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Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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worthy of imitation by our fruit growers, and ought to induce them to de-
, ote more attention to our indigenous varieties than they have hitherto done.



A NEW LIGHT FROM CALCIUM CARBIDES.

The development of the lighting industry is going on at a most rapid and
steady pace of late in Germany, particularly as regards the manufacture of
calcium carbides for the production of acetylene, the new illuminant, a dis-
covery which has been greatly experimented with and discussed everywhere
during the last few years. Considerable data are available regarding it, so
that the inquiry which has been made and published as to its history and
value as a practical illuminant has been of world-wide interest. While all
this has been in progress another new competitor in the field of illuminants
has appeared upon the scene, in the shape of a calcium light, so called by
its inventor, Emil Walther, of Saxony. This new light is produced by a
very simple process, which consists of the obtaining of the carbides of earth
alkali metals by methods considerably cheaper than was possible by processes



• Translated from the Montagsblatt, Prague, January 4, 1897.



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A NEW LIGHT FROM CALCIUM CARBIDES. 42 1

hitherto employed, thereby permitting a general use of calcium carbides for
the purposes of illumination.

This object can be attained in the most perfect manner by heating a
mixture of the earth alkali metal oxides or earth alkali metal carbonates and
similar substances with carbon in a furnace, by means of darting flanSes, which
flames are to be produced in unlimited number through acetylene or other
gases, kept under pressure. By the generating temperature, the product in
the furnace is made liquid by means of the darting flames and yields, after
cooling, a crystalline mass, which consists of the carbides contained in the
metals of the mixture used. If certain parts of calcium oxide are used and
certain parts of carbon, the result is a calcium carbide, which, in conse-
quence of the cheap producing process, especially for illuminating purposes,
may be used with advantage. This shows that by means of the preceding
invention, great quantities of acetylene may be cheaply obtained, and since
the same, when heated, results in polymerisms, the many ways of employing
these bodies must be regarded as extraordinarily manifold. This constitutes
the whole process of manufacturing the new calcium light, from the prepa-
ration of the lime and coke onward, which, as explained, is extremely simple
and inexpensive, requiring no skilled labor and little machinery. The only
reason why it is new as a commercial product is the difficulty of causing a
combination between the calcium of the lime and the carbon of the coke.
Nothing short of the temperature of the electric furnace — 3,500° to 4,000°
C. — will bring this about, and the comparative modernness of this new ap-
paratus for producing the calcium light accounts for the lateness of the cal-
cium carbide. This calcium carbide, pure when produced, has a specific
gravity of 2.262; in a dry atmosphere, it is odorless, but upon exposure to
moisture, evolves the peculiar odor of acetylene. When exposed in lumps
to the action of ordinary air, it becomes coated with a layer of hydrate of
lime, which protects the interior of the mass from further oxidation. In
form, the carbide for producing the calcium light is a dark-grayish or red
dense mass, which, upon fracture, shows a crystalline metallic surface.

This compound of calcium carbides, when prepared, is placed in one of
the copper vessels which is part of the newly-invented apparatus for produc-
ing the calcium light ; another vessel, placed above the one holding the solid
substance, contains water and is directly connected with the lower receptacle
containing the carbides by means of tubes, which feed the water automatic-
ally, when gas is to be generated. From this, tne direct flame is obtained,
the gas being conveyed to the burner by means of small pipes of about the
size and neatness of an electric wire. As regards the amount and quality of
the light obtained from carbides properly burned, there seems no question
of its great superiority over coal and water gas, and the new calcium light
much surpasses even incandescent gas in its character of luminosity, pro-
ducing a beautiful and exceedingly brilliant flame. It also differs very ad-
vantageously from similar illuminating gases recently invented, in being
No. 198 9.



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422 ROOFING SLATE IN IRELAND.

nonexplosive. The inventor claims the danger of explosion is completely
excluded in his process of producing the gas.

The construction of the apparatus is so very simple and small as to ren-
der its use possible anywhere, since, too, the use of the many pipes and
connections, so necessary for distributing incandescent gas in a community,
is done away with. Every household could, by setting up a small apparatus,
effect the filling and feeding quite independently and at small expense.
According to trials and experiments recently made, a flame of from 30 to 40
candlepower can be produced at the rate of about three-fourths of a cent
per hour ; and after more experience and improvement in the manufacture
of the calcium carbides, it is claimed that even this low rate will be consid-
erably reduced. The calcium light can be used for heating and technical
purposes, as well as for illumination, without the application of especial
manipulations.

