JH Velthoven are suppliers of dressed raw materials to the brush industry worldwide
JH Velthoven
Bahia PalmFinished 3-tie before shipmentFinal stage of processingSuppliers of dressed raw materials to the brush industry worldwide

Sierra Leone

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African Bass [Sherbro] (Raphia hookeri)


Sherbro ready to ship.

This fibre is obtained from Sierra Leone in West Africa, and whereas there used to be two areas where the fibre was grown, Sherbro and Sulima, we can now only obtain the Sherbro Bass or Piassava. The fibre is harvested from the leaves of the Bassa Palm which are cut, soaked and combed. The first commercial shipment of African Bass was in 1889 and emerged due to the failing supplies of South American Piassava.

The fibre is brought down in lighters from Bonthe on Sherbro Island (from which the name derives), to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, where it is loaded into containers for shipment to the UK. As with the Bahia Piassava, the Sherbro is purchased mainly in bundles of undressed fibre which in the case of Sherbro are approximately 1.2m long. The fibre is cut, and oiled and dressed ready for brush-making. It is often mixed with Bahia and synthetic fibres. Sherbro Bass has quite good wearing properties, and does not easily crush or distort. It is used mainly in road sweeping and farm brushes, and does not lose its stiffness when wet.


Suitable stems are cut out.

Suitable stems are cut out. (The palm stays - the ecological system is retained)

Bass dressing machine

African Sherbro combing machine at HBC.




Another West African fibre is Calabar, which was an African Bass grown in Nigeria. It was the stiffest African Bass, and as such was mixed with Sherbro to produce the best African Bass brooms, but unfortunately due to the Nigerian civil war, supplies became scarce, and this fibre is no longer used.