rate.

Nature appears to have set her limits and laws so definitely in the matter
of vine growing that no skill or art in man has yet succeeded in producing
fine wine from uncongenial soil ; however similar the fruit may be, the result
in the development is always the same, the birthright ever manifest.

There are four kinds of soil bearing grapes in the district of Jeres:

(i) The albariza (the choice vineyards), consisting chiefly of carbonate
of lime, with a small admixture of silex clay and occasionally magnesia.

(2) The barros, of quartz or sand mixed with clay and red or yellow
ocher, forming horizontal bands extending from the mouth of the Guadal-
quivir to Conil.

(3) The arenas, quartz or sand.

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(4) The. bugeo, containing argillaceous loam, sand, and a large propor-
tion of vegetable mold.

The first named is the soil (about 12,000 acres) producing the fine quality,
and its average yield is 36,000 butts per annum.

In addition to the land yielding fine wine in Jeres, there is also a cluster
of vineyards in Montilla (some 100 miles distant), which produces a famous
wine called Moriles, which equals, in all respects, the best wines of Jeres.

In nearly all the wine-growing districts, there are sections which produce
large quantities of grapes available for cheap wines, the price of the grapes
being so low that there would be no temptation to seek any substitute with
a view of adulteration.

Viticulture abstracts from the soil a smaller proi)ortion of alkalies and
other numerous constituents than either corn or root crops, hence the ex-

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 45 of 82)