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"A Manual Containing Information Respecting the Growth of the Mulberry Tree, with Suitable Directions for the Culture of Silk"

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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In the first years of the 1830s the cultivation of silk was seen as the next sure-fire get-rich scheme. The difficulties of cultivating silk worms were minimized in publications which painted the painstaking process of silk cultivation as something anyone, even children, could do. This excerpt from an 1833 book is typical: it offers some inflated, although possible, figures for profits; it gives advice that, if meticulously followed, could work but it minimizes the risks that for many led to complete financial disaster. Driven by texts such as this, the market for mulberry trees--silk worms can only feed on these leaves--had exploded by 1838. Speculation drove the price through the roof but the price collapsed in 1839. Several hard winters (1840-42) followed, killing many of these trees; those left were finished off by a blight.


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