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Entered at the post-office in Grand Rapids, Mich., as mail matter of the second class under the act of Congress of March 3, 1879.
The Federation of Furniture Associations
HE federation of twelve existing associations among the manufacturers of furniture and commercial fixtures has been successfully accomplished. Never before in the history of the furniture industry were so many furniture manufacturers brought together as were assembled in Chicago on the 13th and 14th of the current month. It was a thoroughly representative company, for it included the men who have been connected with associated effort for years and know its value. There were others, too, who certainly must have received a measure of inspiration. These may find the way into the existing associations or be influential in the organization of unrepresented branches into new associations.
Why there is a need for the federation of all the associations was made abundantly clear by Robert W. Irwin in his address at the banquet on Wednesday evening. What he had to say was amplified and emphasized in the addresses delivered at the sessions on Thursday. Chief among these, and of immediate importance at this time, it seems to us, is a united front in securing just and permanent rules for the grading of the lumber which is used in furniture making, and a uniform classification on which the railways of the country may transport the product of the furniture factories. Phases of the cost accounting proposition were also presented and we print in this issue the exceedingly sane address of Frederick B. Smith, president of the Wolverine Mfg. Co., in which he makes it clear that while cost accounting is important, it will not serve as a cureall, and must be used more as an indicator than as a remedy. Mr. Brown, whose experience was gained as the secretary of the Upholstered Furniture Manufacturers Association, and in the business with which he is connected, supplemented what Mr. Smith and Mr. Foster had to say and impressed upon his hearers the fundamental importance of a uniform system in determining the overhead burden. Apparently, the members of the Upholstered
Furniture Association have accomplished most in unifying what is best described as costing.
Incidentally impetus was given, to the organization of the Manufacturers Protective Association, which is not a part of the Federation, nor likely to be, while Commissioner Wulpi gave conclusive evidence that the work which has been done through the medium of the bureaus of which he is commissioner, in making collections and determining the foundation of credits, has been wonderfully successful and is capable of still further expansion. While this work trenches on the field of established private agencies for the accomplishment of the same results, it is evident that the federation must ultimately establish uniform terms and discounts and may become the agency for a much better system of collection and credit than any which now prevails. It should be possible to reduce materially the losses which the manufacturers suffer by the loose system of credit which is peculiar to the furniture industry.
A wise choice was made in selecting Mr. Irwin, whose enthusiasm and ability must needs be credited with the responsibility for the federation movement, to serve as the first president of the organization. When the constituent organizations shall have chosen their representation in the board of governors, it will be possible for the federation to proceed with the work which has been set for them to do. Mr. Irwin may be depended upon to see that they do it.
The One Exposition a Year Proposition
T IS a curious coincidence that while the subjeet had no place on the program, and has been studiously avoided in all the gatherings which have been held to promote the federated proposition, the first matter of business after the election of officers was to receive a resolution passed by the manufacturers of upholstered furniture, declaring for one exposition a year. The manufacturers of upholstered furniture, in coöperation with the Parlor Frame Manufacturers Association, have brought about in their trade one line a year, but because of existing conditions are, for the most part, parties to the two expositions a year. In moving the reference of the resolution to the board of governors of the Federation for early action and report, C. H. Davis, of the Metal and Spring Bed Manufacturers Association, made the statement that a manufacturer, unnamed, had sent out inquiries to 600 retailers located in all parts of the country asking whether they were in favor of one or two expositions a year, and if one, when; that 500 of these had responded, and of this number fully 85 per cent. had declared in favor of one exposition a year and these chiefly in favor of the show opening some time in May of each year. If this is a fair expression of the feeling of all the market buying retailers, there will be little question as to what will be the ultimate result, for the manufacturers have at all times shown a disposition to do what the retailers wanted them to do.