On the whole, then, it may be said that the new calcium light promises
to be an important rival of the present methods of illumination and deserves
the careful examination of both the consumer and manufacturer of light
givers.

GEO. SAWTER,

Glauchau, January 12, i8qj. Consul,



ROOFING SLATE IN IRELAND.*

BELFAST.

During the past twelve months, several communications have been re-
ceived at this consulate from quarrymen in the United States, requesting
information concerning the prices of, and demand for, roofing slates; also,
what qualities and from what countries were the slates most desired, etc.

The answers were not as complete as desired because of the difficulty
hedging such information, but recently some additional data has been gath-
ered which, if published in the Consular Reports, may be of value to home
quarrymen seeking a foreign market. Just at present, the conditions seem
very favorable for an entering wedge for American slates, more especially as
there is a protracted strike on hand at the Port Penrhyn quarries.

First, it should be known that this city has at present in the neighbor-
hood of 60,000 houses of all descriptions, and, with few exceptions, they are
all roofed with slates. Within the year just ended there were 2,917 build-
ings erected, an increase of 621 over the year 1895. Furthermore, by a
recent act of Parliament the city boundaries have been increased 11,000
acres, and if the city's prosperity and growth continues in the same ratio as
at present, which is extremely probable, the number of structures erected
will be proportionately larger. As 99 per cent are roofed with slates, and
as the smallest house requires at least a ton of 2,240 pounds, it is not too



•Sec Consular Repohi^ No. 197 (February, 1897), p. 287.



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ROOFING SLATE IN IRELAND. 423

much to say that last year's consumption in Belfast and vicinity must have
exceeded 10,000 or 12,000 tons.

Until very recently, all roofing slates came from the quarries in Wales,
and even now but a very small portion of them come from anywhere else.
Owing, however, to the scarcity and high prices of the Welsh article, there
is some inquiry for American slates, notwithstanding that they are alleged
to be inferior to the Welsh slates.

This scarcity and increase in price began after the great storm of Decem-
ber 21, 1894, when so many buildings were unroofed all over the Kingdom,
and especially in this city. Since then, the output of the Welsh quarries
seems to be inadequate to the increasing demand, and the Welsh firms have
advanced their prices from 30 to 40 per cent, and their independence is such
as to display no fear of dangerous competition.

As a result of the inquiry for American slates, one firm has imported three
lots of 70 tons each within the year. Messrs. W. F. Redmond & Co., of
Newry, large slate importers (to whom this consulate is indebted for courte-
ous answers to inquiries), state that they readily disposed of 1,500 tons of
American slates during the year just closed. The subjoined letter from this
firm contains information of practical importance to our quarrymen :

Newry, December ^9, i8g6.
James B. Taney, Esq.,

American Consulate^ Belfast.

Dear Sir : In reply to your favor of the 23d of December, the high prices charged for
slates by merchants last year was not due to the advanced prices of the Welsh slate-quarry
owners, but to the scarcity of stocks held by local merchants in Great Britain and Ireland,
combined with a general improvement in the building trade, and consequently increased de-
mand, and also to the severe winter of two years ago, which reduced the outputs of all the
Welsh quarries.

The qualities of Bangors principally imported into Ireland are first quality green and
wrinkled. Bangor slates are purple blue and not the color of the American Bangor and other
slates imported from the Slatington district, Pennsylvania, which are similar in color to Oakeley
and other Portmadoc slates, and therefore where Bangor or similar color slates must be used,
American slates can not be sold.

We consider American slates of unfading color to be equal to Portmadoc slates (Oakeley
or others) "medium quality," but slightly heavier, and it is in competition with these slates
and not Bangors that we have sold what we impK}rted; but if we and others could get what
we required from Portmadoc and other Welsh ports, we should not import American slate
which cost more than the Welsh slates here, though in point of quality we consider them equal
to medium Portmadocs, though heavier.

Owing to advantageous contracts, and to the fact that we were apjx)inted sole Irish agents
for the American quarries for whom we sold, we had no difficulty in disposing of the 1,500
tons or so which we imported, and also because we were careful not to import more than the
market would bear, but once the supply of Welsh slates again becomes equal to the demand
the importation of American slates must cease.

