When a spinner is required to quote prices of yarn for delivery in the future he is fixed on the horns of a dilemma.
In physical structure alpaca is somewhat akin to hair, being very glossy, but its softness and fineness enable the spinner to produce satisfactory yarns with comparative ease.
The silk-waste spinner receives his silk in quite a different form: merely the raw material, packed in bales of various sizes and weights, the contents being a much-tangled mass of all lengths of fibre mixed with much foreign matter, such as ends of straws, twigs, leaves, worms and chrysalis.
Between loss and delay the spinner found an obvious alternative in damping the yarn artificially.
The object of the spinner at this point is to straighten out the tangles and lumps, and to lay the fibres parallel: the first machine to assist in this process being known as an opening machine, and the second as a filling engine.
The lower the grade the more elaborate and expensive is the machinery required to clean it, and consequently a spinner is willing to pay a certain amount extra for high grade cotton in order to save expenditure on preparatory machinery.
If a spinner is pressed by a shipper to make quotations with refusal for two or three days to give time for business to be settled by cable, it is evidently not impossible for the spinner to shift the risk involved by getting in turn from his broker refusal quotations for cotton.
The evolution of the distinct business of cotton broking is readily comprehensible when we remind ourselves that the requirements, as regards raw material, of all spinners are much alike generally, and that no spinner could afford to pay an expert to devote himself entirely to purchasing cotton for his mill.
A remarkable point in the Lancashire yarn trade is the looseness of the contracts between spinner and manufacturer.
To-day a spinner who is asked to quote for deliveries of yarn for, say, the next six months, may obtain from a broker quotations for deliveries of the cotton that he needs, in quantities as he needs it, for the next six months, and upon these quotations he may base his own for yarn.