But there is a wide and honest difference of opinion upon the part of the furniture manufacturers on this important subject, and President Irwin uttered no idle jest when he declared in receiving the resolution of the Upholstered Furniture Manufacturers Association "that his troubles had commenced," for there are many manufacturers unequivocally committed to two expositions a year. The proposition which was so unexpectedly interjected into the federation will have equally ardent supporters when the time comes. The proposition threatens to be the first real "issue" in the new association. Whatever may be done ultimately, this difference of opinion should not be permitted to disrupt the federation, for there are bigger and more important things for the federa
tion to do, although the supporters of one exposition a year believe that they have for the first time the instrument through which they may bring about a reform which they have been advocating for years. How potential Mr. Spratt's comprehensive paper on the one line a year proposition, and which was read before the Upholstered Furniture Manufacturers' Association, and is printed elsewhere, proved to be in bringing out the resolution now before the board of governors of the federation, we are unable to say; but it is a document well worth reading and will be found elsewhere.
The Status of Trade Organizations OME disposition has been shown in Washington to modify the legislation which has been proposed, and for which President Wilson stands sponsor, supplementing the Sherman anti-trust law. The five little brothers, so-called, have been reduced to three, and a disposition has been shown to give ear to some of the protests which are being uttered against any legislation which will make the Sherman anti-trust law broader in its scope and more drastic in its control of business. It is a
cardinal doctrine, apparently, with some of our law makers that the country can only prosper under a policy of unrestricted competition; that anything which savors of restraint of trade is a blow at the rights of the people and that price maintenance or organization of any sort for defense or promotion spells robbery and oppression. This is not true.
The Chamber of Commerce of the United States is now taking a referendum vote by which it is expected to secure a full and fair expression of opinion by business men upon the pending bills. There seems to be little difference of opinion upon the need for a Commerce Commission which shall perform much the same function for industrial corporations as the Interstate Commerce Commission performs in connection with the railway companies; but there is a difference of opinion upon what the powers of this commission shall be. In the bills now before Congress, the commission will have to do only with corporations of more than $5,000,000 capital, and no provision is made for this commission acting as guide to trade organizations, which have become a necessity, and which, however good may be the intention, seemingly are in danger of investigation and prosecution at the hands of government officials. On this point the Chamber of Commerce of the United States recommends that the "commission should not now be given authority to advise applicants concerning the legality of proposed contracts, combinations, etc., under the Sherman anti-trust act." The Chicago Association of Commerce takes a broader view of the proposition and has expressed itself as follows:
"We believe this commission should be a body to which business men can come and submit their plans of future action for approval, and that all acts carried out in good faith under the approval of this commission should be performed without the possible danger of subsequent criminal prosecution.
"As the commission will proceed, its reports and orders and investigations will gradually compose a body of administrative rulings which, of themselves, will explain. and clarify the application of the Sherman law. And this new power would then rarely be necessary to invoke.”
We believe that this is the right recommendation. Without something of this kind there isn't an organization of any sort among manufacturers or merchants which is not in danger of prosecution. Several of the associations among the manufacturers of furniture have been engaged for some time in a study of the cost of production. For what purpose? So that the members of these associations will not sell their products at a loss, as many of them
have been doing. It is now proposed to unify this system, and through the federation extend it throughout the entire furniture-making industry. There can be no denial of the purpose of a movement of this kind-higher prices for the goods which are produced. In the eyes of many legislators this is a crime, judged by some things which have recently happened.
Twenty-five years ago there was no uniformity in the grades of white pine lumber-or any lumber for that matter. Lumber which sold under the same name differed widely in actual value. The manufacturers set to work to establish uniform grades. For the past seven years the Bureau of Corporations of the Department of Commerce
has been engaged in a search for the lumber trust and in a report filed during the past month it declares that it has been found because the lumbermen unified grades as a basis of uniform prices. This is just as reasonable as may be the claim that because the manufacturers of parlor furniture have established a uniform system of determining cost and therefore enabled each other to get more for their goods, they have entered into a reprehensible conspiracy.
It's about time that the right of legitimate profit should be recognized, as it is being recognized in Germany, and that the sophistries of political demagogues be discredited.
