No. 36.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Evarts.

No. 642.]

Sir: Again referring to instruction “separate” of date August 20, 1877, in relation to the methods by which our trade with Japan may be judiciously fostered, I have the honor to report that a few days since I had an interview with Mr. ——, an American now here in the interests of our countrymen the Messrs. ———. Mr. ——— said to me that a large market could be secured in Japan for our cotton productions by a direct effort through intelligent agents sent hither by our manufacturers and merchants for that purpose, but he added that the trade cannot be secured to our country by mere written correspondence, and that the Japanese dealers do not and will not go abroad to select and purchase. He also said that the English watch [Page 116] this market closely, and send their agents to reside here to introduce and dispose of their fabrics. He handed me a memorandum, in which he shows the quality of cotton cloth and yarn which might profitably, in his opinion, be introduced into Japan from the United States, and which also shows the quality of cotton goods put off upon the Japanese by England and to some extent the prices paid for the worthless fabrics. I have the honor to inclose herewith for your information a copy of the memorandum.

You will observe that it is stated in his memorandum that the gray shirtings made for this market in England are of the poorest cotton grown, and so light as to be of no practical value, and yet are sold at from $1.40 to $2.10 per piece of seven or nine pounds, 39 or 45 inches in width and 38½ yards to the piece, imported in bales, compressed, of about 12 cubic feet to the bale.

Of the white shirtings Mr. ——— says they are loaded with terra alba and starch to give appearance and weight, but being washed prove to be the flimsiest material known to the trade. He suggests that the width of cotton goods wanted by the Japanese for their use should be 30 and 36 inches only, and that if such goods honestly made were sent by our manufacturers to Japan, a growing market could be made for them here at satisfactory prices. I have no doubt the same could be done with cotton prints and cheap woolen goods of the width named. If cotton yarns of the sizes and proportions used here and specified in the inclosed memorandum “well bleached and softly twisted” were forwarded by our merchants through competent agents, they would at the prices quoted laid down here find a ready sale.

I have, &c.,

Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.

[Inclosure 1 in No. 642.]


Gray shirtings, made in England for this market, are manufactured from the poorest cotton grown, woven so light that there is no practical value in the market price for these goods.

7 pounds, 38½ yards, 39 inches wide, per piece $1 40 to $1 75
8 pounds, 38½ yards, 39 inches wide, per piece 1 55 to 2 35
8 pounds, 38½ yards, 45 inches wide, per piece 1 80 to 2 20
9 pounds, 38½ yards, 45 inches wide, per piece 2 10 to 2 70

put up in bales compressed to measure about 12 cubic feet to the bale.

Through competition by the English manufacturers endeavoring to obtain the market by low offerings, the quality has been reduced so low that the Japanese do not take the quantity of these goods they would if the quality had been kept up to a fair standard. The Japanese prefer their own make, which is manufactured largely from imported yarns.

white shirtings.

But a small amount imported in comparison with the gray shirtings; what have been sent from England are loaded with terra alba and starch, showing an apparent finish and weight, but on washing they became the flimsiest material known to the trade. No doubt if an honest-made article, capable of doing some service, was sent here, proper widths, 30 and 36 inches of our manufacture, a growing market could be made at satisfactory prices.

Importation of the above in 1875, 46,637,309 yards, value $2,616,723; 1876, 56,387,194 yards, value $2,997,595.

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It is with English prints the same as with white shirtings though not to the same extent that terra alba and starch are used, and the new appearance of the prints is deceptive. The sale is not as yet large for these goods, but if a good quality of well assorted, patterns was regularly sent, with the required widths and lengths of 30 inches wide, 24 yards to the piece, a growing market for our manufactures could be obtained. Widths and lengths, as now put up by American manufacturers will not answer, nor can they be made to answer unless altered to the above-mentioned widths and lengths on account of the entire difference in the mode of dress.

cotton yarns.

The sizes used by the Japanese are 16 and 24, 28 and 32, 38 and 42, sold by the picul in bales of 3 piculs, or 400 pounds, in 10 pound bundles, 40 bundles to the bale, compressed so as to measure about 11½ to 12 cubic feet.

The proportions wanted are: 60 per cent., 16 to24; 20 per cent., 28 to 32; 10 per cent., 38 to 42. Importations, 1875,137,253 piculs, value $4,057,850; 1876, 147,099 piculs, value $4,151,514.

The quality of the yarns is only fair. India cotton is: used in the manufacture, which reduces the standard, consequently can be sold somewhat less than what the American yarns can be sold for. Notwithstanding this commercial advantage in favor of the English, American yarns, if made to suit this market, well bleached and softly twisted, can be laid down here at prices quoted and can at once find as ready a sale as the English, make.