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purchasing of shoes, clothing, food and furniture. This creates the business, and the investment of capital will follow perforce.
None of the "explanations" brought out so far seems to reach the root of the matter. It is apparent that business is dependent upon so many elements, tangible and intangible, that no one cause can be assigned for present conditions. It can only be hoped that the uncertainty will pass into confidence and that the greatly impaired purchasing power of the working classes be again brought to normal. Those best in touch with general conditions agree that the country was never on a sounder basis. Agricultural conditions are most promising. Money is plentiful, merely awaiting opportunity. Merchandise stocks throughout the country are at a minimum. The stage is all set for a season of prosperity such as the world has never seen. Something is clogging the wheels and when this has been discovered and removed, business prosperity will come with a rush.
The Grading of Lumber
URNITURE manufacturers will find much that will interest them in the comment of the lumber papers on the repudiation of the 1913 rules of the National Hardwood Lumber Association by the Federation of Furniture and Fixture Manufacturers, in convention assembled. Of equal interest is the address made at the meeting of the Federation by Geo. A. Buckstaff, who served as the spokesman of the opposition to the acceptance of the rules, which will also be found in this issue. There seems to be some disagreement upon some of the events leading up to the adoption of the
Explaining Business Depression 1913 rules. The lumbermen claim that the furniture
T SEEMS to be the fashion at the present time for every one to try his hand at "explaining" the present business depression. From President Wilson down to the man on the street, each has his own idea on the subject and the daily press devotes considerable space to the airing of widely divergent views on this point. The President's characterization of the depression as "merely psychological," was no doubt made in all seriousness, but it has been turned into a flippant phrase of derision in many cases. To most business men the condition seems entirely material rather than mental, but there is much to be said on both sides. The textile trades are bitterly assailing the tariff and lay the entire blame at its door. One school of philosophers believes that the inflation of real estate values has been the cause. The railroad rate case is another factor which looms large in some eyes.
As a matter of fact, it is obvious that everything depends upon the viewpoint and there is some merit in all the theories. To the financier with millions to invest, the psychological aspect is doubtless the leading factor. He requires at least an approximation to certainty before plunging into new ventures, and his chief concern is as to the future. Among this class there is certainly considerable apprehension, a "psychological condition," as to legislative regulation of business. On the other hand there is the working man who wants to buy a shirt for 30 cents and has not the money to buy it. There is nothing psychological in his attitude and yet business as a whole is largely based upon the consumption of necessities by the 90 per cent. of the population who live from hand to mouth. When they have the money they will buy, and when they have not, they do without-and business suffers. There is nothing psychological about this. The man who contemplates buying a railroad has an entirely different viewpoint from the man who needs a pair of shoes. Business does not develop from the investment of capital in new enterprises, but from the
manufacturers were invited to voice their opinion on proposed changes, but failed to do so-slept on their rights, as it were- -while the furniture manufacturers claim on the other hand that they were refused an opportunity, when they were prepared to protest against the change. On the other hand, the representative of the Hardwood Lumber Manufacturers Association claims that he in turn was refused a hearing before the Federation.
It matters not now what has happened, the important thing to be brought about is a complete understanding between the manufacturers of lumber and the furniture manufacturers who seem to have been responsible for what promises to be a period characterized by considerable acrimony.
It is the contention of the lumber papers that the establishment of grades, or standards upon which any commodity may be sold, is the function of the manufacturer. In this contention we are of the opinion that in the main they are right. But in the case at bar there is reason to believe that the rules in question have been largely determined by the middle man-the man more interested in the manipulation of grades than in securing equal justice to both buyer and seller.
For fully twenty-five years it has been the contention of this writer that there should be but one set of rules governing the grading of lumber. The National Hardwood Lumber Association is made up of both manufacturers and middle men. The Hardwood Lumber Manufacturers Association consists of lumber manufacturers. For years an effort has been made to bring the rules of these two organizations into harmony. If the modifications which were made in the 1912 rules, at the meeting of the Hardwood Lumber Association, held in 1913, had as its object the accomplishing of some such result, then it is to be commended. If, however, the changes were made, as is claimed, to get more of a
better grade out of certain pieces of lumber, then it is to be condemned. The protest of the furniture manufacturers is chiefly against the temptation which is offered, under the new grades, to rip what might be a wide board so as to bring the parts into a higher grade than the wide board otherwise would take.
