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

Consular reports, Issues 252-255 online

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Through some misapprehension, there appeared in the Ameri-
can press about three months ago a paragraph in which it was
stated that an experimental test of electric trains had been made
on a new railway between Berlin and Hamburg, by which a speed
of 125 miles an hour had been readily attained. This statement
was widely republished, generally as the text of editorial con-
gratulation that the problem of greatly increased speed in railway
travel had been so promptly and conclusively settled. From this
the deduction was easy and natural that within a few years the
present steam railway system would be wholly superseded for pas-
senger traffic by electrical lines. All this was so far from the actual
fact, and has inspired such a chorus of vain but insistent inquiry,
that it seems due and requisite that a plain, concise statement shall
be made of what has been undertaken by the experimenters at Ber-
lin, what has been accomplished, and what yet remains to be done.

For several years past, it has been recognized by scientific men
in Germany, as elsewhere, that cars driven by electricity, which
have practically displaced the horse car as a means of intramural
and suburban travel, would sooner or later dispute the supremacy
of steam railways for long-distance passenger traffic. The main
governing motive for such a transformation would be the greatly in-
creased speed that could thereby be attained. It was felt, however,
that the high-speed problem involved many details of construction
and practice concerning which comparatively little is known. No
careful engineer or capitalist would enter upon the construction of
a high-speed railway for actual service until the whole subject had
been thoroughly studied and its feasibility proven by practical
demonstration. For this purpose there was organized at Berlin, on
the loth of October, 1899, a so-called **Studien Gesellschaft," or
** company for experiments," in high-speed traction. This com-
pany — which has for its president Dr. Schulz, chief of the imperial
railway administration — includes as members the General Electric
Company of Berlin, Messrs. Siemens & Halske, the great machine
builders Borsig, Krupp, Halzmann, and Van der Zuypen & Charlier,
besides several banks, which undertook to supply the capital of
750,000 marks ($178,500) for the necessary expenses of construction.
The mere mention of the foregoing names will show that the Studien
Gesellschaft represents the foremost scientific and mechanical ability
of Germany. After more than a year of study and experiment with
motors, conductors, and especially the task of taking up an electrical

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circuit by a motor moving at high speed, Director Rathenau, of the
General Electric Company, in January of this year, had a formal
interview with the German Emperor, in which he submitted a plan
for using as an experimental electric line the military railway lead-
ing southward from Berlin to Zossen, a distance of 30 kilometers
(18.6 miles}. The proposition of Mr. Rathenau was promptly and
fully approved, and from that moment the whole scheme has had
the active support of the Imperial Government. The line to Zossen
is now in process of preparation for the trials which, it is expected,
will begin in August or September. For these experiments two
motor cars will be, or have been, built — one by the General Electric
Company, the other by Messrs. Siemens & Halske. Each will carry
about fifty passengers, and efiforts will be made to attain a speed of
from 125 to 150 miles an hour.

Meanwhile, Messrs. Siemens & Halske have been making some
preliminary tests on a short provisional line, which was built for
experimental purposes a year or two ago, at their works at Lichter-
felde, near Berlin. The motive of these preliminary trials has been
to test the important, but hitherto undemonstrated, point whether
a motor moving at a speed of 100 miles an hour or more will take
the current readily from a three-wire line.

It is well known that there are certain electric roads in Switzer-
land and northern Italy where alternating currents of high potential
are used, instead of the 500-volt continuous current which is em-
ployed on most city tramway lines. The high voltage is used for
the purpose mainly of being transmitted on small wires over long
distances from water-power generating plants. It is then reduced by
passing through generators — located where the current is wanted —
to a voltage considered safe and suitable for working the trains.

In using this three-phase alternating current, it has been found
necessary to employ three conductors, viz, two overhead wires and
a third rail. The high-speed experiments here will be based on this
arrangement, and the provisional line of Messrs. Siemens & Halske
has carried a step further the experience already gained by the
Swiss and Italian roads at ordinary speeds, and yielded some highly
interesting and valuable results.

