[D0018AAF], Letter from Edison-Bell Consolidated Phonograph Co Ltd, Arthur Simpson Slater to Thomas Alva Edison, September 11th, 1900


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[D0018AAF], Letter from Edison-Bell Consolidated Phonograph Co Ltd, Arthur Simpson Slater to Thomas Alva Edison, September 11th, 1900




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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University


Letterhead of The Edison-Bell Consolidated Phonograph Company, Limited
39, Charing Cross Road, W. C. London,
11th September 1900
Thomas A. Edison Esq.,
ORANGE, N. J. (U. S. A.)
Dear Sir,
I am instructed by my Directors to draw your attention to the fact, of which you cannot but be fully aware that certain parties in New York are continually shipping-Goods of your manufacture into your territory, and I am desired to ask you, as a gentleman of honour, whether you consider we are being fairly treated, and whether you have so parted with your rights, and the influence conferred by those rights, that you are now powerless to protect the interests of those who paid a large sum of money for territorial privileges on the faith of a title given by you.
The most flagrant instance of piratical trading to which I will refer is that of Mr. C. E. Stevens. He circularizes
<Ansd 9/27/1900>
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[TAE Marginalia] the British Isles, Australia, India, and Cape Colony, quoting your goods at prices with which it is impossible for us to compete. To make a living profit it is obvious that he must obtain your goods at prices much below those you quote my Company, or he is a philanthropist anxious to benefit his fellow creatures by letting them have Phonographs at cost, plus expenses. As I personally do not think Mr. Stevens is a philanthropist my first deduction seems the most probable.
As a case in point I will take Australia. My Company has shipped to that Colony at very considerable expense hundreds of your Machines and thousands of records. These goods have been consigned to an Agent for sale, my Company taking all risks. The Agent has just informed me that all dealers in Australasia have received circulars from Mr. Stevens, quoting the very lowest prices prevailing in New York. I will ask you how is it possible for us to sell at a profit in face of his action.
You cannot accuse my company of want of enterprise, for the Australian venture runs into thousands pounds sterling. In South Africa we have, at great expense, pushed the business, and the same would have been done in India on a large scale, but no good firm will take the matter up, solely owing to the circulars from New York spoiling the market. I wish to impress upon you that the great damage we suffer arises primarily from Stevens' quotations, apart from any trade he may do. Dealers cannot understand why he is in a position to quote below the parties holding the legal rights, which rights came directly from you for a consideration, and we are obliged to admit that we cannot explain how it is that the supreme head of the Phonograph trade allows such unfair trading to go behind his signature.
In the foregoing I have endeavored to bring home to you as briefly as possible the full significance of the position created by your allowing illicit trading, and especially the circularizing principally by Mr. Stevens, and am requested to say that my Directors will be pleased to receive a communication from you personally as to what you can do to protect the interests of those who purchased certain rights on the strength of your name, and who now look to you to protect your signature to the utmost of your power. It is a serious matter for my Company, and deserving of your greatest consideration, and I trust to receive from you assurances that the practices complained of will be stopped forthwith, and such assistance on your part in the future as will effectually prevent irresponsible parties from doing that which jeopardises belief in the good faith of one so well known as yourself. Awaiting the favour of your early reply.
I am,
Yours faithfully,
A Simpson Slater
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