We are not disposed to attach as much importance as does Mr. Buckstaff to occasional changes in inspection rules. This may be set down as certain: There will never be stability in rules covering the inspection of hardwood lumber until there is but one set of fully recognized rules. Many of the modifications made in recent years have been made in an attempt to bring all the elements in interest into harmony. Furthermore, it is certain that slight changes even then will need to be made to conform to the changing character of the timber from which the lumber is cut. This has been found necessary by the inspection bureaus of both the white and yellow pine lumber associations. But these changes should be avoided as much as possible. What is demanded by producer and consumer alike is clarity in description, and stability in interpretation.
What any particular grade shall be named matters little so long as it is clearly understood what the grade contains-what is the real value of the material contained in a certain grade as sold to the ultimate consumer. You can not put value into lumber by changing its grade. Just at present this is a buyer's market, and it is very certain that no manufacturer of furniture who knows his business, and knows lumber, is going to pay more than the lumber is worth, whatever may be the nomenclature of the grade.
Nor can the furniture manufacturers reasonably expect that they can fix the grade of lumber. There are other consumers of hardwood lumber besides the furniture manufacturers who are deserving of consideration and are sure to get it.
Let these consumers get together with the manufacturers of lumber and make rules which shall be authoritative. Cut out the middle men who unfortunately have shown quite as much interest in the manipulation of lumber grades as in the sale of lumber at a fair margin of profit.
Why Business Waits
ERTAIN bills are pending in congress designed to supplement and strengthen the Sherman anti-trust law. Many changes have been made in the bills as originally presented. When the bills were first introduced, it was given out that they were administration measures, and it was well understood that the President would insist on their passage. It has developed in the course of the discussion in congress that the bills, in their original form, were not well digested legislation. A respectable representation of the business world has asked that congress adjourn without taking any action on these measures, and that the several bills be referred to a body of business men. There is a very representative contingent of the community which believes that the business depression which prevails is due to the uncertainty concerning the effect on business of this legislation should it be enacted. As much has been said to the President. His reply is that the existing depression in trade is "entirely psychological." He declares that business is in a healthy condition, and that we only think it is bad. The President is not in business. There are a few furniture manufacturers who are in business who know differently. The President continues to insist that congress shall stay in session and that the proposed legislation be enacted. As the protest swells in volume,
the President becomes more determined, cracks the party lash and declares that "big business" is in a conspiracy to discredit the administration, and that an insidious lobby is at work to defeat what the President has undertaken to accomplish. Supposing this were so, has the business interest of this country no right to protest or to express itself? Must business men sit supinely by while the politicians respond to the pleas of organized. labor and the farmers for special privileges which are provided for these classes in the pending measures? If this be so, then demagogery has reached the limit.
Providing for Organized Effort
N NONE of the supplemental anti-trust legislation pending in congress is any prominence or importance attached to the proposition to give the interstate trade commission any power to guide and direct trade organizations. The President is of the number, evidently, who believe that safety and the nation's prosperity lies only in unrestricted competition. Even the committee from the United States Chamber of Commerce did not give support to the proposition that the proposed commission should have the power to determine how far organization among merchants and manufacturers for protection might go, although be it said to the credit of the constituent bodies of business organizations that even in the face of a committee recommendation, this position was repudiated when the referendum vote was taken. The majority of the great community organizations among business men have said that they want any new body which may be created invested with authority to determine how far organized effort may be legitimately extended for the protection of profits.
