[LB049404], Letter from Alfred Ord Tate to Thomas Alva Edison, May 20th, 1891


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[LB049404], Letter from Alfred Ord Tate to Thomas Alva Edison, May 20th, 1891




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


May 20, 1891.
Mr. Edison,-
In regard to the regular monthly Profit and Loss sheet from Silver Lake, I did not get this out on the 1st of May, as we were particularly busy owing to Mr. Gladstone’s absence. We were also shorthanded through the sickness of some of our men. Our sales continue at about $700 per week. You are aware of the difficulty which we encountered in connection with the double telephone cell, caused by a leak through the partition. These jars were returned to Trenton for repair and sent back to us, filling one side with water, showed that twenty out of sixty of the jars were still defective. The balance of these cells were tested with a dynamo current yesterday afternoon by Mr. Gladstone. I have not yet heard the result, but have forwarded him instructions to advise you this morning. Gladstone’s trip was interrupted, as one of the most important parts of his work was the introduction of this telephone battery and the institution of tests in the Telephone Exchanges at various headquarters. The manufacturers are going to make these jars in a different way, that is to say, grooves thus formed on the inside, and sealed. This we believe will overcome the difficulty absolutely. I have told Gladstone to come over and see you to-day about the battery business and give you full information, as I shall probably not be able to leave New York.
I understand that you asked Randolph if we were not running behind on our business. There is not the slightest use in your trying to obtain information of this character from the Laboratory books, as the record which is kept there does not at all show the state of the business. We are not running behind, but are forging ahead, and considering the troubles that we have had and the money we have been obliged to spend in correcting them, our condition is far from unsatisfactory. Our accounts receivable are about $1800 in excess of our accounts payable. This of itself shows that money has been earned. We have no bad debts on our books and we make our collections as promptly as we possibly can. In a new business where so much introductory work has to be done we cannot bring as much pressure to bear in making collections as if we were on a more permanent footing. We deal only with representative people and we never open a new account without having a full report on the financial responsibility of the customer. Our cells are on sale at J.H. Bunnell & Co’s. in New York, and we are arranging terms with Alexander, Barney & Chapin, another representative New York house, who will handle our goods. In Philadelphia we are represented by Walker & Kepler, who have given us a large window on the principal street for a display, the same as Bunnell makes, and who are pushing sales vigorously. It is my intention to have one representative firm in every large city make a specialty of our batteries., in the course of a few days, as soon as we settle this telephone cell business. We cannot do any noticeable amount of railway telegraph work until we get the Western Union, and I do not think it will be very long before they put the stamp of approval on our battery. They have a couple of hundred cells in service at Buffalo, and if these give them satisfaction, it will make our work elsewhere easy, but he have got to wait for the result of this test. It is simply a waste of time and money to send men around the country on railway work when we can do the whole business right in New York, or at least the cost important part of it. At present the Western Union will not honor requisitions from Railway Superintendents of Telegraph for our battery. As soon as they are willing to supply them, we will take care of the other end.
CANADA. The Edison Gen’l Electric Co. are opening Supply Stores in all the principal cities in Canada, from the Atlantic seaboard to Winnipeg. We are arranging with them to carry in each of these stores a stock of our batteries, which will cover that country thoroughly. We will do all our business there through the Edison General Company.
SOUTH AMERICA AND WEST INDIES. We have placed this business in the hands of the E.S. Greely and Co. They have several agents who travel through these countries, and these men will make our battery a part of the equipment. Our Spanish catalogue has just been completed, and Greely states that we can undoubtedly do a very large business. I considered it better to place the whole of this trade in the hands of a responsible concern like Greely’s and have an arrangement with them werely we are paid on the 15th of each month for all our shipments whether they made their collections or not. Thus we can have no bad debts.
ENGLAND. You will recollect that some weeks ago we made two propositions to the people who hold the Lalande patents for Great Britian, one of which contemplated our making sales in that country and paying a royalty, and the other our selling to the English Company themselves. The Secretary stated that he required this information to place before his Board. I presume that after he received our letter he had to call a board meeting, which accounts for the delay of the reply to our communication. I’m quite sure that we will obtain the privilege of selling over there, either through the English Company or through our agent, DYER.
In France we have only the right to sell these batteries for use in connection with the phonograph.
We are shut out of Austria owing to the heavy duty placed on primary batteries entering that country.
Dyer is negotiating with the Chief of the Belgian Telegraphs for a large order. He will be able to make a better showing on these foreign sales when he locates in London. He is to be established there immediately on his return in the course of a week or two. London is practically the business centre of the continent, and he can do more business there in a day than he could do from Antwerp in a month.
WAX. From al I can learn on the subject I believe it is going to take two months or more to run through our stock of wax at Silver Lake and put it in shape for shipping. I have notified the Phonograph Works that we will receive scrap wax for them until they have exhausted our storage capacity, and give them credits for scrap.
Yours truly,
A.O. Tate
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