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

Consular reports, Issues 224-227 online

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Miscellaneous goods

Cedar nuts.

It is thought that the exports of cattle were of more value than
those of agricultural produce. Exact figures can not be given, as
the railway confines its statistics to weights.

Cheliabinsk, Petropavlosk, Kourgan, Ousk, and Cainsk are the
most important stations on the Siberian Railway for the shipment of
animal produce. The railway has assisted the trade of the fairs
which take place in the far steppes, the principal being held at Con-
stantine, Tainchicoolsky, Petroffsky, and Conandinsky. Many ex-
ports reach the Russian markets through the Nizhni fair, which is
an important outlet for sheepskins, furs, etc.

In 1897, before the Central Siberian Railway had been opened,
there was not a large export of raw material to the east. As soon
as communication was established, Siberia started sending meat
and produce in large quantities to Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and
other cities. The new leather works in the government of Tomsk
will, without doubt, tan most of the skins from western Siberian
steppes. Oil refining in western Siberia is making fast progress, and
large quantities are sold abroad.

In 1897, more than 2,500 tonsof Siberian butter were sent abroad
through St. Petersburg, Taganrog, and Sebastopol. Seven large
offices have been opened for the purchase of butter for export, and
the farm of the Danish consul sends butter weekly to Denmark.
In 1897, dairy machinery to the value of 5(550,000 was sent to Siberia,
and 30,500 tons, or jf6o,ooo worth, of fresh butter was manufactured
during the first half of 1898.

Thomas Smith,

Moscow, February 28, iSpp. Consul.

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American cotton has a very keen competitor in the Russian
market in Asiatic cotton grown from imported American seeds.
This latter cotton is equal in quality to middling New Orleans
cotton. It is reported that this Asiatic cotton deteriorates after a
lapse of years, and that fresh seeds have to be planted. The prices
are about the same; lately, however, American produce has had
an advantage, owing to a fall in the price which Asiatic cotton has
not been able to follow on account of the cost of production and
transportation. A large cotton firm having extensive interests in
Asia, in consequence of the fall in price, has liquidated its affairs

In addition to the above cotton, there are some varieties of native
Asiatic cotton of inferior quality, at corresponding prices.

The offers made daily by Russian traders in English currency are
generally only an inducement, as most of the buying is done in Rus-
sian rubles per pood (^6 pounds) and only in exceptional cases in
pence. Agents, however, offer and sell in pence, because English,
American, and French exporters will not sell in Russian money.
On the whole, Russian consumers prefer dealing in their own
currency, as they are unaccustomed to foreign business methods.
Direct business with the United States is very limited, the larger
part being carried on through England. This is partly due to the
fact that Russian order books are often well filled for months and
sometimes a year ahead, and to counterbalance this, they have to
cover themselves with c. i. f. contracts for the quantities required
from Liverpool, as American exporters usually decline to sell crops
before they are planted.

Direct American business, for prompt delivery, is done with
Philadelphia, New York, and Savannah. Small quantities also
come from New Orleans. Russian spinners buy only the better
sorts of American cotton, as to buy lower qualities would entail loss,
owing to the high duty of 3.15 rubles ($1.57) per ^^ pounds. It
would be as well for American exporters to bear in mind, when
dealing with Russians, that the cotton they offer must be up to the
standard (Liverpool classification) or even better.

Shipments from a Philadelphia firm of good reputation are higher
in price than others, for the reason that its goods are renowned for

At the present moment, there is a scarcity of cotton in the Mos-
cow market.

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The average price paid for American cotton in Moscow during
the months of May to October was 8.87 rubies ($4-43) P^r 36 pounds.

The largest Moscow firms in the cotton trade are the following:
L. Knoop, Wogan & Co., Otto Wogan, H. W. Colley, Persia and
Central Asia Trading Company, Kraft Bros., Spies Stucken & Co.,
and A. Berg.

