Publication: Crockery & Glass Journal
New York, NY, United States
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE GLASS MANUFACTURERS.
On Friday, July 17th, the twenty-seventh annual meeting of the Association of Flint and Lime Glass Manufacturers was held at Atlantic City, N. J. It not often that a body of men in any class of business can hang together for twenty-six years, and it speaks well for the glass manufacturers that this organization, formed so long ago, has remained intact. Further, in all this time there has never been any serious discord. Differences have arisen, naturally, but never to a degree which for a moment threatened dissolution. The benefits derived from this harmonious association can not be measured, and aside from the debates of its regular sessions there are interchanges of thought in the social intercourse in and about the hotel which bring the men into a close communion and fellowship that goes far toward removing jealousies and misunderstandings which might arise were they strangers to each other. In point of fact, the conversations held privately between the different members are worth as much or more than the stated meetings. It often happens that rumors are dispelled and misrepresentations made straight; and little matters which if left to grow would become irritating are settled offhand. The inauguration of a series of papers has also been of great benefit. Much valuable information is thus disseminated which in not only entertaining, but instructive.
The meeting convened at half-past two Friday afternoon. Present: Daniel C. Ripley, president, and Messrs. James F. Gill, Fred R. Gillinder, R. G. Hemmingray [sic] Hemingray, Thos. Evans, E. P. Ebberts, Harry C. Fry, Jr., E. J. S. Van Houten, Marion G. Bryce, A. H. Heisey, Wm. T. Gillinder, J. E. Merry, Chas. Brox, Benj. Royall, and H. D. Murray, actuary. After a short session of routine business the election of officers took place and resulted as follows: President, Daniel C. Ripley; vice-presidents, Fred R. Gillinder and L. B. Martin; treasurer, Thos. Evans; directors, Daniel C. Ripley, F. R. Gillinder, Thos. Evans, H. C. Fry, and Hugh McAfee; actuary, H. D. Murray.
After the executive session, W. F. Wakeman, ex-Appraiser at the port of New York, was invited to address the meeting. He introduced his remarks by a little personal history showing how he became interested in the American Protective League, of which he is now secretary and the real executive officer. He then proceeded to show the objects of the league, and gave details of its workings and the results accomplished. He spoke for nearly half an hour, and the closest attention was paid to his remarks, everybody present listening with intense interest. At the close a vote of thanks was tendered him and the following resolution adopted:
Whereas, the appraisement and classification of foreign merchandise is of vital importance to the interests of honest importers and domestic producers, and
Whereas, examiners of merchandise in the various ports of entry are officers having great authority in the administration of the customs laws, and
Whereas, the Treasury Department has maintained the natural policy of reasonable business economy in appointing a sufficient number of examiners to do the work of appraising imported merchandise throughout the country, and
Whereas, many examiners have examined and appraised the same lines of merchandise for a great many years, and
Whereas, correct administration of customs laws may be advanced by inaugurating a policy of a transfer of examiners,
Be it resolved that the American Association of Flint and Lime Glass Manufacturers earnestly recommends to the Secretary of the Treasury that additional examiners be employed, so that a constant transfer of service can be secured at all times.
He was followed by E. J. S. Van Houten, who read a paper on "The Evasion of Customs Duties on Glassware and its Effects on Trade," as follows:
"Daniel Manning, when Secretary of the Treasury under President Cleveland, said that customs duties at the Port of New York were defeated to the extent of forty millions a year. Whether the same condition exists to-day or not I am not advised, but it is a matter of common knowledge that in a great many lines under valuations exist in connection with imported merchandise. That under valuations exist in our own industry, especially in the importation of blanks and stemware, is well known.
The first effect of under valuation or wrong classification is to injure the honest importer and divert trade to those who are less scrupulous in invoicing their goods and in arrangements for the kind of appraisements which they desire.