This, then, is the present status of the enterprise. There is no
electrical railway between Berlin and Hamburg, nor will one be seri-
ously thought of until the high-speed experiments on the short line
between Berlin and Zossen have demonstrated exactly and conclu-
sively every condition of the problem. These experiments will be
undertaken when the line to Zossen is specially prepared and the
two motor cars now being built for that purpose are ready. That
these preparations are not yet complete is shown by the fact that

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the Society of British Engineers, which visited Berlin a few days
ago as guests of Messrs. Siemens & Halske, saw the provisional
three-wire testing installation at Lichterfelde, as well as the motor
car built for the coming experiments by the General Electric Com-
pany, but were not taken to see the railway to Zossen.

The trials, when they do occur, will attract electricians, machin-
ists, railway managers, and expert scientists from all European
countries, and the results, if as successful as is now anticipated,
will mark a notable epoch at the beginning of the century. From
all that can be learned from the eminent, but very conservative, men
who have the enterprise in charge, no insurmountable difficulties
have yet been encountered; but, on the other hand, everything
thus far done has been merely tentative and preparatory. The real
difficulties of the problem have yet to be met.

Frank H. Mason,

Berlin, July p, zpoz. Consul- GeneraL


It is reported on good authority that four new lines are to be
incorporated with the Hamburg- American Line:

(i) The **Jebsen" Line, between Shanghai and Tsintau. This
line was subsidized by the German Government; it is proposed to
enlarge the service and extend it to Chefoo and Tientsin, the
Hamburg-American Line wishing to gain part of the Chinese shore

(2) The share held by the Bremen firm of Rickmers in a line
operated on the Yangtze by the North German Lloyd. It is ex-
pected that the Yangtze commerce will soon increase greatly. The
North German Lloyd and the Hamburg-American Line in this case
work together.

(3) The third project is that of a regular East Asia and San Fran-
cisco route, by which (using the overland route between San
Francisco and New York) a more rapid communication with the
East will be secured than via the Suez Canal.

(4) The fourth enterprise is the purchase of the British Atlas
Line, operating between New York, the West Indies, and South

Richard Guenther,
Frankfort, June 26^ igoi. Consul- General,

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The following is a resuni6 of the annual report of the French
Line of steamers (Campagnie G6n6rale Transatlantique) for 1900:

The net value of the company's steamers, real estate, personal
property at the agencies, material and supplies, etc., amortization
deducted, on December 31, 1900, was $20,611,189, as compared with
$22,724,585 on December 31, 1899. The assets were $30,240,772.

The total receipts for 1900, including subsidies, were $10,671,094^
as compared with $9,558,542 in 1899. The total expenses were
$9,389,344, as compared with $8,312,765 in 1899.

The net profit was' $287,993, from which a dividend of 16 francs
($3.09) per share, amounting to $247,040, was declared, and the
balance ($40,953) carried over to the year 1901.

The augmentation of the receipts during the year was principally
due to the increase in the number of passengers carried, especially
those of the emigrant class.

The increase in the operating expenses can be attributed to the
high price of coal and the increased wages the company was obliged
to grant its crews, as a result of the strike at Havre and other
maritime ports of France. ^ ^ Thackara,

Havre, July j^ Jpoi. Consul,


American life-insurance companies have been transacting a large
volume of business in France for many years ; but if our fire-insurance
companies have extended their field of operations to this Republic, I
have yet to learn of the fact. My attention has been more particu-
larly called to the matter by information recently received from
Messrs. Roussier & Coulbaut, of 40 rue Paradis, Marseilles. These
gentlemen express their wish to be informed concerning reliable
American companies desirous of underwriting policies taken by
French companies, which wish to divide the risk. Various authori-
ties whom I have consulted express a divergence of opinion as to the
possibility of American companies engaging actively in the insurance
business, and of occupying themselves passively underwriting risks
already taken by French companies. While I have heard doubt ex-
pressed concerning the probable success of original effort on the
part of American companies, all of my informants agree that they
should be able to do a large amount of underwriting for the French
companies. At present, British corporations are very much in evi-
dence, but the field is not yet sufficiently well occupied, and the

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firm I have named, who are general agents for the Compagnie du
Soleil, seek information which will enable them to share large risks
that they do not feel like imposing exclusively upon their own com-
pany. I suggest the advisability of communicating directly with
Messrs. Roussier & Coulbaut, who are prepared to supply all the
detailed information necessary.