Agents: J. J. Blismer, C. Meierkort, A. Ruperti, Gust Loewen-
thal, W. Suckan, A. Petzer, R. Walch, and John Griinberg.

Thomas Smith,

Moscow, March j^ i8pp. Consul.


Consul-General Holloway, of St. Petersburg, sends, under date of
March 28, 1899, translation of an article from the Novoe Vremia
of the 17th instant, referring to the first trip of the new io,oop-ton ice
boat recently built in England* for the purpose of keeping the ports
of St. Petersburg and Riga open during the winter months, as
follows :

The ice boat Ermak arrived at Cronstadt March 5-17. This boat was made after
plans prepared by Admiral Makaroff and built in England. Owing to the fogs,
it had to remain two days in Belt. Near Reval it met with very thick ice, but
still continued moving at 7 knots per hour. Near Seskari it met with large
fields of ice, from 9 to 10 feet high above the water line. Here the Ermak could
not move on; but, with the aid of its machinery, it acquired a swinging motion,
and the water running out of a special apparatus in the boat melted the ice under
the vessel, which moved on, dispersing the ice mountains. The ice boat presses on
the ice with its prow, the screw that is under it lets out water which softens the
ice, and the movement of the screw makes the ice go under it and breaks it into
rather small pieces. This ice boat has no keel and should therefore be subject to
great rolling; but, in order to avoid this, there is a receptacle in the hull of the
vessel, filled with water, which is arranged in such a way that the water does not
allow the vessel to sway too much one side or the other, and keeps it in equilibrium.

The boat was met at Cronstadt with great triumph and music. Hundreds of
people went out to meet it, running alongside of it on the ice.

The ice boat belongs as yet to the Ministry of Finance. It is at the same time a
passenger boat, a freight boat, and a tug boat. It can accommodate nineteen first-
class passengers, for which it has a fine cabin, decorated with imperial portraits,
with double windows, double illuminators, and a special ventilator, which lets
warm air into the cabin. The walls are of oak. The boat is lighted by electricity.

On March 31, the consul-general adds:

The new ice boat Ermak left Cronstadt on the 25th of March and
opened the port of Reval, plowing through from 16 to 18 feet of ice,
releasing three commercial steamers that were frozen fast some dis-

♦Sce Ct»NsuLAR Rkpokts No. 2jo (January, 1899), p. xo8.

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tance from the shore. On the morning of March 27, the Ermak left
Reval, clearing the way to the sea for four vessels During the first
four days of the Ermak' s arrival at Russian ports, she released six-
teen vessels from the ice and opened the way for them to proceed
to sea.


On January 14 last, after considerable time spent in investigat-
ing the wheat question here, I prepared and sent to the Department
a report* showing that there is a chance for American wheat to
supplant the Russian at Malta. I hoped to be able to furnish statis-
tics showing the prices paid for ** Taganrog" wheat for the year
1898; but it being important that the report be furnished as soon as
possible, I was obliged to omit them. I am now able to give the
following figures, showing the prices paid for good Taganrog (Rus-
sian) wheat, weighing not less than 496 pounds per salm, or quarter,
in Malta and London :


Malta market

rate, exclusive

of duty.

June I |io.2i to |i2. 16



September ,



December ,

9.48 to
9.23 to
9-23 to


10.21 to





Highest London


7.5310 7-77

7.29 to 7.53

6.80 to 7.04

6.56 to 6.80

7-53 to 7.77

7.29 to 7.53

Quotations covering the first five months of the year are not
given, for the reason that but a very small quantity was imported
during those months, and also because no quotations are obtainable.
The local government statistics for the year will probably not be
made up before the middle of the coming summer, and what has
above been given is in advance of any Government compilation.

John H. Grout, Jr.,

Malta, January ji, rSgp. Consul.

♦See Consular Rei-orts No. 224 (May, 1895), |>. iof>.

