Tuesday, June 30, 2009

wool costs were especially alarming

The Charlottesville Woolen Mills weathered the war years well, but not before experiencing some discomfort from these conditions and several peculiar to itself. The cost and supply of wool and dyes were constant worries. Wool costs were especially alarming. The company had paid out only $149,000 for that purpose in 1914. Two years later it spent $192,000; in 1918 raw wool cost the mill over $400,000.--Harry Poindexter


Monday, June 29, 2009

wartime restrictions

Amiss House, Woolen Mills Road

The result of these maneuvers was that the War Department "virtually annexed the business of fabricating the wool." Yet as late as the spring of 1918 only forty-five percent of American woolen mills were making cloth for war use. The remainder, after exhausting their private stocks, had to depend on uncertain allocations for civilian consumption.

Harassed mill owners could get some satisfaction from the brisk civilian demand for cloth and from the opening of South American markets previously supplied from Europe. But, despite the high price tags on consumer goods, profit margins fell before the onslaught of wool costs, wage increases, the scarcity of vital chemicals, and such wartime restrictions as the?by the Fuel Administrator in January, 1918.--Harry Poindexter

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Friday, June 26, 2009

wool prices climb

With the entry of the United States into the war in April, 1917, the problem of raw materials became grave for American mills. Speculative buying quickly caused raw wool prices to climb sixty-five percent. To curb inflationary rises, the government bought a large quantity of wool during the summer of 1917 which it threatened to dump on the market if prices went too high. In the fall, the government purchased 233 million pounds from England and shortly afterwards placed all wool imports under a licensing system.

The heaviest blow fell in April, 1918. Early in that month, the War Department ordered all woolen mills to hold their looms at the service of the government and blocked the flow of raw wool to civilian cloth makers except by special permits. A few days later the wool growers' association, faced with the threat of seizure, agreed to sell to the government all raw wool at prices current on July 1, 1917. Nevertheless, wool prices had jumped to double or treble their pre-war level, and fabrics rose in price nearly two hundred percent.--Harry Poindexter


Thursday, June 25, 2009

the spectre of a wool famine

With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 American woolen manufacturers suddenly faced "the spectre of a wool famine." Sixty-five percent of the industry's raw wool in normal times was imported, most of it coming through British channels from Australia and other British overseas possessions. Great Britain, however, quickly placed strict controls on this flow in 1914 and at times diverted all of it to her own use. At the same time, other war materials clogged up shipping facilities which had previously transported wool and dyes to American shores. Fluctuating high prices and uncertainty of supply, twin offspring of this sudden turn, brought many headaches to mill owners.-- Harry Poindexter

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