Companies desirous of engaging in business on their own account
are required to satisfy various requirements of law with respect to
their responsibility, and in addition, they pay upon the amount of
their business (i) a stamp tax of 4 centimes (0.77 cent) per 1,000
francs of insured value; (2) a tax of 0.006 franc (o.ooii cent) per
1,000 francs; (3) a registration tariff amounting to 10 per cent of
the premium.

Robert P. Skinner,

Marseilles, July 12, igoi. Consul- General.


Since the publication in the Consular Reports of my recent
brief report in regard to ice in France,* I have received many let-
ters requesting additional information upon the subject. In almost
every instance, one of the first inquiries is: **What are the pros-
pects for the establishment of an ice-cream and cool-drink business
in the large French towns?" Speaking generally, I should say that
as far as Rouen is concerned, the outlook for such establishments
is good.

A few evenings ago, I stopped at one of the largest caf6s here
and asked for ice cream. It was served in a little glass about the
size of a wine glass. There was certainly not more than three level
tablespoonfuls, and of a poor quality at that. The cost was 20
cents. There are only two or three places in this city where cream
is served. In order to make such a business pay, however, patience
would have to be exercised. In Normandy, new ideas filter into the
people's minds very slowly, and the person who opened an ice-cream
saloon would, in the beginning, be regarded with suspicion. Then,
there is a deep-seated predjudice against cool things, and physicians,
generally, say that ice is most injurious to the health.

Another question which has been repeatedly asked is: **Can ice
be had at a reasonable price, and, if not, would a small ice-making
plant pay well? " Undoubtedly, a market exists in many of the larger
cities of France for ice-making machinery of American manufac-
ture. This spring, a Mr. Patterson, an American, established the
first ice factor}' in this city. Heretofore, all ice has been shipped
from Norway, but it can not be long before such competition must

*Advancb Sheets No. 949 (January 31, 1901).

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give way to the manufactured product, even though the imported
ice is admitted free of duty. A letter received recently from Mr.
Patterson will throw some light upon this subject:

Glacieres de Normandie,

Rouen y June ipj, igoi.

My Dear Mr. Haynes: Replying to yours of the 20th, I uke pleasure in say-
ing I am the founder of the above-named company, which has been in operation
since February. The capacity of the plant is 24 tons per day. The entire plant,
including boiler, pipes, and fittings, was purchased from the Vilter Manufacturing
Company, of Milwaukee, and the installation is a perfect success.

In addition to the above, we have a large cold-storage department operated
from the ice plant, but by a separate ammonia compressor.

This line is new over here, and it will possibly take years to obtain American
results, yet success will certainly come sooner or later. Our plant employs twenty
hands, including teamsters. We have at present five wagons, and trust before sum-
mer is over to increase this number materially. The competition is Norwegian ice.
This ice is delivered in France for little or nothing, and has been sold at retail as
low as 7 francs ((1.35) a ton. We, however, take our stand purely on the question
of hygienic ice, and believe success will crown our efforts, as the French appreciate

Last year, ice retailed in Normandy at 300 francs ((57.QO) a ton, and this year,
due to our efforts, the retail price is but 50 francs ($9.65). Yet the clientage has to
be made, for up to the present ice has been a luxury that only the rich could afford.
The value of cheap ice is little known, and, in great part, is doubted by the people
in geaexaX. The cost to manufacture ice is about double that in America, due
mostly to the high price of coal, oils, ammonia, etc. Our company is formed not
only for Rouen, but for this entire section of France, and as fast* as we can develop
sales we will start plants elsewhere. At present, we have under consideration but
two new installations, as it will require great patience and labor to secure adequate
consumption. A more satisfactory letter on this new enterprise will be cheerfully
given you in 1902.