Some twenty years ago, American slates were imported, which faded out almost white;
this has, unfortunately, greatly prejudiced buyers against them, and until this prejudice is re-
moved and Americans have proved the unfading qualities claimed for them, they will not
sell against Welsh slates, unless at a much lower price or under such circumstances as those
of last year.

Yours truly, W. F. REDMOND & CO.



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424 ROOFING SLATE IN IRELAND.

It will be observed that Messrs. Redmond & Co. assert in their letter
that **once the supply of Welsh slates becomes equal to the demand the
importation of American slates must cease.'* Messrs. Redmond & Co. un-
questionably believe the above, but a large local builder and contractor,
whose name I am not at liberty to disclose, informed me that he did not
see why the American quarrymen do not make a greater eflbrt to get a foot-
hold in this market. He admitted that there was a prejudice against
American slates arising out of some dear experience several years ago, when
considerable quantities of American slates were imported. The cause alleged
was that the color (green) changed to a whitish hue after a short exposure.
Then the demand ceased entirely. But the prejudice will vanish if prices
and quality are satisfactory and color guarantied. The Welsh slates, he
continued, have a great advantage over any newcomer because of their well-
known qualities and durable colors, smoothness, suitable thickness, etc. On
the other hand, there are the high prices, scarcity, and independence of
Welsh quarrymen, all of which make the conditions favorable for the Amer-
ican slates capturing a fair share of the market.

For the information of American firms, the particulars, terms, and prices,
reduced to United States currency, of the Bangor and Festiniog, North Wales,
slates for the year 1896 (which are practically the same as the lists just issued
for 1897), are herewith appended. There are one or more lists of other
Bangor quarries which are not at hand, but which I am informed are governed
by the Penrhyn prices, and therefore are always the same as the Penrhyn
slates.

On and after January i, 1S96, a premium of 5 per cent will be charged on all invoices
(slabs excepted).

Prices and particulars per ton of 2 y2 40 pounds of Penrhyn slates^ Port Penrhyn ^ Bangor^

North Wales,



Sorts aiid sizes. ^rinkled^^l ^^^'' ^'"*- ' ^**^-

i 1



$18.60 $18.60



Queens, first quality :

24 inches long, various breadths

34, a6, a8, and 30 inches long, without specifying quantities

of each >7-99 *7 99

32, 34, and 36 inches long, without specifying quantities of
each ■ »7.5» »7'5»

Ton slates, first quality : j 1

iaby6 $7 78 $7.78 8.51 8.51

" ^'y 7 \ 7- 78 7.78 , 8.51 S.51

lobyS 7.78 7.78 ; 8.51 8.51



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ROOFING SLATE IN IKELAND.



425



Prices and particulars of Fenrhyn slates^ etc. — Continued.



Sizes.



24 by 14....
24 by 12....

22 by 12....

23 by II....
20 by 12....
20 by xo....
18 by 12....
18 by 10....

18 by 9

16 by !«„..
16 by 10....

16 by 9

16 by 8

14 by 12....
14 by 10....

14 by 8

13 by 10....

13 by 7

12 by 10....
12 by 8



First quality tally slates.



Com-
puted
weight

per
1,200.



Civts.
65!
56,

47
47
36
39 I
33 :
29 I

34
28
26
23


26



23
16



Price per 1,200 slates.



Second quality tally slates.



Blue.



Red.



Gray.



I
Green andl
wrinkled.



Com-
puted
weight
per



Price per i ,200 slates.



I



I63.26


$63.26


57-43


57-4»


47.92


47.92


43.06


43.06


42.82


42.82


41.60


41.60


36.00


36.00


34.06


34.06


29.19


29. 19


31.62


31.62


27.98


27.98


24-37


24- 37


21.16


21. 16


23-59


23.59


21.65


21.65


16.78


16.78


,8.72


18.72


12.16


12.16


»5-32


15.32


12.40


12.40



$60.09
54.50

45-49

41. 12
40.87

39-66
35- 52
32-84
27.98
30.89
27.00
23- 59
20.43
22.86
20.92
16.05
»7.75
"43
M-59
11.67



$60.09
5«-50
45.49
41. 12
40.87
39-66
35.52
32.84
27.98
30.89
27.00

23- 5 )
20.40
22.86
20.92
16.05
17-75
"43
14-59
11.67



Cwts.
90
78
68
62
62
50
56
45
42
48
40
37
33
42
34
27
31



I



Blue.


