[D8964ABB], Letter from Albert Blake Dick to Thomas Alva Edison, May 27th, 1889


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[D8964ABB], Letter from Albert Blake Dick to Thomas Alva Edison, May 27th, 1889

Editor's Notes

Dear Mr Edison I have just about concluded my investigation of the Doll trade in Paris, and contrary to my first impression, I have found it confined principally to one concern, doing a business, of over 300,000 dolls annuall. In making this statement I refer only to dolls suitable for the high price trade. There are twelve doll makers in the City but excepting the business done by M. Jumeau above referred to, all are in my estimation doing a very light business. As a class they are not strong financially, and are to be found mostly in lofts located in cheap districts and like may [odbit?] businesses conducted here, bear the stamp of being run on "hand to mouth" principles.##Jumeau is represented as the only manufacturer in France who makes every part of the dolls he sells, from the wigs to the soles of the shoes, and his sales of dolls large enough to contain the Phonno. I have with me, and larger, amount to about 100,000 per annum outside of the United States, He is also strong financially, and has taken more interest in the Phono than all the others combined.##His factories are large, and he employes over 1000 hands, mostly women and girls.##I do not think the plan of selling to five or six of these concerns could be practically applied in this City, except on a very small scale, owing ot the jealouies which seem to exist between competitors. My idea would be to make the strongest, and most influential dealer or manufacturer, an exclusive agent for France, and for this exclusive agency, let him pay a profit over the ocst ofhte Phono which would equal an ordinary profit on a sale of say three times the number which he would purchase for his trade, and bind him to a miniumum quantity per annum.##Without competition this plan would enable ou to dispose of as many Phonos as the one originally proposed, and against the competition which you expect from Gilliland and Jacques, you can easily hold the bulk, or practically all of the trade, as the sale of the dolls to the final purchasers must be made through the retail stores, and they can be reached thro the channel indicated, if in the hands of one party fully as well as could be done if five or six were offering the same article, to the same customers.##I feel confident that this idea could be carried out successfully and make yo more money in the end than could be realized otherwise, and I offer it simply as a suggestions.##I am quite satisfied with the work I have done here, and am now more confident than ever that the field for Toy Phonos is very large, and that there is a large fortune in it for you. After I have visited Nuremburg, Vienna, Berlin and Brussels and perhaps one or two points in Italy I will be able to make you a fuller report accompanied with an estimate of the probable annual sales of Phono dolls in Europe. I leave today for Nuremburg and from there to Vienna.##A few slight objections have been offered to the present style of Doll Phonos which I enumarate for your consideration.##1st The weight-- This I think can be reduced, as the frame seems a little heaveir than need be and perhaps other parts can be lightened-- It seems that all the doll makers strive to make their dolls as light as possible.##2nd Its dimensions-- If it could be reduced in size to say two thirds of its present dimensions (for one size) it could then be utilized in the popular sizes on which ther is the largest trrade.## 3rd The style or shape of the body or tin case holding the Phono.-- I am aware that this case can be shaped a little differently and have so talked to the manf'rs but they all seem to want something which they can put inside of their regular bodies of larger sized dolls.##All of Jumeaus dolls are made with paper mache bodies, having movable hands, arms, feet and legs, as well as movable he, all on the ball joint principle, and it is the general opinion among doll dealers I have seen that this feature should not be discarded, but that the shape of the Phono. Should be changed if possible so as to donform to the present style of dolls bodies. The paper machebodies can as you know be moulded in any shape and with a door on the back, or so as to separate in the center. The question is can the Phono itself be properly fastened into these bodies? I think it can and have instructed Jumeau to send you several sizes of bodies only which you can experiment with if you so desire.##Jumeau made a suggestion in regard to an opening for the sound to escape rom the body which I think a good one. As the best quality of dollls of all makes are constructed with movable heads, it is not practical to so change the form of the neck to allow the sound of the Phono thro' the head to escape but it can be done through the body just below the throat in the same way his "Pap" & "Mamma" dolls are now made. I will try to show you my meaning by a rought sketch [sketch follows] I noticed particualrly his speaking dolls and the covering of the opening with the dress did not seem to diminish the volume of sound perceptibly.##When I get to Nuremburg I will send you some more dolls and if I think it the proper place for you to buy for U.S. trade wil secure prices on all sizes. I did not dod this here, for I do not think it the cheapest market.##All but two of my dolls are already out of repair. The reproducing needle point has become loosened from the glass diaphram. I have talked with Hammer about it and think I can fix them up however. If I had some Phonos with me containing French and German lines it would be a great assistance, as none of these foreigners with whom I have been dealing speak English, and their knowledge of the contents of the Phono is to be obtained thro' the medium of an interpreter only. If you can send me say 1/2 doz. More Phonos in good condition please forward them at once care W. J. Hammer so that I amy have them on my return to Paris.##Iomitted to state in early part of letter that no objection has been raised to the maximum price of Phono; (8 francs)--##Mr Dyer writes me today that he is looking up prices ect, for manufacturing in Antwerp, for you. I trust that you have fully decided concerning the old contract and can so advise me soon, for I find it more difficult to get the information I want under the circumstances, then I would if I could answer definitely regarding the sale of them.##The fact is these Frenchmen are very suspicious, and I met at first with a lack of confidence from those who were in possession of the points I was after which rendered it impossible to make rapid headway. I was suspected at first as representing a possible future competitor, in spite of my candid representation of your plans, and they naturally hesitated about parting with inforamtion which they had been years in accumulating, and which might put you on an immediate footing for doing a large competition business. Consequently I have been compelled to work slowly, seek introductions thro' favorable channels to the parties I wished to derive benefits from, cultivate their acquaintance socially etc., etc.##From this time on I can work more rapidly, as I am better prepared to talk the doll business, and to abosrb information.##Hoping to hear from you soon I am Yours Very truly A.B. Dick




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