Very sincerely, A. V. Patterson.

A number of persons writing to this office have asked if, inde-
pendent of the actual making and selling of frozen dainties, a paying
business could be worked up in the sales of ice-cream freezers, milk
shakers, soda-water fountains, etc. I can only answer by saying that
such things must follow the general introduction of ice. From the
tone of Mr. Patterson's letter, one must conclude that a market for
these articles is fast being developed. Already, refrigerators are
making their appearance in Rouen. Only a few days ago, I saw, for
the first time, a circular, with diagrams and cuts explaining, in
French, what a refrigerator was — its principle, object, etc. — saying,
among other things, it was exactly like the American refrigerator.
The agent for this article is an American, and in all probability he
is handling an American refrigerator. I am sure he will meet with
success. All over this city are the butchers, the dealers in horse-
flesh, pork, beef, and mutton. The majority of the people buy only
a few cents' worth of meat at a time — 2, 4, 6, 10, or 20 cents, per-
haps. The serving of ice-cooled meats directly from refrigerators

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would undoubtedly increase the business and ultimately lead to the
introduction of this convenience, not only into private houses, but
into hotels, restaurants, caf6s, etc. However, no firm in America
can build up a trade in this line by simply writing a letter to some
consulate, asking that the two or three English circulars inclosed be
handed to persons who may be interested.

** What duties are payable on the articles mentioned?" has been
asked in many letters. This question is difficult to answer with ab-
solute correctness, from the fact that refrigerators are not mentioned
in the French tariff. An ice-cream churn, for instance, may be
made of zinc and wood ; the import duty on the wood would be $1.44
per 100 pounds and on the zinc $1.15. But on such articles the
tariff is calculated on the material paying the highest duty; hence,
the churn would have to be entered at the rate of $1.44 per 100
pounds. It is difficult to say under what head articles like refrig-
erators, etc., coming for the first time into a French port, would be
classed. Information might be obtained, however, from the col-
lector of customs at the particular port where entry is intended,
through the medium of the United States consul there.

I have just seen in one of the Paris dailies the following dispatch
from London, which seems to indicate that France is not the only
field for the development of this American industry:

In one respect, London suffers as no American city suffers — namely, in the lack
of ice. Although some millions of tons of ice find their way up the Thames every
year from Norway and Sweden, the people in London scarcely know its use for
domestic purposes. Beyond the supplies to fishmongers, public houses, and gro-
cers, there is practically no delivery of ice through London streets all summer.
A year ago, an attempt was made by one of the largest ice dealers to popularize
the use of ice in small quantities among householders. For this purpose, wagons
were sent around accompanied by icemen offering to sell a pennyworth. The
manager of the company said the experiment was only a partial success, from
the fact that the people had no place to keep the blocks, and in an hour or two they
naturally melted. The manager, continuing, said: " But we expect to try again in
a different way. We are going to bring a number of American refrigerators to
distribute in various districts of London. These refrigerators will be only ordi-
nary ice chests, such as are used in the households of American cities. The idea
is to give an object lesson in the practical use of ice through the summer, as we
are confident that it would mean a great saving both in health and in money, and
especially among the poorer classes. We do not propose, however, to confine our
efforts to the poor, or even to the middle, classes. Among the western residences
it is astonishing how few ice chests are found. Somehow, the idea was never
popular in England, and the consequence has been not only an enormous waste of
food, but positive discomfort. With American refrigerators in general use, this
ought soon to be remedied."

The address of this manager is Mr. Been, manager of Slater's
Company, London.

Thornwell Havnes,
Rouen, July 20^ ipoi. Consul,

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Consul Haynes reports from Rouen, July 22, 1901, in regard to
the prize offered by a Frenchman, Mr. Henry Deutsch, to pro-
mote the development of aerial navigation. Mr. Deutsch placed
at the disposition of the Aero Club 100,000 francs ($19,300), to be
given to the experimenter who, starting from St. Cloud, should in
half an hour double the Eiffel Tower and return.

