1938 In Review

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 239 - March 1993

Author's Note: My article last month consisted mainly of a reprint of an article that first appeared in the April 1938 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal. This month it consists of an article that tells the reader what happened during the months following the signing of the reciprocal trade agreement with Czechoslovakia. The article itself is a review of the china and glass industry as it was during 1938. It too comes from Crockery and Glass Journal, this time from the December 1938 issue. A few paragraphs pertaining to the china, ceramic and pottery business have been omitted. Also missing from the article, as reprinted here, are paragraphs dealing with individuals unrelated to The Cambridge Glass Co.

"Let's Look at the Record
A Review of 1938 in the China and Glass Industry
Year Shows Business Improvements
Major Reciprocal Tariff Treaties
Reveals Buy-American Movement Growing.

"Looking back over 1938 one of the standout facts, and one which carries considerable significance, particularly in the face of an increasing tendency toward freer trade, is that the domestic pottery industry supplied the American market with more than two-thirds of its demand, which is the first time that it has done so since 1920.

"And looking back over the year chronologically along the same lines, January saw domestic potters, at annual convention in Washington, D. C., adopting a strong Buy-American resolution, including a boycott against Japanese goods which has been carried out through the year.

"In January also the Pittsburgh show showed a 10 percent increase in exhibit space, considerably more enthusiasm than in previous years, and an improved sales total.

"In January also one of the most forceful demonstrations against cheap foreign goods was undertaken at East Liverpool, Ohio, when the U. S. Potters Association and the Brotherhood unions staged a combined parade, bonfire, and speeches. William Green, president of the AFL, addressed the potters.

"April saw more Buy-American activity, with the potters and glass manufacturers combined to aid retailers; concretely, at Bloomingdale's in New York, a storewide Buy-American promotion showed films and slide pictures on American pottery and glass. This theme hit important stores throughout the country.

"In March and April also the major glass companies completed plans for national campaigns, showing a growing tendency to promote the domestic glass product direct to the consumer. Perhaps the most important event in April was the signing of he reciprocal trade agreement with Czechoslovakia. This treaty was met, of course, with a storm of disapproval from domestic glass manufacturers, who saw losses arising from the 10 percent reduction in (tariffs on) blown glass and 50 per cent reduction in (tariffs on) pressed unpolished ware. The actual influx of ware however, was not as tremendous as might have been expected; nor was the competition from Czechoslovakia ware greatly increased, because the basic 10 per cent and 50 percent reductions were considerably reduced by fixed, unavoidable charges which apply to import goods, on top of which, the American public thereafter became conscious of Czechoslovakian goods as German, and a definite public swing toward American wares was in effect.

"In May Lord & Taylor's specialty store in New York expanded their gift departments to include regular dinnerware lines - a new venture in stores of that kind.

"About this time also, R. H. White & Co., Boston, opened a new china and glass department, and the Louie Glass Company closed one of its plants temporarily due to labor difficulties.

Good news for the china and glass industry came along in July with the announcement of the NRDGA Controller's Congress figures showing in one volume group a profit of 0.3 per cent for the china and glass department. Most departments lost, of course. but the losses were considerably reduced in all cases and in this one case a profit was shown, which was the first in many years.

"During the next few weeks A, W. Baumgardner left Cambridge Glass Company's Chicago office to go to A. H. Heisey & Co. in Kansas City.

"Crockery and Glass Journal brought into being the first scale model china and glass department which caused considerable attention at the July china and glass show.

"In this month also the domestic potteries considered the first proposal for an exhibit at the New York World's Fair, which they have since taken up and which will cost approximately $60,000 to $70,000. This is in conjunction with the Brotherhood unions, each section contributing half the cost.

"As the year came to a close, Czech importers were faced with a severe problem in replacing their Czechoslovak sources with other European sources, or in some way counterbalancing the German occupation of Sudeten land. This occupation, of course, required that all goods coming from what were Czechoslovak factories be stamped "Made in Germany," and was cause for considerable loss of sales and remaking of business policy.

"In this connection, the signing of a treaty with the United Kingdom was particularly important, since there were certain reductions on china and glass products which are competitive with the American product. The signing of this treaty with the United Kingdom was perhaps the last important event of the year in the china and glass picture.

"Summarizing, 1938 was more successful for the industry as a whole than had been in previous years, with the exception of 1937. There has been a return to store consciousness of staple and quality merchandise and a gradual dwindling of the price promotion theme together with a much keener advertising program."