Red.


Gray.


$59-36


$5936


$62.04


55- 72


55.72


58.63


45.98


45.98


49- M


41.85


41.85


43.59


40.39


40.39


42-59


36-49


36.49


36.49


33.57


33.57


34-54


26.52


26.52


28.46


22.13


22.13


24 33


24.33


24.33


26.03


22.86


22.86


24.08


18.48


18.48


20.67


17.51


17.5«


18.72


19.46


19.46


21.89


17.02


17.02


18.72


»3.i3


'3.13


15.56


M- 59


14.59


16.78


9.97


9-97


11.67


12.40


12.40


14.35


10.21


10.21


11.67



Green and
wrinkled.



$53. 53
49.87
41.60
37.22
36.00
33.08
29.92
24.81
20.43
22.13
19.21

16.53
15.07
17.02
M-83
12. x6
12.89

8.75
10.94

8.75



Loading expenses on slates, — By rail, 30 cents per ton; by vessel, 24 cents per ton.

As an allowance of I cwt. over in every ton, or 60 slates over in every thousand, is made at
the time of the delivery of the slates on the wharf for loading, to cover the ordinary breakage,
and as the purchaser never pays for any excess he may receive beyond the quantity invoiced,
viz, 1,200 slates to the thousand or 20 cwts. to the ton, no abatement or further allowance can
be made for any deficiency from breakage, short delivery, or other cause. The purchaser takes
his chance whether he receives any surplus above 1,200 slates to the thousand or 20 cwts. to
the ton or otherwise.

Customers are particularly requested to order slates according to the denomination in this
list and to mention which quality and color, if any error occurs from ordering; otherwise, the
loss will fall on the purchaser.

Fenrhyn slate slahs^ best quality.

Per ton.

Lotted slabs, sawn all round and split as near the thickness required as possible and
of promiscuous dimensions, as under, viz :

Lot 1 — yi inch, ^ inch, 1 inch, \% inches, \y^ inches thick, between 3 feet 6

inches and 7 feet long and 2 feet 6 inches and upwards wide ^14.59

Lot 2 — I inch, 1^ inches, 1%, inches, 2 inches, 2^ inches thick, between 6 feet

and 9 feet long and 3 feet and upwards wide 18. 24

Billiard slabs, best quality, self-faced, sawn and split to order 27.98

Slabs, best quality, self- faced, sawn and split to order 21.89

Slabs, best quality, to order, planed on one side (including hearthstones) 23. II

Slabs, best quality, to order, planed on both sides (including hearthstones) 24.33



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426 ROOFING SLATE IN IRELAND.

Per ton.
Brewery slabs, best quality, planed on both sides, of promiscuous dimensions, viz, 6
feet and upwards long and 2 feet 6 inches and upwards wide :

1 inch thick I22.38

1)4 inches thick 21.40

i}4 inches thick 20.92

2 inches and upwards 19-94

Skirtings to order, between 3 feet and 8 feet long and from 4 inches to 8 inches wide

and not less than half an inch thick 17.02

Penrhyn slate slabs ^ second quality ^ planed on both sides.

Lot I — From 3 feet and upwards long, 2 feet and upwards wide, and from i)^ inches

upwards thick, without specifying sizes or thicknesses 11.67

Lot 2 — Of specified thickness, but not less than i inch 14. 11

Lot 3 — Slabs, sawn and planed on both sides to order of specified sizes and thick-
nesses, but not less than I inch :

Not exceeding 5 feet 6 inches long or 2 feet 9 inches wide 18.24

Upwards of 5 feet 6 inches long or 2 feet 9 inches wide 20.67

Billiard slabs, second quality, planed on both sides and sawn to order 25.54

In ordering lot I, second quality, it is only necessary to mention the weight; for lot 2, the
weight and thickness ; and for lot 3, the weight, dimensions, and thickness required.

About 150 superficial feet of I -inch thick slate slabs are computed to weigh a ton.

Loading expenses. — By rail, 30 cents per ton ; by vessel, 24 cents per ton.

Terms of payment. — If reference is satisfactory, cash or bank order not exceeding seven
days' date, payable in London, and free of any charge for commission or stamp, to be remit-
ted within one week from date of invoice, net cash. If rev|uired, cash to be remitted before
the slates are forwarded.



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ROOFING SLATE IN IRELAND.



