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Horns Of Cattle

( Originally Published 1851 )



Amongst the causes which tend to the cheap production of any article, and which require additional capital, may be mentioned, the care which is taken to allow no part of the raw produce, out of which it is formed, to be absolutely wasted. An attention to this circumstance sometimes causes the union of two trades in one factory, which otherwise would naturally have been separated. An enumeration of the arts to which the horns of cattle are applicable, furnishes a striking example of this kind of economy.

The tanner, who has purchased the hides, separates the horns, and sells them to the makers of combs and lanterns. The horn consists of two parts; an outward horny case, and an inward conical-shaped substance, somewhat between hardened hair and bone. The first process consists in separating these two parts, by means of a blow against a block of wood. The horny outside is then cut into three portions, by means of a frame-saw.

1. The lowest of these, next the root of the horn, after undergoing several processes, by which it is rendered flat, is made into combs.

2. The middle of the horn, after being flattened by heat, and its transparency improved by oil, is split into thin layers, and forms a substitute for glass in lanterns of the commonest kind.

3. The tip of the horn is used by the makers of knife-handles and of the tops of whips, and similar purposes.

4. The interior, or core of the horn, is boiled down in water. A large quantity of fat rises to the surface : this is put aside, and sold to the makers of yellow soap.

5. The liquid itself is used as a kind of glue, and is purchased by the cloth-dressers for stiffening.

6. The bony substance, which remains behind, is ground down, and sold to the farmers for manure.

Besides these various purposes to which the different parts of the horn are applied, the chippings which arise in comb-making are sold to the farmer for manure. In the first year after they are spread over the soil, they have comparatively little effect; but during the next four or five, their efficiency is considerable. The shavings, which form the refuse of the lantern-maker, are of a much thinner texture. A few of them are cut into various figures, and painted and used as toys; for they curl up when placed in the palm of a warm hand. But the greater part of these shavings are sold also for manure, which, from their extremely thin and divided form, produces its full effect upon the first crop.

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