United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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Instigated no doubt by them, the Radwelt (Wheeling World), the organ
of the bicycle industry in Germany, recently published a bitter article
decrying American machines, asserting that the editor of the paper had
recently taken a first-class American wheel apart and could therefore assure
his readers that neither in material, solidity, nor durability was the American
machine the equal of the German, and that since the industry had been
established in Germany since 1885 and in the United States only since
1 89 1 (sic) it must naturally follow that the American did not possess the
same experience in the art of building machines. This, despite the fact
that the German dealer imports his wooden rims from America, sometimes
his tires, and one maker, every important part. The very fact of the superior
lightness of the American machines is set forth by the German dealer as a
disadvantage, yet he calmly sells women's machines of German make
weighing 28 and 32 pounds and calls attention to their solidity. The
women's American machine of 20-pounds weight he coolly pronounces un-
safe, and yet it may be asserted that no German machine is submitted to
factory tests half so severe as those which must be endured by the best
American makes. Writing from personal observation, the writer can add
that some dealers have even gone so far as to purchase third-class American
machines, nearly worthless, which are exhibited as American makes of the
highest grade, and comparisons are then drawn with standard German makes
to the natural disadvantage of the American maker. In spite of all this,
the merits of the American high-grade machine are gradually becoming
recognized, but the high price remains the obstacle, and, in the opinion of
the writer, will always prove a decided hindrance to any considerable devel-
opment of the trade. It must be remembered that, in Germany, the average
income is much smaller than in the United States, and that, in consequence,
the difference between a machine costing 325 marks and one costing 425

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marks is a much more deterrent factor than the difference between $80 and
^100 at home.

Another obstacle in the way of the widespread purchase of American
machines lies in the manner of sale prevailing here. When a German wishes
to learn to ride a bicycle, he goes to some local dealer who engages to teach
him to ride, charging him nothing if he buys a machine, and he has, as a
rule, nothing but German machines, but demanding 30 marks should a wheel
not be purchased. The result is that, in most cases, the purchaser contents
himself with some one of the makes handled by his instructor.

Despite these various obstacles, the writer believes the American ma-
chines, and especially women's machines, can find a market here if certain
suggestions are followed. In the first place, without reducing the quality of
the wheel, the price must be lowered to at least 350 marks. This decrease
from the regular price of 425 marks the manufacturer must divide with the
local agent, so that the latter can make as much on the American machines
as he could on the German. In the second place, the business should not
be put into the hands of some German general agent in Hamburg, Berlin,
or Frankfort, who may or may not interest himself in the establishment of
local agencies. On the other hand, the American manufacturers, acting to-
gether, should establish their own general agency in one of the cities named,
under one of their own men working under salary and commission. At this
general agency, a good supply of machines should be carried and a large
stock of machine parts. This salaried general agent, actifig, as already sug-
gested, for several houses, should then visit the different cities of Germany,
seek out a good local agent, preferably a bright young rider who has had
some experience in a bicycle shop or store (and they can be found by the
score), and should give him the exclusive handling of the machines on com-
mission, the price being fixed at not to exceed 350 marks. To this agent,
half a dozen or more machines should be sent for sale and exhibition, and,
in addition, a man's and a woman's machine (second hand) for teaching
purposes. A list of addresses should then be furnished the general agent by
the local agent, and^to each one of these addresses should be sent catalogues,
printed in German, with the further announcement that the machines may
be seen at such and such a place and that the local agent will be glad to teach
intending purchasers free of cost. Since the German dealers make a point
against American machines to the effect that they can not be repaired in Ger-
many should anything happen to them, it would also be well to state, further,
that all necessary repairs could be procured through the local agent. This can
be done through an arrangement with a local repair man, who can be found in
every town, and who, as a rule, having once had explained to him by the
general agent any peculiarities in the construction of the American wheel,
is entirely competent to make repairs. In addition, the announcement must
state the readiness of the manufacturer to give the strictest guaranty. With
the selection of the proper man as general agent, this plan could not fail to
be highly successful. As an example, the writer knows in his own circle of

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acquaintance of at least six persons who, convinced by his assertions, would
have bought American machines this fall could high-grade wheels have been
had for 350 marks each, and had they been on sale in Brunswick.

