WOOL (AS, well, (loth. vsella, 011G. (?(•n. 11'o//e, NV(ed ; connected with Lat. ti//us, re/tus,, ()Church Slay. r/r0ur, Lit h. wins, Skt. wool, from ror, to cover). The soft hairy covering of sheep and several allied ani mals. next to cotton the most extensively used of all fibres. Its history dates back to the earli est times of which we have any record. and as civilization has progrp,,ed its uses and applica tions have steadily increased.
Woof, ANo CoxstmiPTtov. The chief wool-producing eountrie: of the world are: Argentina, Uruguay, and other South American countries; Australia and New Zealand; t he United States; Russia, Great Britain and Ire land, France. Spain; South Africa; and India. The world's clip for 190o was estimated by the National Association of Wool Manufacturers at 2,685,000.000 pounds. The consumption of wool in the United States has always been relatively large. Prior to the beginning of the factory era it did not average more than three pounds per capita of population annually, and in the middle of the last century it amounted to four pounds, but as wealth increased and the uses of wool en larged. the consumption increased to about eight pounds per capita in 1900. In that year the wool clip of the United States estimated at 290,000.000 pounds, the product of 40,000.000 sheep. About two-thirds of the wool then used by American mills was supplied by domestic flocks. The imported wool: largely used for blankets and carpets are mostly of lower quality. The principal wool-producing States are Montana, New :Mexico. Ohio. Texas, Wyoming. Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, California, Utah, i\lichi:?an. and Arizona.
Sheep-raising has preceded civilization in near ly all parts of the world. 'Before agriculture
was practiced to any extent, it was almost uni versal. With the progress of civilization. the use of wool for making cloth led to the improvement of the fleece by selection and breeding. The Romans preatly increased the fineness of the fleece, and after the Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula Roman sheep were introduced into Spain. where they so greatly improved the native flocks that even during Roman supremacy Spanish wool led in the world's markets, a pres tige held for many centuries. Through judicious crossing of the Merino with high grade long-wooled breeds, the highest type of wool fibre has been developed. combining supple ness, fineness, and other desirable qualities with lustre and length of staple. It is suitable for combing as well as carding.
Wool may be considered a product of cultiva tion, or domestication, as no will animals are known which resemble the wool-bearing sheep; and few natural products have 1)(Tn more modi fied and diversified by man to meet his various needs. This is very strikingly shown by a com parison of the coarse heavy covering of the argali or musmon (the supposed progenitors of the sheep), with the fine wool of the Merino or the long, lustrous fleece of the Leicester. These animals were covered with coarse hair or fur. among whip], close to the skin was a softer hair or wool. Under the influence of good care and feed, and protection from the inclemencies of the weather, the longer coarse hair largely disap peared, and only the softer. shorter hair or wool remained, a phenomenon said to he observed when the alTrali is brought under domestication.