The Business Situation Reviewed OTWITHSTANDING the rather gloomy complexion of things in a business way, good judges of the situation believe that a turn for the better is not far away. There is no doubt that sentiment plays the biggest part in conditions at present, and just now it is pessimistic. Yet little is needed to change this feeling. An over-night development sometimes has been the means of turning the tide one way or the other. There never has been a time when basic conditions were more propitious for a rebound from depression. When the revival once starts it is certain to make rapid headway. Conservative methods have obtained in all branches of trade for the past several years and the entire business world is impatient to move forward. Fear has held all undertakings in check. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge well expressed it the other day when he said that there was no greater enemy to prosperous business than fear. He had particular reference to the anti-trust legislation at Washington. There is no doubt that the prosecutions of business combinations by the government have had a restrictive influence, and the sooner the proposed laws affecting corporations are enacted and Congress adjourns, the sooner will trade revive. There is a growing belief that the government's policy will be conservative.
Much ado has been made over the laying off of railroad employes by the eastern systems. This action, however, should not be interpreted strictly as reflecting general business in the United States. It simply means that the eastern roads are endeavoring to increase their net earnings. Similar curtailment of expenditures has been prac
tised before and is a commendable measure when conditions warrant. The fact is there has been a very small decline in gross earnings and it is the gross returns which most accurately indicate the trend of general trade. Gross earnings of all railroads in the United States, as compiled by one of the leading mercantile agencies, show a falling off of only 4 per cent. for the first two weeks of March as compared with the corresponding period of last year. The constantly increasing consumptive demand and enormous buying power of the people constitute a great backlog for business and, with brightening skies, milder temperatures and a good crop, give early promise of decided improvement in trade.
Being a Chapter of Comment and Story, Sometimes Reminiscent, Concerning Men and Events in the Furniture Industry, Here, There, and Everywhere
By THE EDITOR
GRAND RAPIDS manufacturer relates in sup
port of the all too common belief that a very large number of the foremen finishers in the local factories, as elsewhere, are susceptible to influence when it comes to buying finishing-room supplies, this tale: "We had been anxious to introduce a varnish which was condemned by our foreman finisher. Every time an order was placed for the make of the manufacturer who had satisfied us that he had the goods which were right, our foreman reported that it was all wrong, and could not be used with satisfactory result. At this stage we resorted to strategy. Five of the empty barrels in which the material approved by the foreman had come, were shipped to the other maker, and came back in due time filled with the varnish from the factory with which we sought to trade. The goods went into consumption, were highly praised by our foreman finisher and were very much all right. Needless to say we have parted company with that particular foreman, and we have no definite knowledge when the fact dawned on him that the varnish which came in the old barrels was not varnish from the manufacturer who had presumably been rewarding him for his influence in determining what varnish we should use."
In this connection it may be stated that there are foremen finishers who at this very moment are standing upon the brink of a precipice because the number of employers is constantly being added to who have determined that no one in their institution can serve successfully at the same time two masters.
Menominee, which is in Michigan, has a mayor who is likely to be heard from during his term of office. He is not unfamiliar with municipal government and he has been intimately connected with the bedding branch of the furniture business for a good many years. The man is Marshall B. Lloyd, who has just assumed the office to which he was elected at the recent election. Mr. Lloyd is an inventor. He invented, fully twenty years ago, the machine for weaving woven wire mattress fabrics, which was very generally used by the manufacturers of this article. These machines were leased on a royalty basis and at one time Mr. Lloyd was receiving royalties of more than $12,000 annually, or had anticipated these royalties by a sale of the machines to even so large a producer as the Simmons Manufacturing Co., of Kenosha. At this period Mr. Lloyd lived in Minneapolis, where he was a member of the city council, and where he served the city with distinction. It is only a few months ago that there was printed in these pages an account of a process invented by Mr. Lloyd for drawing tubing, which it was prophesied would revolutionize metal bed making. This process, it was recorded, had been invented and was being promoted in Detroit. While Mr. Lloyd was still a resident of Minneapolis, he established a manufacturing industry and began to make a line of toy carts, gocarts and metal things of that sort. One or two propositions were advanced in Minneapolis for capitalizing this industry and materially enlarging it, but these were not successfully worked and Menominee, which had always been a lumbering town, began to cast about for
something to take the place of saw mills, offered sufficient inducement to the Lloyd Manufacturing Co. and it was removed to that city.
