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Indians of the West to the Indias of the East, from the continental islands of the Indian ocean to the southern continent of Australia, tobacco is grown and consumed, like its next of kin, the Irish potato, it has made the conquest of the earth.
It is the greatest of all revenue-producers. It is taxed by every government. It bears a heavier burden, in proportion to its cost of production, than any other commodity. The governments of France, Spain, Italy and Austria make a monopoly of its manufacture and sale. England puts a tax upon it, averaging 1200 per cent of its prime cost. It is the stay of nations, the poor man's luxury and the rich man's solace.
STAfTV M xas VyBAOCO ESDCSTRY—ON THE C8B C. TH2 WEED.
Tha demand for prime quality tobacco is constantly increasing, because of the increased rate of consumption.
In the United States, while population in 1896 is only two and one-half times greater than in 1860, consumption of manufactured tobacco is fivefold greater, and of cigars tenfold, to say nothing of five hundred cigarettes per capita consumed annually, which were unknown before the war. In the twelve years ended with 1893, domestic consumption of cigar leaf tobacco increased forty per cent, while the quantity of manufactured tobacco consumed (smoking, chewing and snuff) just about doubled. Exports have doubled within two decades, and now average one-third larger than ten years ago.
The per capita consumption in France has trebled in little more than half a century, while a somewhat similar rate of increase is apparent in England and other European countries. In other parts of the world, for which statistics are lacking, it is believed that the per capita consumption is increasing even more rapidly. Add to this the growth of population, and it is evident that the market for tobacco is certain to be an expanding one. This is in marked contrast to the staple necessities of life, such as wheat, rye and potatoes, the consumption of which for each unit of population appears to be comparatively stationary.
An advance in the value of tobacco has been coincident with this increased demand. If 100 is taken to represent the average wholesale market price of American tobacco in leaf during the year I860, its value for 1891 averaged 140 in the United States, in England 163, and at Hamburg, Germany, 85 (see table in Appendix). The advance noted in America and Great Britain is partly due to the improvement in quality, only the better grades being included in the quotations averaged, while the decline observed at Hamburg may be ascribed to the bulk of low-grade leaf imported, including, of late years, increasing quantities from new centers of production south of the equator.
The advance of 40 per cent in market value of the better grades of American leaf is all the more remarkable because of an average decline of 12 per cent in the value of wheat during the period under review, a decline in wool of 25 per cent, and of cotton 20 per cent. The general average for all farm products shows a decline of three per cent (see table in Appendix). In other words, tobacco alone, of all the great staples, maintained an advance in value in the three decades since the war. Nearly all values have declined since the exhaustive study of prices was made, in 1891-3, by the finance committee of the United States derate, but the general average for tobacco shows a less falling off than most other crops, except in the more speculative cigar wrapper leaf. The tables of quotations in the Appendix, upon the standard grades of leaf in the principal home and foreign markets, confirm the foregoing.
Increased production in the United States, of leaf and of cigars, cigarettes and manufactured tobacco, has fully kept pace with increased consumption and export. The United States now devotes over 700,000 acres to this crop annually, about one-third more than forty years ago, with a crop twice as large as then, for it exceeds 600,000,000 pounds in a year ot average production. Nearly 300,000,000 pounds are manufactured for chewIng, smoking and snuffing, a tremendous increase—ten times as much as was returned for internal revenue taxation three decades ago. The cigar output is also ten times larger and bids fair to soon reach five billion a year, while eight billion cigarettes have been made in a single twelve months.
The development of the cigar making and tobacco manufacturing industry in the United States has likewise been rapid. It employs about 150,000 people in about 12,000 establishments, against only 25,000 employees and 2000 factories in 1860. The wages now paid are ten times a? much as then, materials used cost five times as muck, while the annual product of these factories represents seven times the value of 1860. Indeed, these tobacco products in 1890 exceeded in value the total of the printing and publishing trades. The people pay more for tobacco than for newspapers, books, or other literature—almost as much as for foot wear, and about twice as much as they pay for sugar. With a tobacco factory product valued at $200,000,000, the last census affords this comparison with the values of the product in other manufactures: Boots and shoes, $220000,000; carpentry, $281,000,000; carriages and wagons, $114,000,000; cotton goods, $268,000,000; woolen and worsted, $225,000,000; liquors, $300,000,000; flour and mill products, $514,000,000; slaughtering and meat packing, $433,000,000; sugar refining, $123,000,000.
Government revenues from the tobacco industry have kept pace with this marvellous growth, although the rate of taxation has been downward. Almost $50,000,000 of revenue was obtained by the federal government from tobacco in the fiscal year 1891. Two-thirds of this vast sum was derived from the direct or internal revenue taxes on domestic leaf, and the balance from duties on imports (Appendix). Until internal revenue taxes were reduced by Cie law of 1883, tobacco yielded Plate I. CONNECTICUT (East Hartford) BROADLEAF (topped plant).
This beautiful engraving is of a plant grown in a field of several acres raised by W. F. Andross, an experienced planter in the famous East Hartford district. The seed has been carefully selected and inbred for years, this specimen representing average perfection of the variety. This plant is topped and is nearly ready for harvesting. When photographed, August 10th, it was like feet high; length of stalk, 3 feet 1 inch; top leaf, 28J inches long and 13 inches wide; largest leaf, 34xl!iJ inches; number of perfect or merchantable leaves on plant, 14, only one being a thick top leaf, three good leaf binders, and ten line wrappers. Many plants are larger, some having top leaves 36 inches long, with largest leaves 43x23 inches—a truly royal plant.