There are many organizations among the lumbermen. These have been under investigation for seven years past. While the report of this investigation is not completed, but while the legislation now pending was under consideration in the House of Representatives, a portion of the report was given out by the Bureau of Corporations in which this insinuating paragraph is said to appear:
"How shall associations such as these be permitted to exercise functions that are legal and proper without perverting them into instruments of wrong or usurping wrongful functions? It may be both proper and desirable for producers in any line of business to establish standard grades, to collect and publish information as to output and current prices, and to coöperate in various proper ways for the common advantage; but it should be pointed out that the standardization of grades is the first step to price fixing, that the collection of information as to output facilitates the curtailment of production, and that coöperation for harmless purposes affords a convenient basis for combination in restraint of trade."
We are constantly being told that our forest resources are being depleted, and yet a department of our government would apparently have the operators in timber kept in ignorance of what is being done by other operators in timber in this broad land of ours and the slaughter encouraged and continued would permit disparity of grades to prevail; would deny concert of action in the curtailment of production,, all because these things may result in that fearsome thing, "restraint of trade." Isn't restraint of trade very often wholesome? Does not unrestrained competition spell financial disaster to the manufacturer and constant reduction of wages for the laborer?
That we do not misinterpret the attitude of the government officials towards the organizations among the lumbermen, let us quote another paragraph:
"These lumber associations, like similar associations
in many other branches of trade, are included in the so-called 'associations not for profit.' It has been sometimes proposed to exempt such associations from the prohibitions of the Sherman law. While they are not organized to obtain profits for the associations as such, they are, nevertheless, the report says, frequently intended and used to promote the profits of their members by means prohibited by the Sherman anti-trust act, and that the serious consequences which might result from exempting them from the operation of that act are obvious." Rather insinuating, that. A paragraphic play on prejudice. Ammunition for the political stump orators. If it be within the scope and intent of the Sherman anti-trust law to prevent the things enumerated above, then the law needs no strengthening feature.
If the President will make a fundamental feature of his campaign for supplemental Sherman anti-trust legislation provision for the organization of an interstate trade commission which could give power to trade organizations to regulate certain things-grades, prices, output, etc., if you please-and keep the legitimate margin of profit within bounds, business will recover and prosperity will be general. There seems to be little disposition on the part of congress and its director to do anything of the kind, which explains why "business waits." It may be "entirely psychological," but it is coldly true.
IT SEEMS to be largely a question of confidence at this stage of the game-with the crop prospects as good as they now are.
ONE thing the Federation of Furniture and Fixture Manufacturers might undertake is to establish a few standards in finishes. Action of this sort would be welcomed by the retailers.
BUT what will it avail if the yield from the farms is large and puts much money in the possession of the farmers if the money is to be deposited in the banks and not used in business development?
IF "OPPORTUNITY" is responsible for many new designs, then the July show, now so near at hand, should reveal many new patterns. Most of the manufacturers have had plenty of time to get out new things since January last.
AN INVENTORY has been made of the furniture manufactured in the manual training school of Minneapolis, and it has been found that within a year the students built $6,000 worth of furniture, which was used in the schools.
THE Forest Product Expositions, held last month successively in Chicago and New York, seems to have been most successful in New York. These shows were expensive exploitations, but many of the interests represented seem to be more than satisfied with the result.
THE Metal Bedstead Federation, of Great Britain, is making a collective exhibit, consisting of about one hundred of the latest and best designs in metal bedsteads, at the Anglo-American Exhibition, which is now on in London. In this way the Federation is giving evidence that it is alive to publicity and this, it is said, indicates the initiation of a new era as far as design is concerned. Undoubtedly the metal bed industry in this country has
suffered from a lack of consistent and persistent adver tising.
IT IS interesting to know that the Chinese government is sending students from China to the Philippines to study modern forestry, especially as applied to Far Eastern conditions. Possibly there may be more in planting Western civilization in the Far East than some of the people in these United States have been willing to believe.
War or no war, freight rates or no freight rates, tariff or no tariff, baseball or no baseball, grape juice or champagne-the farmer is still on the job.
DON'T FORGET HIM.
-E. C. Simmons, of the Simmons Hardware Co., St. Louis.