And now Mr. Lloyd has been elected mayor of the town. In his inaugural address, Mr. Lloyd outlined a plan for making Menominee a beautiful city, in which plan, if it is to be completely successful, there will need to be included Marinette, which is just across the river in Wisconsin. The new mayor's ideas on city government are unique, but Lloyd is so confident of their ultimate success that he is backing them with money from his own pocket. "A town has location to sell. If it hasn't the proper appearance, it is handicapped to a great extent. My idea, therefore, is first to get appearance; then advertise," says Mr. Lloyd. In his first message to the council -the mayor characterizes it as a message to the peopleLloyd offered to provide paint at wholesale prices to any citizen who would agree to paint his home. He offered shade trees at actual cost to any citizen who would agree to plant them under the supervision of the city. He offered the use of 500 vacant lots in the city to citizens who would agree to cultivate gardens on them. Then, to encourage the people to make the most of these privileges, Lloyd offered a cash prize of $100 for the most artistically painted house; another $100 for the persons cultivating the best gardens, and a third $100 for the most artistic flower garden in a workingman's yard. The money for the prizes wasn't to come from the city treasury, either. Lloyd personally gave $100 toward the prizes, and the remaining amount was subscribed by a few individuals. One of his first official acts was to request power to name a citizen's committee of seven, who was to serve without compensation to revise, or, if advisable, to draft a new city charter. It is hinted that a commission form of government will be aimed at. Mr. Lloyd is one of those men who have intensely active minds and judged by the way he has entered on his new duties, there will be a surcease of mechanical inventions while he keeps the town agog with his proposition calculated to make a better and more beautiful city. isn't a bad idea to offer paint at little or no cost to people who will paint their houses. There are towns where the people give little or no heed to the appearance of their homes. But let the paint bug get into one or two house owners and the appearance of the town is sure thereafter to be transformed. Mr. Lloyd lived for many years in Minneapolis, where well-painted houses are in vogue.
Announcement is made of the death of Putnam Richard Judkins, who at the time of his death was president of the Elkhart County Trust Co., of Goshen, Ind. Mr. Judkins was killed by being struck by a fast east bound Lake Shore train at a street crossing. Until about eleven years ago Mr. Judkins was engaged in the manufacture of furniture in Chicago, with a brother, under the name of Judkins Bros. In the later years of their career in the furniture business they made folding beds only-not expensive folding beds-but beds which could be sold at a very moderate price. This was in the late 90's. They sold these beds in car lots almost exclusively, and at a
price which was the despair of all other manufacturers. But the Judkins Bros. made money and retired from the furniture business with substantial fortunes. How times have changed! No one, seemingly, is making folding beds now, and it is certain that there is no salesman gifted enough to sell a car load, to say nothing about many car loads, as the Judkins were able to do. And the question constantly arises in the mind of the man who was familiar with the hundreds and hundreds of these beds which were made between 1890 and 1905, what has become of all these beds? Now and then you will find one in a hotel-an ancient hotel-or a second-hand store. But what has become of the rest? We mean the big, upright ones. A lease of life was given to the principle of the folding bed when the mantel folding bed came into favor, but comparatively few of these are being made now. More metal than wood folding beds are being made, but the device is almost as extinct as the dodo. The time was when beds were made which sold at retail up into the hundreds of dollars and the biggest and most prosperous manufacturers of furniture-manufacturers of the best furniture which was then offered-had folding beds in their line. And the Judkins brothers, so far as we know, were the only people who made any money out of this kind of furniture, for a local paper, in recording Mr. Judkins death, "He was head of the Commercial Exchange of Goshen and was one of the wealthiest and most prominent citizens."
About the time the folding bed began to fall into disfavor there were periods when the life of the trade journalist was hardly worth living. The daily newspapers acquired the habit of recording, in a more or less sensational manner, how a folding bed here, or a folding bed there had suddenly folded up and snuffed out the life of the occupants of the bed. All
at best There is reason to believe that it fell into disfavor as much from the inability of women to move the thing about as anything else. And what woman does not want to be able to move easily every article of furniture in her home?
