Months in the making, the complete history of the evolution of the International Cotton Association and the cotton industry has now been posted on the association’s website. Vincent McKernan, the archivist responsible for aggregating the information, went back more than 213 years to put together this resource for industry professionals and academics alike in the hope that it would lead people to explore the archive in more depth.
With events like the Industrial Revolution, the growth of the railways, two world wars, and the transatlantic cable to choose from, McKernan sat down with Cotton International to choose the three moments in the fiber’s history he found most fascinating.
Primarily, the archivist says he simply couldn’t get over the newspaper advertisement from 1756 promoting the first-ever cotton auction in Liverpool. “It shows how tiny the amount of cotton imported was,” he explains, “only 28 bags. Less than 50 years later, Liverpool was importing half a million bales!”
In addition, McKernan lists the invention of the hedge fund system by John Rew in 1866/67. “It revolutionized the trade, doubled the business of the Liverpool Cotton Market, and brought stability to the industry,” he says. Adding to the interest value, McKernan notes that despite all of this, Rew remains a largely forgotten figure in the cotton industry.
Finally, the reinvention of the Cotton Association in 1963 sticks out in his mind. “Given the circumstances after World War II, it might have been expected that the association would be in terminal decline. But it changed its structure, revitalized its membership, became international in outlook, and concentrated on the provision of the expert services it had built up over many years, such as arbitration,” he concludes.
To see the complete timeline, go to www.ica-ltd.org/about-us/our-history.