According to Amazon Rubber Boom

From the beginning of the second half of the 19th century, rubber began to exert a strong attraction to visionary entrepreneurs. The activity of latex extraction in the Amazon revealed its lucrative possibilities. Natural rubber soon achieved a place of distinction in the industries of Europe and North America, reaching a high price. This caused various people to travel to Brazil with the intention of learning more about the rubber tree and the process of latex extraction, from which they hoped to make their fortunes.

Because of the growth of rubber extraction, industrial processing and related activities, numerous cities and towns swelled on waves of immigrants. In 1855, over 2,100 tons of rubber was exported from the Amazon; a figure which reached 10,000 tons by 1879.

Wikipedia along with other sources also say the rubber boom started in 1879: 'First rubber boom, 1879–1912' ... 'The rubber boom occurred largely between 1879 and 1912'.

Yet the description with accompanying figures sounds more like production smoothly increasing. What happened in 1879, that this is considered the year in which the boom started?

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    Where does that say the boom started in 1879? – axsvl77 Oct 2 '20 at 18:31
  • @axsvl77 'First rubber boom, 1879–1912' ... 'The rubber boom occurred largely between 1879 and 1912'. It's clear where 1912 comes from; that's when the Asian rubber plantations came online, marking the end of the boom. But why is 1879 in particular chosen to mark the beginning? – rwallace Oct 2 '20 at 18:53
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    I suspect it depends on the tonnage growth after 1879. Going from 2000 to 10000 tons in 24 years is pretty slow. Do you have tonnage for, say 1885-ish? – Jon Custer Oct 2 '20 at 22:20
  • jstor.org/stable/3113637?seq=1 Suggests the real boom years were 1900-1912, but may have more info if you have JSTOR access. – Jon Custer Oct 3 '20 at 15:45
  • @MarkC.Wallace Okay, done. – rwallace Oct 4 '20 at 1:59

It is a good question. The expression 'first rubber boom started in 1879' does not imply that before that the rubber extraction was zero. It just imply that these were the golden years - that is exactly what portuguese sources say, just google "ciclo da borracha" and you get "ciclo da borracha viveu seu auge entre 1879 e 1912", where 'auge' means 'peak'.

I have two clues (the first one I remember from high school history classes):

In 1877 there was a large drought in Northeast region of Brazil, which resulted in an organized migration movement towards the rubber industry in the Amazon.

And it may have coincided with a bad period for the coffee plantations.

I believe that the first point is more important. Coffee was basically not in the Northeast, and the major migration of workers for the rubber industry was from the Northeast. It is even an stereotype that 'nordestinos' (people from the northeast) in the Amazon migrated there in the rubber boon era.

Besides that, the rubber industry was almost always just extraction - very few trees were planted, they just went into the forest looking for trees. Therefore more people, even untrained, not acclimated, illiterate peasants, quickly meant more rubber.

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