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Exports of toys and dolls.
(From Commerce and Navigation of the United States for year ending June 30, 1911, and subsequent
publications of the Department of Commerce and Labor.)
431. Dolls and parts of dolls, doll heads, toy marbles of whatever material composed, and
all other toys, not composed of china, porcelain, parian, bisque, earthen or stoneware, and n. 0. 8. p. f.
(Tariff Handbook (1913). Compiled by Daniel E. Roper, clerk to Ways and Means Committee.)
1 The difference between these figures and those on Schedules A and C represents toys and dolls imported not for consumption, same having been placed in bond.
Following are the letters mentioned above:
New York City, January 28, 1913. The WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: As a manufacturer of American toys, as well as representative of a number of toy industries for the past 25 years, and having been closely associated with its growth, I can speak with some degree of knowledge as to the causes of the present state of success which has been made by manufacturers engaged in the making of dolls and toys in this country:
In 1885 the writer of this letter became associated with one of the largest houses in this country engaged in the importing of dolls and toys from foreign countries. The American industry at that time was almost unknown and of small importance. Most of the toys then came from abroad. Since then the condition has greatly changed year by year and steadily advancing, until now the largest part of the toys sold in this country are made at home.
This institution is engaged in the sale of American toys only, and advertises the “American toys for American children." The condition as it is to-day could not have been brought about without a necessary protective tariff to enable home manufacturers to compete with the cheap child labor and other unsatisfactory conditions as engaged abroad, and which is explained fully in the brief submitted to your honorable body by counsel.
During the Cleveland Administration the duty on dolls and toys was reduced from 35 to 25 per cent under the Wilson bill, and at that time the writer was engaged with the aforesaid large importing concern. The change in the tariff, however, did not
affect the selling price of the merchandise in any degree. The only change noticeable was that the difference in the price was put into the article; and, as an example, a kid-body doll 16 inches long, under the 35 per cent duty, was sold at 25 cents retail, and at the reduced duty of 25 per cent a 174-inch doll of the same character and material was sold at 25 cents retail. This also applied to toy horns, a 16-inch horn being sold at retail for 10 cents under the 35 per cent duty and an 18-inch horn being sold for 10 cents under the 25 per cent duty. This condition was generally understood and remarked upon by importers as the facts existing. It is therefore evident that a reduction in the tariff of this commodity would in no way benefit the people at large, but, on the other hand, would seriously affect the home manufacturer engaged in the making of these lines, as the necessary protection being removed would place him in a position where he could not compete with the foreign manufacturers.
This institution is engaged in a business where we represent and advance numerous small manufacturers of toys, and who during the season come to our office for payment of their shipments as often as once a week, so as to have the ready money for their weekly pay rolls. These makers in a large number of cases are small operators with little capital, working hard for a livelihood, and a change in the tariff would materially affect such manufacturers as these. In behalf of ourselves as well as these manufacturers, whom we represent, we ask that it be recommended that no change be made in the present tariff on toys.
We respectfully submit this letter, together with a quantity of catalogues and circulars describing the various manufacturers whom we are selling agents for. Respectfully, yours,
BAKER & BENNETT Co.,
THE M. F. CHRISTENSEN & Son Co.,
Akron, Ohio, January 25, 1913. The WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. HONORABLE SIrs: In connection with the matter of the revision of the tariff on imports now under consideration and investigation, we desire to call your attention to the necessity of tariff protection for our business on account of our very much greater manufacturing costs over that of the German manufacturers with whom we have to compete, and although our costs for material are also higher, the principal cost of our goods is that for labor, wages paid in the German glass-marble industry being as per copy of letter inclosed, which was addressed us in reply to our inquiry by American Consul General Frank Dillingham, of Coburg, Germany, under date of August 12, 1912. Our own labor costs are as follows:
Adult male marble makers, $4 per day of 8 hours, $24 per week. Minor female marble packers, $1.75 per day of 8 hours, $10.50 per week.
In the face of the sharp competition from abroad this industry can not long continue without tariff protection.
Thanking you for the courtesy of careful consideration of the facts we are submitting, and hoping for action favorable to the continuation of our business, we remain, Respectiully, yours,
THE M. F. CHRISTENSEN & Son Co.,
AMERICAN ConsulaR SERVICE,
Coburg, Germany, August 12, 1912. The M. F. CHRISTENSEN & Son Co.,
Marble Manufacturers, Akron, Ohio, U. S. A. GENTLEMEN: In reply to your inquiry of July 22, 1912, you are advised that the following wages (in American money) prevail in the glass-marble industry in this (Thuringian) part of this consular district, namely:
Day adult marble makers, $4.76 to $6.85 and $7.14 per week by the job of 12 hours per day; night adult marble makers, $5.43 to $5.71 per week by the job of 10 hours
a day; tube pullers, $4.76 per week by the job of 8 hours a day; tube blowers, $8.33 per week by the job of 8 hours a day; minor female marble packers, $2 per week by the job of 10 hours a day; minor female marble grindere, $2.57 to $2.86 per week by the job of 10 to 11 hours a day.