The second is to drive the domestic producer to a reduction of wages or loss of trade. This is well illustrated in the importation of blanks, wherein certain firms have increased their importations to an alarming extent and have forced the cutters to use foreign blanks and practically driven the domestic manufacturer out of the market. Again this is illustrated in connection with stemware, where the domestic manufacturer has no place in the market at present, when the labor cost is equal to fifty-five or sixty per cent of the finished product.
Some little time ago a member of the largest export and import commission house in crockery and glass in Austria was in New York. He brought with him a quart cut decanter. It had a two-inch band and a full star. The glass itself was very poor, but it was cut glass. This decanter could be retailed for one dollar, after passing through the importer, the jobber and retailer, making four profits on it. The gentleman was asked what he paid his cutters, and replied: "Sixteen cents a day." He then was asked if he did not think America needed protection, and he had to say that he did.
The manufacture of glassware in Germany has become a thriving industry. The number of factories has reached 400, giving employment to about 35,000 workmen. This is a good showing when it is considered that the production of glass is comparatively a new thing there. For the last thirty years the imports from Austria, Belgium, England, and Italy have been rapidly losing ground, but Germany now exports to those countries certain kinds of glass, such as bottles of every description, etc. Naturally, the German manufacturers have not reached that stage where they can compete with Belgium or with Venice in fancy colored decorations.
There is probably no other important industry in which greater difficulties are experienced in the effort to secure information concerning the cost of producing particular articles, and especially of securing it in such a way that the products of different factories can be compared.
Information concerning the cost of production of practically identical articles in the United States and Great Britain was secured in the case of green glass pickle and spirit bottles. The cost of producing one gross of bottles in Great Britain was found to have been $2.49, of which $1.03 was for labor in transforming the materials. Returns from four firms in the United States for the same article showed the cost to have been $3.93, $2.97, 3.04, and $3.13 respectively, in which the cost of labor figured $1.63, $1.61, $1.60, and $1.88.
For green glass spirit bottles the cost in Great Britain of one gross was $3.06, of which $1.15 was for labor, while the total cost in the United States was $5.46, $4.13, and $3.75, of which $1.97, $1.88, and $2.36 was the labor cost.
It is, after all, almost wholly a question of wages. In the absence of a protective tariff the selling price of glassware in the United States would probably be reduced, to begin with. How long would lower prices remain after all the factories making glassware in this country were closed up? If we had no factories the foreigners would charge us five or six times what we now pay for glassware. They did the same thing with tin plate before protection gave us our tin plate mills. They would do it again if home production were crushed out of existence by the removal of the tariff. Just now the foreigners are selling glassware very cheaply in the United States. Following is a comparative table of the wages paid per shop for shades and stemware in the United States and France respectively:
As you will notice, the wages paid in the United States are about three times more than paid to the same class of workmen in foreign countries. It is an undisputed fact that were it possible for the workmen over there to get money enough together to bring their families to this country they would do so; but all do not know of the advantages derived from living here, and others find it difficult to break away from old associations, and so they keep plodding away at the avocation of the generations who have preceded them. "Like father, like son" in those countries; so if the father is a glassworker the son also goes into a glass factory.
There have been three distinct periods in the duties imposed upon glassware — from 1789 to 1824, an era of ad valorem rates; from 1824 to 1846, an era of specific rates; from 1846 to 1890, a second era of ad valorem rates.
From 1789 to 1824 the rates were as follows: 1789, 10 per cent.; 1791, 12½; 1792, 15; 1794, 20; 1804, 22½; 1812, 45; 1816, 20.
From 1824 to 1846 duties were as follows:
In 1857 the rates were all made uniform and fixed at 30 per cent. for uncut and 40 per cent for cut ware.
In 1857 these were reduced to 24 per cent. and 30 per cent. respectively.
The effect was ruin to domestics. In 1861 plain, molded, and pressed ware was made dutiable at 25 per cent., and all other articles, cut or uncut, 30 per cent. These rates were raised from year to year to 35 and 40 per cent. respectively.
