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We also wish to state that one of our prime motives for submitting this brief for your consideration is the fact that we have been petitioned by many of our employees in the manufacturing end of our business, who have gone through the previous ta riti change on vegetable-ivory buttons, and know the hardships they would have to endure should Congress decide to reduce the tariff, and they therefore join with me in asking you to let the present duty remain as it is and allow the industry in this country to live. Respectfully submitted.





Mr. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE: We contend that the present rate of duty on vegetable ivory buttons should not be changed, and we have no fear, being in possession of the facts that govern this industry, that your committee will recommend any alteration in the rates now existing. The reason for our confidence in this opinion is that your committee are endeavoring to revise the tariff on a basis of equity and justice to all interested therein.

The present contemplated revision of the tariff is to be a Democratic revision, therefore, the Democratic Party, through its leaders, having at all times stated that no industry need fear that it will not be adequately protected by means of the tariff when it can be shown that said.industry is in no way monopolistic or is conducting its business by means of combinations or trade restraint and is not making unreasonable profits through the fact that they are protected by the tariff. If we may assume that the Democratic Party have made the above assertions, we respectfully submit that they must have had in mind the conditions which now prevail in the manufacturing of vegetable ivory buttons.

We beg to submit the following facts:

1. In our industry there has not been and there is not now existing any combination. Keen competition has at all times and does now prevail, and the business can in no wise be considered a monopoly from any viewpoint.

2. The returns on actual capital invested are and have been much below 5 per cent per annum.

3. Sixty-five per cent of the cost of manufacturing in this country is paid to labor, as against 25 and 30 per cent paid to labor in foreign countries.

4. Skilled labor in this country makes from $16 to $20 per week, whereas skilled labor in foreign countries makes from $4 to $8 per week.

Unskilled labor in this country receives $5 to $12 per week, and unskilled labor in foreign countries $2 to $4 per week.

5. When viewing the conditions stated above, it will be clearly and easily seen that should the specific duty be reduced to any extent whatsoever the manufacturers of vegetable ivory buttons in this country would have to discontinue business or reduce their wage scale to a basis of the rates existing in foreign countries. Therefore, it is clearly and easily understood that were the manufacturers to so reduce the wage scale to anything nearly as low as the foreign wage scale, their employees would be compelled to seek employment in other branches of trade, and as there is an overabundance of labor now offering in almost every other industry, the effect of any such reduction would be that the present laborers employed in the manufacture of vegetable ivory buttons (and especially those who have spent years to become skilled therein) would be thrown out of employment, with a sparse chance of obtaining employment elsewhere.

6. One of our principal arguments why the present specific duty should be maintained is that were the Government to collect duties on an ad valorem basis it would be the means of false valuations creeping into foreign invoices, as it is very difficult for even an expert to tell the value of a gross of vegetable ivory buttons, when comparing one grade which is supposed to be a cheap variety against another grade which is supposed to be an expensive variety; consequently the specific duty obviates definitely the chance of undervaluation by foreign competitors.

DEVELOPMENT OF RECENT FOREIGN COMPETITION. A new menace has arisen in our industry within the past few years, that is, that we have to compete with Italian manufacturers, and when considering that our import


factor is labor, the slightest change in the present rate of duty would cause an influx of importations into this country from Italy, where the labor rates prevailing are the cheapest in Europe. The business of the world has always followed cheap labor, and it is only within the last three to five years that Italy has become the center of the button industry, the factories there being located in small towns where labor is the very cheapest. They are, therefore, able to ship goods all over the world.

Germany, once a large factor in the button business, is no longer so to-day, and it is a known fact that one German manufacturer, probably the most prominent, in order to keep in the business, recently placed a single order in Italy for 175,000 gross of ivory buttons, despite the fact that Germany is supposedly protected by a tariff. The wage scale in Italian ivory button factories is from 20 to 25 per cent of those existing in the United States. Good authority for this statement can easily be obtained.

JAPAN. This is the latest nation to engage in the manufacturing of buttons, and quoting from the report of the Chamber of Commerce at Yokohama, Japan, we find that there are located in one city of Japan (Osaka) 75 button factories. These Japanese factories have representatives and are selling goods to-day in Europe, and we are credibly informed that the Italian manufacturer is now complaining of this Japanese competition.

We have not contemplated herein to file any statistical conditions in reference to the industry of vegetable ivory buttons, as other manufacturers in this line, we understand, have fully covered this ground; therefore, were we also to do likewise, it would make the data in the case unnecessarily voluminous.

