As a result of the development of these new spinning techniques, productivity increased by leaps and bounds, production costs decreased sharply, and the production of high-quality (fine and tough) cotton yarn was made possible. At the beginning of the 1780s, the fine cotton yarn known as NO. 100 yarn cost about two pounds per pound in weight, but by 1830 the price had dropped to three shillings. The number of mules (?) also increased significantly. In 1788 there were 50,000 mules in use and by 1811, according to documents Crompton submitted to parliament in that year, the total number of mules in England and Scotland combined had reached 4.6 million.
Success in the Production of Muslin
The improvement of the quality of cotton yarn was of decisive importance in the battle with Indian cotton. In the mid-eighteenth century, the most common type of cotton thread exported from India was fine thread. However, British spinning technology at that time was only capable of producing thick thread, and even this often depended on the delicacy of the spinner_s touch. Following the invention of Hargreaves_ spinning jenny and Arkwright_s water frame, the British finally succeeded in manufacturing cotton thread with the development of Crompton_s mule. Fine yarn spinning was eventually established in Britain in the 1830s, when it became possible to produce fine thread of the same quality as Indian cotton.
The success in the production of muslin - the generic name for the finest cotton thread_was the _greatest ambition_ of British cotton manufacturers. (G. Unwin??) Before the spinning of fine thread was made possible by the invention of the mule, the British depended on Indian muslin or used fine thread imported from India. But the invention of the mule enabled them to produce the fine thread needed for muslin weaving domestically and move toward realizing their dream of self-sufficiency in cotton production. Crompton_s mule was initially known as the _muslin spinner._ Crompton himself described the mule as _a machine that can produce in large numbers one of the first products of Europe_fine muslin and cambric._ Before the mule, the Europeans made countless attempts to imitate muslin but always lost out in competition with Indian-made fabrics. In 1780, a weaver from Bolton named Thomas Ainsworth became the first manufacturer to produce muslin. In 1783, Samuel Oldknow set up business on his own as a muslin manufacturer and had become recognized as the leading manufacturer in Britain within less than three years. By 1787, total muslin production had reached 500,000 rolls a year.
(3) The Three-Cornered Atlantic Trade Network
The Importance of Long-Staple Raw Cotton
In 1788, when the prospects for the mass production of fine muslin thread that could compete with Indian cotton had become clear, Cahoun?? asserted that _there can be no doubt that Britain will not require any cotton other than long-staple cotton to secure a decisive advantage in the future._ Although the quality of cotton of course depended on cotton manufacturing techniques, it was also deeply related to the type of raw cotton that could be used. Since it was impossible to cultivate cotton in Britain_s climate, all of the cotton used as raw materials had to be imported. The type of raw cotton used in Britain varied according to its source.
Raw cotton imported by Britain in the eighteenth century can be broadly divided into short-staple and long-staple cotton. In the first decade of the century a substantial amount of short-staple cotton was imported, but from the 1720s onwards long-staple cotton from the West Indies came to account for 60_80% of raw cotton imports. Until the end of the eighteenth century, not much attention was paid to the quality of this raw cotton, but with the invention of Crompton_s mule in 1779, long-staple cotton acquired a new importance as the most suitable type of raw cotton for spinning fine thread. Until then, the spinning industry had focused more on mass-production than the improvement of quality.