PRESIDENT WILSON seems to object to the people registering their opinion of pending legislation, in Washington, particularly when that opinion runs contrary to the opinion entertained by the President. Just at present he is protesting against "Business"-"Big Business," he calls it objecting to the pending anti-trust legislation. His cry of "Lobby, Lobby," is strongly suggestive of "Wolf, Wolf."
JUDGE CONNOLLY, of Detroit, has ruled in the case against Lafer Bros., who advertised freshly churned butter and sold oleo, that the Michigan fraudulent advertising law is constitutional. It had been the contention of local attorneys, including the prosecuting attorney, that the title to "regulate and prohibit" false and misleading advertising was broader than the act itself and that in consequence the act was unconstitutional.
IT IS reported from Canton, China, that there is an ever increasing market in that city for metal beds of the cheaper grades which are in keeping with the limited purchasing power of the Chinese. Consul-General F. D. Cheshire, who communicates this information, says the beds most in demand are those ranging from $5 to $15 United States currency for a single bed, and $10 to $20 for double beds. There are three department stores in Canton which are in position to handle a line of beds.
WHAT has become of the proposition to build an exposition building in Jamestown, N. Y., and what has become of a similar movement for a suitable building in High Point, N. C.? There is apparently no lack of exhibitors for the furniture exposition space which is offered in Grand Rapids, and there is every present prospect that the most ambitious building enterprise yet planned for that city will be carried through. If so, the question will be very properly asked, "Where are all the exhibitors coming from to fill the space which is to be provided?"
THE tasks which the Federation of Furniture and Fixture Manufacturers has set itself to do will be undertaken during the ensuing two or three months. It is expected that the organization will be completed early in the month of July. The choice of a secretary or executive officer will follow and it will then be possible to launch the work of the Federation. Some details are given elsewhere of what has been done since the inspiring meeting which was held last month and reported in these pages in the May issue.
A DEALER writes asking where he can find black walnut office chairs. With the re-entry of American black wal
nut, there will be the usual difficulty of matching up desks and chairs in office furniture, and the other things which go together. Gum suffered for a time because the product of the factories was confined very largely to chamber suites, but this is no longer the case. You can buy almost any piece of furniture now made of gum, although there is much variance in the finishes. The tendency in office furniture in recent years has been towards lighter finishes in oak, and away from the dark finishes, and even from mahogany and its imitations.
AN AMERICAN manufacturer has just secured an order from a Valencia firm for about $2,500 worth of veneer machinery, consisting of a two-meter cutting lathe, shaping machine and sundry tools. The contract was secured in spite of European competition. In fact, European manufacturers were negotiating for the business some days before the American firm, whose representative was nevertheless able to convince the customer not only of the more substantial construction and greater efficiency of its equipment, but also named a lower price. This is the first instance of the sale of heavy American machinery in the Valencia district. In view of the peculiar conditions surrounding the veneer manufacturing industry here, it is likely to result in further business.
ACCORDING to the expert of the Birmingham Post, the most unfortunate of the Birmingham industries of 1913 was the manufacture of metallic bedsteads. The demand in the twelve months never approached the capacity of the factories, and there was much short time and unemployment of operatives. The products of this industry have declined in public favor in the last two years and wooden bedsteads are more fashionable. It is accordingly anticipated that the depression that characterizes the trade will not pass away soon. The rapid rise in favor of the wooden bedstead was accelerated by the rebate scheme of the Metallic Bedstead Manufacturers Federation, which was formed in 1912 to regulate production and control prices. Rumors have prevailed that the rebate scheme was to be abandoned, but no such action has as yet been taken. The home trade was dull throughout the year and export orders were fewer and for smaller quantities. China and South Africa showed some development, but elsewhere the amount of business was not so good. The Bedstead Association price list has remained unchanged, but the business of the year was very unsatisfactory.