One of the most convincing of the papers read at the Mass Convention of the Furniture Manufacturers, at which the Federation was organized, was that of C. F. E. Luce, the secretary of the Commercial Fixture Manufacturers Association, on "Freight Classification for Furniture." If there were no other reason for such an organization as has been formed it should be found in the intelligent unification of the classification of furniture. The recital of an incident will serve to illustrate. It occurred fully a dozen years ago when the writer of this occupied the position of secretary of the Case Goods Manufacturers Association. At that time the classification of china closets, in the territory of the Southern Classification Bureau, was double first class, as we now remember. In
THE WAY TO REACH THE MAN
Is not by strategems and spoils
You must be fair and square and just,
the territory of the classification bureau with jurisdiction north of the Ohio river, the classification was en entirely different, while the classification of bookcases was very much lower. Now every furniture man knows that a library bookcase and a china closet are about the same thing in size, shape, weight and fragibility. There was no substantial reason why the two articles should not carry exactly the same classification, and no substantial reason why the classification should not be the same on lines north of the Ohio river and south of the Ohio river. The Southern Classification Committee had given notice of a meeting to be held at the Hotel Patton in Chattanooga. The Rockford manufacturers were the manufacturers who were most interested in one classification from Rockford to the Gulf, and W. A. Brolin, of the Skandia Furniture Company, was appointed the head of a committee to appear before that committee. He prepared himself with infinite care and made a strong case. There were other matters for presentation and the party which traveled south included Adolph Karpen, of S. Karpen & Bros. and the writer of this. The hearings were in a room in the Hotel Patton and our party were guests at that hotel. We were all known to R. G. Morrow, the Memphis manufacturer and New Orleans jobber, and he was known to us. Mr. Morrow was an active member of the association which had appointed this particular delegation, and what was being attempted was equally well known to him, although it afterwards developed, it did not meet with his approval. Not once during our stay was Mr. Morrow visible, although he was in the city during all the time, and secured a hearing before the committee unbeknown to the rest of us. The change was not made and our labors were in vain. Instances of this kind are innumerable. There are manufacturers who are first
Berton Braley, in Coal Age.
the inventive skill of the bed makers was turned to making self-locking beds, and the retail salesman was charged with selling talk with which to combat the idea which had become prevalent, that folding beds were unsafe. Let the trade paper editor reprint any of these tales, or make any allusion to them, and forthwith some maker of a folding bed would enter his protest and withdraw his advertising The jokesmiths of the daily newspapers kept up the fusillade, and undoubtedly had much to do in creating a belief that folding beds were unsafe, while the sanitarians contributed their mite by spreading the belief that shut up all day a bed of this type was not a very good thing on which to sleep all night But why this latter argument is not as tenable when applied to the sofa bed davenport, which is the legitimate successor to the folding bed, we are unable to understand. Many attempts were made to make the folding bed a thing of beauty, and although it was supposed to be a great saver of room space, with its safety devices and counter weights and wealth of lumber, it was a cumbersome thing
and always for themselves. It is now proposed to adopt a modern policy.
Mr. Luce's files are full of letters showing that manufacturers in the commercial fixture lines are constantly working at cross purposes with the various classification committees. This is equally true in other lines of manufacture. No wonder that uniform classification is not accomplished and that the railways are in position to juggle classification and increase their earnings under false colors. There seems now to be general agreement among the manufacturers of furniture that the railroads should be granted an advance in rates, but a horizontal advance of 5 per cent. in the rates now being paid may mean one thing to one manufacturer and another to another. It may mean one thing in one stretch of territory and much more in another. But there can be no hope of rational classification until the manufacturers themselves get together and agree upon classification and description of classification which is first equitable to all concerned, and which at the same time can be understood by the shipper and railway employes. Pull down your classification sheet and see how many things are included which do not now have a place in the present furniture nomenclature. Articles of furniture come and go. There are things being made today which were not being made ten years ago, and the classification sheets still feature articles which are obsolete. It is not in the nature of things that rate clerks and classification committees should be able to keep pace with these changes, and the changes which take place in the character of the product of factories in all other lines. Therefore, the necessity for cooperation at the hands of a fair-minded, wellinformed committee representing all the furniture manufacturers. Assistance of this kind ought to hasten the completion of the universal classification now so much needed.
