Imágenes de páginas

degree of ignorance under which he is operating is the test of recklessness. Even many of the large milling and elevator companies insure themselves regularly by hedging. Statistics show that since the advent of speculation, fluctuations in the price of grain have been of smaller extent, comparing year by year. Such fluctuations as do remain are changes of a more gradual nature, and the gradations are much finer. For example, wheat was formerly quoted in fourths of a cent a bushel, while now it is quoted in sixteenths of a cent a bushel. A half century ago, traders required a margin of 10 cents a bushel for carrying wheat. Now the margin is 2 cents. With the minimizing of risks, profits for carrying them fell. In part, these changes are doubtless the result of other concomitant developments, but there is no question of their being chiefly due to the development of speculation. As to the agreement of present prices of futures with future cash prices, little, if any, increased accuracy of prediction is shown. While there have been improvements in the methods of speculation, there has also been an increase in the size and complexity of the world wheat market, a factor which would tend to decrease the accuracy of prediction. The increasing uniformity of price tends to decrease the amount of business done upon the exchanges, for this business is dependent upon price variations. This tendency of prices to remain more steady will be increased with the further concentration of commercial wheat interests. A similar development has taken place in the case of other commodities, such as oil and pork. In these commodities prices are practically fixed by a small group of men who know, and, in a measure, control supply and demand, and there are few price fluctuations left to serve as a basis for speculative dealings. Consequently operations no longer have their former magnitude. Local consumption of wheat will increase with the growth of population, and less actual wheat will be bought and sold at the terminal and export markets. The force of these influences is certain to be reflected on the speculative exchanges. The opportunity for men to indulge their gambling proclivities by means of the bucket shop; the growing prosperity of the country; the increasing steadiness of the price of wheat on account of the

* Emery, Speculation, pp. 124-165.

growing perfection of the speculative machinery and of the knowledge of the conditions of supply and demand; and the increasingly great combinations of commercial wheat interests, already foreshadowed by the large combinations of transportation, elevator and milling interests, will continually reduce the importance of wheat as a commodity in the speculative markets of the world, perhaps to the extent of finally eliminating it entirely.


Methods of Milling.—“The first miller plucked the berry from the stalk, and using his teeth for millstones, ground grist for a customer who would not be denied—his stomach.” All millers who have succeeded this first pioneer have made use of various forms of apparatus to make the grinding process easier and more effective. There have been three distinct types of mills from which all others are only variations, and each one of which effects the reduction of the grain by a method peculiar to itself: (1) The mortar and pestle type, in which the work is done by grinding and rubbing; (2) some form of the machine having two roughened surfaces, between which the grain is crushed or cut through the motion of one, and sometimes of both, of the surfaces; (3) the roller system of milling, involving a gradual reduction or granulation process in which the grain of wheat is separated into particles and reduced to successive degrees of subdivision by being passed between rolls, first corrugated and then smooth, each successive series of which has an increased approximation of surfaces.

The Mortar and Pestle Type.—The second miller was always a woman. This initial stage in the development of milling was marked by several types of grinding devices.

HANDSTONES.–Our knowledge of handstones, or “corn” stones, goes back to the paleolithic period. Such stones were doubtless first used for pounding nuts and acorns. The same type was used the world over, and there is an abundance of specimens. The grain was placed upon a second stone with a flat surface. Pounding with the globular stone caused a cup to be hollowed out of the lower stone. Within a few feet of each other, 26 such hollows have been found in the rock near an Indian settlement at El Paso, Texas. They are found in many parts of the world.



THE MoRTAR AND PESTLE.—In time, the globular crusher became oval in form, which was of great advantage when the cups became deep. Eventually, it elongated into the pestle. Nomadic tribes found it advantageous to utilize a portable rock for the under stone. Shaped outside as well as inside, this became the grain mortar. Wooden mortars and pestles were now also made in imitation of those made of stone. The wooden mortars were sometimes 2 feet in diameter, and the pestles 4 feet in length. The first development in the direction of grinding instead of pounding was when - - the pestle was ridged at the bottom, AMERICAN INDIAN and the grain was partly pounded and coRN MoRTAR AND partly grated by giving a rotary PESTLE motion to the handle of the pestle or pounder. THE “SADDLE” STONE is another type of primitive milling devices. The upper surface of this was made concave, and in the hollow thus formed the grain was rubbed or ground by another stone, the muller, which was not rolled, but worked backward and forward. This was the first real grinding. Experience proved that the upper stone should be ridged. From the saddle stone evolved all later forms of milling stones. These early forms of the mill have been used throughout the world. Babylon, Nineveh, Assyria and Egypt used them, and they are found in the prehistoric Swiss lake dwellings. The Romans of Virgil's time ground their grain by hand between two marble slabs. Many of the early forms of mills have been used in the United States. The settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts, used the mortar for a decade or two. In the “hominy block” of early Pennsylvania, the bowl was a big block of wood burned or dug out. Sometimes it was found inside of the cabin, and also served as an article of furniture. At other times it was merely a convenient stump in front of the cabin door. In the latter case a nearby sapling was often bent over and attached to the pestle, which it helped raise. Such mills were replaced by power mills as soon as population had increased sufficiently to make the latter profitable. The Greeks of the mortar period made the first recorded milling revolution by using male operatives. These were called ‘‘pounders.” THE QUERN was the first complete grinding machine in which the parts were mechanically combined, and it also introduced the circular motion. It was apparently unknown before 200 B. C., but it was widely used at the dawn of the Christian era, and it is often mentioned in the Bible. The first form of the lower stone was conical, but the later type was flattened. The upper stone conformed to the pattern of its mate. Hollowed out in the centre until there was a hole at its base, the upper stone also served as a grain hopper. The stone was turned by a



handle inserted in its side. An important improvement was made at an early date when the grinding faces of the stone were grooved, for the edges facilitated grinding and the grooves served as channels through which the meal was forced to the rim of the stones. This was a rude foreshadowing of the principles of methodical furrowing, a process which was not fully developed until the era of water mills. The quern was the original British flour mill, and it is claimed that it was still used in the mountainous parts of Scotland a decade ago. When the quern was large the upper stone had two handles. Women did the grinding. In Homer's time, the millers were also women, and it required the labor of from one-tenth to onesixteenth of the community to prepare flour. Ever since the

« AnteriorContinuar »