In closing we have the honor to contend that our position in this matter is founded on absolute facts, not on any questionable theory. Respectfully,



House of Representatives: I respectfully petition, on behalf of our company, that the present tariff Schedule N, paragraph 427, on vegetable-ivory buttons, be allowed to remain unchanged.

LABOR. I have been engaged in the manufacture in this country since 1884, with the exception of a period of time during which a low tariff prevented my making this class of goods.

I am well acquainted with the vegetable-ivory business of Austria. I have within the past two years visited Austria and have investigated conditions personally.

I respectfully submit the following table, showing the difference between wages here as compared with those in Austria:

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These figures speak for themselves.
I can further state that wages in Italy are below those paid in Austria.






House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: The retention of the present tariff on ivory buttons is of very great importance to that industry. and any departure from the established schedule is surely going to work great harm and probably cause the closing of many factories. My argument is based not only on the well-known lower cost of production abroad, owing to lower wages and lower other standards, which directly or indirectly affect manufacturers, but very strongly on the fact that the button industry is to-day as never before subjected to the keenest kind of competition, so that prices obtained by manufacturers are lower now than they were at any time in recent years. On the other hand, the price of raw material (ivory nuts imported from Central and South America) is higher and labor costs, if not greater, are certainly no less.

Ivory buttons are sold at extremely low prices. There being an abundance made, the manufacturer in many cases is practically compelled to accept not what he should receive as his due for his investment and his hard work but merely what he is offered. The situation in fact can be summed up in four words, namely, “Too many goods made," hence ridiculously low prices.

This industry has developed very considerably under the present tariff, but it has come to that point where it is a question often, whether the selling price is not too close to or even under the cost price.

It is certain that the cost of buttons on a suit of clothes is a mere trifle, and I submit that a lower rate of duty could only benefit the importers and the clothing manufacturers. Admittedly, the consumer no matter what the buttons on his clothes cost will pay the same price for the suit.

Lastly, the button industry is one in which exists an entire absence of agreement or combinations and in which competition of an excessive nature has held sway to this day without interruption.

Therefore, in justice to the situation that industry is entitled and should be allowed to continue undisturbed. Respectfully,


L. FRAISSINET, President the Button Machinery Co.



We ask you to continue the present duty on vegetable-ivory buttons, namely, threefourths of 1 cent per line per gross and 15 per cent ad valorem.

The difference in price between the various classes of ivory buttons is per se not great. Prices do vary, according to the circumstances and conditions under which the buttons are made and sold. However, there is a uniform and regular variation in all classes and under all conditions as between ivory buttons of different sizes.


The specific portion of the present duty is three-fourths of 1 cent per line per gross. Permit us to explain: A line is one-fortieth of an inch-a sleeve button is 20 lines in size-that is to say, twenty-fortieths, or one-half, an inch in diameter. The specific here (three-fourths of 1 cent per line) would be obviously 15 cents per gross. A coat button is 30 lines in size (three-fourths of an inch in diameter). The specific here would thus be 22.5 cents per gross.

Let us make this clear. The specific portion of the present duty recognizes the difference in value between the various buttons we make as to size, and in about the right proportion. It is thus fundamentally and to this extent, in its nature an ad valorem duty. In addition we then have the 15 per cent straight ad valorem to take care of other variations in price.

It is essential for us in competition with the foreigner to know what duty he is going to pay. We must have a duty in part specific.

Under the present precarious condition of the industry-earning 2.73 per cent per annum on actual capital-any change in the present duty either as to amount or as to its nature will prove ruinous.

78959°—VOL 5-13_-29


Because the present duty is so eminently fair we earnestly beg you to permit it to remain unchanged. Respectfully submitted.

S. P. MENDEL, Secretary.


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New YORK, January 29, 1913. Hon. OSCAR W. UNDERWOOD,

Chairman Ways and Means Committee,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: In accordance with instructions received from William A. Porter, Esq., and his associates upon a committee now in attendance upon the tariff hearings before your committee, we desire to state that at the request of a number of vegetable-ivory button manufacturers, we addressed, on the 18th instant, inquiries to 23 manufacturers of that industry including, as we understood, the principal producers. These inquiries called in each case for a statement showing the actual capital invested in the vegetable-ivory button business, net sales and the net profits derived from that business in each of the three years 1909, 1910, and 1911.

We have received replies from 21' manufacturers, of whom one declined to give the information requested, and five state either that they are unable to give figures for this branch of their business separately or that their figures are so small as to be without real significance.