The McKinley tariff made the following changes: All flint and lime glass bottles were dutiable at one per cent. per pound if exceeding one pint, one and one-half cent per pound if between ¼ and 1 pint, and 50 cents per gross if less than ¼ pint in capacity. It reimposed duties on packages and fixed the rates at 60 cent. on both cut and uncut ware with the exception of chemical glass, which was made dutiable at 45 pre cent. Therefore the cost of packing and necessary charges will be added to the cost of the goods, and upon such valuation will be based the duties imposed.
The effect is prosperity and development. I believe our present duty of 60 per cent. is high enough if rigidly enforced.
Following is a statement of our imports and exports for ten months ending April 30, 1903, compiled by the Bureau of Foreign Commerce. The same information for the corresponding period of last year is also given for comparison:
I believe that undervaluation is carried on systematically, and always has been, by a certain class of importers. This accounts for the great strides made by some and the accumulation of great fortunes, while some of the older and better establishments have gone back in a business way, or have been obliged to give up to avoid losing all they had.
If a house sets out to beat the customs it is a difficult matter to detect the fraudulent schemes, and as detection is only punished by fine it pays to take the chances of being caught occasionally. It is not only in price, but in count and classification, that fraud can be practiced. It is a difficult matter to determine the cost of goods in Europe, particularly in Bohemia, as the ware is seldom bought complete from a manufacturer, but is assembled in shops by the shippers. Again, the goods are acquired by barter or exchange, and thus have an uncertain value. Resident agents in Europe bill the goods to their own houses, and thus all trace of the manufacturer is lost, as well as the real cost of the product.
It is so easy to undervalue and so hard to detect that temptation is irresistible — in fact, I believe it would be impossible for a firm to do a large and paying business in competition with some in it in a regular and legitimate way. I do not say that all the importers cheat the Government on principle, but that many do, and do it as a rule and make a good deal of money by it.
I cannot suggest a remedy. It is a very complex and difficult problem to solve. On many things a specific duty would be a great help to proper returns; but this would not apply to the bulk of glass imports."
This paper brought out a round of applause, and there were many complimentary things said of it.
The president said that Mr. Blair, who had been asked to read a paper, was ill at Cambridge, O., but that he had sent the document, and he would ask Mr. Murray, the actuary, to read it.
SOME THOUGHTS ON GLASS.
By George W. Blair.
"In my remarks I will not attempt to follow the history of glass making in the Old World. The achievements of the ancients do not interest us so much as those of the present day. What are we doing and what can we do? are the more important questions.
We are more or less familiar with the advances that have been made in the last half century. There certainly have been many changes and improvements made in the quality of the glass itself; in the methods of producing; sizes of furnaces; size and quality of pots; applications of heat; improvements in molds and presses, lehrs, and glory holes; introduction of machinery, etc.
Looking back over the many changes, comparing methods that were practiced half a century ago, considering the general quality of the glass and the quantity, we are led to the question, What of the future? We are certainly not vain enough to think the "ultimate" has been reached. How will those who are to come after us in the next fifty years view our achievements, our standards of workmanship and quality? That there will be many changes and improvements we can rest fully assured. What prophet of the future can forecast these changes? Will there be an advance in the quality of glass made? Will it be in the manner of making or in the nature of the ingredients, or both? Will it be in the working of the glass or in the new kinds of molds and presses, or both? Will it be by reason of better pots and higher heat in melting?
If we were to have a piece of ordinary glass analyzed we should find sand, soda, lime, magnesia, alumina, iron, sulphur, manganese. A number of these ingredients are necessary; some are present in small quantities and are harmful, but we can't get rid of them.
We go ahead from year to year practicing the old formula; satisfied that we are doing the best we can. Glass is not a true compound, because it does not combine in fixed and definite proportions. We can vary the quantity of any of the ingredients we use, and we have glass just the same. The main point we strive for in making ordinary glass is the amount of alkali or flux to fuse our "batch" with a given amount of heat in a given time.