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428 ROOFING SLATE IN IRELAND.

Loading expenses. — Fer rail, 30 cents per ton; per vessel, 24 cents per ton.

Hexagon, gothic, diamond, round or other fancy slates made to order at 5 per cent addi-
tional to above prices in first quality only; medium quality, as above, I19.46, and upwards;
second quality, as above, $16.41, and upwards.

Terms. — All slates are loaded at the purchaser's risk, with an allowance for breakage of
60 slates per thousand of 1,200 and I cwt. per ton when sold by weight.

All orders are entered subject to output and to prices and terms at time of shipment.

No credit will be given on any quantity less than 50 tons at a time, except to customers
who are in the habit of keeping larger accounts on the books.

If requested, insurance of the cargo will be effected through a broker and charged in the
invoice.

Accounts payable by approved acceptances on London at three months from date of in-
voice, or monthly accounts, less 2)^ per cent cash discount.

American quarrymen seeking to place their slates on this market can
judge from the foregoing what prices and terms are necessary to compete
with Welsh slates.

The sizes preferred are 24 by 14, 24 by 12, 22 by 12, 22 by 11, 20 by 12,
20 by 10, 18 by 12, 18 by 10, 16 by 10, and 16 by 8.

Light-weight slates should do four squares to the ton of 2,240 pounds.

The most popular weights will do from three to three and a half squares
per ton. The gauge used is generally 4-inch lap. This is a builder's state-
ment; but it will be observed that the Oakeley Slate Quarries Company only
allow a 3-inch lap in the calculations as to the number of square yards their
respective sizes will cover.

Slate should be smooth and even. Color is not an absolute essentiality,
although important, but durability of color is. The most salable colors are
best blue or bluish purple.

For the purpose of negotiating business, the principal importers of roofing
slates in this locality are: W. F. Redmond & Co., Newry, County Down ;
Thomas Dixon & Sons, 105 Corporation street, Belfast; J. P. Corry & Co.,
II Garmoyle street, Belfast; William Gabbey, i Hope street, Belfast; W.
D. Henderson & Son, 55 Waring street, Belfast; Gregg & Co., Green street,
Belfast; Robb Bros., 109 Corporation street, Belfast; Kirker Robb & Co.,
99 Whitla street, Belfast.

JAMES B. TANEY,

Belfast, January 28 y iSgy. Consul,



DUBLIN.



A firm in the United States has addressed to this office a series of ques-
tions regarding the uses of slate in this consular district, their purpose being
to increase their export trade. In accordance with Consular Regulations, I
make the report to the Department of State. The questions propounded are:

(i) Is slate produced in Ireland ? If so, to what extent, and how man-
ufactured and used?



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ROOFING SLATE IN IRELAND. ■ 429

(2) If no slate is found, is any used, and in what form? From what
country is it exported?

(3) In your judgment, is there a market for American roofing slates,
blackboards, or school slates in Ireland?

Slate is chiefly employed in Ireland for roofing purposes and for mantel-
pieces. There is a quarry in this district, at Killaloe, County Limerick,
Ireland. The chief products of this quarry are roofing slates. It supplies
chiefly Limerick and the adjacent district. I am told that this quarry pro-
duces a slate of good quality at prices cheaper than current for Welsh slates,
but despite this fact, the Killaloe slates have never commanded the Dublin
market to any extent. The reasons assigned for this by the architects, who
really control the trade, are that the supply is not regular. The quality of
the Killaloe slates makes it preferable to Welsh slates, as I understand, for
mantelpieces. From the best information I have been able to obtain, the
Irish slate supply must be regarded of good quality, but the quantity offered
is too limited and irregular to be of much commercial importance.

Dublin is chiefly supplied with slates from Wales, the quantity used in
Dublin being probably something like 1 1 ,000 tons annually. Of this supply,
about seven-eighths is brought from the Bangor district and the remainder
chiefly from the Carnarvon district. As will appear later, it would seem
that slates from Westmoreland district are coming into favor with Dublin
architects. The principal sizes imported are known as *' queens," and are
24 by 14 inches. Prices in Dublin, which twelve months ago ruled at J20
per ton for Welsh slates, have now advanced to about ^27.50 per ton, an
advance of 37^ per cent. The trade is in the hands of merchants who re-
tail to the builders. However, I understand that the trade is very largely
controlled by the architects, who, under the system prevailing here, de-



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