From the remaining 15 replies we have compiled the following statistics:

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On the 23d instant we addressed similar inquiries to four additional concerns, but up to now we have not received any replies to these later communications. Yours, very truly,




New YORK, February 14, 1913. Hon. O. W. UNDERWOOD, Chairman of Committee on Ways and Means,

United States House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. RESPECTED Sır: We beg to call your attention to this, our petition, for the purpose of having the present high rate of duty on vegetable ivory buttons reduced to its former ad valorem rate of 45 per cent. The present duty is really almost prohibitive and quite unjust, for the reason that such goods as we handle in the line are made by the largest and best manufacturers of ivory buttons not only in Europe, but in the world, and such goods are most desirable by the better class of trade of clothing manufacturers in the United States and the jobbers' tailors' trimming houses, and are not approached by the domestic ivory button manufacturers in point of character, style, finish, etc.

Tariff, or no tariff, the domestic manufacturers can not meet the request for such fine goods and, therefore, the present high duty is clearly an injustice to our manufacturer and to ourselves as importers.

The statement that Mr. Sage of the Rochester Button Co. made to your committee in January, that if a specific duty was not assessed on vegetable ivory buttons, the appraiser would not be able to determine the value, and not only that, but insinuated that the importers might undervalue, this we believe was uncalled for, because in the


past 20 years, and during the time that such goods were admitted at an ad valorem duty, I challenge him to point to a case of fraud by undervalution in the import of ivory buttons.

He also went very far when he stated that no appraiser on earth could determine values, etc., etc. He knows little about the intelligence of the appraisers of the New York Appraiser's Department, or he would not talk that way, and, furthermore, he should not attempt, in stating his case, to besmirch the probity of the importer.

There are 31 ivory button manufacturers in Germany and Austria. Only three of these, including the one we represent, make goods such as can be handled or sold in this Únited States market. Job lots or “out of style” goods bought in Europe from jobbers could not be sold here to the trade such as we do business with generally. The present duty is altogether too high and if continued we shall have to drop the importaiion of the goods, and we feel that the United States tariff was not installed to altogether shut out fair competition, nor goods such as are demanded by the consumers here, simply because it would tend only to conserve the domestic manufacturers of goods that they would force upon the consumer instead of the class of goods they demand that are made abroad.

On the several lines of goods in general that we import we pay duties amounting to $300,000 or $400,000 per annum to the United States Government, and we trust our interests will be duly and carefully considered in your deliberations.

English and Italian ivory buttons are not imported at all for the reason that they are not suited in style or make for this market.

The above is a summary of facts in support of our claim for a reduction of the rate on ivory buttons. Tabulated costs of this or that entering into the manufacturing is only kaleidoscopic intended seemingly to confuse and mislead.

If the writer, who has sold vegetable ivory buttons for the past 29 years, all over the United States, were permitted to go before your honorable body with samples of foreign and domestic ivory buttons he would have no difficulty in pointing out the difference between makes, and thus hasten a solution of the problem. Yours, very truly,

GEO. W. Hogan.



ROCHESTER, N. Y., January 29, 1913. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, as a manufacturer of vegetable ivory buttons I would respectfully request on behalf of the industry as a whole that the present tariff of 15 per cent ad valorem and three-quarters of a cent per line per gross specific duty, paragraph 427, Schedule N, be maintained and to state that a perceptable lowering of the present tariff would be disastrous to the industry in this country.

Labor is the largest item of cost in our product. We are paying in this country, from three to four times as much as our European competitors, which makes it impossible for American manufacturers to compete with the European manufacturers in the other markets of the world. This also makes it essential to have an adequate tariff in order to pay American wages to American citizens, householders, and bread winners.

Believing that the committee already has abundant data to intelligently guide them to this conclusion, I will, with your permission, confine my statements to a few facts in connection with the industry.

From 1877 to 1887 I was manager with a small interest in a factory in Canada. At the time of low tariff period, beginning in 1884, we established a satisfactory and growing business in the United States in spite of everything the American manufacturers could do to prevent us. Our Canadian labor being only about 10 per cent cheaper than the American, we were able to compete successfully for trade in the United States. During this same period from 1884 to 1888 a majority of the ivory button manufacturers in the United States went out of business (four of the principal ones closing up their factories in the one year, 1887).

Believing that the United States Government would not permit this condition to continue very long, I came to Rochester in 1887 and began manufacturing and importing in a small way so that by 1889 I had the plant in operation and after obtaining additional capital and a fair protective tariff we were enabled to establish a satisfactory business with a rapidly-growing pay roll.

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