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Industry History

Alpaca Industry History really begins in England in the 19th Century. While the indigenous empires of South America had attained an amazing level of textile development, it was only with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution that alpaca fiber was widely available to consumers.



Titus Salt

Sir Titus Salt is undoubtedly the founder of the modern alpaca industry. Alpacas had faded into the background of history after the Spanish invasion of South America. Then, in 1834 the Englishman named Titus Salt noticed some bales of alpaca fleece at a Liverpool warehouse. Salt was already involved in the textile industry, owning four textile mills.

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Charles Ledger

Charles Ledger was the first European to export alpacas from their native South America.  This was an amazing chapter in the history of the alpaca industry, presaging by 150 years the birth of the modern Australian alpaca industry.

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The Alpaca Century

Alpaca represented the height of fashion for nearly a century. The luxurious fabric made from alpaca fleece in English mills was so sought after that it the word attained common usage throughout the English speaking world, and the fiber found some surprising uses!

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Alpaca Umbrellas

Alpaca Umbrellas Yes. While for a long time, Umbrellas were only covered with two materials--silk and cotton, manufacturers constantly searched for a better material that would resist the friction and wear that the mechanism puts on its covering. In the middle of the 19th centruy alpaca was given this task, and a patent was taken out.

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The Rise of Peru

Alpaca remained popular for the better part of a century, but virtually all processing of the fiber was done in Europe.  The indigenous peoples o South America were left to provide a commodity, while the riches associated with the luxury fiber went to foreign textile manufacturers.

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The Alpaca Industry in the United States

The alpaca industry in the United States began in the 1980's when small numbers of alpacas were imported from Chile.

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The Alpaca Industry in Canada

The Canadian alpaca industry in many ways has paralleled that of its southern neighbor.  Alpacas first arrived in Canada in the 1980's, followed by larger imports beginning around 1992.

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The Alpaca Industry in Australia

The alpaca industry in Australia began with a false start when Charles Ledger smuggled a number of alpacas, vicuna and llamas out of South America in a speculative attempt to begin a new industry in the 19th Century.  It was not until the late 1980's that the modern Australian alpaca industry began.

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"Half an hour after the wagon left, Nat Wheeler put on an alpaca coat and went off in the rattling buckboard in which, though he kept two automobiles, he still drove..."

- Willa Cather
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