THE defection is reported of one of the large manufacturers of metal beds of Birmingham, Eng., from the Federation of Bedstead Manufacturers. What effect this action will have on the organization remains to be disclosed. The officers of the Federation say it will have
No statement is made of the causes which lead to the withdrawal of one of the constituent members from the Federation which has now been in operation for the past six months. The payment of the rebates provided under the plan has commenced, and some of the opposition to this feature has therefore been removed. The plan of organization among the British metal bed manufacturers, in the main, is like to the plan which was proposed by Parks & Loring for the entire furniture industry in this country. This plan seemingly does not come in conflict with the laws of England, although it is mighty certain that if the Parks & Loring pools had been in operation in the furniture industry of the United States there would not even have been "watchful waiting" by President Wilson. There would have been pros
ecution by the president or his predecessors. Admittedly the operation of the Federation has secured better prices to the English manufacturers for their goods, and it is certain they badly needed them.
THE struggle for recognition of supremacy by the three cities which now lay claim to be known as real furniture markets is by no means over, and the manufacturers of furniture who have found that it is almost a necessity that their goods be shown in one or all of these cities will be called upon to listen to many pleas and arguments from now on. The retailers will not suffer for lack of invitations to visit the market places, if present plans are carried out. The New York manufacturers have joined together under the name of the New York Wholesale Furniture Association to increase the number of visitors to that market. Mr. Spratt, who has always been much the most lavish advertiser of expositions, has subscribed $5,000 to the New York Wholesalers' Advertising fund, which is to be the largest yet provided. In Chicago the exhibitors effected an organization last winter to supplement the work of promotion, which has been done by the building owners chiefly for many years, so it will be seen that there is to be no relaxation of effort upon the part of the rivals of Grand Rapids. The movement of exhibitors has been unmistakably toward Grand Rapids in the past three or four seasons; but because hotel facilities were lacking much less has been done than might have been done to increase the number of buyers to visit this market. But the new Pantlind will begin to be available in a few months now, and it behooves the manufacturers who are interested in Grand Rapids as a furniture market to get together in some movement which will at least make it apparent that Grand Rapids is on the map. Advertising must needs be met with advertising.
RECENTLY a committee of the New York Chamber of Commerce, representing mercantile, manufacturing, shipping and financial interests, formulated the following statement with regard to the business situation: "What business men desire, and what industry needs, is a period of rest for the peaceful readjustment of all enterprises not inconsistent with accepted principles of law and ethics and for the advancement of individual endeavor, free from all sense of repression. This," says the New York Herald, in an editorial, "is the sagacious counsel of sagacious and patriotic men actively engaged in varied fields of endeavor." Then continues the Herald: "There is no use blinking the fact that business is shackled and depressed by meddling and muddling legislators, ignorant of the effect of their action and of their inaction. For if they realized the results of the Interstate Commerce Commission's throttling of the railways they would take action to relieve the most important of the country's industries. The country is tired of investigation and regulation and needs a rest. There has been an enormous reduction in revenues for the railroads, with the result that tens of thousands of employes have been dismissed in the last few months. All the natural conditions for prosperity exist, and a revival would set in if two things were done one to permit the railways to make a fair advance in the rates; the other is for Congress to drop its Industrial Commission and other projects that shackle the individual freedom and initiative that has made this country great. Let government officials and legislators take their hands from the throat of business. Let us have that period of rest'" In this way the Herald undoubtedly expresses the consensus of opinion of conservative business men.
WRITTEN IN THE SEMI-EDITORIAL VEIN
Being a Chapter of Comment and Story, Sometimes Reminiscent, Concerning Men and Events in the Furniture Industry, Here, There, and Everywhere
By THE EDITOR
TTENTION has been called in these pages to the opportunity which awaits the dealer in hardwood lumber, and particularly some dealer who handles choice cabinet woods, who will undertake the task of selling these choice woods in small quantities to the directors of manual training schools and the amateur cabinet-makers who are becoming so numerous all over the country. Outside of the manufacturing centers it is a difficult matter to buy even our native cabinet woods in small quantities—or in any quantity for that matter. The demand is limited in the retail country yards, except for the common structural woods. Some interior trim is generally supplied by the manufacturers who mill this portion of the average building. Even the contractors seldom have occasion to buy anything except the structural woods, which are carried in the local lumber yards. The finer woods are carried in the city yards, and furnished for specific purposes, fully miled, on special orders. The lumbermen are so accustomed to doing things in a big way that they forget that there is a market for a few pieces every now and then. It is not true either that manual training schools are confined to the larger cities, where there are sizeable lumber yards carrying fair assortments of lumber. These schools are being established in the villages and hamlets, and while a wise director of this class of work in the University of Wisconsin has suggested that the students should make the things which are most likely to be serviceable in the communities in which they live-the every day things of the farm, etc.-the fact remains that many of these students will undoubtedly want to make furniture if they can get hold of the material from which furniture is usually made.