If American manufacturers expect to make headway against the German
makers in the latter's own field, they must be prepared to deliver superior
workmanship and material at German prices. It might be added that the
duty, which amounts to only 4 marks, is no obstacle.


Brunswick, November p, j8g6. Consul,


The economical administration of the German life insurance companies
is responsible in a large degree for the good financial showing these compa-
nies make in the published statement of their business and condition during
the year i89'5. There are in Germany forty-one life insurance companies;
of these, twenty-two are mutual and nineteen joint-stock companies. The
amount expended by these forty -one companies during the last calendar year
for their management and agents' commissions was 25,789,000 marks
($6,137,782), or 9^2 per cent of the receipts from premiums and interest
from investments.

The German life insurance companies enjoyed, in 1895, an all-round
favorable development; 174,754 applications, to the value of ^158,929,736,
were made, against 168,965 applications, valued at J 148,603,392, in 1894.
From these applications, 134,725 policies, to the value of Ji 18,826,022,
were written.

The twenty-two mutual companies wrote 65,228 policies, amounting to
$58,005,958, and the nineteen joint-stock companies, 69,497 policies, amount-
ing to $60,820,424.

The number of policies issued and the value thereof during the last f\\^
years has steadily increased.

Policies. Amount.



108,623 ^7,082,034

119,645 107,720,232

120,594 106,290,324

131,248 112,076,580

»34.725 118,826,02a

The policies becoming claims by deaths were fewer in 1895 than was
anticipated. The amount set aside by the companies to meet such claims
was 13,332,000 more than was needed.

The total number of policies in force in 1895 ^^ these forty-one com-
panies was 1,458,908, representing in all $1,256,710,448, a net increase over
No. 197 6.

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the previous year of ^67,771,730, a greater increase than was shown in any
previous year since 1890. The annual increases were :

1891 $53,263,448

1892 61,553,702

1893 59,082,310

1894 63,433,664

1895 67,671,730

The assets of most of the German life insurance companies show an in-
crease in keeping with the growth of the sums assured. The forty-one com-
panies received in premiums in 1895, $50,586,622, an increase of $3,866,786
over 1894, and interest from investments, etc., amounting to $13,720,938,
an increase of $905,590 over 1894.

These receipts were applied as follows :

Payment of death claims $15,628,746

Annuities and |X)licies becoming claims during lifetime of insured 6,396,960

Purchasing and returning premiums to cancel policies 1,874,488

Reserves and security funds 24,052,756

Reinsuring in other companies 660,450

Management and agents' commissions 6,337,782

In spite of the decline of interest in sure investments, the German com-
panies made a larger profit than in 1894. The surplus, after meeting all
obligations and expenses in 1895, was $10,121,188 (in 1894, $9,746,814).
This surplus was used as follows : Paid to assured holding policies sharing
profits, $8,804,810, or 87 per cent; paid to shareholders and sureties,
$608,090, or 6 per cent ; to reserve funds, $640,792, or 6ys per cent.

The security funds to meet the obligations of the forty-one companies
amounted to $386,601,726, or $7.33 on each 100 marks ($23.80) of insur-
ances in force, an increase of $19,760,664 over 1894.

These companies had, in 1895, investments amounting to $437,904,706,
as follows : Mortgages, $321,795,278, or 73)2 per cent; advanced on policies,
$24,429,272, or 5.6 i)ercent; State bonds, $19,938,450, or 4.6 per cent;
real estate, $10,673,348, or 2.4 per cent; loans on securities, $4,551,750,
or I per cent, an increase of $31,342,696 over 1894.

