Among mde nations fire was obtained by rubbing together two pieces of dried wood; and Ihe practice among civilized people has been to procure it by the flint and steel, catching the particle of steel struck off and rendered red-hot by the friction in dry and highly inflammable tinder. To this .ucceeded the usc of phosphorus, which in 1680, a few years after its first discovery, was introduced for this purpose in London by Godfrey Hanckwitz, who applied it by rubbing it between folds of brown paper till it took fire; it was then m:tde to ignite a stick, one end of which had been dipped in sulphur, and which may be considercd the the earliest form of the common match. The cost of the phosphorus, however, prc\'ented its general use either in this form or in several others contri\'ed for the same purpose. One of the most successful or these was to partially burn a bit of phosphorus in the confined air of n small vial, the effect of which was to line it with the oxyd of phosphorus; the vial was then corked, und when required for use a sulphur match was dipped into it; the match was thus ignited by the chemical action thus produced, or by afterward rubbing it upon a piece of cork. Another form cxtensively usel were called chemical matches, and were sold in little cases called phosphorus boxes, containing a few matches, at first as high as 15s. each box. They were small sticks of wood dipped first in sulphur, and then in a compositilm of chlomte of potash, flowers of sulpllllr, colophony, gurn or sugal' and cinnabar for coloring. Accompanying them in the box was a yinl containing sulphuric acid, into which the match being dipped, it was instantIy ignited by the chemical action induced between the acid and chlorate of potash. The other ingredients were added merely on account of their combustible qunlities. To this succeeded, in 1S29, the usc of the Ittcifer match, inl'ented by Mr. John \Yalker, chemist, at Stockton-upon-Tees. In his experimcnts upon chlomte of potash, he found that this could be instantly ignited by friction, as in drawing a stick coated with it quickly through folded sand-paper. The salt was made to adhere to wood alt'eady coated with sulphur, by dipping this in an emulsion prepared with mucilage, of either phosphorus or sulphuret of antimony and chlorate of potash. The other inflammable ingredients sen'ed to retain the fire and communicate it to the wood. Mt. Wnlker manufactured but few of these matches for usc in his neighborhood. Professor Fm'auay, learning of them, procured some, and brought them into public notice. Their useful properties welie soon perceived, and their manufacture rapidly increased, till it became an important branch of industry in Europe nnd the Uniteu States, furnishing employment to Inrge numbers of men, women and children. The chief objection to the preparation was the noise produced in igniting the match. This was afterward obviated by the substitution of niter or'saltpeter for the chlorate of potash, nnd the disagreeable smell of the burning sulphur was diminished by replacing a part of this substnnce with stemine. The best wood for matches is clear white pine, which possesses the softness required for the manufacturing process, together with the necessary stiffness and inflammability ; and the quantity of this consumed in their manufacture is enOlmous. 'rhe wood is first sawed into blocks of uniform size, and the length of two matches. By machines of ingcnious construction, these are afterward slit without loss of material into splints, which being collected into bundles and tied are dipped into the composition, first one cnd and then the other. Another string is then fastened round them, after which they are cut across between the two strings by n circular saw which divides them in the middle. Round matches are formed by forcing the wood endwise through holes in plates, which in the English works are an inch thick, with steel ftlce and bell-metal back. In American establishments tubes are employed whether for round o r square splints. The perforations are made as near together as possible, only leaving enough of the metal between to give the necessary strength for cutting. This invention was patented in England in 1842. The acid fumes thrown off from the phosphorus in the various processes of making matches frequently canse among tho peoplo employed n tefrible disease which attacks the ? t!i aad Jew; mi to such an alarming extent did it prevail in Germany, that the attention of the government was called to it. The dippers are most liable to suffer in this way, in consequence of standing for hours over the heated slab upon which the phosphol'lls is spread. As those persons with decayed teeth arc most susceptible of the disease, they are carefully exelu'ded from some manufactories. No antidote has as yet been discovered to this terrible disease. Its natmal course is to rot the entire jaw bone away. This generally occupies several years with a steady discharge of matter outside and into the mouth. The pain is not very acute, but is constant, and the sufferer seldom stll"vivcs the natural course of this disease. Many operations have been performed, chiefly by Dt. Mott at the New Yot'k Hospital. In some cases the entire jaw bone, and in others only one half or one side of the jaw has been removed. By this process the disease is arrested, aud the patients generally recover. Thorough ventilation and careful attention to cleanliness have been found the most effectual pre\'entives. It is a fact worthy of notice that, insignificant as matches are, it is a matter of importance, on account of the immense numbers made, that the manufactories should be situated in districts where timber is cheap. One manufacturer in Herkimer county, N. Y., is said to have consumed within the last 18 years2,225,000feet of)umber, producing6,500,000,000 matches. Probably the largest manufacturer in the United States is Mr. Charles Partridge, of New York. His works, Cor the sake of abundant supplies of materiai, arc in the wooded district of Lewis county, N. Y., Near the Black River canal. Beside the wood employed for the splints, large quantities are nlso consumed for the small cylindrical boxcs in which the matchcs are transported. Some of the splints arc exported to the 'Yest Indies and South America, where the manufacture of matches hns been established within a few years past. The matches themselves nre largely exported to the East Indies, Australia, China, MeXICO, South America. thc Pacific coast, &c. The total amount manufncturcd in the United States is cstimnted at 7,000 gross of boxes daily, containing 35,700,000 matches. and worth $3,000_ . __..._
This article was originally published with the title "Friction Matches"