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There is a good field in Austria for the sale of American overshoes
of rubber. Russia has controlled the market in this line here for a
long time, but the Russian goods have lately shown a falling off in
quality. Some 400 tons are annually shipped by Russian manufac-
turers into this country.

The only way to make large sales is to proceed as the Russians
do; that is, have headquarters in Vienna with a good stock of goods,
and send out traveling agents speaking the languages of the country —
at any rate, German — fluently, until the superiority of the American
overshoe can be demonstrated. As this variety of foot wear is just
coming into use here generally, there is an excellent opportunity of
working up undeveloped territory, as well as of showing that the
American article is better in material, shape, and finish and will out-
last, under like circumstances, the overshoe made in other countries.

The retail prices in Vienna are :


A rctics.





Rubbers with high hacks and fronts ^ known as storm rubbers.


Women's «

Rubbers with backs and fronts lower than the preceding.

Men's, self-acting

Boys', self-acting —

Children's, self-acting

Rubbers^ ordinary^ low^ leaving all of the shoe up^rs uncovered.





Rubbers a trifle higher than the preceding.

Men's, self-acting

Women's, self-acting

Boys', self-acting

Girls', self-acting «

Children's, self-acting...


















The wholesale prices range from t^t^ ^^ 5^ P^^ cent less than the

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The imports for 1897 into Austria-Hungary of overshoes in which
rubber was used are tabulated as follows :

Country of origin.



United SUtes



German Empire

Great Britain

Russia ....




ToUl for x8g6.
Total for 1895.
ToUl for 1894.
ToUl for 1893.





1. 134























The Austro-Hungarian duty on this class of merchandise is 30
florins gold per 100 kilograms, or $12.18 per 220 pounds.

Carl Bailey Hurst,
Vienna, March 28, i8pp. Consul- GemraL


I consider the present moment most opportune for the introduc-
tion into Denmark of American boots and shoes, as the tendency
to use ready-made shoes is increasing rapidly, since the difference
in price with those made to order is becoming marked.

The bootmakers in Copenhagen are going out on strike on the
ist of April next, as their masters will not grant the enormous in-
crease in wages demanded.

The import of foreign-made shoes increases steadily, as will be
seen from the following figures:


1889 IQ4, 502

1891 208,663

1893 311.866

1895 364.445

1S97 379.452

Austria, Italy, Germany, and, to a small extent, Great Britain
control this market; but there is no reason why our manufacturers
should not secure a large share of this trade, as their goods are
well finished and elegantly shaped. Pointed and narrow shoes
will not sell here, the Danish foot is large. Our manufacturers

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have studied the German markets, and I think the same styles will
find favor here.

Several of the Danish shoe manufacturers have imported Ameri-
can machinery, but the Danish duty on shoes being very light (it
varies according to the quality, and I fear it would be misleading to
quote it), our manufacturers can no doubt compete in price.

Denmark has a population of about 2,350,000 inhabitants. The
Danish shoe manufacturers produce about 4,000 pairs of shoes daily.
The imports of foreign shoes are about 40 per cent of the whole

Manufacturers should address: The Wessel & Vett, 13 Kongeus
Mytorv; Skandinavisk Skotojsmagasin, 35 Ostergade; E. Oettinger,
44 Ostergade — all of Copenhagen.

Mr. Johan Lund, 4 Laxegade, Copenhagen, is willing to accept

The commercial agency of R. V. Fournais & Co., Copenhagen,
will, for a small fee, rate any firm in Denmark.

Jules Blom,

Copenhagen, March 23, rSgg. Vice and Deputy Consul.


It is beyond doubt that American dealers in agricultural imple-
ments and wagons of all kinds could, with proper effort and under-
standing of existing conditions, have far more business in this
section of the German Empire than at present. True, our present
trade with this country is not inconsiderable; but it is my conviction
that in many instances the American goods sell themselves in spite
of the American merchant and manufacturer.