The German companies use great caution in selecting their investments,
preferring the certainty of mortgages to uncertain stocks and speculative
railroad shares subject to exchange fluctuations, investments which tempt
some foreign insurance companies with the high rate of interest offered.

The progress of the German life insurance companies is therefore very
noticeable, both in new business and in their financial standing. It must
be remembered that the great American companies were prohibited from
writing new insurances in Prussia during the year 1895. 'This must also, in
a measure, account for the good showing of the German companies.


Weimar, yi/Zv 2(5*, iS^6. Commercial Agent,

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In the next number of the Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift (edited
by Professor Eulenberg), Prof. R. Pfeiffer and Dr. W. Kolle, two well-known
bacteriologists of Berlin, will publish the results of a number of experiments
which they have made with a "typhus antitoxin," prepared by them after
much study and trial in their respective laboratories. If the hopes of the
two investigators are confirmed, the science of medicine in infectious diseases
will have received another most valuable accession in this new discovery.
The two exp>erimenters believe that exemption from typhus germs, like im-
munity from cholera germs and other contagious diseases of like character,
may be ttaced back to the existence in the blood of antityphoid substances,
and from this standpoint the very successful results of the investigations made
by these gentlemen have been gained. That this theory is most important
and practical is realized when the vitality of the typhus bacillus, as discov-
ered by Koch, Eberth, and Klebs, is given consideration. The typhoid
bacillus is known to exist largely in well and spring waters, and the fact that
these are frequently the direct cause of infection is widely recognized by
authorities on bacteriology. Consequently, this latest important discovery
is greeted with joy and great praise of Professor Pfeiffer and Dr. Kolle,
whose untiring efforts of experiment with these bacilli of such infinitesimal
organisms will prove in the future the means of preserving numberless lives
from untimely demise, particularly as man is prone to attack from these
bacilli during the best years of his development, /'. c, from the age of 20 to 25
years. The inoculations of typhus antitoxin can be easily and quickly ex-
ecuted and, it is thought, will prove of great value and benefit, especially in
times of epidemic, when the needs for a prompt and efficacious life-saving
remedy are most urgent.

Professor Pfeiffer and Dr. Kolle will very shortly publish the entire fruits
of their experiments for the benefit of the medical fraternity in Europe and


Glauchau, November i^, j8g6. Consul,


One of the most curious organizations, curious on account of the age of
its institution and its effects, is that of the German book trade. Even in
this all-improving and changing century the principles of the organization
and their result are the same as in olden times.

There are two principal points which are the cause of the flourishing state
of the trade in Germany ; they are the firmly established selling price and

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the right of the retailer to return unsold books. The first, in connection
with an extremely long credit, is a benefit known in no other trade, and is
the most solid basis for each retailing house, because it excludes the combi-
nation of large capitalists of the book centers, such as Leipsic and Berlin.
The facility to get an open account at the publishers has favored the spread-
ing of many retailers, not only in large provincial towns, but even in the
smallest market places. There are few towns in Germany of a thousand in-
habitants which have not their bookseller, and even sometimes small villages
have a retailer who is able to keep and to procure, besides his stationery,
all books published in Germany. All of these merchants have a relatively
higher standard of life and intellectual culture than their foreign colleagues,
because nearly all of them have passed several years in the most famous houses
before they began to think of their own establishments.

According to the statistical reports of 1896, there are in Germany 8,364
booksellers (exclusive of the bookbinders of small places, who also keep,
besides their special business, stationery and books), that is, one bookseller
for 5,000 inhabitants. Of this number, 1,923 are engaged only in publish-
ing, 268 in fine arts and fine-art books, 301 in music, 5,01 4 combine retailing
with publishing on second hand and stationery or fine arts or music or maps,
and 858 are engaged in colportage business. Circulating libraries and news-
papers are kept by 2,754 persons.