The consul describes the attempt of Mr. Santos-Dumont, a young
Brazilian, to win the prize. Many well-known authorities in France,
Mr. Haynes says, have pronounced this the most important develop-
ment in aerial navigation. His balloon is described as follows:

It is a cigar-shaped cylinder iii feet long, 19 feet in diameter, and 6(X> cubic
yards in volume. It has a 4-cyHndered petroleum motor of 16 horsepower; a pro-
peller screw measuring 13 feet from blade edge to blade edge, and making 200
revolutions per minute; and a traction power, measured by the dynamometer, of
160 pounds. To give the cigar-shaped structure sufficient rigidity to cleave the air,
there is placed within it a smaller balloon, which is supplied with air by an alumi-
num ventilator, the volume varying with the altitude, keeping the exterior balloon
constantly stiff.

Below this balloon hangs a sort of triangular framework 59 feet long, consist-
ing of three curvilinear wooden scantlings joined with aluminum and strengthened
by crosspieces of wood and a network of piano wire. At 23 feet from one extrem-
ity of this light framework, in the center of the triangular section, the motor is
suspended by piano wire. At a distance of 23 feet from the other extremity is sit-
uated the little basket car, in which the aeronaut takes his place and where he con-
trols the arrangements for lighting the motor, for starting the screw propeller, for
working the rudder, controlling the escape valves, and regulating the displacement
of the guide rope from one end to the other, by means of fine cords. This displace-
ment of the guide rope is meant to incline the balloon in the direction that may be
required for ascending or descending. The framework, with its motor and the
aeronaut's car, is suspended from the balloon by steel wires of such tenuity that
they are invisible at a distance of 160 feet.

In the trial on July 13, adds the consul, there were two conditions
with which Mr. Santos-Dumont failed to comply: The air ship did
not accomplish the journey inside of thirty minutes and did not
come to earth at the starting point. The journey was made in forty-
one minutes, at an average speed of about 13 miles an hour.

Each year, the authors of projects will be allowed to prove the
practicability of their apparatus. All machines must be manipulated
by the competitors at their own expense and risk. If the prize is not
won within five years, beginning April 15, 1900, the offer of Mr.
Deutsch will be null. Until someone succeeds in gaining the prize,
he will turn over to the committee of the Aero Club each year

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4,000 francs ($772), for distribution among those most deserving of

Full details of the conditions established by the Aero Club com-
mittee can be had by addressing La Commission Scientific d*A6ro-
station, 48 rue de Colis6e, Paris.


An interesting agricultural exposition was held in Nantes during
the last week in June. From twenty to thirty Departments assisted
in making it a success. There were exhibits of machinery, wines,
cattle, and swine, as well as of horses. The following manufacturers
of farm machinery in the United States were represented by good
displays: Johnson Harvester Company, D. M. Osborne & Co., McCor-
mick & Co., the Piano Company, Wardner Bushnell & Co., Walter A.
Wood & Co., Adriance Reaper and Binder Company, Deering Har-
vester Company, Bucher Gibbs Plow Works, and the Oliver Chilled
Plow Works. There were also fine displays of agricultural ma-
chinery made by the Massey Harris Company and the Mann Har-
vesting Company, of Canada. There was an extensive display of
steam thrashers and separators, but with the exception of one or
two English firms, exhibitors in this line were all French.

The ordinary French thrasher does not do as complete work as
the American machine, and requires more men to operate it.

The dairy machinery was from Switzerland and France, none
being from the United States.

American mowers are coming into general use in this part of
France. Between §even hundred and eight hundred were received at
Nantes within the past year, as well as a number of reapers and horse
hayrakes. Farmers combine and purchase reapers and binders, one
machine doing the work on several small farms. American plows
are but little used in this part of France, one reasoq being the
disposition of our manufacturers to force the French farmer to use

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 252-255 → online text (page 27 of 65)