The exports of marbles to the United States in 1908 carried a value of $14,494.95; in 1912, $7,227.74. No glass castor balls are exported through this consulate general.
Prevailing prices of glass marbles to purchasers in the United States are about 1 mille glass marbles, all fine No. 1, 6.50 marks ($1.55); 1 mille glass marbles, all fine No. 2, 8.80 marks ($2.09); 1 mille glass marbles, all fine No. 3, 12.50 marks ($2.98).
I am, however, unable to give you the cost of manufacture aside from the wages paid and above given, nor the cost of transportation to America. Yours, truly,
F. DILLINGHAM, American Consul General.
MITRED Box Co. (INC.),
New York, January 27, 1913. The CHAIRMAN WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: We understand that there is now on foot before your committee a movement to reduce the tariff on toys. In such a movement we are vitally interested, for the reason that we have undertaken the manufacture and marketing of an article that to-day constitutes the chief item of the toy industry, namely, that of making a fully jointed doll with movable eyes, an article never before made in the United States. To produce such an article in competition with the doll imported from Germany, the home of the world's doll industry, has been no small task. It required endless experimentation, the outlay of considerable capital, and now, when our efforts have been crowned with success, in spite of the great obstacles we had to overome, just now when we are so far advanced as to put our goods on the market, any prospect looking toward a reduction of the tariff on toys is a matter of grave concern to us.
A fair estimate of the capital we have already invested in the making of our doll puts the sum at $50,000. A like sum would inevitably have to be invested if we remain undisturbed and able to further develop our plant, to meet the demand that already exists for our goods. We employ at present about 150 persons, a number that will rapidly rise to a higher one in our establishment, to say nothing of the fact that, once we have established the feasibility of doll production in America in competition with Germany, a task hitherto thought impossible, others are bound to take up the work, and a new industry in this country will result.
Aside from the specific article we are producing, it will be well to consider the doll industry as a whole, such as it exists in America. The public can to-day purchase American-made dolls from 10 cents up. That industry, în so far as it has got a foothold, has been built up in this country under enormous difficulties and in the teeth of the most destructive competition conceivable. It could only have been done under the shield of a protective tariff. It can only be maintained under that shield because still too undeveloped to be able to exist under a condition of unrestricted foreign competition. And yet, though still in its infancy, there are possibilities of the investment in the doll industry in this countryof many millions of dollars, plus the many more millions that are already in vested in the entire toy industry. These investments, our own included, we consider seriously menaced, if not for the most part hopelessly lost, should there be a reduction of the tariff rates on toy imports.
We know that so far as we are concerned it would be impossible to exist were we at this time to encounter unaided the competition of the highly developed and powerful doll industry of Germany.
We respectfully request that our interests and our argument on behalf of these interests be given earnest consideration, both for the sake of the people who have invested their funds in our establishment and for the sake of those who have found employment therein and thereby an opportunity to earn a living. We remain, Respectfully, yeurs,
MITRED Box Co.,
THE Ives MANUFACTURING CORPORATION,
Bridgeport, Conn., January 25, 1913. The WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: The following brief statement may be of interest to you in connection with the tariff problems which you have to solve, and a careful perusal of the facts, all of which can be substantiated, we hope will enable you to appreciate the position in which we are placed as to the manufacture of a product which has grown more in favor each year with the American buying public.
Our business on the mechanical railways started in a small way in 1900, and at that time met with almost a failure; but persistence on our part and radical changes in construction brought it more into favor during the two or three years following: Another radical change in construction brought it rather more into competition with the foreign product, which, at that time, was not as substantial nor as well made as it is at the present time, and by our efforts and constant improvement we not only raised the standard of our own goods, but were the means of raising the standard of all imported articles of a similar character.
It was predicted by many that goods of this character could not be successfully manufactured in the United States, but we have demonstrated that it can be done. We have now a very nice business established, and our product enjoys considerable popularity. We are frank to confess that the German manufacturers do not appreciate our efforts and the last two years have been offering extraordinary values in order to take business away from us.