This great number of retailers, provided with the right of returning un-
sold books, gives the publishers (nearly 2,000 houses) the power of allowing
a great discount to the retailers. While in other countries, one of the largest
part of the publishing expenses consists of advertisements, the German pub-
lisher spends little or nothing in that line ; he simply sends all novelties out
'*on sale" according to a scheme established with the retail trade, or to
special wishes of the retailers, which he learns by means of his inexpensive
circulars. The retailers, of course, to avoid unnecessary postage, only ask
for those books they hope to sell by the exhibition of same in their windows
or by sending them for examination to their customers.

In no other trade is so close an understanding cultivated as between the
German bookseller and his educated customers. If any book is published,
and the bookseller knows it suits Mr. A*s taste or will benefit Mr. B, he sends
the book out as soon as it arrives. In this way, each book is made much
better known to the public than by expensive advertisements. There is
naturally a large sale of good books in this way up to the time when the book
is finally rejected by the public. If there are, therefore, a good many
more books sold in this way than by any other means, eveh this method
can not help to sell bad books; in this event, the publisher has only to re-
gret his publishing fees, not extra fees.

In regard to the sale of books, every retailer is expected, in his own in-
terest, to give the same his best attention, and in return he gets a consider-
ably long credit. He has to pay for all books received between the ist of
January and December at the Easter fair of the next year (which term is gen-

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erally at the end of April or beginning of May). The discounts on fixed
accounts are different, depending upon the sort of books. On scientific
works and school books, it is usually 25 per cent of the selling price ; on
gift books, novels, and juvenile books, 30 per cent; on periodicals, 33^3
to 40 per cent, but the last percentage is only given on short terms, gen-
erally for cash. Of ten or twelve copies ordered, one is gratis. For gift
books, novels, juvenile books, with cash payments, special conditions, from
33/4 to 40 per cent, and on juvenile books even 50 per cent, are granted.
The competition between juvenile-book publishers is so strong that most of
the best houses give their books, if especially favored and recommended by
retailers, with 50 per cent on sale and the right of exchanging unsold books.

It is not to be overlooked that, from the economic point of view, the
present state of the German book trade, which favors the small shops by
holding up a fixed selling price and allowing to a small business the enjoy-
ment of the whole benefit of the discount, is the best, in so far as it allows
a much larger number of established merchants to exist by this one trade
than if some large capitalists in the book centers reduce all provincial mer-
chants to poor stationers by their competition with lower prices and larger

The number of new publications in Germany in 1895 was as follows:

Num- ., . .._ N

Description. . ' I)esoripiion


ber. .'C^Hr.p.uu.. ^^

General bibliography, cyclopedias, collect- ' History- 869

ive works, letters of literary societies, uni- W< rid description and maps * i»2i4

ven&ity matters ' 395 Science of war„ 717

1 hcology^ , 2,180 Trade and industr>' ',229

Jurisprudence and politics 2,261 Building and engineer science 615

Medicine , 1,651 .j House, country, and forest cronomy >,756

Physical science and mathematics 1,286 Art i»358

Philosophy , 225 , Public letters and miscellaneous. ».95i

Total ' 23,607

'I I

Education, instructions, juveniles 3, 732

Philology and literature ' 1,361

The astonishing number of scientific books published in Germany can
only be explained by the intelligent help of the retailers. Equally surprising
is the enormous number of pamphlets, political and scientific books of smaller
size, which are published. While in England and France, most works of
this size find their place of untimely burial in the scientific magazines, the
German publishing trade, besides starting with an enormous number of
the said publications, finds in the assistance of its sure staff of retailers the
courage even to reprint a large number of newspaper articles in book form.

The German book trade has its legal concentration and representation in
the Boersen-Verein deutscher Buchhandler (Exchange Society of German
Book Dealers) in Leipsic, consisting of 2,685 members. Its purpose is the
furtherance of the welfare and the representation of the interests of the Ger-
man book trade, especially in creating and sustaining institutions in behalf
of reciprocal business and the settlement of regulations for the relations of

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the book dealers among themselves, as well as the traffic of the book dealers
with the public.