Just at this time the manufacturers of lumber are looking for new outlets for their product. The lumbermen are confronted with the fact that many substitutes have en introduced which are displacing lumber. Steel is being more and more used for structural purposes, and it is mighty seldom that the lumberman has a chance at a big bill of dimension. Twenty-five years ago millions of feet of two-inch stock went into a single grain elevator. Not so any more. Bridges are being built of cement and roofs are being covered with Rubberoid and special composition shingles. The shingle of pine or cedar is being replaced. This is not due to any scarcity of timber, but because the substitutes have been proven more suitable. This condition is recognized by the editor of The Timberman, published at Portland, Ore., and in a couple of editorials which have just been called to the attention of the writer, he urges the lumbermen to place some of their material in the department and furniture stores. Here is the very plausible and interesting argument which he makes:
"It is not an overdrawn statement to make that of all the commodities which enter very largely into the comfort and use of mankind, lumber is the most difficult to purchase in small quantities. For example, take the average householder in a city who owns his own home or even rents it, who is desirous of securing a few pieces
of lumber to build some window boxes, erect a shelf or make some slight repairs requiring only a very small amount of lumber, you will find often that the difficulties and cost in securing material will result from one cause or other in the abandonment of the plan. Just stop and ask the first six of your neighbors if they ever have purchased a foot of lumber since they moved into your neighborhood, and it is more than likely that their reply will be that they have never done so, but would be glad occasionally to get a few boards if the material could be delivered at the house provided a telephone message or a letter would bring the material to them. There are millions of householders throughout the United States who could and should be regular purchasers of lumber in small amounts. In the aggregate the volume would be quite large. Through the department, furniture and hardware stores in cities this particular trade should be supplied. The department store with its means of delivery brings the goods to your door with the least possible cost. It must be kept in mind that the modern department store in the city evolved from the general merchandise store in the country, where everything from an anchor to a sewing machine was invariably kept in stock, and occasionally a small supply of lumber. The material which the department store should carry in stock would be a small assortment of dressed lumber, say from two to ten inches wide and not to exceed eight feet in lengthsimply for small domestic uses. That the department and hardware stores have not carried a small stock of lumber is due entirely to the fact that the lumbermen have overlooked this channel of distribution."
This is only another expression of a need which outcrops constantly among the readers of THE FURNITURE MANUFACTURER AND ARTISAN, many of whom, scattered all over the country, are identified with the manual training and industrial education movement.
The Grand Rapids trade mark is under discussion again in Grand Rapids-not in the hands of the manufacturers of furniture who were responsible for the original campaign exploiting the little red triangle as the mark of superior quality in furniture-but promoted by the Grand Rapids Advertisers club, which holds a weekly lunch, at which pertinent subjects are discussed. Thus far the consideration has been almost altogether historical. Roy Barnhart, of the Nelson Matter Co., and Wm. Widdicomb, of the Widdicomb Furniture Co., who were members of the committee who had the original campaign in charge, have told some exceedingly interesting things about how the movement was started, how much money was spent upon it, but have not explained clearly why the campaign was abandoned. All this has been listened to with interest by the members of the Ad Club. More than the usual number of furniture men have also attended these gatherings. It is the practice within the club to assign the direction of the dissensions at the mid-day lunches for a period of a month to some one member of the club, the chairman thus chosen determining the topic to be considered. Carl Wernicke, who is the son of O. H. L. Wernicke, is the chairman for the month of June and is directing the discussion