February 14, 2012

19th Century Recycling: The Utility of Refuse Things

From the Gazette Sentinel of Plaquemine, Parish of Iberville, Louisiana on April 20, 1861:

The Utility of Refuse Things
The prussiate of potash is made in large quantities in Cincinnati from the hoofs, horns and other refuse of slaughtered cattle. 
Cow-hair, taken from the hides in tanneries, is employed in making plastering-mortar, to give it a fibrous quality. 
Sawdust is sold for sprinkling the floors of markets.  It is also used for packing ice for shipping.
The rags of old worn out skirting, calico dresses, and the waste of cotton factories, are employed to make the paper upon which these lines are printed. 
Old ropes are converted into fine note paper, and the waste paper itself, which is picked up in the gutter, is again reconverted into broad, white sheets, and thus does duty in revolving stages.
The parings of skins and hides, and the ears of cows, calves, and sheep, are carefully collected and converted into glue. 
The finer qualities of gelatine are made from ivory raspings and the bones and tendons of animals. 
Bones converted into charcoal, by roasting in retorts, are afterwards employed for purifying the white sugar with which we sweeten our coffee. 
The ammonia obtained from the distillation of coal in making gas, is employed for saturating orchil and cudbear, in making the beautiful lilac colors that are dyed on silk and the fine woolen goods. 
Carbonic acid, obtained in the distillation of coal tar, is employed with other acids to produce beautiful yellow colors on silk and wool. 
The shavings of cedar wood, used in making pencils, are distilled to obtain the otto of cedar wood. 
Brass filings and old brass kettles are remelted, and employed to make the brass-work of printing presses and pumps. 
Old copper scraps are used in the construction of splendid bronze chandeliers, for illuminating our churches and the mansions of the wealthy. 
Old horseshoe nails are employed to make the famous steel and twist barrels of fowling-pieces.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating piece on early recycling efforts and reveals how little is known about the origins of everyday things people used in 1861.

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