A special merit of the Boersen-Verein has been its effective influence on
literature and trade legislation, especially its interest in the legislation as to
the counterfeiting of books and in the law as to authors' rights, dated June
II, 1870. It also took part in the international literary convention held at
Berne, Switzerland, on the 9th of September, 1886.

A product of its recent activity is the book-trade regulation which gives
legally determinative trade customs. The chief point of this trade regula-
tion is the obligation of all the 2,685 members and 1,220 book dealers to
keep the shop price. Only for cash payments is permission given to offer a
discount of 5 per cent, periodicals excepted. An exception is granted,
according to old custom, to the two cities of Leipsic and Berlin, which,
however, in turn have to give 10 per cent inside of the city. Each case of
offense is immediately examined by the local and provincial societies, and
where the accused does not vindicate himself, he is reported to the exchange
society at Leipsic for further examination. If the offense is established, it is
communicated by the exchange society to all its i)ublisher members (and
nearly all publishers belong to the society), who are bound to supply the
guilty party nothing or to give him no discount, as the finding may be.

These mea.sures of the publishers and the power of the exchange society
are so effective, in spite of all backsliders and presumptive opposition of
outlawed firms, that the institution flourishes.

The useful institutions of the exchange society (which owns a magnificent
building at Leipsic) are the Exchange Paper and Advertiser for Book Dealers;
the Order Institution of Booksellers, for forwarding correspondence; the
Booksellers* Exchange, for settlements; and the established commission
agencies. These all facilitate and make the procuring and payment for
books cheaper than in any other country.

As soon as a work is in print, the publisher advertises it in the Boersen-
blatt to the booksellers, and by the direct transmission of circulars, which
have to be handed en bloc to the Buchhandler-Bestell-Anstalt (Order Insti-
tution for Booksellers) at Leipsic, attends to the transmission to every book-
seller on commission. The order, printed together with every notice, is filled
out by the seller on commission according to his best judgment, ordering
more or less volumes ** on condition*' as he expects to have customers by
sending same for examination and by displaying in his windows. Novelties
of prominent authors and pamphlets of momentary interest are sold only for
cash or on fixed agreement, and in this case, the seller on commission con-
siders very carefully whether any or how many volumes he may order; such
cases, however, are exceptions.

These orders, as well as the orders on books given by the public to the
seller, are sent by dozens and hundreds four to six times a week, according
to the importance of the firm, to the commissioner of the house at Leipsic.
All important and urgent orders are especially named by the bookseller to

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the commissioner aiid are brought from the interested publisher by a mes-
senger, and, according as desired, are forwarded as dispatch bales to the
ordering firm on the night of the day on which the order arrived or the fol-
lowing morning. By this mode, the bookseller receives, even at Berlin and
Breslau, his ordered goods on the second forenoon after sending his letter,
which is much quicker than by transmission in single post parcels; and by
packing all the parcels in a cheap dispatch bale, considerably lower rates are
secured than by mail delivery. The amount of work done in gathering these
orders is shown in the best way when it is considered that the larger part of
the 5,000 retailers receive one dispatch bale weekly, larger firms two to three,
and many firms daily from Leipsic. Not only the publications of the Leipsic
firms are to be had in this way, but nearly all the greater publishers of Ger-
many and Austria — even many of foreign countries — keep stocks of ail cur-
rent works at their agents.

To give an idea of the extent of such a Leipsic commission agency,
I beg to mention that one firm (of course, one of the most important), em-
ploying 86 persons, represented, in 1892, 535 firms, viz, 424 firms in Ger-
many, 96 in the rest of Europe, and 15 in other continents (5 of these in
the United States).

All orders, business papers, and correspondence of various kinds from
the booksellers of Germany and abroad, so far as they are represented at
Leipsic, are daily sent to the Buchhandler-Bestell-Anstalt (Order Institu-
tion of Booksellers), where, by a well-educated staff of selectors, the same
are exhibited for the firms concerned and placed in order and distributed.

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 33 of 82)