We have had to protect ourselves as best we could. The means adopted was that of publicity work. This, as you may know, is very expensive, and we spent large sums to keep our product in the minds of the American buying public. All of this has rendered the net returns much smaller than that ordinarily received from manufacturing concerns doing a corresponding amount of business.
We employ 75 hands which are more or less skilled in work of this character, and during the last six months of the year, the number is increased to 130. A large amount of machinery and dies are also necessary to produce our goods.
Three years ago we added electricity to our lines, so that we manufacture both the electric and mechanical railways. You will note by looking through our catalogue that we make a large variety of accessories and equipment, all of which go to make a complete railway, and we feel that these items, when handled by a small boy, act more or less as an educational feature.
Our business has been built up under the present tariff rate, and we know that if you were to make a careful perusal of our books and note the annual statements they would prove to you conclusively that we were none too well protected.
As we understand that there would be no chance of any raise in the tariff, we take this means of addressing you with the hope that you can see your way clear to at least have the tariff remain as it is. Even so, we will have to resort to all means to hold our trade against the ever increasing German invasion. Do not take it that we fear competition on an equal basis. In fact, we court it, as it is the stimulant of all business, but it is hard to meet it when handicapped.
The writer of this letter is willing to bring books and statements before your committee, but would, of course, hesitate about doing so in an open hearing. The representative of the American toys industry will tell you other important facts concerning this branch of business, which we know will be of interest to you in many respects.
The miniature railway industry of this country, which is showing rapid growth, would be more seriously affected by a change of tariff than some other items. At the same time, we are not offering this suggestion with the thought that we want more than is our due.
We hold ourselves in readiness to meet any call you may make upon us in the way of further data or explanation. Yours, truly,
THE Ives MANUFACTURING CORPORATION,
THE A. SCHOENHUT Co.,
Philadelphia, January 24, 1913. The WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: We are manufacturers of toys and novelties. Our business was started in a very small way by Albert Schoenhut (now deceased) 41 years ago. We 78959°— VOL 5-13
can assure you that it was uphill work in the face of the strong German competition, and final success was only made possible because of the United States tariff on toys, which was never too high. Even now, on account of the ever increasing cost of material and labor in this country, we feel the German competition very keenly and steadily encroaching on our business, decreasing our sales materially with the present rate of duty in force.
Furthermore, the Japanese are already deeply interested in the toy business, and even with the present tariff protection of 35 per cent will before long raise havoc with American toy industries and should the tariff be reduced it certainly will mean ruin to many of our toy industries that were built up after many years of the severest perseverance.
Our business represents a large proportionate investment of again half as much as the amount of annual business done, which is due to the bulky nature of toys requiring large storage capacity and a great variety of special and expensive machinery, tools, dies, etc., to produce the various lines of our products. To reduce the present United States tariff on toys would mean the next thing to ruin to our business.
We pray you, honorable gentlemen, in view of the above-mentioned facts, not to
THE A. SCHOENHUT Co.,
E. I. HORSMAN Co. (INC.),
New York, January 28, 1913. Mr. DE WITT C. BAKER,
In care of the Baker & Bennett Co., City. My Dear MR. BAKER: With reference to our opposition as manufacturers to any decrease in the tariff on toys, I would like to offer a few facts relating to the manufacture of dolls in which our firm is deeply interested.
Only four or five years ago, when we began the manufacture of unbreakable dolls in America on a considerable scale, there was practically no such thing as an American doll industry, although we had been manufacturing rag dolls on a small scale for a dozen years or more previous.
The fact that we were able to offer dolls with unbreakable heads made by a special process, enabled us to make our start even although our first attempts were comparatively crude. The teaching of experience and repeated improvements in method and installments at large expense of special machinery have now enabled us to make a line of dolls, which, with the aid of the present duty, enables us to find a market for the product of a good-sized factory, and we believe that under the continuance of the present rate of 35 per cent duty on dolls, we can look forward to a gradual increase in the production of these American dolls. We are frank to say, however, that were the duty of 35 per cent to be reduced even to 25 per cent, this budding doll industry in America would be crushed at once, since we could not hope to overcome by special machinery in this line the advantage which Germany holds by its cheap labor. It must be remembered that the most essential operations in doll making are necessarily handwork.
Japan must also be regarded as likely to be a dangerous competitor in all classes of toys as well as dolls should the present duty be modified. Japanese are already making such articles in our line as baseballs of the cheaper grade, which despite the duty are better than anything we can make here at an equal price.
American manufacturing in the toy field generally has been slowly but steadily growing to the dimensions of a modest but healthy industry under the present 35 per cent duty, and there would seem every reason for letting it continue its present nonmonopolistic growth. Very truly, yours,
E. I. HORSMAN Co.,