The province of Saxony, of which Magdeburg is the capital and
center, forms one of the most important and extensive agricultural
districts of the German Empire, and therefore affords a splendid
field for the American manufacturer of agricultural implements.
But the chief difficulty met by the German importers in introduc-
ing American machinery of this kind is their entry in the German
custom-house. It is not generally known that there are no national
administrative laws for the German custom-houses, but that each
state or province is governed by laws of its own ; and it might be
well for American manufacturers and exporters to always make sure
of their ground in this respect before undertaking to make shipments.

A German importer of agricultural machinery in Magdeburg in-
forms me that he has all machines shipped to him knocked down
and crated, and then has the different parts put together here.

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When American mowers and reapers are supplied with an extra
knife, this is not classified as a part of the machine by the custom-
house, but is subjected to an extra high rate of duty — the ** cutlery
rate.** Since it is a part of a machine which consists chiefly of cast
iron, it should properly pay only 3 marks (71.4 cents) per 100 kilo-
grams (220.46 pounds). Owing to the gloss of the American oil
paint, horserakes and other farm implements are apt to be entered
as ** lacquered ironware," at the rate of 10 marks (5(52.38) per 100
kilograms. It was only after a great deal of explanation, my in-
formant tells me, that he succeeded in having this sort of ma-
chinery passed at 5 to 6 marks ($1.19 to $1.43) per 100 kilograms.
The rate of duty on reapers with binding attachment varies in the
different custom-houses. In some cities, 3 marks (71.4 cents) per 100
kilograms are demanded; in others, 5 marks ($1.19) per 100 kilo-
grams. I will add that crates, boxes, etc., protecting the machinery
are weighed with the same, and are subject to the same duty.

Considerable difficulty in importing American machinery is also
encountered, because, as yet, not sufficient attention has been given
to the wants of the German market. It is absolutely necessary that
American manufacturers should study the needs of the people here,
and then, I feel confident, they will, in most instances, be able to
enter into competition with concerns in Europe. Not long ago, I
saw in a warehouse a large stock of mills for grinding feed. Upon
closer inspection, I found all the machines to be of English make;
and when I inquired whether or not American mills were being im-
ported, an object all begrimed and dusty in a remote corner was
pointed out to me, which I found to be an American feed mill.
When I asked what this meant, I was simply told that **the American
work is much too light for this country."

American farm wagons and other vehicles might also find more
extensive sales in the markets of Germany, if more attention were
given to the matter. In order to protect the highways, the laws de-
mand that the tires of wheels be much wider than they are in the
United States. American manufacturers, until now, have shown no
inclination to consider this fact. I know of an instance where a Ger-
man importer ordered from an American house a few wagons with
broad wheels, such as the laws of this country require, but the reply
sent to him was that if he would order a thousand wagons the width
of the tires would be made as requested. Of course, the order was
not given. This can hardly be called an effective way of introduc-
ing American goods. For Germany and for most countries of Eu-
rope, the wheels of carts, buggies, and other light vehicles should be
from 2 to 2}^ inches wide, while the tires of farm wagons and trucks
should be from 3 to 4 inches in width.

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In shipping wagons of all kinds, it must be borne in mind that
every vehicle which is entered at the custom-house must pay 150
marks ($35. 70) duty when put together and all complete; but when
knocked down and crated, a much lower rate is demanded, viz,
10 marks ($2.38) per 100 kilograms. However, the lower rate can
only be secured when no leather is to be found on or about the
vehicle. Nor should the leather parts of any vehicle be shipped
in the same case, for, even if a separate bill of lading be presented,
the presence of the leather parts in the same cargo will have the
effect of changing the classification qf the vehicle.

