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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 94 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BAST INDIAN &ZANZIBAR ball is then fixed in half cylinder re- versed, and the operation repeated for the other hemisphere. It is now left five years to season and then turned dead true. The rounder and straighter the tusk selected for ball-making the better. Evidently, if the tusk is oval and the ball the size of the least diameter, its sides which come nearer to the bark or rind will be coarser and of a different density from those portions further removed from this outer skin. The matching of billiard-balls is important, for extreme accuracy in weight is essential. It is usual to bleach them, as the purchaser—or at any rate the distributing intermediary—likes to have them of a dead white. But this is a mistake, for bleaching with chemicals takes out the gelatine to some extent, alters the quality and affects the density; it also makesthem more liable to crack, and they are not nearly so nice-looking, Billiard-balls should be bought in summer time when the temperature is most equable, and gently used till the winter season. On an average three balls of fine quality are got out of a tooth. The stock of more than one great manufacturer surpasses at times 30,000 in number. But although ball teeth rose in 1905 to £167 a cwt., the price of billiard-balls was the same in 1905 as it was in 1885. Roughly speaking, there are about twelve different qualities and prices of billiard-balls, and eight of pyramid-and pool-balls, the latter ranging from half a guinea to two guineas each. The ivory for piano-keys is delivered to the trade in the shape of what are known as heads and tails, the former for the parts which come under the fingers, the latter for that running up between the black keys. The two are joined afterwards on the keyboard with extreme accuracy. Piano-keys are bleached, but organists for some reason or other prefer unbleached keys. The soft variety is mostly used for high-class work and preferably of the Egyptian type. The great centres of the ivory industry for the ordinary objects of common domestic use are in England, for cutlery handles Sheffield, for billiard-balls and piano-keys London. For Lathe Wood Chuck Metal Ring ' Nan. No.o. No.} cutlery a large firm such as Rodgers & Sons uses an average of some twenty tons of ivory annually, mostly of the hard variety. But for billiard-balls and piano-keys America is now a large producer, and a considerable quantity is made in France and Germany. Brush backs are almost wholly in English hands. Dieppe has long been famous for the numberless little ornaments and useful articles such as statuettes, crucifixes, little book-covers, paper-cutters, combs, serviette-rings and articles de Paris generally. And St Claude in the Jura, and Geislingen in Wurtemberg, and Erbach in Hesse, Germany, are amongst the most important centres of the industry. India and China supply the multitude of toys, models, chess and draughtsmen, puzzles, workbox fittings and other curiosities. Vegetable Ivory, &c.—Some allusion may be made to vegetable ivory and artificial substitutes. The plants yielding the vegetable ivory of commerce represent two or more species of an anomalous genus of palms, and are known to botanists asPhytelephas. They are natives of tropical South America, occurring chiefly on the banks of the river Magdalena, Colombia, always found in damp localities, not only, however, on the lower coast region as in Darien, but also at a considerable elevation above the sea. They are mostly found in separate groves, not mixed with other trees or shrubs. The plant is severally known as the " tagua " by the Indians on the banks of the Magdalena, as the " ants " on the coast of Darien, and as the " pullipunta " and " homero "in Peru. It is stemless or short-stemmed, and crowned with from twelve to twenty very long pinnatifid leaves. The plants are dioecious, the males forming higher, more erect and robust trunks than the females. The male inflorescence is in the form of a simple fleshy cylindrical spadix covered with flowers; the female flowers are also in a single spadix, which, however, is shorter than in the male. The fruit consists of a conglomerated head composed of six or seven drupes, each containing from six to nine seeds, and the whole being enclosed in a walled woody covering forming altogether a globular head as large as that of a man. A single plant sometimes bears at the same time from six to eight of these large heads of fruit, each weighing from 20 to 25 lb. In its very young state the seed contains a clear insipid fluid, which travellers take advantage of to allay thirst. As it gets older this fluid becomes milky and of a sweet taste, and it gradually continues to change both in taste and consistence until it becomes so hard as to make it valuable as a substitute for animal ivory. In their young and fresh state the fruits are eaten with avidity by bears, hogs and other animals. The seeds, or nuts as they are usually called when fully ripe and hard, are used by the American Indians for making small ornamental articles and toys. They are imported into Britain in considerable quantities, frequently under the name of " CBrozo " nuts, a name by which the fruits of some species of Attalea (another palm with hard ivory-like seeds) are known in Central America—their uses being chiefly for small articles of turnery. Of vegetable ivory Great Britain imported in 1904 1200 tons, of which about 400 tons were re-exported, principally to Germany. It is mainly and largely used for coat buttons. Many artificial compounds have, from time to time, been tried as substitutes for ivory; amongst them potatoes treated with sulphuric
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