At present time there are experiments being made in this country and in Europe to produce glass by means of sand exposed to high temperature without the aid of flux, an electric furnace being used. While glass has been made in this manner, and the product shows qualities quite different from those of ordinary glass, the process will probably never be practical because of the high cost of procuring the requisite degree of heat.
But does not the knowledge of these experiments open a new field for thought and investigation? I believe that it has been demonstrated that the higher the degree of heat used and the less amount of alkali the better will be the glass produced. The old theory of "normal glass" has nothing whatever to sustain it. The claim is that all glass should contain 70 to 73 per cent. silica. There is no such thing as normal glass. The nearer we get to 100 per cent. silica in glass the better glass we will have. I mean, of course, glass for ordinary use, where tensile strength is so important.
Is it not possible that our pots can be made more refractory so that a higher temperature can be employed without breaking or disintegrating them? We ought not to say "Better pots cannot be made." We ought not to say "A higher temperature cannot be used."
Are our furnaces the best adapted for generating heat? Are our lehrs the best, and do we get the best annealing that can be gotten? How about our glory holes? Are they the most economical and convenient? How about our cracking off machines, our grinding wheels, our polishing and glazing machines?
I believe that there is not a stage or a step in the business that is not susceptible of improvement.
What may or can be done to improve the art? Before suggesting an answer to this question I wish to speak of an institute that has been established in Germany for some ten or twelve years, and which has proved a most wonderful success.
In our country, although we have patent laws, the government is not paternal. It says to the ordinary citizen: "Go and do what you please; don't bother me." In Germany the government helps its people by giving them opportunity to work out their problems if such give promise of being beneficial to the public.
In this spirit, and in order that Germany may keep to the front in the scientific world, the government has established a series of buildings just outside of Berlin forming an institute which is called "Reichsanstalt." It is built especially for giving the most perfect conditions for developing new and useful discoveries. The various departments are all thoroughly isolated one from the other, and the most perfect conditions maintained for getting the most perfect results.
As a result of it there followed the building and completing of the celebrated glassworks in Jena by Dr. Schott and Dr. Abbe. In a few years they have succeeded in making the most wonderful glass in the world for optical glass lenses and prisms. A lens that would magnify 5,000 times made by the old method was surpassed by a lens that would magnify on 500 times, because of the so much better definition given by the latter. It is claimed for these two investigators that they have made more than 100 different kinds of glass, using twenty-eight different elements that have never been used in the same way before.
I have referred briefly to what the Germans are doing, as that suggests an answer to some of the questions I have asked. Will the government at Washington establish institute of this kind in its Polytechnic College or will the Carnegie school at Pittsburgh do it? Why may not the glass men themselves not do something of this kind? Why not unite and make common effort in a common cause?
A noble art it is we represent From ordinary material, like the mud in the road almost, we produce something that the world loves and can not get along without; a thing of beauty; a blessing to mankind; used in every humble home in the land for light and for lighting; and an ornament for every table, as well as useful; necessary to restoring sight to worn-out eyes; for all microscopic work revealing the world of the infinitesimal; and for the telescope revealing systems of stars and suns. Like Prometheus's fire from heaven, a veritable boon to humanity.
Glass may be considered a symbol of civilization. The nation that uses the most and best is the most civilized. Symbol of civilization and handmaid of art! A piece of plain glass in its limpid purity and brilliant luster appeals to the emotional in man; when manipulated and given its beautiful curves and angles by the artisan, and embellished with color, it appeals to the higher sentiments and can not fail to stir the artist as does some beautiful scene from nature. May we show ourselves worthy of conducting this honorable art by doing something to improve it for the world and posterity."
Applause followed the reading, and it was the general opinion of all present that both of these papers were as good as any that had ever come before the Association.
Mr. Murray then read a paper written by an old employee of the New England Glass Co. that was full of pleasant reminiscences of old times and of men who were in the business prior to 1887. It called up memories of the past, and was heartily applauded.