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Demand and Supply.

As regards the importance of a supply of wattle-bark to European manufacturers, and the remote possibility of the market being over-supplied, I quote the following, by a correspondent of Mr. J. E. Brown, Conservator of Forests of South Australia:—“The matter of supply and demand can be compressed into small compass. British and Continental tanners are languishing for ample and continuous supply, and South Australia exports in such driblets that very many of the large firms in Great Britain have given over using it, falling back on Valonia and other barks more fully and regularly supplied. I may be allowed to remark here, reliable leather cannot be produced


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by intermittent and inadequate supply of bark, on which the tanner relies when laying down his hides; indeed, in large yards, such as with 50,000 hides always in the pits, it becomes a very serious difficulty, attended with anxiety and loss, not to be able, through want of sufficiency of bark of a class, to work them through successfully. It therefore becomes a matter of necessity that the exports of bark may be abundant and regular to such an extent as tanners may confidently rely on. To such low export of wattle-bark have your growers now arrived at, that one yard could manage to take fully one-fourth—say 1,000 tons—of all the bark shipped from your ports to England in 1882, and about one-third of the shipments for 1883.… I am aware French and German tanners highly approve of the wattle for tanning purposes.” (Report to S. A. Legislative Council, 1884.)

Throughout Australia the species of wattle richest in tannic acid are becoming seriously diminished, and there is a consensus of opinion amongst persons interested in the matter that the various Governments should encourage the replanting of them. At the same time there are some species of wattle which tanners despise (partly because the introduction of them would disturb the routine of their operations), which are even richer than some of the tan-barks in common use in Europe and elsewhere, and there is no doubt that, sooner or later, our local tanners will have to fall back upon these second-grade wattle-barks, unless the cultivation of good wattles is actively entered upon.

In regard to Tasmania, which has hitherto supplied so large a quantity of good wattle-bark, Mr. F. Abbott, Superintendent of the Botanical Gardens, Hobart, says:—“We have so many wattle trees growing naturally, that we have had no need to cultivate them in Tasmania, but the destruction is so great we shall have to do it before long.” (He refers to Acacia mollissima.)

Mr. F. Donovan, representative of the Tanners' and Curriers' Union of Melbourne, in giving evidence before the Royal Commission on Vegetable Products, states that for the bark which in 1872 cost £3 15s. per ton, £8 or £9 was paid in 1887, and he is very emphatic on the necessity of wattle culture on a large scale. Mr. Dunn, a tanner, gave evidence to the effect that in 1872 wattle-bark was selling from £2 10s. to £3 a ton. In 1879 the price had gone up as high as £9 10s., and since then it has varied from £8 10s. to £11; in 1887 the best bark was £10.

The best Sydney bark has fetched £10 this season, and this appears to be the top price on the average.

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