Whalebone.—Whalebone is the substitute for teeth in the Greenland whale, and in the black southern whale; The surface of the blade is compact, and susceptible of a high polish by mere friction. Its texture is lamellar in the direction of its breadth, so that it easily splits and divides in this direction, but not in that of the thickness of the blade; the middle of the blade is of a looser texture than the rest, and is called the grain, being composed of coarse, bristly hairs. The general colour of whalebone is a dusky greyish black, intermixed with thin strips or layers of a paler colour, which are often almost white—very rarely the entire flake is milk-white. To prepare the whalebone for use, it is boiled in water for several hours, by which it becomes soft enough to be cut up, while hot, in lengths, according to the use to which it is to be applied; or, by means of a compound guarded knife, is cut into fibres for brushes, which are extensively used in stables for the first process In cleaning a horse. Whalebone that has been boiled, and has become cold again, is harder and of a deeper colour than at first; but the jetblack whalebone has been dyed. The principal consumption of whalebone is for stretchers to umbrellas and parasols, also for women's stays, and whips are made of plaited whalebone. White whalebone has been made into bonnets, and likewise into artificial flowers, as its texture is well adapted to this purpose; and it will, by the usual dyeing processes, take very bright and durable colours.
Workshop Receipts, for the Use of Manufacturers, Mechanics and Scientific Amateurs.
London: E. and F. N. Spon, [no date, but 1873]
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Last revised: 12 November 2013.