OMPLAINT has been made, so long as the memory of man runs not to the contrary, that the manufacturers of furniture suffer more than do most manufacturers from design piracy. It is notoriously true that if any particular article of furniture proves successful, it is immediately copied by some other manufacturer, cheapened oftentimes, possibly modified slightly and put into open competition. Instances are not unknown in which the actual patterns of certain manufacturers have been bought through dealers by designing commission men or unscrupulous manufacturers, and the goods copied literally. Within the past year an employe of a Michigan factory was detected copying the samples on the showroom floor of a Grand Rapids manufacturer, and ejected from the room.
At this time, when Period furniture is in vogue, and when all the designers are basing their work on the models of the English masters, it is difficult to determine whether or no any one has a right in the prevailing patterns. But it is a curious fact that while the manufacturers of laces, draperies, fabrics, wall paper and like things are giving loyal support to the National Design Registration League which has fathered this legislation, the makers of furniture are seemingly without interest in the work which is being done. Possibly more manufacturers of furniture prefer to be in position to steal their designs than create them. We hope not. For the time will come, let us hope, when some original work will be done by our designers and the inspiration will be from within, rather than from without, and we shall have furniture of distinction as well as originality.
There is now pending in Congress what is known as the
Oldfield bill for the protection of design. The purpose of the bill is not to protect the configuration or ornamentation merely, but to protect the manufactured article embodying the design or having the design applied thereto. In other words, a design as applied to or embodied in a stove might be found capable of being adapted to a product in some other art, as, for example, in a sugar bowl or a piece of glassware. The theory of the bill is that the design of the sugar bowl, or the design of the piece of glassware embodying the particular ornamentation or configuration is new and registerable, notwithstanding the previous application of the design to the stove, and that the previous registration of the design of the stove would not prevent a valid registration for the sugar bowl or the piece of glassware having a similar ornamentation or configuration embodied therein or applied thereto.
Under the section providing the defenses, it will be sufficient to defeat the charge of infringement of a registration by showing that the design was old embodied in the particular product at the time it was registered to the complainant, or that the design was not new and original as embodied in the product at the time of registration. The question of validity and all other questions affecting rights are thrown entirely into the courts and applications for registration cannot be held up pending the determination of such rights.
AMERICAN gum lumber, according to a consul report, is finding a ready sale in Syria.
WE ARE doing a big export trade in timber and timber products, but decidedly too much of it is timber and raw material and not enough consists in finished articles, such as furniture.
LONG-DRAWN-OUT strikes are on at the plant of Heywood
Bros. & Wakefield, the chair makers, at Gardner, Mass., and against Levin Bros., manufacturers of upholstered goods, at Minneapolis, Minn.
CAN it be possible that the Interstate Commerce Commission has been influenced by the "watchful waiting" policy of the President and does not therefore hand down the decision on the application by the railways for au advance of 5 per cent. in the existing rates?
THE Georgia Chamber of Commerce, with headquarters at Atlanta, has sent out inquiries all over the state regarding new industries which are needed in various sections, and what coöperation would be given new comers in the way of financial assistance in securing a market for their output. Eight cities have replied that they want furniture factories.
THE question is constantly being asked in connection with the revival of American black walnut whether there is enough of it to make it worth while. Well, we sent 494,575 cubic feet of it to Hamburg in 1912 and 543,030 cubic feet in 1913. That is the largest amount of any American wood sent to that particular market in the years named, with the single exception of poplar.
ONE of the readers of THE FURNITURE MANUFACTURER AND ARTISAN sent us, several months ago, a piece of pumice stone with the statement that there was an abundant supply of this material available if it had any value. He asked that we make an investigation. The correspondence on this matter has been mislaid. We are