The screw pines are natives of tropical regions; are abun dant in the islands of the Indian Archipelago, and in most of the tropical islands of the Old World, but rare in America; the section Cyclanthese, on the contrary, being exclusively confined to that continent. This order jls divided into two sections, the first of which callei Pandanse, and the second Cyclanthese. Each of the sections contain several genera, some of whicb contain several species. The Car-ludovica is a small genus of the; second section of the order. Of: this genus the species called by-botanists Garludtmca Palmata, in; the most valuable and interesting; it is the plant from whose; leaves the celebrated Panama, hats are made. Dr. Seeman, a, celebrated South American traveler, states that the leaves of this; plant are from six to fourteen feet, high, and their lamina about four feet across. In the Isthmus the; plant is called Portorico, and also Jipijapa, but the last name is the most common, and is diffused all along the coast as far as Peru and Chili; while in Ecuador a whole district derives its name from it. The Jipijapa is common in Panama and Darien, especially in half shady places; but its geographical range is by no means confined to them. It is found all along the western shores of New Grenada and Ecuador; and it has -been found even at Salango, where, however, it seems to reach its most southern limit, thus extending over twelve degrees of latitude: from the tenth N. to the second S. The Jipijapa, or Panama, hats, are principally manufactured in Veraguas and Western. Panama; not all,however,known in commerce by that name are; plaited in the Isthmus; by far the greater proportion is made; at Manta, Monte Christi, and other parts of Ecuador. The hats; are worn almost in the whole American continent and the. West Indies, and would probably be equally used in Europe, did not their high price, varying from two to one hundred and fifty dollars, prevent their importation. They are distin guished from all others by consisting only of a single piece, and by their lightness and flexibility. They may be rolled; up and put into the pocket without injury. In the rainy sea son they are apt to get black, but by washing them with soap and water, besmearing them with lime juice or any other acid, and exposing them to the sun, their whiteness is; easily restored. The process of making these hats is as follows : The; straw, previous to plaiting, has to go through several processes. The. leaves are gathered before they unfold, all their ribs and coarser veins removed, and the rest,. without being separated from the base of the leaf, is reduced to shreds. After having beenput in the sun for a day, and tied into a knot, the straw is immersed in boiling water until it becomes white. It is then hung up in a shady place, and subsequently bleached for two or three days. The straw is now ready for use, and in this state sent to different places, especially to Peru, where the Indians manufacture from it those beautiful cigar cases, which have been sometimes sold in Europe for thirty dollars apiece. The plaiting of the hats is very troublesome. It commences at the crown, and finishes at the brim. They are made on a block, which is placed upon the knees, and requires to be constantly pressed with the breast. According to their quality, more or less time is occupied in their completion; the coarser ones may be finished in two or three days, the finest take as many months. The best times for plaiting are the morning hours and the rainy season, when the air is moist; in the middle of the day and in dry, clear weather, the straw is apt to break, which, when the hat is finished, is betrayed by knots, and much diminishes the value. Test for Illuminating Petroleum, The Corry (Pa.), Kerosene Oil Works recommend th& following as a simple manner of determining the fire test of kerosene oil: Take a cup or tumbler, fill it nearly full of water (previously tested by the thermometer to be 110 or 111 Fah.), then take a tablespoon full of the oil, of which it is desirable to test the igniting point, immerse it in the water, and stir for a moment or two to permit the oil to reach the equal temperature of the water, pass a lighted match very closely over the surface of the oil once, which always floats on the water. If it does not ignite, it can be safely used, but if it does-ignite, discard it, however low the price may be; this is a fair and sure test as far as safety is concerned. The other so desirable point—does the oil burn brilliantly and without charring the wick 1—the Experience of every family will soon detect. Something depends upon the wick, and something upon the lamp; but properly manufac tured oil is the main thing needed.
This article was originally published with the title "Panama Hats—What they are Made from, and How" in Scientific American 20, 11, 168 (March 1869)