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Egyptian Cotton History

For thousands of years cotton has grown in Egypt yet they used flax to create linen. They would turn almost ripe stems into yarn after soaking them in water for around a week. Then they would carefully separate the fibers and by using a spinning tool they would expertly twist and spin the fibers into yarns then weave them into fabric on a loom. Back in the early 1800s a guy named Jumel from France persuaded Egypt’s head of state Muhammad Ali to sample a piece of cotton he had named Maho. Muhammad Ali was so impressed he made him a plantation manager and then built up his cotton crops and spread them all over the Delta region of the River Nile. He dominated the cotton business and started selling his crops for a set price annually. This gave a huge boost to the economy and also sparked interest from Europe. Muhammad Ali continued to dominate the industry and developed Egypt into a cotton colony connecting with the textile industry in Europe. This brought huge profits for Egypt.

After Muhammad Ali passed away the next generation of heads of state used the cotton success and started to get loans from some banks in Europe. They wanted to modernize the production of cotton so they could increase the exports. These loans had high interest rates but because of the vast amount of cotton being produced Egypt could manage the debt. This revolutionized Egypt in to a modern country that became knowledgeable in credit systems.

Unfortunately the American civil war cut off Europe from their cotton exports and so in Egypt the prices went crazy and in the space of just two years the price rose to $50 million. Muhammad Ali’s grandson Ismail decided to do something and so he looked to develop a part of Cairo into a city like Paris which he did and later called it ‘Paris on the River Nile’ he also created and constructed the Suez Canal which became a valuable resource for Egypt.


In 1861, Egypt exported in all directions 600,000 cantars, without counting what she retained for her own consumption. In the year 1862 the exportation amounted to 820,000 cantars, and in 1863 it reached no less than 257,411 bales, which, at the average rate of 5 cantars per bale, formed a total of 1,287,055 cantars. By these statistics it will be seen that the exportation and consequently the production, have actually doubled since 1861: and this rate of increase even falls behind the accelerated speed it has assumed in the present year.

The 257,000 bales exported from Egypt from January 1, 1863, up to January 1, 1864, were distributed as follows: — England received 196,422 bales, against the total of 130,839 in 1862; France, 47,691 bales, against 31,3000 in 1862; and Austria 13,398, against 7,430 in 1862. The Austrian importation nearly doubles that of the former year, and this is but an index of the growing demand throughout Germany.

Generally speaking, Marseilles and Trieste do not possess any stock whatever of Egyptian cotton. The quantities sent to those ports are only in transit, the importations received at Marseilles being destined for Alsace, the North of France and Switzerland, to which, for the present year, Spain may be added. The importations at Trieste are for the interior of Austria and other parts of Germany, as well as for Switzerland, which draws supplies from all the Adriatic and Mediterranean ports.

The entire stock of cotton at Liverpool amounted at the end of December, 1862, to 390,000 bales, among which figured 26,000 bales of Egyptian or Make cotton. At the end of 1863, this stock was only 21,137 bales, of which 18,000 were Egyptian cotton. In 1863, Liverpool had drawn from this latter country 196,422 bales, and her stock of Jumel cotton had diminished by 7,000 bales. Consequently the consumption of Egyptian cotton by England for the year 1863 had risen to 203,522 bales, against 113,000 bales in 1862, and hence there was an excess of 90,522 bales of Egyptian cotton by England in 1863, over and above the total of 1862.

In France the importation is very rapidly gaining ground, and the demand is increasing so rapidly throughout the north of Europe, that Havre is soon to become one of the leading centres of this branch of the trade, and is even destined to surpass the activity of Marseilles in that respect.

The most extensive preparations are on foot this year in Egypt to widen the range of this most important and beneficial culture. Accumulated capital and skill within the country itself are pushing on all sides to now undertakings, and both are flowing in from Europe, and even from America, with all the improved appliances of the most modern science and ingenuity, to give a fresh and increased impulse to the business.

The future thus opened up to a vast region of the earth, which for so many ages of modern history has lagged behind in the race of civilization, cannot be mistaken. The more we contemplate it, the more are we cheered by the approaching solution of problems that have long perplexed the political economists of our time.

In the southern portion of our own continent vast regions are soon to be opened to a more vigorous and enterprising population than has hitherto occupied them, and that branch of agriculture which has, until lately, almost engrossed them, is seeking a still more congenial and befitting home for its development, where soil, climate and vast supplies of indigenous labor of the right kind only await the call that is to make a garden of another vast area long given up to barbarism. It seems scarcely necessary, after the facts and figures we have given, to direct the attention of American enterprise toward this new arena. Some of our countrymen are already there, and more are preparing to follow. Their skill and experience will undoubtedly meet with golden rewards, and King Cotton find a proper throne on the burning soil of the far East, to requite him for a doubtful scepter in the grain-growing and manufacturing West.


Throughout the past three centuries, Egyptian cotton has prevailed as one of Egypt’s biggest competitive advantages. With an established reputation of being the “best” cotton in the world, its softness, strength and superior characteristics, have positioned products made of Egyptian cotton as the world’s finest.

Egyptian cotton has not gained such a reputation without reason. Egyptian cotton “is” the world’s finest cotton and the following characteristics are what set Egyptian cotton apart from other natural fibers:

The length of the fiber makes it possible to make the finest of yarns without sacrificing the strength of the yarn. The strength of the fiber makes fabrics more solid and more resistant to stress. Its ability to absorb liquids gives fabrics made of Egyptian cotton deeper, brighter and more resistant colors. Its softness feels like nothing else in the world. Egyptian cotton is hand-picked which guarantees the highest levels of purity. In addition, hand picking puts no stress on the fibers – as opposed to mechanical picking – leaving the fibers straight and intact.

All these factors have resulted in the Egyptian cotton being by far the best cotton in the world. Fabrics made of Egyptian cotton are softer, finer and last longer than any other cotton in the world.