Another mistake made by many American manufacturers and
dealers is that they attempt to extend their business in foreign coun-
tries by flooding them with printed, illustrated, and descriptive cata-
logues and circulars, and, of course, in the English language. That
money so spent is worse than wasted, goes without saying. A great
deal more could be accomplished by sending abroad commercial
agents and traveling men fully familiar with the language and busi-
ness customs of the people of this country. In my judgment, the
most effective way to sell American tools and implements and
wagons and machinery of all kinds would be to exhibit them here
in public, and to have their uses practically demonstrated by live

Because of the great and ever-increasing scarcity of farm labor-
ers in Germany, there is a growing demand for substantial, practical
farming tools and machinery; and American manufacturers now
have an excellent opportunity for an increased sale of their goods
in this line, if they will but make thorough, systematic, and business-
like effort.

Henry W. Diederich,

Magdeburg, February 24, iS^g. ConsuL



This consulate is frequently called upon to assist in the adjust-
ment of annoying controversies between American manufacturers of
machinery and tools and their German customers, arising from dam-
age to goods in transit, delays in shipments, and vague contracts.
These difficulties, unless guarded against more carefully, will become
very serious obstacles to the progress of this important and rapidly
increasing item of American trade in Germany. Damage to ma-
chinery and machine tools in transit has been very frequent, and I
have just seen one shipment in which three very valuable machine

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tools were completely ruined, the cast-iron frames being broken in
several places. It is impossible to ascertain whether the damage
was done by the railways in America, the steamship companies, or
by the railways in Germany. Nobody, seems to be responsible. It
is alleged, however, by those interested that these heavy machines
are subjected to very rough handling by the steamship companies.
It is said that they jerk them out of the vessels with steam cranes,
often hooking to frail castings which are not strong enough to sus-
tain the weight. Before accepting damaged machines, the German
buyer examines them while in the possession of the railway at the
final destination, and they are also exhibited to witnesses before be-
ing taken from the depots, resulting in protested drafts, long and dis-
agreeable disputes, and sometimes expensive lawsuits. Delay in the
delivery of machines has also in several instances resulted in heavy
losses. In one case, an apparatus valued at over $3,000 was to
have been delivered in October, but did not reach Germany until
the following February. It had been sold by a German house deal-
ing in American machines, with the agreement that it was to be
delivered in November. The result was a suit against the dealer, in
which damages for about $2,000 was demanded, and, in turn, the
middleman claimed similar damages against the American manufac-

To prevent breakage during shipment, all machines and parts of
machines should be boxed, when possible, and the cast frames bolted
securely to heavy timbers. In some of these machines, there can be
no doubt that the castings are too light for export without careful
packing. Contracts should be made in writing when practicable,
and should leave no doubt as to where the responsibility of the ex-
porter ends and that of the German importer begins. In several
cases, I have found that the American claimed that his responsibility
ended when he placed the goods aboard ship in New York Harbor,
while the German importer alleged that the goods were to be de-
livered here in good condition. These points should be fully covered
in the contracts, and in cases where regular customers order by cable
from catalogues, standing contracts covering all these points should
be entered into. Much trouble will also be avoided by detailed
specifications, which will prevent disputes as to particular parts of
machines, and by the delivery of goods within the specified time.
Special care should be taken that the bills of lading show clearly
that the machines are in good order, and forwarding agents should
be given special instructions to carefully examine them at the seaports
for cracks, bends, and breaks, in order that the responsibility for
damages may be easily fixed. While the transportation companies
can be made to pay for goods damaged in transit, the shipper will
No. 225 3.

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experience many difficulties in compelling settlement where all of the
facts are not clear, and where claims are resisted.

Diisseldorf, being the financial center and largest city of the great
iron and coal district of the German Empire, has become the leading
place in the country for the sale of American machines and machine
tools, and a number of firms employing large capital are engaged
exclusively in the importation of these goods. Some of these firms —
in fact, nearly all of them — remove the plates showing the names of
the American manufacturers and replace them with plates bearing
their own names as the makers. To avoid all of these difficulties
and save the profit of the German middleman, a number of Ameri-
can manufacturing firms have opened permanent offices in this city,
with American engineers in charge, where plans and specifications
are prepared, estimates made, and contracts entered into. This

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 224-227 → online text (page 29 of 92)